A beginner’s guide to backcountry skiing

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Heather Balogh Rochfort/CNN Underscored
Heather Balogh Rochfort/CNN Underscored

Powder days loom large in the lore of ski culture, so much so that savvy employers have started offering paid time off for employees to shred the slopes. But with lift lines lengthening and headline after headline of ticket prices skyrocketing toward $300 for a single day, a weekend at the resort can feel more like a capitalist nightmare than what it should be: a nature-filled escape from the city.

I grew up skiing in Sweden with my family (a failed attempt at snowboarding planted me solidly back into the two-legged crowd), and after my mom retired and moved from Houston to the powder mecca of Lake Tahoe, my fate was sealed. We were a full-on resort-skiing family.

However, I’m also a huge fan of backpacking, mountaineering and the sublime sense of solitude that you can only really encounter when you’re deep in the woods and away from the crowds. I had always been backcountry ski-curious (who doesn’t want to fly down untracked powder in silence?), but a recent move to Boulder gave me the push I needed to finally learn.

Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored
Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored

I signed up for a beginner backcountry ski course with Colorado Mountain School, reached out to some of my most experienced friends and colleagues for gear recommendations and grilled my ski-obsessed wilderness guides on the advice they wished they’d had when they first started out.

The result? A comprehensive beginner’s guide to backcountry skiing and the gear you’ll need to get started. Spoiler alert: Many of these items can pull double duty at the resort too.

What is backcountry skiing and how to get started

Backcountry skiing differs from resort skiing in that it involves ascending, or “skinning up,” the slope first, then carving down the mountain on your skis. It’s a process aficionados like to call “earning your turns.”

“Going touring requires one to walk uphill with skis on, so a couple things are a little different,” says Kelly Keene, a rental technician and gear head at Alta Ski Shop in Utah. “To start, you need different bindings that allow your heel to lift while walking up and then can lock in once you transition to downhill skiing. One also needs ‘climbing skins,’ which are strips that attach to your skis on one side with a sticky glue and, on the other side, have hairs that enable it to grip the snow without sliding backward,” explains Keene.

Apart from loading up with different gear, avalanche awareness is also a key element to staying safe while backcountry skiing or splitboarding. Most experts recommend taking an AIARE Level 1 course or an Avalanche Rescue Course before setting off on a backcountry ski adventure.

Practice at the resort

An ideal way to shake off some of the (totally normal) nerves surrounding your first backcountry ski trip is to locate a ski resort that offers uphill access (sometimes a season pass or day ticket might be needed) and skinning up a pre-planned route that’s already been scouted for avalanche risks. This allows you to get some excellent cardio, transition out of your skins and bindings at the top of the hill and soar down a groomed slope with ease and safety.

Heather Balogh Rochfort/CNN Underscored
Heather Balogh Rochfort/CNN Underscored

“The main concern is it take[s] a lot of repetition and mileage to make it really fun and enjoyable. I find that skiers and snowboarders often rush the process,” says Justin Studt, an American Avalanche Association Course Leader at Colorado Mountain School.

Get avalanche educated

Studt, who is also an AMGA Apprentice Mountain Guide, says that a new backcountry skier should choose “low-angle terrain — less than 30 degrees — that isn’t connected to other steeper terrain until they begin to master the basics and have taken an avalanche course.” He recommends podcasts like “The Avalanche Hour” and “Slide: The Avalanche Podcast” and books like “The Avalanche Handbook” if you’re just getting started.

Apart from taking a comprehensive avalanche course (AIARE has 119 education sites throughout the country), it’s important to stay on top of the weather and avalanche risks in your area, both of which can change dramatically throughout the season. Most states where backcountry skiing is popular (like Colorado) have government- or volunteer-run avalanche centers that post current conditions on their websites and social media.

Go with a guide or friend

Not only is it safer to always go into the backcountry with an avalanche-aware friend but it’s an invaluable learning opportunity.

Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored
Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored

“It helps to have mentors and other friends [who] share the same interests,” says Studt, who’s been backcountry skiing for 20 years. He also says that hiring a guide service when you’re first starting out is an incredible boost for newbies to the sport. “When people take a course with a guide, they generally have access to that guide forever. This relationship can save money on purchases because the guide can offer suggestions that will work well for the individual,” explains Studt.

Invest in solid gear

Like with other backcountry pursuits, ski touring has a hefty price point as its barrier to entry. Getting ultra-light backcountry skis and bindings might be a splurge-worthy North Star for some, but lighter gear usually means shelling out more money. “I think the high cost of equipment and clothing is a huge barrier. It isn’t a friendly learning environment,” says Studt.

Thankfully, most of the clothing that you wear while resort skiing can transfer over to the backcountry world, says Keene, who is also an ice-climbing and backcountry guide at St. Elias Alpine Guides. Just make sure your shell jacket and pants aren’t insulated, so you can vent your body’s heat while moving uphill, then swaddle yourself in layers for the trip down. “You want to be able to minimize sweating as much as possible on the uphill because once you stop moving, the sweat can make you feel a lot colder fairly quickly. I started out touring in my resort clothing, just with extra layers below,” says Keene.

“Bindings and boots are the big decision-makers. You can invest for performance or save,” says Heather Balogh Rochfort, a seasoned backcountry skier and founder of WildKind. A few companies (most notably Salomon) make shift bindings (a kind of binding that bridges the gap between resort and backcountry) and hybrid ski boots that beginners can wear in the wilderness, as well as on mellow resort runs. The catch? They can be heavier and clunkier than their purely backcountry-specific counterparts, so it’s important to assess how often you’re likely to be getting out in the wilds before dropping a wad of cash on a pricey setup.

Heather Balogh Rochfort/CNN Underscored
Heather Balogh Rochfort/CNN Underscored

Many REI Co-op locations in mountain towns allow shoppers to rent backcountry ski gear to test it out before deciding what to purchase, says Balogh Rochfort. She also recommends demoing a pair of skis at your local ski shop because a lot of them will deduct the cost of the rental from whatever you end up buying.

The best backcountry skis, skins and bindings

For better or worse, investing in a great set of backcountry skis, skins and bindings will be where you spend most of your money as a beginner because nearly everyone has (at least) two sets of skis — one for the resort and another, more powder-specific set, for ski touring.

Balogh Rochfort says that she won’t ski in the wilderness with any width less than 100 millimeters under her feet because backcountry skiing means more untracked powder, so having a ski with maximum floatation is a priority. Also, unlike ordinary resort skiing, backcountry touring means hauling yourself and your gear up the mountain, so having a set of good, grippy skins — the things you attach to the bottom of your skis so you actually have traction to move uphill — is essential. Skins come in both mohair and nylon, each with its own pros and cons. Mohair is lighter and glides a bit better than nylon, but it wears out faster and requires more care.

If you are looking to save some money, “shift bindings” are available for the beginner or backcountry-curious and can also function as a resort binding. The downside? These hybrid designs are much heavier than their backcountry counterparts, so many more experienced skiers skip them.


DPS Skis Pagoda Tour 106 C2 Skis

Evo
Evo

“I love these for a touring ski,” says Balogh Rochfort of DPS’ Pagoda Tour 106 C2 Skis. Though they are on the pricier side of our recommendations, this is a solid, lightweight, all-around backcountry touring ski that’s designed to excel in powder as well as mixed conditions.


$1,696 at Evo
$1,696 at REI



Atomic Backland 107 Skis

Backcountry
Backcountry

“These come in plenty of different widths underfoot,” says Keene of the affordably priced Atomic Backlands Ski. Not only is its 107-millimeter waist great for big powder days but this ski can carve well in icier conditions. “It’s a bit flexible if you’re a super-aggressive skier, though,” says Keene.


