Fresh tracks are what we live for. Here’s a sampling of gear to get you out there, on the hunt for pow.
You know that feeling, when a deep inhale of crisp mountain air tingles your nostrils and inflates you full of stoke. From the momentous push of your initial drop to the first big slash, cold blower blasts back into your face, and you hit the point of ultimate shred ecstasy. You linger, admiring the final product but always wanting more. First tracks are what we live for.
As long as it snows, there are plenty of ways to get that feeling, but they often require venturing off the beaten cat track. Whether it's touring out to a rustic backcountry hut, setting up a sidecountry mission, or rallying a crew with first class tickets to Powder Town, you want the best gear to find that float and elevate your experience to the next-level. Be dry, be comfortable, and be prepared, because you're not the only powder hound on the hunt.
Photo: Jeff Brockmeyer
Hut Trip Essentials
Not much beats a blazing fire and warm shelter, but just getting to the hut can be a mission in and of itself. Luxury chalets be damned; you just need a place to thaw your boots, rest your bones, and watch the snow pile up outside the frosty window panes so you can do it all over again the next day.
Kifaru Expedition Sled ($660)
Get off the grid with this built-to-order backcountry sled, suited for multi-day missions. A veteran of adventures in Iceland and Antarctica, it's constructed with a 53-inch high-impact fiberglass hull large enough to haul everything from kegs to injured riders. Metal runners glides smoothly on set skin tracks.
Jetboil MiniMo ($130)
Channel your inner Chef Boyar-Backcountry with this compact cooking system that boasts the newest fuel valve technology on offer. It allows for finer-tuned simmer control, so you can whip up a variety of tasty creations at different heat levels. Works in cold environments down to 20-degrees Fahrenheit.
Pow Vandal Gloves ($75)
Dexterous gloves are essential on long tours. You need something that's warm, breathable, and light for quick adjustments on the fly. The Teflon-coated Vandals fit the bill and are ultra-functional and warm without being bulky. Includes a buff to wipe your nose and goggles when those snot-rockets go awry.
Maven B.3 Binoculars ($500)
Scope lines across the valley, pin-point entry/exit zones, and see just how far away your hut actually is with these state-of-the-art binoculars. Ultra-sharp clarity, exceptional in low-light with a broad depth of field, and easily focused; these beasts will help turn your squinty view into eagle eyes.
ThirtyTwo Jeremy Jones MTB Snowboard Boots ($500)
The latest collaboration between Jeremy Jones and ThirtyTwo enters the realm of snowboard mountaineering legitimacy. The MTB has mountain-ready features like a waterproof lace cover and crampon-ready Vibram sole and heel welts, but the BOA-secured adjustable rear cuff gives more range of motion to your splitboard stride.
North Face Blue Kazoo Sleeping Bag ($279-309)
Here's an ideal three-season fart sack for your comfort and warmth when sleeping in the backcountry. Filled with water-resistant ProDown, it should perform well in moist, cold conditions and provide reliable heat-retention to 15-degrees Fahrenheit. The bag squishes down nice and tight to fit in most mid-size backcountry packs.
Photo: Jeff Brockmeyer
Few things can you peel you out of bed with a hot babe, but when reports call for a foot of fresh, you've gotta pull up your pants, lace up your boots, and get out after it. As big dumps become fewer and farther between, having your kit dialed and ready is essential for ripping that fresh as soon as it falls.
Capita Spring Break Powder Hole 163 Board ($680)
The brainchild of Corey Smith, this 'powder displacement vehicle' is a surf-inspired, pow pillager that's one of the most uniquely-shaped decks on snow, with an ultra wide-scoop nose to power through snow. This marks the second foray into collab board building by Capita and Spring Break.
Union Contact Pro Bindings ($249)
Minimal binding-to-board footprint creates a surfier vibe with these highly sought-after bindings developed and tested by Gigi Rüf. Ultra lightweight at a mere 720 grams per binding, they pair well with uniquely-shaped pow decks. The softer flex is on-point when floatin' through the fluff. Backed by Union's lifetime warranty.
