Some publications do their editor’s choice awards based on what new and virtually untested product they think is cool. That way they get their pics done before their autumn gear issues and in time for their placards to decorate booths at the winter OR Show. For better or worse, that’s the way it is with print. But we’re different. We pick stuff as the “choice” after it gets use for a while. So we’re doing our “Editor’s Choice” list in the summer. Format is simple. Each of our guest bloggers picks one item of gear, hopefully new or somewhat new, that they thought stood out for them.
Jonathan Shefftz: “After tech ski bindings, ski boots are arguably the most important backcountry gear item, as their weight is pivoted on every skinning stride, their stiffness provides the critical transmission of body movements to your skis while descending, yet that stiffness has to somehow largely disappear for the ascent. Previously ski boots were always a compromise between the up vs the down, yet the Dynafit TLT5 has the best of all worlds.” Reviews. Shop.
Nick Thompson: “Ski inserts from Binding Freedom and Quiver Killer. Love being able to swap my bindings around, allowing me to own just one pair of Dynafits and switch to my Axls when I want to drop a knee. Install seems intimidating at first, but if you use a tap alignment block and practice on some dumpster skis it is actually pretty easy. I always carry a hex driver bit for my multi tool to tighten the screws in case they come loose (which hasn’t happened with Vibra-Tite coating on my threads). Shop Binding Freedom here.
Shop Quiver Killer here.
Quiver Killer review.
Lou Dawson: “Shell garment (any brand) made from Polartec Neoshell. This stuff combines a significantly water resistant and breathable membrane with a thin outer fabric that has the look and feel of softshell. When I say “breathable” I actually mean this stuff breaths like Lance Armstrong on the Col du Tourmalet. Amazing how dry you stay. Neoshell lacks almost all the clammy feeling you get from most shells that are waterproof enough to survive a rainstorm.
Shop for Neoshell clothing.
Lee Lau: Scarpa Maestrale alpine touring boot. Reverses an unpleasant trend of increasing prices in backcountry gear. Manages to achieve the holy trinity of lightness, performance and affordability. Review. Shop.
Jordan: I’d have to jump to (or in) my Patagonia Alpine Guide pants. They are a super thin softshell pant that have been on every trip I’ve been on this year. “Weather” it was climbing on the desert, rock climbing outside of Carbondale, or climbing and skiing Capitol Peak. It is probably about time to wash them.
Scott Nelson: “B&D ski crampons, which I actually used quite a bit. They have been really durable (except on rocks…), super lightweight, worked great on the early morning steep traverses while climbing, and they just allowed me to relax a bit and breath easily while I was staring at the void below my feet on occasion, fearing the dreaded slide for life. Review. Shop.
Lisa Dawson: “Definitely the K2 Gotbacks. The best all-around ski I’ve ever been on, makes any type of condition feel like hero snow, this gal’s go-to. While just average in weight, I compensated with Dynafit TLT bindings with no brakes, and since they save me so much energy on the down, the few added ounces is really nothing. Review. Shop.
Anton Sponar: “Mammut 8.5 mil rope. Jordan and I have the same one and that is what we doubled up to rap with on Capitol Peak (Colorado). I really like the rope because it is light and easy enough to strap to a pack. It is also dry treated. Jordan and I left it in a snow hole cache at the base of Capitol for a week during one of our other attempts. When we dug it out it was dry and didn’t weigh any more than when we put it in. Amazing. All the webbing that was in there, another story.” Shop.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.