As a heads Up, this is not an extensive list of newest backcountry skiing gear, but rather a recommendation on the type of gear to get and an explanation of other versions out on the market. This is basically a jumping off point for gear recommendations. My philosophy in the backcountry is that you need to prepare for the uphill, when your body is generating heat, and the downhill when you’re moving fast and not generating much heat.
Beyond skis, I really do think gloves are the most critical piece of equipment that I bring into the backcountry. Simply put, if you loose the ability to use your hands, you will loose the ability to rescue your partner, the ability to access gear, and at a minimum, the ability to stay comfortable. So when I go into the backcountry, I usually bring 3 pairs of gloves. I know it sounds like a lot, but gloves pack relatively small. In general, I have a pair of gloves for the uphill, and a separate pair for the downhill. The third pair is usually a backup just in case a pair gets wet or wrecked. The gloves should match your mountain range and usual conditions. For example, in Utah, it’s almost always dry with deep snow. If you’re up in the PNW, you might want to skew your gloves to more water-resistant materials. Here are my recommendations.
First, I bring a lightweight glove like the Black Diamond Mid-weight Screentap Gloves, to wear on the uphill when temps are warmer and conditions allow it. These are perfect for when you’re really just trying to protect your hands from a cold wind or if it’s lightly snowing outside. Ideally for a lightweight glove, look for a ones that have the smart-touch feature so you can still use your phone without having to remove your glove. Durability on these gloves is crucial because you’ll wear these gloves the most (since it takes the longest to go uphill), you’ll end up wearing these running a lot, and plus, you’ll be gripping the ski poles hard.
If it’s colder out, on the uphill, or it’s warmer out and I don’t need a heavier glove for the downhill, I wear the Black Diamond Mid-weight Softshell Glove. These are bulkier, leather palm, and keep my hands toasty warm. The leather palms are great for durability as well as waterproofing. The outer shell should be a windproof layer. In most cases, try not to wear your heaviest gloves on the uphill (even if it’s very cold) because you’ll end up sweating inside the gloves which will render them worthless to keep you warm on the downhill. A new recommendation from a friend is the Black Diamond Wind Hood GridTech Winter Gloves. Which combines a lightweight gloves with fingers, with a convertible hood into mittens.
For the downhill portion of the ski, or if temps are really low and conditions are rough, I will put on my heavyweight glove. These would be the type of gloves/mits you’d wear at a ski resort most days. I prefer to wear leather outer-layer gloves, rather than synthetic, for their durability over the course of the season and years. Try to look for a heavyweight glove with a liner that can be removed if needed, because then you can always replace the liner after years of use to get a new one for better insulation. The heavyweight glove will be better with an over-the-cuff gaiter to ensure that now snow goes down into the glove or up your sleeve on those deep pow turns. My go-to heavyweight gloves is the Hestra Army Leather Patrol 5-Finger. I’ve used them for the past 4 years and couldn’t imagine skiing without them. I trust them to keep me warm and to keep my finger dexterity perfectly functional. For days I know I’ll be doing a lot of digging or work with my hands, I prefer to use the ultra-durable Black Diamond Dirt Bag.
I really do swear by Hestra gloves, and haven’t been disappointed with any of their products. Of course, they’re more expensive because of it, but it’s more of an investment because they will last you twice as long as regular glove.
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My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.