Backcountry Skiing Electronics make Ski Touring Safer and Easier


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 10, 2006      

Reminders: 24 Hours of Sunlight skimo race starts tomorrow, elite class will definitely be fun to watch. According to race promoter Mike Marolt, there are now more than 100 registered participants! Should be a scene! We decided to go ahead and enter a team, and I’ll be blogging as frequently as possible. Also, don’t forget the interesting job opportunity we blogged a few days ago.

A few folks have asked what we’re using for backcountry electronics around here. Good blog subject:

Camera
Making your pack lighter may seem impossible. You trim a gram there and an ounce here, and progress feels as slow as the morning traffic jam on Aspen’s main street. Fortunately for me, I was carrying a heavy camera (Canon Rebel) — by switching to a lighter one I cut 26 ounces. My new Canon A620 is a bit tougher to use than the Rebel for action shots, but does just as good a job with landscapes and portraits. It’s even got some features that my model of Rebel lacks, such as flash exposure compensation, variable shutter delay, larger flip-out LCD, and more.

My main criteria when shopping for a small “point-and-shoot” was that it used AA batteries, as well as user variable aperture and ISO, a wide range zoom and a fully functional manual mode. The A620 has all that and more, it’s really an amazing little camera. My only gripes are the size of the LCD (bigger would be nice), lack of a point/shoot “sport” mode that optimizes for action, and the difficult to use manual focus. With AA lithium batteries I’m getting amazing battery life, and it seems to work okay in the cold. While you can get lighter and smaller cameras, many lack an optical viewfinder, use proprietary batteries and don’t have a decent manual mode. Hence I’m going a few ounces heavier but getting it all.

Altimeter watch
I gave up on most alti-watches a long time ago; too bulky and hard to use. The last few years a new generation of watches have been cropping up. They’re smaller, less pricy and seem simpler. The Origo shown below is one such unit we’ve been testing. It appears to work fine, though swapping the battery can be a bit tough, and it appears to have limited battery life (hint: use magnifying glass to figure out how the battery clip works). A better choice in altimeter watches might be any of the Highgear models. I’m using a Highgear Axis and am very happy with it. The functions are pretty much the same as the Origo, but the battery lasts way longer.

Cell phone
I recently upgraded my phone, and went for the smallest one I could get that still had an LCD I could see my contact list on. The LG shown below fit the bill, and saved me 3 ounces over my old brick. It also has much better battery life.

Backcountry Skiing Electronics
Choices for backcountry skiing electronics. Canon A620 digital camera, Origo OC-036 altimeter watch, LG C1-500 cell phone

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  Your Comments

  • Louie III: I was referring to the Alien. I haven't tried on the Alien 1.0 recently, so...
  • Lou Dawson 2: I made a Backland Mountain mounting template. https://www.wildsnow.com/b...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Dave, that's a good suggestion. I'll see if Louie can go back through a...
  • Dave E: Hey Louie(s) and Scott Mellin, When you guys are referring to the Alien ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Updated this post with claimed release values for the two new bindings....
  • Bill H: How about a theoretical head-to-head shoot out between ROAMr 108, 108, Kufo...
  • Brad Fowler: Thanks both Greg and See for the suggestions....
  • See: Brad, you could also put a piece of loop side velcro over the exposed hook ...
  • Greg: Brad F. check skimo.com. They have Dynafit boot parts....
  • Lee: Nice looking pack. Sure do seem to be borrowing heavily from their former ...
  • Lee: Nice looking pack. Sure do seem to be borrowing heavily from their former ...
  • See: Re. Memory fit, Vacuum fit: I can see how it might work for some people wit...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Personally, for a real ski mountaineering boot I'd rather start with thick ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Added Salomon Mountain binding with brake to delta chart, is uses base plat...
  • Brad Fowler: Thanks Louie for the detailed info! I appreciate that my question was a b...
  • Tom Gos: Anybody know if you can successfully replace/mod the new Mirage style ski/w...
  • benwls: Brian, I had to use a razor blade to trim the lugs under the toe fittings o...
  • Brian: Looks like a smart upgrade to the boot line for Scarpa. Would have liked to...
  • Max: How does the SENDr compare to the G3 District 112 of a few seasons ago? I s...
  • Jacob: About the 109 synapse, read on friflyt.no that it won't be apart of next ye...
  • Andy M.: What's the last width on the Synchro? I like the elimination of the fr...
  • Dan: I've used the ski (ZG 85) with TLT6Ps and La Sportiva Syborgs. Both boots d...
  • Drew Tabke: So which boot will you mainly be skiing this winter, Louie? Myself pers...
  • See: (Oh, and Louie… That’s some fine photography and reviewing. Thanks.)...
  • See: Given the variation in binding ramp angle, the lack of adjustable lean is b...
  • reukk: I know this is an old post but seeing how these skis haven't changed for th...
  • Louie III: Yep, the SENDr has much more camber than the Empire, much more like the Fin...
  • Steve: Phil - Its not a full-rocker ski. Has the profile like the FINDr, but with...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Nice work Aaron, it's mystifying as to why boot companies don't provide mor...
  • Stewart: What about the Synapse 109?...

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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