$562 at Backcountry



Dynafit Radical 97 Ski Set

Dynafit
Dynafit

Seeking an affordably priced, one-stop shop that’s ideal for both beginner and intermediate backcountry skiers? The Radical 97 Ski Set comes with pre-mounted ST Rotation 10 bindings on the brand’s bestselling Radical 97 skis, plus a set of pre-cut Pomoca skins. Balogh Rochfort recommends Dynafit for those starting out because they’re “a reputable brand [that] has built [its] reputation in backcountry pursuits.”


$1,450 at Dynafit



Marker Duke PT 16 Bindings

Evo
Evo

These days, Salomon isn’t the only brand with a hybrid backcountry ski binding. Marker recently launched its redesigned Duke PT 16 Bindings, which convert between its proprietary Ride & Hike Toe and an alpine style that has a step-in toe. Plus, these babies are compatible with alpine, touring and GripWalk boots.


$700 at Evo



Völkl Women’s Blaze 94 Skis

Völkl
Völkl

This is an ideal ski for the “backcountry-curious” resort skier who wants to try uphilling in bounds or set off on their first few ski tours. Designed to turn on a dime in ultra-variable terrain, Völkl’s Blaze 94 skis also weigh a scant 3.1 pounds at their 165-centimeter length, making them great for wilderness skiers who are just starting out on the path of hauling skis uphill.


$650 at Völkl



Salomon S/Lab Shift 13 MN Bindings

Salomon
Salomon

Salomon is the original purveyor of shift bindings, which can transform from pin-style backcountry bindings to freeride-style alpine bindings with a simple twist and a snap. “These are a great hybrid binding that can work for both in-bounds and out-of-bounds,” says Keene. “They’re nice if you only want to buy one setup.”


$600 at Salomon



DPS Skis Kaizen 105 Skis

Evo
Evo

Great for destroying epic powder days and quick turns in the trees with ease, DPS’s Kaizen 105 ski works well in expert-level freeride terrain, as well as big backcountry ski days — just switch out the bindings and you’re good to go. A low rocker profile also means more responsiveness and feel underfoot, for those who prefer to feel the snow’s subtle changes.


$1,696 at Evo
$1,696 at Backcountry



Pomoca Climb 2.0 100-millimeter Climbing Skins

REI
REI

Pomoca is a tried-and-trusted name when it comes to climbing skins for backcountry skis, and this 100-millimeter set comes with a carry bag and trimming tool so you can adjust them to get that perfect fit, no matter what skis you’re carving in. Made with 70% mohair and 30% nylon, these skins are lightweight and supremely waterproof.


$190 at REI



Salomon QST Stella 106 Skis

Salomon
Salomon

Balogh Rochfort also recommends Salomon’s Stella (women’s) touring skis, especially for anyone who isn’t yet ready to shell out over $1,000 on a pair of foot sliders. A 106-millimeter waist means that big powder days will be a cinch, and cork inserts add power and stability to this ski’s medium camber.


$750 at Salomon



Salomon QST Echo Skis

Salomon
Salomon

This is the men’s version of Salomon’s awesome Stella touring skis. Fairly priced at $800 and offering a lofty 106-millimeter underfoot for shredding those huge slopes of pow, this is a medium-turn ski ready to go anywhere in the wilds.


$800 at Salomon



Dynafit Radical Bindings

Dynafit
Dynafit

“Dynafit makes great backcountry ski gear,” says Balogh Rochfort. So we couldn’t complete our skis and bindings list without mentioning the legendary Dynafit Radical binding. Is it the lightest in its class? No. But this time-tested binding is on the lower end of the price scale (at $500) and comes equipped with a brake and improved performance from years of testing in the field.


$500 at Dynafit
$500 at REI


The best backcountry ski boots

Unlike your familiar resort ski boots, which are likely heavier, more padded and have a static ankle, backcountry ski boots have a lever on the rear of their design that enables a rider to switch seamlessly from walk to ski mode. This is essential because you’ll need to be able to move efficiently uphill (like with a stiff hiking or mountaineering boot), then lock in the ankle, click into your binding and safely glide back down the slope.

