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Backcountry Gearheads

What is a Gearhead? The word can mean a lot of different things, but here at Backcountry, a “Gearhead” is a customer service rep–but with a very big difference. We’re experts that go above and beyond to make outdoor experiences a part of every Backcountry customer’s life. A Gearhead’s resume might include things like a Pacific Crest Trail through-hike, a year as an Outward Bound guide, a cross-country bike tour, or several years as a pro skier or snowboard instructor. As a result, we know exactly what you need to follow your own passions. We have a saying at Backcountry, [...]

Eli Harrison

The step-in snowboard binding is back. “Not again!” I thought. The first round of step-in bindings for snowboards left a lot to be desired. High off the board and super stiff, they never caught on, for good reason. And I just had visions of ejecting out of the bindings and having to search around in the snow for my board, just like a skier. So when I heard Burton had created a new Step On system, I was kind of skeptical. Burton’s been previewing the new Step-On bindings/boot system in advance of next fall’s debut, and since Backcountry will be [...]

Geoff Conner

I have been rock climbing since I was about 10 years old (I’m 31 now) and am absolutely addicted to the sport.  However, up until a couple years ago, I limited myself to rock because, well, ice scared the crap out of me. All the crazy variables—the cold, the foreign surface, odd equipment, and who knows what else—always kept me away. Fortunately, I have friends who pointed out the error in my logic; all those things are what make ice climbing awesome!  Seriously, the cold is alleviated by wearing the right clothing, the ice surface is really freaking neat, and [...]

Jared Downs

Originally, snowshoeing provided means for me to get started on my quest of summiting the 48 4000-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 [...]

Colin Clancy

Calculating how to layer on clothing for maximum comfort while venturing outside can be a tricky equation—and I hate math. There are lots of variables, like unknown or changing weather conditions and activity levels that can range on a given day from strenuous boot-packing or snowshoeing to long sedentary chairlift rides or winter camping. Everybody’s different, too, with different comfort and exertion levels, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the layering question. Lucky for us, we can leave our Number 2 pencils at home, because this is a trial-and-error sort of thing. Once you figure out the layering options that [...]

Colin Clancy

If you’re like me, you live for mornings of digging out cars, of cheering when the lifties open the mountain, and of getting off the first chair of the day with excited ferocity. And, of course, you live for mornings full of face shots. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few of these increasingly elusive days a season. You’d better make the most of them. First Off, Get There Early Arriving at the parking lot at ten might as well be getting there at two in the afternoon. For me, waking up ass early is only acceptable when I’m hunting [...]

Chris Rooney

We’ve all been there: it’s cold outside and the local bouldering spots, if not covered in snow and ice, might give your fingers frostbite. But you’re just plain tired of climbing on plastic and 4×4 drills lose their luster after a month or two. Don’t lose your momentum, though. When you desperately need to keep ticking boulder problems, you can find plenty of amazing boulders exist all over the warmer parts of the US. Here’s the beta for six different options, from classics to lesser-known gems. Just don’t forget the crash pads. Above Photo: Derrick Krause Bishop, California Photo: Derrick [...]

William aka WhereToWillie

Norway has topped my ‘opportunities list’ for some time now, offering some of the most splendid access to pristine hiking, backpacking, and general mountain and ocean adventures that you can ask for in a single location. It’s the kind of place that doesn’t really make sense when you see it in photographs, with mountains rising thousands of feet and dropping nearly straight into the ocean—yet finding your way to a summit often only requires some hiking boots and willpower. With a long list of potential locations to explore, my bag stuffed with gear, and a flexible schedule, I set off [...]

Adam W. Chase

While regular running routes serve as havens that help maintain sanity, they are just that: routine, something that you don’t necessarily remember, the way you don’t recall brushing your teeth. Transporting the activity of running to an exotic destination adds motivation and creates indelible impressions, especially if you wrap the trip around a particular running event. It converts what may be an ordinary endeavor into an extraordinary experience. Besides, after being cooped up from an overseas flight, your body will yearn to run long and hard. Long-haul travel is the perfect taper. Malaysia and Israel are two countries runners don’t [...]

