Kim Havell says she started her ski career as an alpine ski coach in the Telluride valley. From there, she gradually made the transition into freeskiing, climbing and ski mountaineering. Today, Kim says she has skied on all 7 continents – with first descents on 4 – and explored over 50 countries. During her travels, she has climbed and skied big peaks in the Himalaya & the Karakorum, the highest mountains across the US, with first descents both at home and abroad including in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Gear Institute caught up with her to find out a little more about her gear needs when out adventuring.

Gear Institute: Thanks for offering to share your expertise with the Gear Institute readers today, Kim. But before we talk gear, tell us: What are you up to these days?

Kim Havell: This season I worked ski guiding for Exum Mountain Guides, Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, and skiing as an athlete at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. I’ll also be serving as a judge at ISPO, filming and traveling for Salomon Freeski, doing a couple of expeditions to Greenland and Alaska, and hoping to get over to La Grave for some ski mountaineering.

Antarctica- kim

Gear Institute: Sounds like you are busy. That makes gear selection even more important. What gear do you ALWAYS bring when venturing out? 

Havell: I rely on a Leatherman tool to help keep my other gear working and in tune. I also always have a Black Diamond headlamp in my pack—you never know when you’ll be caught out late and need some light for a safe return. I also plan for emergencies, so my pack holds a change of socks, a SteriPEN water purifier and a compact sleeping pad—a Klymit because they offer the lightest, most compact pads I’ve found.

Gear Institute: Sounds like safety is job one for much of your gear—that’s something we like to see. Beyond those items, what do you carry? And more specifically, you get exposed to a ton of gear from sponsors—what items from those supporters do you really love?

Havell: I love my Adventure Medical Kit first aid kits. They are light, well-thought-out kits designed specifically for outdoor needs. I load everything into one of my Osprey Packs—the size and model depends on my specific plans, but they have a pack ideal for nearly every adventure.

My go-to ski poles are Black Diamond’s Whippets, and I also rely on BD for my climbing skins as well as much of standard technical gear and protection devices.

KimHavell Norway IceAxe

Gear Institute: Thinking more broadly about gear, what is one thing —gear / trend / news—you are especially excited about or interested in right now?

Havell: I am loving the trend of light and fast. It is great to see new innovations from companies that make gear durable but also lighten it up and make it easier to carry gear to be safe in the mountains and on any adventure.