Backcountry ski boots are also specially designed with a pin that locks into the front of your binding, enabling the boot to pivot up and down while you are skinning uphill. Thankfully, hybrid boots do exist for people who want to save money and ski both the resort and the backcountry in one pair of boots. Typically, these hybrid boots have four buckles, like a resort boot, but have a tech insert (for the binding pins) and better ankle cuff motion. Like with most outdoor gear, you can spend a lot of money here if you opt to go ultra light.


Dalbello Women’s Cabrio LV Free 105 Boots

Dalbello
Dalbello

“The one piece of gear I wouldn't go cheap on are boots. Boots that fit right and are comfortable not only make the day much more enjoyable but can also become a safety factor, in terms of blood circulation and ability to ski without pain,” says Keene. Dalbello is a big name in ski touring boots, and the Cabrio LV Free 105 comes in at $650 — not bad for a top brand. With Instant Fit liners, great heel support and a memory foam tongue, these puppies easily mold to any foot for a comfortable descent in technical terrain.


$650 at Dalbello
$650 at Backcountry



Scarpa Women’s 4-Quattro XT Boots

Scarpa
Scarpa

“These are super lightweight, yet powerful and stiff enough to crush on the downhill, or even on a few in-bounds laps,” says Balogh Rochfort of Scarpa’s epic 4-Quattro XT Boots. The brand touts this model as “a little bit of everything for the skier who shreds a little bit of everything,” meaning that they are ideal for resort skiers who are new to the backcountry and don’t want to waste money on more than one setup. Boasting a 61-degree range of motion in Walk mode and a 115 flex rating, these are the perfect hybrid ski boots.


$869 at Scarpa
$869 at REI



Scarpa Maestrale RS Alpine Touring Boots (2023)

Scarpa
Scarpa

Featuring moldable liners (a must to keep your feet comfy), a high-performance 125 flex rating (the stiffest of the Maestrale lineup) and a 60-degree range of motion in Walk mode, these are a more aggressive alternative to Scarpa’s 4-Quattro XT boots. Pro tip: These tend to run small, so the brand recommends sizing up.


$552 at Backcountry



Dynafit Radical Ski Touring Boots

Dynafit
Dynafit

Looking for an excellent, well-rounded ski touring boot that comes in just under $600? Dynafit’s Radical Ski Touring Boot offers 60 degrees of easy walking motion for those steep uphills and a lugged touring sole that’s ideal for navigating rocky ridgelines when you’ve got to carry your skis, A-frame style. As if that weren’t enough, microregulators on the buckles allow for easy adjustments to dial in that perfect fit.


$600 at Dynafit


The best base layers

Finally, I have some good news for your wallet: The same base layers you wear backcountry skiing can also be worn at the resort with your mates. The main difference some powder hounds might want to think about is ventilation, as you’ll be going uphill and warming your core quite a lot before transitioning, zipping downhill and cooling off.


Arc’teryx Men’s Rho Merino Wool Crew Neck

Arc'teryx
Arc'teryx

Easily the softest merino wool layer I’ve ever felt, Arc’teryx has truly upped the game with this moisture-wicking, thermoregulating base layer that looks as good on the slopes as it does grabbing a beer after. It’s also available in a matching bottom, which is important for backcountry skiing, according to Balogh Rochfort, because you’ll likely be skinning up in your shells, then piling on the cozy layers during your transitions.


$120 at Arc’teryx



Artilect Women’s Flatiron 185 Crew

Artilect
Artilect

Though it’s pricier than most base layers on the market today, Artilect’s Flatiron 185 Crew is the best I’ve seen when it comes to ultra-light performance. Woven with superfine Nuyarn fibers, this is a thermal top that’s as warm as its heavier cousins, with ventilating eyelets along the inner arms and waist to help with moisture management on those sweaty uphills.


From $65 at REI
$140 at Artilect



Artilect Women’s Flatiron 185 Legging

Artilect
Artilect

Much like its crewneck cousin, Artilect’s matching Flatiron 185 Legging is a high-performing (and extra-warm) merino base layer that’s ultra light and ventilated where you’ll need it most — just behind the waist and around the upper hip.


