Ahh, the winter wonderland, a muffled landscape of snowy trails and slopes. Resplendent in white, untouched by man… well, until we start showing up in droves to recreate. But just like in the summer, there are steps we can take to keep the winter wilderness wild by adhering to the Leave No Trace Winter Use Principles of backcountry travel and recreation.
Uphill skiing, inbounds touring—whatever you want to call this variant sport, it’s on the rise this winter. While AT skiers and splitboarders have been partaking in early morning laps at their local ski resorts under an unspoken agreement for decades, this season thanks to the increasing popularity, that access is now becoming official. The outcome is that resorts are posting rules for uphill travel, marking routes, and in some cases adding fees in the form of uphill season passes or requiring daily tickets.
There’s no doubt COVID-19 is complicating this winter ski season. Ski resorts are implementing new protocols and processes to keep everyone safe, but with those come a need to plan ahead and strategize, which is kind of a new game for some of us powder hounds. The prospect of reservations systems and crowd management makes some visitors uneasy, but there is another way. Consider visiting the smaller mom-and-pop ski areas. Here’s our top tips for why mom-and-pop resorts are looking tempting this winter.
With roughly three quarters of backcountry skiers being male, it’s easy for female skiers to feel a bit like the odd woman out. Female ski mentors can be harder to come by, and women often feel uncomfortable asking too many questions or voting against a group decision when they’re the lone female.
Not only is this awful on multiple levels, but it also means women aren’t feeling empowered to bring one of their best strengths to the table: they tend to have a keen nose for safe decision-making. In fact, according to Bruce Tremper’s snow safety bible, Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, only 7% of avalanche fatalities are female. Ladies: we can trust our instincts. And if we feel confident speaking up and making ourselves heard in decision-making discussions, we can make our entire groups safer.
Mountain athlete Matt Meredith knows a thing or two about doing things his own way. He’s adapted his own style of skiing, mountain biking, and endurance trail running, having been born with one arm—and plenty of imagination. Based in Salt Lake City, he embraces not only the creativity needed for adaptive athleticism, but he loves cooking up new ideas and mountain goals to challenge himself.
If you love talking gear, you’re in the right neck of the woods. Especially during the winter season, we get pretty amped up about our favorite brands, especially when they have a decadent supply of gently used, sample, and surplus gear listed on Geartrade at the moment.
How Geartrade writer Beth Lopez successfully sold enough outdoor gear to fund a new touring kit.
As a category of skiing, “Nordic” casts a pretty wide net, so it’s understandable that there’s plenty of confusion around what it means. Technically, Nordic skis have a free-heel binding so you can travel cross-country with ease. Which is why “Nordic skiing” is often used interchangeably with “cross-country skiing.” But the category technically includes telemark and alpine touring skis, and people often use those for much more than cross-country, taking them onto the mountain slopes for easy ascent and a fun downhill descent.
What’s backcountry skiing? In a word, joy. In a few more words: sweaty, exhilarating, liberating, serious. Serious because there’s certainly an inherent risk to being outside the avalanche-controlled, ski-patrolled confines of ski resorts. But if you learn to make informed decisions about where to go, and you equip yourself with the right gear … it can be one of the most fun things you ever do.
We set out to build the “most sustainable” ski kit, and one thing became clear real quick: without an industry-wide sustainability standard, it’s hard to compare precise metrics between brands and even compare products within a brand.
With sustainability goals growing more common in the outdoor and adventure industries, we rounded up some of the most impressive new-year pledges. Which brands are committed to moving toward more-sustainable futures? Which are doubling down on commitments to the environment? There were many iterations of sustainability goals to parse through, so here are some of our favorites.
If there’s anything we can agree on, it’s that 2020 has been a challenging year—one filled with lows and highs so expansive and dramatic, trekking from month to month has felt like a hike worthy of the Himalayas. But, as with the gnarliest of expeditions, it all comes with opportunities for growth—with the chance to practice tracking the silver linings—the bird chirps in a rainstorm, or the resonant echo of a thunderclap, the depth of emotion when falling short of a goal, the thrill of pushing through a scary climbing move.
In that spirit, the spirit of acknowledging hardship but also celebrating its fruits, we gathered a range of forward-thinking folks who love the environment—athletes, gear journalists, organizational leaders, and more—to reflect on a positive aspect of their year. We asked them: What was the best piece of sustainable gear introduced into your life in 2020? What makes it so special? Here’s what they had to say.
So, you walk into a used gear shop, or peruse the selection of Geartrade’s goods, and you wonder: If this jacket is being sold for 50% of its retail value, does that mean it’s only 50% as good as it was brand-new?
In short, no. The price of second-hand gear does not directly correlate with the value of second-hand gear. If anything, Aisha Weinhold, owner of the consignment gear shop Ragged Mountain Sports in Carbondale, Colorado, says, “For what you’re paying, you’re usually getting more”—more bang for your buck. “Good gear has a much longer lifespan than people either realize or their patience can withstand.”
To understand what a circular economy is, you have to take a step back—way back. You’ve got to look at the big picture of how things generally get made. Most of us are pretty far away from this process—in fact, if you don’t have a job in manufacturing, you’re probably never gotten a good look at it. But here’s the lowdown: materials are acquired either by extraction or cultivation. Then the product is created, bought, used, and finally, disposed of in a landfill. This is what’s known as a linear model of resource consumption—“take-make-dispose”—a model that was established in the early days of industrialization.
Obviously, that model was developed by people who sure didn’t take sustainability into account. But now we know that model is totally unsustainable in the long term. And it’s painful for us outdoor-loving folks to realize that, typically, the vast majority of the gear we love was sourced in this linear fashion—from the metal buckles on our ski boots to the Velcro closures on our jacket cuffs.
While we think recycled wool holds its own against its original counterparts, don’t take our word for it—test it out yourself. To start, and to help make your research life easier, we’ve rounded up some of the best recycled wool products that are available right now to eco-friendly outdoorists.