Neil and Ian Provo have a good thing going. Just two years apart, they seem to have somehow managed to achieve the kind of sibling synergy more common in twins. One zigs, the other zags. Ian skis; Neil snowboards. Neil shoots video; Ian shoots stills.
Since moving to Utah in the early 2000s, they’ve put their uniquely comprehensive skillset to good use. Rarely pausing long enough for their gear to gather dust, they’ve progressed from committed powder hounds to fly fishing obsessives, bikepackers and serious wilderness explorers.
From time-to-time they’ll drop an edit, the kind of quick web clips that’ll make even the most committed office jockey spray coffee all over their cubicle. Pristine powder lines begging for tracks, gin-clear streams coursing with trout, veins of brown carpet single track cutting through obscenely beautiful backcountry terrain—these are the currency of the Provo Bros’ trade.
When stars align, they combine all of the above in a single edit, even single day. Steelhead and Spines (Vol. 1 & 2), The Tri-Divide Cutthroat Ride: the names of their projects say it all. And in this day and age, finding those unspoiled places where the snow line dissolves into swift currents and swirling eddies is all about access.
So when Neil and Ian rang us up a while ago, looking for new ways to dial in their gear and lighten their loads to expand their reach, we were happy to help. For these guys, lighter packs and shelters have translated into even more ambitious backcountry trips, and what looks like a lot more fun.
From time to time, a nice little package shows up in the Hyperlite Mountain Gear inbox from the Bros. With snow piling up throughout most of the west this season, it wasn’t a surprise when this time around we were treated to shots of the kind of blower pow that dreams are made of.
Take a little break this morning to give Ian Follows Neil #3 a gander. Just be prepared to maybe lose an hour or two to the Provo Bros’ Vimeo channel, and feel an overwhelming urge to strap on a pack and skin up something.
For us at Hyperlite Mountain Gear, dispatches from the Provo Bros are always a good excuse to catch up with some our favorite Utahns. We checked in with Ian, the elder of the two, who shared the finer points of their approach to everything from everyday backcountry adventures like this, to big, ambitious epics further afield.
Man are there ever some sweet shots in this video–is this stuff right out you back door?
Neil and I are pretty fortunate to live within a 15-minute drive of all of this terrain. Some of it is literally right out the back door! Utah is known for having amazing quality snow, and lots of it, and with that comes a lot of people. We’ve found an area—away from the cities—where fresh lines are always easy to come by.
You guys seem to have pretty complimentary skill sets. How’d that dynamic take shape between you, and how’d you get into this stuff?
We’ve been involved in the ski and snowboard industries for well over a decade, first starting out in competitions, then progressing to the film and photo side of things. Somewhere along the line, we decided to buy our own cameras and started producing our own content. As Internet platforms were developed that allowed us to share our content with the world, for free, without having to rely on some big production company or magazine to sustain our careers. We’ve had a lot of practice over the years, trading on and off with the camera, filming each other.
Watching your videos, you literally transition from spines to fishing steelhead, sometimes in what looks like a single day. Now you’re working bikepacking on fatbikes into the mix. How come, and what’s next?
The Steelhead and Spines concept was born on our first trip to Alaska, five years ago. We figured that if we were going all the way up there to ski, we should also explore the fishing potential, as Alaska is well-known for both. It was a matter of capitalizing on the opportunity, making the most of every trip. Who knew if we would ever return to Alaska? (we have!) There are a few places in the world where skiing and fishing exist side-by-side on a very high level, and AK is one of them. Combining multiple outdoor activities into one pursuit is what we really have fun with these days. It’s such a fun challenge to use all of these different skill sets together, and we love trying to find the places where it’s possible to do it all. Biking, camping, fishing, rafting all go together well in the summer months, with the right gear and imagination. It’s hard to say what’s next… we’ll probably be doing everything we can to try and make it back to Alaska for another season.
With all that going on, plus photo and video stuff, how do you keep from drowning in gear? Any tips for keeping it light?
Gear organization and selection, particularly for multi-sport adventures, is a very crucial step into making a trip successful or not. Over the years, we’ve really dialed-in what we need and what we don’t. As for camera equipment, less is more. There are tons of little accessories and lenses and pieces of equipment needed for photography and film making, and that stuff adds up quick. Neil and I prefer to shoot gorilla style, with only enough gear to shoot how we want, without being loaded down with too much gear. Making due with what you’ve got—that’s our philosophy.
I think the highlight of the year was successfully completing a new bikepacking loop in Wyoming. It just felt so damn good to finally have all the right gear, traveling great distances through the mountains, fly fishing and camping along the way. We kept finding the most perfect sections of single track, it was just amazing. On top of that, we had our first wild Grizzly bear encounter which stopped us dead in our tracks. He was using the same trail!
Any big plans for 2017?
Our plans for this coming year are to have as much fun as possible, keep exploring our backyard, and hopefully find ourselves in some far-flung destination on an adventure of a lifetime. Mountains, oceans, rivers, deserts! It’s all good!
FYI, both brothers use our 2400 Porter packs in this video. Ian’s has the special order ski mod, Neil’s is the standard pack with straps through the daisy chain loops for carrying his board.