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The 2016 Ski Showcase

Hand-picked and employee tested, check out the most noteworthy skis of the 2016 season.

How to Choose the Right Ski Length and Width

While there’s no equation that looks like (height x weight)/(skill level)√magical number = perfect length in the skiing world, there are a few tips that can point you in the right direction when you’re trying to figure out which length of ski is right for you. Likewise, there’s no formula regarding width; the prevailing sentiment post-fat-ski-revolution seems to be, “Ski the widest ski you can without sacrificing performance,” and as a generalization, we tend to agree. But should you ski on wider skis? And if so, how wide do you go?

How to Lighten Your Touring Setup

The farther you go into the backcountry, the more fatigued you’ll feel dragging along heavy gear. Here’s how to lighten your load without sacrificing performance.

How to Choose the Right Ski

If you’re just getting into skiing, or have been on the same skis for years, the terminology now used by retailers can be confusing. The good news is, the ski categories prescribed by retailers and manufacturers stay relatively consistent year to year, and for the most part, the skis themselves do fit into those roles. But what is the difference between all mountain, big mountain, backcountry (aka alpine touring or AT), carving, powder, and park and pipe skis? And which one is right for you? A breakdown of these ski categories can help narrow your choice.

How to Choose a Ski Profile

The profile shape of a ski is a primary determinant for how a ski will interact with the snow, making profile an important feature to consider when selecting a pair of skis. But with the seemingly inexhaustible supply of proprietary profile shapes that debut year after year, choosing the right profile can seem like a daunting task. Worry not, the Backcountry herd is here to help.

How to Choose an Alpine Ski Boot

Selecting a new pair of ski boots can be a little overwhelming, to say the least. Every year, ski companies roll out their shiny new boots, often with various flex, size, and width numbers slathered across the shells. If you’re wondering what it all means and how these numbers correspond to your specific skiing needs, we’ve assembled a little guide designed to help you make sense of these seemingly cryptic markings.
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Unanswered Questions

Our community members have questions on gear. Do you have the answers? Help other members out and serve up your gear expertise.

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Kyle Livingston

We all have our favorite outdoor pursuit, and arguably the most important piece of our gear kit for that pursuit is the jacket. Hikers, climbers, skiers, snowboarders, bikers, or mountaineers have to protect themselves from the elements, but gone are the days of one jacket that works for everything. For example, I use a Gore-Tex 3-layer shell layered with a down jacket for skiing but a lightweight softshell for backpacking and hiking and another jacket for around town. To get you started on the path to understanding your jacket options, we’ve outlined the five most basic styles. The Shell Jacket [...]

Colter Hinchliffe

“Did we bite off more than we can chew?” I’m asking myself as we stand atop the 14,131-foot Capitol Peak in the notorious Elk mountains of Colorado. Photo: Jordan White The answer is a matter-of-fact “No, we have to finish.” This day began at midnight, and this mission began a week ago, and this dream began a few years ago with a taste of this big, lonesome, beautiful north face. Capitol Peak is the holy grail of all Colorado’s fifty-four 14,000 ft peaks. The easiest way up is via the infamous knife edge with a thousand-foot cliff on either side. [...]

Pace Measom

After 20 years of working with the best outdoor brands on the planet, we’ve forged relationships that allow us to collaborate with their design teams, bringing you unique and exclusive products you simply can’t find anywhere else. ExclusiveFilson Down Cruiser Parka The signature Filson heritage he’ll love in a versatile, go-anywhere flat black color—and you can only get it at Backcountry. Filson was founded in 1897 to outfit northbound fortune-seekers with reliable clothing for the Great Klondike Gold Rush. Fast-forward 118 years and a lot of Filson’s apparel still bears a striking resemblance to the clothing of the past. Filson [...]

Phil Parrish

The faster you can recover from a workout, the sooner you can train again. By increasing training frequency, you can achieve a desired result faster or complete a higher volume of training in a desired time. To achieve this end, many athletes and weekend warriors are turning to compression clothing as an aid to training and recovery. But, what is compression clothing? And how does it work? Benefits of Compression Garments Depending on who you ask, compression garments make a huge difference, or they’re just really tight underwear. Some controlled studies have yielded interesting results, while others are completely inconclusive. [...]

Jeff Catalano

Alpine Touring (AT) bindings have been around for several decades, but the recent explosion of the touring scene has really brought them into the spotlight. AT bindings differ from their alpine counterparts in that they aren’t meant only for skiing downhill. Instead they allow the skier to free the heel of the boot, while staying clipped in at the toe, which creates the ability to “walk” naturally uphill on skis. When it’s time for that ski descent you’ve been working toward all day, simply step back into the heel of the binding and make some turns! Considerations for Choosing AT [...]

Lexi D.

