If you’ve decided it’s time to buy some touring gear you’ve probably realised you’ve got quite a bit of research to do if you want the best of the best. Where do you start? Review sites are hardly that honest and sometimes you want to stay away from the big brands with the big marketing budgets. These days there are smaller boutique companies around producing amazing goods that cannot be matched in quality and style by the large manufacturers – and the added bonus of knowing your purchase will support a local community business.
There are of course some better-known mainstream brands that are worthy of being singled out because of the long-term research and development they put into their gear. So if you don’t have anyone to ask for recommendations on your next purchase, consider us your friend in the know. The following is some fantastic gear that we have personally used and stood by.
Foon Skis, Pemberton, Canada
Foon Skis are a series of big mountain weapons built from locally sourced Coast Mountain yellow cedar and western big leaf maple that are combined in a unique core construction to give you unparalleled lightweight durability. The skis are also handmade from start to finish and have a serious cult following. We love the Moma Lisa; a ski created in tribute to the living legacy of Lisa Korthals, a Canadian ski guide who carved out a life, career and love affair in the Coast Mountains. The ski has been designed to effortlessly adapt to changing mountain conditions and terrain, just like Lisa did. With every pair of skis sold, proceeds will support a fund established in Lisa’s memory at the Canadian Ski Guide Association to help women start a career in ski guiding.
Osprey has always been an innovator, so when you’re in the market for a backcountry pack you would be mad to ignore their line up of award-winning gear. The range is super easy to understand because the packs are categorized as; lift-accessed, backcountry riding or mountaineering / hut-trip packs – which is a great way to figure out which size is best for your needs. They even have a men’s and women’s version of each so you can be sure to get a fit for your frame.
For regular backcountry day trips, check out the Kamber 32. This pack has all the much-needed features like; an exterior helmet carry, back panel access and multiple options for ski and snowboard carrying. There’s ample space for first aid kits, food, extra layers and there’s easy access to avalanche safety gear – this pack will not let you down in the mountains.
Oyuki Gloves & Head Wear
Japanese for ‘big snow’, Oyuki products were born in the mountains of Hokkaido to match the demanding weather and deep snow the region is renowned for. Their cold weather essentials include; gloves, tech layers and apparel, head wear, neck and face wear – they’ve even branched into snowboards.
Their gloves deserve a mention here as they have a huge range of beautifully designed products including the Shaka Mitt – which was originally designed for fun so riders could throw ‘shakas’ to their mates in camaraderie. However, the design became really popular after people realised there were massive dexterity improvements when the little finger is separated from the rest. This glove has a Porelle® Dry waterproof membrane and PrimaLoft® insulation making it one of the warmest gloves you will ever use.
These may seem like a fairly menial little item on face value (pardon the pun), but the humble GoggleSoc is an absolute lifesaver when you’re touring. Hiking in your helmet with your goggles on your head? Use the GoggleSoc to protect the lens from snow building up. Lost your goggle bag like everyone else in the world? Your GoggleSoc stays put on your goggles when they are stuffed into your backpack. This is one of those items that you’ll wonder how you did without. Oh, and did we mention they’re great for protecting your lens from those beer splashes at après too? Well they are.
If you’re looking to support the smaller boutiques, check out our recent feature in The Ski Girl’s article: What’s The Best Ski Gear – 40 Ski Bloggers Share Their Tips.