Tried ‘n True – A Shout Out To Timeless Gear
It’s almost that magic day of the year – not THE magic day – the one before it, when we madly scramble to buy all the Christmas presents we were supposed to get weeks ago. The easiest is to go with the annual traditions like socks ‘n chocolate, whether the person wants it or not. Next easiest is to pounce on the latest hot gear or trend like fidget spinners, drones and the lightest new ski gear.
So amidst the latest and greatest hype, I’m gonna give a shout out to my favourite long-term gear – the stuff that maybe missed a gear review in the first place, but keeps coming back to my quiver year after year after year. Gear that lasts longer than the run-on sentence that precedes this sentence. Gear that’s better than my grammar. Gear that makes you ski better than your grandma. So in no particular order, a shout out to the good ones…
Scarpa Freedom 130 Ski Boots
These bad boys didn’t get as much attention in the alpine ski community as all the familiar alpine brands’ boots. For granola eating touring folks these boots were blowing minds, but alpine skiers were like “Scarpa who”? While everyone was scrambling to mod all the latest stiff touring boots, I was just slip-n-sliding right into my not-downsized leisure-fit Scarpa Freedom 130’s with Intuition liners, season after season after season. Easy in ‘n out, easy and reliable tour mode, better performance than you’d guess, and good times all around… until they broke. They knew they’d been used longer than they were supposed to, so they threw in the towel and the shells cracked and with it so did my dreams. Then Scarpa awesomely came to the rescue with one repaired shell and one replaced shell… and just like that the Scarpa Freedom 130’s reborn for more years to come.
While the Khamski is quickly shaping up to be the only ski pack I need in my quiver, my love affair with Arc’teryx packs goes back to ’94 when Maria Carey’s blockbuster All I Want For Christmas was released. That’s the year I got my first Arc’teryx Bora 40 pack for rock-climbing, and the thing is, I still use it 23 years later. It’s purple colour faded to pink but my stoke for it hasn’t faded one bit. Here’s to hoping the Khamski’s lasts through two decades of abuse as well.
Lucky 007 Ice Axes
It’s all in the name. How could I not buy these? So what if they weigh a gazillion pounds, and are so awkwardly shaped that they’re not good alpine snow axes or technical axes but just a weird hybrid in between. These bad boys have staying power and they’re in the quiver to stay.
If those boots are gonna last a few hundred days we’re gonna need some Febreeze and some boot heaters eh. I’m not partial to any particular brand or model, but this season’s go-to is Dry Guy’s Travel Dry DX. They’re light ‘n simple, and as a bonus can plug into your car so you can warm’em up or dry on the fly.
Atomic Automatic / Backland / Whatever You Want To Call It
God only knows if these skis have changed each season, but I don’t really care. Each year I order a new pair of whatever the 109ish underfoot Atomic is that was once called the Automatic but is now the Atomic Backland FR 109. Maybe it got lighter, maybe it has pretty new colours and a see-through top-sheet, but the point is these babies have an open invite into my ski quiver. They rail groomers when the alpine is shut, drift pow like fatter competitors, and are light enough for some good times in the slack country. Looking forward to them hopefully never changing.
G3 Ski Straps
Sooooo many ways to use these things, so little time. G3 Ski Straps are pretty much a staple in any backpack, whether its ski season or not. I use’em daily all year round.
The Neck Buff
How did I ever ski without these things? Who cares what brand you get, they’re all made in China for 10 cents anyways. They fit under your helmet to keep your ears and chin stoked on a storm day, they double as a head band when you’re trying to keep up with your euro-trash rando buddy on the skin track, and in a pinch you could cover your whole face and rob a bank. Unfortunately for me these are the opposite of long-term gear. I lose them faster than the time it took you to read this article. Might just do a bulk Alibaba order tonight… buffs for life!
G3 Empire 115 Carbon
These were keepers from the get go, but now that there’s no new pairs in existence – they’re really really keepers. After 4 seasons on my Doglotion edition Empires I’m retired them into office decorations. Luckily I recently got my hands on a fresh pair, mounted them up under the strict supervision of a house cat, and am looking forward to seasons of oh so deep pow backcountry days ahead.
Cheers to good gear eh. Find it and keep it.