He’s Checking it Thrice… A Wildsnow Christmas List

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 14, 2012      

Have you been naughty or nice? If you’re a backcountry skier, you’re nice. Period. So here is Santa’s list. Pass it on to that special person who’s been agonizing about what to buy that mountain guy or girl in his or her life (meaning, you, ho ho ho?). (Please note we reworked this post from a previous December, instead of just letting it go totally out of date and wasting space.)

Voile straps. The ultimate stocking stuffer. Get a few super long ones. $5.54

Lithium batteries are the best bar none for headlamps used during colder conditions. The endless stocking stuffer. With a shelf life that exceeds two years, buy a bunch and use for gifts next year as well! (Remember not to use in avy beacons, so stuff stocking with some regular alkaline AAAs as well.)

Darn Tough Socks. Period. Darn Tough’s selection is confusing. For skiing we suggest models with more wool and less padding, which they call “flat jersey construction.” Darn Tough for men and women.

A subscription to Ski Journal not only supports your loved one’s stoke, but also supports the evolution of print media to something beyond what the web can do. Our favorite here at WildSnow HQ. $39.99

Backcountry Access Shovel. Our WildSnow.com favorite these days. Size is a nice compromise, and it’s a bit flatter than some shovels so it packs better and works good for snow pits.

Avalanche safety course. Give the gift that might bring your loved one back alive. Prices vary, if you’re on a budget you can frequently find courses near or in mountain towns that cost under $100. Check with outdoor stores and community colleges, for starters.

Canon S100 camera. What might be the best point-and-shoot ever made. Used by everyone from alpinist Hayden Kennedy, WildSnow progeny Louie Dawson, and Mrs WildSnow herself. No optical viewfinder but a good LCD. Same big sensor as G series Canon cameras. Amazing video, lots of zoom. Only 194 grams. Manual mode for super control. Be sure when shopping to purchase at least one spare battery and perhaps a travel/car charger.

Spot Satellite Messenger. Our feeling here at WildSnow.com is that traveling with some sort of emergency communication device is a simple exercise in social responsibility. There was a time, long long ago, when people debated the ethics of carrying things like cell phones or 2-way radios. Did they reduce the adventure? Mitigate the power of the experience? Valid questions back then (if a bit self serving). But now, comm devices have become as ubiquitous as socks. Thus, in my view, carrying one is no different than bringing any other item of what’s considered to be essential gear. Sure, if you want a raw unfettered experience you can leave your clothing behind, but remember your Spot Messenger. $99.95 plus yearly subscription fee.

We continue as fans of avalanche airbag backpacks. American based company BCA has a good option with an excellent price point, Float 32 is around $550.00.

K2 Wayback alpine touring skis. We feel these planks offer one of the best weight/performance ratios in the industry. Not the ride of huge powder paddles, but then, you don’t know they’re on your feet while you’re climbing. $599.99

And not to leave out the WildSnow girls, we’ve always liked K2 Sidekick as well.

Pair of Dynafit FT 12 backcountry skiing bindings. We feel these are still the sweet spot in Dynafit’s line of bindings with ski brakes. They’re light, simple and the brake can be taken on and off at home. For the pro look, install without the cosmetic connector plate between toe and heel. At the top of just about any real backcountry skier’s wish list. Advantage of this gift is you don’t have to worry about your giftee already having a pair. Another set will suit him or her just fine. $549.00. Be sure to pair with Dynafit Power Plates or the front base plate from a Vertical ST model, available from Salewa NA.

Iridium 9575satellite phone package, with minutes. Still less money than a new pair of skis and bindings, an Iridium phone is the end-all be-all way to stay in touch or call out in an emergency. Forget your Spot locator, forget messing around with two-way radios, forget trying to guess if you’re in an area where your cell phone will work. Just carry an Iridium and you’re done. No monthly plan required, just buy a SIM card with minutes, stow in your pack, that’s it. Approximately $1,800 with minutes, and you’ll have to buy a few hundred dollars worth of minutes a year to roll your existing minutes, and reality is that texting may work much better than voice if you’re in a mountain valley. $1,375.00

Everyone, comment with your gift ideas!

(And yes, some of these product links may result in obscene profits for Wildsnow.com, though some of our links are simply, links.)


51 Responses to “He’s Checking it Thrice… A Wildsnow Christmas List”

  1. Jordan December 17th, 2009 11:56 am

    You can never have too many pairs of Dynafits (just look in Lou’s garage).