The irresistible lure of a backcountry yurt or hut is one of the reasons I was motivated to begin dabbling in backcountry skiing six years ago. As a good friend often proclaims, “Yurt life is the good life,” and I agree wholeheartedly. There’s nothing more special than time spent unplugged in nature, where the necessities of melting water, chopping firewood, and preparing a yurt feast are your chief concerns (besides powder snow, of course). With luck and planning, your home away from home for the weekend. Having taken excursions to various huts and lodges around Utah, Idaho, and British Columbia, [...]

Ryan Schoeck

Above Photo By: Re Wikstrom By now you’ve undoubtedly ogled, researched, and wisely chosen a pair of shiny new sticks or a new board for the season. But have you given any real thought to what you’ll be wearing? After all, your jacket is going to be just as much a part of your quest for pow as what’s underneath your feet. Choosing the right jacket for the right conditions is crucial to maximizing your comfort, protection from the elements, and overall stoke factor. Types of Jackets As you begin the search for your new jacket, it’s important to know [...]

Jeff Catalano

If you want to ski uphill, you’re going to need climbing skins. One of the essential pieces of an alpine touring kit, climbing skins provide directional grip on the snow, allowing you to slide your skis forward without losing progress on uphill terrain. If you’re new to alpine touring, climbing skins can hold their fair share of mystery when it comes to choosing the right material, size and connection type. They also require a little bit of initial setup and maintenance. Although this article is focused on climbing skins for skis, splitboard skins feature the same technology as those made [...]

Bill Porreca

With the seemingly inexhaustible supply of proprietary ski profiles that debut every year, choosing the right profile can seem like a daunting task. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Bill Porreca breaks down your options. The profile shape of a ski is a primary determinant for how a ski will interact with the snow, making profile an important feature to consider when selecting a pair of skis. While there exist a lot of variations of each, and every manufacturer has a different name for them, there are essentially four basic types of profiles: traditional camber, directional rocker, hybrid rocker, and full rocker. All [...]

Colin Clancy

Ten years ago this very moment I may have taken a break from shotgunning beers with my ski bum friends to stir the Crock Pot of sloppy joes simmering atop the toilet for lack of table space. Or I may have been hot-lapping Loveland Pass backcountry lines under the full midnight moon until the cops kicked us out. More likely, though, I was dropping into the superpipe on a stolen cafeteria tray, because we did that damned near every night. I earned my ski bum stripes at Copper Mountain, where I spent two seasons bumping chairs, shoveling snow, setting up [...]

Wally Phillips

Selecting a new pair of ski boots can be a little overwhelming, to say the least. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Wally Phillips, a former bootfitter, offers some guidance to help you select just the right pair of boots. Every year, ski companies roll out their shiny new boots in a myriad of styles, sizes, flexes, and widths. If you’re wondering what it all means and how these correspond to your specific skiing needs, here’s a little guide designed to help you make sense of this dizzying array of choices. Your skiing style The first thing you’ll want to consider is the [...]

Backcountry Video

DPS Skis Cinematic presents four short films coming Fall 2015, in association with Gore-Tex and Outdoor Research. The Koalas return in their second Cinematic campaign touching down in Japan, Italy, and Switzerland for four festival-submitted short films. The Cinematic dream has always been chasing deep storms, and 2015 delivered. Step into cold, relentless Hokkaido storms and old world Alps exploration. The Koalas reach into the quiver, riding the range from the Wailer 99, Lotus 120, and the DPS Spoon. Stephan Drake, Santi Guzman, Olof Larsson, and Piers Solomon join forces for timeless pow-riding. Turn up the volume and enter full [...]

Kim Havell

There are different ways to explore. For our team, as we began planning a ski expedition to the Wrangell St. Elias/Kluane Park region of the Yukon, Canada, we decided to add more levels of adventure beyond that of the standard routine of arriving, climbing and skiing one peak, and flying back out. Our trip incorporated a greater level of expedition experience. Though it would involve more suffering and more logistics, we finalized a plan to climb, ski, traverse, and explore as much of the area as possible. Choosing to go in mid-April meant colder temps but safer movement in the [...]

Lexi D.

Whether it’s in the form of a lightweight baselayer or stylish pea coat, you really can’t go wrong with wool. It has been around for centuries—millennia, even—yet it continues to outperform many of today’s high-tech synthetics. But before we get into why wool is so amazing, banish from your mind the image of scratchy sweaters that exude the essence wet sheep upon first contact with snow or drizzle. That’s not the kind of wool we’re talking about here. We’re concerned with merino wool—also known as nature’s miracle fiber—but lambswool and high-quality wool blends are worth a mention, too. What makes [...]

Curtis Jensen

Above photo by Ian Matteson Can a softshell replace your trusty hardshell in sustained rain or snowfall? Probably not. What softshells do best is keep you warm and dry while your heart rate is up in windy and/or damp weather.  What Is “Softshell”? “Softshell” is a class of knit or woven materials, made from polyester and nylon, used to make technical outdoor clothing that essentially bridges the gap between waterproof hardshell jackets and highly breathable fleece jackets. They’re more breathable (but less water and wind resistant), more flexible, and generally more durable than hardshell materials, and more protective than fleece. [...]

