Splitboard. Check. Backcountry bindings and boots. Check. What else? For starters, avalanche safety equipment like a beacon, shovel and probe. You’ll want poles, and your board will need climbing skins. Those are the essentials, aside from a backpack, and filling that pack with other tools and useful items is up to you. But we’ll at least get you started. The following are the top accessories from last spring’s backcountry test in Crested Butte, Colorado. We covered the essentials, and for those who don’t always want to wear a backpack, we included Volcom’s new Iguchi-inspired backcountry vest. Be safe and have fun out there.

Arva NEO Transceiver – $360

The 2017 NEO Transceiver from Arva was the favorite avalanche beacon of the test.

PHOTO: JP Van Swae

Are you wearing your Arva? That's french slang for "beacon". With a 60-meter search range, the NEO transceiver also had the most comfortable harness of the test. Affordable and user-friendly, it marked multiple burials during practice. A dummy-proof Smart Holster keeps the beacon on at all times while secured to the body.

Volcom Slack Vest – $300

With help from Bryan Iguchi, Volcom designed the Slack Vest for days you'd rather ride without a backpack. Front pockets hold an avalanche transceiver, cell phone, camera, multi-tool, any other backcountry essentials. PHOTO: JP Van Swae

PHOTO: JP Van Swae

Bryan Iguchi helped design this backcountry vest that rides below the waist for deep powder days with pockets for splitboard necessities, and then some. Avalanche gear, snacks, two-way radio, smartphone or point-and-shoot—if you require it out there, it'll fit in here. Testers recommended collapsible soft water bottles since the vest lacks an insulated bladder sleeve.

G3 Alpinist High Traction Skins – $199

G3 Alpinist High Traction splitboard skins haven't changed going for Winter 2017 but still outperformed all others tested. PHOTO: JP Van Swae

PHOTO: JP Van Swae

Testers' favorite skins last year didn't change for 2017 and still outperformed all others. Featuring more traction than counterparts with shorter nylon hairs, glue stuck well to board bases but still detached from opposing skins with ease, and beefy tail clips remained secure, lap after lap. Tester tip: Use rub-on wax to increase glide on long approaches.

BCA Shaxe Tech Shovel – $180


PHOTO: JP Van Swae

A curved handle adds nine degrees of pick-ability for steep climbs. The included axe blade, which fits in place of the shovel handle, is not intended to support full-on ice climbing but worked wonders as an aide on bootpacks and a stabilizer on icy descents. Slots in the blade allow cord passage for makeshift snow anchors and rescue sleds, and the shovel/axe combo saved weight and pack space.

Voilé CamLock 3 Poles – $110

The 2017 CamLock 3 Poles from Voilé were testers' favorite pair while splitboard touring in the Colorado backcountry.

PHOTO: JP Van Swae

Voilé's tri-sectional poles collapse to 25 inches—short enough to avoid tree branches when attached to packs. The strong snow-scraper handle designed to remove wet snow buildup from skins also helped engage hard-to-reach splitboard heel risers. Locking levers flicked with ease, and no space was left between the EVA foam grips and handles, so hands never touched cold aluminum.


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