You only have a few days for ski touring gifts. Ten ideas.
Two-way radios make terrific gifts since enthusiasts enjoy owning various models. For example, a BCA Link system is good but a bit klunky and expensive, so a smaller “blister pack” system can be a nice alternative for something more compact. Our two-way radios article has all the info and shopping links. We’ve been using the BCA Link as well as the waterproof Motorola MS350R shown in link to right. MS350 does not have a volume knob so it’s a bit harder to control, but once you get used to the front panel buttons you’ll see the advantage of not having a dial to get bumped.
SPOT-Globalstar Satphone is not the most fully featured satphone out there, nor does it work in the far north or south, but for use in most of the world it is affordable and effective (actually works better in our area than more expensive Iridium). Thing is, we’re fans of emergency beacons such as Spot Messenger, yet ultimately using a “telephone” is so much simpler and more effective. Just remember to add local emergency numbers to your address book as dialing 911 on a satphone doesn’t work. Shop for a SPOT Globalstar phone!
BCA Float airbag backpack is a nice compromise between weight and features. Well made, competitive pricing. If your lovely backcountry skier doesn’t sport an airbag, now is the time. What’s more, BCA now sells a pump for refilling your own gas cylinder — thus eliminating a huge hassle.
Skialper Magazine Buyer Guide 2016 is an Italian magazine that annually publishes the encyclopedia of ski touring gear. Paper version is expensive and takes a long time to ship, but the online versions are always available. More info here.
Assessing slope angle is key for evaluating avalanche hazard. PoleClinometer is a quick and easy way to get an on-the-go slope angle measurement, without having to add another gizmo to your pack. It’s a sticker that you attach onto your ski pole. Clever and an excellent stocking stuffer.
Cascade Design’s E-Case is the best way we’ve found to protect our cell phones against weather while still allowing full functionality. Get it slightly oversized since the clear plastic is grabby and a little extra room makes taking your device in and out a lot easier.
When we’re not in our beloved backcountry, we like to read about it. Almost every surface of our house has some sort of ski related literature on it. The Ski Journal is our favorite ski magazine. Skiing History is another publication we enjoy and each issue is full of interesting articles like the one about hundreds of rare ski posters found in a Scottish attic.
Books that we leaf through time and again are:
Every skier needs a travel camera with at least an electronic viewfinder (EVF). You simply can not capture consistently good action shots in bright “snow bowl” sunlight using an external rear-mounted LCD. Sure, an SLR is best, but even the lightest are bulky and add ounces. Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 is not feather light at 8 ounces, but it has a monster 30x zoom lens and is fully featured for prosumer image making. And it does fit in a pocket or small camera pouch attached to your backpack.
With airline delays so common these days, we always have a lightweight sleeping bag and pad in our carry-on luggage. Our cocoon of choice is Mountain Equipment Helium paired with a Klymit X Lite sleeping pad. The Klymit is super minimalist and not as comfy as a Thermarest, but it packs down to the size of a cell phone and adds enough padding to make sleeping on an airport floor tolerable. Add some ear plugs and the Bedtime Bliss Contoured Sleep Mask, and you’ll slumber almost as well as at home. We bring these items on hut trips too.
There’s the WildSnow Ultimate Quiver of Skis and we also have a quiver of packs in our closet. One of our favorite new additions is the Free Range Raven pack. It is designed for skimo racing but we find it perfect for uphilling or a short tour in the backcountry. The sleek pack lacks the do-dadds we detest and at 25 liters, it’s roomy enough to fit the basics for backcountry skiing. Well made of durable yet lightweight fabric, it sports two small zippered pockets and an inner sleeve for skins or hydration bladder. A wide area on the shoulder straps have slots for holding energy bars, gu, lip balm or a small radio. Available here: Free Range Equipment
Happy Holidays! The crew at WildSnow wishes you a season full of ski touring fun in the wild snow.
While most of the WildSnow backcountry skiing blog posts are best attributed to a single author, some work well as done by the group.