Skating skis, snowshoes, and other toys

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside Magazine, 1999 Annual Travel Guide

Gear to Go
Winter Ware

Skating skis, snowshoes, and other toys
By Stuart Craig

The toughest part of a backcountry getaway is deciding what gear to bring. Do you cater to your Speed Racer side, the one that lives to rack up kilometers on skating skis, or your "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" persona, with miles of silent stillness to go before you sleep? If the speed racer in you wins out, take along Salomon's Pilot System boot and binding (boots, $330; binding, $100) and Fischer's RCS Cap Skating Ski ($475). The boot and binding interface both at the toe and underfoot for a snappier push-off and more control on the downhills, while the RCS is lithe and nimble in any situation. For poles, Exel's light and super-stiff Avanti Formula ($325), with quickly detachable straps and partially elliptical carbon-fiber shaft, will make you feel like a World Cup racer. Almost as stiff, the Star from Swix ($310) is perhaps the lightest skate pole in the world, and comes with a traditional cork grip and strap system.

Since the speeds you're after will leave your eyes watering, take along Briko's Raider sunglass ($160). It can be set up with either traditional temple supports or an elastic strap, and the high-definition optics and unparalleled anti-fog coating will keep your vision clear. For fluid replenishment on the move, Ultimate Direction's Arctica vest ($90) is a functional synergy of garment and gear. The fleece body helps keep you warm, Briko Raider; Arva 9000 Avalanche Tranceiverand an 80-ounce reservoir zips into the back, so water is just a sip away through an over-the-shoulder tube.

If you're in "Snowy Evening" mode, your first concern should be safety. The new Arva 9000 avalanche transceiver ($299) triangulates on another beacon's signal with digital technology, which can mean the speedier recovery of a buried buddy. To help your search, G3's Avalanche Probe 320 ($65) can be quickly extended to its full 10.5-foot length, but folds down to the size of a small baguette. If bad weather strikes, pull on an Expedition Balaclava from The North Face ($65). The Windstopper neck keeps your throat warm, and the bungee cordlock arrangement allows for a customized fit.

Tote your gear in Lodestone Mountaineering's smooth-riding Blackstone pack ($150), with its unique clamshell design that automatically holds the pack closed when you put it on. For stability on the trail, Black Diamond's Expedition FlickLock extendable pole ($98) is simplicity itself. Just flick a lever, pull or push the pole into the length you're after, then flick the lever closed. To get you where you want to go, Redfeather's burly Condor 30 snowshoe ($265) will support loads of up to 225 pounds, and the ratchet straps of its Epic binding can handle anything from a women's size six hiking boot to a men's size 14 snowboard boot. The lighter-weight Atlas 1022 ($229), meanwhile, relies on its large surface-area-to-size ratio and spring-loaded binding for quick maneuverability.

Photographs by Gary Hush

Copyright 1998, Outside magazine

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