$140 at Artilect
$98 at REI



Patagonia Men’s R1 Air Zip-Neck

Patagonia
Patagonia

“A lightweight insulated layer like a gridded fleece is essential,” says Keene. Made with 100% recycled polyester fabric, the Patagonia R1 Air Zip-Neck is Keene’s top pick for a warm mid-layer that wicks moisture and dries quickly.


$129 at Patagonia



Ibex Women’s Indie Hoodie

Ibex
Ibex

Personally, I love having a hood under my helmet on freezing days, especially if I don’t feel like whipping out a full-on balaclava. Ibex is a great brand for super-soft, sweat-wicking and odor-resistant merino wool layers, and the quarter zip on this garment makes for easy venting when you start to heat up while skinning uphill.


$170 at Ibex


The best backcountry ski jackets

Similar to your favorite resort ski jacket, you’ll likely want to get a ski touring jacket that offers a helmet-compatible hood, is waterproof and has some sort of waist-cinching, to help keep spindrift at bay. The main difference? Backcountry skiing is all about layers.

That means you’ll want to layer up with an insulated mid-layer (like a down puffy or insulated softshell), plus a totally waterproof and windproof shell on top. This allows you to take off or put on additional layers as you heat up on the uphill skinning part of your adventure. I’d recommend a shell jacket that allows for a good range of motion (some have stretch fabrics), ventilation (check for things like pit zips), great pockets and, of course, a helmet-compatible hood for safety.


Arc’teryx Women’s Rush Jacket

Arc'teryx
Arc'teryx

Pit zips, a relaxed fit and a helmet-compatible hood — is there anything this jacket can’t do? The Arc’teryx Rush Jacket is made in a Fair Trade Certified facility, and it’s built with 80-denier, three-layer Gore-Tex fabric, which boasts superior waterproofing and windproofing while remaining breathable on long ascents.


$700 at Arc’teryx



Patagonia Women’s Fitz Roy Down Hoodie

Patagonia
Patagonia

Every backcountry skier needs an ultra-warm, ultra-packable “crisis puffy,” says Balogh Rochfort. Not only will it help keep you warm during tricky transition moments but this essential layer can be a huge boon to your safety if things go sideways or someone gets injured in the backcountry. Weighing in at just under 15 ounces, Patagonia’s Fitz Roy Down Hoodie packs down into its own pocket and is made with 800-fill-power down, providing an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio.


From $279 at Patagonia



Patagonia Women's Stormstride Jacket

Patagonia
Patagonia

Visibility is important when backcountry skiing because if you or your partner takes a fall or dips into a tree well, it’s essential to be able to locate and pull the person out as soon as possible. Patagonia has not only created a highly functional backcountry ski shell in its Stormstride Jacket (with features like a powder gasket to seal out spindrift) but it’s made sure that these garments are also available in a variety of high-vis colorways.


$349 at Patagonia



Black Diamond Women’s Recon Stretch Ski Shell Jacket

Backcountry
Backcountry

It’s rare to see a shell that’s both waterproof and supremely stretchy and flexible, but Black Diamond has managed to make a technical backcountry ski jacket that goes the distance. With a removable powder skirt, pit zips and inner mesh pockets to hold your wet skins, this is a mindfully made shell that is ready to tackle any conditions.


$450 at Black Diamond
$450 at Backcountry



Ortovox Men’s Mesola Jacket

Ortovox
Ortovox

“My favorite backcountry kit right now is the Ortovox Mesola,” says Balogh Rochfort, who recently featured it in this extensive uphill ski guide for CNN Underscored. “It is so breathable. Downside: It has a tight fit around the hips, but I tolerate that because it just breathes and breathes,” she says.


