While the lifetime warrantee on your North Face pack from grammar school is meant to be honored, there’s something to be said for retiring before things unravel. Today’s daypacks will haul your climbing gear or your laptop over mountains and through airports. These are our favorites.
Earn Your Turns
Ski mountaineering is the ultimate punishment tour in the mountains — moving uphill with heavy gear through deep snow and ice — with a perfect payoff when it’s time to go down. We spent this winter testing the best winter mountaineering and ski gear on some of the biggest peaks in Utah and Colorado as we trained for the Power of 4 Ski Mountaineering Race. If you’re looking to start going further in search of deep powder, look no further for the best extreme-condition gear for any winter climbing mission.
Live From Salt Lake City
We like to get our hands on new gear early, and short of theft and corporate espionage one of the best ways to do that is by checking out Outdoor Retailer, a biannual product show for retailers, manufacturers and other industry pros. We were on hand at the Winter Market 2014 show at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT, where every brand with a stake in the great outdoors showed off their future cold-weather wares. Of everything we touched, tasted and saw, this gear stood out most.
Deep powder is a religious experience, and it takes just one perfect day of blue skies and bottomless snow to become a pious worshiper. From Alyeska to Taos, powderhounds feverishly monitor weather reports for the next big storm, and after spending a weekend skiing 12,000-foot ridges in Telluride, we know exactly why: powder skiing is as close as man can get to flying in the mountains. The best way to enjoy the fluffy stuff is with the right gear. Here’s what we pack on Powder Day.
Two Boards Good
A new pair of skis is more than just a new piece of expensive gear: it’s an investment in winter stoke. It doesn’t matter if you’re a stone cold powder hound or a retired gate-crashing racer, we’ve got five pairs of skis to cover your needs this season.
Gear for the Top of World
Sometimes the mountains just call your name. Whether you’ve got a season to train for a summit bit up Mt. Rainier or just a Saturday afternoon to log some miles hiking up the local ski hill, the right gear can mean the difference between enjoying the majesty and struggling through misery (or worse). Here’s the gear we used for our recent solo free climb of Mount Olympus in Utah — but it’s perfect for any ultralight mountain mission.
Gear to get you up the Wall
No other sport relies quite as heavily on gear during life-and-death situations as climbing. Your gear is the only lifeline (and sometimes when you’re a few hundred feet up a sheer wall, no amount of gear seems to be enough) holding you to the rock. Selecting the right harness, rope, and protection, then, makes the difference between not just surviving your time on the wall, but enjoying every agonizing toe hold and finger-cramping crack jam. Here’s what we hauled up the rock on our climb up Ancient Art tower in Moab, Utah.
For The Ski Bum In Denial
Every year for Memorial Day a few die-hard friends and I skip the barbecues to indulge our powder habit one last time. Summer skiing is our way of throwing a middle finger to the sun before our precious snow melts for another year. The festivities begin with early morning hikes above the treeline and finish with goggle-tanned, smiling faces telling stories of epic wipeouts and slushy runs around the campfire. Here’s the gear we used to tackle the last runs of the year.
Halda Watches Halda’s interchangeable concept watches feature base “time platforms” and multiple “time modules” in a horological version of Face Off. Mechanical and digital modules for both the “Race Pilot” and the “Space Discovery” mean you can tailor your look and your timekeeping features to your environment. haldasweden.com Kreg Tool Automaxx Bench Klamp System This…
Now there’s officially a headlamp for every scenario. The Black Diamond Sprinter ($54) is designed for low-light runs departing from a consistent base of operations (a.k.a. your home) and perfect for twilight or dawn workouts. As the first headlamp to tout a lithium rechargeable battery, you won’t have to deal with swapping out AAs, but…
Catch ya' gaitor
Boots only provide so much protection from the bog, and when the going gets deep, the deep get gaiters. Our choice: Black Diamond’s GTX FrontPoint Gaiters ($70). Not only do they protect from the sludge with their Velcro closure, ballistylc nylon lower and breathable 2-layer Gore-Tex upper but they’re relatively light at just 9 oz…
Not Your Father's Walking Stick
People have been using trekking poles on the trails for years. If you’ve ever seen someone wielding them, you might have thought they looked a little goofy and were unnecessary. After recently attending a workshop on hiking the John Muir Trail, this hiker found out that trekking poles were an absolute necessity. When I began…