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Jared Downs

Originally, snowshoeing provided means for me to start my quest of summiting the 48 4,000-footers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire during the winter. Now that I reside in Utah, exploring the Wasatch-Uinta-Cache National Forest is far easier and more fun thanks to my trusty snowshoes. If you’ve always wanted to get out into the outdoors in the middle of winter, a pair of snowshoes may be your ticket to getting away from it all. Here’s a guide for choosing the snowshoes that are right for you. Working on the same general principle as skis, snowshoes spread your weight [...]

John Tribbia

Uncertain footing in snow and ice can discourage the dedicated endurance athlete, even a member of the Salomon-Backcountry running team like myself, from running during the winter. When it gets ugly underfoot, it’s all too easy to just give and go to the gym and get on the treadmill. But if you’re looking to get your fix of fresh air and sunshine, along with a great workout, snowshoe running might be the ticket. Snowshoe running is a fast-growing sport in the US, offering a safe, low-impact alternative to running on trails, giving you a new way to build strength and [...]

Adam Riser

Staying warm is the key to having fun in freezing temps. Here’s a breakdown of the two basic types of insulation and the kinds of jackets they insulate. Down vs. Synthetic The overriding principle at work in insulated jackets (and sleeping bags, mittens, or any other insulated apparel) is the same: air is trapped in the small spaces between the filaments of down or strands of polyester, providing warmth in cold conditions. Loftier (or puffier, if you will) materials consist of more air, and offer a greater warmth-to-weight ratio. Overall, down is lighter, more compressible, and longer-lasting than synthetic insulation. [...]

Adam W. Chase

As the captain and manager of Team Salomon US, I’m honored to introduce the members of our team who have joined the Herd and become part of the Backcountry.com squad. The following athletes represent Salomon’s and BC’s shared mountain heritage and zeal for off-road endurance athletics. Their accomplishments are too numerous to list here, so these brief profiles, glimpses into the personalities that make up the team, are mere teasers. Aliza Lapierre A true Vermonter, Aliza is both rugged and pensive. The vegetarian social worker and featured blogger for Running Times doesn’t say something unless she means it, and she doesn’t [...]

Lexi D.

Stuffed with high-quality 900-fill goose down, The North Face Super Diez Down Jacket is a warm, lightweight layer well-suited to battling frigid temperatures in harsh environments. The jacket is very thin and packable, featuring baffled construction to eliminate cold spots. I’ve tested this jacket while skiing at Alta when the temperature read -9F, during temps in the teens skiing at Snowbird, backcountry skiing in the Wasatch, and for general use about town and walking outdoors. Tech Spec Fabric Technology – Pertex Quantum GL (10D nylon water-resistant ripstop fabric) Insulation – 900-fill goose down, baffled construction Venting – None Pockets – [...]

Adam Riser

Everything went wrong. You misread the snow conditions and the first one to drop triggered a massive slide. The whole crew watched as closely as they could, but you lost sight of your friend and don’t have a clue where he is. This is the moment you’ve feared (and prepared for) since the day you started backcountry skiing. You unzip your jacket, pull your beacon from its chest pouch, switch it to receive, and begin one of the scariest things you’ll ever do in your life. This is what will happen during those hour-long minutes… Transmitting Any beacon made after [...]

Brian Bernard

What started as a way to make cheap tequila ever-so-slightly more palatable has evolved into an ongoing game of mixological one-upsmanship with no end in sight. Whether you’re headed to the desert to ring in the new year on ribbons of singletrack, diving deep into the woods for an avoid-the-crowds yurt trip, or taking in the closing-day shitshow at the resort, these five cocktails add a bit of celebratory spirit to your sport hydration drinks. That means they’re good for you, too. Skratcharitas The Skratcharita is a favorite, and for good reason. Pick your delight—lemon-lime, raspberry, or orange—and kick back [...]

Joshua Barnes

Nothing beats coming in from skiing to meet a blazing fire and a warm shelter. Backcountry huts and yurts mean you can log day after day of pristine backcountry touring and cap them off with cozy nights with an actual roof over your head. Above Photo By: Tommy Chandler You can hole up in a five-star resort in pretty much any mountain town; you can also skin into the backcountry with nothing but your sleeping bag and a candle to keep you warm in an ice cave you dug yourself. Both are legitimate ways to spend the night in the [...]

