If you combine the thrilling rush you get cutting through fresh snow down the mountainside with the gorgeous view and camaraderie you get during a backpacking trip, you’ve got backcountry skiing. Between hiking up the slopes and riding them back down to the ski lodge, you’ll need a variety of equipment to keep you safe and warm on the slopes.
While there are plenty of options and accessories available on the market, these 8 essentials will surely get you started and prepped for your next backcountry skiing trip:
1. Skis And Poles
You obviously want to do your research and find the best skis for you before you head out. Make sure you also have poles that are adjustable for your hike as well. When you’re navigating the backcountry, you’ll need to cater your poles to steep slopes and various inclines as you go.
2. Weather Gear
Backcountry skiing is a very different experience than traditional skiing, where you’ll need a puffy coat, snow pants, gloves, goggles and a helmet. For the backcountry, you’ll also want a vest or lighter jacket to wear while you’re hiking, as well as a hat and a second pair of gloves. Remember, you’ll probably work up a bit of a sweat while hiking, so your weather gear will need to be suited to both the journey up and down the mountain and it may mean having a few options with you.
3. Navigational Tools
It’s always wise to carry a paper map and compass with you, even if you have a GPS or signaling device. You never know when you’ll lose service in the great outdoors, after all. Mark your route beforehand so you stay on course as well.
4. Light And Heat Sources
Depending on whether you’re making a day trip or staying overnight in a hut or yurt, you’ll want to make sure you have a headlamp or flashlight with you, as well as heat sources like matches or an ultralight backpack stove for cooking. These are not only for your comfort, but for your safety while out on the mountain.
Even though it’s cold outside in the snow, you’re still vulnerable to the sun while backcountry skiing. The sun often reflects off of the bright snow, making sunburn a very real possibility. Pack some sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses to keep with you at all times, and make sure you reapply as needed.
6. Food And Water
Backcountry skiing takes a lot of energy out of you, so it’s important to stay energized and fuel your body with high-calorie and high-protein foods. If you’re just skiing for the day, pack some energy bars and water to eat throughout your trek. If you’re planning a longer excursion, you may want to find creative ways to pack other food so you can have a hot meal or two along the way.
7. Emergency Supplies
No one wants to imagine an emergency situation, but it’s important to keep in mind when packing for a backcountry skiing trip. Throw a small first aid kit in your pack with bandages, gauze and antiseptic, at the minimum, to handle any scratches or scrapes you get during your trip. Also, make sure you’ve packed some form of emergency shelter, such as a tarp or a single-person tent, even if you don’t plan on using it. Emergency supplies will give you the peace of mind you need on the slopes.
8. Repair Kit
Stuff happens, and your gear may need a quick repair along the way. Having a few Voile straps in your pack, along with duct tape, wax, etc. can save your trip, should something unexpected happen to your gear.
With a little preparation and planning, you’ll be ready to hit the slopes in no time! When you set out for your next backcountry skiing trip, keep this checklist in mind to ensure you’ll have all your bases covered.