Sweaty vs. Wet: Should You Get Waterproof Hiking Shoes?

The decision between waterproof vs. non-waterproof hiking boots, shoes, or trail runners is among the most contentious arguments in the outdoors. Advocates on both sides of the issue are quick to point out the superiority of their preferred footwear while spotlighting the shortcomings of the other. But the truth is that both waterproof and non-waterproof footwear have their pros and cons, and understanding them can help you make an educated decision about which type of footwear is right for you.

Credit: Tim Peck

Why Go Waterproof

Waterproof footwear is worth its weight in gold when conditions call for it. But many hikers swear by waterproof footwear even when the skies are clear. After all, why would you want to rock hop across a stream or mud puddle when you could simply plow right through it?

The main reason for choosing to wear waterproof footwear all the time is that it keeps your feet dry (for the most part), which is particularly important in regions like the Northeast, where the weather seems to change by the minute. Waterproof boots and shoes allow you to deal with a variety of conditions common to the Northeast—from crossing shallow streams to navigating puddles to trudging through snow—without having to worry about your feet getting wet.

Credit: Tim Peck

Why Opt for Non-Waterproof

Those who favor footwear of the non-waterproof variety agree that shoes and boots featuring a waterproof membrane have their place when it’s raining heavily, but otherwise believe that it’s unnecessary.

The primary reason for choosing non-waterproof footwear is that waterproof membranes trap sweat inside the boot, leading to your feet getting wet from the inside out, especially in warm temperatures. Conversely, non-waterproof shoes (particularly those with mesh uppers) help move sweat from your feet and socks to the shoe where it evaporates. Similarly, waterproof membranes are also a barrier to footwear (and your sock and feet) drying out once they’re wet on the inside. So, if you’re recreating in dry, warm conditions, non-waterproof footwear is likely the better choice.

Non-waterproof footwear fans are also quick to point out another obvious deficiency of waterproof shoes: That no shoe is truly waterproof, anyway. Water can sneak in the top of a shoe when crossing too-deep puddles and streams, rainwater can simply fall in through the top, and water can run down your legs into the shoes.

The Case for a Quiver

Every outdoor person dreams of ultra-versatile gear that excels at everything, but the fact is that gear that does everything well, rarely does anything exceptionally. If you’re the type of hiker who’s going out in all seasons and all types of weather, you’ll want a few pieces of footwear.

For example, waterproof footwear is a wise choice for soggy spring hikes in cooler temperatures, while non-waterproof footwear is an ideal option for the dog days of summer which are typically dry.

Warning: A quiver can start off as simply owning a pair of waterproof shoes and a pair of non-waterproof shoes, and evolve into a much more niche undertaking—such as owning waterproof boots for early spring, hiking shoes for rugged terrain, trail runners for moving fast, waterproof trail runners for logging lightning-fast miles in cool and damp weather, and winter-specific waterproof boots for hiking in cold, snowy conditions.

Credit: Tim Peck

The debate over whether to go waterproof or not is sure to rage on, but in the end, we have better things to argue over—like what do with all the hikers visiting the mountains these days. If you can only have one pair of shoes, think about the conditions you hike in most often and how sweaty your feet get before making a decision and if you have the luxury of owning multiple pairs of footwear, consider having a pair of each represented in your quiver.

Got a hot take about waterproof footwear? We want to hear it. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.


Gear Nerd: Whats growing in your hydration bladder?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m not exactly the best at putting all my warm weather gear away for the winter. And despite years of the same outcome, I’m always horrified when I find unexpected organisms living amongst my stuff—especially bacterial colonies in a water bottle, hydration bladder, or forgotten food. So what exactly is growing in your favorite hydration devices? Why is it there? And what can you do to prevent it in the future?

Bacterial Hitchhikers

In 2018, some brave scientists in Brazil asked gym goers at random to pass over their water bottles for testing. A horrifying 83 percent of those bottles had bacterial contamination. Even grosser? Staphylococcus aureus was found in 27 percent of the bottles and E. coli in 17 percent. For those unfamiliar with these, staph is a well known bacteria that can cause skin infections, pneumonia, and more . And E. coli? Short for “Escherichia coli,” this friendly little germ causes vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever.

