The Essential Backcountry Ski Touring Gear List
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The Essential Backcountry Ski Touring Gear List

Now that winter has truly set in, most folks will be settling into their favourite recliners with a hot cup of tea and a book to enjoy the comfort of the indoors. But that isn’t you. You don’t brood over the snow and ice – you embrace them. If your wanderlust has kicked in and you find yourself daydreaming of hitting the slopes, then keep reading to for this year’s ultimate ski touring gear list. This season, make sure that you’re geared up and ready to slug it out on the slopes no matter what the weather throws at you.

Navigation Equipment

A Garmin GPS navigation system displays all the statistics of your journey.

It’s all in the numbers. Photo: Tony Webster CC By 2.0

You might not know where you’re headed, or you may end up straying into uncharted territory in your quest for the perfect untouched powder. Wherever you’re going, make sure you have the tools and the ski touring gear to backup your pathfinding instincts.

If you’re in the mood for exploring, do the smart thing and pack a high-end handheld GPS system such as Garmin’s Oregon 600. This handheld device blows its nearest competitors out of the water with its high-quality touchscreen display and high-speed loading time. This gadget is one of the best backcountry companions, particularly in low visibility situations, and a must for any ski touring gear list.

Route-finding and exploring are made more enjoyable when you can trust your GPS system to triangulate your position down to a few feet. Mark out waypoints, navigate to a fixed destination or create and edit new paths as you get updated information about weather and route conditions in real time.

For added security, make sure you have a backup GPS navigation system on your cell phone. There are a number of options out there, including Trimble Maps and Topo Maps, which should be able to cover most of your short-term navigational needs.

Avalanche Equipment

Avalanche safety equipment are essentials for any ski touring gear list.

Packing the essentials. Photo: Chriscom CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nowadays, airbags, beacons, probes and shovels are just some of the must-have safety items that backcountry skiers carry when they’re out carving the snow in avalanche terrain.  

For most backcountry enthusiasts, one of the single most important safety items on their ski touring gear list is an airbag pack. These ABS-inspired blower bags have proven their worth thousands of times over and have become a favourite among freeriders and rescuers alike.

Check out Black Diamond’s Halo 28, the first lithium-powered airbag with jet-fan inflation technology to hit the market. This bad boy represents a step up from cannister-powered airbag packs, and is fully rechargeable and travel-friendly to boot, making it the perfect ski touring gear item for backcountry travelers in need of a great day pack.

As this study shows, 74% of all human-triggered avalanches take place on slopes between 34 and 45 degrees. If you’re in avalanche terrain and have any doubt about the stability of the slopes, assess your options with the help of a handy slope meter. Finally, make sure you’re kitted out with other must-have ski touring gear items, including a high-end avalanche beacon, collapsible metal shovel and carbon fibre probes.

Outerwear and Boots

Every seasoned backcountry traveller will tell you that you’re only as good as your boots. Snug enough for downhill use and yet comfortable enough to keep your feet toasty warm throughout long outings, ski boots are one of the single most important items on a ski touring gear list for those heading deep into the mountains.

For best results, pick up a pair of Dynafit Vulcan alpine touring boots. This award-winning shoe is guaranteed to keep your toes happy throughout long outings, and its composite carbon fibre-and-grilamid shell and long shaft provide great foot and ankle support. Lightweight and supple but burly enough to tackle the most testing terrain, the Dynafit Vulcan represents the pinnacle of ski touring gear and is a great boot for this winter.

Needless to say, today’s top-of-the-line hard shells are both waterproof and highly breathable, and another must-have item on your ski touring gear list. If you’re looking for the perfect jacket to don on the slopes, take a look at La Sportiva’s extremely breathable and lightweight Hail jacket. Awarded as a 2015 Gear of the Yeear winner by Outside, this ultra-lean hard shell clocks in at just 6.3 oz and provides all the comfort and breathability of a soft shell while remaining totally waterproof.

Lastly, make sure you’re equipped with one of this season’s best goggles. For a list of some of our favourites this year, check out our review of the best ski goggles.

Accessories for a Complete Ski Touring Gear List

Ski touring gear: climbing skins

Black Diamond climbing skins. Photo: Erik Kellison CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Climbing skins are just pure magic, and are some of the least understood yet most helpful items on a ski touring gear list. Slap these guys on the bottoms of your skis and  your ascent up a steep slope will be that much easier. For optimum grip and glide on uphill climbs, be sure to take a look at Black Diamond’s Glidelite Mohair Mix skins.

If you’re in the mood for exploring, make sure there’s room for a headlamp among all your ski touring gear and equipment. These gadgets have increased in output and durability in recent times, and give freeriders all the freedom they need to head out onto poorly-defined trails and into the untouched wilderness. Coast’s water-resistant HL7 headlamp boasts an incredibly bright beam with a lighting reach of 131 meters, almost double that of its nearest competitors.

So there you have it, a helpful ski touring gear list to keep handy as you prepare to get kitted out with this season’s best backcountry equipment and accessories. If you would like further information on preparing for skiing in the backcountry of Whistler, contact our friendly Whistler concierge services, who can assist in planning your ultimate touring experience. See you out in the backcountry.

Gibbons Whistler

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