Backcountry Essentials for Getting Way, Way Out There
Necessities for traveling out of bounds
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Pieps Powder BT Avalanche Beacon ($340)
The Pieps Powder BT has just about every feature you could ask for in an avalanche beacon, including a range of 196 feet, Bluetooth connectivity, and a mark and scan function that can pinpoint multiple burials.
Black Diamond Deploy Shovel ($70)
Opt for a light but solid metal shovel that assembles quickly, because speed matters in an emergency. The Deploy hits all the marks and features a curved handle that sits flush with the blade, saving space in your pack.
Garmin GPSMap 66i GPS ($600)
You should always have a map and compass, but digital backup will keep you moving efficiently and safely, even in a whiteout. Garmin’s new GPSMap 66i features both GPS and InReach communication capabilities, replacing your satellite messenger and supplementing your paper map. It means carrying two expensive devices, but it’s worth it.
Smith Vantage Helmet ($260)
Wearing a helmet in the backcountry is a must, since a noggin injury six miles from a trailhead is significantly more serious than one that happens close to ski patrollers. The Smith Vantage features MIPS, which reduces rotational impact, and Koroyd, a honeycomb-like material that absorbs more impact than foam.
BCA BC Link 2.0 Radio ($180)
When you’re traveling through big terrain, radios are a game-changer, easing communication during storms and when you’re thousands of feet below your ski partners. But they can also be heavy and hard to use with gloves. BCA’s BC Link 2.0 is light and has a simple mic that attaches to your shoulder strap, letting you communicate without digging in your pack.
Black Diamond Quickdraw Carbon 320 Probe ($100)
Avalanche burials don’t stop at 240 centimeters—a common length for entry-level probes—so get the longest available. The Quickdraw Carbon 320 is over ten feet long and assembles fast, with a large wire loop to lock the segments in place.
Ortovox Ascent 28 S Avabag Pack ($720)
Airbag packs tend to be heavy, but the streamlined Ascent weighs about half as much as most. The main compartment has a clamshell opening for easy access, and a front pocket keeps your shovel and probe out of the way but at the ready.
Pomoca Climb Pro S-Glide Skins ($190 and Up)
Great skins can make the difference between a smooth day and a frustratingly slow one. These Pomocas offer superior glide for fast travel, with just enough grip to keep you feeling solid on a slick skin track.