Pain Points in Backcountry Skiing

Post by blogger | March 3, 2015      
Boot pant interface has not really changed in 40 years. In fact is was easier when stretch pants simply inserted into boot tops.

Fiddle funkin boot-pant interface has not changed in 40 years. It was easier when stretch pants simply inserted into boot tops. Skimo racers have it figured out. Is it possible we’ll all be sporting skinsuits?

We want the industry or our own community to fix this stuff. Please. Commenters, you got anything more? Have some whine with your cheese! Seriously, good industrial design often begins with consumer survey. Let’s produce one that all the manufacturers can refer to. I broke this into two categories: “Gear” and “Other.”

– Sweaty boot liners that could kill you or someone else.

– Skin glue that’s no better than boiled horse tissue.

– Ptex as soft as baby skin.

– Icing ski tops that obviate the $x,000 you spent to haul less weight.

– Complex bulky avalanche beacons that potentially do very little compared to an airbag pack.

– Airbag packs that weigh a ton.

– Ski touring rucksacks that leak water like a cotton towel used as an umbrella.

– Ski pant boot interface that takes longer to configure than buckling your boots.

– Bindings that take more than one tool for upkeep and adjustment.

– Parking issues artificially created by lack of will to expand parking.

– Late morning avalanche forecasts.

– Steep climbing skin tracks.

– Shallow skin tracks.

– Boots in the skin track.

– Skiers-riders launching above others.

– Backcountry guidebooks without GPS coordinates. (grin from Lou)

– Dogs?

(To be fair, progress has been made. Yet striving for perfection allows the necessary and sufficient to prevail.)


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79 Responses to “Pain Points in Backcountry Skiing”

  1. Phil March 3rd, 2015 9:29 am

    5 PM winter gate closing at Mt. Rainier National Park!

  2. TimZ March 3rd, 2015 9:59 am

    + on skin glue. Particularly the thick layer that gobs up with use.

    + on late avvy forecasts and for the CAIC email blasts, timing is irregular and sometimes don’t come at all.

    CAIC website goes down frequently, needs better hosting/reliability.

    nat geo map paper is too fragile and prone to cracking at folds in the cold

    no uphill allowed during operating hours

    touring packs with poor ski carrying ability

    poor US distribution for light and narrow planks(85-78mm)

    perception that beefy touring systems (dukes/MFD alltime) are more durable/better than simple tech systems.

  3. majki March 3rd, 2015 10:04 am should be integrated in skis and extended via kind of button:) some kind of Brush going out from holes in ski base

  4. Steve March 3rd, 2015 10:31 am

    For icing ski tops, snow accumulation on ski tops, snow glop on skins or scraping ice off of ski bases after skis spent a night out at a hut: BCA has integrated a good scraper into the pole grip in the new 2015 Scepter pole line. All of the above issues are legitimate for serious backcountry tourers, especially scraping snow off of top sheets for those who like to break trail.

  5. Geoff March 3rd, 2015 10:36 am

    For all the advances in tech bindings to prevent pre-releases, I would like to see some progress toward alleviating the number one cause: icing under the toe piece.

    At the very least, could they at least include a $.50 plastic fod-type blunt ice pick in the box with my $600 pair of bindings?

  6. WadeM March 3rd, 2015 10:39 am

    Everything is small on my list except the Whippets

    I frankly don’t trust BD stainless steal and would like to see another company come out with something similar. I think CAMP could do a killer job

    Internal Bladder pockets and at least one food pocket on each leg for newer skimo suits

    Better version of skinglue replacement

    Julbo hopefully solved the issue with skinning while its dumping. Im interested to try their new goggle design

    More stowable hood options on jackets, doesnt need to be fancy. Sometimes its nice to stow that hood so it doesn’t store snow. Problem is easily solved by shoving it down back of neck…

    Jackets that don’t have helmet compatible hoods? really?

    More jackets with internal skin holding panels. I hate it when the skin gets close to falling out. Most jackets I’ve seen are the two piece versions of the race suits (Dynafit PDG, Millet Pierra Menta)

    More Pants integrating spandex and softshell. Not many options that bend the two well. Swix has their XC pant that is essentially soft shell in the front and lycra on the whole backside, and the two piece race suit pants. Would be nice to have full sides venting fabrics, reinforcements of soft shell in the knee, butt, inner foot.

  7. Jerky Schmilkus March 3rd, 2015 10:40 am

    Someone needs to fix my ski partner. He’s a jerk. Seriously.

  8. Charlie Hagedorn March 3rd, 2015 10:48 am

    The perception that additional rescue technology is the key to mitigating avalanche hazard. Good decisions are weightless.

  9. Zach March 3rd, 2015 10:52 am

    – Sewn through down. Where are all the box baffle jackets that would weigh less for the same warmth?

