It’s that time of year again when I’m getting inundated with gear questions so I just thought I’d write a quick one on the kit I’m using and why.
I’ll start off with boards…
Obviously I’m using the Jones Boards, they suit my riding style, it’s a great company to ride for and the leading board company for the type of freeriding and Splitboarding that I specialize in.
I choose the Flagship for everyday riding, the 168W if it’s a big day or I’m carrying a heavy pack, the 163W or 164 for bombing around slack country days. I’ll try the Flag Carbon 164 this season, stiffer whilst being shorter should be good.
The Hovercraft is amazing, great fun, a race board with a powder nose is the best way to describe it. I loved the 156 but to short with a BC backpack, the 160 ruled and the 164 for 2013/14 should be amazing!
This is a pure freeride charger, my first choice board on a slackcountry powder day.
I use the Solution 168W splitboard and love it, over the past couple of seasons its just got better and better. I’ll try the Split Carbon this season and again the added stiffness should be good with out adding weight…can’t wait!
Try to understand how your board actually works, its designed to turn if you press and flex it in the right place at the right time starting from tip to tail. Figure this out and work out how to use it effectively and make this the best winters riding you’ve ever had!
Splitboard bindings - With the Solution you need a good binding set up, the Karakoram SL is the best I’ve used so far. Splitboard binding innovation has still a long way to go though.
Couteau or Crampons – these are knife blade type attachements that go underneath your bindings, essential for when the going gets tough, steep or icy. Our European snowpack demands them!
Skins – nothing specific here, BD seem to be pretty good, just cut them well and look after them…especially when its cold or wet out!
Cheater sheets – These are a plastic sheet that fits on the sticky side of your skin when you’re not using them. It helps keep the glue in good condition and makes them easier to stash and stick.
Bindings – at the moment I use the Burton Cartel but I’m going to try a pair of the Now bindings when they arrive. I like the Cartel as they’re no nonsense, no hype strong working bindings with good highbacks, base plate and straps…what more could you want!
Touring poles have changed quite a bit over the past couple of years and now come collapsible like a probe with a cable down the inside. The best of the bunch has to be the Black diamond compacter…
Boots – there are a couple of new cross over boots for more mountaineering/riding. For me these are still a bit overkill and clumsy looking things and unless of course you’re going to be climbing and riding the big Northfaces you’ll probably not need something so stiff and tech.
I choose the Northwave Domain boot, its well made and well thought out with a great closure system and nice flex pattern. Best of all its compact and foot shaped…quite obvious you might think but most Snowboardboots look like over sized moon boots with big rounded toe boxes, more designed for fashion than function…The Domain is pure function with style thrown in afterwards.
Gloves – I like a good leather palmed glove with a narrow cuff so that it fits inside the jkt sleeve. A good dextruos mtn glove does the job but treat the leather for waterproofing.
Goggles – Anything with good wide vis and with the option of different lenses to suit different light conditions. I use the Dragon APX as they’re quick and easy for lens changes and give great all round vision.
Sunglasses – for hiking goggles suck so have a change of glasses for hiking. It’s possibly going to be sunny f you’re trekking off for the day so a good high intensity lens is needed.
Helmet – I never wore a helmet until last year when it suddenly occurred to me that everyone else wore one except me, on most of my courses. I use the sweet trooper helmet as its super low profile, lightweight and isn’t like wearing a bowling ball on your head. Helmets suck for hiking in so make sure you have a helmet carrying system on your pack and a hiking hat!
Outerwear – again sweet fits the bill for my outerwear. This kit is so NICE! Super lightweight tech shell jkt and pant designed for freeriding, hiking and touring, with the perfect cut for mobility for both climbing and riding. This kit is great… If I hadn’t worked out a deal with these guys I’d have bought some anyway…don’t tell em that!
Transceiver, shovel and probe – Here I use a one stop shop at Ortovox with the 3+ transceiver (a great and easy to use bit of kit), the Pro Alu 2 shovel (always go aluminium) and the carbon 240 probe. Remember, your avalanche kit is only as good as you are at using it!
Backpack – Stick all your kit inside your pack, don’t go for that ‘pro seasonaire/freerider’ look where everything is hanging outside! Shovel handles and poles go inside the pack with everything else! If it don’t all fit in then get a bigger pack!!
Ortovox make some good well fitting packs, bit fiddly for attaching your board, but when spitboarding this doesn’t really matter so they’re good everyday working packs. The Ortovox Haute route packs are nice, this is what I use most of the time.
There’s a new Jones pack out which I’ve heard good reviews about but I’ve not seen it yet so can’t comment…
I also use the ABS Vario pack with zip on volumes for different trips. I use the ABS pack more and more these days, it’s slightly heavier but then the value is in what it does so it’s a no brainer really!
A good layering system keeps me warm. Light layers rather than big bulky ones for easy adjustment works the best. Again, Ortovox have a nice range here, their fleece hoody is very nice and the Marino collection wins for base layering.
Sweet also have a really nice light weight duvet jkt that I use all the time and it can be worn under their shell jkt for super cold days. Sweet also have a very nice zip up fleece hoody that I use year around.
Crampons – every now and then you might need crampons on your feet… Grivel make a good strap on crampon that comes with a wider toe strap option that fits snowboard boots. I sometimes use a lighter weight alloy crampon in the winter made by CAMP. Weight saving, but not as good on ice, ok for snowy climbs and steep couloirs though.
For climbing specific kit you can shop around.
A light weight harness will do the job, check out the petzl range.
A few Screw gate carabiners, never screw them tightly shut and only screw them up when using them to tie in nd not when they’re just on your harness!
A couple of long slings with screw gate biners, a couple of prusiks with snap link biners, 2 mid length Ice screw for glacier safety, an Ice thread hook, a 5 meter bit of prusik cord and a petzl mini or micro traction for rigging a pulley system. A petzl knife is always handy and of course a short touring axe for making belay anchors, cutting steps and doing the occasional bit of climbing.
Chuck in 30m of semi static 8mm rope, this will do most trips, I always carry a map, compass and now a days a GPS.
1 ltr of fluid, hot or cold and a first aid kit and telephone or emergency radio is also essential.
Ok, that is about it. I might have missed something so if I have let me know and I’ll amend the list.