Want to impress your friends and ski during the months of June or July? There are places all over the American West where you can make this novelty experience happen. And, if you’re skipping the chairlift for a human-powered summer-skiing adventure, there are a few pieces of gear that can make the experience super smooth.
After you check the weather, set an early alarm, and get your backcountry skis, bindings, boots, skins, and beacon/shovel/probe ready to go, make sure to grab these seven other essentials and get ready for a fun day on the snow in the high country.
While you should be wearing sunscreen every time you ski, it’s critical to wear it and constantly re-apply when summer skiing. The sun’s UV rays and the reflection off white snow create microwave levels of radiation from all directions, which means there is a solid chance you’re going to get a really bad sunburn. Add in sweat from ski touring, and chances are high that whatever you put on at the trailhead will be gone within an hour. Ski Balm, Protekt, and Beyond Coastal are three great options, as well as a timer on your phone or watch set to go off every hour as a reminder to reapply.
Oversized Sunglasses or Glacier Goggles
While your cool-looking Oakley Frogskins or Dragon Ultras might be fine most of the time, the sun and the added reflection of light off the snow require very dark sunglasses with full protection around the frame. Luckily, those types of sunglasses are also super trendy right now for all sorts of adventure activities. Julbo makes some great mountain-specific sunglasses that have a level 4 rating (which is so dark they are illegal to wear while driving in some states). The POC Devour, Smith Wildcat, Sweet Protection Ronin RIG Reflect, and many of Pit Viper’s unique styles also work well in the high country.
Used and Abused: Sweet Protection Ronin RIG Reflect Sunglasses
Chances are high that, when you’re ski touring in the summer, you’ll likely step in some unfrozen liquid. It might be a pond off the snow or it might be a camouflaged puddle on the surface of the snow, but either way, your skins will absorb some of the water. As soon as you step back on frozen snow, the water in the skins will freeze, and then start globbing with snow. The way to prevent this is to bring skin wax, which prevents your skins from absorbing water and freezing in the first place. MountainFlow Eco-Wax makes entirely plant-based skin wax that works.
Extra Gloves For the Descent
If you’re smart, you’re probably skinning uphill in spring gloves, which have minimal insulation and are designed to be breathable. But your hands will sweat during the ascent no matter how thin your gloves are. That means they will get cold pretty quickly when skiing down from a high perch. So bring a backup pair of regular winter gloves in your pack to swap into before dropping in. Best of all, great gloves like Hestra’s Fall Line are on sale now, and they’ll be practically new when the ski season starts again in November.
Read More: Best Gloves of the Year
GPS Tracking/SOS Device
Whenever you’re backcountry skiing, you’re usually pretty far from help. And when you’re summer skiing in the backcountry, you’re probably even deeper in the mountains seeking out semi-permanent snowfields that aren’t always close to the trail. Early morning starts and leaving defined pathways to get to snow means it can be hard to find your way back when the skiing is done, and it can be hard for help to find you in case something goes wrong. Carrying a smartwatch like the Garmin Fenix 6, a map app on your phone like Gaia GPS, and/or a GPS device with SOS can help mitigate these hazards.
Water Bottle with Built-in Filter
Drinking from high mountain streams sounds great, but unfortunately, even if the water is coming out from a snowfield, it’s still probably chock full of harmful bacteria. Luckily, Grayl makes a handy water bottle with a built-in filter, so you can enjoy some of that high mountain water without the risk of giardia or worse.
Flip Flops and a Frosty Beverage
Going from ski boots to flip flops at the end of a ski day is one of life’s great pleasures. Doing so with a tasty brew in hand is even better. So leave a pair of your favorite sandals in the car and a cold can of something good in a Yeti Colster for when the day is done. Wondering what beer to bring? Check out SKI’s Beer for Skiers column, and don’t miss our favorite non-alcoholic brews, too.
More great gear: Best skiing accessories under $35