January 30, 2024 9:43 pm

Duane L. Coker

Hey, snow-loving romantics! With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to think about that special someone who can’t get enough of the powder and slopes. Here are 5 great Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for backcountry skiers and splitboarders whose adventurous souls find their bliss amidst the snow-clad mountains and serene landscapes.

Now, finding the perfect gift for these mountain warriors can be as tricky as navigating a steep couloir in a snowstorm. But fear not! I’ve compiled a list of five fantastic Valentine’s Day gifts that are sure to make your ski-bum sweetheart’s heart race faster than a downhill run. Whether they’re an experienced backcountry explorer or just starting to venture off-piste, these gifts will show them how much you care – and might even earn you a spot in their next mountain adventure!

1. Backcountry Access BCA Link 2.0 Radio 

What’s more romantic (at least to a backcountry enthusiast,) than the gift of safety!!!

Photo from manufacturer

The Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0 Radio is a popular choice among backcountry enthusiasts for its reliable communication capabilities and robust design. This two-way radio system has been specifically crafted for backcountry riders, enabling effective communication over long distances, which is crucial in out-of-bounds explorations and changing weather conditions.

One of the standout features of the BC Link 2.0 is its smart mic system, designed for ease of use. It can be conveniently attached to your backpack strap or jacket, allowing for quick and effortless push-to-talk communication. This is particularly useful in the backcountry where swift communication is essential. The smart mic, weighing only 11 ounces, is a lightweight addition to your gear, ensuring you aren’t weighed down during your adventure.

I have a number of backcountry skiing/splitboarding rules and at or near the top of the list is: Don’t go into the backcountry without a radio mic fixed to your backpack within easy reach.  If you find yourself in trouble, even a quick 2-3 second transmission can alert the rest of your group that you need help and they need to spring into action.

In terms of durability and weather resistance, the BC Link 2.0 excels. It’s certified IP55 waterproof, meaning it can withstand harsh weather conditions, a common occurrence in backcountry environments. This durability ensures that the radio remains functional and reliable, even in less-than-ideal conditions.

Battery life is another crucial aspect of any two-way radio, and the BC Link 2.0 boasts an impressive battery performance. With a 2300mAH battery, it offers up to 8 hours of normal use and can last up to 40 hours on standby. This long battery life is especially beneficial for extended trips in remote areas.

Range is a critical factor for two-way radios used in backcountry skiing and snowboarding. The BC Link 2.0 offers a usable range of approximately 6 miles and a maximum range of about 40 miles (line of sight), ensuring good communication over long distances and varied terrains.

Overall, the Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0 Radio is a well-regarded tool in the backcountry skiing and snowboarding community for its ease of use, durability, battery life, and range, making it an excellent choice for those seeking reliable communication in remote areas

2. Ortovox Diract Voice Avalanche Beacon

The Ortovox Diract Voice Avalanche Transceiver has garnered attention for its innovative features and user-friendly design, making it a notable option in the realm of avalanche safety technology.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

A key feature of the Diract Voice is its voice navigation system. This system provides clear, audible instructions during the search phase, guiding users with directions like “walk straight,” “walk left,” “turn around,” and “search in a fine pattern.” This feature, coupled with visual cues on the beacon’s display, aids in making the search process more intuitive and less stressful, especially in high-pressure situations typical of avalanche rescues.

Why does your Valentine’s Day backcountry enthusiast need a Talking Transceiver?  Great question!!! My first thought was that this is totally a gimmick.  Then, after winning one of these from a raffle donation to the Crested Butte Avalanche Center, I realized it was no gimmick at all.  The ability to keep your head (and eyes) up while being guided toward the downed skier’s beacon, or in my case our hidden test beacon, made a big difference for me in how quickly I was able to narrow the search.  Being able to ski or board toward the victim with your eyes up helps avoid falls, crossing paths or getting too close to other searchers, or just riding or walking out of the path while trying to make sense of, often tiny and hard-to-see, symbols on the small screen.

The device is equipped with a built-in rechargeable battery, a departure from the traditional use of disposable batteries in such devices. This design choice not only adds convenience but also aligns with more sustainable practices. The battery has been tested to perform well in cold temperatures, down to -20 degrees Celsius, ensuring reliability in harsh winter environments.

In terms of ease of use, the Ortovox Diract Voice stands out for its simplicity. The front of the device features minimal buttons, which aids in straightforward operation. The beacon automatically conducts a self-test upon turning on, which includes a battery check, and Ortovox recommends charging the device whenever the battery falls below 40%.

Once again, the gift of safety is super romantic in my opinion, but this is a bit pricey.  If your backcountry girl or beau needs a transceiver, then I think the slightly higher price is well worth it.

