As backcountry skiers, we carry a variety of “essential” gear: beacon, shovel, probe and skins. But, in keeping with my “it’s the little things in life” mantra, a hot drink on a cold day in the mountains goes a long way and has become part of my essentials list.
For the most part, I’ve replaced carrying cold water on a typical day tour with carrying a thermos of hot tea. I drink more and can ward off the chill following a long up track or given stormy conditions. My favorite brew is a lightly sweetened chai with a dose of cream but some days a straight up tea or even hot Emergen-C really hits the spot. A thermos of hot chocolate, or even coffee, stashed at the snowmobile or car goes a long way too, especially if you’ve got a long drive ahead of you.
Sure, I lose the drink-on-the-fly experience of using a hydration reservoir, but I’m able to work my tea breaks into skin transitions and routine snack stops without issue. And my tea never freezes. A good insulated thermos keeps tea hot all day and even overnight. I’ve owned a variety of thermos bottles over the years – everything from basic REI units to high-dollar push-button models. That said, few have stood the test of time and abuse of life in a ski pack.
I’m looking forward to putting the new Stanley units pictured to work this winter. Stanley literally invented the stainless steel vacuum bottle 100 years ago. I think they’ve got it figured out. I dig the retro-style, bomber feel and the 25oz size of the smaller green one pictured is an ideal volume. The big guy (1.1 liter) will serve the car/snowmo stash nicely and the flask, well, it’ll come in handy in its own way.