    A Denali Sponsorship is always a good thing wink wink 😉

  2. Ed December 17th, 2009 12:15 pm

    What about us knuckle draggers (you know, the guys that don’t wear spandex?), how ’bout some of the Spark R&D Fuse bindings which have now been sold out for about a month. That is on my back country snowboarding Christmas list.

  3. Nick December 17th, 2009 2:14 pm

    Can’t possibly have enough of the Voile straps, I use them for everything!
    The new plastic ends have me a little concerned about durability compared to the old metal ones, but so far are holding up. Voile straps seem to come in a wide range of stretchiness, some are like plastic and can’t be stretched at all, making them a PITA, others are just right.

    Black Diamond makes some similar straps which are a bit stretchier, but they are kind of gummy and hard to use with one hand. The BD ones also have a bulb on the end of the metal tab which keeps them together more securely (but also make it harder to release). Also, the BD has a weak point near the buckle where it turns into 2 thin straps that seem tenuous against ski edges…
    Just some observations.

  4. Lee December 17th, 2009 2:20 pm

    Probably a bit pricey for most peoples christmas stocking but I just watched this:


    La Sportiva’s race boot the Stratos. What a beautifully built boot. I just love the inner boot design and the velcro straps to secure it (and your heel) in the outer shell. La Sportiva make great walking and climbing boots and I really hope they enter the general rando ski boot market – it could do with a design shake up.

    On the subject of inners, my dynafit AT lacers have finally arrived – they have some design flaws in my opinion. I’ve already made some modifications to them so they work better. I’ll post a review to Lou when I’ve had a bit more skinning/skiing in them.

  5. Euro Rob December 17th, 2009 2:33 pm

    Crested Butte must be a magic place!

  6. Lou December 17th, 2009 3:40 pm

    Lee, am anxious for the review, get ‘er done!

  7. Lou December 17th, 2009 3:41 pm

    He guys, I need an idea for the $100 slot. ??

  8. Eric Steig December 17th, 2009 3:58 pm


    Sorry to bug you on an earlier post but..

    How do those various race heels — Dynafit and copies — work for switching between downhill and tour mode? Does the little lever on the top pull the pins backwards, out of the boot?

    If so, that seems brilliant and indeed an improvement over standard Dynafits.

  9. Lou December 17th, 2009 4:03 pm

    Eric, nope, that “lever” is just the heel lifter.

  10. Biggsie December 17th, 2009 5:05 pm

    You forgot a hall pass from the SO for that month-long La Grave trip we’ve always wanted to take….

  11. Tracy Harris December 17th, 2009 5:18 pm

    hello –

    I have a very truly unique and special item to offer for Christmas sale – Shorty Lovelace’s Final pair of Skis !

    My name is Tracy Harris, and I am a Yamaha Performing Artist & Clinician; so you know I am real and that this is not a hoax, my music website is at http://www.tracyharrisflute.com – I am a professional flutist, and my Grandmother happens to be Ellen Lovelace-Hill – the niece of Shorty Lovelace, the famous back country skier and trapper for whom the Shorty Lovelace Historic District in Kings Canyon National Park, California, is named. Among Shorty’s artifacts removed by my grandmother from his cabin after his death were his last pair of skis. They have Attenhofer Alpina Bindings and are unmarked except for numbers 6 and 930 engraved into the oak wood. We also have the tools with which he built his cabins, some of which still survive in the national park. We were hoping to keep the artifiacts together and find them a home in a museum, but sadly Family Medical issues force us to part with them – serious interested parties wishing more information and photos may write to me at TracyHarrisFlute@yahoo.com.

  12. Jess Downing December 17th, 2009 5:27 pm

    I want a cat/hut trip for Christmas in Nelson, BC… wait, Dave already booked that! 🙂

    Under $100 – wool baselayers are always a good gift for the skier. I can’t have enough!

  13. Tom Gos December 17th, 2009 5:59 pm

    For under $100, how about an avy class of some sort. Our local community college (Colorado Mountain College) offers a Level 1 class for $85. The gift that keeps on giving. I’ll add a vote for the Off Piste subscription – my favorite of the ski mags for sure, cheap with useful content.

  14. Lou December 17th, 2009 6:00 pm

    Tom, good idea, I’ll add it. Thanks.

  15. Eric Steig December 17th, 2009 6:20 pm

    ‘that “lever” is just the heel lifter’

    So how do you get out for the uphill? Have to release the toe?
    I guess the idea is that you’d have to do that anyway to put on skins..

