The Gear Closet

The gear addiction is real...
We share our opinion on the things we use to make adventure happen

Patagonia Snowdrifter 30L Backcountry Pack
After a hut trip to the Alps, Michael and Tracy realized the importance of a thoughtful backcountry pack. The Snowdrifter ended up being a pack that fit all of the essentials without being too big or bulky. Ideal for conditions where an airbag isn't warrented.

Why they like it:
This pack has all the compartments needed to stash beacon, probe, shovel, goggles, extra clothing, water and food. The back panel unzips allowing you to access the entire lenght of the pack, making it easy to get to items stowed in the bottom. The straps adjust to fit both Tracy and Michael's frames, which makes the pack very versital.

What could be better:
It's much more realistic to attach skis to the side of the pack than hang them off the back. Similar to other packs, this reduces the liklihood of kicking them as you boot pack. 

Click here to check it out on Moosejaw's website

Photo credit: Still Stoked

Atomic Backland Women's AT Ski Boots
With long ski touring trips/days becoming the norm, Tracy was looking for a lighter boot with better flexation in walk mode. The Atomic Backlands were a solid answer from both a performance and cost standpoint.

Why she likes these:
These boots are indeed very light! They are also comfortable during long days on the mountain, rarely generating hot spots (even without heat molding). The walk mode allows for great extension and gliding. Purchasing last year's model was the answer - cutting down on costs by foregoing only nominal upgrades.

What could be better:
The buckles are do not stay put when lostened up in touring mode, this makes it challengeing to complete a fast transition from ski to tour. It seems few touring boots have really got the buckle system right - so there is more to be desired there. 

Click here to check them out on the Level 9 Sports website

Photo credit: Level 9 Sports

Optic Nerve Neurotoxin 3.0
Who would have thought clear lense glasses would have been so clutch? Both Michael and Tracy wear these Optic Nerve sunglasses while skinning/skiing at night or early morning. These not only keep the cool breeze out of your eyes on the way downhill, but also help keep blowing snow away from your face on the way up.

Why they like these:
The glasses come with three lenses, smoke for bright light, copper for variable/low light and clear for nighttime. This allows the glasses to be extremely versital, not just for nighttime conditions. The lenses are quick and easy to change out!

What could be better:
The frames are quite flexible. This can be a good and a bad thing. Good for stretching to fit over headwear like a winter hat or under a bike helmet; but bad because they can slide around a bit during high impact activities like running. 

Click here to check them out on the Optic Nerve website

Patagonia Thermal Onsie
Because who doesn't love a onsie? This base layer actually started out as a bit of a comical joke, but has become Tracy's go-to for cold weather camping and a base layer for hut trips. 

Why she likes it:
The material is super light, yet warm, and fits easily under other clothing. The hood is really nice for winter camping when a hat might normally slide off at night. Finally, a small, yet seemingly important, feature is the thumb loop holes that ensure the sleeves stays at your wrist when putting on your top layer. 

What could be better:
It's certainly not odor resistant, so after a few days it can get a bit smelly. The rear zipper is great, but can also be a little challenging to unzip with snow pants on (or even when you've just had one too many camp fire beers and are going for a pee in the woods.)

Click here to check it out on the Patgonia website

Patagonia Boot Length Thermal Bottoms
Michael was looking for a light weight pair of long underwear bottoms to wear under his hardshells on cold days that could also under his softshells on frigid days in the backcountry. These turned out to be just the solution.

Why he likes them:
The soft, light weight fabric is warm yet breathable and dries quickly if he sweats. The boot lenght is money so that there is no bunching under the boot or competing with the ski sock.

What could be better:
They are not super snug around the calf area which occasionally causes them to slide up when getting on and off the chairlift.

Click here to check it out on the Patgonia website

Photo credit: Patagonia

Ourdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket
Layers are the name of the game when it comes to being comfortable on winter adventures. Tracy adores this Outdoor Reserach layer by itself in springtime or tucked under a shell in the heart of winter.

Why she likes it:
Light weight, yet surprisingly warm this coat does well year round. It wicks moisture and dries quickly when sweating during activity. It also fits well over a climbing helmet when needing to keep warm on ridge climbs! Finally, the inside skin pocket it clutch for quick a quick rip and send.

What could be better:
It zips up from the bottom as well, which could seem handy to some, yet she hasn't found useful. Ultimately there is very little bad to say about this coat, it's one of my fave layers!

