A great day in the backcountry can take a lot of preparation, but getting geared up doesn’t have to be a process. We, at ActiveJunky, have compiled a list of our best men’s and women’s head-to-toe sets from our Winter Gear Guide for such an occasion. Tested in Valle Nevado, Chile, we’re confident these picks will be just the thing to take you from peak to base and all the uncharted spaces in between. Our testers are experts at finding you the toughest and coolest set ups imaginable for all your big mountain adventures, so sit back and relax…We’ll pick the gear, you pick the lines.
Fit and durability are the highlights of this backcountry pack that stood up to frigid negative temperatures during testing. There are three different options to carry your board or skis—an A-frame, a vertical, or a diagonal orientation—which make for an adaptable pack that exudes confidence and security.
The straightforward functionality and slightly oversized fit of the Sabre Jacket are reasons alone to make it your go-to technical shell for off-piste days. A serious outer layer is essential when you don’t know what the mountain may throw at you and Arc’teryx ups the ante with their patented GORE-TEX® Soft Shell 3-Layer system with super fine waterproofing and snazzy colorways.
A bib is key in the backcountry to keep all that awesome powder from sneaking up your back. These pants really hit the mark with a higher back, a GORE-TEX® Pro fabric treated with a durable water-repellent finish to keep you dry, and wide vents that keep you at just the right temperature. Plus, at only 10 oz., they won’t weigh down your epic day.
“Top Performance Goggle?” Youbetcha. Salomon wasn’t exaggerating when they dubbed the X-MAX as such. Chock full of great details like spherical lenses and a multilayer Tri-Tech mirror application to knock out glare, these goggles aren’t disappointing in the style department either. The “finger print free” system also meant that our testers could swap out lenses according to ever-changing Andes conditions in a flash.
A tough glove is an essential when you’re out making your own way and POW’s Alpha GTX glove is definitely tough. Goat-skin leather mixes with Pittards Oiltac Dragon leather to make for an extra-durable outer layer, while a GORE-TEX® glove insert keeps the wind and water at bay. 4 ounces of Primaloft Eco recycled insulation cradles your hands in coziness.
A pro at the backcountry balancing act, Arc’teryx’s Sentinel jacket straddles the line between rugged weatherproofing and insane comfort surprisingly well. The soft-shell offers up gusseted underarms, a GORE-TEX® outer, and a waterproof front zipper to keep weather out and heat in. Our testers liked how dry the Sentinel kept them, especially when it came to the perfectly fitting cuffs.
Even waist-deep powder couldn’t slow down Trew Gear’s Chariot bibs. Long side vents and breathable fabric keep things easy on cloudless touring days, while the 20k/20k waterproof membrane and tough nylon outer will keep out even the nastiest of weather. These bibs are cut specifically for the lady that wants to show off her style chops in the backcountry, without sacrificing durability and protection.
A killer in cold weather with 100 grams of Thinsulate insulation and lined with GORE-TEX® to keep bitter weather away, POW’s Falon were definitely toasty enough for our testers’ Chilean backcountry lines. These gloves also boasted enough dexterity to switch bindings from touring mode in a blink of an eye and were a cinch to get on and off when needed.
The spherical ARC lens of Spy’s Bias Goggle provides a clear, distortion-free view while a consistent vertical and horizontal curve helps to maximize your peripheral vision. Basically, it’s the clearest view you can hope for while still offering up slope side protection. A polyurethane frame flex that forms to your face shape while eliminating pressure points only adds to the whole “wearing-nothing-at-all” feel of the Bias, and makes them perfect for long days of touring.
Our testers loved this reliable pack for everyday backcountry adventures, but our main reason to be obsessed with Black Diamond’s Anthem Avalung pack is its “hope-you-never-need-to-use-it” emergency breathing system. If you get buried under snow, the AvaLung features a mouthpiece that pulls fresh air in when you inhale and releases the carbon dioxide behind you when you exhale. This means you only breathe the “good” air while you wait for rescue. The Anthem still offers up plenty of storage space for your extra layers and water bladder, but, in a pinch, we are going to pick air every time.