With the summer slowly dragging to a close, I find myself deeply entrenched in my yearly gear obsession bonanza. In honor of this annual gear geeking ritual, I decided to say my 2 cents on some of my favorite pieces of equipment from last winter and the Denali expedition. To keep it short, I’ve narrowed it down to 4 items. There was plenty more that worked great, but these four blew me away in some of the most challenges conditions.
G3 ION BINDING
I’ve always been a tech skeptic. How are those flimsy things supposed to keep you on the ski when you are sending huge drops? Well, pencil me in as a tech convert. G3’s newest tech binding is confidence inspiring, intuitive, and light. Oh and did I mention, they are the sexiest looking tech binding on the market. Having spent 23 days on Denali with them, I appreciate their feathery 585g weight on the way up, but relied on their freeride inspired retention while sending serac features above 14,000ft. With bonus features that include step-in guidance, bi-directional heel rotation, quickflick heel lifts, and a snow-clearing channel beneath the toe piece, the ION is the ultimate backcountry freeride binding.
G3 ZENOXIDE CARBON 105
Last year, I went all in on the light is right mantra. This meant making a serious upgrade in the ski department. I knew I wanted stiff, light, and a moderate waist width. I found it. The Zenoxide isn’t a mountaineering tool, it’s a weapon. You wont mistake these skis for your playful powder skis. They demand to be skied aggressive and fast. With a very traditional camber profile and only a hint of rocker in the tip, these skis excel in the worst conditions. They felt most at home in spring like conditions, but handled windblown and deep snow decently. At 105mm underfoot they provided enough to float in all but the deepest snow and at 185cm length, they hit the sweet spot between real ski length and weight consciousness. While a narrower waist width ski may be more efficient for uphill travel and a wider/rockered ski may be more fun in the deeps, the Zenoxide proved to be the one ski I can grab with confidence, regardless of the mission or conditions.
SEIRUS WINDSTOPPER CYCLONE GLOVES
I wore these mid-weight gloves every single day on Denali and they were the ONLY gloves I used until 17,000ft Camp. A leather palm allows for the handling of hot pots in camp, while the softshell construction promotes breathability and quick drying. They are warmer then they look and have dexterity in spades. Everyone needs a pair of these. Seriously, they are badass. Best piece of equipment I took with me up Denali.
REI EXPEDITION SLEEPING BAG
I know what you are thinking. REI, really? I was skeptical too, but hear me out. This -20 degree bag is filled with water repellent down, is wrapped in a waterproof/breathable shell, and includes a double zipper system to help regulate body heat. The sheer loft this bag can boast is ridiculous. The coldest night on Denali had me finally zip the bag up and contemplate putting socks on, but even that was too much. Having a sleeping system that inspired that kind of confidence in its ability to keep me warm was critical for Denali. Here is the kicker. The bag comes in $300-500 cheaper then most other bags of this quality. High quality equipment and low cost, sign me up.