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Beacon, shovel, probe: There are some things every responsible skier needs to carry in the backcountry. But after the snow safety and hard goods, there are the essentials that tag along in your pack for every tour. Here’s what’s in our ski-obsessed contributing writer’s kit.
Stio Environ Bib
Trust us: Bibs are the way to go in the backcountry, because no one wants to fuss with the bulky waist of ski pants sagging under their hip belt. We ladies can have a hard time finding comfortable ones, but these fit the bill (they come in an equally comfortable men’s version, too). The waist has a semi-loose fit, legs are tailored just enough to allow freedom of movement with a nice silhouette, and side zippers double as venting and a drop-seat for when nature calls. Plus, the 150-denier waterproof polyester Dermizax shell material proved durable enough for even the most die-hard ski bums. $359.20; 30 oz.; Buy Stio Environ Bib Now
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
Big puffies often feel too bulky for the downhill (or the uphill, for that matter), but this jacket uses a polyester insulation that boasts the airy qualities of down, creating the perfect combo of warmth, weight, packability, and layering comfort. The windproof and water-resistant nylon ripstop shell fends off nasty weather, and since the insulation is polyester, it will stay warm when wet. It stows in its own pocket and weights a mere 9.3 ounces—giving your favorite down jacket a run for its money. The Micro Puff endured days in the mountains with skiers who manage to break burly bindings and wear out apparel in an instant; it proved its worth, remaining unscathed and ready for more. $299; 9.3 oz.; Buy Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody Now
Smith Lowdown 2 Sunglasses
Your eyes need protection on the uphill just as much as on the downhill. The Lowdown 2 offers a comfortable and stylish frame, while Smith’s ChromaPop Polarized lenses block glares and enhance the definition of the landscape, making it easier to find your way when spin drifts and white-outs roll in. $139; 1 oz.; Buy Smith Lowdown 2 Sunglasses Now
Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoodie
From uphill slogs to windy ridgeline transitions, this softshell balances breathability and weather protection like a perfectly weighted scale, making it the jacket of choice for long days in variable weather. While it’s not fully waterproof, it has a nylon-polyester shell with a DWR finish. It stood up to the weather without wetting out on a stormy, 2-foot powder day in Colorado’s San Juan mountains—a full day in the white room. With a slightly longer fit in the body, it feels less like an alpine shell and more like a ski jacket, so you don’t have to worry about snow creeping up your coat on the deep days. The best feature: A hood large enough to fit over any ski helmet, and cinching in the back and front that keep it on your head sans helmet. $249; 16 oz.; Buy Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoodie Now
Black Diamond Ski Strap
You never know when the time might come to swap from the skin track to the boot pack. You’ll need your ski strap to sling your skis on your pack once it’s time to hoof it up that couloir. Plus, it can lash on a faulty skin in a pinch. This Black Diamond one has proved simple and durable after several seasons of use. $6; 1.3 oz.; Buy Black Diamond Ski Strap Now
Skratch Labs Matcha Green Tea & Lemon Sport Energy Chews
Ski touring without snacks is ludicrous. But sometimes, breaking a sweat on the uphill means you’re not quite hankering for a PB&J sandwich that sticks to your gut like your skins stick to each other. Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews double as quick and sustained carbs and a tasty treat for big days in the mountains. And with uniquely delicious flavors like Matcha Green Tea & Lemon? Sign us up. $2.45; 1.8 oz.; Buy Skratch Labs Matcha Green Tea & Lemon Sport Energy Chews Now
G3 Merino Toque
Merino wool is the fabric of choice when it comes to thermo-regulating, especially in cold, wet weather. This hat has the soft feel of merino and the perfect fit for ski touring—whether on the uphill on chilly days or the downhill any day—since it wicks sweat from your brow and keeps your ears and head toasty even when wet. $34; Buy G3 Merino Toque Now
Hydro Flask Be Cool Crushable Hat
We know what you’re thinking—Hydro Flask makes hats? Yes, they do, and this one is perfect for ski touring. The lightweight, water-resistant nylon is breathable and comfortable for the uphill, and the soft construction means you can stuff it anywhere in your pack without compromising the hat’s structure. $31; Buy Hydro Flask Be Cool Crushable Hat Now
Buff Lightweight Merino
Whether you’re stopping wind and snow from pelting your face or blocking UV rays from frying your skin, a Buff neck gaiter comes in handy on almost any skiing adventure. The merino option is best for fending off funky smells and maintaining temperature regulation, since wool does double duty by wicking sweat and keeping you warm. $29; 1.7 oz.; Buy Buff Lightweight Merino Now
Hestra Touch Point Warmth Gloves Now
You’re not going to wear your big mitts for the uphill, unless you want to have puddles forming in them by the end of your ski tour. These midweight liners are a polyester-wool blend, versatile enough to wear on both sunny spring tours and frigid mid-winter days (as long as you’re moving uphill). $45; Buy Hestra Touch Point Warmth Gloves Now
Bonus: Need a post-run beer? Our writer recommends New Image Brewing’s Coriolis Effect ($15 for a six-pack). This floral and hoppy New Zealand style IPA balances tropical notes with the dry and bitter ones, and will have you frothing for a handle (a Kiwi pint) at the end of your powder run.