New Gear in 2010: First Impressions

2011 was a great year for adventuring for me. I think it’s finally clicked that I would like to be outside adventuring around as much as possible. I always had an idea before but not until this year has it been so obvious.

For every new adventure there’s always another piece of gear that would suit the conditions perfectly so it’s always a balancing act with how many different pieces of gear you have and how flexible each of them are. You probably won’t be able to have an entire range of tents, skis, jackets and backpacks for every type of trip but a few well-chosen pieces of gear can cover most situations.

I purchased a few new pieces of gear this year to get me close to the dream of being able to head out and do almost anything on a moments notice. Most are related to my new love of backcountry skiing. I had never really thought about it but after talking to friends watching skiing videos, I know it was time to try. There is never a perfect time to get into it as the gear is expensive but I managed to get a new AT setup for a really good price. And so the obsession begins.

G3 Saint Skis

I ended up with some G3 Saint skis. I didn’t have much choice in the matter but I don’t think it would have mattered anyway. I’ve never owned a pair of skis in my life and wouldn’t have known the difference between any of them. I’ve snowboarded for years and I was a little apprehensive about dropping it cold-turkey and taking up skiing instead. While it’s not exactly the same as boarding, skiing definitely has it’s pros. For backcountry I felt it was the most flexible method of transportation compared to splitboards and snowshoes and gave me the new choice of skiing or snowboarding when I hit the slopes. The G3 Saints have been fantastic so far but I’ve really not got anything to compare it to. I will be demoing some other skis before the end of the seasons to sea what they’re like and I’ll be able offer more of a comparison then.

Scarpa Spirit 4 Ski Boots

Same idea with the skis, I’ve not got much to compare it to. So far they’ve worked flawlessly. Nothing has broken. They work as advertised. I have had a bit of an issue with blisters on the sides of the arches of my feet. My feet don’t usually fit well in standard hiking boots so I didn’t expect these to be much different. I’m doing to try out some insoles to see if they prevents the blister-causing movement.

Coltex Skins

The skins I got with my skis have been great so far. I have had the glue gum up when we toured Mount Becher after doing 3 runs and pulling out the skins each time. I kept them in my bag which didn’t really let them warm up. I’ll have to keep them in my jacket next time we plan to yo-yo. The tail clips have been good so far. They do come off once in a while if they get hooked on something but I don’t think can be avoided. I do need to tighten them up a bit and hopefully that will help them from popping off. I’m not a big fan of how they attached to the tips. I’ve popped the front clips off a few times by crossing my skis accidentally and pushing them off. The clip is large and gets pushed right off. G3 skins have nice small little clips that rarely get pushed off. If I replace these skins, I think I’ll try some G3’s.

Mountain Hardware Zonal Jacket

I had a gift certificate from Christmas that was itching to get used so I picked this little one up. It’s a light synthetic insulated mid later. It can be used as an other if it’s not really raining but I see it as more of  a mid-later if it’s raining at all. It’s exactly what I was looking for. It’s a nice little layer to put on when you’re not moving much for some extra heat. And the wet won’t do anything to it since the insulation is synthetic.

Smith Phenom Ski Goggles

I’ve never had decent ski goggles. Most of them have been cheap ones that have been on sale or I just bought because I had to have goggles. I often use them for dirtbiking too which grinds dirt and muck right into the lenses, pretty much rendering them useless after a season or 2. After I got the Phenom’s, I realized it was nice to actually be able to see. They hardly fog up at all either, helped by the vents in the front at the top. If I’m breathing hard and my head is low, I can fog them up a bit but it almost instantly clears.

Black Diamond Contour Elliptic Shock Compact Trekking Poles

I’ve only had these since Christmas so I haven’t had the chance to use them much. They have seen a fair bit of snow and they’ve been bomber every time I’ve skiied. The last pair I used had a pin that locked the bottom third so you couldn’t adjust them. The part that held the pins in broke off on both the poles and while gluing them back together, I accidentally glued one of the sections to the other, so I had one pole that didn’t collapse properly. It was definitely time for a new site.

Just below the handle on the new poles are shock absorbers, hence the “shock” in the name. They don’t move much but you can see it give when you push hard on them. It doesn’t do anything except add weight in the snow but I think it will be an advantage for hiking when the tips hit rock. Usually you get an uncomfortable vibration up through your arm when you hit a rock hard but with the shock absorbers, I’m hoping the impact will be much softer.

G3 Speed Pro Avalanche Probe

I’m happy I haven’t had to pull this one out yet for actual use but it has come on all my backcountry trips. I’m taking AST1 this weekend as well so it will get some good practice use then. I’ve got the 240 cm version. I’ll be doing a review soon of it as well so keep an eye out for that.

Backcountry Access Tracker 2 Avalanche Beacon

Same story as the probe above. I haven’t much actual use with this yet but this weekend we’ll be out for 2 days for beacon practice. I’m happy I’m finally taking a course on how to use it properly. I’m not a bit fan of the feeling of not really knowing how to use your gear properly, especially in a life and death situation.