Snowshoe Gear: The Checklist

Snowshoe Gear - The Checklist

The weekend is approaching and your snowshoes are anxiously awaiting some use. Even for veterans, planning ahead for your adventurous day will make for a smooth, safe and fun excursion in the wintry outdoors. Check the weather, deice where you plan to snowshoe and coordinate with your crew who will bring what so you don’t double up on gear. Try to head out in the morning since outdoor day trips can sometimes take much longer than expected. Below are the essentials you’ll need for your snowshoe outing, along with a few extra items for more extensive trips in the backcountry.

Snowshoeing Gear

  • Snowshoes – Fortunately, snowshoes have come a long way since their conception in the late 1800’s. The House has a diverse selection of snowshoes for every ability, aspiration and price point for men, women and kids.
  • Snowshoe FootwearWaterproof hiking boots are the best choice for longer snowshoe trips since they are the most comfortable and provide the most support. For shorter trips, under a few hours, insulated winter boots with removable liners will work.
  • Snowshoe Poles – These aren’t as essential as the snowshoes themselves, but poles can be quite helpful during longer treks. Snowshoe poles take a bit of weight off of each step and also provide increased stability on uneven terrain. They can also add an upper body workout!
  • GaitersGaiters provide waterproof and breathable protection, while keeping snow out of your boots. In deep snow, these babies are truly a lifesaver on a snowshoe outing!
  • Pack – Look for a pack that will hold all of your essentials, but one that won’t weigh you down or be cumbersome on your trek. Many packs are equipped with a waist and/or chest strap, which evenly distributes the weight load. Brands like The North Face, Burton and Dakine have a wide selection of such packs, perfect for snowshoeing.

Snowshoe Clothing

The Ten Essentials
As agreed upon by hiking organizations, a set of survival “ten essentials” has been compiled for hikers, backpackers and climbers. Not all snowshoe outings will require the use of every item, but it’s not a bad idea to gather your ten essentials just in case. All items will overlap for summer adventures, too!

  1. Navigation (map, compass or GPS)
  2. Sunglasses and Sunscreen
  3. Extra Food and Water
  4. Extra Clothes
  5. Headlamp/Flashlight
  6. Repair Kit
  7. First Aid Kit
  8. Knife
  9. Emergency Shelter

Gathering the gear you need for your snowshoe outing is a one time deal. Once you have the snowshoe gear, you won’t need new gear for a while and you’ll be more inspired to hit the trail when everything you need is right at your fingertips! One can never bee too cautious about entering the wilderness, so don’t overlook the ten essentials either!

What are Polarized Sunglasses?

What are polarized sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses are highly effective at reducing glare and increasing depth perception. They have been popular for years with boaters, fisherman and other people who spend time near water since the sun’s rays are intensified on the reflective water surface. Over the years, however, interest in polarized sunglasses for all types of outdoor enthusiasts has soared. They’re great for bikers, skiers, golfers, runners and those who spend a lot of time driving.

How Do Polarized Sunglasses Work?

Glare is created due the sun’s horizontal reflection on flat surfaces like water, sand or a road. Normally, light is evenly scattered in more usual ways. When light is only reflecting in a horizontal manner, materializing as glare, it can be quite annoying and often dangerous. Here is where polarized sunglasses work their magic. They have a special filter embedded or applied to the lens that neutralizes this horizontal reflection of light.

Benefits of Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized sunglass produce a more crisp field of view without the painful brightness that makes you squint. Prolonged strain on the eyes from glare can cause headaches, tearing and wrinkles. When the most intense, harsh light is blocked with polarized lenses, glare is reduced or completely diminished and the wearer will feel a world of difference. Golfers use polarized sunglasses to follow their ball in the distance, fisherman can see beneath the surface (since there’s no glare on the surface) and drivers can make out colors (as in a stoplight) more accurately. For professions and activities like boating, sailing, fishing, snowboarding, skiing and car racing, blocking glare with polarized lenses is critical.