So why has bacteria decided that your hydration pack or bottle is the perfect place to hang up their “Home is where the germ is” sign? Bacteria requires three very specific things to grow: warmth, water, and organic matter. Bacteria finds temperatures above 60°F quite perfect (and so do most of us come this time of year) and your lukewarm water bottle is quite lovely. As for organic matter, things like salt and sugar are ideal. But pieces of you—backwash, mucus, etc.—are even better.

And now you’re nervously staring at your water bottle wondering what in there is trying to kill you, right? And exactly how long has this devious plan been going on? A “biofilm” can start growing in your bottle in as little time as 48 hours, especially if there is sugar involved. And this stuff is devious. It’s surprisingly sticky, adores plastic, and needs to be manually removed. The more time and more perfect the conditions, the more elaborate your colonies get. Fun fact: These colonies don’t love metal and glass anywhere near as much!

How to Get Rid of Them

Before you start planning a bacterial exorcism for your favorite hydration device, let’s dig into what you need to do to avoid swigging staph and E. coli. First off, biofilm has to be removed manually which requires physically scrubbing the surface with a brush, hot water, and soap to remove the contamination. Next, you’ll need to disinfect using boiling water. Fill it up and let it sit. And finally… don’t make the same mistake again. Always wash your devices out before storing in a clean, cool, and dry environment. And next season? Give everything a solid clean every five days: scrub, decontaminate, disinfect. Your immune system says thank you.


Don’t Be a Fool: 10 Things to Avoid While Spring Backpacking

After a long winter, spring is time to bust out the backpack, hit the trail, and fill up on mountain time. It’s also a particularly tricky time of year for traveling in the mountains—not winter anymore but not summer yet, it’s easy to get fooled by everything from weather to trail conditions to ourselves. Keep reading to ensure a safe and fun first backpacking trip into the mountains this year.

Credit: Tim Peck

Duped into a Big Trip

You were pounding out Northeast classics like the Pemi Loop and Carter Range Traverse in the fall, but tackling a big backpacking trip is no barrel of laughs if you haven’t hiked or donned a heavy pack all winter. Start small, build fitness, and work out the kinks before tackling bigger objectives. Not to mention, if trail conditions are still wintery, you’re going to move slower than you expect.

Whacky Winter Trail Conditions

The joke’s on you if the nice weather in your backyard tricks you into not packing your winter gear. Ice and snow linger at higher elevations much longer than you think—it might not just be Mother Nature pulling your leg if you leave your traction and flotation devices at home.

Credit: Tim Peck

Temperature Tomfoolery

Spring weather is a prankster. It’s often warm and sunny just long enough to have you consider leaving behind layers only to spring unexpected cold, rain, or even snow on you. Have the last laugh by packing a hardshell, rain pants, more layers than you think you’ll need, and accessories like a winter hat and gloves.

Belly Laughs

Whether it’s the extra effort needed to negotiate tricky shoulder-season trails or extra calories to keep you warm, spring backpacking works up an appetite. Fuel your trip with plenty of nutritious and delicious food like this backpacker special to avoid a side-splitting adventure.

Credit: Tim Peck

Tent Trickery

A “three-season” tent implies that it is suitable for use in spring, summer, and fall, but that is not always the case. While a lightweight three-season tent is fine for camping at protected sites and platforms, it’s a joke for the extreme weather found above treeline on early season attempts of the Presidential Traverse—avoid chicanery and don’t test it in the high winds that dominate Northeast ridge lines in the spring. Also, remember to only camp above treeline when there’s two or more feet of snow on the ground.

Sleeping Bag Surprise

Spring and rain go hand in hand, which makes choosing a sleeping bag that can fend off water and insulate when wet extra important. Using a sleeping bag filled with synthetic insulation or hydrophobic down is a favorite trick of seasoned backpackers.

Pad Put On

Shoulder-season backpacking commonly means sleeping on warmth-sapping surfaces and a sleeping pad with the “right” R-value can prevent buffoonery at bedtime. An insulated pad is a popular choice, as is pairing a closed-cell foam pad with an air pad for a silly-comfortable (and warm) combination.

