Editor's Note: Presented by evo.
Photo by Clayton Boyd.
For many professional riders, the snowmobile is an indispensable tool. While it’s a niche pursuit, sleds have become far easier to handle and more accessible to many. Much of the gear you bring out sledding is the same as a normal backcountry day, only have you have a bit more room and horsepower to haul the load.
Austin Smith getting his pillow on. Photo by Bob Plumb.
Austin Smith doesn’t believe in buying a new truck or deodorant, but when it comes to sleds it’s another story. For accessing the backcountry with a two-stroke powder pony this is some of the gear he recommends.
1. Drink Water 24 oz. Insulated Bottle
The Bend, Oregon-based bottle experts at Hydroflask make these insulated bottles for Drink Water. Their efficient insulated design keeps liquids from freezing on bitter cold days and preserves warm drinks all day, too. “The only thing worse than not having water is having frozen water, so I make sure to bring an insulated water bottle in the backcountry,” says Smith.
2. MoPros Ajoosta GRS Snowmobile Rack
“The days of carrying your snowboard on your back or a sketchy tie down on the snowmobile tunnel are over,” claims Smith. He relies on the small, Bellingham, Washington-based company MoPros to ferry his board into the backcountry. “These racks are the most affordable, will last a lifetime, and make backcountry trips so much simpler and more enjoyable.”
3. The North Face Patrol Gloves
Extra gloves, like The North Face Patrol, are essential for long backcountry days, whether it’s building a jump, weathering the storm or just trying to stay afloat. “You were sledding and snowboarding all day, probably got stuck a few times, sweated a few times and filled your gloves up with snow on accident,” speculates Smith. “Now it’s time to build a jump, ride, or just hold onto the handlebars and head home and an extra set of dry, warm gloves will save the day.”
4. Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Balaclava
Most facemasks are the same, but this one from Smartwool boasts better thermal properties and stench-dodging with its merino wool fabric. “It’s always windy at my home mountain of Mt. Bachelor so I wear a facemask every day,” states Smith. “But when I’m sledding, I often wear two because riding down the trail at 60mph at 6 a.m. or late at night is an easy way to get frostbite.”
5. Smith Squad Austin Smith Pro Model Goggles
Just like gloves, a secondary pair of goggles (like Austin’s Pro Model Smith Squad) is crucial, too. “I always have a designated pair of goggles for my snowmobile helmet and a pair for snowboarding,” he says. “This way when I crash snowboarding and fill my goggles with snow I will still have a good pair for the drive home at night.”
6. BCA BC Link Radio
“Equally as important as a shovel, probe and transceiver in the backcountry is a good radio with full batteries,” asserts Smith. While basic 2-way Motorolas are helpful, there are more reliable ways to keep in touch. BCA’s BC Link Radio is durable, has a 140 hour run time, 2.5 mile line of sight range, and separate microphone/speaker. “Making sure everyone in the group has one and is on the same channel is essential,” he adds. “I use this radio with the little walkie talkie part connected to my backpack strap so I don’t have to take it out each time I need to use it.”
7. Picky Bars
“I’m usually the last one out of bed and forget to pack a lunch,” admits Smith. “Normally I steal some of Curtis’ (Ciszek) food, but on a good day I have a few Picky Bars in my backpack. They are the only bar I’ve found that doesn’t freeze in the backcountry, which is crucial. It’s kind of a sick joke when you are starving and find a bar in the bottom of your bag, but it’s frozen solid and you have to thaw it with your breath.”
8. The North Face Thermoball Hoodie
Temperatures can fluctuate a lot during a day in the backcountry. Having a backup layer is never a bad idea especially when it weighs less than your sandwich. “Jam one of these little puffy jackets in the bottom of your pack, they are so small and light you will never know it is there until you need it,” recommends Smith. Built for insulating in all weather, The North Face’s Thermoball Hoodie features synthetic insulation with feather down worthy warm in a highly packable design.
9. Nitro Quiver Pow Snowboard
What are all these accessories without the board? Sled boardin’ means powder and powder boardin’ is best with a powder board. “Sled snowboarding is the most efficient way to take multiple, long powder runs in a day,” says Smith. “Once you get out there you are going to need the right tool for the job, and that tool is the Quiver Pow board.” Designed by Smith and fellow teammate and water peddler Bryan Fox, the Quiver Pow is short and stout with a surfy shape that’s stable yet nimble with ample float.