K2 has made a huge commitment to backcountry skiing with gear that is designed to work together to save weight. They have teamed up with Pomoca to make a climbing skin that grips extremely well, glides fast and sticks well to the ski without being impossible to unstick when applying to the ski. The holes in the ski at tip and tail provide a super slick way to attach the skin. Their new shovel/axe setup for 2014 means I now always have an axe with me. And it all converts to a very usable rescue sled in an emergency.
I have always felt that K2 provides us with a very lively ski, yet damp enough to go easy on my body. I love to be playful when I ski, and my K2s give me a super rebound from each turn. They not only provide me with lots of fun, but make it a lot easier to ski. And the new generation of rocker skis make it easier than ever. With 3 other guides, I spent the last 3 years helping K2 design a very light ski for ski touring that also skis real well in all sorts of snow. The K2 Wayback is a great all around ski when one wants something light to go far uphill.
In 2019, K2 came out with the Mindbender series, which I am loving! These skis are not light by today’s standards, but they ski like a ski that weighs a lot more. This is my prefered go to ski for off-piste/backcountry skiing today.
Scarpa is investing more and more in our back country experience. They were the folks who gave us a plastic telemark boot with bellows. I struggled with the transition from leather to plastic, but have been psyched with the way they have evolved. I have been skiing on the F3 and F1. The F1 is great for going fast. This boot needs to be paired with a real light ski and binding, like the K2 Way Back and Dynafit binding. The F3 is a fantastic boot for every day skiing. It still has the bellows for supreme skinning and plenty of control for freeriding. If want a little more control still, the Terminator X Pro is the boot of the future. This boot will allow you to drop your knee and throw in some tele turns when paired with the new NTN bindings. It will work with the Dynafit system and any other AT binding for that matter.
Mammut has been churning out awesome gear for decades. They got started with climbing ropes, then got into fabrics and clothing about 20 years ago. They have a huge collection now, and are able to provide just about anybody with a jacket, pants underwear and most of the tech gear needed for a summit bid. Their ropes are the industry standard.