$400 at Ortovox
$400 at Backcountry



Flylow Women’s Charlie Coat

Flylow
Flylow

Seeking a super-warm and ventilated softshell puffy that’s also great at the resort for your insulated mid-layer? Look no further than the buttery-soft fabric of Flylow’s Charlie Coat. Designed to keep skiers toasty (and dry) when they most need it, this jacket features must-haves like underarm vents and secure internal pockets, which are great for storing snacks or water pouches close to your body warmth on your chilliest pow days. I recently wore mine in -8-degree temperatures in Colorado and stayed surprisingly toasty.


$600 at Flylow


The best backcountry ski pants

Much like with the aforementioned ski jackets, backcountry ski pants are very similar to your favorite resort trousers. So grab a set of durable, unlined shells and layer up with great thermals underneath, rather than overheating in insulated pants.

Many backcountry skiers are huge fans of ski bibs as well, because of their high-on-the-torso waistline, which keeps frigid powder out and insulates incredibly well on those chilly transitions and snack breaks. Whatever your preference, we have loads of fabulous options below.


The North Face Women’s Summit Series Pumori Gore-Tex Pro Bibs

The North Face
The North Face

According to Keene, a bib with a drop seat is a must-have for peeing in the wilderness on long ski tours. “I don't have to get fully undressed to go pee,” she explains. Though it’s pricier than many beginners might want, she recommends The North Face’s Pumori Bibs. Another great idea? Get a Kula Cloth.


$650 at The North Face



Arc’teryx Women’s Rush Bib Pant

Arc’teryx Outlet
Arc’teryx Outlet

Unlined shell jackets and bottoms are essential tools to have in your backcountry ski quiver, says Balogh Rochfort, and this durable, highly waterproof Rush Bib Pant by Arc’teryx offers some of the best that money can buy. Zippered side vents allow you to shed heat when you’re skinning uphill on a bluebird day, and its high-waisted bib profile means no more getting powder lodged into your waistband if you totally yard sale on the descent.


$490 at Arc’teryx Outlet



Ortovox Women’s Mesola Pants

Ortovox
Ortovox

If you’re skiing in a super-dry climate (like Utah or Colorado), softshell pants are the perfect blend of waterproofing and extreme breathability, both of which are important on long uphill skin sessions. These pants round out the Ortovox Mesola Kit that Balogh Rochfort touted as her new favorite. With their adjustable waistband and well-placed pockets, we have to agree that they’re a fabulous option for resort and backcountry skiers alike.


$380 at Ortovox



Patagonia Women’s Upstride Pants

Ever since the pandemic hit, I’ve been a huge fan of any pant that offers a soft, flexible waistline. Designed with maximum range of motion in mind, Patagonia’s Upstride Pants are a newer addition to their backcountry ski lineup. Slim fitting with flared boot zips for easy ons and offs, these breathable, stretch-knit bottoms are also coated with a PFC-free durable water-repellent coating to shed moisture where you need it most.


From $230 at Patagonia



Stio Men’s Environ Bib

Stio
Stio

Avid skier and adventurer Jen Nelson is a big fan of Stio’s environmentally friendly Environ pants and bibs. Not only do they offer zippered thigh vents and a high waist to seal out spindrift, but these bibs are also made of recycled polyester and Teton-tested for maximum waterproofing.


$459 at Stio


Important backcountry ski accessories

The accessories are perhaps the most important part of your backcountry ski kit because they are essential to your safety when traveling in avalanche terrain. Not only will you need to invest in an avalanche beacon, probe and lightweight snow shovel but you’ll likely want a pack that’s designed to hold all these emergency items. Other important considerations are having a great helmet and a set of gloves or mittens in tow so that your body is protected if temperatures drop or things go sideways.


Gregory Women’s Targhee 30 Snow Pack

REI
REI

Studt says that grabbing a 30- to 40-liter backpack is a great idea for backcountry skiers, but “most people don’t need to spend big on an airbag pack,” he warns. Gregory’s Targhee 30 Snow Pack offers loads of the features users should expect from a big-brand winter backpack" a deployable helmet carry, a zippered avalanche gear section and some reinforced loops for A-frame ski or splitboard carry. And at under 3 pounds for a size small, it can easily transition into a summer day hiking pack too.