  16. Lou December 17th, 2009 6:43 pm

    Just like a regular Dynafit, you unlatch at the toe…

  17. Randonnee December 17th, 2009 7:24 pm

    An avalanche airbag backpack. Aside from using your brain properly that is the one piece of gear to keep you out of an avalanche.

  18. Lou December 17th, 2009 9:12 pm

    Good one there Rando!

  19. jason December 17th, 2009 9:16 pm

    Lou, your first three sentances just made my day. thank you.

    as for another $100 slot, i love my BD whippet poles come spring time! too bad they’re $100 each (i guess that means if you get a 2nd one its a-ok!)

  20. Colin in CA December 17th, 2009 10:32 pm

    Gifts for $100 or Under:

    BD Apollo Lantern
    BD Icon w/ NRG Rechargable Kit
    Leatherman Skeletool
    Jetboil Flash
    Giro Maze Helmet
    Swix FX Wide Vise
    G3 Bonesaw
    BD Deploy 7

  21. Mark December 17th, 2009 11:32 pm

    Might need the cornice cutter. Very cool..

  22. Alex December 18th, 2009 12:44 am

    How about an insulated hydration tube for your suckey bag? Mine’s froze the last three times I’ve gone out… and leaks onto my shirt when it thaws… Inexpensive and useful!

  23. Colorado MoJo December 18th, 2009 9:22 am

    Here’s the perfect gift: “Honey, I’ll take care of the shopping/cleaning/dog walking/oil change/hockey practice today—you really need to get out and go skiing!”

  24. dwaag December 20th, 2009 11:59 am

    Thanks for the Off-Piste Mag plug on your Christmas list! We have been fueling the stoke (and providing fire starter) for 11 years now. Happy Holidays!
    Dave Waag
    Minister of Ski Culture
    Off-Piste Mag

  25. Jeff December 21st, 2009 1:30 pm

    Lou- great x-mas list. I was curious to hear more about the K2 Wayback. In particular I was wondering if you had a chance to compare it with the Dynafit Mustagh Ata Superlight which seems to occupy the same performance to weight niche (but advertised at a pound lighter). I would love to read a more indepth comparison when you have the time. Thanks

  26. Marlies December 22nd, 2009 8:44 am

    Nice list….
    Here a cautionary note about Iridium satellite phones: having used them extensively over the years during extended wilderness expeditions with troubled youth I’ll have to do a bit of “getting-you-back-to-the-ground”. Yup, the phones work mostly and have saved my butt many times – and yup, the satellites move…. or you’re in a valley, or the cloud cover is to thick, or you’re just not positioned perfectly… plenty of reasons that can make calls tough. I used them mostly in Oregon, Washington, California areas but this summer also in Colorado. Even on the flat unobstructed slopes of a 14-er we had trouble communicating… so, good wish, and yet, they have plenty of improvement to take care of.

    Happy Christmas!

  27. Jailhouse Hopkins December 14th, 2012 6:10 pm

    I’ll take another pair of DPS skis with Plum bindings!

  28. bill December 15th, 2012 1:29 am

    hmm. sad christmas times when the #2 thing on the list is a pair of backcountry binders at nearly $600 and the #1 is a no-responsibility-for-myself satellite phone at close to $1400. A 1%er christmas list I suppose?

    Hopefully Santa will bring the rest of the backcounty skiers a powder day with a stable snowpack, a warm cup of Folgers in the car on the way to the trailhead, a gas station burrito, and a non-Aspen-priced Christmas list.

    Any self-identified dirtbag skiers out there with some actual dirtbag-priced gift ideas? Pass em along….

    Here’s some to build on:

    a morning/night of free babysitting for your recently-parent friends so they can go for a ski together

    some schweet self-knitted beanies (or crochet-ed, if you’re so inclined)

    a mason jar quart of your crazy uncle’s homemade recipe eggnog

    two weeks of car clearing and driveway shoveing on your buddy’s truck (assuming it snows)

    a growler of the local brewery

    two days of no-questions-asked trail-breaking on the local skin track

    a killer i-tunes mix of ridiculous 80’s pop for the skin up

    a hella-cool technical 1-piece ski shell from the local thrift store

    the list goes on?

  29. Lou Dawson December 15th, 2012 7:27 am

    Bill, thanks, the plan is for you guys to come up with the best ideas, and we do have a couple more lists on tap. As for the class warfare, I’d offer that nothing on this list is particularly elitist and the choices offered simply depend on your needs and level of activity. I’d offer two more choices for the list. For the true 1% a charter on a private jet for one week of skiing in Norway, and for the 99% how about a set of Motorola FRS blister pack radios?

