Holiday Shopping BCAG Style
Tis’ the season of holiday shopping blogs! At their best, they cut through the noise of all the many choices we have for skis, clothes, accessories and just about anything that fits into a sock. Most of them do a great job, with multiple options in every product category. This is not that list. Here at BCAG HQ, we have a few items that we love and swear by – and we’re sharing them with you before the season starts. While we do have an Outdoor GearLab editor on staff, it is pure coincidence that our taste aligns with some of their most highly rated products 😉
The gear in our recommended holiday shopping list fits into a few categories:
- Everyday wear
- Tools we use
- Things we need to do to make our equipment better
- Things we need someone else to do to our equipment, and
- Things we wish we’d had on that one trip and are happy to have now.
These categories speak to what we can’t live without and where they sit in our pack or on our body.
Norrona Gloves are built in Norway by people who know what a cold, wet winter looks like. Since Outdoor Reseach’s quality and warranty service has declined we discovered two Norrona gloves that fit our needs – breathable for going up, dexterous for handling ropes, and warm when we top out and head down. The Lyngen Infinium Windstopper Gloves are an upgrade from the OR Vert with a solid leather palm and Windstopper on the back of the hand. The Lofoten Gore-Tex thermo100 short Gloves offer warmth with dexterity giving you a great combo. On the wet and warm side, Japanese crabbing gloves by Showa can be found at most fishing stores and do a great job when the temps and moisture are higher than desired. We swear by the TemRes 282 model.
Darn Tough Ski Socks last forever and just work. For something that you put on and do not think about, you want comfort and durability and Darn Tough has been doing it for years. Buy two and wake up ten years later if it is time to buy some more…
While OR’s gloves may not be what they once were, the OR Hooded Ferrosi soft shell jacket set the standard and still is our go-to piece for active breathable shells. I’ve had one in my closet for over ten years for trail running, climbing and ski touring. Most breathable fabric, period. Yes it’s old school but it’s a trusted jacket in the mountains.
Tecnica Zero G Ski Boots just work well. There is no other 4 buckle, overlap boot that can cpmpare in weight and walk-mode rang of motion. They run average width and volume so work well for most feet. Their shell can be stretched easily and we replaced the stock liner with an Intuition Pro Tour liner to help warm it up. Tecnica makes men’s and women’s and a variety of stiffnesses. Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison summited and skied Lhotse in them so you know they can climb and ski equally well.
Daily driver skis – the ones we ride most of the season – fall into two distinct camps: soft and playful or stiff and hard-charging. On the men’s side, we have with two excellent choices: K2 Wayback 106 and Black Crows Corvus Freebird. On the women’s side, we love the Line Pandora 110 and the Black Crows Navis Freebird. Ian and I can argue until the sun comes up and we will both say these boards do everything. Mallorie does not give her Pandoras a day off. Living in the PNW they make a great first pow ski. Ultimately, it comes down to style, which is to say if you were a ski racer in a former life, the pink ‘Sensual Dancer’ (aka the Corvus) or the green rocket will be your weapon of choice.
Things we need to do to make our equipment better
Want to ride pain free, in balance, without any thought to blisters or painful pressure points? Look no further into the best long-term investment for your skiing! His website is retro because Jim focuses his energy on making your feet happy in your boots. He has kept my old dogs smiling for over 20 years. Give your feet the gift of comfort!
Eco Wax Kit
Skis are thirsty after sliding down many runs and the wax we use rubs off, then runs into our water… Enter Mountain Flow Eco Wax. Salmon and the rest of the marine life will thank you for your choices to keep their water clean. Mission-driven and developed since 2016 to provide wax that works and does not contain heavy chemicals. Feel fast and good on your next run down Kulshan….
Things we need someone else to do to our equipment
Binding mounts and tunes we trust can make us feel like we can go anywhere. Unfortunately, not all techs are equal and Seattle suffers from lack of truly qualified bench professionals. The old-school, family-owned Alpine Hut, run by Kyle Miller, offers great service from fitting to servicing your skis and boots. I take my skis and buy my daughter’s equipment there.
Cripple Creek is new to Seattle but run by experienced local techs who will know how to mount every touring binding made. They looked at their mail order customer list and saw Seattle an awful lot so they opened a shop here and poached one of the best techs and shop managers in the Salish Sea to make sure we had a trusted pro. Phew, now you have at least two good choices in Seattle…
Things we wish we’d had on that one trip and are happy to have now
Goose Feet Gear Down Socks fit into that category of once you have them, you never leave home without them! Whether you snow camp in winter or spring or hit a hut the warmth of down is instant and your feet appreciate it 😉 These are custom-made in Georgia and Ben will make sure they’re dialed to exactly your specs. While they’ll keep your feet cozy on their own, we recommend springing for the ultralight waterproof over-booties so you can wear them around camp.
Intuition Liners seem like a luxury until two things happen: your feet get cold or your stock liners pack out and you think you need new boots. Intuition Liners are made with closed cell foam, making them an instant upgrade on warmth. If you are a skier who likes stiff boots to drive your boards then add the Power Tongues to add some serious leverage to your turn!
Garmin InReach Mini wins the best SOS/GPS device we hope to never use. The fact that it is so small you don’t notice it in your pack and it pairs with your smart phone improves it’s ease of use. If you have loved ones over the age of 25 and realize 127 Hours is actually a cautionary tale then this is the device you want. Our families appreciate knowing we have a way to communicate when we go to remote places (aka the North Cascades).
Tools we use
Avalanche transceivers need a couple of important qualities: ease of use and processing speed. When you only practice a handful of times a year, the simpler the beacon the better you will know how to use it well. One of our guides, Ian Nicholson, also works @Outdoor GearLabs, and he reviewed the BCA T3. He called it one of the fastest and easiest to use, which we value most. The BCA T4 takes that speed and adds features to make multiple searches fly and buttons and knobs that you can push and turn easily with gloves on.
Leatherman’s Skeletool sounds like the 80’s called and want their name back, but do not be fooled as even He-Man would use this tool to troubleshoot in the backcountry. Leatherman’s long tenure building multitools brought us to this moment where weight, utility and durability meet in our repair kit. Pliers, knife, and driver seem limited until you need to cut a wire, open that beer at the end of a traverse or just cut many grams from your kit. Years pass and I now have two of them for my day and overnight kits so I don’t forget to pack ‘em.
BCA’s BC Link 2.0 Radios land in our packs as they have proven to be the most consistent intragroup communication device we have found. We have cycled thru a variety of VHF handhelds that would be valued in the zombie apocalypse but wasted our time falling apart and underwhelming our teams with missed radio checks. BCA designed these radios for winter and it shows. With a mic that can sit exposed to the elements, their impressive range can connect our teams two valleys and four to five miles apart. We now all carry durable Links to avoid dropped check-ins.
Beacon Guidebooks and Maps may sound self-serving, yet I carry my own books and maps in my pack because I trust the team I work with to produce the tools I need. I also have the Rakkup app so I can just bring the map and have full use of the photos while trying to get in the couloirs I haven’t visited in while. Everyone needs photos and maps as terrain choices get more technical.
While this is a concise list, it does link to Outdoor Gearlabs reviews to see other items that may almost be as good 😉 We @BCAG want to also remind you for your mental health to budget your bucket list trip this winter, spring or summer and checkout what Ian, Mallorie, Pablo, Juliana or myself are upto and join us the next best adventure of your life…