$200 at REI



Marker Confidant Tour Helmet

Marker
Marker

A lightweight, compact helmet specifically designed for touring, the Marker Confidant Tour Helmet offers removable ear pads, goggle clips and easy adjustment points for a variety of head shapes. Bonus points: It’s also certified as a bike helmet, for year-round use.


$140 at Marker



Baïst Mitt

This uber-warm gauntlet-style mitten is a recent winner in Balogh Rochfort’s extensive mitten testing for CNN Underscored, and since she tends to run cold in the wilds, I trust her opinion on all things hand-warming. With removable liners and waterproof goat leather, they offer excellent grip, durability and functionality for the backcountry.


$180 at Baïst



Superfeet Winter Support Insoles

Superfeet
Superfeet

If you’re not quite ready to splurge on having your liners heat-molded to your feet, Superfeet makes this handy set of Winter Support Insoles, which are specially designed for skiers and snowboarders. After two intense days of tearing up the slopes in these babies, I can safely say that I’m a convert.


$55 at Superfeet



Ortovox Diract Voice Avalanche Transceiver

Ortovox
Ortovox

Ortovox’s new Diract Voice Avalanche Transceiver is the first in its class with integrated voice navigation to help direct you to your partner, should they become buried. This is particularly important because every second counts in a rescue mission and, too often, panic can set in, making it difficult to efficiently use safety gear to locate a lost skier. Plus, its three-antenna technology is more up-to-date than cheaper avy beacons of the past.


$450 at Ortovox
$450 at REI



Tifosi Dolomite 2.0

Tifosi
Tifosi

When I sat down with Balogh Rochfort for this article, she said that she tends to skin up the mountain with a pair of sporty sunglasses on because goggles are likely to fog up as your body naturally warms and sweats. Tifosi’s Dolomite 2.0 is a sleek, wraparound style that helps block wind on ascents and offers great UV protection. The brand even sells prescription sunglasses for those of us who wear glasses.


$80 at Tifosi



Leki Guide Lite 2 Carbon Ski Poles

Leki
Leki

“Adjustable poles for the uphills and downhills are an important part of backcountry skiing,” explains Balogh Rochfort, who loves these Guide Lite 2 poles from Leki. These poles feature quick and easily adjusted length options ranging from 105 to 150 centimeters and excellent grip.


$200 at Leki



Black Diamond Recon X Avy Safety Set

Black Diamond
Black Diamond

“The most important pieces you need to go backcountry skiing are a beacon, shovel and probe,” says Keene. “These are for avalanche safety and rescue.” Black Diamond makes it easy to pick up these essentials for a reasonable price with this set. What’s in the box? A three-antenna Recon X avalanche beacon, lightweight snow transfer shovel and Quickdraw Pro 280 probe with high-vis 1-centimeter markings.


$450 at REI



Goodr Apres All Day Snow G Goggles

Courtney Thompson/CNN Underscored
Courtney Thompson/CNN Underscored

Not only is Goodr’s newest foray into the ski goggle world blissfully inexpensive, but it also impressed our editors in a recent ski goggle shoot-out. The Apres All Day offers UV400 protection, an easily swappable magnetic lens system and an anti-fog and anti-glare coating for great performance in any weather.


$75 at Goodr
$75 at REI



Hestra Ergo Grip Active Wool Terry Gloves

Hestra
Hestra

Hestra Gloves are Keene’s go-to when she’s guiding in Alaska because of their superior dexterity in the backcountry. After testing several pairs for this article, my clear favorites were the Ergo Grip Active Wool Terry Gloves, which boast a light wool liner, wipe panel and grippy goatskin, so you can fiddle with your boots and bindings without going bare-skinned. Hestra’s Fält Guide Gloves ($175) are an even better pick when you know you’ll be shredding in sub-freezing temperatures — I recently took them out in below-zero weather, and they kicked butt.


$125 at Hestra
$125 at REI
$125 at Backcountry


Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed price at the time of publication.

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