10 Backcountry Things for Christmas — Lou’s Shopping List

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 25, 2014      

1. A new pair of gloves. I prefer gloves without fiddly velcro flaps that seem to get caught on everything from my socks to my fleece jacket. Try some gloves with a knit wristlet, I’m partical to POC, check ’em out. Sadly the Nail Color glove model seems to be unavailable, but the Freeride looks to be a similar buy, what with a membrane liner, leather exterior and the knitted wristlet.

2. Upgrade to tech bindings. Nothing, I mean nothing would look better under the Christmas tree than a glowing orange anodized pair of ION bindings, or a ready-to-work pair of Dynafit Speed Radical. If your giftee is trad and perhaps a Dynafit fan they’ll probably like the Speed Radical. If they live on the edge of early adoption and want the latest, IONize their day. Direct shopping links:
Purchase ION
Purchase Speed Radical

3. Oh, and they’ll need the boots to go with the bindings. This is where you might want to just hand over a gift certificate, as boot shopping is oh so personal. Boots they might be looking for:
Dynafit TLT 6
Scarpa Maestrale

4. Get the budget down? How about socks? Yes we sound like a broken record, but the one and only ski sock worth being called a ski sock is the Darn Tough, all others should be recycled into mattress stuffing and U-haul cargo blankets. Read our review, with shopping links.

5. You are not a ski tourer unless you glisse with a thermos bottle. Plan here is it’s got to be light and just the right size to slip into your nice shiny new airbag rucksack. That means it can’t be too big. Thermoses wear out, dents compromise the vacuum layer. Thus, the perfect “repeat” gift. This half liter version from REI fits the bill. You can get cheapos at big-box stores, they usually work though performance can vary. Be sure to pre-heat with boiling water if you want your beverages to stay at max warmth for the entire day.

6. Aha, and speaking of pricey but perhaps the most caring gift you could give? We’d be talking about none other than an avalanche airbag backpack. We’re fans of BCA, not because they’re advertising partners, but because their airbag packs are tested, sufficiently lightweight and not priced out of the stratosphere. The Float 32 model is the best for true backcountry skiing, smaller versions don’t have enough volume for most folks. Check out our firstlook review as well.

7. Every skier I know experiences a shortage of straps. I’m not talking about suspenders for their jeans but those urethane ski straps otherwise known as “Voile straps” in honor of who first promulgated them. What you can do for a gift is shower the giftee with varietal strapage. Order a few pair of different lengths.

8. Cell phones are today’s pocket camera, but they’re not the best backcountry camera due to issues such as battery life and durability. If the receiver of your gift shower is not a pro photog, they might be very happy with the lightest and easiest to use compact camera we’ve come across, the Canon A1400. Check it out, pick up one, or two so you have one for yourself. Mine is still going strong after several years of abuse, and having an actual viewfinder is addictive. At current prices, this is a camera you don’t have to worry about getting lost or stolen. Check out our review.

9. Another stocking stuffer is the ubiquitous headlamp. You can’t have too many. One for the car, one for the backpack, one for the bedroom, one for each toolbox, one for your 2-year-old, one for your grandpa. My faves are usually Black Diamond brand models. One of the current best is the Storm model, replete with a red light option for preserving night vision, and an on/off switch lock so it won’t turn on accidentally in your pack (what a concept!). Shop for it here.

10. Give them some rope. If that ski mountaineer uses a rope for things like ski cutting, cornice dropping and just general all-around good safety sense, good on them. But, that means they wear out their ropes and always need new ones. Perfect gift. Beal Rando Glacier rope is a perfect 8 mm cord for skimo. Shop for it.