Credit: Tim Peck

Waterproof Wind Up

Wet weather is no laughing matter for spring backpackers, especially when it soaks essential gear. Work a waterproof pack cover, pack liner, or individual dry sacks into your bag of tricks for storing stuff like your sleeping bag, extra layers, and food.

Gear Gag

Gear has a funny sense of humor, especially after a long winter. Before hitting the trail, spend an evening checking that your gear is in order—make sure all your tent’s pieces are in the bag, your sleeping pad holds air, the batteries are charged in your headlamp, and your stove starts. The more kinks you can work out at home, the less kooky things will be in the backcountry.

Have the Last Laugh

Creating a list of everything you need before packing your bag is a good strategy if it’s been a while since you last backpacked—forgetting those little-but-essential items like a lighter for your stove is a sure-fire way to look foolish.

Have any other tips to keep spring weather from making you a laughingstock on your first backpacking trip of the year? If so, we want to hear them! Leave them in the comments below.

Credit: Tim Peck

The Gear You Need for a Shoulder Season Ascent of Mount Liberty

Largely below treeline but with breathtaking summit views—and a convenient location just off I-93—an ascent of Mount Liberty in Franconia Notch is one of the more popular shoulder season hikes in the Whites. Not quite winter and not yet summer, a shoulder season climb presents a handful of challenges to hikers: conditions can change quickly and yesterday’s monorail might be today’s ankle-deep mud. The best way to deal with the variable terrain and ever-changing conditions found on Mount Liberty and ensure yourself a successful summit is with the right gear.

Credit: Tim Peck

Kahtoola MICROSpikes

From the parking lot blacktop to its 4,459-foot summit, snow and ice take a long time to disappear on Mount Liberty. Nail your ascent of this Franconia Notch classic with a pair of Kahtoola MICORspikes—they can mean all the difference between slipping and sliding every step of the way and confidently speeding to the summit ridge with excellent traction on every footfall.

Oboz Sawtooth II Mid B-Dry Waterproof Hiking Boots

An ascent of Mount Liberty starts on Franconia Notch Bike Path, soon connecting with the Liberty Spring Trail, which hikers take to the summit ridge. On the Liberty Spring Trail’s initial low-angle portions, there is often snow and mud as well as several easy stream crossings. Ensure your feet stay dry in these messy shoulder season trail conditions with a good pair of mid-cut, waterproof hiking boots. The Oboz Sawtooth II Mid B-Dry Waterproof Hiking Boots (Men’s/Women’s) feature a B-Dry waterproof membrane for dealing with wet conditions while vents will keep your feet from overheating if you luck into a five-star day.

Credit: Tim Peck

Outdoor Research Performance Trucker Trail-Run Hat & Whiskey Peak Beanie

The gradual nature of the Liberty Springs trail means motivated hikers can move fast for the first few miles, and the OR Performance Trucker Trail-Run Hat is great for keeping the sun and sweat out of your eyes while doing so. Stash a traditional winter hat, like the OR Whiskey Peak Beanie, in your pack to have for warmth during rest breaks as well as for later, above treeline.

EMS Equinox Stretch Gloves & Ascent Summit Mittens

Large temperature fluctuations are a staple of shoulder season, especially when you change elevations. While being barehanded at the base of the mountain may be comfortable on some spring days, you might find yourself wishing for a light pair of gloves—like the EMS Equinox Stretch (Men’s/Women’s)—around the 2.5-mile mark as you pass Liberty Springs Tentsite. The only thing worse than not packing a pair of lightweight gloves like these is forgetting to also carry a warm pair of mittens—such as the EMS Ascent Summit (Men’s/Women’s)—in your pack for when you reach Liberty’s exposed summit.

Credit: Tim Peck

Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles

Above the Liberty Springs Tentsite, the trail begins to climb consistently. Depending on the snow conditions, this section of trail features a handful of balance-testing challenges for both ascending and descending hikers. A pair of trekking poles like the Black Diamond Trail is handy to have along to provide additional stability over the slippery rocks, ice, and deep snow you’re likely to encounter.