Why You Should Wear Polarized Sunglasses

From an ultra marathon to a walk around the block with your dog, polarized sunglasses serve their purpose for anyone spending time in the sun. They eliminate annoying and sometimes dangerous glare, reduce strain on the eyes, create accurate colors and improve depth perception. While their price tag is higher than ordinary sunglasses, The House has the best deals on polarized sunglasses from brands like S4, Smith, Electric and Spy. Save your eyes and get on the band wagon!

 

Types of Socks

Different Types of Socks
Whether walking, hiking, skiing, or just hanging out, socks can make or break your experience. Cushioning, moisture wicking properties, a good fit and temperature regulation are a few things to keep in mind when shopping around for socks. Once you try out a technical sock with a perfect fit, it’s tough to go back to straight cotton! The House has a large selection of men’s socks and women’s socks for every aspiration.

Different Types of Socks

Socks are often categorized by activity or sport to make it easier for consumers to decipher between materials, intended uses, and levels of cushioning. Of course there is some crossover within every category, but understanding design features is the first step in finding the right pair of socks!

Ski and Snowboard Socks – These socks sit higher than other socks, hitting just below the knee. They won’t ride down your legs and provide cushioning in the shin, arch and ankle. Ski and snowboard socks wick away moisture with either synthetic materials or merino wool.

Hiking Socks – Hiking socks provide cushioning in the ball and forefoot, while wicking away moisture and drawing it outside the sock. The extra padding is ideal for long treks where blisters or hot spots are likely. Hiking socks also will stay put for hours on end! They come in a variety of heights and typically two weights – lightweight and mid weight.
Skateboarding Socks – With a variety of colors, heights and logos, skateboarding socks are the economical answer for everyday wear for the younger generation. They’re typically made from cotton and will serve their purpose throughout the school year and beyond.
Casual Socks – Sitting right between a technical sock and a cotton sock, casual socks are usually a blend of cotton and synthetic materials. While not quite as efficient at wicking moisture as a hiking sock, casual socks will stay drier and warmer than an all cotton sock. Prints, colors and varying heights are common among casual socks.

Sock Materials

Merino Wool – If your feet tend to get cold, hot, clammy or sweaty, wool socks will be your best friend. Merino wool is comprised of long, fine, itch-free fibers that have replaced lower end wool found in Grandma’s sweater. Merino wool is the ideal temperature regulating fiber that keeps your feet warm when you’re walking to class and dry in the midst of a heat wave. Perfect for the summer or winter, merino wool also absorbs moisture and passes it through to the outside of the sock.
Synthetic – Synthetic materials like polyester wicks moisture and dries quickly. Other synthetics like nylon and spandex help socks retain their shape, provide a snug fit and add arch support. With a variety of synthetic blends on the market at reasonable prices, synthetic sock materials have gained much popularity over the years.
Ingeo
– Ingeo is an eco-friendly synthetic fiber derived from corn that yields outstanding moisture management properties, breathability, insulation and comfort. It’s hypoallergenic, so ingeo is a great alternative for those allergic to wool.
Cotton – Cotton socks absorb moisture and dry slowly, which can lead to blisters when used for athletic activities. However, cotton socks are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors and patterns that aren’t not available in technical socks. They’re ideal for kids, teens, and anyone else who doesn’t need moisture wicking properties for everyday use.

Gore-Tex Care: Maintenance, Washing & Restoring Gore-Tex

Taking good care of your waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex jackets or pants is very important when you consider the cost of wearing Gore-Tex.

Care of Gore-Tex

You love your Gore-Tex®. Admit it. Whether it’s your shoes, your jacket, or your gloves, you rely on Gore-Tex to keep you dry and comfortable for hours, days, months and years on end. Fortunately, Gore-Tex is easy to take care of as long as you keep the following in mind:

How to Wash Gore-Tex

Before you throw your Gore-Tex gear in the wash, be sure to read the cleaning instructions carefully. The first thing to note is that Gore-Tex should not be dry-cleaned if it uses both Gore-Tex fabric and down insulation. However, some outerwear garments that use Gore-Tex fabric also use silk or wool and these garments should be dry cleaned only. Be sure to request clear, distilled solvent rinse and a spray-repellent when dropping your Gore-Text off at the cleaners.  If you decide to wash your Gore-Tex at home skip the fabric softener (including dryer sheets) since they contain, among other things, fragrances, waxes and oils that will adhere to your Gore-Tex and lessen it’s ability to breathe and repel water. Never use chlorine bleach on your garment.  Machine-wash your outerwear in warm water using liquid detergent, preferably in a front loading washing machine. If you have a stain, you can use a stain remover such as Spray n Wash™ or Shout™.