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26 Responses to “10 Backcountry Things for Christmas — Lou’s Shopping List”

  1. Tuck November 25th, 2014 9:53 am

    Take it to 11: How about some skis for those boots & bindings! Personally, I’ve got my eyes on the BD Carbon Convert. Santa, I’ve been good! 😉

  2. Lou Dawson 2 November 25th, 2014 10:08 am

    Number 11 is for you guys! And yes, Carbon Convert would look good under the tree. Lou

  3. Matus November 25th, 2014 12:25 pm

    Some tips from me:

    GSI 1L Dukjug bottle – can be used instead of thermos. Just ad some foam duct insulation. Light and functional for short trips (still prefer thermos for overnights).

    Energy bars/gels (just to start the addiction) – also good as a first aid during business trips (instead of fast junk food).

    Edge sharpening kit – few items make a big difference when compared to having nothing.

    Buy the on demand movie on Vimeo (e.g. Higher).

    Make a nice photo book summarizing the last season ski trips.

  4. Michael Welp November 25th, 2014 3:12 pm

    The ION link has the bindings on sale for $399

  5. Brian November 26th, 2014 7:32 am

    11.5. According to my shop, I am going to have a new pair of Kingpins under my tree come Dec. 15!!!!

  6. See November 26th, 2014 8:56 am

    Probably a non-issue for most people, but for those of us whose goggles tend to fog up, Smith Turbo Fans can help. They are definitely not without issues— noisy fans, intermittent failure to operate, fog inside the lenses— but they can make the difference between being able to enjoy skiing and not being able to see where you’re going. Granted, this is mostly a problem for people who sweat a lot and ski in locales where the temps and humidity can be high. Even with the fans, I still usually bring two sets of goggles when fogging seems likely (not to mention fresh batteries). Also, I probably wouldn’t give these to some one who couldn’t deal with the product’s temperamental nature or whose real problem was simply not knowing how to use goggles (or a serial head planter). But for the right person on certain days they’re great.

  7. Chris November 27th, 2014 9:02 pm

    Or if you want a truly new and revolutionary ski boot that’s not an old shell design for your uphill and downhill pleasure slide your feet into the new Scarpa F1Evo and call it good.

  8. Douglas November 28th, 2014 8:47 am

    Can you recommend a setup to outfit a long time backcountry skier that recently bought a ski pass? She is an intermediate skier, 135lb. She’ll be using the setup at Revelstoke Mt. Resort. In other words, lots of vertical in-bounds, often variable conditions and occasional light touring.

    Not too keen to have her using her Dynafits for in-bounds and although I love my Dynafit boots, I’m thinking they may be a bit finicky for her. The Marker Duke with some Scarpa boots seems like a good solution, albeit, a heavy one. But that may be a good thing?

    And the Kingpin? Read your review on that one. That binding looks sweet but it will not be available for a bit and it will be good to hear feedback once released before purchasing. Thanks.

  9. Lou Dawson 2 November 28th, 2014 9:27 am

    Douglas, why not Marker Tour for someone light and small? Duke would seem like overkill, Tour is pretty much the same thing just not as massive. As an intermediate skier doing mostly resort skiing I would indeed suggest not putting her on tech bindings, for many reasons. Lou

  10. Douglas November 28th, 2014 9:37 am

    Thanks Lou. The Tour made sense but a local shop owner said that they have had more than a few broken Tour models (broken ‘rails’, if that is the correct term) come into the shop. Not to base everything on what one person has said but seemed significant. Anyone else had that happen?

  11. Lou Dawson 2 November 28th, 2014 9:54 am

    Every ski touring binding ever made has broken at one time or another. I hope the shop owner is telling you that every binding on his wall has broken. Lou

  12. buck November 28th, 2014 10:14 am

    @Chris “slide your feet into the new Scarpa F1Evo and call it good”

    interesting choice of words, since sliding your feet in is a noted problem with the boot, so much so that scarpa had to make a little video to show you how to slice the gusset with a knife to enable easier entry.

    truly new and revolutionary? finally catching up to the TLT 5 & 6 range of motion after 5 years ain’t neither.

