Chile: The Right Gear

Monstrous, pupil-dilating terrain demands heavy hardware and technical layers built with a high-alpine attitude.

Nov 1, 2003
Outside Magazine
The Vertical Romance of Portillo, Here at Home

Taos: Spend an all-inclusive week at the slopeside St. Bernard (505-776-2251,, in español-heavy New Mexico, and you can pretend the rest of America never existed.

Pick-Up Sticks: The SALOMON EQUIPE safely stows two pairs of skis, each up to 180cm in length, and poles. A generous lining of closed-cell foam will protect your hardware from any uncivilized treatment on the tarmac. The full-length two-way zipper provides easy access, while compression straps cinch the Equipe into a tidy bundle. ($59; 800-225-6850,

SKIS: The Völkl Gotama is a tanker-wide twin-tipped board—130mm at each end—that'll hold an Andes-size turn, then stick a 540 in the terrain park. Like Portillo's discotheque patrons, it dresses in black; unlike them, it's Jabba the Hut chubby. ($695; 800-264-4579,
BINDINGS: While locked into Marker's COMP 1400 Piston Control bindings, the ride is smoother than Barry White. A partially floating toe-piece and a piston under the middle of the platform knock out vibrations, even at high speeds. ($395; 800-453-3862,
BOOTS: After cranking in Tecnica's Icon Alu Hot Form boots all day, just hook 'em up to an electrical outlet or 12-volt car plug to dry the liner. Similar to Tecnica's race boots, the Icons offer significantly more flex and a hinged cuff that both quickens response and permits easier entry and exit. ($775; 800-258-3897,
PANTS: The Arc'Teryx MinuteMan PANT anticipates all conditions and dilemmas. Spring downpour? Cue the Gore-Tex XCR-enhanced nylon and watertight zippers. Sun-blasted backcountry climbs? Peel open the thigh vents. Noshed too much Argentinian steak? Loosen the integrated waist belt. ($300; 800-985-6681,
SHELL: Newly improved with more strategically placed switch and battery, the North Face Met 5 jacket still delivers warmth at the press of a button via electrically heated filaments that run throughout the piece. ($600; 800-362-4963,
MIDLAYER: You stuff your shell in your pack to stay cool for an out-of-bounds hike and, of course, it starts snowing. But don't worry: The NIKE ACG Composite Vest is the rare fleece with a flexible water-repellent and wind-and-abrasion-resistant layer (Nike Sphere Pro Dry), so you can resist that moisture while wicking your own out through the vest's thermal-regulating interior. ($115; 800-344-6453,
EYEWEAR: Stand back—the Oakley Monster Dog is comin' through. Bay-window-size lenses shield the eyes from glare and blowing snow. ($85-$155; 800-403-7449,
HELMET: Brain-bucket atheists challenge the very existence of a comfortable helmet. The Briko X-fusion gives them religion with an anallergic chin strap, a removable internal liner, and a two-part shell that channels air over the noggin, keeping things cool. ($110; 800-462-7456,
GLOVES: Smart is the operative word in SmartWool's Mountaineer glove. A wool lining, leather palm, and water-and-abrasion-resistant nylon top collaborate to warm your hands while anatomically molded knuckles help keep your digits dexterous. ($110; 800-550-9665,
PACK: The Mammut Eclipse is made with a lightweight tear-proof fabric called Dupont Cordura 500 D. Compartments swallow a hydration bladder, ice ax, and first-aid kit—tempting you to overpack. ($149; 800-451-5127,