EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Backcountry, Telemark, and Cross Country › Getting into BC, suggestions on gear?
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Getting into BC, suggestions on gear?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
As part of researching for gear this/next year, I wanted to consult the epicski forums. After this month's Avi Level 1 class, I'm looking at moving some of my skiing into the backcountry.

Always have been a Volkl skier because of the stiff and fun pop of the ski, but still open for similar feel . Because I love skiing in bounds, it seems as though step in bindings may the best option. Plus, it helps with the budget so I don't have to look into boots. Currently looking at the Mantras and Goats; as I said, I'm open to demoing others. As for skins, I'm starting at level 0 for those (help?).

Would love your honest and frank opinions!
post #2 of 10
Black Diamond Ascension skins.
post #3 of 10
JR, I'm a little confused as to what you mean by step in bindings. Aren't all ski bindings step ins? I'm wondering if you mean that you don't want something like a dyanfit system that requires a compatible boot?

I would suggest that you spend some time thinking about your BC aspirations. Are you thinking about occasional forrays into the BC? Long tours or shorter steep climbs/descents? etc.

For the backcountry there are a lot of things to consider. Yes, you can use your alpine boots (unless you have dynafit bindings) but they aren't very comfortable for walking and ascending. A short traverse in alpine boots is no problem but if you plan to spend the day in BC you'll probably want some AT boots. Skis, well a ski like the Mantra is a good but for those longer tours it's pretty heavy. There is no need to buy AT skis as there are tons of great alpine skis that make good touring skis. Binding - fritschi, naxo, dukes (barons) are all good options. The marker choices are not the best touring bindings but they ski really well. Skins - I'm a g3 fan but the ascensions are great too.

Here's what I do. I have and Ortovox M2 beacon (great unit but tough to learn, once mastered awesome, but would suggest the Ortovox patroller or the bca tracker for ease of use). G3 avittech shovel and G3 speed pro probe and G3 alpinist skins (for all following setups). For tele skis I use the G3 rapid transit and Garmont ener-g boots. For AT I have a couple setups...

1)G3 El Hombre with Fristchi Freeride bindings for general BC skiing
2)Black Diamond Havoc with dynafit ft12 binding for mountaineering
3) Garmont helium boot for dynafit compatability and light skiing

For my general skiing I like extremely stiff beefy skis but in the BC there is a lot more going on than just how the ski functions. You'll be in and out of the skis all day long. You'll skin for awhile, hike for awhile while carrying your skis. Make sure that whatever you end up with is the setup that fits most nees. Stockli gives me all the skis I want but you don't see them on the AT list because they don't make the right ski for my backcountry needs.
post #4 of 10
Besides Probe, shovel, beacon, 1st aid kit, and a compatible partner:

Most comfortable backpack you can find:
Mammut and Osprey are personal likes. BCA looks good too. An uncomfortable pack drives me nuts and I feel it the next day (BD covert at least for me). Think about weight, size, organization, accessibility. I take it off and on a lot to ditch or put back on layers. I also don't consider packs that don't have a separate area for the shovel and probe. Personal pref.

If you are looking at the goats, consider the K2 Coombas and BD Verdict for more of a true BC ski.

Ascension Skins or G3 Alpinist
Glob stopper wax

Oh and Voile straps and duct tape are handy
post #5 of 10
Something to consider - unless you spend all day every day pounding the bumps and hucking cliffs inbounds, you might want to make your BC gear your go-to setup inbounds, as well. You'll sacrifice a bit of performance (not much if you're careful about boots and liners) but will have something significantly more comfortable and useable for both inbounds and BC skiing.

I have been skiing on Havocs/Freerides for several years and just got a Volkl T-Rock/Dynafit setup. I'm completely sold. The Dynafits are *so* much lighter and walk much more naturally. The T-rocks seem like they're a better all-around ski than the Havocs, although the newer generation of Havocs would likely perform better in marginal conditions than the foam-core ones I have.

My BC setup includes the Havocs and T-Rocks, Scarpa boots, Ascension skins, BD Covert 32L pack, Ortovox Patroller beacon, Lifelink probe, BCA aluminum shovel (DON'T get plastic!), 10 essentials kit, first aid kit, lightweight tarp for emergencies.

Inbounds, if I'm not using my BC setup, I have some Legend 8800's and some B3's for rock skis. But, honestly, my alpine gear doesn't make it out of the closet for more than 10 days/year, combined.
post #6 of 10
Um, if you are really planning into getting into serious BC, say skiing the 14ers, you're start to rethink that big, beefy ski preference about halfway up your first climb. I love my Goats inbounds, but I sure wouldn't want to be slogging uphill with them.
post #7 of 10

Light is right

Baby, BC is about the bew-T so if your slogging your way up a hill in Alpine gear, you won't be having any fun so stick with the tried and true -

Dynafit Bindings are the only way to go (FT12's if you're huckin cliffs), if you're a big boy like me stay away from any of the rail bingings (Silvrettas, Naxo's, Fritschis), and while Markers are great for holding your feet like cement, they are clunky and lunky trying to tour in them.

I love the BD Kilowats and Verdicts but skis are personal. M next skis will be the Manaslu's because they followed K2 and added holes so anyone can mount their own Dynafit bindings. Just remember to go with something lighter than alpine.

Boots are a personal choice also. I use the Scarpa Spirit 4's but need to find a lighter choice that don't cost an arm and leg. The market is being run for people who want four buckled boots that tour poorly so you got lots of choices. Find a good and knowledgable boot fitter. We had a fellow at AMH in Anchorage named Wilfred who had a following but he's living in Europe skiing 250+ days a year. The point being, people know who is good so take you're time and find the best in your area.

As far as skins go, G3 and BD make great skins. Find some ascensions on Ebay and you'll be fine.

Metal shovel, a user friendly probe and an easy to learn beacon. The BCA Tracker is the most user friendly around and very easy to learn. Pieps and Barryvox make excellent models too. If you want to spend a lot, get the S1 just cause they look cool and are user friendly. A good website for beacons is beaconreviews.com/transceivers.

And remember, its about fun,

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the guidance and tips! I now have a better idea of what I am looking for in terms of gear--particularly with the binding set up. I'll have to demo some of the skis you recommended.

One thing's for sure, it's gonna be a blast.
post #9 of 10
Don't forget a huge box of fitness. I thought I was fit (regular 60 km MTB rides an 100k road rides), but my first BC trip really caught me out.
post #10 of 10
Great idea that you are taking a Level 1 avalanche class. Since I L1 and a substantial field component, check out other folks gear. This is a good opportunity to see what your instructors use for backcountry skiing. I have a dedicated light setup for long tours (both up and down). Its a personal decision on boots, skis and bindings, given the many flavors of backcountry skiing, touring, and terrain. Be safe and have fun.
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