  30. bill December 15th, 2012 7:36 am

    Hi Lou, totally true! would love to apologise for the tone and we should actually delete that post! I was in a snarky mood after whipping out a letter-to-the-editor in Vail about the inbounds slide last year involving some local teens; a judge just allowed that the case can go forward to sue the patrol for negligence.(not really a discussion for this thread)

    Definitely would not turn down a Mystery Ranch Airbag pack if Santa Wanted to drop one down my artificial gas-log chimney 🙂 And I already bought a SkiJournal subscription for my brother

  31. See December 15th, 2012 10:04 am

    Uncoated windbreaker type jacket? I have one that weighs 3 ounces, cost way under $100, wads up smaller than a baseball, and turns any insulation layer into a highly breathable soft-shell. Good for adding a little protection as one gains altitude or if it starts snowing. Easy to access as it can be stuffed into a pocket.

  32. Cseilern December 15th, 2012 10:14 am

    You could always stretch $20 mo and go for a Dynafit RC20 pack (bets light pack out there – can take skis, rope, crampons, etc… on or off without taking the pack off).

    Or you could go for some Black Diamond compactor ski poles – they fold down short enough to go into most packs – great for light travel.

  33. Jacques December 15th, 2012 10:31 am

    Bill, maybe you should get a better education for Christmas, or whatever is needed for you to get a better job. Better still please don’t burden us with your 99% Occupy screed this Christmas season…it’s air, net and thought pollution. Or maybe we should all just sit complacently in our dirty rags, half-empty growler in hand, bemoaning our mediocrity and blaming those who did something more than whine. As for me, most of that gear is outta reach this year but I’m really stoked to see folks using better/innovative gear on the slopes. Merry Christmas to all this season, whether you are super rich, super poor or like most reading here, happily in between.

  34. Nick Thompson December 15th, 2012 11:40 am

    Stocking stuffer to go with the BCA float 32 airbag pack: an air cylinder ($550 doesn’t include it).
    That and an avy course: perfect gifts.

  35. Lou Dawson December 15th, 2012 12:40 pm

    Thanks Nick (grin)!

  36. Lou Dawson December 15th, 2012 12:53 pm

    Bill, no worries, main thing in my opinion is to keep it positive. Lou

  37. Patrick December 15th, 2012 1:50 pm

    go to a safety supply store to buy sunglasses (safety glasses). Durable and inexpensive. They start at about $10 here in B.C. The uppity ones might run you $20.

  38. Patrick December 15th, 2012 2:52 pm

    Voila-satisfaction ski straps. Low-tech gift. Cut a dead inner-tube into 1 inch wide strips, about a foot long. Then, tie a knot to create a loop. A pair of these will hold skis together when you travel or when you shoulder them to get to the trail-head. Longer tube strips make useful bunggies for many things.

  39. dmr December 16th, 2012 9:05 am


    Folgers, really?

    I’ll second the knit wool beanie. My wife’s made a few for me over the years.

    Best of holidays to you and yours.

  40. See December 16th, 2012 8:28 pm

    An item that I like, but don’t recall hearing the wildsnow take on, is goggles with a battery powered fan.

    I have really come to appreciate them, even though they make a buzzing noise and are pretty fiddley.

  41. Jack December 16th, 2012 8:54 pm


    As usual, a great topic for your blog.

    In the <$100 mens category a pair of dynafit crampons.

    For the my wife, an icebreaker wool mid weight layer $89 and a pair of fancy design merino wool socks from the Joy of Sox $25 in Breck for the stocking stuffer.

    Hope you, Lisa (Mrs Wildsnow), & Louie have a great holidays and absolutely great snow!

  42. cgd December 16th, 2012 9:36 pm

    @ jacques
    really? giving a gift that requires more thought than going online and punching in a credit card # means you need more money/ better job? If you had any concept of what is truly valuable you might realize that a persons time devoted to actually doing something for someone (for free no less) is huge. Sorry to hear you wont be getting any super important widgets this year.
    Happy ho-ho

  43. Don Gorsegner December 17th, 2012 2:07 am

    Great list, must be using spandel stockings to stuff the ski’s in. One nice item to have if your at a Hut for multi days, and your stuff have been shuttled in by snowmobile, Propane fired, Peets boot dryers. I have very sweaty feet (some boot fitters call it Swamp Foot), it is so nice to have dry and toasty liners every morning.