    – Non-detachable whippets. Take a note from the K2 Shaxe, BD!

    – Frozen hydration systems – I gave up on them. Freeze-proof solution anyone?

    – Airbag pack crotch strap. How about an integrated lightweight alpine harness that is functional for glacier travel, belayed ski cuts, etc.?

  10. Jason Speer March 3rd, 2015 10:52 am

    – Skiers-riders launching above others.

    And the complimentary issue:
    – Skin tracks under popular skiing/riding features when there are other easy alternatives.

  11. Jernej March 3rd, 2015 11:07 am

    Boots that make my feet soak in sweat within 5min of putting them on no matter what the temperature is

    +1 on backpacks with integrated lightweight harness (just 2 dyneema/nylon loops and no padding is fine) for short abseils/belays

    +1 on heavy & expensive airbags

    hydration bladders that leak the first time you use them

    pants and jackets with small vents and low breathability (I usually have to skin in baselayer only and with my – extremely thin softshell – pants turned/rolled upwards like shorts to stay at least somewhat cool)

    ski googles that fog up immediately you break a sweat

    packs with horrible ski loops that fit skis under 100mm only (and only with an empty pack)

  12. OMR March 3rd, 2015 11:11 am

    1- when hiking a bare trail to find snow (especially this year in the Wasatch), pebbles and frozen dirt fill tech-heel fittings, blocking binding heel pins, and, rather than jumping on pins (and possible damage) to clear the debris, cleaning is required before clicking-in (anyone have a pre-emptive solution?).

    2- arch pain due to low volume TLT-6’s in an otherwise great boot. (Does moving the lower buckle back remedy this?)

  13. David March 3rd, 2015 11:12 am


    google nalgene flask: a great bottle for the thigh pocket and never freezes…of course you need to actually put a (non alcoholic) energy drink in it

  14. Zach March 3rd, 2015 11:22 am

    Thank David. Good idea. Looks like the same or a bit better volume/weight ratio than a regular water bottle as well.

  15. JCoates March 3rd, 2015 11:43 am

    Lack of real, freeze-dried beer.

  16. Rudi March 3rd, 2015 11:49 am

    Excessive binding ramp of tech bindos
    Useless toe buckles
    Non elastic power straps
    Id like to see OEM break away binding leashes
    Rid ski towns of no parking 2am to 6am signs

  17. Amy March 3rd, 2015 12:15 pm

    – limited pack sizes for petite women (i.e. torso length). BD and BCA packs do not fit me at all. Or if a company has a smaller length ski pack they only come in 35L or smaller. What if we want a 45L pack for hut trips?

    -avalanche beacon harness that feels like a third boob because you can’t tighten the straps any smaller

    -ski pants with small pockets -especially if you put your beacon in your pants pocket because you are tired of the third boob.

    – heavy air bags – why would a 115 lb women even consider buying an air bag if the pack start weight is 10lbs?

    -guys who act like women do not exist in the backcountry or not capable because they are a women (i.e. they only talk to my husband even though I have been out skiing more than him recently or tell me we are doing a big day so…what? when I ski more big lines than them).

    – foot warmers that you can turn on and off for those of us who get really cold feet

  18. Jason March 3rd, 2015 12:22 pm

    Wade, fwiw BD has recalled a bunch of their stainless whippets

  19. Lou Dawson 2 March 3rd, 2015 12:26 pm

    Amy! Foot warmer testing has commenced. Lou

  20. Bill B March 3rd, 2015 12:56 pm

    Hey Amy

    I got my wife some thermacell proflex heated insoles.
    She has raynauds
    So far they are the ticket.
    She has a size 5 foot and with the smallest size I could just
    barely make them fit.

  21. Jeremy C March 3rd, 2015 1:17 pm

    – Boot warmers you can turn on an off have existed for years. Therm-ic make remote controlled versions at various power levels.

    – For those mentioning Airbag to harness integration, how about the Mammut pants with built in harness? The Alyeska GTX Pro 3L Realization Pants, have harness loops that could be easily connected to the waist strap with a carabiner.

  22. Jeremy C March 3rd, 2015 1:52 pm

    I should have also mentioned that the Mammut Alyeska GTX Pro 3L Realization Pants, have a dedicated beacon pocket with internal attachment point. Had they been available last season, I would probably have bought these rather than my current Norrona Lofoten pants.

  23. quelebu March 3rd, 2015 1:59 pm

    +1 on the ski boot/pant interface…especially with the dynafit walk/ski/lean-lock all-in one lever (Neo, TLT 5-6, etc). I thought of cutting off the internal snow gaitors in my pants – but they’re useful for hiking and deep powder.

