Backcountry Kit Review

Make sure you're equipped for the backcountry. Follow our kit review for whats hot and not for the season.

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes.
When back country boarding, there are times when you’ll have to walk through, or worse up, deep snow. There’s only one real way to deal with this and that’s snowshoes. The MSR Lightning Ascent are snowboard boot compatible, with easy to use rubber fixing bands, no need to take your gloves off on cold days. They have a strong light weight aluminium surround with a serrated edge for great traction on icy slopes. They sit together well and are easy to strap onto the back of most backpacks.

Think Like an Avalanche Video.
Anyone who’s been in or near an avalanche will know just how important it is to gain as much knowledge on Avalanche risk and awareness as possible. This video is authoritative, giving explanations of avalanche assessment and rescue techniques in an easy to understand format. Compiled by; Avalanche forecasters, mountain guides, and extreme skies this video is a must for people who plan to snowboard off piste. All proceeds of this video go to avalanche education. Also check out www.avalanche.org, www.csac.org and www.avalanche.ca.

 

Black Diamond super tour probe.
If your boarding partner’s under four foot of snow, they don’t have much time. While a member of the group is sweeping the area with their transceiver, you can be probing the snow for your friend. The Black Diamond super tour probe, is a light weight aluminium locking tube. The quick draw system is both fast and easy to use. By pulling on one wire loop, the probe quickly locks into a ridged 2.65 meter pole (104inch). Marked with depth indicators, it’s also useful for feeling snow layers of a slope you plan to descend.

MSR Hydromedary hydaration systems.
When back country boarding, or even just out for a slide on a hot day, proper hydration is vital. When exercising at altitude it’s easy to become dehydrated, leading to fatigue which will affect your boarding. Most back packs these days have a pouch for a water bladder and often clips on the shoulder straps for the mouth piece, which makes it easy to hydrate often without any fuss.
Made of denier nylon the MSR Hydromedary hydaration systems are near bullet proof. They have a leak-proof bite valve, a large hole for refilling and are available in 2, 2.5 and 3 litre bladders.


MSR Fury 4 Season Tent
When overnighting in the mountains if you don’t want to dig a snow hole then you’ll need a 4 season tent. The MSR Fury is light at 3.6kg and has an unusual three pole structure design for its inner. The poles are a bit of a pain to thread, but once there in this tent is tough, it will withstand incredibly strong winds and keep you dry in the heaviest of rains. The floor space is big enough to sleep 3 or 2 with loads of kit, and the inner is full of pockets, vents and hanging space. MSR stands for Mountain Safety Research and this tent is a proof of that name. The stake loops are adjustable, the twin doors protect snow entering the inner, the ground sheets waxed, and the outer has many reflective parts including the zips. Best of all, when you take this tent down, you roll it up and the Rapidroll compression bag swallows it up, there’s no fiddling about trying to squeeze it into a tiny sack. A truly first class tent for back country and pleasure camping.

 

Black Diamond Megamid
If you’re not planning to overnight then it’s a good idea to take a shelter just encase the weather changes and you have to. The pyramid shaped Megamid is ideal, it has a single collapsible pole which can be adjusted to suite any slope pitch. The shelter is single skin, folds up very small and only weighs 1.2 kg with the pole. Once erected it can shelter 4 people and if the weathers bad could very well save your life. There’s no floor to this shelter so if you’re using it as a tent then take a ground sheet or a mattress. A perfect emergency shelter; cheep, light, and inexpensive.

 

Thermarest Prolite 4 season mattress.

Thermarest have been setting the standard of camping mattresses for years now. The Prolite 4 is the bee’s knees when it comes to getting a good nights sleep in cold bumpy conditions. It has an insulated strengthened bottom, keeping the cold away from your body. The inside is a specially designed honeycombed sponge which will self inflate. You simply open the valve roll out the mattress and let it inflate. The best thing to do is leave it for 10 min and then blow up the last bit with two or three breaths. If the ground is rough then don’t blow it up to hard and those bumps will just disappear. The Prolite 4 rolls up smaller than most camping mattresses and weighs a tiny 750g. I’ve slept all over the world on numerous different mountains and the first thing I pack is a Thermarest mattress.

 

Ride Riot Snowboard Boots.

Boots have moved on, no longer do you need 15 mins of lace action. These Ride Riot boots have a cool Lion of Judah logo over a red, gold, and green flash. They have an easy slide lace system, allowing just a pulls on the laces to ensure a snug fit. The sole of the boot has Rides anti slip tread, making this boot ideal for walking on slippery slopes and scrambling on rocks.
The real beauty of this boot is its inner, the sole of which has an air pocket to help soften impact when landing jumps. The draw string which crosses five times at the front while tightening the active heal clinch with one pull, is of an efficient and effective design. The inner has a silver thermal lining to keep those toes warm and are easy to separate from the two tone brown outer. These boots are fashioned to give great response to the freerider, while still giving the flex needed for hiking in the back country.

Backpacks


Black Diamond Stealth 35L

This back pack is probably the best made winter backpack on the market. With 35 litres of storage this bag will hold everything you’ll need for overnighting in the back country. The outer is tough and virtually waterproof, even the zips are rubber sealed on the outside to stop even the heaviest of rains getting in. The base is reinforced and there are loads of straps and draw strings to hold ice axe and snow shoes with. While not specifically designed for carrying a snowboard, its numerous outer straps will hold a snowboard in place, but not as tight as some other bags on the market and you will get a bit of movement while hiking.

 

The shoulder straps are well placed and easily adjustable as are the chest and hip belts. The inside has a removable aluminium frame, a top pocket accessed from the inside, a neoprene hole for a hydration tube and a large pocket accessed from the outside, with fixings for a probe and collapsed hiking poles. If a snowboard fixed better to this bag it would be a ten out of ten.

 

Scott Explore 25

A well made multi purpose bag with a good board loading system, which will hold the board tight whilst hiking. The back has a well padded foam section which moulds to your back. The straps are wide and adjustable one of which has a handy clip for your hydration mouth piece. The front of the bag has good fixings for an ice axe and a long slim outer pocket. The inner has a large load and some handy elasticated pockets with fixing straps. The best bit of this bag is the whole front opens, allowing access to all you’ve packed. The only hassle with this is the board fixing straps have to be unclipped and if your boards attached you have to take the board totally off before you can get to anything. The bags will be fine in snow and light rain but if you were out for prolonged periods in heavy rain you had better of packed everything in plastic bags.

Scott Discover lite 35

This bag from Scott is designed for people overnighting or on a big day trip. It’s basically the same bag as the Scott Explore 25 with some added extras. The top has a small elastic webbing area handy for stuffing your coat under when hiking up hill on warm days. The extra caring load is appreciated if on a long trip. The inner has some cool little pockets and is bright yellow, handy if you’re trying to attract attention. One great little touch is an Avalanche Rescue Instruction panel, with info on signalling helicopters. A good bag, ideal for longer trips into the back country, and great for use off the slopes as well as on.

Ride FC05 daypack

Very well specified day-pack from ride. It features 2 separare coated compartments sealed with waterproof zips, which undo to allow you to strap your board to your back for hiking. The top pouch has a hole for your headphones. Theres 2handy hard shell external pockets for your goggles and shades. Not mentioned anywhere and only discovered after a weeks use is the large pocket on the underside of the pack. Good for stacking your jackat when hiking or your copy of Whitelines when you're travelling. The only downside i found was its weight, and while the 2 pockets allow you to store your board easy, it doesn't allow you to get too much gear in it. Overall though, a great day-pack that wil give you plenty of years service.