Backcountry Ski Gear

Gear of the Year 2019: Backcountry

New backcountry skiing technology that will make the entire out-of-bounds experience better.


Salomon SHIFT
Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

Salomon S/Lab SHIFT MNC Ski Binding

Salomon (and sister company Atomic) made a big splash this year with the launch of the SHIFT binding. With a 6-13 release range and adjustable setting to accommodate all boot soles, the 865-gram SHIFT functions like a high-performance alpine binding at high speeds and in all snow conditions. Flip a few switches and it can tour uphill if your ski boot has tech inserts. The SHIFT is the new standard for skiers in search of a one-ski, one-binding setup that performs perfectly in both the resort and backcountry. [$650, salomon.com]

Read the 2019 Gear Guide Review of the Salomon S/Lab SHIFT MNC Binding here.

Black Diamond Helio 105 2019
Photo courtesy of Black Diamond

Black Diamond Helio 105

The Helio 105 makes no compromise between weight and downhill capability. Weighing in at less than 1.5 kilograms in the 175 length, the ski gets up a skin track without a fight, while the Helio’s construction of damping pre-preg carbon laminates and strong ABS sidewalls leads the charge when storming beyond the resort gates like a warrior. The freeride-oriented sidecut and shape means the Helio isn’t for the meek, but, in all honesty, the best Black Diamond skis never have been. [$880, blackdiamondequipment.com]

Read the 2019 Gear Guide Review of the Black Diamond Helio 105.

Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour Alpine Touring Ski Boot
Photo courtesy of Dynafit

Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour Boot

Eric Hjorleifson’s designs have blended the line between backcountry and freeride ski gear, but none have pushed the lightweight-yet-chargeable envelope quite like this boot. The light Grilamid shell, 55-degrees of motion in walk mode, and POMOCA rubber sole make for splendid uphill ski touring, while the innovative Hoji lock system marries the upper cuff with the lower shell in ski mode to deliver strong downhill performance in a number of snow conditions. [$800, BUY NOW]

Read the 2019 Gear Guide Review of the Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour.

Black Diamond Recon BT Transceiver
File photo

Black Diamond Recon BT Transceiver

The Recon BT is at the top of the pile of 2019’s consumer-oriented avy beacons. Like other non-guide-specific transceivers, the Recon BT features three antennas, multiple burial functionality, and software that’s updatable via Bluetooth. What sets it apart is its 50-meter circular search range, providing an extended, symmetrical search area. It lessens the margin of error that comes from the standard elliptic search pattern of most avy beacons. The redesigned shape also feels great in your hand. [$340, blackdiamondequipment.com]

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Scott Backcountry Patrol AP 30 with Alpride E1

This pack is so light, you might forget it’s an airbag. Because it uses a supercapacitor instead of a lithium-ion battery, you don’t need to do any strength training to lug it around. Plus, the system is TSA-compliant, so you can carry it on an airplane or check it without any extra paperwork. The Alpride E1 system charges using a micro-USB cable that can be supplemented by two AA batteries. The pack is very comfortable and the ski carry design is intuitive. [$1,100, BUY NOW]

Read the Scott Backcountry Patrol AP 30 with Alpride E1 Gear Guide Review.