Whether you are a seasoned backcountry skier, hiking to ski an untouched face or you are simply just starting to explore the backcountry in order to find a new adventure in mountains, one thing is for sure, your outerwear needs to stand up to the challenging conditions found in the backcountry. Here are a few brands who know what they’re doing when it comes to backcountry clothing, that we think you should look at when choosing your next jacket or pants.
One of the first things you will learn when starting out in the backcountry, is that your usual outerwear and layering system just will not cut it. Whether you are hiking in mid-thigh powder to ski some pillows or skinning up a mountain face to lay tracks to where no one else has, you will get a lot hotter than usual. This increase in heat and perspiration will in turn make you feel colder when skiing down.
Making sure your outerwear is both extremely waterproof and breathable is essential. Most backcountry jacket and pants will be full of additional features, when compared to your normal outerwear, such as zip ventilation, to help prevent overheating and the use of highly technological materials to protect you against stormy weather that you may encounter.
Arc’teryx is well-known for their high-quality craftsmanship. Founded in 1989 by Vancouver climbers, the company has always had one goal; to create equipment that enables a person to be immersed in the moment, regardless of external conditions. This ideology, along with a deep passion and understanding of what a backcountry skier needs, has seen Arc’teryx create some of the best backcountry dedicated outerwear.
Arc’teryx has several ranges that are designed with the backcountry in mind, but some of the best ones are the Sphene and Airah ranges.
The Sphene and Airah outerwear jackets are both exceptionally lightweight, with the Sphene jacket weighing a mere 430 grams. Both use GORE-TEX linings making them exceptionally breathable, which is needed for backcountry skiing due to the added exertion. Both have taped seams and watertight zippers for added water resistance The hidden RECCO reflectors are also great for the outdoorsExtra features like watertight zippers, helmet compatible hoods and powder skirts provide extra protection from the elements.
There is some difference between the jackets. The Sphene jacket uses a more high-end GORE-TEX Pro lining and the Airah jacket has additional Polartec technology that provides extra insulation, making the Airah better for colder conditions.
The Swedish company Haglöfs offers hundreds of products for a range of outdoor activities, designed with users in mind. Their designers are at heart of the company, all of whom are outdoor enthusiasts and former professionals themselves, creating concepts based on the needs of real users for today and tomorrow.
Their outerwear collection has been tailored to the needs of backcountry tourers and mountaineers. Made with some of the best materials found on the market, their products are soft to touch, yet durable enough to withstand any terrain. Their Touring range offers a full outerwear solution, accompanied by a layering system. There are two jacket options in the range, one using Haglöfs’ Proof 3.5L stretch fabric for maximum movement, and the other using Gore-Tex Active for more breathability, this range meets the needs of any freerider. Outside of Haglöfs Touring range, the Voitas and Khione jackets are great, hardwearing backcountry pieces constructed from Gore-Tex.
Since its birth in Åre, Sweden in 1986, Peak Performance has been redefining how we see skiwear. By combining functionality with style, Peak Performance have created some of the finest, technical outerwear within the ski and snowboard market. Peak Performance have rooted themselves within the freeride community, through sponsoring many significant athletes and events.
Peak Performance Heli range is designed for those serious freeriders who push their boundaries. The collection has multiple jackets and pants that come in a range of different Gore-Tex materials, keeping you extremely dry and comfortable when hiking or charging down a face. The outerwear has a horde of valuable features that allow you to reach your peak in the backcountry.
The fourth generation, Norwegian family-owned company, Norrøna, is steeped in creating quality products that are designed for function and suited for outdoor adventure. Norrøna has been at the forefront of innovative outerwear, they were the first company to release a Gore-Tex jack within Europe.
With jackets named after some of Norway's most untouched mountain areas, such as Loften, it is no surprise that Norrøna outwear is geared towards backcountry tourers and mountaineers.
The Norrøna outerwear is some of the most technical around, constructed from Gore-Tex Pro and accompanied by underarm vents the jackets are incredibly breathable for those long mid-day hikes. Yet reliable enough to stand up to the worst of storms, with water-resistant zippers and a wire brimmed storm hood.
The idea of escaping into the wilderness, away from the crowds to enjoy untouched powder is becoming increasingly popular. People are branching out further and further off piste to find the hidden, untouched treasures of the mountains, but where do you start when beginning you first backcountry adventure?
Ifyou’re backcountry skiing or snowboarding this season, experience combined with the correct clothing and safety equipment (avalanche airbag, avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel) and a fully-qualified mountain guide are essential for staying safe and having fun off the piste. Read these top tips before heading out on your next adventure into the backcountry.
Proper dressing for backcountry riding is a little different to dressing for a day of alpine skiing or snowboarding. While a layering system of base layers, mid layers, and hard shell pants and jackets are good for downhill, you’ll soon find yourself sweaty and overheating as you start your ascent to the top.