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On every skier’s bucket list (and on a few fortunate skiers’ schedules this season) is a dream trip: cat skiing in British Columbia, heli skiing in Alaska, bottomless powder in Japan… But once you pull the trigger and book the ticket, what about your gear? You need the right skis to stay afloat, the perfect lens to see where you’re going, and the seamless outerwear to keep you dry and warm.
Many companies have been working with rocker shape for the past decade, but no ski has been quite as game-changing as the DPS Alchemist Lotus 124 Spoon. Its edges are turned upwards at the shovel to mimic the shape of a surfboard and to maximize the floaty feeling one gets on top of bottomless powder. The flex of the ski is revised for the ’17-’18 season to add dampness for the days it’s not-quite-bottomless, and the girthy 124mm of ski underfoot will keep you on top of all conditions.
On the ladies-specific side, pro skier Lynsey Dyer has not only mastered heli skiing on multiple continents, but she has also mastered a ski design that takes her from the steeps of the Chugach to the deeps of Hokkaido with ease. The Sego UP AK, on which Dyer collaborated, has zero camber underfoot—it’s fl at as a pancake from heel to toe—with generous rocker under the shovel and a swallow tail to stay afloat.
The funny thing about helicopters and snowcats is that they’ll make you sweat. There is hardly anything more nerve-wracking, intense, and loud than the loading, flying, and unloading process. But when the whirly bird flies away, it quickly becomes cold, windy, and quiet. The sweat streaming down your back while the guide unloads the gear basket is not going to help the internal thermometer situation, but having the right apparel will.
Chamonix-based company Black Crows makes a line of outerwear that keeps your temp dialed and looks fly, too. The Corpus line, built with Gore-Tex inserts, features three-layer construction and a stylish cut that’s at home in the Alps and beyond. The jacket has plenty of pockets to keep snacks handy if the heli is on hold, and the bib pants are sealed to keep snow out while a stout boot cuff keeps things dry down low.
It’s the little things, however, that really make a difference on a dream trip. Having a functional facemask that doesn’t get soaked and freeze right away is a must. The Avalon7 Powslayer system offers an integrated mesh face-cover that works in unison with a warm balaclava to keep heat in but doesn’t freeze when the temps drop. Sometimes clouds move in faster than you can change lenses, so one lens that works in all light is crucial. The SILS lens technology on the Salomon Four Seven Red goggle provides clear vision no matter the conditions.
Just because it’s a dream trip doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to try out all this rad gear. Take it to your local hill a few times to get acquainted with it, any on-the-snow experience will help guarantee that dropping into a wide-open, powder-filled cirque will be everything you’ve always dreamed about.
DPS Alchemist Lotus 124 Spoon
The Lotus 124 Spoon has a revised flex pattern, slightly modified sidecut, and just a kiss of camber underfoot to make it easier to ski when the snow is soft but not perfect pow. Alchemist Pure Carbon construction keeps the ski stiff and lightweight enough for backcountry touring, but also gives the ski a heavy price tag. [$1,300, dpsskis.com]
Sego Skis UP AK
Clocking in at 116mm underfoot with zero camber plus generous, soft-flexing rocker in the tip and tail, this ski stays afloat with ease when the snow is soft. The poplar wood core with a triaxial fiberglass laminate keeps the ski light so your legs can last longer, plus polyethylene sidewalls and heavy-duty 2.2mm oversized steel edges mean the ski will last for many powder days to come. [$819, segoskis.com]
Black Crows Corpus 3L Gore-Tex Outerwear
Working with Gore-Tex, Black Crows designed a high-performance outerwear line that looks as good as it functions, including a love-it or hate-it fi sh-tail cut on the jacket. The reinforced cuffs on the bib pant are well-designed and built to last, and the kit features generous and thoughtful ventilation placements throughout, keeping you cool and warm as needed. [Bibs (pictured above): $550; Jacket: $700. black-crows.com]
Salomon Four Seven Red Goggles
Salomon’s SILS lens technology is great for all light conditions, and the anatomical fit is especially comfortable for medium-sized faces. The company also makes a contribution to the Salomon Foundation, supporting mountain families who have suffered a loss, for each pair of Four Seven goggles sold. [$120, salomon.com]
Avalon7 Powslayer System
Combining a lightweight and breathable balaclava with a technical polyester mesh face shield is a great way to stay warm all day long and keep snow out of your throat. The mesh keeps moisture from channeling upwards and fogging up your goggles, plus it doesn’t freeze quickly like other brands. [Balaclava: $25; Facemask: $25. avalon7.co]