Two Puffy Jackets

Franconia Notch is often a wind tunnel and can feel significantly colder than the thermometer says it is. This is especially true on the summit ridge, where the Liberty Springs Trail ends and hikers follow the Franconia Ridge Trail south for 0.3 miles to Liberty’s summit. An active insulator like the EMS Vortex Jacket (Men’s/Women’s) is the perfect layer to wear while ascending the summit ridge and the EMS Feather Pack Hooded Jacket (Men’s/Women’s) is a lightweight, packable jacket to throw on for staying warm enough to soak up the 360° summit views of Loon Mountain, Cannon, Lafayette, and the Bonds once you reach the summit proper.

A Buff pairs well with a Thunderhead jacket.

Buffs

Just below Liberty’s summit, there’s a short treeless section that hikers must traverse to the top. Often windy, a Buff makes a great face covering here, protecting your face from Franconia Notch’s chilling winds. (Also, in late spring, Buffs treated with Insect Shield are a nice way to fend of the black flies frequently found around the Pemigewasset River that runs near the beginning of the trail while the UV+ versions provide extra sun protection on those sunny spring days and from reflected sunlight from the snow.)

HydroFlask 20 oz. Insulated Food Jar

Speaking of summits, don’t forget your celebratory summit snack. Warm soup or cold ice cream in a HydroFlask 20 oz. insulated food jar is a great calorie boost. Packing some extra calories and a treat is a good call if you decide to go for a doubleheader—Mount Flume, another 4,000-footer, is just a little over a mile farther south on the Franconia Ridge Trail. Comparatively less traveled and not always broken in, make sure to leave enough time for the out-and-back if you decide to bag it.

EMS Thunderhead Jacket

It sometimes can seem like Franconia Notch has its own weather and the sun that was shining when you left the trailhead may become ominous clouds by the time you reach the summit a few hours later. The EMS Thunderhead Jacket (Men’s/Women’s) can protect you in the event of unexpected precipitation higher up the mountain.

Mount Liberty is one of the best shoulder-season hikes in New Hampshire and a popular place for hikers to find their legs after a long winter. Having the “right” gear along with the 10 essentials can set a positive tone to carry you through the season while showing up unprepared can suck stoke faster than a socked-in summit. Is there another piece of gear that’s a must-have for Liberty? Tell us in the comments.

Credit: Tim Peck

Why You Should Always Pack a Car Kit

Everyone loves to talk about gear—we can fill a long ski tour simply discussing what the right ski width for an East Coast ski is or preaching the benefits of wearing bright clothing. Over the years, however, the gear that has proven the most valuable has also been the least flashy: our “car kit.”

Credit: Doug Martland

What is a Car Kit?

“Car kit” is the name we’ve given to a handful of essential gear that we keep in our cars when traveling to the mountains. Our car kit includes a variety of items ranging from backup gear to first-aid equipment to rescue kits and have proven to help save everything from days to lives in the mountains and roads. Much like backcountry ski packs and climbing racks, the car kit has evolved over time, with items added and subtracted as experience and knowledge are gained.

Originally, our car kits were self-contained in a few small plastic containers, but they have spread through our vehicles over time. For example, the spare headlamp and sunglasses that are key components of the car kit have proven better-suited to living in the glove compartment.

Credit: Doug Martland

So, what’s inside?

The foundation of any quality car kit is built on having backups to essential gear, just in case that absent-minded person in your party shows up without it. A key to the car kit is that it’s all spare gear you’re not dependent on, that way it’s there when you need it. A few items that form the foundation of our car kit are:

  • Headlamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Socks
  • Mittens
  • Winter hat
  • Multiclava
  • Puffy (An old one kept compressed doesn’t take up much space. Yes, keeping a puffy compressed is bad for it, but we’re sure the person who forgot theirs won’t complain.)
  • Multitool (Preferably one with pliers.)
  • Hex wrench
  • Food (A few energy bars and a couple of gels are great for spring, summer, and fall. For winter, add something less likely to freeze, like trail mix.)

It’s also not a bad idea to adjust your car kit seasonally or add a couple of sport-specific items. For example, carrying a backup set of MICROspikes if you’re a winter hiker, an extra set of goggles if you’re a skier, or a helmet if you’re a biker. Also, add items like hand warmers in the colder months and sunscreen in the summer.