  24. quelebu March 3rd, 2015 2:03 pm

    Ski crampons that nest one inside the other – come on dynafit it’s so obvious and easy to achieve!

  25. Dave C. March 3rd, 2015 2:18 pm

    After spending the big bucks on gear, those of us less talented than our esteemed host must travel far to find experts to mount bindings and mold boot liners.

    But the biggest pain point of all? Rain in winter, of course 😉

  26. Eric Rentschler March 3rd, 2015 2:47 pm

    Zippers, zippers, zippers darnit!

    I went most of my life without ever having a zipper catastrophically fail…until the last few years.

    First a little history. We used to get beefy, large gauge zippers on high-end shells. These zippers were NOT the waterproof type, so they typically had a flap that would velcro shut in order to keep the wind/rain out. But they lasted and were reliable.

    Fast-forward to today.

    It appears that the industry went to the new waterproof zippers. These zippers have a lot of friction, due to the waterproofing seals. So to limit how much force was required to open/shut them, they went to a smaller gauge zipper (or was it a cost savings thing as well for the smaller gauge?).

    I’ve had two very high-end jacket zippers fail completely, to the point of not being able to shut them at all. All I have to say is, I was glad this didn’t happen on a big trip somewhere. It’s unacceptable to have this happen on high-end heavy-duty outerwear.

    My take is that the waterproofness of the new zippers is no justification for having unreliable zippers. Not sure how these zippers ever made it though any manufacturer’s “qualification process.” If they’re looking to add cool, new features (like waterproofness or anything else), they shouldn’t just sacrifice robustness. We need reliable gear and this seems like a failure across the industry and should be fixed. Having a good warranty is nice, but is not much consolation while you’re out there in the cold.

    I’m guessing Lou or others might have some interesting insights around this trend…


  27. Jim Milstein March 3rd, 2015 2:58 pm

    Boots in the skin track!

    I praise and thank snowshoers in the skin track, because it could be so much worse.

    Someone was passionately concerned about skiers skiing Suicide Bowl at Lobo near Wolf Creek Pass when people are on the summer road below the bowl. It had never occurred to me to worry about a slide getting all the way to the road. So I measured the, what?, beta angle. It was indeed possible that a monster slide could just make it to a portion of the road. Never seen it, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. With a great dose of prudence, I resolved to wait when skiers are on that part of the road. I am still waiting to wait.

  28. Ellen March 3rd, 2015 4:17 pm

    More space in a shoulder strap on your pack for an insulated camelbak hose and the nipple.

    Clips to hold beacon in pants pocket not just offered on the right pocket but also the left (i use my right pocket for stuff I use frequently.)

    Have to second the skin glue issue – I am tired of using those mesh things

    Second the request for dynafit to provide a tool to clean out under the springs – that has happened three times in Colorado for me this winter

    All boots should come with intuition liners since I have not found a stock liner ever as good or offer option to sell boots without liners!!

    Softer tongue option needed in Dynafit boots (I love my Mercurys and TLT 5 but that tongue can be so inhibiting around the upper part of my boot)

  29. Woody Dixon March 3rd, 2015 4:57 pm

    Snow sticking:
    I spray my touring skis and bindings every couple trips with silicone spray. Its designed to keep snow from sticking in snowblower and on shovels. It works pretty good. You still have to clear the skis occasionally, but it seems to fall off in slabs and never really stick.

    Eric Rentschler – you should look at the latest generations of high-end shells from Mountain Equipment, Arcteryx and some of the Norrona shells. They all have YKK Aquaguard zippers that are similar to the big-tooth zippers like you’re yearning for – but they have a waterproof film. If you want old school burl many jackets designed for ski patrol or mountain rescue have the double flap zips.

  30. Tom Winkler March 3rd, 2015 5:21 pm

    Dogs? Or did you mean people that don’t like dogs?


  31. Lisa March 3rd, 2015 5:29 pm

    Bigger pockets on women’s specific clothing, especially inner mesh pockets on jackets for holding skins.

  32. Tom Gos March 3rd, 2015 5:30 pm

    I would like to see all touring boots come with buckles that lay flat and stay “locked” in the open position without the bails falling off the teeth when skinning. I know some boots have this feature but it should be ubiquitous on cuff buckles.

    Similarly, buckled power straps similar to Tecnica’s should be common place. Combined with the above request this would ease transitions.

    I would like to see a ski pack that has some way for me to quickly remove and then replace my probe without taking the pack off. Its nice to be able to quickly use the probe to measure snowpack depth and feel layers within the snow, and I would do this much more often if I didn’t have to remove my pack to get my probe.

