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Must-have backcountry ski gear

by Megan Hill

Certified mountain guide, big mountain climber and skier, and owner of Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian Ballinger shares his must have backcountry skiing essentials and all the extras!

Backcountry Ski Lessons 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 

First and foremost, education and experience are the most important essential when it comes to backcountry skiing. So, before you go any further down the list, Ballinger says to look into a reputable AMGA/IFMGA certified program.

Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro Ski Boot

A great pair of ski touring boots is key for an awesome day out in the backcountry. The Tecnica Zero G Tour Pros are Ballinger’s go-to boot. They are the perfect mix of comfort and performance, and allow him to have big days searching for pow in the Tahoe Backcountry.

Black Diamond Guide Avy Safety Kit 

Avalanche safety kits are vital for any backcountry trip, and Ballinger says he never goes into the backcountry without an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe. Together, these three pieces of equipment help in the recovery of a buried skier in the unfortunate event of an avalanche. However, the best way to mitigate the risk of avalanche is formal education. Folks looking to go into the backcountry should seek professional avalanche education before they start backcountry skiing. The backcountry is inherently dangerous, and learning how to use avalanche safety equipment and make good decisions while backcountry skiing is important to help keep the ski touring community safe. 

Eddie Bauer’s Men’s Mountain Ops FreeFuse Stretch Parka 

Ballinger raves about this parka, which keeps him warm but not overloaded while on some of the highest peaks. It feels lightweight but also doesn’t fly up while going down steep ski runs. And it absorbs moisture, so powder just flies off. 

Revo X Bode Miller SuperNova Ski Goggles 

These goggles are perfect for the slopes, says Ballinger. Revo’s lens technology offers light management which is helpful when looking out over miles of powder. This lens works to ensure the best possible views on the slopes from bright white powder to tree-covered conditions.

Handpresso Manual Espresso Machine

Caffeine is one of Ballinger’s ski essentials. The portable espresso pump from Handpresso lets him have his espresso at the top of any peak. He loves that they offer a travel case for extra protection while in the mountains. A quick caffeine fix is a must for his long backcountry adventures, and the simple compact design makes this gadget easy to throw into his backpack.

Revelshine Wine

Not only is this wine delicious but the bottles are beautiful—and unbreakable!  Sustainability is important to Ballinger, and Revelshine practices organic farming at their vineyards. They also donate 1% of sales to sustainability initiatives. They’re a great alternative to glass, as their aluminum bottles are lightweight and recyclable.

Blizzard Rustler 11 Skis

Playful yet confidence-inspiring, the Blizzard Rustler 11 Skis lets Ballinger explore through mountains and wilderness with ease. The 112-116 cm waist is great for any deep conditions he might encounter while skiing the backcountry.

Black Diamond Ski Poles

Black Diamond ski poles are made to meet the specific needs of backcountry skiers. The Vapor Carbon 2 Poles are some of the lightest poles he’s used—yet they feel strong and durable. The grip is really comfortable and has minimal hooktop for quick adjustments.  

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