Photo Credit: Broken Boundary


Ok, we know you’ve heard the good old “what to pack” for your day in the mountains, but in case you’re new to the wintersport backcountry or could use a reminder, we’re going to list the must-haves before we get into the nice-to-haves. Note, the “day trip” size of pack in  the 18-20L range is not big enough to carry what you need for a full day in the backcountry. Something in the 25-35L range is sufficient unless you are some sort of Tetris Grandmaster.

What’s Essential In Your Pack:

  • Avalanche shovel 
  • Avalanche probe
  • NOT your avalanche transceiver (that should be worn on your person inside the manufacturer’s recommended harness and over your next-to-skin layer)
  • Minimum 1L of water (not in a bladder, the hose will freeze. It always freezes)
  • Food and snacks (with extra in case of emergency)
  • Skins (if ski touring)
  • Sunglasses (if ski touring or hanging out lounging on a glacier)
  • Extra hat or toque
  • Extra pair of gloves
  • Extra layers, especially if forecasted temps are cold
  • Headlamp
  • Whistle
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Fire making kit (a piece of bicycle inner tube is an excellent firestarter)
  • First aid kit
  • Charged cell phone
  • USB battery unit + charging cable(s) for devices
  • Paper map

What's Nice to Have In Your Pack:

  • Leatherman/Multi-tool with knife
  • A handful of ski straps
  • GPS navigation (smart phones work, watch your battery)
  • Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)/2-way Satellite communicator (e.g. inReach, more on these later)
  • Sun protection
  • Snow saw (great for making a gurney out of tree branches or clearing a few trees for the heli to land)
  • Guide Tarp e.g. Alpine Threadworks Ski Guide Rescue Tarp
  • Crevasse rescue kit if travelling across glaciers. This equipment requires specific crevasse rescue training

Extra Gear For Snowmobilers:

  • Extra gas (if planning to go waaay out there)
  • Spare belt, bailing wire and tools for minor repairs
  • Roll of Gorilla tape
  • 50 foot Rope (for towing, hauling etc)
  • Spare pair of goggles

“A guide tarp is so useful if things go wrong. You can use it to haul out an injured skier or pitch it as an emergency shelter for your entire group. They’re pretty light too at 650 grams and really fast to set up. A lot of ACMG guides are using these.” — Alex Wigley, ACMG Ski Guide


For more great info on what to bring, vist BC Adventuresmart