  44. Mats December 17th, 2012 11:54 am

    Maybee the Dynafit Beast DIN 16 binding is something to add to the list?

    This binding is supposed to add the elasticity of an alpine binding to the tech binding system. Not to mention the DIN 16..

  45. Lou Dawson December 17th, 2012 5:29 pm

    Mats, I’d sure like to be covering that binding but I have to do things on Dynafit’s timing, otherwise I won’t get invited to see and blog about the rest of the cool stuff they have up their sleeves. Since it’s out in the wild now, thanks for commenting.

  46. Mats December 18th, 2012 12:23 pm

    Lou, looking forward to the review, I don¨t need DIN 16 but the possibility of a Dynafit binding that has the elasticity of an alpine binding sounds promising.

    If it works OK I anticipate that Dynafit will also release a (more affordable) DIN 12 version to get some more market share.

  47. Mats December 18th, 2012 12:29 pm

    Lou, looking forward to the review, I don¨t need DIN 16 but the possibility of a Dynafit binding that has the elasticity of an alpine binding sounds promising.

    If it works OK I anticipate that Dynafit will also release a (more affordable) DIN 12 version to get some more market share.

    The links above are now dead. The guy posting the images was asked nicely to take them down.

  48. Tom Gos December 18th, 2012 9:17 pm

    Santa can bring me some of these:


    Well, maybe I’ll have to wait until next year.

  49. Jailhouse Hopkins December 19th, 2012 5:57 pm

    Somebody must have more info on those Beasts!

  50. Frame December 20th, 2012 6:13 am

    They should call it the “Beast 17”, thereby making it bigger (and therefore better) than any other binding – AT (plate) or alpine.

    Why don’t I work in marketing for a ski company???

    Lou, you need to update the anti-spam question, ‘Beast 17’ doesn’t work….

    By the way I’ve trademarked Beast 17 if the binding companies are listening (Beast 18 too ;o).

  51. Lou Dawson December 20th, 2012 7:48 am

    Marketing 101, if they’re talking about you, then you’ve done your job. Engineering 101, make something that works. We shall see who has the most success (grin). Lou

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  Your Comments

  • Robert V. Coppolillo: My dirty little secret? LaSportiva Hi5--108mm underfoot, surfy shovel, hamm...
  • Lou2: See, my weakness is for that light feeling on the feet, you all know that. ...
  • See: Actually, I think I may know the answer— in the interest of science. Thanks...
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  • Jana Novakova: Just trying to reach out to the community to help out Bob. Thanks! http...
  • Dan: Thanks for the reassurance Jim, that is exactly what I did. Most of the r...
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  • Robert V. Coppolillo: Ultimate truth, indeed, is that almost any ski is a frickin' blast in deep ...
  • Klaus: I've just bought some G3 momix skins for Movement shifts and do not like th...
  • Jim Milstein: Dan, just whittle the slots in your boot soles so the pins fit in. That's w...
  • Dan: Hi Lou, A Vipec 12 cautionary note. I just had a new pair of Vipec 12 b...
  • Ernstig: I really like the design of the power strap on the proclines. Would like to...
  • Noah: About a year late Lou and Jksprint, but they're out there... https://you...
  • See: Yeah, after years of using mostly 115+ skis for powder I've been thinking a...
  • andy: Truax and Michael: Awesome beta! Thank you! Curious: What didn't you like a...
  • Matti: Have been now touring for 6 days with these including 1/2 day testing at re...
  • cody: Craig what kind of heavy shovel and probe are you using where you can notic...
  • Allan: Hey don't get me wrong, it's a good powder ski. It's just that I have very ...
  • Robert V. Coppolillo: Skied the 95 in a 120cm storm last year and it WORKED. Pair it with the PDG...
  • Paddy: I disagree with See on this one, 95mm is absolutly a powder ski. I'm const...
  • See: I was going through my gear closet looking for stuff that I no longer use a...
  • See: But a few millimeters either way probably isn’t important....
  • See: In my opinion, a 95 is not a powder ski. I’d say mount the ski for it’s int...
  • Allan: Not to speak for Rob here but the PDG has a shorter boot sole length for a ...
  • Louie III: Cilogear ski packs have the avalanche tool storage next to the back. It has...
  • Truax: Gonna echo a lot of Michael's thoughts here. While I haven't been on the BM...
  • Craig: Which drawer of the filing cabinet are the shovel/probe supposed to go in? ...

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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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Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

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