Staying safe in the backcountry is mostly about good decision making. But you'll also want a few pieces of simple, reliable gear. 

Back Country Access scepter 707
(Back Country Access)

Backcountry Access Scepter 7075 Aluminum poles

The Scepter is BCA’s classic two-piece adjustable metal pole, with a built-in scraper on top to help you keep your skis, skins, and boot soles clear. Because nothing is worse than dragging ten pounds of caked ice up the hill with you. 

Price $80 

black diamond free glide skin c
(Black Diamond)

Black Diamond Free Glide Skin Care wax 

Spring skiing means wide temperature swings, which can cause climbing skins to soak up moisture and lose grippiness. To stave off the issue, treat your skins with Black Diamond’s Skin Care waterproofing wax the night before. 

Price $13

black diamond deploy shovel
(Black Diamond)

Black Diamond Deploy 7 shovel

You owe it to your buddies to carry a serious shovel. This one has a curved aluminum handle that allows it to disappear in your pack. And at just about a pound and a half, you won’t even notice it’s there until you need it. 

Price $75

Ortovox 3+ tranceiver

Ortovox 3+ transceiver

A pared-down version of Ortovox’s flagship S1+ beacon, the 3+ is geared toward the everyday backcountry skier. Its three antennae give it a range of 131 feet unburied. In search mode, the 3+ quickly locates a buried friend—or friends, with the help of a flagging button that blocks victims’ signals once they’re found. Directional and distance readouts are as simple as on any beacon out there. 

Price $369

Salomon MTN lab helmet

Salomon MTN Lab helmet

At a mere 11 ounces, the MTN Lab is a climbing lid with skiing aspirations. It’s well vented, comes with a soft liner, and has a lightweight bungee in place of a goggle-retaining strap. 

Price $200

Black Diamond ski strap
(Black Diamond)

Black Diamond Ski strap

Sure, this 18-inch-long band does a totally admirable job of holding your skis together. But you can also use it to lash a water bottle to your backpack or prevent a problem skin from separating from your board. 

Price $6

The Best Helmets of 2016

These six brain buckets manage to look slick and feel great, all while offering state-of-the-art protection.  (Giro) Giro Range MIPS  Best For: Oddly Shaped NogginsGiro developed a unique ratcheting system that lets wearers adjust both the exterior shell and the interior liner for a custom fit. Result: the Range is the most comfortable helmet here. Well-placed vents and mesh ear pads make the whole package plenty breathable.  Price $240 (Smith Optics) Smith Vantage  Best For: Season-Long UseOur favorite helmet of the test, thanks to a slick, low-profile design that’s packed with smart features, including grooves along the sides to hold goggles in place

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The Best Gloves of 2016

It's simple: better mitts equal happier hands. The engineering and tech that went into these six warmers—which deliver on warmth, breathability, and fit—is not.  (Hestra) Hestra Narvik Wool Terry Like most of the leather gloves here, the Narvik is made from goatskin, but unlike some of them, it’s tanned with plant tannins. Like Flylow, Hestra utilizes a wax coating rather than laminating its fabrics. It’s a touch less breathable but still adequately water resistant, provided it’s waxed periodically. The removable wool liner is exceptionally fast drying.  Price $185 (Seirus) Seirus HeatTouch Torche Seirus upgrades the typical battery-heated glove, adding a poly-fleece

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The Best Goggles of 2016

With these tools, you can vanquish flat light forever—improving reaction times and reducing eye fatigue. Heck, that's enough to make you a better skier.  (Abominable Labs) Abominable Labs Abom  Nothing ruins a ski day faster than foggy goggles. But the geniuses at Abominable Labs have a solution. The antifog Abom has a thin, invisible heater inside the double-layer lens that works like a rear-window defroster—that is to say, brilliantly. Leave it on low in wet conditions, and switch to Boost mode after a wipeout for a quick thaw.  Price $250 (Scott Sports) Scott Sports LCG Compact  Bluebird blower days are nice,

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The Best Packs of 2016

Packs keep getting lighter, smarter, and easier to use. We ran 18 new models through the wringer, and almost every one made the final round. But while it’s easy to find a great pack, choosing the perfect one still requires careful consideration. For starters, standard or airbag equipped? If you spend more than ten days a year in avalanche-prone terrain, consider an airbag. Next there’s size. As a general rule, opt for 15 liters or smaller if you’re riding lifts, 15 to 25 for sidecountry adventures, 25 to 45 for day trips, and 45 or more for multi-day missions. Finally,

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The Best Base and Mid Layers of 2016

Your ability to have fun playing outside in the cold is only as good as your layering system. A good base or mid layer should be warm, breathable, comfortable, and (ideally) stink-free. These six versatile tops and bottoms deliver.  (Icebreaker) Icebreaker Zone One Sheep Suit onesie Onesies bring out our inner kid. Plus they’re warm and won’t ride up under a shell. The hooded wool Sheep Suit is toasty yet breathable, with mesh under the arms and at the knees. When nature calls, just use the two-way zipper and fly—no disrobing necessary.  Price $200 (Under Armour) Under Armour

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The Best Winter Camping Gear of 2016

There's no need to put away your camping gear come winter. Just upgrade it. Presenting everything you need to stay warm and have a blast on snowbound nights. (Western Mountaineering) Western Mountaineering Snojack parka This 850-plus-fill down jacket, made from Gore Windstopper, was easily the warmest of the dozen tested. But with quilted stitching along the side panels, we never felt we were trading mobility for coziness. Bonus: the expanded hood creates better peripheral vision.  Price $775 (Valandre) Valandre Odin Neo sleeping bag The new Odin Neo is 10 percent lighter than last year’s but equally capable. With

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