Backcountry Gear 2020 Editor’s Choice pt 1

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Backcountry Gear 2020 Editor’s Choice pt 1

Less stiff = more fun

Blizzard Zero G105 Zero G 95 Zero G 85

Blizzard totally redesigned its Zero G line of skis, softening them up a bit to make them a little more fun and forgiving to ski without taking away too much performance. It started with construction, wrapping the paulownia wood core with carbon fibre in a three-dimensional shape. It cuts weight while maintaining stability and edge grip in challenging conditions. Blizzard added more carbon to increase edge-to-edge rigidity, and tweaked just about everything else: longer sidecuts for slicing through crappy snow, more surface area for stability and lighter weight. The Zero G is available in three widths, 85, 95 and 105, and range in weight from a sprite 900 grams to a do-it-all 1,650. From $699;

Fischer Hannibal 96

The other Hannibal
Movie psycho or military commander, whichever Hannibal comes to mind they were brilliant. Same goes for Fischer’s Hannibal backcountry ski. Fischer keeps tweaking it and it keeps getting better. The latest iteration comes in two builds, a 96 and 106mm. Both share a paulownia wood core wrapped in carbon and shaped into a lightweight, hollowed-out core. They stand out for their weight. The do-it-all 96 averages 1,300 grams, while the more powder-focused 106 is only 1,500 grams. From $800;

Dynafit TLT8 Carbonio

Toeless pushback
It seems that finding a touring boot that weighs around a kilo or less also means sacrificing a toe. Not yours, but the bill on the boot and possibly the heel. These days that means the boots aren’t compatible with bindings like the Salomon Shift, Fritschi Tecton or Marker Kingpin. Dynafit fills the void with the TLT8 Carbonio, a shockingly light—under a kilogram—boot with a bill and skiing power. The two-buckle boot is a good choice for a dedicated backcountry hound who wants the option of skiing bigger slackcountry bindings and skis, but not the usual weight penalty. $1,000;

The backcountry sock

Le Bent Le Send BC Touring

Cody Townsend is in the process of skiing all the lines in the book, Fifty Classic Descents of North America. The sock he’s wearing to do it is the Le Bent Le Send BC Touring. It’s one of the only ski-touring-specific socks out there, built for the specific tortures of earning turns: extra thick around the toes for warmth; warm, breathable and wicking combo of wool and bamboo-rayon; and silicone strips on the heels to prevent heel-slip blisters. $42;

A shell you’ll want to tour in

Patagonia Snowdrifter Jacket

We never go backcountry skiing without a solid shell, but rarely skin in it because it’s hot, sweaty and the waterproof fabric is often loud. Patagonia addressed all points with its Snowdrifter Jacket and Bib. Backcountry-focused in design and materials, Patagonia used a three-layer stretch fabric that’s waterproof, super soft and so quiet. In the skin track there was no annoying crinkling or swishing. It feels and sounds more like a softshell and breathes almost as well. Big pit zips on the jacket help ditch excess heat. Side zips on the pants do the same, bellowing out with each stride to pump hot air out, and the waterproof fabric ends at the waist, leaving a mesh-backed softshell (read: highly breathable) to reach high on the chest. Baggy enough for the resort, light enough for earning turns and reliable enough for days of use, the Snowdrifter could be your one-apparel kit for all missions. Jacket $499;

Marker Kingpin M-Werks 12

The new king of the pin?
The Kingpin is for big skis. The Alpinist is for big tours. For everything in between Marker adds the Kingpin M-Werks 12. Like the Kingpin, it has a DIN-style heel and DIN to 12. It borrows the carbon reinforcements of the minimalist Alpinist. Put it all together and you’ve got a touring binding that promises to ski as well as the Kingpin, but weighs a more uphill-friendly 540 grams. $825;

Better jet bag

Black Diamond Jetforce Pro 25

Black Diamond updates its JetForce avalanche air bag system, shrinking weight and bulk, adding an automatic test when turned on and Bluetooth software updates. It’s also now modular. Buy the JetForce Pro 25, say, and you can use the same air bag system on the 10- or 35-litre packs. Own two packs, without having to own two entire systems. $1,599;

from Fall 2019 issue

Ryan Stuart
To top