*Always check the individual care label and follow those instructions first. This advice is not intended to override any specific care instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Drying Gore-Tex

Gore-Tex Volcom Snowboard Jacket

Gore-Tex Volcom Snowboard Jacket

When drying your garment in the dryer, tumble-dry warm is the recommended setting. The heat from the dryer helps to reactivate the durable water repellent (DWR) treatment on your garment’s outer fabric. DWR is a repellent for outdoor fabrics and is recommended for use with Gore-Tex products. However, it is not recommended to use the wash-in treatments as this may affect the garment’s breathability. DWR is available at your local outdoor retailer. If you need to restore the water repellency after being caught out in a rainstorm, simply machine wash the garment, rinse, and put it in the dryer. Washing will remove dirt and other contaminants and the heat from the dryer will redistribute the DWR treatment on the fabric surface. If the DWR treatment is no longer effective after washing, it can be restored by applying a topical DWR treatment.

Ironing Gore-Tex

If your jacket or pants are wrinkled after coming out of the dryer, it is acceptable to pass the iron over the garment. Only use a warm steam-iron. Be sure to place a towel or cloth between the garment and the iron. You do not have to iron the garment until it is completely dry. Be very careful not to melt the outer fabric.

In summary, Gore-Tex products such as Gore-Tex JacketsGore-Tex pants and Gore-Tex Shoes are built to last and are easy to take care of. Taking care of your Gore-Tex will ensure that you get your money’s worth from the product. Routine care and maintenance on your part will ensure the highest performance from them and extend their useful lifespan. So, follow the instructions carefully on the label to help your Gore-Tex product looking fresh and new for a very long time.

Pretreating Gore-Tex

If you are taking on the responsibility of cleaning it yourself be mindful of a few thing before jumping in. It is safe to use a pre-wash treatment such as Shout or Spray ‘n Wash as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. And always be mindful to rinse well. Bleach is something that you should never allow to come in contact with your Gore-Tex jacket or pants, as this will likely damage your garment.

Repairing Gore-Tex

Gore-Tex is guaranteed for a lifetime against manufacturer’s defects. Gore isn’t afraid of anyone putting it to the most extreme tests! Accidents do happen, however. Gore makes a repair kit that comes with two patches that press on if you in the field and happen to tear your jacket or pant. It’s not a bad idea to stash one of these in your pocket. Once you get home, ironing the patch increases its performance. Patches should last just over five washings. A more permanent repair is recommended, so take your damaged Gore-Tex gear to an authorized repair center or contact Gore directly at 1-800-431-GORE.

Gore-Tex Footwear

You can clean the outside of your Gore-Tex footwear using a brush or a cloth and tepid water. When drying your shoes, remove the laces, loosen the tongue, avoid direct heat and allow them to dry naturally. Gore recommends applying a topical water repellency restorative (DWR treatment) for outdoor fabrics. They do not recommend wash-in treatments as they can affect breathability.

Gore-Tex Gloves

First off, Gore-Tex gloves rule! Say good bye to swampy, cold hands. Your Gore-Tex gloves should be hand or machine washed in warm water with powdered detergent. Follow the same rules (no bleach, no fabric softener) as you would with your outerwear. Gently squeeze the water out of your gloves, but do not wring or twist them. Allow them to drip-dry with the fingers pointing upward.