    Ski packs with Nalgene bottle holder (insulated) built securely into the waist belt, shoulder strap or elsewhere so that I can quickly get a drink without removing the pack. I’ve had too many problems with bladders and tubes freezing to go that route. Currently I often use one of those insulated bottle holders attached to the waist belt with a velcro strap, but it tends to flop around more than I would like.

    And finally, not really gear related, but we need Euro style full-service huts in Colorado. Everyone carrying a sleeping bag to the huts is just silly, and hut trips should be mini-vacations – I’m lazy and don’t like to cook while I’m on vacation!

  33. sedgesprite March 3rd, 2015 5:31 pm

    Dawn Patrol wishlist; Rechargeable headlamp and frs radio built into helmet, (1200 lumens), lithium battery, usb charging options, Grivel type self arrest grip with spring powered pick deployment, and solid, ski pole tip narrow enough to fit in dynafit volcanos with a little ice on it. Improved boot cuff rivet design. Snazzy plastic dynafit attachment cleaning tool – chop stick is awkward. Beer flavored breakfast drink.

  34. Dee March 3rd, 2015 5:36 pm

    “Through the crotch” zip pants for women!!! I have a stock of 3 from Marmot, NF and Arc’teryx…but they don’t make them anymore!! Best invention ever and no one is making them.
    All gloves/mitts should come with a keeper-type of string…that way you can drop them and leave them dangling at your wrists. No need to take up pocket space when you have to temporarily take them off….especially handy on windy peaks!!

  35. Karl 'Core-shot' K. March 3rd, 2015 5:43 pm

    Held off mentioning anything until the whole process played out and resolved but…. QC at Black Diamond needs improvement, I feel there is NO reason the defective/non-functional Airforce pack I purchased should have ever made it to market! I’m gonna’ put that one out there.

  36. Andy Carey March 3rd, 2015 5:57 pm

    Ditto to Phil–access policy at Mt. Rainier has been exceedingly frustrating for the last few years; unpredictable.

    I used to get frustrated by snowshoers in skin tracks; now I just accept there will be snowshoe tracks everywhere by late in the day. What I didn’t expect was that bc skiers would become as annoying as snowshoers in setting tracks up every skiable slope, despite existing well-laid tracks; setting totally unnecessary tracks, just to break trail, I guess; and carelessly using existing tracks collapsing the downhill edge on the way up and skiing (or even booting) the track on the way down.

    Apparently a total lack of recognition of the need to conserve snow, particularly noticeable in the lowest snow year in 84 years at Mt. Rainier.

  37. Drew Tabke March 3rd, 2015 7:24 pm

    Gear +’s:
    Non-adjustable lightweight touring poles.
    Integrated shovel+ice axe+whippet+pole options.
    Skimo-style backpack ski carry.
    Light/medium/heavy U-spring lowtech heel bindings (as with new Atomics).
    BD Megamid, may it live forever.
    Skimo clothing you can wear to the bar and train station after skiing.
    More Amy’s in the backcountry.

    Other +’s:
    Uphill-friendly ski areas, one-up lift passes.
    More yurts, huts, refuges, bivouacs in the mountains in the USA.

  38. Amy March 3rd, 2015 9:05 pm

    Thanks for the info on the foot warmers Bill. Lou -I would love reviews on foot warmers, especially for backcountry ventures vs. on the ski hill which is what you usually find.

    Ditto Drew on more Amy’s. I would love more hard charging ladies to ski with too!

  39. ty March 3rd, 2015 9:25 pm

    I know a lot of dedicated TLT5 tour geeks notch their pants so that they can adjust the walk mode really quickly. I cut the elastic cuffs off my pants to that i dont deal with it. dont even notice the occasional bit of snow that creeps up on deep days.

    I really like Tabke’s suggestions. It would be really awesome if i could just waltz into a sweet cabin in the woods in every mountain range in the greater yellowstone, but there are only a few of them, and I only know of one that is free and without a bunch of regs.

    Dogs? I love skiing with my pup, but she rips. I can see how many are turned off by the dogs going skiing thing.

    some positives id love to see more of:

    +meadow skipping on deep and dangerous days. its really fun if you can find the right spot and have some fat skis

    +skiing to rock and ice climbs and sending multisport days, completing aesthetic routes in both activities…never pulled this one off but it would be cool

    +fat skis in the spring time. my 120 wasted heavy sticks demolish corn and wet pow like a mountaineering ski cannot. light skis have their place, but so do heavy boards

    +north american made products that are light, durable and affordable

    +skiing with a rescue sled and other emergency gear. just picked one up from Brooks Range Mountaineering. its pretty heavy, but many ski with a group of 3 or more, and gear can be split up. are you prepared for a night out? an injured skier? and avalanche rescue? from the looks of many paltry backcountry packs i see, the answer is often “no”

    +more classic traverses throughout NA….the mentioned hut system would help

    +sled access zones without highmarking. that one is probably a stretch

    +the freeride world tour becoming wildly popular and broadcast on ESPN. probably another stretch, but man is it exciting to watch. the lines that have been thrown down this year are awe inspiring!

