5 Backcountry Ski Touring Items — Holiday Gift List

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 5, 2014      

When I brainstorm gift ideas for my mountaineering friends, I think of what I could use another of. Something that would be a welcome, even if they already have one — or two.

Inexplicably, Boa lace system on both shoes broke within minutes during a remote approach.  Voile straps to the rescue.

Inexplicably, Boa lace system on both shoes broke within minutes during a remote approach. Voile straps to the rescue.

1. Voile straps are a backcountry skier’s duct tape. We find the longer lengths the most useful.

The most important task for Lou's headlamp is illuminating his preparation of hot buttered rum, yum, yum.

The most important task for Lou’s headlamp is illuminating his preparation of hot buttered rum, yum, yum.

2. You can never have too many headlamps. One is necessary in your backcountry kit of course; an extra is handy on short winter days for biking, and any fumbling around in the dark. I use mine for checking the steaks on our grill after the sun sets.

Black Diamond Revolt headlamp.

Black Diamond Revolt headlamp.

Black Diamond Revolt can be charged with batteries or USB port. 130 lumens, about 4 oz and small enough to fit in your pocket or purse — city or backcountry.

Darn Tough Ski/Ride socks are Lou's pick.

Darn Tough Ski/Ride socks are Lou's pick.

3. A new pair of socks is always a treat. We recommend thin wool for skiing. Our favorite brand is Darn Tough and we wear them year round. They last. They’re expensive at $20+ per pair, but not a bad price for a high quality stocking stuffer. For maximum foot to boot responsiveness, we like seamless, over-the-calf ultra lights. Last time we looked Darn Tough sold a version specifically for skiing, with extra “padding.” Conventional wisdom in performance skiing is you get your “padding” from a well molded boot liner, not from random factory layers added to a sock. So again, stick with the ultra-light. See our Darn Tough sock reviews.

On the top of our reading pile.

On the top of our reading pile.

4. Ski Journal.
Ski Journal. It’s on every one of our gift lists. Yes, you only need one, but the subscription needs to be renewed again and again. (Hint, latest ish’ has the definitive profile of Glen Plake, pretty much a full biography of the most famous skier in the galaxy.)

5. Gorilla Tape — it’s almost too sticky. We stash rolls in the truck, kitchen, garage and cabin. Lou even uses it on his working man hammered hands. It’s been wrapped on my ski poles for the last few years and still works. Duct tape would have caramelized seasons ago. Hint: If you’re in the backcountry and need tape to really stick, wave a lighter flame over the glue before application. Hint 2: Be careful using Gorilla tape on bare skin as it can stick so well that removal is impossible without injury (same goes for duct tape, only not so much; assist removal of both by applying heat and solvent).

Readers — your additions to the list?


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16 Responses to “5 Backcountry Ski Touring Items — Holiday Gift List”

  1. James November 5th, 2014 10:31 am

    Definitely second the Gorilla Tape, nothing sticks like it! It even makes great hard shell jacket repairs, especially if you iron it on at a low setting.
    The caution about using it on skin is essential info. Using it as emergency blister tape is not a good idea, and from personal experience it will end painfully!

  2. wyomingowen November 5th, 2014 10:42 am

    Skip wrapping your poles in tape. Pull the guts from a ball point pen and cut to length for a spool. This allows you to always keep the tape in your pack with the rest of your first aid/ repair. And you can place it close to your body for warmth instead of standing there with a lighter. You will not need to peel/waste weather exposed layers ie. extra grams of weight.

    As for “too sticky” all the motocross helmet wearing ‘bilers in WY add a few drops of water to the tape before direct application to skin. Works every time without injury, caveat of course if the skin is broken, ie blisters.

  3. Mark W November 5th, 2014 11:10 am

    Sure those are Boa? I don’t see the Boa dial.

