Best Backcountry Ski Gear for 2019

Ongosa spoke to leading alpine retailers Ellis Brigham, to get their expert recommendations of the best backcountry ski gear for 2019. Read their reviews of all the kit you need right here.

Published on Wed 10 Apr, 2019

Backcountry skiing provides you with an experience quite unlike any other you’ll find on the mountain. You get to enjoy deep, untouched powder in peaceful surroundings, with access to a never-ending choice of terrain. 

In order to safely navigate off-piste and fully appreciate all that it has to offer, you’re going to need backcountry specific equipment and clothing. We’ve collated a list of the best backcountry gear for 2019 to get you ready for your next adventure. 

Best Backcountry Skis for 2019

Atomic Backland 102 W

Women’s Atomic Backland 102 W

- Radius: 16m 

- Waist: 102mm 

- Rocker: Tip/Tail 

- Weight: 1510g 

Striking the balance between weight and performance, the Backland 102 W is an excellent backcountry freeride ski. Inside the ski is a light (poplar/caruba mix) wood core that is re-enforced with a featherweight carbon backbone; increasing edge hold and response. This is all encased in a cap construction sidewall, saving weight for easier ascents while the wide waist (102mm) and rocker at the tip and tail ensure you have plenty of float in deep snow.

Atomic Backlands

Men’s Atomic Backland 95 

- Radius: 18m 

- Waist: 95mm 

- Rocker: Tip 

- Weight: 1350g 

An out and out touring ski, Atomic have combined a rigid yet lightweight core with a wide waist and rocker tip for high performance on up and downhill terrain.

Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD Ski Boot

Best Backcountry Ski Boots for 2019

Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD

- Weight: 1551g (half pair, 26.0) 

- R.O.M.: 54o 

- Standard: Tour, Tech 

The Atomic Hawk Ultra XTD is a great boot for those of us who enjoy both aggressive descents and easy uphill skinning. 

Ascending - the lightweight shell, 100% mouldable liner and 54 degrees of movement ensure you can comfortably manoeuvre your way up the most technical of routes. Once you reach the peak you can lock out the Free/Lock 2.0 and strap in for a responsive and powerful ride down with excellent transfer of movement through the boot and into the binding/ski.

Scarpa GEA RS Ski Boot

Scarpa GEA RS2

- Weight: 1260g (half pair, 24.5) 

- R.O.M.: 59o 

- Standard: Tour, Tech 

Aimed at advanced women ski tourers, the Scarpa GEA RS2 is lighter and stiffer than its predecessor. Helping to keep the weight down and improve rigidity is a carbon re-enforced shell, 3 not 4 (glove friendly) buckle design with a cut-out cuff that also doubles up as extra ventilation for ascents. 

For such a technical boot the attention to detail on comfort is impressive. The inner liner and cuff are anatomically designed for women’s calves (as well as being 100% mouldable), a ‘New Wave’ closure system is self-equalising and equally distributes pressure and an over ankle strap locks in your heel for fit and response.

Best Backcountry Ski Bindings for 2019

Dynafit ST Rotation 10

Dynafit ST Rotation 10

- Weight: 599g (half pair) 

- Release Value: 4-10 

- Brake: 90/110mm 

- Compatibility: Pin 

For those who want to save every gram possible when charging up the steepest of slopes the Dynafit ST Rotation is the perfect choice. It uses the latest incarnation of Dynafit’s pin system to offer a secure and safe release while delivering consistent performance on downhill terrain.

Marker Tour F12 EPF Ski Binding

Marker Tour F12 EPF 110mm

- Weight: 1102g (half pair) 

- DIN: 4-12 

- Brake: 110mm 

- Standard: Multi Norm 

- Sole length: 265-325mm 

The Marker Tour binding is compatible with all types of ski boots and is great option for those skiers who will be splitting their time between groomers and backcountry terrain. Despite its beefy appearance the binding works well on long ascents and once you reach your peak it comes into its own.

The wide toe and heel pieces allow you to power your way through a variety of off-piste snow conditions and experience a more traditional feel through turns.

Marker Kingpin 13

Marker Kingpin 13

- Weight: 750g (half pair) 

- DIN: 6-13 

- Brake: 75-100/100-125mm 

- Compatibility: Pin Cert 

The Marker King-pin blends the best of pin and conventional step-in bindings for a lightweight yet powerful feel. At only 278 grams you notice the weight saving almost straight away and then on descents the wide heel piece expertly transmits movement through your boot into the ski for a responsive ride. 

Black Diamond Men’s Recon Stretch Ski Shell

Best Backcountry Ski Jackets for 2019

Black Diamond Men’s Recon Stretch Ski Shell

- Helmet compatible hood 

- Water resistant front zip 

- Hand and chest pockets with water resistant zips 

- Underarm venting zips 

- 2 large internal stow pockets 

- Zip off stretch powder skirt 

Built for those who like to enjoy deep powder without restrictions, the Recon Stretch Shell features a 4-way stretch fabric that is also wind/waterproof and breathable. It comes with DWR treated pit zips for regulating your temperature on steep ascents and an oversized hood to accommodate a helmet. Inside the jacket you’ll find a powder skirt along with mesh pockets for extra layers, spare goggles and any other essentials.

Arc’teryx Men’s Sabre LT Ski Jacket

Arc’teryx Men’s Sabre LT Ski Jacket

- Helmet-compatible hood 

- Watertight Vislon front zip 

- Angled Watertight underarm venting zips 

- Hand, chest and arm pockets with Watertight zips 

- Large internal stow pocket 

- Internal laminated zipped pocket 

- Adjustable laminated powder skirt with pant snaps 

Arc’teryx’s Sabre LT utilizes a 3 Layer GORE-TEX fabric and GORE C-Knit back for the perfect blend of water/wind protection, breathability, durability and comfort. It comes with a set of freeride specific features including a helmet hood, pit zips, WaterTight™ zip, powder skirt and much more. In addition, the shape of the jacket has been slightly elongated for extra shelter from the elements on those stormy days.