  40. Erik Erikson March 3rd, 2015 9:55 pm

    – Jackets and other upperbody-clothing that is always to wide in the belly-area or if it fits there too narrow in the chest area and to short-sleeved for the (as I feel) skinny but moderate athletic “regular mountain guy” who does Touring and the like but also climbing/bouldering (even the european brands)
    – Boots that never come in a perfect width for skinny feet: Maybe the Atomic solution Lou mentioned (liners of different thickness available) or, like in race boots or running shoes, at least to different width of the SHELL are made.

  41. Matt Franzek March 3rd, 2015 11:19 pm

    Gear: pants and jackets that a built to comfortably fit tall slim people. Almost all jackets and pants that are long enough for someone 6-4 are not built for someone with long arms and leg. Pants that are the correct waist size are way too short. Same for jackets that are correct for chest size, the arms are super short.

    Narrow AT boots that carry the last up to the front of the boot for people with long narrow feet, if it also had the stiffness of an alpine race boot I wouldn’t complain (maybe I need to do some more research because Lou has a hidden hack buried in the archives I haven’t found yet OR a walk mode in an alpine race boot, yeah I can dream)

    Friendly car camping regulations for traveling skiers who want to stay in the camper/van/wagon, possibly even outlets and utilities to access for the night for a flat fee

    More education on setting skin tracks, they seem to either be stupidly agressive and impossible after the slightest bit of icing, or flat. I think this is a lesson learned with time and experience.

    More snow!

  42. Kristian March 4th, 2015 7:00 am

    Ridiculously sewn up pole straps that prevent easy entry and exit – particularly BD in the last few years. Two simple overlapping straps are still far and away the best if used correctly.

    Hand comes up from under the strap loop, through the strap, with the palm holding the strap to the pole with the strap looped up around the top of the wrist.

    The strap now supports the forearm for transferring strong power while providing easy swinging and articulation.

    This leaves a nice long loop available for easy entry and exit – especially during sudden unplanned events.

  43. Mike March 4th, 2015 7:04 am

    As far as mesh pockets for skins, all you really need is a cord to flap them over with a clip on one side. Maybe a cord on both sides of the inner jacket. I usually don’t even put them in a pocket but let my pack’s hip-belt hold them in.

    Packs that claim to be 30L but with airbag are reduced to 15L.

    Packs with too many straps and pockets so you can never find anything and are always forgetting a few snaps. I’m looking in your general direction Osprey.

    Poles with huge, unwieldy straps. There’s no need and they are annoying.

    Bindings should be able to switch back and forth from tour to ski modes as easily as possible. Maybe a remote button on the ski pole. It should probably have a safety cover or something though.

  44. Lou Dawson 2 March 4th, 2015 7:12 am

    Whew, I hope the ski touring gear companies are reading this! Nice job guys. Politicos in resort areas should be checking it out as well. Lou

  45. trollanski March 4th, 2015 7:51 am

    Biggest beef right now. Sure to be the next mod. Pants that actually fit over the boots. My are the finest made by firm A, wife’s by firm P. Both barely fit when boots are buckled, and not when open – ie. 99% of the time- while skinning and especially when booting chutes. And I can forget about it when in my snowboard boots. Seriously?!
    Skinning up the goods-Is there is some primal fear that draws people out in open instead of through the trees?
    Dogs-tough one. They love it. I took them out w/ me for years. Seriously great ski partners, but IT DOES TEAR THEM UP. And you just don’t know which conditions you’ll encounter-many of which are not dog freindly. Front shoulders are esp. suseptable to damage….

  46. Martin March 4th, 2015 7:52 am

    +1 for the boot/pant interface problem. TLT5 boot buckle ripped all my pants. And fiddling with the pants really takes longer than adjusting the boots.

    also: Want more (or any at all) ski touring pants with zip-off option. On warmer days I now use a cheap zip-off hiking pant, its really nice to uphill in shorts.

    +1 for bulky, heavy beacons. Come on, smartphones have the processing power of last years supercomputers, sleek wristwatches now include GPS and you-name-it, but we still have to haul beacons the size (and feel, technology-wise) of a 1980 sony walkman.

  47. Kevin S March 4th, 2015 8:03 am

    Return of the Dachstein rear entry AT boot that I loved in the 80s, yes this reaches total geek and heretical levels but the boot simply worked with little mechanical interference on the uphill slog. Otherwise the backcountry/sidecountry equipment evolution has been great compared to days gone by!!