Andrew Scarcella

There’s nothing like a cold, plasticky energy bar to bum you out on even the most epic day of touring. Sometimes I swear I’d rather bonk than eat another mealy, chocolate-esque conglomeration that’s more pretending to be food than actually being it. Well, enough is enough. (You don’t have to throw out your old energy bars, just leave them in your pack. You know, for emergencies.) We can eat better in the backcountry, and it starts here and now. French Toast PB&Js Never heard of a French toast PB&J before? That’s because it didn’t exist until just now. And while [...]

Beth Lopez

Your puffy spares you the shivers on long chairlift rides, it offers a cozy embrace when you’re belaying a long pitch, and it lets you enjoy evening stargazing on alpine backpacking trips. And what do you do for it in return? Cram it into a stuff sack. Not cool. Without proper care, an underappreciated puffy will start to lose its loft, which compromises its insulation and makes it look lumpy. (It will also develop a lingering aroma reminiscent of, well, you at your mankiest.) Consider these tips for keeping down jackets in primo condition for season after season of use. [...]

Michelle Larson

Scientific research isn’t always your friend. The evidence can be conflicting, backed by financially interested parties, or simply not applicable to your particular brand of sport. You’re the athlete, and if you listen, your body will likely tell you what’s up. However, there are some trusted schools of thought behind hydration and rehydration. Daily Hydration In researching this article, I found a sweet chart depicting urine color as it corresponds to hydration levels. A nice, light yellow for a well-hydrated body gradually increasing to something the color of pea soup as dehydration sets in. (Pretty sure the pea-soup fella has severely [...]

Rocky Thompson

In my Midwestern town it’s expected that following high school or college you’ll pack up your car and drive west to work at a ski resort for a winter, where you’ll finally put to use all that techy gear you’ve been wearing around campus the last four years. My own trip came together when a friend working in Utah offered me the use of his couch for as long as I wanted, provided I could pay $150 a month and didn’t mind peeing into a Gatorade bottle late at night since the only bathroom was off his bedroom. I landed [...]

Austen Diamond

The alarm goes off at 6 a.m., and it’s a powder day. Before you get out of bed, you repeat this to yourself three times: “I will do anything to get the shot.” You live and breathe this photography mantra—bruises and smashed gear attest to it—but it wouldn’t be possible without the right high-tech backpack. What, are you going to carry your gaggle of gear in your hands? You need a high-functioning DSLR camera bag that’ll organize and protect your equipment. Above Photo By: Ian Matteson Here are several things to consider when you’re purchasing a backcountry photography backpack, and [...]

Backcountry Video

As the scope and range of outdoor pursuits grows and mountain athletes continue to specialize, the need for activity-specific outerwear tech is more apparent than ever. To satisfy the wide range of performance needs, Gore-Tex offers three unique technologies—Gore-Tex, Gore-Tex Pro, and Gore-Tex Active. But before we break it down, a few definitions are in order. At the heart of the Gore-Tex fabric is an extremely thin membrane with over nine billion pores per square inch (as shown to the right between the two fabrics). These microscopic pores are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet, so they don’t allow [...]

Backcountry Video

With the help of a new 13,000 square foot studio and a gear-savvy film crew, Backcountry is working to blur the line between the virtual and physical shopping experiences. Featuring innovative, 360-degree views, and informative graphics, the video team is committed to providing the visual information and confidence you need to pull the trigger on the best gear out there.

Austin H.

Above Photo By: Ian Matteson  Zip It, Zip It Good Anyone who spends time outside has a favorite jacket—it’s a staple in the kit of every hiker, climber, skier, snowboarder, cyclist, or mountaineer. But the one-jacket-for-everything days are long gone. To get you started on the path to understanding your jacket options, we outlined the five most basic styles. The Shell Jacket A shell (or hardshell) jacket is your first layer of protection against wind, rain, and snow. Shell jackets forgo insulation in favor of versatility, simplicity, and weight savings. Single, double, or triple-layer synthetic material makes the shell jacket [...]

