The holidays are approaching, and for many of us, that means a few extra days out of the office and in the mountains.
One problem: Your vacation days are aligned perfectly with every single other person in the city. Suddenly, what you thought was going to be a relaxing ski vacation turned into an extension of rush hour traffic on your morning commute. Just to the ski area instead of the office.
But there is a way to escape the crowds. You just have to walk a little farther than the rest of them, and book a spot early at a backcountry hut. Ring in the New Year with some silent laps in the back of beyond and a flask of whiskey shared around a woodstove.
To help you pack for your hut trip, here are a few recommendations of essentials to keep you cozy next to the fire after a long day of powdery laps. Don’t forget the whiskey.
We recommend: Patagonia Micro Puff
Packing light is key for hut trips. This is where a packable puffy is essential. Normally down is the go-to for warmth. But synthetic puffies are better for backcountry skiing because they are water resistant and pack down small. What was once a quandary for skiers is now solved thanks to Patagonia's new Micro Puff. Patagonia spent a decade developing this synthetic puffy, which has unmatched warmth for its light weight. It weighs 9.3 ounces and packs down into one of its pockets to about the size of a water bottle. READ MORE. —Julie Brown
We recommend: Stormy Kromer
Part ball cap, part railroad hat, part hunter/fishing cap, the Original Stormy Kromer is a six-panel, hand-stitched dome piece made of a wool, nylon, and cotton. It’s warm and very comfortable. It's also a great cross-over hat for skinning and après ski in the hut. READ MORE. —Matt Hansen
We recommend: Mons Royale Merino Baselayers
Save weight by wearing your baselayers longer. Merino wool, with its natural anti-microbial properties, is essential to keeping the smell to a minimum while wicking away sweat so you stay warm and dry. Unlike other merino wool baselayers I’ve worn and loved and shed a tear for when their delicate fabric ripped a hole by the seam, the Mons Royale Checklist stood up to a season of wear, and still feels next to new. READ MORE. —Julie Brown
We recommend: A Sheewee
Ladies, it's time we all start pocketing pee funnels as the #1 piece of gear for skiing. I've been peeing outdoors for almost three decades, and the SheWee is a gamechanger for convenience, time and avoiding frostbite on my tukus. There are a number of stand-and-pee tools branded for women, but the SheWee Extreme comes with an extension tube that is a) great for writing your name in the snow and b) helps to reach out and away from bulky clothing like ski pants. It is lightweight, resuable, and comes in a discrete carrying case. The case is slim, about the size of a small burrito, but if it proves too bulky for your jacket pocket, you can also store your SheWee in a regular ZipLock. The case, more than anything, is just nice for privacy. READ MORE. —Sierra Davis
A big pack
We recommend: Eddie Bauer Sisu
Eddie Bauer’s newest backcountry ski pack, the Sisu, is thoughtfully designed to succeed in many ways and is an excellent choice for skiers looking for a durable, user-friendly pack for big day missions, ski mountaineering, or hut trips. At 40 liters, it carries everything you need, and some items you don’t. On a four-day hut trip last spring to the Sawtooths, I filled it with a sleeping bag; shovel and probe (carried neatly in a separate compartment); skins; ice axe; two liters of water; a bottle of tequila; change of clothes and toiletries; goggles with spare lenses; down jacket; camera, headlamp, and spare batteries; and a hefty sack of food. Access is top-load or through the back panel—a huge bonus to have two ways to get after all your stuff. READ MORE. —Matt Hansen
We recommend: Glerups wool booties
These wool felt booties from the Denmark-based company Glerups are not extra—they are necessity, and thankfully, they weigh close to nothing and pack down into the small, tight crevasses of your pack. At 400 grams/pair, that's about as much weight as a can of beer and it's been my experience they provide equally as much comfort as said can. Because when I've been on the skin track for five hours (and it should have only taken two or three, but I'm slow), taking my boots off and slipping my feet into a pair of warm, dry hut booties is the ticket to bliss. READ MORE. —Sierra Davis