  48. See March 4th, 2015 8:53 am

    Considering the number of complaints about clothing fit: lack of custom tailored clothing sources. I got some excellent soft shell pants custom made at a pretty reasonable price a few years ago, but that company no longer offers this option.

    Also: packs lined with black material creating “black hole” effect when trying to find stuff. Non-release able pole straps. “Helmet compatible” hoods that aren’t.

    Re. zippers: the zipper on my favorite jacket had a tendency to separate from the bottom up when zipped. The manufacturer makes a point of offering a repair service for their products, so I called and explained the problem and requested a replacement zipper. They said “no problem,” and I sent it off for repair. They replaced the zipper by cutting out the fabric around it and sewing in an apparently identical zipper. The workmanship was not great, and the hood no longer fits over my helmet because an inch or so of material was removed on both sides of the zipper. I should have done it myself.

    Re. Dogs: I remember one time a guy skiing with a dog descended a couloir that the dog was scared to go down. The guy was standing near the bottom yelling at the dog and the dog was scrambling around at the top sending rocks zinging down around us.

    I like dogs but there’s a time and a place…

  49. Kristian March 4th, 2015 10:03 am

    Also goofy obvious trendy soon to be obsolete colors, useless contrasting colored sewn panels and trim, silly trendy non-utilitarian slanting seams and gigantic company brand logos and names – much of this adding unnecessary bulk and weight.

    Again, BD and Pieps seem to be the biggest offender lately.

  50. OMR March 4th, 2015 10:30 am

    The lack of adventurous minds.

    There is a chronic overuse of the popular trailheads, while other areas (huge areas) go untouched, especially in the Wasatch. Today a colleague was totally jacked because Cardiac Bowl was crawling with users yesterday. What the hell do you expect when Cardiac is a suburb of Alta/Snowbird.

  51. Eric March 4th, 2015 1:40 pm

    +1 for “Bindings should be able to switch back and forth from tour to ski modes as easily as possible.”

    This would be a *way* more useful function for me than boots like the TLT6 or Evo F1 that essentially do away with a manual walk mode switch.

  52. Aaron March 4th, 2015 3:23 pm

    I just want dry feet.

  53. Lou Dawson 2 March 4th, 2015 4:36 pm

    Aaron, I’ve been testing some of the “breathing” ski boot liners. They do help but only to a degree. I like them, much more comfortable. I just did about 4,000 vert in a pair over the space of about 4 hours. My feet are damp but noticeably less wet than with normal liners.

  54. Lou Dawson 2 March 4th, 2015 4:55 pm

    Do you guys think the fashion pendulum could ever swing to a boot-pant interface that doesn’t involve the internal and external gaiter?

  55. XXX_er March 4th, 2015 5:53 pm

    Along that idea line didn’t dynafit have a pant with acess for the boot buckles ?

  56. Lou Dawson 2 March 4th, 2015 6:29 pm

    Xer, yeah, they had/have something. Lots of companies have pants with areas designed for the user to cut slots and openings if they like. Pretty sure the La Sportiva pants have that. It’s a start, for sure. One of the tricky parts is the velcro power strap. Outdoor Research has a slot for that in the Trail Breaker pant, but it’s never worked quite right for me.

    There are some excellent clothing designers out there, but obviously some others are not so good at their jobs. I’m not sure how the latter ones stay employed. If I did to my website what they do to clothing would cease to exist in about ten minutes.


  57. See March 4th, 2015 6:53 pm
  58. Jeremy C March 5th, 2015 4:14 am

    It would probably cost Dynafit, and the other manufacturers, $1 to supply something like this DIY ice clearer with each pair of bindings. It would make a lot of people happy, and make the others aware of the potential issue.

  59. Bobby March 5th, 2015 6:42 am

    I love my dog so much that I almost always leave him home.

  60. Lou Dawson 2 March 5th, 2015 8:22 am

    De-icing all touring bindings is a huge issue. First, do no harm. Don’t jam your ski pole tip or other hard metal object under the binding and scratch the ski topskin. If you do that it’ll just get more and more ice prone. Use anything softer such as a stick of plastic or wood, and still be careful of the ski topskin. The G3 ION keeps coming to mind in these discussions. In this case, it has a nice hollow area under the toe wings allowing you to insert you ski pole tip from the side without damaging the ski, very nicely thought out. Even so, probably better to use something less harsh than a pole tip even with ION.

    The icing issue with frameless “pintech” bindings is what makes one wonder how they’ll do when sold to the general skiing public who are used to just stepping in and going with alpine bindings. I shudder at the thought of the possible carnage.


  61. Lou Dawson 2 March 5th, 2015 8:34 am

    BTW, the icing issue with tech bindings could be partly taken care of by some kind of sealed plastic bellows system under the toe wings, then you’d only have to worry about the boots sockets getting iced.

