Partners in High Crime: 5 Backcountry Essentials

Partnerships. They are a hallmark of the backcountry. For all of us who’ve found good companions for the mountains, the rewards are hard to nail down in words. Instead of complicated explanations why this is so, sometimes the easiest reasons work best: “We just work well together.” Well, Brooks Range has products that do that very thing; they work well together.

What we chose to bring on our backcountry forays—whether it’s a day of ski touring, winter mountaineering, or ice climbing—there are core essentials we all want with us every time we leave the trailhead. Brooks Range has designed and built five key pieces you can’t live for just about any endeavor in the hills.

The Armor Jacket and Armor Suit make a one-two punch of versatility and performance. Each uses uses Polartec Neoshell, a highly breathable waterproof technology that wicks heat moisture away from the body during high output activities like skinning and climbing so you don’t get soaked from the inside out. The weatherproofing outer layer keeps winter’s icy chill at bay, too. In short, water vapor leaves, and weather can’t get in. You stay dry. The jacket’s oversized hood accommodates a helmet, and its tailoring features two Napoleon chest pockets for easy access, plus longer arms for dynamic climbing moves. The two zippered hand pockets are also positioned so they don’t get cinched below your pack’s waist strap.

The hybrid-leaning Armor Suit features the same Neoshell on the pant legs, while the chest and back use Polartec’s Power Shield for warmth on frigid days. The ankle cuffs are trim for alpine and ice climbing, but they stretch easily to fit over touring boots for any ski mission. Two Napolean pockets keep essentials close and warm to the chest.

Next is the safety blanket. Weighing in at exactly one pound, the hooded 800+ fill Mojave down jacket can accommodate a helmet, has an athletic cut, longer arms for alpine pursuits such as ice and mix climbing, and features horizontal baffles that prevent balling. Plus, it has sleek Pertex Quantum face fabric that is wind- and down-proof, and maintains a high strength-to-weight ratio as well as high abrasion resistance. This means it can handle the rigors of being pulled out and shoved back into your pack over a long life span and still do its job, making it appropriate for any and all mountain enthusiasms.

Backcountry 101 begins with having a dedicated shovel. As a staple in your pack, its value goes well beyond avalanche rescue. Brooks-Range’s Compact Shovel is a simple two-piece tool that weighs well under two pounds, and is optimum for long days or overnights when digging snow caves or performing other winter camping duties. The flat T6 Aluminum blade works well to craft smooth pit walls for accurate measurements and tests, but it’s also rugged enough for chopping away at avy debris, ice and hard snow.

Lastly, the Igloo 70 Folding Snow Saw is a pit nerd’s dream. The aluminum saw is anodized black with 1-3 mm crystal grids laser-etched on the side of the blade, plus metric and imperial rulers on opposing sides. Two ski straps can affix the saw to a shovel shaft or ski pole for a longer-reaching tool when isolating snow columns, cutting small cornices, or establishing an igloo quarry. However you slice it, you’ll do it with ease.

Now that you have your kit lined out for the season, get outside. Tag your winter adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #gotogear for a chance to be featured.

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