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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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Catherine Greenwald

A pair of stylish sunnies might make a fashion statement around town, at the beach, or on the deck of an après-ski bar, but they are also are absolute necessity for many active pursuits. Primarily, they serve the vital function of protecting your eyes from UV rays. Like your skin, your eyes can also literally get sunburned; specifically, your corneas (the transparent ‘shield’ at the front of your eye that covers all of the important bits behind it) are at the highest risk. And since these kinds of sunburns are essentially irreparable, you’ll want to try to protect your eyes [...]

Pace Measom

In cold weather, the trick to staying warm is layering with the right insulation, and not all insulation is created equal. While the type of jacket you need has a lot to do with the activity you’ll be doing, learning a few basics about the different types of insulation, and waterproof technologies, will go a long way in choosing the insulated jacket best suited to your needs. Down or Synthetic? There are two main types of insulation used in jackets: down and synthetic. Both have specific strengths and weaknesses, making each superior in certain situations. Regardless of the type of [...]

Alex Blackmer

Alpine skiing gets most of the glory, but Nordic is where it all began. Gliding across a frozen landscape with nothing but birdsong and dappled sunlight for company is a magical experience, and whether you’re in it for the solitude or the exercise, there’s a discipline, and a ski, that’s right for you. Skinny skis can be broken down into three types. The most well-known type is the classic ski, which utilizes the stride-and-glide technique most people start out with. Classic skis are at home in specially groomed tracks, on packed trails, or in wide open, rolling spaces like meadows [...]

Pace Measom

Having the right avalanche safety gear—and the know-how to use it—is critical before heading into the backcountry. Learn how to choose the beacon, shovel, probe, and airbag pack that are right for you. Beacons Avalanche beacons, also known as transceivers, are essential for both transmitting your own location as well as finding others buried in the snow. Today’s digital avalanche beacons are easier and faster to use than ever before. Get one, practice like your life depends on it, and then do everything in your power to keep from having to use it. A beacon does not have to have [...]

Andrew McLean

In the past there has only been one Golden Rule for backcountry skiing: There are no friends on powder days. This is always said tongue-in-cheek and implies that powder days should be feeding frenzies where it’s every man for himself, but with the stratospheric rise in backcountry popularity, just the opposite is now true: There’s nothing BUT friends on powder days. Or at least there should be. What used to take a week is now tracked out in a day. In popular areas with easy access like the Central Wasatch Mountains, Teton Pass or Tahoe the rise in backcountry skier [...]

Rachael Burks

In the past few years, Iceland has been put on the map as a ski destination. There are a few helicopter operations based out of northwestern corner of the country, but overall, touring is the easiest way to ski Iceland. In the winter, snow covers almost everything, making the ski possibilities endless; awe-inspiring views and adventure can be found everywhere. Two of our crew had previously been to Iceland and therefore could not wait to further explore this relatively off-the-radar ski destination. Hence, it became our target for a trip spring of 2015. Our crew of skiers and riders—Julian Carr, [...]

Jared Downs

When shopping for a new pair of crampons you’ll notice several different designs and configurations. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses, as well as an intended use. Whether you’re planning on climbing the DC route on Mt. Rainier or venturing into the wet and cold world of ice climbing, choosing the right crampon will keep your mind off the gear and on the objective ahead. Attachment Type There are three types of attachment systems for modern crampons: step-in, hybrid, and strap-on. Step-In Crampons Step-in crampons provide the most secure attachment between the crampon and the boot. This is achieved [...]

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. [...]

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 [...]

Ryan Schoeck

Those unassuming ski and snowboards pants—like that friend everybody just loves to hate—seem to get all the action without even trying. Yet while you’re carrying on with your mission of chasing untracked lines and lapping the mountain, they’re working hard to keep your lower body dry and comfortable. Frozen chairlifts, day-long submersion in thigh deep pow (we hope), sprays of spring slush, and brutal arctic winds are just a few scenarios your pants experience on a regular day at the outdoor office. So when choosing a new pair of pants, it’s worth taking some time researching the various fabrics, features, [...]

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 [...]