    As it is, worth stating that tech binding ice problem comes in TWO FLAVORS, ice in the pocket under the toe wings, and ice in the boot sockets. Either one can hurt or kill you due to a pre release. It’s insidious, I’ve had it happen a few times when I was really tired during ski mountaineering and forgot to check things, two times I’ve lost a ski that shot down the mountain, luckily ending up in rocky areas not too far away, but causing me to take a fall.

    If there is anything you want to teach your friends and loved ones when they’re new to tech bindings, it’s how to de-ice and then how to swing and check before clipping down the heel.


  62. Herb Jones March 5th, 2015 11:03 am

    Porta potties at the trail head parking lots. Being intentionally anal retentive is not healthy physically or mentally and finding a discrete spot to drop trou is often impossible. Sorry but, it would be more polite and ecologically sound.

    Respects to Bobby for respecting his dog and fellow skiers/riders. Unfortunately dogs, who i love generally, have become a fad for which most people do not take responsibility. Hence, trail head parking lots littered with dog doo and the occasional pile in the skin track. So, lets see, its ok for my dog to do it in the skin track or parking lot but, not for you?? Hmmm…

    Gear- Patagonia made the Chute to Thrill pants with a cinch strap and lock clip on the inner snow gaiter that works well. It loosens things up so its easy to pull up the inner cuff and then seal it back up as needed. I don’t see that model in their line any more and I don’t know if they used that feature on any other models; simple, effective, non-velcro functionality.

    Boots- When will the boot makers figure out how to make a boot that can be reshaped after molding sort of like the Fischer vacuum fit idea? It sounds like I have feet akin to Lou’s with skinny ankle and heel but, wider across the ball. The TLT5/6 early models are ideal in the ankle but, have to be blown out in the ball area, normal boot fitting for me. But, for the price of these boots a custom molded shell seems reasonable.

  63. runningclouds March 5th, 2015 3:26 pm

    Agreeing with previous comments:

    + 5 PM winter gate closing at Mt. Rainier National Park! • I get to go to MRNP once every two years and their policies are getting more and more restrictive. A healthy balance between freedom and safety must be restored. Restoring funding to the NPS is vital too.

    + The perception that additional rescue technology is the key to mitigating avalanche hazard. Good decisions are weightless. • Really the best solution. Airbags will not get us to Goal Zero.

    + Uphill-friendly ski areas, one-up lift passes. • Agreed, it is the future.

    + Ski crampons that nest one inside the other – come on dynafit it’s so obvious and easy to achieve! • Totally agree! This is a testament to how little wilderness backcountry skiing is done in the Alps. Send a Dynafit engineer on a week-long self-supported traverse of the Coast Mountains and he will come back with appreciation for space saving features. Guaranteed.

    + Second the request for dynafit to provide a tool to clean out under the springs • Although McDonal’d plastic knife works well.

    + Bindings should be able to switch back and forth from tour to ski modes as easily as possible. • Diamir Vipec does this already, all pin tech bindings should follow

    bulky, heavy beacons. Come on, smartphones have the processing power of last years supercomputers, sleek wristwatches now include GPS and you-name-it, but we still have to haul beacons the size (and feel, technology-wise) of a 1980 sony walkman. • They need to be operated in freezing temperatures with gloves on, the buttons on my Barryvox are just about the right size. Hard to imagine that if the size was halved.

    Personally I would like to see
    + improved battery life in everything • especially GPS
    + brand new uphill solution • skins, as their name implies, are just an improved version of the original solution. Someone should take a fresh look at the ski base/snow interface. Nano or micro sized scales? Positive/negative charging particles for uphill/downhill.
    + more respect for the environment • from everyone, this is a great start. Cities that depend on natural assets should take a look. I also like what Patagonia is doing with their supply chain.

  64. Nexus6 March 5th, 2015 5:44 pm

    +6 on MRNP opening and closing times. Other similar winter roads are maintained without the need of opening and closing times and gates (ie. SR 542 to Mt. Baker). It’s been especially painful this year when Paradise is about the only drive in spot in the PNW with coverage. Seems like either lack of money, motivation or both.

    +1 on the pant cuffs. Super annoying every time I transition in my TLT5’s.

    +1 on packs. Why do they either include 100 little pockets and compartments that never fit anything right or just one big bag with no pockets.

    + The helmet carry feature on packs usually doesn’t work and your helmet falls out.

    + Pack back panels. Why are they a limp daypack style. Adding a basic semi-rigid lightweight frame would really help it stay put when skiing.

    + Boots! Why are all boots pointy toed? Around 1/2 the population has a big toe that is longer than their second toe yet 100% of boots have a pointy shape that cramps a longer big toe. Boots should be designed with a squared off toe box that doesn’t cramp a longer big toe. Those with a longer second toe wouldn’t notice the extra room, but it would be a huge relief for those with longer big toes.