Dakine Prospector Bib ($450)
Snow down your crack sucks and makes for soggy shredding. Avoid all that with these Gore-Tex bibs that boast AquaGuard zippers, fully tapped seams, and reinforced, durable hems crafted to take a beating for more than one season. Form-fitting with articulated knees for mobility and freedom of movement.
Smith Xavier De Le Rue I/OX Goggle ($180)
The most technically-advanced of all Smith's interchangeable goggles, De Le Rue's signature model features an anti-fog lens engineered to absorb and displace moisture. The 5X anti-fog liner is carved into the lens, so it can't be wiped away. The I/OX are the largest frames in Smith's line.
Airblaster Woolverino Ninja Suit ($190)
There's something strangely satisfying about riding in a Ninja Suit, free-balling with super easy access when nature calls. This year's suit is the softest to date, and is crafted with a blend of Merino wool and Lyrica. It dries wicked fast, the material is 44 percent stronger and stretches for extra maneuverability.
Jones Minimalist 45L Pack ($149)
Go longer and harder with Jones' new featherweight backcountry bag that features a wide-mouthed top load opening and removable lid. Easy to pack and organize, the front board straps wrap around the sides to create a closer board-carrying system, while the substantial hip straps help to evenly distribute weight.
Photo: Jeff Brockmeyer
Setting Out To The Sidecountry
Just past the gates of many resorts, including Jackson Hole, Crested Butte, Big Sky, and Aspen, lay easily accessible, aggressive sidecounty terrain. These zones are great for building booters and laying down lines while providing a freeride fix that's often unattainable in-bounds. A lift ride up and mellow boot pack out may get you to these goods, but you still need be prepared as if it were any other backcountry mission full of risk.
Ride Berzerker ($510)
A stiff, stable directional deck crafted specifically for the hard-charging, freestyle prowess of Jake Blauvelt, the Berzerker is the ultimate shred machine. Versatile hybrid with camber underfoot and rocker in the nose make it torsionally solid, so you can power through long lines and snap off wind lips.
Dakine Heli Vest ($150)
This low-profile vest eliminates the awkwardness of backpacks on lifts, but still has all the pockets for critical gear, (beacon, shovel, probe) and includes a vertical snowboard carry on your back. Silverton Mountain and SASS Global Travel guides, Skylar Holgate and Chris Coulter, use these vests on the job and while freeriding.
Photo: Jeff Brockmeyer
BCA Tracker3 ($335)
With ease of use similar to the award-winning Tracker2, the newest beacon from BCA is 20 percent more compact with the thinnest multiple-antenna transceiver on offer. The "pocket-friendly" Tracker3 rides comfortably on resort laps before you pop out of bounds. Signal suppression mode is ideal for multiple-victim searching.
Motorola Solutions T460 Weatherproof Talkabout Radios ($90)
When building tree bonks, booters, and other out-of-bounds features, communicating with your crew is essential. These weatherproof two-way radios come in handy out of cell phone range and work within a 35-mile radius. They also include NOAA weather channels and alerts, hands-free capability, and have an emergency alert button.
DMOS Kicker Tool ($99)
This in no way serves as a replacement for your avalanche safety shovel, but it can make building and sculpting jumps a heck of a lot easier. The packable shovel/rack combo weighs in a 3.3 pounds, and has a solid shaft that easily extends from 18-inces to 56.5-inches. Serrated teeth can chop ice chunks without slicing your pack.
Spy Ace Goggles ($110)
A bluebird day can go gray in flash, so you want to be able to switch up your view in a snap. The cylindrical Aces feature Spy's Quick Draw change system. Pop open both sides of the frame, swap out the lens, click into place, and you're good to go. On the low end of the price spectrum for quick-change lenses.