Adele in the snow

Adele in the Australian backcountry.


The Australian ski season is wrapping up after a season during which many of us did not have a chance to use our skis. Instead, I have been spending time dreaming up the ultimate backcountry ski gear kit for Australian conditions (on tech bindings) for both the touring-focused and the downhill-focused skier.

I suggest two different setups in this article, but bear in mind that Bogong Equipment has multiple other options, with characteristics in-between the suggested products and outside of this focus (such as powder skis for your next overseas trip or cross-country setups for those who only tour). Have a chat with our team for guidance on what suits you what you want to do.


The Setups

1. The Ski-touring Setup

For longer touring trips with a side-mission of getting in some fun lines. Lightweight and touring comfort are key, but this setup will still do splendidly downhill. Perfect for crossing the Main Range while also wanting to enjoy some lines along the way.

2. The Downhill Ski Setup

For daytrips and basecamp trips where the aim is finding the best lines and carving. A setup for excellent downhill performance (for those few Australian powder days), but also able to handle corn-snow and ice. This setup is a bit heavier and therefore not as great for longer touring, but will still do well for longer trips. Perfect for trips to Mt Bogong and Mt Feathertop.


The Gear

Skis

For the downhill-focused backcountry skier, the K2 Wayback 96 is brilliant. It is wide enough to ski well on the occasional powder and loose snow, but skinny enough to be great on corn-snow and hard-pack.

If you're more touring focused, but keen for the occasional downhill fun, the Åsnes Nosi 76 is a lighter and skinnier ski – excellent for longer touring trips with some occasional runs down the hills.


Skins

Match the K2 Wayback 96 with G3 Escapist Skins. The Åsnes Nosi 76 Ski can be matched with the Åsnes Access Skins.


Ski Bindings

For those in it for the downhill, the Salomon Shift Binding is an excellent choice. It is light and does well on the skin up without compromising on the ski-ability. It has 13 DIN release mechanism, meaning the skis come off when you stack it – this saves your knees.

For the touring-focused; the Ski Trab TR-Gara Titan Release Binding is advertised as the lightest tech-binding with brakes on the market. They are lightweight and small with great touring capabilities, and they also do well downhill.


Ski Boots

The La Sportiva Sparkle (women's) and Spectre (men's) ski boots fit both suggested bindings. They are lightweight, comfortable, can be heat-moulded and perform well downhill.


Ski Socks

The Icebreaker Ski+ Lite Sock (and Liner) are wool socks that fit well and keep you warm. And they come in bright, fun colours! The length of your sock is important in a boot – make sure it reaches well above the cuff to avoid chafing.


Ski Poles

The Masters Ultra Tour Ski Pole and the Black Diamond Razor Carbon Ski Pole are both excellent choices, with the latter being lighter weight and the former sturdier. Pick a pole that sits well in your hand and is a suitable length for you.


Snow Shovel

The Black Diamond Evac 9 Shovel is lightweight for its large size. It has a telescopic handle – ideal for both building snow shelters and rescue scenarios. The large shovelhead lets you able to dig faster and more efficiently as well.

For the touring-focused, the Black Diamond Deploy 3 Shovel and Black Diamond Deploy 7 Shovel are lightweight and fit neatly into your pack. The Deploy 3 is small, so if you transect or enter avalanche terrain, go for the Deploy 7, which is better for digging faster, in the event that you need to do a buddy rescue.


Snow Saw

Bogong Equipment stocks two snow saws: the MSR Basecamp Snow Saw and Black Diamond Snow Saw Pro. Both are excellent choices, lightweight, have long blades, are sturdy and useful for snow safety tests as well as camp building.


Avalanche Safety Equipment

Whether or not you should carry avalanche equipment or not is a much-discussed topic in Australia, but avalanches have happened and do happen here too. Personally, I think it is a small extra weight to carry that could potentially save yours or someone else’s life – worth it. Please remember that this equipment requires training and practice to use efficiently – further, it is only helpful when you are already in trouble and does not guarantee your own or others safety.

The transceivers Bogong Equipment stocks are the small, compact and lightweight BCA Tracker 3 Avalanche Beacon and the slightly larger Mammut Barryvox S Avalanche Beacon. For the person who mainly stays way outside avalanche terrain, the smaller could be the go-to. If you enjoy being out on the steeper slopes, personally I would go for the Barryvox as it is easier to see and handle in a stressful situation. Either way, do your research and pick one that suits your needs. They are both good options.


Avalanche Probes

When it comes to avalanche probes, longer is often better. Avalanche probes need to be quick to set up, and sturdy and long enough to reach a buried person. The Black Diamond Quickdraw Probe Tour 320 is an excellent choice.


Ski Pants

For the downhill-focused, a hardshell ski pant will keep you dry when you inevitably stack. And, if you are lucky enough to get some powder and produce some spray – they will keep you warm and dry. Choose a pant with a bib if you plan to take it to Japan to ski powder (in Australia, you get away without it). The Mont Supersonic Pant (men's and women's) or the Rab Latok DV Bib are what I would go for. They breathe well and have full-length zips up the leg for putting on and taking off easily and increase airflow. Both pants have protective patches on the calf to provide protection from crampons.

For the touring-focused skier, a softshell pant may be the better option. Full waterproofing often is not necessary for ski-touring. Softshell pants breathe better for those long strenuous days, and are more flexible and comfortable. I use and love the Outdoor Research Iceline Versa Pant (women's and men's). It is extra high at the back, which makes it comfortable, keeps the pants in place and keeps your back warm. Another brilliant option is the Rab Defendor Pant, which has a slim fit, long leg length and a built-in belt. Both options are fleece-lined, have zippered bottom cuffs, fit outside boots and have crampon-reinforced leg patches.


Ski Gloves

The Outdoor Research Stormtracker Glove (men's and women's) keeps wind out, is water resistant, breathable, quick-drying and has a leather lining in the palm for better grip. It is also touch-screen compatible. A good choice for both touring- and downhill-focused backcountry skier.

If a thinner glove is needed – e.g. for the uphill push – the Outdoor Research PL Sensor range has options from thin liner to warmer. They can be used both as a liner and as a thinner (not water-resistant or windproof) glove option.


Snow Tents and 4-Season Tents

If you are planning to stay overnight, here are my picks for ski tents:

For a basecamp-style approach where you will not necessarily be moving your tent every day, the tunnel-shaped Mont Epoch (2-person tent) is great. It is spacious, has plenty of handy comfort features (pockets, ventilation options, snow flaps, etc.) and is sturdy for those windy, exposed nights in the Australian Alps. This tent is also great for the more touring-focused skier, because it is relatively lightweight (3.63kg) for its size and sturdiness. The Mont Epoch has one entrance, which can be positioned away from the wind to allow you to get air into the tent even in bad weather. The vestibule is spacious, and by digging a pit in the vestibule, you get space to comfortably put on or take off wet clothes and boil water.

If you are after something even lighter, the new Mont Dragonfly (2-person tent) is a dome-shaped 4-season tent at only 2.48kg. Its clever pole system makes it able to handle rough weather conditions and it is spacious enough to be able to move around a little on days the weather keeps you tent-bound. The tent has two entrances, with the ability to adjust the size of the opening to allow for ventilation without letting wind and weather inside the tent.


Adele Westgård,
Bogong Equipment



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