Gear of the Year


Our life in Alaska is nearing an end. Only 51/2 weeks until our estimated date of departure. We knew that are time here was going to be short and thus we have currently been living by the "we won't be here long" mentality. Chelsea goes to work, Denver goes to school and work, and on the weekends we head out to wherever we can find snow. It feels like we've been on a twelve month vacation with a few work days to catch some cash. (cash catching is good because pro-deals have been abundant)

During these months we have developed a great appreciation for certain pieces of gear. The perfect equipment can completely change the succes rate of the day, and therefore these pieces have earned our respect. Not all the gear that we use on an average day is worth writing about: first because those pieces are ordinary (anyone can make a decent beanie) and secondly it difficult to become too attached to a pair of liner gloves.

The following list is the top fifteen items of gear that deserve special mention for their very honorable service during the winter of 07-08.

1) Dynafit TLT Comfort/Vertical bindings. We both use these binding and they are the best touring bindings on the planet. After using these we would have to be out of our minds to tour on anything else. They weigh just over a pound per pair, and the zero resistance toe pivot makes skinning almost easy.

2) The Mammut spindrift 35 ski pack, super-light, an awesome charcoal and black color, comfortable, a main compartment and then a top section so to keep little items from falling to the bottom of the pack. (It is very imporant to be able to reach the snickers bar at a moments notice.) And if this pack couldn't get any better Denver recently discovered a small pocket on the side of the pack that holds a avy probe.

3) Scarpa Hurricane. Denver's stiffer resort/backcountry boot. The intuition thermo-fit liners with pebax plastic keep the weight at about 8lbs which is pretty sweet for a four buckle boot. The Intuition thermo-fit liners can be heat molded to your feet and are warmer then any other liner out there.

4) Smartwool ski socks. These socks are perfect, taller then the boot cuff, and come in different weights for various boot fits. No more blisters!

5) Wild Things Andinista pack. Perfect for an overnight ski trip. These packs can expand to hold all the overnight gear, and then once we've set up camp, dug our snow cave, or whatever, it can be compressed to a normal day trip pack size. This pack has also proven to be much more usfeul on an ice waterfall then its owners.

6) OutdoorResearch Alti Mits. So ridiculously warm that even Chelsea's chronic Popsicles were no match. The outer part of the mit is a shell that has proven to be absolutetly waterproof and the inner liner is all the goodness of thick down comforter. Chelsea found these gloves so warm she only used the liners on days when the mercury never came out from the little ball on the thermometer.

7) K2 MissDemeanor skis. These skis make life better, their only downside is when you have to take them off. Chelsea overheard some cool skier dude comment on the fact that no one ever seems to really like their frontside ski, but Chelsea wants to say differently. She really likes her powder skis, doesn't really like her backcountry skis, but absolutely loves her carving skis.

8)Denver's Line Prophet 100 skis. When asked why these deserve to be on the list Denver, without missing a beat, said "Those skis are great because they rule in the deep stuff, and yet rail the hardpack like a skinnier board." Amen.

9) Capilene from Patagonia. Smartwool has tried, Westcomb has tried, REI has tried, but nothing can compare to Capilene for a quality baselayer. Capilene is long enough to keep your backside from getting covered with snow if you really auger in, comes in lots of nice bright colors and wicks like crazy.

10) Avalanche Handbook, by David McClumg and Peter Schaerer. This book is the authoritative resource on all things snow science. It's an amazing reference.

11) Chelsea's Smith Prodigy goggles have stayed fog free every day for the entire year. They have also proven themselves very useful when skiing through the infamous Aleyska flat light. With these goggles you could actually see (almost) when the white room comes in.

12) Snickers. We began the season with a new 48 count box of snicker bars from Costco, with the rule "only to be eaten on our ski/outdoor days". We have upheld this promise, despite Chelsea's great love for a snicker bar on any and every day of the week. Snickers are chock full of calories, edible when frozen, easy to digest (a tunafish sandwich is not). We are currently on our second box.

13) The Nalgene Wide-mouth Cantene. Like a regular nalgene, but squishy. 'nuff said

14) Denver's EP hooded jacket from WildThings. This jacket has made it into the top fifteen despite the fact that it looks a little funky. The Ep is compressible, light, warm and has a shell material that will fend off light precip.

(15) The Canon EOS 5D which has successfully documented the gear usage. The battery lasts a suprisingly long time if we keep it warm until it's time to shoot.


  1. jealous of your 5D! :) i think thats my next purchase. where are ya'll moving to from alaska?

  2. Yes, the snicker bar, the only essential, you can do anything with a fair supply. I'm looking forward to seeing you guys again.