Japan: The Right Gear

Good news for powder goddesses: fat skis and other deep-snow essentials are ripping it up with an x chromosome

Nov 1, 2003
Outside Magazine
For Domestic Volcano and Deep-Powder Action

Mount Bachelor, Oregon (541-382-2442, www.mtbachelor.com). Niseko and Bachelor share four common bonds. They have heaps of snow, wide-open terrain, and laid-back locals, and they're both volcanic.

DAKINE's CONCOURSE DOUBLE can swallow two pairs of skis (and up to four with the bindings detached) and two pairs of poles. Full padding and ripstop nylon protect against dings, and urethane wheels help ease that long run to International Check-In. ($130-$140; 800-827-7466, www.dakine.com)

SKIS: For years, petite women with a penchant for ripping big mountains on fat skis ended up floundering on boards that were too long and stiff for them. Enter the new K2 Phat Luv, a women's-specific version of the company's renowned AK Launcher and the first softer-flexing powder stick available in lengths below 165cm. ($675; 800-972-4063, www.k2sports.com)
BINDINGS: The Salomon S810 Ti Axe binding is a lock for most female skiers: Titanium in the heel track and housing keep it light and durable, while a lower release range accommodates less torque. It's a high-performance alternative to men's overbuilt race clamps. ($245; 800-225-6850, www.salomonsports.com)
BOOTS: The Rossignol Bandit B1 women boot proves how far we've come since gals suffered in pink-accented mush buckets. This advanced freeride boot (guys, look for the Bandit B1 Men) is soft enough to absorb a big huck yet stiff enough to rail your edges through the corduroy. ($499; 802-863-2511, www.rossignol.com)
PANTS: Orage's AWD2 pants are highly technical—and highly stylish—trou. The svelte denim-look duds are actually waterproof and breathable poly-nylon wonders. You'll remain drier, and infinitely more hip, than the kids still cruising the slopes in their Levi's. ($220; 800-250-5056, www.orageski.com)
SHELL: The Marmot women's Super Shero isn't just a smaller version of the popular men's Super Hero soft shell; it's specifically cut for narrower waists and shoulders. Thejacket, a synthesis of Gore N2S Windstopper and Polartec WindPro and PowerShield fabrics, stymies even the nastiest mountain weather. ($225; 888-627-6680, www.marmot.com)
MIDLAYER: The Salomon W's Moto Mesh Zip Neck midlayer moves effortlessly from street to snow. Credit the uncluttered design and a proprietary fabric that combines warmth, breathability, and quick-drying qualities. ($69; 800-225-6850, www.salomonsports.com)
EYEWEAR: Spy's Sonix evoke sixties styling in gogglelike shades that seem plucked from an early Godzilla flick. But the optics are pure 21st century, built around a single glass lens engineered to eliminate distortion and boost peripheral vision. ($160; 800-779-3937, www.spyoptic.com)
HAT: The RLX Ski Hat mixes an old-school tassel with a contemporary, close fit that's not at all boxy. Made of ultralight itchless wool, it's ideal for thick-maned women who don't require an expedition-weight toque. ($35; 866-897-7656, www.polo.com)
GLOVES: Available in sizes down to extra small, the Black Diamond Stratos glove offers four-way stretch in the fingers for dexterity and removable waterproof inserts for quickdrying in the field. ($100; 801-278-5533, www.bdel.com)
PACK: The Dakine Heli Pro Small is a 900-cubic-inch pack designed for spontaneous backcountry forays. It keeps your gear in order with loops for an ice ax or shovel on both sides, a separate pocket for a shovel blade, and a mesh nest for your beverage reservoir. ($80; 800-827-7466, www.dakine.com)