Thanks to some huge advances in equipment technology, heading beyond the resort boundaries on your skis or snowboard is now easier and safer than ever. It’s easy to see why touring the backcountry is so popular, think wide open, untouched powder fields, beautiful vistas, the satisfaction of ‘earning your turns’ and getting away from the crowds. Nowadays skis and boards are lighter, outerwear is more versatile and beacons, probes and shovels are easier to use. We spoke to the knowledgeable gearheads at Rhythm Summit, Niseko to find out what’s the latest and greatest when it comes to finding your own lines off the beaten track…
Arc’Teryx Stinger Bib Pant and Sidewinder Jacket
When it comes to technical outerwear, Arc’teryx is the brand that’s topping the wish list for many backcountry skiers. Their range includes jackets, pants and accessories, all of which have been designed with performance in mind. A good example is their Stinger bib pant, which comes with an extra high bib to add warmth around your middle and keep the snow out. They are full Gore-Tex which means they’re breathable and waterproof. They also have fully taped seems, ¾ length side zips, Cordura powder cuffs and come in an expedition fit. To create the perfect high-alpine ensample, team the Stinger bib pant with the Sidewinder Jacket, which is the brand’s most durable shell jacket, and you’ll be able to take on the toughest conditions.
Storm Chaser Split from Jones Snowboards plus Spark Surge Bindings.
The Storm Chaser Split offers everything you want in a powder board. The board’s design has been heavily influenced by surf shapes, so it is ultra floaty but still short enough to be manoeuvrable, which makes turning in tight trees a breeze. Teaming this board with the Spark Surge Bindings is a match made in powder heaven. Created for riders who want to take on big lines on big days, Spark’s Surge Bindings are stiff and supportive enough to offer maximum power.
The DPS Tour 1 Plus Dynafit Radical Bindings
DPS is a relatively young company in the skiing game, but it has quickly become known for crafting the kind of skis that will get skiers off the designated trails and making tracks of their own. The Tour 1 is a lightweight touring ski that will perform whether you’re breaking trail on the ascent or you’re blasting down the mountain. There’s no point mounting your lighter-than-air skis with a chunky, clunky binding, so we recommend the Radical from Dynafit. This highly streamlined piece of gear promises to keep you locked in when you need to be and offers fool proof operation, exactly what you need if you’re taking on the great outdoors.
BCA Sceptre Carbon Pole
A lot of technical thought and design has gone into this pole, which is interesting considering a lot of skiers don’t think about poles much at all. However, when weight and usability are serious issues, having functional poles can count for a lot. Not only are the sceptres scarce on the grams, they also have a flat surface above the grip, perfect for pushing snow off the top of your skis or scraping it off the bottom.
Pieps DSP Pro Beacon
The Pieps DSP Pro beacon is both reliable and simple to use, which are probably the most important things any beacon can be. It has a simple two button interface so the user can send, search, scan and flag easily and quickly. It has a 60m circular range, 55m search strip and operates on a 3 antenna digital system, which greatly reduces the chance of the beacon mistakenly pointing to a victim, or missing the victim. Remember, beacons are no guarantee that you are going to survive an avalanche. It is important that you learn how to use your equipment, ride with trusted guides or friends and be smart in the backcountry.
Evoc FR Guide Packpack
When it comes to the technical functions of backpacks, people like to get pretty deep. Pockets, straps, weight, packing systems, carrying systems and hydration systems all come into play when deciding what pack is going to be the most suitable. Luckily the EVOC FR Guide is likely to satisfy even the most judgmental gearhead. Its prime feature is its wide kidney belt, which secures the pack firmly against the wearer. It also has a removable back protection plate for added reassurance, along with pockets in all the right places and a rear access zip so you can grab the gear you need easily if the pressure is on.
Of course, for optimal results, equipment is best paired with proper fitness and health. Check out this article on Sports Fitness Advisor for some good tips!