What’s in your ski pack? It’s a question I hear a lot. There’s no sense in carrying more up the hill than you need to, but there are some key items you should always have with you in the backcountry. We’ve put together a backcountry ski packing list for a basic day of ski touring.
In our world, the non-negotiable items for winter ski touring include a shovel, probe, beacon, skins, headlamp and puffy coat. But beyond these items, there’s a fair bit of latitude as to what is necessary for touring.
I went through my pack for a typical day tour and my gear list is relatively short and utilitarian.
The contents in the photo are from a recent day in the hills where I am familiar with and confident about the terrain and includes a few items that I consider optional depending on the tour – ski crampons, and VHF Radio. I use and inspect my gear regularly, so I do not carry much of a repair kit – just a multi-tool, a few binding screws, some skin wax and a lighter. My first aid kit is also on the thin side and consists of cloth athletic tape. Given a significant injury to arm or leg, I rely on things like voile straps, rutschcord, shovel, probe, poles, warm clothing and my radio or phone to manage the problem.
Backcountry ski packing list:
Skis, Boots, Poles . . .
- Shovel – Voile TelePack or BCA RS Shovel
- Probe – We like the carbon variety
- Beacon – Read more about beacons
- Skins – We recommend the G3 Alpinist and Alpinist LT
- A Puffy Jacket – Patagonia Nano Air Hoodie, FlyLow Albert Jacket or the Dynafit Cho Oyu
- Ski Shell – Softshell or waterproof breathable, we always have a jacket with us; read up on ski jackets
- Compass – Lightweight insurance in case of bad vis
- Thermos – Small for short days/large for bigger days.
- Water Bottle – Platypus water bottle saves space once it’s empty
- Headlamp – Petzl Tikka
- Goggles – We like Smith Goggles. Check out this low-profile Goggle case from Tailgate
- Sunglasses – We like Smith sunglasses
- Tool kit – Multi-Tool / binding screws / steel wool / lighter / voile straps
- Ski scraper – Handy for ski / skin maintenance while in the field offpistemag scrapers
- Spare gloves/hat – We like leather gloves and Pistil Designs hats
Secondary Backcountry Ski Packing List – conditions or tour dependent gear
- GPS – For bigger days and on tours in unfamiliar areas, I carry a GPS, too.
- Handheld VHF radio (requires license) or FRS/GMRS radio like the BCA BC Link (no license required)
- Ski Crampons – for spring tours and for specific objectives, ski crampons are great.
- Snow Saw – Our fave is the BCA saw
- Rutschcord – We use a homemade one from knotted 2-3mm cord; check out some commercial options