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Winter sports gear (more specifically for backcountry skiing or backyard exploration) has been in demand like never before. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.

The Popularity of Cross Country Skiing + Backcountry Snowsports

Last winter, the outdoor community saw an unprecedented surge in winter outdoor activities. Between travel and ski resort restrictions, more people discovered or rediscovered snowsports as a way to get out of the house, get back into shape, or socialize while enjoying the outdoors.

As a direct result of this popularity, winter gear has been in demand like never before. Last winter, touring and backcountry cross country skis and equipment sold out, with few or no options for our buyers to reorder. We also saw an uptick for backcountry gear and snowshoes. Indoor bike trainers also increased in popularity as people preferred the flexibility of riding at home with their friends virtually. More recently, running shoes and clothing have seen supply issues due to production and shipping delays.

If this all sounds familiar, it should. We’re still experiencing the same demand and supply issues with finding a bike.

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How to Select Snowshoes and Clothing

Dec 22, 2020 5:34:39 PM

Selecting the right pair of snowshoes can depend on where you want to go or do. Photo Credit: Clarke Shedd.

Outdoor sports has become more popular than ever this year. Whether you are a runner, hiker, walker, biker, skier, snowboarder, or snowshoer I'm sure you've seen a lot more people out, enjoying what nature has to offer. Just like bikes, snowshoes has recently seen a huge increase in demand. Getting outside is important, but it is also key to have the right gear. It is important to know a couple things when you are selecting snowshoes. I am going to walk through what to be on the lookout for and how a snowshoe will best suit your needs.

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(1) Dawn patrol hike up snowmobile track before the lifts start running on an eight-inch powder day. Photo Credit: Soren Feola. (2) Touring allows for some late ski days, including May in Bolton when this photo of Caroline was taken.

So you’ve decided to get into alpine touring this winter? Not only will this allow you to skip the lift lines and earn your turns, but also gives you an opportunity to explore the Vermont outdoors! Due to COVID-19 limitations at ski resorts, alpine touring can also help limit crowding.

We know it can be a bit daunting to find the right equipment to get out there, and the options of what to buy seems endless, but we are here to help! There are three categories to this blog post: first-time touring, frequent touring, and the elite alpinists out there. Although this will in no way be an exhaustive list, we hope this will be a good jumping off point! Just note that we have seen an increase in demand for alpine touring gear this season. Supply can be limited as well as shipment delays. Some gear recommended below might be out of stock, but please check in with us to see if we expect more or can find another option for you.

As a reminder, any time you are heading into the backcountry, educate yourself first, bring a trusted friend who is also knowledgeable, get the right avalanche gear (and know how to use it). Avalanches do occur in Vermont. If you are new to touring, check out ski resorts as a first step to get used to touring. Not all ski resorts allow uphill travel, so head to their website first and learn and follow the rules.

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1 Comments | Posted in Product Features and Reviews Expert Tips Downhill Skiing Backcountry By Soren Feola and Caroline Dunbar

Doug Stewart fits a downhill ski boot. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.

Ask any veteran skier if their ski boots are important, or if they affect their skiing, I would not be surprised if most said “yeah, of course.” As someone who has spent my entire life on skis and the last few decades helping people ski better, I’m here to make sure you understand just how important your boots are to your ski day.

Based on this idea, I repeatedly tell customers, your boots are 10 times more important than your skis. This also applies to cross country skiing and snowboarding. Our goal is to get you in the right gear the first time around.

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Exploring Vermont via bike. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.

With COVID-19 safety guidelines and travel restrictions, winter is looking very different this year in Vermont. Since not many people can travel and are staying home, there's been a huge uptick in people venturing outside and discovering what their backyard has to offer. Outdoor activity is a great way to get exercise, de-stress and spend time with your household. More people getting outside is great news! However, the influx is a concern because of the strain on natural resources. Services such as ski resorts and search and rescue will also be effected. With this resource guide, our goal is to provide some ideas to getting you outside in a new way, while offering other options for people to check out, in order to spread people out in any given area.