Restoring DWR

Gore-Tex is treated with DWR, or durable water repellent. It is an extremely thin polymer that causes water to beadupon the surface of your gear and roll off. DWR is not permanent, however. Dirt, exposure to insect repellents, detergents, and normal wear and tear will eventually cause the DWR to stop working. Normal washing and tumble-drying outerwear will redistribute DWR over the surface, thereby reactivating it. Over time, however, a topical DWR treatment for outdoor fabrics will be needed and can be applied to the garment. Never use wash-in treatments, as they will affect the garment’s ability to breathe. If your footwear needs its waterproofing refreshed, a DWR treatment for shoes will do the trick. Unless it has been specifically approved for use on Gore-Tex, never use any waterproofing waxes, greases, or polishes on your Gore-Tex shoes.

What is the Difference Between Wetsuit and Drysuit?

Wetsuit vs Drysuit

Wetsuit vs Drysuit

Whether it be surfers, wake boarders, divers or paddle boarders, people are commonly confused with wet suits and dry suits. Both are intended to keep you warm and protected from the elements. The each have their place when it comes to playing water cooler than your body temperature. And for good measure, we threw in a quick break down on rash guards.
Wet SuitsWetsuits

By far the most popular form of thermal protection, wet suits are made from neoprene, a synthetic rubber foam filled with thousands of tiny gas bubbles. Wetsuits work on the principle that your body is the best source of heat. It allows thin layer of water between a person’s body and wet suit. The body then heats the water, which allows the heat to be retained, keeping you warm.  There are different thicknesses of wetsuits depending on how cold the water is going to be and how what for of versatility you are looking for in a wetsuit. The styles usually range from 2mm of thickness to 9 mm. Industry has made great break throughs with wetsuit technology and materials. Thick wet suits are a thing of the past. Here are the most common styles of wetsuits…

  • Full Body Suit – jump suit or one piece wet suit
  • Two Part Suits – includes top and bottom
  • Shorties – short sleeve arms and legs for warm water

Drysuits

Dry suit is just what is says. It keeps you dry underneath the suit while you are in cold water. Dry suits can be made out of foam neoprene, crushed neoprene, vulcanized rubber or heavy-duty nylon. It’s a close fitting double layered suit that keeps a warm layer of air between you and the suit. It has a waterproof seal on the neck, wrists and face. This keeps you very dry and very warm. Air is introduced to the suit via the front power inflator. It has a pressure release valve to let air out. When dry suits first came out they were very bulky, hard to weigh down and difficult to use. Today they are made of much better synthetic material and are very to use.

Rash GuardRashguards

A rash guard is an athletic shirt intended to get wet that’s typically made of spandex and nylon or polyester. Rash guards are most commonly used by surfers to protect their chest and stomach from incessant rubbing over the sticky wax used for traction on the deck of a surfboard. It also adds a good measure of sun protection on the upper body. Some are even long sleeve and insulated perfect to take the chill off an early morning surf. Rash guards are also common for babies, kids and anyone else looking to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Honestly, everyone who plans to spend more than an hour or so near water should have a rash guard on hand.

The House has you covered for all your drysuit, wetsuit and rash guard needs!!

How To: Plan a Ski or Snowboard Heli Trip

Photo Courtesy of Epicquest/H.Mayberry

Listen, there are few things more exhilarating than lifting off in a helicopter, never mind having said helicopter then drop you off in the mountains with nothing but untracked snow for miles. If you’re a dedicated rider/skier chances are someday you’ll have a heli day on your lifetime wishlist. But heli laps don’t come cheap, so if/when you decide to book a trip, take some things into consideration to maximize your time in and out of the ‘bird.

 

1. Book in advance. This goes without saying, but these operations only get to fly so many days a year, and seats are limited. If you have very specific travel dates, book well in advance, especially during Spring Break and the Christmas holidays. Also, when considering trip dates, look at historical weather information to see what time of year has the best combination of sun and good snow conditions.

 

2. Be prepared not to fly. High winds, snow, and cloud cover can all derail a heli trip. You want to give yourself as big a window as possible to wait out bad weather, and be ready to ride when (if) the weather breaks. Many heli operations also have snowcats, which they’ll use to shuttle riders on down days—look into that amenity, as it’s a pretty good insurance policy against cabin fever.

