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It’s evident that with every pow slaying winter season that passes, avalanche rescue gear is becoming more and more fine tuned and developed.  It’s really cool to look back and see how far the industry has advanced in the last few years and the Kodiak 3.1 shovel made by Ortovox is perfect proof of that.  Through innovation and design, the Kodiak 3.1 shovel could very well be the best shovel to have in your pack when you’re out skiing deep powder and searching for new lines in the backcountry.

Comfort in a shovel is extremely important and while we all hope not to have to dig a friend out of concrete like conditions for hours, in training or in the worst-case scenario, you won’t stop digging because your hands are uncomfortable. The D-shape handle is ergonomic and makes sense for efficient shoveling. The oval shaft of the shovel provides for stringency and better handling. Ortovox was also thinking when they covered the shaft in a non-slip rubber.

Comfort is essential but the ability for a shovel to hold up in crucial, life-saving moments is more than imperative. Ortovox strategically combined comfort features with the stability and strength of workhorse of a shovel.   There’s not a doubt in my mind that this shovel would aid in the rescue of one of my friends.

The blade’s cutting edge will cut through even the hardest of snowpack and is made of a durable (yet not overpoweringly heavy) material. Included on the blade are non-slip ridges so if you’re working with your ski boot on the crest, you won’t repeatedly slip off.

Of course, I have to save the best feature for last and what ultimately impresses me most about the Kodiak 3.1 is the 90 degree clearing function for when you need to move a lot of snow fast. For some people, this is going to be a very comfortable way of moving snow. I’ve found that it is easier to use the majority of your body strength, without strain, when moving snow in this position. The adjustments are quick-release so everything is easy to adjust in short notice.

The Kodiak 3.1 will save you time, fatigue, and discomfort. It will hold up through even the toughest abuse. While you may think in your mind that it will be easy to skimp on a shovel while you collect your avy safety gear, think again as this shovel is well worth the money. The sharp blade, ergonomic d-grip handle, and 90 degree clearing function are what in my mind make this the best avalanche shovel to have in your pack.

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The Kodiak 3.1 Shovel

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Combine Mountain Hardwear’s Snowtastic Jacket and Snowtastic Softshell Pants and you will have an ultimate backcountry gear set up for your winter. The Dry.Q material will not only keep you dry but will also keep you ventilated so you’re not to over heat while hiking the steeps to your perfect line.

The features are spot on as to what should be included in a backcountry jacket including backpack compatible hand pockets, helmet compatible hood, tons of usable pockets, a pow skirt and a hiking-friendly fit.

The pack compatible hand pockets are a huge bonus for me as I always want a camera easy to grab on the go. I can keep my backpack on, not undo any straps, and get my camera in and out in a flash. They’re also lined so if you need to warm your hands up, throw them in there and they’ll pull from your core heat.

This is definitely a shell and on really cold days I have to layer up a ton underneath it. I’ve found this to be the ultimate spring jacket because I’m not having to stiffen up the fit with a bunch of layers underneath. Ideally, I’d go with a large so I could have all the extra space I need. Keep in mind I’m not a crazy lightweight backcountry traveler and so the weight wouldn’t be a big deal to me.

The arms are on point as to fit, which is extremely important for me. I have pretty long arms and a huge pet peeve of mine is when sleeves don’t come down over my wrists. No one wants to get snow down her sleeves all day!

If you’re looking for a great backcountry skiing set up, or simply looking for a quality outfit to wear to the resorts, you’ll love the material used for the Snowtastic pants and jacket by Mountain Hardwear. You will stay dry, stay breathable, and stay stylish!

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The Women’s Snowtastic Jacket

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The Women’s Snowtastic Softshell Pant by Mountain Hardwear is an ideal pant if you’re going to be doing any winter travel in the backcountry. Whether you’re skinning, boot packing, sled skiing, or hitting the resort on pow days, this pant is going to hold up to any abuse you may throw at it.

I love the fit and look of the Snowtastic Shells, but the durability of the fabric is what, in my mind, gives this pant a five star rating. Durability is an absolute must for me in the backcountry.

Even though these pants are considered a shell, the lining is a super soft material and so it doesn’t feel like you are wearing a cold, uncomfortable shell. The material moves and flexes with your body, another amazing feature of the Snowtastic pants.

The waterproofing capability of these pants is on point, and I have yet to get wet underneath. It’s been a pretty wet spring snow that I’ve been skiing and I haven’t noticed any wet spots on the pants. Simply put, water does not get through this fabric.

With such amazing waterproofing, one would think that the breathability would be slim to none. Not the case with the Mountain Hardwear’s Dry.Q fabric. My temperature is always drastically changing from one minute to the next when I’m out skiing because of hiking and then skiing etc. Keeping the water out is important but when I sweat, I want to be able to get that moisture away from my skin.

If the breathability within the fabric just isn’t enough for you, these pants have a ¾ length zip all the way down the outside of the leg. This is sweet because you can easily regulate your temperature with the zips and the pants are super easy to get on!