  65. Jediah Porter March 6th, 2015 2:51 am

    A few have mentioned nesting ski crampons. I can attest that both Dynafit and B and D models can be simply pressed together. They nest just fine.

    Also, I’ve had great luck with the cuff of Arc Teryx touring pants. They seem to be the only outfit making softshell pants with generous, simple cuffs. Their Sawatch pants have cuffs that are big enough to fully articulate the top buckle of tlt 5s inside. If you don’t use the Velcro or tongue, you need not pull the cuff up at all for transitions in either direction. If you do need to get at the buckles, the pants can be easily pulled up and out of the way.

  66. ikke March 6th, 2015 3:05 pm

    Wanted: a blog more about “wildsnow” skiing than endless gear discussion.

  67. aaron_b March 6th, 2015 3:36 pm

    “Wanted: a blog more about “wildsnow” skiing than endless gear discussion.”

    And ikke from the top rope!!! LOL.

  68. Lou Dawson 2 March 6th, 2015 4:41 pm

    Aaron, working on it. It does go in cycles, look at the whole year. But I’ll admit to being a panting gear blogger. Luckily last two days were Japan reports, so do we get any redemption? Lou

  69. Lou Dawson 2 March 6th, 2015 4:43 pm

    P.S., I’d add that ski touring gear is in a hot phase right now, especially the hardware. Hence a bit more blogging. When all the dust settles and we finally get a boot that’s a step forward from what we had 30 years ago, perhaps the blogging will quiet down (grin). Lou

  70. Lou Dawson 2 March 6th, 2015 4:54 pm

    Pretty funny. We finally publish a trip report, and what do you guys ask? What model skis are those!?

    I’d have thought you’d at least have asked if there were coed onsen, or what the avy conditions were? LOL

  71. aaron_b March 6th, 2015 5:39 pm

    hahahah. No, no… I love the gear talk. And the trip reports. And the goofy spots. Great blog and a go-to source for any question I can think of. With our craptastical “snowpack” and mudskiing here in Tahoe, I appreciate a good gear read. And being a sailor I appreciate a good gripe session. I just thought it was a funny post by ikke. Like “funny haha” not “funny huh?” I’ll even join in–

    + I cannot describe my hatred for darklined black sacks of lost gear. I shouldn’t have to don my headlamp to find something in my bag in the noontime Tahoe sun. Use a lighter color fabric inside packs so I can stop using white garbage bags!!! and ease up on all the fiddly bits on the bags. I want a simple ruck with a light frame that doesn’t carry like a barrel. I can’t sew very well so (Ahem-Osprey, BD) you are on your own for designs.

  72. Lou Dawson 2 March 6th, 2015 5:41 pm

    Aaron, Ditto on the white or at least light colored pack interior. With lightweight packs the interior color is usually the exterior, but nothing wrong with it being something other than black. Lou

  73. aaron_b March 6th, 2015 7:20 pm

    as long as it’s not a neon pack cloth, I’ll settle for anything light in color with a low fiddle factor.

  74. Kristian March 6th, 2015 10:01 pm

    Guess I am in the minority. All of my packs are various sized black alpine rucksacks. Never had an issue with the color. Carry as few items as possible and keep all of the fiddly small items in a single small transparent mesh stuff sack. Edibles likewise.

    Prefer floating top lid to expand for things like a rope, side straps for skis, wands, and snow stakes. Extended collar for impromptu bivys. And ice ax loops. Managed to get most of this also with a Snowpulse Lite PAS although it also has some goofy useless color trim.

  75. scott March 8th, 2015 9:15 pm

    All i want is a pair of narrow lasted (98-99), 120 flex, w/60 degree motion, warm, tech binding compatible, AT boot that weighs less than 7 lbs.

  76. Going Up March 9th, 2015 2:28 pm

    Not enough women.

  77. Lou Dawson 2 March 9th, 2015 2:34 pm

    Going, good point, you need to move to Austria. Lou

  78. hairymountainbeast March 25th, 2015 7:58 pm

    How about
    -ski packs with running vest style shoulder strap pockets
    -a fixed length whippet
    -more options for 4×4 vans in north america

  79. See January 20th, 2017 8:23 pm

    I was going through my gear closet looking for stuff that I no longer use and I found an old soft-shell jacket that I said had been badly repaired in a comment here. I was about to put the jacket in the donate pile but I decided to try it on. Well, aside from some slightly uneven stitching, I’m not sure why I was so convinced that they had botched the repair. Anyway, my apologies and I take back the bad things I said about the repair program. The jacket is back in rotation.

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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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