Backcountry was founded in 1996 by a couple of friends selling avalanche beacons out of a garage in Park City, Utah. It has since become a go-to shop for all things ski and snowboard gear. This month, using its 22 years of industry knowledge and partnerships with key brands, Backcountry launched its own line of ski touring gear. Outside was there for the product launch in March, and thanks to a few early season storms in Santa Fe, we’ve been able to spend a few days testing the gear. Here are our initial thoughts.
Backcountry x Flylow Grizzly Gulch Jacket ($430) and Mill D Bib Pant ($400)
It’s always a good sign when one of my fellow gear editors compliments my outfit, and that’s exactly what happened when I rolled up to the base of Ski Santa Fe wearing this kit. Designed in collaboration with Flylow, this sharp-looking jacket and bib combo has a matte finish and is made with top-of-the-line Polartec NeoShell, which is highly breathable and feels soft to the touch. The jacket has 12-inch pit zips, plus two oversized waterproof exterior chest pockets and one interior chest pocket that provided enough storage for my climbing skins and other accessories.
I was particularly impressed with the bibs, which are simple but have a few well-thought-out pockets, including an easy-access pocket on the chest. They were super easy to move in and not restricting in the slightest. Early season means hot laps, and I very much appreciated the large outer-thigh vents.
Backcountry also released a women’s-specific jacket and bib, which we recently featured in our Winter Buyer’s Guide. The coolest part? This is the first time Flylow has used NeoShell fabric in a women’s bib.
Backcountry x Black Diamond Hot Lap Glove ($65)
Anyone who has ski toured knows how annoying it can be to figure out which gloves to use. On the way up, you need something lightweight and breathable, but you want something warmer and more protective on the way down. For me, this means I usually have to swap out gloves when I get to the top of the skintrack. The Hot Lap is a goatskin leather shell with a layer of waterproof/windproof Pertex—just slide them over the thin glove you wore on the way up for a little extra protection and warmth on the way down.
Backcountry x DPS Nebo Alpine Touring Ski ($1,120)
The Nebo is a mashup of DPS’s popular Alchemist and Tour 1 carbon constructions. The end result is an ultralight (under 1,500 grams) yet damp and stable touring ski. Full disclosure: I’ve only skied one lap on these, but I’ve spent multiple days on skis in DPS’s Alchemist and Tour 1 lines. For the Nebo, Backcountry did a good job of combining the best characteristics of both constructions. The ski is light on the way up—superlight for a ski that’s 106 millimeters underfoot. But while the Tour 1 is best in soft, forgiving powder (not the current conditions in Santa Fe), the Nebo held its own on the way down despite the subpar snow. Credit the dampening features adopted from the Alchemist line. I’m excited to use the Nebo in different conditions, but so far I’m impressed.