  4. GearX November 5th, 2014 11:57 am

    Darn Tough Socks are the Best! They are made in the USA (Vermont) made of Merino Wool, and have a lifetime guarantee! Seriously, you get a hole in them or they wear thin, you can bring them back to the place you bought them, or send them into Darn Tough, and get a new pair!

    A flask is a must in my pack on a long ski tour, just saying!

  5. Lisa Dawson November 5th, 2014 12:03 pm

    Mark W., the sneakers were retrofitted with the Boa lace system. It lasted for two years of hard use so we have no complaints with them. Funny how they both broke within minutes of eachother — perhaps a little mouse gnawed on them.

  6. Andy M. November 5th, 2014 12:21 pm

    Last year I gave all the backcountry skiers in my life an Adventure Medical Emergency Bivvy with a pair of Voile straps.

    I prefer super glue for blisters rather than tape, although it hurts like a **** to initially apply it. Slice the blister open, pat it dry, then apply the glue under the flaps. You can either use normal super glue, or vet grade if you’re worried about getting something non-toxic.

  7. Lisa Dawson November 5th, 2014 12:35 pm

    wyominggowen – thanks for the tip about adding water for an effective Gorilla tape bandaid!

  8. Lisa Dawson November 5th, 2014 12:48 pm

    Andy M, the bivvy sack is an excellent idea. We like the waterproof, breathable ones made by SOL, Escape and Escape lite. They are small enough to stuff into our shovel handles.

  9. UltraDave November 5th, 2014 1:02 pm

    I will pile on with praise for the Gorilla Tape, but I will add that I’ve found it not to work well on skin for the opposite reason – it does NOT stick to the skin like duct tape. I’ve gotten my boots pretty well dialed in, but have sported tape on the heels for multi-day trips before, and gorilla tape with sweaty socks seems to remove itself over time, while duct tape will be there long after the campfire smell is gone. I keep a few feet of both around a golf pencil – same idea a the pen roll, but still a workable writing implement.

  10. UltraDave November 5th, 2014 1:05 pm

    Oh yah, add a whistle to your list of back country essentials, and affordable gift items. I have a friend who would have spent the night in a tree well were he no so equipped.

  11. Peter November 6th, 2014 6:09 am

    Those brightly colored, plastic-sheathed, Kuhn Rikon knives are my favorite for my backcountry pack. Great stocking stuffer. They’re not as sexy as a Spyderco or Leatherman, but they cost $5, weigh almost nothing, hold a good edge, truly stainless, yadayadayada.
    Like a roll of Gorilla Tape, they are cheap enough and work well enough to stash one everywhere and give one to everyone.
    They cut tomatoes pretty well too 😉

  12. Mike November 6th, 2014 7:38 am

    I ask mom for a new pair of Kinco 901’s every year. The old ones get thrown in the truck for shoveling and yard work.

    Bulk package of AAA batteries make great stocking stuffers.

    Long underwear and socks also make the list.

  13. Mike November 6th, 2014 7:39 am

    Just realized, skiers might be the only people who actually ask for socks and underwear for xmas.

  14. Erik Erikson November 6th, 2014 8:19 am

    @ Peter: According to knives, my now favourite is the new Petzl Spatha jack knife (not the previious model, which could not be locked): blade half straight, half serrated (great for cutting cords etc), can be opened with gloves, the blade can be locked and you can clip the knife per carabiner where ever you want.
    Smalll enough to fit in everywhere, but big enough to be usefull and weighing only about 40 grams. bright yellow plastic handle, so it does not get lost to easy.

  15. Trent November 11th, 2014 4:27 pm

    Lisa, what shovel do you use? Any worries that it will cut the bivy sac? Great tip!

  16. Dan Nelson November 14th, 2014 1:26 pm

    A very experienced guide once told me that steel wool + a small tube of super glue stuffed into the drill hole of a binding that breaks off the ski will hold in a pinch. Apparently he has used it with success. I always carried the super glue for blisters and such, but have added the steel wool to my kit.

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