Split Decision Kit
Voilé's Split Decision Kit ($150; www.voile-usa.com) is an interesting option. It lets you take an old snowboard, saw it in half lengthwise, and then fix bindings to each side. You can then use them like short cross-country skis to get to your destination, reassemble the snowboard with clip attachments, and board away. Very clever, it saves you from having to carry any extra gear. But I'd say it's best for rolling terrain, rather than anything really steep. For those double-black pitches, the Verts, or a pair of tough, compact snowshoes such as MSR's Lightning Ascent ($250; www.msrcorp.com), are best.
You probably would need to invest in some boots as wellsnowboard boots are generally too flexy to handle steep terrain. The ideal solution is a pair of light plastic boots, such as Koflach Degres ($270; www.koflachusa.com). They're warm enough for winter, keep your feet dry, and have the rigidity needed for steep terrain wearing either Verts or traditional snowshoes.
Be careful out there. It's always better to call it a day than take a chance and get nailed by an avalanche. And unfortunately, today's better backcountry gear is putting more and more people into harm's way.
For everything you need to know about skiing in the backcountry, read "How I Came to Know and Love the Backcountry" from Outside Online's partner site, Away.com.
Support Outside Online
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.