  13. Greg Louie November 29th, 2014 8:29 am

    @Douglas – Most of the Tour F12/10 breakage problems I’ve seen or heard of have been on the first generation version at the pivot point, not the rails themselves. Marker has long since beefed up the mold in that area, and it’s ceased to be a problem.

  14. XXX_er November 29th, 2014 8:33 am

    I’ve seen a small woman have such a hard time clicking down into the marker f10 that they took the ski brakes off so she could get in the binding … something for a small user to check

  15. J.L November 29th, 2014 1:52 pm

    Subject : “thermos bottle”

    I like Stanley’s new Adventure Vacuum Bottle Series ( 25 oz or 17 oz). They are well made and look like they will last longer than a lot of the other thermos bottles I have used for ski trips in the past.

    Time will tell…

  16. Lou Dawson 2 November 29th, 2014 2:27 pm

    J.L, isn’t it kinda heavy?

  17. J.L November 29th, 2014 5:19 pm


    I have the 25 oz and I think it is very light for its size. It is very well made. I don’t notice much of a weight difference compared to other models i have. There is also a 17 oz if you want something smaller and lighter.

    It was recommended by a backcountry website ( OP) and I am glad i have one now.


  18. Lou Dawson 2 November 29th, 2014 5:54 pm

    I ordered up the Stanley and a Thermos model, 17 and 16 ounce, will do a comparo. Lou

  19. Greg Miller November 29th, 2014 6:53 pm

    Did you happen to order this Thermos model?
    It’s what I have, and I love it (for both day-to-day and in the mountains). Easy one-handed use, and keeps stuff warm all day long (actually have to remember to cool stuff down or else it’s still too hot to drink hours later). Definitely recommend it as a gift 🙂

  20. See November 30th, 2014 10:35 am

    As far as I know, the only titanium vac bottles are a Snowpeak Kanpai bottle (which is more of a travel mug) and a long discontinued Nissan Thermos. I wonder why that is. I know it would be hard to make and costly, but so are a lot of successful products.

  21. Fraser November 30th, 2014 11:52 am

    I’m also interested in a new insulate bottle. i have an old thermos model 750 ml, which keeps stuff hot, but is bulky with a handle on the side, and probably weighs more than I need.

    How much does the Stanley Adventure 750 ml(25 oz) weigh? Does it have a pouring mechanism? I like the style of the Primus bottle but am leary of the pop top pouring mechanism. http://www.primus.eu/c-h-vacuum-bottle-0-75-l

  22. Trent November 30th, 2014 2:22 pm

    This EMS packs very well, and, after preheating with boiling water, keeps liquids hot for over 8 hours. I’ve used it in the mid-teens F and have had to wait for the tea to cool down.


  23. Paul November 30th, 2014 4:36 pm

    I have heard of a few failures of the heel riser on the Ions this fall/early winter.
    Anyone have any word on this? I was going get a pair to mount on some V8s.
    How do the Speed Radicals do on wide waisted skis, same same as other DF bindings?

  24. Obewhanskinoobie November 30th, 2014 4:46 pm

    The amazing power transfer of having screws on a 2.874592145 mm wider pattern has to be experienced to be believed. And after that, you’ll probably realize that just about any binding on any ski does just fine. That is unless you tend to pull bindings off skis due to your enjoyment of 75 foot cliff jumps. In that case you do want a 2.45678678678789 mm or wider binding mount pattern.

    As for ION, it’s a first-run retail tech binding. i’ll eat my yoga shorts if there isn’t some kind of (probably small) problem that crops up. My testers, however, seem to be doing fine albeit how can you break a tech binding while wearing yoga shorts?

    ‘best, Obe

  25. Daniel December 1st, 2014 10:56 am

    I 2nd that. Had TLT speeds on 112mm Huascarans and that was perfectly fine.

  26. Paul December 1st, 2014 5:23 pm

    Obe’, round off man, round off! Now I’ll be stressing with the Mitutoyo….
    Thanks gents.

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