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Backcountry Tech


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Backcountry Tech

Winter gear advancements

By Brent Murdoch  |  Photo by Ryan Hasert

Backcountry touring is exploding in popularity and with that explosion comes an annual wave of new technology and gear. The winter of 2013/14 promises to be no exception.

North Vancouver’s own G3 has released the long awaited “Black Sheep” split board. The fully-rockered board uses carbon fiber over wood core for amazing turns. Even on technical or rough terrain, the board responds with an amazing ride. Black Sheep also gives solid edging when climbing as a true touring set up. If you board and want to hit the backcountry, check it out.

Avalanche transceivers continue to advance. With the move to three-antenna systems several years ago, beacons have become more and more user friendly. They offer much more technical advantage. Three-antenna systems triangulate, giving both direction and distance approximations to users. Mammut’s addition of the Element to complement the Barryvox model is a good example of companies providing the technical advantages of high-end performance in basic lower price versions. Backcountry Access continues to offer the well-performing Tracker 2 at an affordable entry price for new users.

Another safety advance is the major arrival of the personal locator beacon (PLB). It is important these not be confused with avalanche transceivers. PLBs allow users to not only send out an “SOS, everything has hit the fan” signal for immediate help, but now users can send text messages bragging to friends about their epic lines while they are stuck at work.

Utah-based ski company DPS is leading the way once again with its Spoon technology. With a convex shape in the tip that prevents hooking on powder turns, their Spoon ski is designed for the deepest powder days. This pure carbon ski allows a super lightweight to truly perform. DPS has included the “spoon technology” from their Spoon ski in their Lotus series. This allows for much more controlled turns even on windblown days. Now carving can still happen even on days with less than optimal conditions.

Boot fitting is not taking a back seat either. Gone are the days of mandatory sore feet. Liners continue to improve. While it may take a few moldings to get things just right, no longer do you need to settle for numb toes. Ski shops that know fit should be able to do just that – fit your boots properly. If you can’t get a proper fit, find a dealer that knows the process and take your business there (see inset for a list of local boot-fitters).

Remember: Gear is there for one reason – so you can safely enjoy some great lines. Make this the year you actually get out more instead of just talking about it! x

(Brent Murdoch owns Valhalla Pure Outfitters in Abbotsford.)


Local boot-fitting shops


Backcountry Essentials

214 West Holly St.

Sportsman Chalet

2420 James St.

Fairhaven Bike and Ski

1108 11th St.

Glacier Ski Shop

9966 Mt. Baker Hwy.

British Columbia

Valhalla Pure Outfitters

1707 Salton Rd.

Valhalla Pure Outfitters

88 West Broadway

Mad Dogs Ski and

2556 Montrose Ave.

Skiis & Biikes

1701 W. 3rd Ave.