The fit of the Snowtastic pants is spot on for me. While there is some adjustability in the waste, the length is perfect and the waste comfortable. These definitely run large though, because I am usually a large in a ski pant in the large Snowtastic I was literally swimming! If you’re tall, don’t worry about length with a medium. I have long legs and I am 5’10 and I even have a little bit of extra length with the mediums. You also have some suspenders to use if you need. The suspenders are comfortable and flat so if you’re wearing a backpack all day, you wont have any raw spots at the end of the day.

I can’t say enough positive things about these softshell pants by Mountain Hardwear. I’m convinced they are the ultimate backcountry pant and while they are only a shell, you have plenty of room to layer underneath on cold days. Most importantly, these pants will keep you dry, block the wind, and be breathable when you get a little sweaty. Give these a shot! You won’t be disappointed.

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The Women’s Snowtastic Softshell Pants

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I am in love with the Boho Sneak by Cushe! The trend and style is on point, while the comfort unbeatable. The hidden wedge adds pep to your step and gives you a little bit of extra height.

The leather and suede combination is durable and classy, but breathable too. You’ll be able to wear these in every season and will be just fine when it snows a little bit because of the honeycomb traction rubber tread.

I have even hiked in the Boho Sneak and while they were a little tricky to get used to because of the wedge, the traction is up to par and the fit comfortable.

One of the coolest features of these sneaks is the easy entry zipper on both sides of the shoe. They add a unique style to the shoe but are also super functional. I love the black color but wouldn’t mind having the grey or tan color too. I feel like the style plays off a classic hiking boot and I love how Cushe is bringing that back.

Check out Cushe to see the variety of boots, sandals, and sneaks. Whatever you desire from Cushe is going to have style, a quality build, and most importantly be extremely comfortable!

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The Boho Sneak by Cushe

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If you’re looking for a jacket that you can wear year-round, use as a mid-layer or outer layer, is lightweight, packable, and warm, then look no further because the Helix Hooded Jacket by Icebreaker is perfect.

The merino blend insulation (merino = 88% poly = 12%) will keep you extra warm and will have the usual drying and anti-microbial features that come with the merino fibers. The outer fabric is made up of Polyester and feels very durable and resistant to wear and tear. There is some water-resistance to the poly outer layer, so if you happen across a little bit of a rain storm you won’t initially get soaked. It is not waterproof so if you’re in a downpour for an hour, you will probably get wet. Going back to the merino technologies, the quick drying feature will have you dry and enjoying the outdoors in no time at all.

The fit is a relaxed fit and works well for layering during really cold days or if you need a lighter jacket for spring days or summer nights. The sleeves are long enough so my wrists aren’t exposed when I lift my arms. The sleeves also have a cuff that is elastic so the elements can’t get in.

The Helix will easily become your go to jacket. It’s lightweight, packable, and durable, and the merino lining makes it extra soft and comfortable. It has everything you need, with two front zip pockets, a media pocket, and a good-sized hood.

Icebreaker continues to support sustainability in manufacturing and use recycled products and ethical merino practices when creating and producing some of the best wool products available!

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Helix Hooded Jacket

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This year, Ruffwear is all about road trips. They’re creating products that make it easier and more enjoyable to travel with your best furry friend. Of course, this is great for us because we live in a camper and when we’re not in the camper, we’re taking short trips in the car and Hank is always with us! Luckily for us, Hank loves being in the car and joining in on the fun.

The Kibble Kaddie is by far one of our favorite products released because it is a packable, compact, efficient, and easy way to travel with Hank’s food. We store his food in a bin which lives in the camper but if we’re going away for a few days or a week we are not going to carry a huge plastic bin with us. Even though we recently upgraded from grocery sacks to a kitty litter container, we were still embarrassed that Hank had to travel that way.

The Kibble Kaddie carries 10 liters or 42 cups and is designed so that as your pooch consumes food, the bags compresses so as not to take up more space than is needed. Let’s be honest, no matter how hard you try, the car or truck you’re traveling gets pretty unorganized and packed full during road trips.

Ruffwear also handily placed a magnetic closure “food-chute” on the side of the kaddie for easy dispensing of food. On the opposite side of the chute, there is a ergonomic handle. Feeding your dog on the go has never been so easy! At first sight we thought food would for sure spill out of the food-chute but we have filled the Kibble Kaddie above maximum capacity and have had no issues whatsoever.

The side pocket easily fits a collapsible bowl or two. Throw the bowls in the side and you’re ready to go. If your pooch is a little bit higher maintenance and owns many belongings such as jackets, tennis balls, bones, lights, and leashes, then look into the Haul Bag, which fits the Kibble Kaddie plus all of the necessities and more.

We haven’t found anything that we don’t like about the Kibble Kaddie or any other travel products that Ruffwear is creating and believe that they use high quality materials and innovative designs.

We’re huge advocates for adventuring with your dog and Ruffwear is working hard to make traveling with your pooch easy and organized. Your dog wants to get out and see the world just as much as you do!

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The Kibble Kaddie

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