Click here to check it out on

Video Credit: Michael O'Brien

Hestra Ergo Fit Active Gloves
After burning thru several pair of leather gloves, Michael was after the perfect spring touring glove for ski mountaineering. This glove is just that, dry, yet wind resistant but not overly hot.

Why he likes them:
Extremely nimble fingers enabled by pre-formed ergo molded hands. This allows for quick break in time and helps you grip poles and/or a beer post adventure. The wind stopping material on the upper fore-hand is perfect for windy, high-alpine conditions.

What could be better:
They are pretty pricey for a spring season, light weight glove; that was a bit of a stinger. The white leather also has the potential to get dirty pretty quickly.

Click here to check them out on the Hestra website

Photo credit: Hestra

Dynafit Vulcan Windstopper Pants
Spring skiing can start with chilly mornings but then transition to hot afternoons. Tracy was looking for a lighter ski touring pant that provided some warmth, yet was light enough to stay nimble and not overheat.

Why she likes them:
The fabric is very light, but is reinforced at the quads to provide a bit more warmth when it gets windy up top. The fit is snugger around the ankle than a resort pant, which helps prevent catching excess fabric with a ski crampon. The belt helps keep the pants up when bending down to use an ice axe to climb up steep sections.

What could be better:
The fabric isn't completely water repellent. If you are sitting down to change skis or rest, you still might end up with a wet butt or knees.

Click here to check them out on the Dynafit website

Photo credit: EVO

Kestle TX 167

Photo credit:

Icebreaker Merino Wool Underwear
Having the right undergarments for endurance activities is critical to comfort and success. Tracy and Michael both swear by merino wool base layers including underwear.
What they like about them:
You can wear merino wool for days without it getting stinky, this comes in handy for multi-day backcountry hut trips. The fabric is very soft and the seams do not cause chafing. These skibbies are both breathable and odor resistant.
What could be better:
When washing, it's important to hang dry the underwear to ensure the merino wool retains its properties. They also lose a bit of shape after wearing them for a couple of days in a row.

Click here to check out women's underwear

Click here to check out men's underwear

Photo credit: Icebreaker

Carnavon Neckwarmer
When I’m on the move backcountry skiing or skinning I stay much warmer, however it doesn’t mean there aren’t cold moments transitioning or going downhill. A light buff is nice to keep the wind off your face or eliminate a draft though the neck of your coat.
What she likes about it:
The soft, lightweight material of this buff makes it super comfortable and versatile. I switch between having it on my neck or around my ears depending on where I need to keep heat in. Superficially, I also love the pattern! Who doesn’t like to look good on the hill? This is also very functional for cold weather running or biking.
What could be better:
While this is one of my favorite accessories, I do think $20 is a high price point. However this is an opinion that applies to buffs of all brands and styles. To get a discount on this product use my discount code on the Qloom website: TbirdBMA    

Click here to check them out on the Qloom website

Photo credit: Qloom

La Sportiva Sparkel Touring Boot
Tracy changed into a the La Sportiva Sparkle touring boot this season to reduce weight and allow for more natural, agile movement on long ski tours.

Why she likes them:
They are very comfortable except for the occasional hot spot the boots can produce on the inside ankle bone. The boots are indeed lighter, and great for long distances. I can comfortably stand upright in them which makes them feel more like hiking boots than ski boots. The rubber soles are also fantastic for slick snow conditions or rocks.

What could be better:
The boots are designed to be lighter, even the buckles, however the design can be a bit tricky and it can certainly take some time to dial in to optimal tightness.

Click here to check them out on

Photo credit:

Mount Dixon Headband
When skinning or running outdoors, a full cap can often cause me to retain too much heat, which is why I find a headband works to keep my ears warm, yet not get too hot and bothered.

What she likes about it:
The headband is made of a breathable stretchy fabric that fits really well. It covers my ears all the way and I’m never worried about sliding off my head if my hair is pulled up tightly. I also love that this is thin enough to fit under my ski helmet for days I need extra lining on the slopes or switch from uphill to downhill and need noggin protection.

What could be better:
Honestly there’s not much to complain about with this accessory! Just beware that if you have the headband on for a long period of time, you’ll have a nice line across your forehead from where the elastic sat...but let’s be honest, that’s easy to get over.

Click here to check them out on the Qloom website

Photo credit: Qloom