Mountain Equipment Women’s Havoc Jacket

Mountain Equipment Women’s Havoc Jacket

- GORE-TEX gives waterproof, breathable protection 

- 40 denier face fabric is light and supple 

- GORE C-Knit backer offers next-to-skin comfort 

- Super Alpine HC hood is adjustable, helmet compatible and has a high front collar 

- 2-way AquaGuard front zip 

- Large hand pockets with water resistant zips give plenty of storage 

- Internal zipped security pocket 

- Internal zip-out snow skirt 

All the protection and breathability of GORE-TEX with the next-to-skin comfort of a soft C-knit backer, this mountain equipment jacket is perfect for off-piste adventures. Along the front zip you’ll find Aquguard layering to keep you dry while two-way pit zips let excess heat escape. On the inside there is a powder skirt to lock out snow and space for mid-layers on those extra-cold days. 

Best Backcountry Ski Pants for 2019

Arcteryx Women's Astryl Ski Pants

Arcteryx Women’s Astryl Pants

- Hip-to-knee vents with Watertight zips 

- Adjustable belt 

- Keprotec lower cuff protection 

- Laminated inner gaiter 

The Astryl pant is a fully articulated trouser that allows for easy ascents and a full range of movement on the downhill, with side zip vents helping to keep you cool on long skinning sessions. Around the inner ankle you will find reinforced material for extra durability and the main fabric is the hard working N70p GORE-TEX which offers extra protection against rocks and tears.

Black Diamond Men’s Recon Stretch Ski Pants

Black Diamond Men’s Recon Stretch Ski Pants

- Inset cargo pockets and offset leg vents with water resistant zips 

- Transceiver pocket 

- Access zips to adjust boot walk-mode 

- Adjustable belt 

- Lower cuff protection 

- Inner gaiters with gripper elastic 

Making use of Black Diamond’s 4-way stretch fabric the Recon pants provide you with lots of comfort and freedom of movement while protecting you from the elements. They also come with lots of backcountry specific feature such as ¼ leg zip boot access, internal RECCO technology, high-mount snow gaiters that make off-piste missions that little bit easier.

Best Avalanche Safety Equipment for 2019

Mammut Ride Protection Airbag

Mammut Ride Protection Airbag

- Protection Airbag System 3.0 (removable) 

- Airbag balloon is bright orange to aid signalling 

- Thermoformed back panel for excellent carrying comfort 

- Aluminium frame for optimum load transfer 

- 3-step back length adjustment 

- Removable padded hipbelt with pocket 

- Ice-screw karabiner attachment on hipbelt 

- Safety leg loop 

- Weight: 2.73kg (Inc. airbag system) 

If an avalanche is triggered a skier wearing the Mammut Ride can pull an emergency cord and activate a CO2 system that quickly inflates a protective airbag, helping to keep you above or near the top of the snow drift - this dramatically increases your chances of rescue and survival. As well as the airbag, the backpack accommodates all of your other backcountry safety equipment, clothing and supplies.

Ortovox 3+ Avalanche Transceiver

Ortovox 3+ Transceiver

- Digital 3-antenna device 

- Automatic switchover in case of a secondary avalanche 

- Intuitive search acoustics 

- Visual support at fine search 

- Smart-Antenna-Technology 

- Permanent monitoring of the transmitter 

- Marking (flagging) function 

- Partner check 

- Display of all victims 

- Recco Reflector Inside 

- Battery type: Alkaline 1 x AA 1.5 volt 

- Dimensions: 12.2cm x 7.3cm x 2.7cm 

- Weight: 210g (including batteries) 

The latest incarnation of Ortovox’s lead avalanche transceiver, the 3+ uses three antennas across different axes to make a buried skier easier and quicker to find. It is also able to manage multiple burials and display all victims with the option to flag their position.

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Ortovox Pro Alu III Shovel

- AL 6061 T6 handle 

- Hardened aluminium gives strength and rigidity

- T-grip Pro with flexible left and right-handed function 

- Oval handle cross section improves durability 

- Rubberised grip zone · AL 5052 blade 

- Hardened anodised aluminium is light yet rigid 

- 90° clearing function 

- Sharp protected edge 

- Non-slip step grooves 

- Telescopic shaft 

- Rapid locking without pressing a button 

- Scoop: 2.7 litres 

- Weight: 790g 

- Length: 88cm (44cm collapsed)

Ortovox Alu 240 PFA Probe

Ortovox Alu 240 PFA Probe

- 7075 T6 aluminium is light yet strong 

- Rubberised grip for comfortable handling 

- Steel tensioning cable system is robust and durable 

- Patented Flash Assembly (PFA) system 

- the quick fasten strap makes immediate opening and fastening possible in one motion 

- Weight: 310g 

- Length: 240cm 

- Packed length: 43.5cm 

- Diameter: 13mm 

An avalanche probe plays an essential part in any rescue helping to locate a buried skier. This probe from Ortovox is made from a lightweight yet tough T6 aluminium, is quick and easy to assemble and comes with a large tip for penetrating ice.

Over 80 years at the forefront of mountain sports makes Ellis Brigham one of the most experienced alpine retailers out there. Independent and family-owned, our focus is on providing you with honest expert advice and outstanding service so that you're able to tackle your adventures with every confidence in your outdoor clothing and equipment. 

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