 

3. Don’t go undergunned. Whether you own one or not, be sure to bring a ski/snowboard setup that won’t torpedo in powder and be overpowered by backcountry terrain. You want to savor every turn, not fight to keep control and afloat. If you don’t want to add a new board(s) to your quiver, go ahead and rent one. You won’t regret it.

 

4. If your goal is to charge all day and bank as much vertical as possible, try and book an entire heli with a full group of like-minded riders, otherwise you’ll be limited by the abilities and skill level of the “weakest” rider.

 

5. Once you’re there, remember: Always, always obey the pilot and your guides. And know where the rotors are at all times. This is the real deal.

 

-MH

 

How To Book a Ski or Snowboard Vacation

Not all shred trips are created equal. Some destinations offer incredible snow and terrain, but lack in nightlife and other amenities. Others rock out like NYC on New Year’s Eve, but leave something to be desired on the slope side of things. And that’s okay, it’s just a matter of prioritizing what’s most important to you. Price? Snow quality? Park scene and features? Aprés and Nightlife? Spa Treatments? Here’s a guide for lining up your next mission.

Why Travel?

• There’s nothing like exploring a new place by sliding on snow. You meet new people, have new experiences, all while quite literally dropping into the unknown run after run. It’s flat-out awesome.

Have the gear but need something to transport it in? Click here for tips on what to look for when buying a board bag or ski bag or check out our selection of travel bags here.

When?

Obviously you need to pick a date for your trip, and unless you are bound to holiday and spring break trips because of school, consider these other factors for when to go.

• If you don’t dig crowds, and are flexible, then pick a time of year when most people are working. Mid January, much of February, early and late March into April tends to be pretty mellow.

• If powder is your priority, research and see what month your destination of choice receives the most snow. It’s still a gamble, but an educated one at least.

• See if there are any events happening that might add value to your stay (concerts, races, competitions, parties etc). Most resorts websites have event calendars to help with this.

Where?

• You likely have a wish list of destinations already. Evaluate them against your list of priorities and create a short list.

• If budget is a concern, then weigh your options in terms of value. Where will you get the most bang for your buck? What’s affordable? Airline hubs play into this conversation too. It doesn’t matter if the lodging is cheap when flights are through the roof. Do some math to find a happy medium there.

Is a good terrain park one of your top priorities? Check out Transworld Snowboardings Resort Poll for the season’s top ten parks. Photo courtesy of Park City Mountain Resort

How?

• Book accommodations directly through the resort, via online booking sites, through a travel agency, and even by checking the classifieds in local newspapers.

• Try and bundle lift tickets and accommodations together, as many resorts offer package deals to entice potential guests. Better yet, some offer the Trifecta—Airfare, accommodations and lift tickets for a discounted, bundled price. Remember, these resorts are competing for your dollars, so be sure to sniff out some deals rather than booking blind.

Many resorts offer packages for the whole family that even include lessons! Photo courtesy of Park City Mountain Resort

Conclusion

There are so many destinations out there, you can really pick and choose to suit your every desire. Some destinations have it all—or close to it. Whistler-Blackcomb, for example. California’s Tahoe region hosts a number of world-class resorts, from Squaw to Heavenly. Colorado pairs some of the best freestyle and freeride terrain on the planet, spanning Breckenridge to Crested Butte. And don’t forget Utah, where powders days are the norm rather than the exception. This list goes on and on, chances are wherever you go it’ll be an experience to remember.

How To: Snowboard in Powder

Is there anything better than laying down the perfect heelside slasher into a deep pocket of powder? We haven’t found it if there is. But as intuitive as it looks, snowboarding in powder actually requires more technique than you’d think. Figure it out and you’ve unlocked the door to the best part of being a snowboarder.

Gear Choices: First off, you don’t necessarily want to ride a little jib stick on a two-foot day. Choose a board that’s going to float, ie. keep the nose above the snow surface. And move your stance back toward the tail a notch or two – this will help with the float factor, and reduce back-leg burn. Rocker shapes dominate in powder; camber boards still shred just fine, but rocker boards require a little less effort to keep afloat.