Since we already know that ski resort offerings such as lodging and chair capacity will be limited this season, it might not be the year to hit the resorts every weekend like you are used to (click here to read up on the guidelines). It will, however be a great opportunity to try a new winter activity such as cross country skiing, backcountry touring, snowshoeing and winter hiking.

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Testing out the Nordica Enforcers at the Pico Ski Demo. Photo Credit: Molly Cournoyer.

Earlier this year in January, some Skirack staff took a field trip to the Pico Mountain Ski Resort Downhill Ski and Snowboard Demo Event. It was a fun and exciting day because we got to test out downhill skis from our favorite ski brands.

After testing each ski, not only were we able to give our ski buyer feedback to help make buying decisions, but we were able to learn how each ski performed so we can help our Skirack customers find the perfect ski for them.

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Splitboarding Gear Overview for 2020-21. Photo Credit: Nitro Snowboards.

If you snowboard and especially if you live in Vermont, I'm sure you've been thinking about getting a splitboard for a while. Your riding partner got one last season and has been tempting you with tales of getting untracked snow the day after a storm. Or perhaps you've been fighting to keep up while snowshoeing. This winter season might be time to pull the trigger - especially with the uncertainty of resort operations and capacity limitations expected this year. Our snowboard department has seen a pretty heavy uptick in interest in splitboarding and backcountry gear this year already,and therefore, stock won't last long. Financing options are available to make it as painless as possible. See you out on the skin track!

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Comments | Posted in Snowboarding Expert Tips Videos Backcountry By Derek Tiplady

Looking out to Camel's Hump after skinning up Mt. Mansfield. Photo Credit: Jake Whitlock.

Alright so your cool skier friends have finally convinced you to give Alpine Touring or “AT” for short, a go. So, what should you do first? Well if you don’t have a set up then the first thing you should do is go to Skirack at 85 Main St. in Burlington to get your gear.

1. Boot Fitting & Ski Selection:

Take time to sit down with a Skirack boot fitter and let them help you decide what boot is best for your foot. Keep an open mind when it comes to brands and models. Even though your friends may have recommended an awesome touring boot, it may not agree with your foot profile. Listen to the boot fitters’ suggestions and work with them to get your fit dialed in. We can also recommend a great ski and binding that best suits your skier type. To start out, you can opt to keep your current skis and add a touring binding and boot combo. A lighter ski will make the uphills a little less strenuous, but that is up to you.

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Splitboarding through the Bolton Valley backcountry. Photo Credit: Brennan Guerriere.

I remember setting down my first ever skin track in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine. We rode the King Pine lift up to the ridge that connects over to Burnt Mountain via a trail called Golden Road. From here, we transitioned our splitboards into touring mode and set out along the ridgeline. This first transition for me was unlike anything my normal snowboarding career had prepared me for. Moving my bindings around. Applying skins to my splitboard?! Riding skis?! I probably spent a solid 20 minutes on this first “transition”. That was 5 years ago, and since then I have dialed in my transition time and general skills as a backcountry traveler.

Here are 6 areas of focus to help you get more confident and efficient as a splitboarder:

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Looking out over the Green Mountains after skinning up Mt. Mansfield on the Stowe side for sunrise. Photo Credit: Jake Whitlock.

The clock strikes 4:00 AM and I awake to the ding of my alarm. With eyes closed my hand swats and taps at my nightstand hoping to touch down upon the snooze button. Finally, after a few failed attempts and a spilt glass of water I force myself to get up. I look out the window into the darkness. The only light I can see is the dim street lamp shining down on the row of parked cars outside my house. A perfect, untouched, blanket of beautiful snow sits below my window. The feeling of dismay is replaced with excitement. I run to my closet to quickly throw on my base layers and bibs. I call my friend Forrest to see if he’s still “in” but am greeted by a voicemail. I try once more and this time I hear a very muffled “I’m up.”

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Comments | Posted in Downhill Skiing Backcountry By Jake Whitlock
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