Monique Seitz-Davis

Just because winter has settled in for the season, doesn’t mean you have to hang up your running shoes or retreat to the indoor hamster wheel. And while a frigid jaunt around the park or on the trails can sound pretty darn daunting, outfitting yourself with the right gear can make all the difference. In fact, you might find yourself enjoying cold-weather running. What to Wear—From the Bottom Up Socks Okay, so socks aren’t the most glamorous place to start, but they’re effectively the foundation for your feet. I highly recommend merino wool socks to any who ask (or those [...]

Connor Johnson

When you ask most people for advice about winter camping, their response is usually either “Don’t!” or “Why?” To many, heading out into the wilderness when there’s snow on the ground and temperatures are in the single digits is totally crazy. But there are actually a lot of good reasons to go winter camping: quiet, solitude, having your pick of camping locations, and freedom from bugs and bears (which are most likely in hibernation), and, if your trip includes backcountry skiing or snowboarding, access to all the untouched snow you could want. The key, of course, is staying warm. The [...]

Colin Clancy

We’ve all felt it, the way those first stray flakes of a big winter storm turn thoughts from school or work to more important things like waxing your board or setting your ski boots next to the heater for the night. It’s not even snowing yet, but the cars in the parking lot outside the Backcountry office already have their windshield wipers pointed skyward. It might be hopeful thinking, maybe a strange offering to the snow gods, but more likely it’s the knowledge that there’s a storm a-brewin’ and we’ll soon be milking the pow cow. I spoke with Evan [...]

Curtis Jensen

Winter offers unique challenges for anglers, and it can therefore be an especially rewarding season for those who really want to hone their skills. Here are a few important facts about fly fishing during the winter months. Most rivers don’t freeze Unless you’re at very high elevation or very far from the equator, your favorite moving waters don’t freeze in the winter. This is especially the case for tailwaters, any river or stream coming from a dam or other impoundment. Most dams are built such that outflows come from positions lower down the water column, making for generally consistent water [...]

Colin Clancy

My butt’s too big for the hard molded plastic chairs of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport; my back aches and the metal armrests on either side dig into my ribs. I’m alone and broke, my student loan deposit having been delayed. People speak Swahili around me, some German, some French. Then I hear a British family across the terminal speaking English, and it brings some comfort. While this moment may seem like a lonesome one, it is actually a fond memory, one of those flashes of time that embed themselves in the mind of a traveler like a photograph. There is [...]

Patrick Law

Scoring a pair of older but pristine skis at ski swap can give you serious shopper’s high and make your season, but shopping for ski bindings gets a little trickier. There’s no pretty topsheet, stiffness to test, or sidecut to eye; there are only mysterious inner workings. But don’t be intimidated; essentially bindings attach your boots to your skis. For most types, this job also entails efficient transfer of energy from boot to ski and safe release when you fall, but it’s not rocket science. There are three main types of bindings, and here is how to choose which ones [...]

Omar Muhyar

It wasn’t that long ago when snowboard designs followed a similar formula, with shorter twin-shaped boards dominating the park scene and stiffer, slightly directional boards primarily focused on freeriding. Although these classic shapes are still relevant for their obvious strengths, snowboards are rapidly evolving with space-age materials, rocker-hybrid profiles, and shorter, wider shapes bucking preconceived notions of what’s possible in design. Influenced by surf design, many of these newer shapes are shorter and stubbier, displacing more volume for the same flotation and stability of a longer board, but without the hefty turning radius when you’re seeking stashes in tight tree [...]