Supplemental First-Aid Kit

Not everybody carries a large, comprehensive first-aid kit into the woods and the car is the perfect place to stash everything you need to complement the contents of the kit in your pack. A car kit is especially useful when recreating close to your car (think sport climbing on the Parking Lot Wall at Rumney or running laps in some Granite Backcountry Alliance glades), and when you’re deeper in the backcountry—where it can take a search and rescue group significantly longer than you think to organize and arrive at a scene of an accident or medical emergency—the car kit may prove a vital supplement. If manpower allows, someone can run back to the car and retrieve the kit to further the process of self-rescue.

Having a supplemental first aid kit in the car is also great for situations where your primary kit accidentally gets left at home or you don’t have your primary kit with you—think witnessing a car accident while commuting to work.

Some key items for the supplemental first-aid kit include:

  • Bleeding control (A tourniquet, pressure bandages, gauze pads, roller gauze, tape, extra medical gloves, and a boo-boo kit.)
  • Airway management (A light CPR mask and, if you have the training and knowledge, oral and nasal airways.)
  • Exposure management (An extra puffy, a sleeping bag, and/or a chemical warming blanket like a Ready Heat II—think a blanket made of chemical hand warmers—are great ways to supplement your efforts to keep an injured party warm.)
  • Some basic medications like Advil and antihistamines
  • A battery pack for your phone (Getting a call out from the backcountry can be taxing on your phone’s battery, but a portable battery like this one from Goal Zero can help ensure you don’t run out of juice.)

Also keep in mind that you might be evacuating the injured party, especially if help is many hours away. If you’re not already carrying a ski sled (winter), guide tarp, or foldable rescue litter as part of your primary kit, stash one in the car.

Credit: Doug Martland

Car Gear

Because the trailheads and parking lots we frequent are anywhere from an hour to a few hours from our homes, a tow truck, or cell service, the last bit of our car kit is directly related to our cars. A fair amount of this kit is winter-specific, as the odds of getting stuck or having a car not start are higher at this time of year. Our car gear includes:

  • Jumper cables to greatly increase the odds of getting a jumpstart
  • Kitty litter or a bag of sand (Vital for gaining traction in icy parking lots)
  • Compact shovel (An old avy shovel is ideal for digging a car out of a snowbank or after a storm)
  • Candle lantern (This can help save the batteries of your headlamp if you need to overnight in your car.)
  • Sleeping bag (That sleeping bag mentioned above serves double duty here, but hopefully you’ll never have to spend a night in your car)

Final Thought

Keep in mind that your car kit should evolve. History has a way of repeating itself, so take the lessons learned on those bad and disappointing days and prepare for them in the future.


The Gear You Need to Ice Climb at Hillyer Ravine

The deep, dark recesses of Kaaterskill Clove, in the eastern Catskills, are home to some of the area’s best ice climbing. Noteworthy areas include the popular roadside destination of Moore’s Bridge, the looming pillars of Kaaterskill Falls and the long, tiered waterfalls known collectively as The Ravines. The Ravines—including Hillyer, Viola, Wildcat, and Buttermilk—offer some of the Cats’ best long, moderate routes: All weigh in at between four and six pitches in length with a difficulty in the WI3 to WI4 range. The relatively long, strenuous approaches make for a full day affair and lend a remote, backcountry vibe to each. Moreover, their northerly aspect makes for reliable ice throughout the season.

The most accessible of the bunch is Hillyer. Hillyer Ravine climbs about 200 feet in four moderate pitches with each going at around WI3. Substantial ledges separate one pitch from the next and, though you won’t likely see the same number of people here as you would elsewhere in the Cats—the rigor of the approach and the dearth of parking thin the crowds out a bit—there is plenty of room for multiple parties to set up shop. The wide second and third pitches in particular offer a ton of climbable ice and an entire day could easily be spent doing laps on these two pitches alone.

All in all, a day in Hillyer Ravine is a day well spent. And, like any day out, proper preparation and equipment is key—here’s what you need to bring to climb Hillyer.

