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Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding Gear Checklist


Backcountry Checklist


  1. Knowledge, a Partner, and a Plan
Before you head into the backcountry, the most important thing you can do is make sure you’re equipped with the mental tools you’ll need to ensure the safety of yourself and your partner. Take an AIARE Level One class, study the local snowpack, familiarize yourself with your gear and your route, consider possible hazards and create bailout plans, and find a partner who has done the same. You are each responsible for each other’s safety in the backcountry, so be a good partner and take all possible precautions.
  1. Backpack /Airbag
Specialized packs with airbag that can be deployed in the event of a slide are ideal, but any good ski pack will do the job. You want to make sure your pack is big enough to fit your gear and stays snug to your body while you ride.
  1. Avalanche Safety Gear
Beacon, ShovelProbe. Say it with me: beacon, shovel, probe.  These three items are your lifeline if something goes wrong and you should never travel in the backcountry without them. Get all three, practice with them in controlled environments, and make sure you have them with you at all times. Double check the battery life of your transceiver before you leave home.
  1. Touring Setup
Sure, you’re planning on driving your Chevro-legs to the top of that ridgeline and dropping in, but unless you want to posthole the whole way up, you should bring a method of snow travel with you. Generally this means touring skis or a splitboard, equipped with touring bindings and climbing skins. Some snowboarders prefer snowshoes, and for some routes it's even possible to bootpack the whole way. But if that’s your plan, maybe bring an extra Gatorade or something.
  1. Navigation Equipment
Different people have different strategies here. The surest bet is a compass, map, and an altimeter, but a dedicated GPS system or a smartphone with downloaded topo maps works for many people. If your navigation equipment is electronic, make sure it’s fully charged and you have contingency plans in place, like paper maps and spare power banks.
  1. Uphill Clothing
Despite the cold weather, things can get pretty sweaty pretty quick on the skin track, so it’s best to dress with ventilation in mind. That means technical, moisture-wicking baselayers and a pair of thin gloves for the ascent. A lot of people also like to skin with a brimmed hat to shield the sun, and a pair of sunglasses (you don’t want your foggles to get gogged on the uphill).
  1. Downhill Clothing
A waterproof shell is essential for all skiing, but for backcountry travel you’ll want one that’s lightweight and breathable, so you can wear it while you skin if there’s precipitation, or easily stash it in your pack if there’s not. Additionally, you’ll probably want a pair of goggles and a second, thicker pair of gloves for the descent.
  1. Extra Layers
You never know what could happen in the backcountry. Conditions change quickly, your body temperature fluctuates wildly as you work hard in a cold environment, and there’s always the possibility of things going wrong. You should always have an insulated puffy and a warm hat just in case you need them, and if you tend to run cold, an extra midlayer is never a bad idea.
  1. Consumables
One of the bests part of earning your turns is earning your snacks! Backcountry skiing is hard work, so make sure you bring more treats than you think you’ll need. Worst case, you’ll make some new friends along the way. Even more importantly, bring at least a liter of water, and more than that for longer tours. Hydrate or diedrate!
  1. Emergency Gear
Again, you never know what could happen, and when you’re going out to places where rescues take time, you should always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. A headlamp and a small first aid kit are essential components of any backcountry travel, and if you can, a repair kit for your gear and an emergency bivy sack are smart additions.
  1. Cell Phone, Radio, or Satellite Phone
Radios can be excellent tools for travelling in avalanche terrain and communicating with partners, and a sat phone is unparalleled in terms of contacting emergency services, but just having some form of communication is essential.
  1. Ski Straps

Get a couple of those stretchy rubber ski straps and throw them in your bag, even if you’re a snowboarder. You’ll be amazed at how many problems can be solved with one of these suckers and a little ingenuity.

Printable Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding Checklist

  1. Backpack /Airbag
  2. Beacon
  3. Shovel
  4. Probe
  5. Climbing Skins
  6. Splitboard or Skis with Touring Bindings
  7. Poles (Collapsible for Snowboarding)
  8. Touring Boots
  9. Down or Synthetic Jacket for Insulation
  10. Waterproof Shell
  11. Sunglasses 
  12. Goggles
  13. Warm Hat
  14. Food
  15. Water
  16. Thin Touring Gloves
  17. Warmer Riding Gloves
  18. Extra Mid Layer
  19. Extra Base Layer
  20. Navigation Equipment (Maps, GPS, etc.)
  21. First Aid Kit
  22. Repair Kit
  23. Headlamp
  24. Cell Phone, Radio or Satellite Phone
  25. Ski Straps

We recommend that backcountry travelers take an AIARE Level One class or equivalent and practice the skills they learn there regularly with their partners. Here are some great resources for avalanche safety education:

— American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education
— American Avalanche Association
— Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center
— Avalanche Canada

You should carry an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe when travelling in avalanche terrain and know how to use them. Backcountry travel requires an acceptance of the risks involved (avalanches are not the only danger) and implies a willingness to take responsibility for educating oneself about these dangers and ways to mitigate them.

This is evo. We are a ski, snowboard, wake, skate, bike, surf, camp, and clothing online retailer with physical stores in SeattlePortlandDenver, Salt Lake City, Whistler, and Snoqualmie Pass. Our goal is to provide you with great information to make both your purchase and upkeep easy.

evo also likes to travel to remote places across the globe in search of world-class powder turns, epic waves, or legendary mountain biking locations through evoTrip Adventure Travel Trips. Or, if you prefer to travel on your own, check out our ski & snowboard resort travel guides and mountain bike trail guides.


Still have questions? Please call our customer care team at 1.866.386.1590 during Customer Care Hours. They can help you find the right setup to fit your needs.