We know the right gear can make all the difference in how a day goes down, from cutting first tracks to stomping your landings, but how do you choose what's best? Hear from Kari Brandt--one of our #unstoppable squad members and serious sister of shred--as she names some of her top choices in ski apparel.
I never realized the influence professionals in the outdoor industry have until I became a professional myself. My first summer guiding in Yosemite I started on a guided day hike with old trail running shoes simply because they were the only shoes I could find that morning. My clients asked, shortly into our hike, if they were the shoes I recommended for hiking and what they were. I immediately said they are not the shoes I would recommend for hiking in Yosemite and suggested shoes with rubber designed for rocks. It was at that moment that I realized everyone around me looked to me as the expert on gear and how to be properly prepared for the outdoors. Since then I make sure I dress for work in a way that I would recommend to those around me. I have found myself back in the ski industry full time again and fortunately have only spent three days out of ski boots since December 5th! Below is a list of my favorite ski gear for both backcountry and resort skiing. Hope you find this helpful!
For Backcountry Day:
Skis: Coalition Snow La Nieve – This is Coalition’s lightest ski in the fleet. Coalition designs skis at a shorter length to optimize the design for the length women are skiing. They are breaking the "shrink it and pink it" way of building women’s equipment!
Binding: I have yet to find my favorite backcountry binding….open to suggestions!
Boots: Dalbello Lupo – Dalbello is one of the few boot companies that actually designs their women’s boots for a women’s foot. The liner is warmer as well as shorted to accommodate a woman’s calf, and the heel is narrower than a men’s boot.
Socks: I wear LilyTrotters compression socks under SmartWool PHD Medium Ski Socks. My feet get cold very easily so I like to layer. Using LilyTrotters compression socks helps with circulation while touring and prevents blisters!
Layers: My favorite base layers depend on temperature. I either use Patagonia Capilene Midweight or Capilene Air. I will layer with a Patagonia R1 and a Patagonia Micro Puff with a shell as needed for conditions.
Ski Pants: I like to backcountry ski in soft-shell pants. My all-time favorites are the Patagonia Alpine Guide, but unfortunately, they are not made any more. If you find a pair, snag them up!
Shovel and Probe: Any probe or shovel you will carry is the best probe and shovel you can have.
For Resort Day:
Ski: Coalition Snow Rafiki or SOS – It is always tough for me to decide between these two skis! The Rafiki are wider and better for powder days but still perform in any other condition that is thrown at them. The SOS are a go-to, good for any condition. They float in powder, charge through crud, and carve on groomers.
Boots: I work in ski boots for 10+ hours each day. I have finally found the perfect work boot! Dalbello’s Panterra 105W with the ID liner is by far the most comfortable boot I’ve ever skied in. My only complaint is that they do not make this boot stiffer than a 105 flex in their women’s line, though they go up to a 130 flex for men.
Socks: While I’m working and resort skiing I just wear a pair of ski socks to keep warm, especially when riding up the chair. I always have a pair of Lily Trotters Compression Socks to change into after a day of skiing to help my feet and legs recover from the day.
Layers: My layering is the same at a resort, except I wear a hard-shell pant most days. I work in the Patagonia W’s Insulated Powder Bowl Pants. I do wish someone made a good work ski pant for women; Patagonia only makes a men’s work pant and they are not sized small enough for me.
Beacon, Shovel and Probe – Anytime I am skiing in bounds and there is a chance for avalanche activity in the terrain I’m skiing, I have my beacon, shovel and probe on me. Avalanches are an inherent risk of the sport both in-bounds and out of bounds.
Thanks for the tips, Kari! There are a lot of gear choices out there--do you have any must-haves that you'd like to add? Share what you know and leave a comment below!