Stoked for ski season? Here is our favorite backcountry skiing equipment, including our thermal phone case.
Admittedly, Team Cold Case is not made up of super experienced skiers but we do love to toss our telemark ski boots on from time to time, activate walk mode, and go out for a nice morning of alpine touring. I can toss on a pair of climbing skins and be happy for hours so long as I avoid avalanche terrain, which I can’t safely navigate.
So, here are some things as an amateur telemark ski tourer I’ve picked up and some of my favorite pieces of kit that I take into the backcountry with me. While I do not currently have a shovel and probe or avalanche beacons I’m mostly sticking to flat terrain, or cross country runs.
- Thermal Phone Case Of course, as the founder of Cold Case Gear and inventor of our West Slope Case, anytime I’m headed out alpine touring I’ve always got my thermal phone case with me. Heck, the whole reason I started this company was that I needed something that extends battery life for my photographer wife. I don’t normally listen to music when I’m out in the alpine but I do take a lot of pictures! I also use my phone frequently for navigation with GAIAGPS and you really need something that extends battery life or you’re going to find yourself without a phone. That’s not great.
- Ski touring pants. While I do enjoy being covered in a burly hardshell jacket and pants, sometimes that’s a bit overkill. I have really taken to love these Fjallraven Keb Touring Trousers because they provide plenty of protection from wind and snow, leave room for layering, have extremely well placed vents and pockets, and just breath incredibly well. One note about a lot of Fjallraven gear is that they use a type of cotton that is designed to be impregnated with wax. This environmentally friendly solution means you can continually apply a natural DWR, wax. It really works great.
- Ski touring backpack. I find that winter is the most important season for having a good backpack. It needs to fit everything you could need, which includes avalanche beacons and a shovel and probe for more advance skiers, but also everything you need for a day out in the mountains. I normally bring a few emergency supplies as well. Not just a medical kit, but a big down puffy in case I need to get warm in an emergency, a multi tool if something goes wrong with my ski boots or my telemark bindings, and plenty of snacks and water. This particular Black Diamond backpack just fits incredibly well, has enough storage space for all the goodies, and has excellent ventilation so my back isn’t a constant stream of sweat. Our thermal phone case clips nicely on to one of the shoulder straps to provide easy access to your phone while touring the backcountry.
- Don’t drive in your ski socks. Drive to the resort or the trailhead in your regular socks and bring your ski socks to change into! Just like every other season you do not want your feet to sweat. Well, you don’t want to start off with your feet sweating. I typically drive to the trailhead wearing wool socks and my crocs and I live my ski boots and socks in the trunk until I’m ready to put them on. It works like a charm, every time.
- Start early. Are you after the best powder? Wanting to beat the crowds? Or just wanting to avoid the heat? The answer to all of these things in to start off early. If you can finish your day before the sun gets too high in the sky you’ll ensure you get all the best conditions and beat the crowds who are likely still at brunch by the time you’re heading home.
- Dial in your ski boot fit. Getting a proper fitting is extremely important. Whether you see a friend or an expert, getting your ski boot properly fitted to your foot will do you a world of good. They’re complicated beasts! You wan to make sure you have full range of motion in your feet. Every time you carve a turn or do anything else on your skis, your feet are what powers you. Ensure you get your full range of motion by dialing in your ski boot fit.
Before you take my word as gospel please understand that I’m an amateur skier who is just getting into the sport, and specifically alpine touring on a telemark set up. These pointers I’ve picked up have been over the course of a couple of years of trial and error. If you are inexperienced do not get your self into avalanche terrain. Know before you go! There are loads of resources out there that can help you decide on what terrain is safe for you. Gaiagps has even included slope shading with their premium memberships so you can decide if certain aspects are going to be too steep for you or your skill level.
Three more tidbits. When you’re storing your climbing skins all summer long, take them out of their case from time to time and let them hang, or the glue is liable to get a little funky.
Value safety above all else! If you’re nervous about experiencing new terrain either go with a friend who knows better than you do or sit it out. Getting home safe so you can ski another day is the most important.
Lastly, make sure you use a thermal phone case so you can take that chairlift selfie OR to make sure you can make an emergency call. We really have come to rely on our smartphones so make sure it’s working if you really need it.
Backcountry ski touring can be extremely rewarding experience that offers solitude that you’re not likely to find at the resort. Dawn patrol offers a unique opportunity to experience the wilderness like you never have before. From frosted Blue Spruce and Douglas fir trees to pristine animal tracks left silently in the snow you are bound to encounter a myriad of new experiences. I can recall my first alpine ski tour vividly. I started off in the crisp morning silence and was almost immediately rewarded with my first ever sighting of a Pine Martin. As I silently swept past on my skis I watched him get startled, stand up on his feet to examine who this interloper was, and then blast back up into the tree cover. I’ll never forget this experience and it gets me excited every year for the weather to turn and the snow to fall. Do you have a story to share? We’d love to hear from you. Tag us in your adventures with the hashtag Cold Case Gear and Untether From Temperature. Let us know how our thermal phone case has helped you adventure safer and longer.