3. Kinco Ski and Snowboarding and Everything Else Gloves

You don’t want your Valentine’s Day lover to come home with cold hands, right?!?  Well with a time-tested pair of Kinco Gloves, that’s not a worry.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

I never head into the backcountry with only one pair of gloves.  I usually carry three – a light pair for the skin up, a heavier pair for the ride down, and a backup pair just in case one of my primary pair is either wet or, and, yes, it’s happened, gets left at my transition point.  This Rule of Three when it comes to gloves is the reason a pair of these Kincos may well be the best, can’t fail gift on this list.  Not to mention they’re under $30 on Amazon!!!

When I say “Everything Else” gloves, you’ll also have the joy of seeing the person you give these to use them almost daily during the winter.

Whether it’s unloading the camper, shoveling snow, a quick trip to the grocery store, or taking the pup out for a walk, these gloves keep you warm and dry while looking cool in the process.  Kinco patented the Otto Strip, the cool fabric pattern on most of their gloves, in 1987, and the unique looks makes them a fashion hit while gaining regular nods of approval from those in the know!!!

They’re a great deal and a can’t miss hit!  Buy yourself a pair while you’re shopping for your love!!!  You won’t be sorry and the two of you can be matchy-matchy when you head out for a romantic winter walk!  😉

4. Smartwool Zero Cushion OTC Ski Socks

Socks aren’t necessarily sexy (though I love it when my wife sports a good pair of over-the-knee socks on a cold winter day), but they are crucial to a long day in the backcountry.  Next to avalanche concern, I think blisters are one of the things my backcountry buddies worry the most about.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Smartwool just makes the best socks.  Period.  They are tough, long lasting, resist (virtually eliminate) odor, and keep your feet warm even when damp.

I love these ULTRA THIN, zero cushion socks because I can wear two pair allowing the socks to slip over each other rather than having my boots grind the socks against my foot or ankle for 8-10 hours.

Honestly, I haven’t ever had any real blister issues (I’m knocking on wood as I type this), even after switching to hard boots in my Splitboard Setup, regardless of what single sock, or combination of socks, I wear.  However, I have buddies that just couldn’t avoid them even after changing boots, going to a boot fitter, applying moleskin or just praying fervently before every outing.

Those same buddies have been blister free after going to the two-sock setup. Because their backcountry boots are often pretty snug to start with, these Zero Cushion Smartwools are thin enough that they can use the same boot with two pairs of socks.  I know the general thought has been a thicker pair over a thinner pair, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that plan, but, in a ski boot that is already tight, and that you want to avoid adding any additional cushioning and, thereby, less control, I’ve found that two thin socks does the trick.

These guys are also great for hiking.  Just don’t forget:  If this is the gift you’re giving, be sure to give at least two pair!

5. Leatherman Wave Multitool

When it comes to skinning uphill for 2, 3, 4 or more hours, I am a total weight weenie!  Normally, if there’s a way to shave off the weight equivalent of a fig newton, I jump at it, even if it’s relatively expensive.  However, the Leatherman Wave+ Multi-tool justifies the extra ounces.

This is not just my opinion.  It’s been proved over and over again.  Whether tightening screws on bindings, slicing snacks to share during transition, repairing sunglasses,  or sawing off a branch to use to mend a broken ski pole, I can’t tell you how many times this thing has saved the day.

Photo from Leatherman.com

I’ve tried lighter weight tools.  I’ve tried less comprehensive tools.  I’ve even tried assembling my own ultralight tool kit.  And, every time, I wished I had something that the Wave is already packing.

Anyone who has used a Leatherman knows that they are just rock solid.  I’ve used the Wave as a hammer on multiple occasions.  I bought my first Wave back in 1998 or 1999 and I’m still carrying it one of my backcountry packs today.

Like the Kinco Gloves, this is a gift that keeps on giving and will likely end up on the belt, in the cup holder, or within arms reach of whoever you give it to whether their heading out for a backcountry adventure or just commuting to work.

It’s a can’t miss gift!!!

The Best Valentine’s Day Gift Is . . .

Remember, while gear and gadgets are great, the best gift you can give is sharing in their passion – be it through a shared ski trip, a thoughtful gesture, or simply being there to hear all about their snowy escapades. So, strap on your boots, zip up your jacket, and get ready to spread some love on the slopes this Valentine’s Day!

And hey, if you end up with an extra pair of ski socks or a surprise mountain getaway, remember it’s all about love, laughter, and the joy of sharing those unforgettable moments in the backcountry. Happy Valentine’s Day, you snow-loving Cupids! May your day be as magical as a fresh powder day!

COVER PHOTO: Castle Creek Trailhead at the beginning an epic 5-day traverse from Aspen to Crested Butte

About the Author

Avid backcountry splitboarder, camper, overlander, traveler, foodie, trained sommelier, and lover of tech and gadgets!

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