Stephanie Nitsch

Snow bridges are one of the biggest hazards of ski and snowboard mountaineering over glacial terrain. An innocent-looking swath of snow may hide the hazard lies beneath: a yawning crevasse of ice. Snow bridges collapse without warning, but if you’re wearing a harness and are roped in (why aren’t you wearing a harness and roped in if you’re on a glacier?!), the essential gear in your pack will double as your emergency tools for a crevasse rescue. You hope an emergency never happens, but you need to be prepared if it does. If you’re considering a ski or splitboard mountaineering [...]

Stephanie Nitsch

The difference between backcountry skiing/splitboarding and ski/splitboard mountaineering is somewhat ambiguous. Navigating glacial terrain, however, is one activity that sets them apart, and which requires a new level of technical knowledge beyond your usual backcountry skill set. Last year, I took an introductory ski and splitboard mountaineering course through the SheJumps non-profit organization. My instructors, Diny Harrison (the first North American female guide to be certified by the IFMGA) and Kate Devine (a recently certified ACMG ski guide), imparted valuable glacier travel tips for aspiring ski mountaineers, the essence of which is captured below. Risk Management As in ‘regular’ backcountry [...]

Lexi D.

Gear fails. It’s inevitable, but many of us avoid facing the facts until it’s too late, and we’re up a creek with a busted paddle. Luckily, Voile—a Utah-based company that manufactures ski touring and splitboarding gear—offers up one the most useful gear inventions out there: the Voile Ski Strap. A marvel of simplicity, durability, and versatility, the Voile Strap is the backcountry equivalent of duct tape. In fact, it’s better than duct tape since it will even work in cold or wet conditions.Though it’s called a “Ski Strap,” don’t be fooled; the situations where a Voile Strap can save your [...]

Lexi D.

I recently attended the Western Winter Sports Rep Association ski demo at Snowbasin Resort in Huntsville, Utah. A two-day ski gear extravaganza, the WWSRA demo was a chance to investigate the hottest gear for women that will hit shelves in the early autumn of 2015. Here are some of my initial impressions about the women’s skis that stood out on the racks; look for these skis to launch on Backcountry in August and September of 2015! To put my reviews in context, I am 5’3” and weigh 120 lbs (on a good day). I am an expert skier who likes [...]

Joshua Barnes

You don’t know how it happened, but it did, and now you have to deal with it. You met someone, you fell for them, and now you want to spend all(ish) of your life with them. But, here’s the thing: they don’t ski, and even worse, they want to learn. At this point, you have two options (three if you count changing your name and moving out of state): you either hook them up with lessons, or you teach them yourself. If you don’t have enough cash for an instructor, or you don’t trust one of your friends to teach [...]

Griffin Post

When it comes to air travel with ski or snowboard gear, getting there is not half the fun. Usually, flying entails lugging two extremely heavy bags around, paying extra baggage fees, eating overpriced airport food and drinking overpriced beers, all the while wondering if the bags are going to your same destination, or a vacation of their own. As frustrating as air travel can be, however, there are plenty of ways to make your trip less painful. While none of these tips will guarantee that your bags will make it nor that a hottie will be seated next to you, [...]

Lexi D.

The Outdoor Retailer trade show is one of the most important events in our business, where our buyers meet with manufacturers and decide what we will be offering on in the coming year. For the dedicated gear freak who can’t wait to see the latest and greatest outdoor gear, it’s four days of heaven. Our Community Manger, Lexi Dowdall, took a few laps of the massive show floor of Winter OR 2015, and reported back on some of the highlights of what she saw. Photos by Re Wikstrom Arc’teryx Lithic Glove A close-up look at the 333D moto-grade fabric [...]

Griffin Post

Jackson Hole was one of the first resorts in the United States to have an “open gates” policy, and the terrain around it serves up some of the best lift-serviced backcountry in the country. From puckering steeps to playful pillows, there’s just about every sort of adventure a rider could ask for, just a short traverse and bootpack from the tram. When the conditions are right, all that’s standing between riders and heli-quality terrain is an access gate. Easy access notwithstanding, though, Jackson Hole’s backcountry is the real deal, and skiers and riders venturing out should be equipped as if [...]

Pace Measom

“Factory” might be a bit of an overstatement. Located a few blocks from Park City’s historic Main Street, the Soul Poles shop is more like a glorified garage that shares a wall with the local Mexican bakery. But toiling in a garage is where most great American innovators got their start, so they’re in good company. Photos by Re Wikstrom At Backcountry we have a soft spot for the little guys who are working to bring sustainability and homegrown craftsmanship back to the industry. So when Lexi Dowdall, our community manager, needed to score a new pair of poles to [...]