Colin Clancy

Stand on a beach in Marquette, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, on a typical November day, and you’ll likely feel the cold spray from raging gale waves on Lake Superior. And then will come winter, a time that brings weeks of below zero temperatures, over 200 inches of annual snowfall, some of the best starry nights you can imagine, and great opportunities to gaze north into the dancing lights that are the aurora borealis. Before that, though, is the best time of year in the U.P. It’s a time when the typically icy waters of Superior, having had all summer to [...]

Justin Morgan

The basic function of any snow goggles is enhance your vision on the slopes, by protecting your eyes from wind, snow, impact, and cold, as well as compensating for lighting conditions. Basically, they’re key to your having a good day on the slopes, which makes getting the right pair for you kind of important. But with the dizzying selection of ski and snowboard goggles on the market today, choosing the right one can get confusing—there’s a lot more to it than picking a pair that matches your new jacket. Here’s a quick overview of things to consider while making your [...]

Colin Clancy

The trees and bushes surrounding Utah’s Weber River are full of bugs—elk hair caddis, zebra midges, and prince nymphs—hoppers, muddler minnows, and wooly buggers. I know this because I put them there, not on purpose of course. Above photo by Matt Ebbers My interest in flies started as purely utilitarian, catching fish and replacing what was missing from my box, but I soon learned to appreciate the artistic beauty of these bundles of feathers and thread, and the people who sit over the vise tying them. My fat fingers struggle to tie a rainbow warrior onto 6x tippet, so I [...]

Adam W. Chase

When you boil it down, runners are travelers. Photos by Jamie Mieras We move through space faster than walkers and hikers and, at times, we venture to different parts of the world to run on new roads and trails. Running away from home, or, rather, running while traveling, is somewhat of an acquired skill and this guide provides some shortcuts and does so contextually, in the central coast of California. Highway 1 Discovery Route is to roads what many of the trails in communities along the scenic coastal drive are to running trails: they are both iconic. As such, the [...]

Jimmy Elam

Simplicity is one of the greatest things about running. You leave the house with just your trusty pair of shoes (okay, hopefully shorts too) not worrying about flat bike tires, waxing the skis, or if your sleeping bag is warm enough. Since running is so simple, how is it that choosing a running shoe can be so challenging and frustrating? The number of running shoes on the market is overwhelming, to say the least. With varieties ranging from trail, road, neutral, stability, minimalist and maximalist, it’s no surprise many runners get stuck with a shoe that’s not for them. Don’t [...]

Kurt Wolfgang

Love coffee? Like to travel? Then the following situation probably sounds familiar: you’re a few hours into a road trip, and the bottom of your travel mug has just dried up. Your first cup was the product of a well-practiced ritual, the beans freshly roasted and the grind dialed to perfection. It got you out of town before dawn, and ensured that your adventure was off to a good start. But that cup is gone, and it’s time for a refill. You pull into the next town, and either: Spend the next half hour trying to find the best coffee [...]

Rob de Luca

If asked, most skiers would likely say that sidecut—the modern version of it—came before fat skis. They’d be wrong, but only on a technicality. Fat skis have been around since the late ’80s, but it really was the development of modern sidecut (thanks, snowboarding) in the late ’90s that started the move to fatter dimensions in skis. Since turning no longer required shins of iron and quads the size of pot-bellied pigs, skis could be made wider without making them simultaneously harder to maneuver. Width became the new hot thing, and around 2006 skis simply exploded, going as wide as [...]

Alex Bass

So you’ve narrowed down your list of snowboard choices, and all you need now is the secret formula for choosing the right size board, right? Well, sorry to disappoint you right off the bat, but no such formula exists. However, the good news is that there are some tips that can help you decide for yourself which snowboard length is right for you. Height & Weight Snowboard Size Chart Rider Weight Up to 70lb (32kg) 80lb (36kg) 90lb (41kg) 100lb (45kg) 110lb (50kg) 120lb (54kg) 130lb (59kg) 140lb (64kg) 150lb (68kg) 160lb (73kg) 170lb (77kg) 180lb (82kg) 190lb (86kg) 200lb [...]

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