Credit: John Lepak

Beal Booster 9.7mm Dry Rope

No single tier of Hillyer Ravine stretches higher than 50 feet so a single 60 meter rope will be more than enough—but be sure it’s a dry one. Dry-treated ropes have a coating that prevents water absorption which, on ice, is critical. A frozen climbing rope can ruin your day real quick. The Beal Booster 9.7 mm Dry Rope is a good bet to keep things running smoothly and safely.

Black Diamond Momentum Harness

Whether you’re climbing ice, rock, or indoors, a harness is compulsory. For ice, get one with adjustable leg loops—to account for thick winter layers like the Black Diamond Momentum (men’s/women’s). A couple of Petzl Caritool Evo Holders are a good add for racking screws on the way up and tools on the way down.

Petzl Nomic Ice Tools

There are many types of ice axes, each with their own specific utility. For vertical ice like what you’ll find on Hillyer, a pair of technical ice tools—so defined by their bent shaft, curved pick, and offset grip—are the way to go. The Petzl Nomic is a balanced, workhorse of a tool that’s great for the variety of terrain you’ll find in the Ravines.

Black Diamond Cyborg Pro

Like ice axes, crampons also come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, each designed for a specific function. Crampons with vertical front points like the Black Diamond Cyborg Pro, clipped into a pair of stiff-soled mountaineering boots like the La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX will get you up Hillyer—and most other routes in the Cats, for that matter—no problem.

Ice Rack

The overwhelming majority of routes in the Catskills are doable with a fistful of ice screws. A couple of Petzl Laserspeed Ice Screws in the 13 to 17cm range will have you covered in Hillyer Ravine. A good bit of cord is definitely handy for building belays between pitches too—20 feet of Sterling 7mm Accessory Cord, two Petzl Attaché Locking Carabiners, and a sturdy tree will make you a nice monopoint anchor.

Tip: The guidebook, An Ice Climber’s Guide to the Catskill Mountains, provides greater detail on what constitutes a typical Catskills ice rack—as well as everything else you need to know about the area.

Outdoor Research Vigor Midweight Sensor Gloves

Keeping your hands warm and dry is a constant challenge on any winter outing and this rings especially true for ice climbing when your arms are elevated and circulation is limited. A pair of gloves that split the difference between warmth and dexterity—like the Outdoor Research Vigor Midweight Sensor Gloves (men’s/women’s)—will help ward off the dreaded screaming barfies while allowing you to still place screws and clip ropes effectively. Bring two pairs so you can easily replace one if they get soaked.

EMS Feather Pack Hooded Jacket

Staying warm and dry is incredibly important in any winter activity, and layering properly is the best way to do it. The layers you’re going to want to use will largely depend on the conditions but, on a backcountry climb like Hillyer Ravine, it’s important to be prepared for everything with lightweight, packable options. In warmer weather, when things get wet, a light hardshell, like the Marmot Precip Eco Jacket (men’s/women’s) makes things a lot more comfortable. In colder weather, an insulated jacket like the EMS Feather Pack Hooded Jacket (men’s/women’s) keeps the heat in while gearing up, belaying, or having lunch.

Trail Spikes

Clocking in at one mile with 1000 feet of elevation gain from the parking area to the base of the climb, Hillyer Ravine’s approach is a stiff one. Conditions on the well-worn climbers’ trail vary but you can bet on the need for traction. Toss a pair of the new EMS Ice Talons in your pack and you’ll be ready for whatever.

Tip: Hillyer Ravine shares most of its approach with neighboring Viola Ravine and it’s not uncommon to tick both in the same trip by climbing one, rappelling the second, then reversing the order.


The Gear You Need for Uphilling at Magic Mountain

Uphill skiing continues to grow in popularity among seasoned and novice human-powered skiers alike thanks to reliable conditions and low objective hazards. Magic Mountain in Londonderry, Vermont has been at the forefront of the uphill movement with its “Hike One Ride One” program that famously rewards uphill skiers with a token for a free lift ride when they successfully reach the 2,850-foot summit of the mountain—a 1,700-foot climb.