Reading Terrain: There are few things worse than finding yourself marooned in the flats after milking a few extra powder turns. Watch how the slope angle transitions – if it’s deep and the transition looks flat, there’s a good chance you’ll bog down. Avoid these powder traps unless you feel like hiking out in waist-deep snow with people on the lift above heckling you.

Technique: In powder, it’s key to keep up your speed and weight your back foot to avoid a nosedive. You can make longer radius turns at higher speeds and maintain control because of the support and resistance soft snow provides. Surf it, slash it, point it – in pow, it’s pretty much all good.

How To Mount Snowboard Bindings

Getting your snowboard setup dialed is akin to fine-tuning a car, but much easier. Still, you want things to be just right when you mount bindings on your board, from choosing binding angles to stance width and forward lean.

Finding a comfortable stance width comes first – most riders use between 21”-23” stance widths.  To measure, use the distance from the middle of one baseplate to the other, or use the reference stance that is typically marked on the topsheet as a guide. All snowboards use the same four-hole mountain pattern, with the exception of Burton (see www.burton.com for instructions on using their Channel System). (Learn more about your natural stance,  “Am I Goofy or Regular?”)

Once you’ve determined your stance width, set your stance/binding angles. A pretty common setup is +18 on your front foot, and -6 on your back foot. That said, freestyle riders may go +15/-15 or even more duck-footed. On the other extreme, freeriders may go +18 up front and 0 or +3 on their back foot. It comes down to what feels comfortable, and your style of riding.

Once you adjust your binding baseplates to the appropriate angles, center the bindings over the board and align the holes in the plates with the inserts in the board. Drop 4 screws through each baseplate and loosely tighten. Re-measure your stance width just to be sure, and then use a screwdriver to tighten down the screws. Get them tight, and check them again after a day of riding to be sure the screws aren’t loosening up–it happens.

Now to adjust your binding highbacks to the board. You want the highback to be as aligned with your heelside edge as possible, so loosen the necessary screws on the binding chassis and slightly twist the highback to align. Keep the highback in its new position while re-tightening the screws.

Last but not least… Looking at the back of the highback, there should be a forward lean adjustment. Forward lean literally pushes your calves forward, forcing you to bend at the knee and get lower. Some people like Zero forward lean, others kick it up a notch or two. Again, it comes down to personal preference and riding style.

Okay, now get out there and test your setup. Don’t be afraid to tweak your stance width, bindings angles and forward lean throughout the day until it’s picture perfect. Ride on – MH

How to Pack Your Backpack


Whether you are packing for a short or long hike, you must always be prepared for the worse. A few key items to bring along with you on you hike are: map and compass, plenty of water, rain gear, adequate food, knife or utility tool, first aid kit, fire starting materials (matches, lighter, flint and magnesium block) and extra clothing.

When packing you backpack it is important to stage everything that you want to take with you on you hike. This wil give you the opportunity to make sure you get the gear you need and allow the chance to leave the gear you don’t behind. As a rule of thumb it is all ways a good idea to pack the heaviest items in the center and as near your body as possible, this will you keep you balance on uneven terrain.

If you are looking for the Perfect day pack, then look no farther then the North Face Tree Hugger Backpack

North Face Tree Hugger 32L Backpack $139.95

 

Start you weekend off right with the Tree Hugger backpack by North Face, then come by the shop for your free hug and extra Karma points!  Made from recycled materials this backpack  is lightweight, durable and perfect for those day trips into the backcountry.

Key Features of The

  • 100% recycled polyester webbing, mesh, foams, and pack fabric panels
  • Recycled, plastic buckles
  • Convenient exterior pockets
  • Comfy, breathable mesh back panel
  • Multiple compression points
  • Weight: 2 lbs 14 oz (1290 g)
  • Volume: 1950 in3 (32 liters)
  • Fabric: 100% merino wool ripstop

 

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