Adam Riser

Above Photo By: Ian Matteson Until synthetic insulation, down feathers were the primary insulation used in sleeping bags and puffy jackets. Down feathers offer powerful warmth, but they have a weakness: moisture. A new type of water-resistant down insulation addresses this weakness, and we’ll discuss its benefits in this article. The Beginning Temperature and weather are two of the biggest obstacles to any outdoor activity. Much of the gear that we use either protects us from weather or helps us regulate temperature—and some do both. Until recently, down feathers were the primary insulation used in sleeping bags and puffy jackets. [...]

Adam Riser

Above Photo By: Ian Matteson Looking for a ski or snowboard jacket, a technical shell, or a rain jacket? Here’s a guide to waterproof jackets, including features to look for and features to avoid. (It covers pants, too.) What’s Covered: Ski and Snowboard Jackets Technical Shells Rain Jackets Ski and Snowboard Pants Technical Pants Rain Pants Ski/Snowboard Jackets Key Features: In a broad sense, anything with a powder skirt can be considered a ski or snowboard jacket, as that’s really the only unifying feature. Powder skirts are pretty key, because whether you’re riding deep powder or just experiencing a particularly [...]

Backcountry Video

Nearly every piece of technical outerwear today is treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish before leaving the factory. The DWR treatment is the first line of defense against wet weather conditions and prevents the face fabric from becoming saturated. When you see water beading up and rolling off your Gore-Tex jacket or down puffy, that’s actually the DWR technology at work. DWR is a polymer applied to the face fabric that creates microscopic pegs, or hairs, that protrude from the fabric. (You didn’t know that you were bristling like a hedgehog in your new ski jacket, did you?) [...]

Danielle Mariott

Above Photo By: Ian Matteson Different body types, output levels, and weather conditions require different amounts of insulation. Building a bomber layering system is one part trial and error and one part know-how. Here are some things to keep in mind as you fine tune your own repertoire of winter layers. The Base for Layering There’s a misconception that thickness equals warmth. This is intrinsically incorrect. Especially for a first layer. Here are some guidelines for a good first layer: 1: Keep it breathable. We’ve come a long way in breathable fibers. Many synthetic fibers, like Patagonia’s Capilene, are quite breathable, but keeping the first [...]

Matthew Pizza

Above Photo: Backcountry Athletes Griffin Post and Neil Provo Shot By: Tommy Chandler Love to snowshoe or backcountry ski? Don’t want to leave all the creature comforts of the city behind? A yurt trip might be just what you’re looking for. For those of you that don’t know what a yurt is, it’s a domed structure in the middle of nowhere, most times complete with a small deck, a skylight for watching the stars, and a wood-burning stove to keep you warm. Yurts are a great way to spend time with friends and get out and comfortably and safely enjoy [...]

Adam Riser

Do you need a different jacket for skiing inbounds than you do for backcountry touring? What should you look for in an expedition jacket? How about a casual jacket for cold chillin’ in winter weather? Here’s some initial advice. Alpine Skiing/Snowboarding You need a jacket that keeps you warm on the chairlift and dry while you ride. How warm and how dry depends on the weather in your area. There isn’t a whole lot of super-aerobic activity involved in alpine skiing or snowboarding, so you don’t need the most breathable thing on the market. Fit is also entirely up to [...]

Curtis Jensen

Above Photo Shot 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 woven materials used to make technical outdoor clothing that’s more breathable (but less water and wind resistant), more flexible, and generally more durable than hardshell materials. Softshells emerged in the early to mid-2000s in outdoor activities like climbing and mountaineering—aerobic activities with dynamic weather conditions, where a highly breathable, somewhat waterproof, [...]

Curtis Jensen

Not all fleece jackets are created equal. Differences in synthetic and natural fibers, fleece weights, and jacket features make for a range of possibilities when choosing a fleece jacket. Here’s the lowdown on this popular midlayer. Enter Synchilla In 1985, Patagonia released its first Synchilla fleece jacket, a mass-produced, synthetic fiber, midlayer insulating piece that was quick drying, packable, and lightweight, an excellent alternative to the badly pilled powder-blue-and-tan pile sweaters common in the early ’80s, or the traditional water-absorbing wool, down, or cotton layers that dominated mountaineering clothing in the decades before. Synchilla was the product of years of [...]