Fully Charged: The Latest Tech Tools for Ski Touring

Mobile, avy bag, watch, dog's GPS, all need to be charged ready for the day's ski tour. And now we have Cardo comms units to power up. Roger that...

"GoPro, turn on."

"Hey Cardo, microphone on."

This is Gavin commanding his gadgets on our latest ski tour. Tech is his thing (the clue is in his job title, Tech & Tour Editor), so it's no wonder that we have all the latest toys when we're skiing. But it does mean that the night before a ski tour, the sockets in our apartments are rammed. This is the list of what has to be charged:

Avy bags (if we're going into avalanche backcountry)

Mobiles (obvs)

Cardo comms


Garmin watches

Dog's GPS 

Add heated gloves to power up if you need them (less likely with spring ski tours). And, thank goodness the transceivers and heartrate monitors use batteries.

The Cardo Packtalk Outdoor, for communication, is the latest toy, and a very useful one, too. We bought two units (you can have up to seven using them in a group) having tried them out at the SIGB Ski Test in January.

It's like having a Walkie Talkie without having to sign in and out - and minus all the crackle. With Cardo you are linked wirelessly and don't rely on data or a phone signal, so it's totally hands-free. Don't ask me how it works, read Gav's review.

When you're wearing a helmet, the ear pieces and mic are easy to fit (Cardo has been used by bikers to communicate while on the road, for years).

It's a bit more challenging to fit when ski touring and not wearing a helmet for the climb (and some of us not for the descent, either). I have to wear a snug headband such as from Dynafit to keep the ear discs in place and fasten the mic to my transceiver strap.

So not only can we chat on the climb when Gav is inevitably way ahead but, also, on the descent, when ditto he is a dozen turns down the hill and can say which direction he's going and what the snow's like. It's helpful and, also, a tad disconcerting, when I hear an 'arrrgh' in my ears as he hits a dip or hard crust.

For controlling Ullr, our three-year-old mountain dog, it's a godsend as he is still learning to keep out of the way of skis (see Ski Touring with Dogs, What Can Go Wrong?) so I can hold him back on the descent and let him go when Gav says, OK.

And for photos, it's brilliant when it comes to directing each other as we video.

The only issue with Cardo communication is that it's mostly a case of out of sight out of hearing - so when Gav's too far ahead and over the next ridge (which is frequent) the connection is lost. 

Gav, also, tells Cardo to play music while he's climbing and so long as there's no avalanche risk. Personally, in the  quiet of the backcountry without the resort crowds, I prefer the sound of silence. And then all I need for complete peace is to say, "Hey Cardo, mute audio".