This final installment of our gift guide series for 2018 provides some great ideas for the backcountry skiers out there. This includes ski touring, ski mountaineering, split boarding and even the snowshoeing enthusiast—though I question their sanity. Be sure to check out our other gift guides as well and have a great Christmas season!
1. Arc’teryx Alpha SK Pack:
The newest addition to the Arc’teryx Alpha line of backpacks is the Alpha SK 32. The SK refers to the fact that this is a purpose built ski touring pack. And like the other offerings in the Alpha line, the new SK is a testament to functional minimalism with its simple and efficient design. Built using the same durable and weatherproof AC2 material as the Alpha FL, the new SK looks fairly similar to its alpine climbing brethren. The feature set, however, is squarely focused on backcountry touring & ski mountaineering with a rear avy gear pouch, a side access zipper, ski and snowboard carry systems, etc. Arc’teryx has even designed the top lid of the pack to hold a helmet. A cutting edge, sleek looking pack that would please any backcountry snow sports enthusiast.
2. Camp Lightweight Skimo Tour Crampons:
The Camp Lightweight Skimo Tour Crampon is a fantastic gift for ski mountaineers. These lightweight aluminum crampons have been designed specifically to fit securely on ski boots, not mountaineering boots, for safe and efficient climbing. The front of the boot features an innovative toe clip, which Camp has dubbed the T-Stop, while the custom designed heel bail has been optimized to fit under the walk-ski switch. To really cut the weight down the aluminum spreader bar can be replaced with a Dyneema strap which is sold separately. A great gift for any ski mountaineer that’s trying to limp through the winter with their summer crampons.
3. Petzl Nao+:
The Petzl Nao+ is a huge asset for any mountain mission that starts or ends in the dim hours of the day. With 750 lumens, it’s so bright that Petzl had to include a warning label not to shine it in people eyes. Using Reactive Lighting or Constant Lighting the burn time will vary from 6.5hrs (at 750 lumens) up to 15 hours! Any Skier who “might” be skiing after the sun drop would absolutely love to pull this head lamp out. Enough juice to last all night and bright enough to illuminate the entire run. Talk about a bright idea.
4. Black Diamond First Light Hoody:
The Black Diamond First Light Hoody is a great all-round, mid-weight active insulation layer for your mountain man or woman. Or anyone that needs a replacement for that grungy, ripped up thing they’re still using for that matter. Insulated with PrimaLoft Silver with a lightweight but durable Schoeller face fabric and porous interior fabric, the First Light is incredibly breathable and comfortable. The Nanosphere® finish does a great job of repelling water and the relaxed fit allows the hoody to fit over another layer if need be. If some active insulation is on the list check this bad boy out.
5. G3 Alpinist+ Skins:
The new line of Alpinist+ performance skins from G3 come in 5 different models and are packed with great features like an upgraded adhesive, polyurethane tips to eliminate snow creep, long tail clips to fit a wide variety of skis, a rip-strip to make it easier to pull the skins apart, etc. The new adhesive is non-toxic, designed to function in extremely cold temperatures and last season after season. The naming scheme also makes selecting the right skin quick and easy:
- Universal: 100% nylon. Balances glide, grip & durability
- Grip: 100% nylon. More grip & less glide for steep or icy uptracks
- Glide: 70/30 mohair/nylon. More glide & less grip for cold and dry conditions
- Speed: 100% mohair. Max glide
- Pow: Basically the Universal with a different tip design for deep trail breaking
If you know someone who’s just picked up some new touring skis or has been milking a few more laps out of some old and ratty skins then this would be a great gift option.
6. Patagonia Sunshade Technical Hoody:
Glaciers can make for a harsh environment on a blue bird day. Spring ski touring high up in the alpine across vast fields of ice in such conditions can be downright scorching. The direct sun through the thin air combined with the reflected light from the snow can make it feel like an oven. Any exposed skin gets quickly baked by the UV which can make it hard to cool down. In comes the very appropriately named Sunshade Technical hoody from Patagonia. It has an UPF rating of 50+, breathes exceptionally well and has a hood that can be buttoned up to cover everything but your eyes. The perfect sun layer for both summer and winter activities in the alpine.
7. Mammut Alugator Light Shovels:
Mammut’s new line of Alugator avalanche shovels are light, durable and very well designed. No one wants to pack around extra weight, so light shovels are key. However when it comes time to use them, whether in an emergency, to check out the snowpack or build a snow shelter, the functional design suddenly becomes extremely important. In fact the UIAA has been working on a standard for avalanche shovels since 2013 in an effort to institute a minimum design requirement. This process was completed in the spring and the first certified shovels are now available. Of course Mammut’s entire line of Alugator shovels meet this new certification, but the Light and the Pro Light are my favorites. The Light is ideal for the backcountry enthusiast that wants a very light and functional shovel. The Pro Light, with its larger blade, is perfect for the pros.
8. MSR Dynalock™ Ascent Carbon Poles:
MSR’s new Dynalock™ Ascent Carbon Poles are lightweight, sturdy and quite versatile. With a folding design they collapse down to a small package that can easily be stashed inside a pack when not needed. When deployed, the well-thought-out poles are a fantastic option for both winter and summer: Great for winter skiing, riding and snowshoeing with the provided powder basket; swap it out for the smaller summer basket and the poles excel at alpine climbing, trekking and mountaineering. A great gift for a multi-season adventurer.
9. Trekz Air headphones by AfterShokz:
These may be the coolest headphones you could ever own. They’re bone-conducting so don’t actually go in or over the ear, but rather deliver music through your cheek bones. The result is a comfortable and functional headphone that doesn’t impact awareness of your surroundings: the sound of a car horn or the rumble of an avalanche can still be heard as there’s not actually anything in the ear! The cordless, Bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to change layers and doesn’t restrict movement when out skiing, hiking or running. An amazing headphone for anyone playing in the outdoors that wants to take their tunes with them.
10. Journeyman Lodge Ski Trip:
What better gift for a backcountry touring enthusiast than a trip to a luxurious backcountry touring lodge? Using the remote Jouneyman Lodge as a home-base this fully guided and catered 5-day ski touring package has it all: amazing skiing/riding, great food and of course, luxurious accommodation! The staging area is located just 90 minutes from downtown Vancouver with the trips running from Friday to Tuesday. This allows for five epic days of touring with only three days off work! As the guide for this particular trip I may be a little biased towards this option, naturally! However, giving the gift of skiing is never a bad idea, even if you book with another operator. If you want more information about this option check out the website here or email me.
Disclaimer: We were supplied with many of the above items for testing but of course this did not influence our decision to include specific items.