Although the free-ride program is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions (read the full details here), Magic Mountain’s awesome terrain, great snow, and soulful ski culture make it a must-visit. Make your visit even more enchanting by showing up with the right gear for uphilling.

Credit: Tim Peck

EMS Merino Wool Baselayer

Uphillers access the goods via a designated skinning route on Magic’s left side, either an uphill trail in the woods or, if snow cover is low in the woods, up the resort’s leftmost trail (Lower Magic Carpet to Up Your Sleeve to White Out). Skinning up even low-angle terrain like that found on Magic Carpet generates a lot of heat and makes the heavy baselayers you use for riding the lifts too warm for this aerobic activity. EMS’s Merino Wool baselayers (men’s top and bottom; women’s top and bottom) wick sweat and keep you comfortable on the uphill and offer enough insulation for the descent. Wool naturally fights odors too, which is great if you’re heading into the Black Line Tavern at the end of the day.

EMS Field Glove

A leather work glove, like the Outdoor Research Askel or EMS Field Glove, offers enough dexterity for ripping skins and buckling boots behind the Red Chair Double’s top shack at Magic’s summit while providing enough insulation to keep you warm while dropping down Black Line.

Credit: Tim Peck

Osprey Kamber/Kresta

With your car and the base lodge always a short ski away and no need for a full backcountry ski kit, a small 20-24 liter pack is perfect for uphilling at Magic. The Osprey Kamber 22 and Kresta 20 have all the ski-specific features of bigger bags—like a way to divide wet and dry gear and glove-friendly zippers and buckles—in an uphill friendly size.

Smith Camber/Compass

From the tree skiing on Warlock, to tired legs from the skin to the summit, to that newbie tackling Sorcerer for the first time, danger is always lurking on the slopes—even at a place as bewitching as Magic. Tuck a helmet like the Smith Camber or Compass into your pack and don it for your descent.

Credit: Tim Peck

Giro Block

Goggles go in and out of the pack a lot while uphill skiing, making a good pair of goggles that you won’t lose sleep over if you happen to scratch them, like the Giro Block, an important piece of your kit. They’re even more essential for those super-fit skiers who seem almost as fast as Magic’s old Black Lift and are bagging multiple laps a day.

The North Face Thermoball Eco

Whether you’re waiting for your ski buddies in the parking lot, transitioning from up to down next to the Black Line Quad, or enjoying a post-session hangout next to the firepit, a puffy like The Northface Thermoball Eco (men’s/women’s) is essential to falling under Magic’s spell.

Credit: Tim Peck

Turtle Fur Chelonia 150 Double Layer Neck Warmer

Neck warmers, gaiters, and tubes have long been a staple of resort, backcountry, and uphill skiers alike and are even more relevant in the age of COVID-19. From sealing in warmth while dropping into the Gonnif Glade to serving as a face covering at places where people congregate, like the top of the Red Chair Double. Make sure to have something like the Turtle Fur Chelonia 150 Double Layer Neck Warmer or Stria Totally Tubular Headwear close at hand.

HydroFlash Wide Mouth 20 oz. Bottle

Sure, you can leave food and a drink in your car or grab something quick at the Base Cafeteria, but it’s good to carry something to eat and drink with you on the mountain—after all, you’re “earning your turns.” Energy bars and PB&Js are great for sustenance, but having something warm to drink—like hot cocoa in an insulated Hydro Flask bottle—can lift your spirits on bitter Vermont days and reenergize tired legs.

Credit: Tim Peck

Osprey Snowkit Duffel

Nestled in southern Vermont, Magic is a popular day trip for skiers and riders from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The Osprey Snowkit Duffel makes traveling to and from the mountain easy. It keeps your kit together for transitioning quickly from car to slopes in the morning and has a dedicated, ventilated compartment for stashing your sweaty boots at the end of the day.

Teva Ember Mock

After a long day ticking vertical, your feet are probably dying to slip into something more comfortable. Teva Ember Mocks (men’s/women’s) are stylish enough for inside if you scored a coveted reservation at the Black Line Tavern and warm enough if you prefer the parking lot après.

Make the most of your day at Magic Mountain and leave your ski partner spellbound by showing up with the right gear for a day of uphilling.


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