The Right Backcountry Skiing Gear is Crucial.
It’s been a busy time in the backcountry. I’ve never seen as many people backcountry skiing. I’m not sure if that’s because people are finding themselves with more time due working from home, or people continue to aim to find COVID-friendly activities, or because of the record amound of snow Utah had this year. Either way, if you’ve just booked a guided backcountry ski trip to improve your technique or escape COVID, or you’re planning to start backcountry skiing soon, or you have an upcoming skiing advenutre in Alaska or The Alps (as examples)…Then this list is right for you.
Having the right Ski Gear when you’re exploring the backcountry is crucial. I have been lucky enough to spend nearly every day of the last 20 years going in to the backcountry of various mountains – all over the word. And I can assure you, you want to get your gear right. Staying warm and dry are critical. That’s why I’ve detailed a list gear you’ll need. You can click on the product to see the recommended product.
Recommendations for the Best Backcountry Ski Gear
Backcountry Skiing Gear List
Ski + Technical
- Skis With Alpine Touring bindings: We recommend a touring ski with a waist between 102cm and 116. Skis should be equipped with touring binding, preferably tech style bindings.
- Climbing Skins: Skins need to be in good condition and cut to fit your ski.
- Ski Touring Boot: Boots need to be compatible with your bindings. Boots must have a walk mode.*For Those doing a ski mountaineering objective
- Ski Crampons: Ski Crampons must be compatible with your bindings and ski waist width.
- Boot Crampons: We highly recommend aluminum crampons. Make sure they work with your ski boots
- Harness: Harness must fit over ski clothing, be lightweight, and in good condition. You should also have 2 locking carabiners and a belay device.
- Ice Axe: Ice Axe needs to be lightweight and short (Less than 55cm)
- Ski Backpack: A good ski pack should be lightweight and have a dedicated pocket for your avalanche rescue gear and be between 30-50 liters.
- Avalanche Rescue Gear: You will need a shovel and probe. The Shovel should have an extendable handle and an aluminum blade. Both should fit into your pack without sticking out. Make sure your probe is in working order.
- Avalanche Beacon: Your beacon should be a modern digital beacon. Check your battery life before you leave the house.
- Ski Helmet: While not required a helmet is highly recommend.
Backcountry Ski Clothing
From head to toe you’ll find recommendations in the below lists. We also have an article that breaks down How to Layer for the Backcountry Skiing in case you would like tips for staying warm and dry while preparing for a day of backcountry skiing or ski mountaineering.
Upper Body + Hands
- Beanie: Light or med. weight Beanie.
- Buff/Neck Gaiter: We recommend a lightweight buff as it has many uses.
- Goggles: We really like goggles with changeable lenses for use in bright and low light. They should also be compatible with your helmet.
- Sunglasses: Even if you always prefer to ski in goggles, sun glasses are needed for the up. Goggles will get fogged with sweat.
Upper Body + Hands
- Hard Shell Jacket: Waterproof/breathable jacket with ventilation
- Midlayer: Breathable light insulating jacket.
- Mid to Heavy Insulating Jacket: When temps are cold, you will be happy for a nice warm jacket.
- Shell Jacket: Hard or Softshell protection from wind and snow. Lightweight material with no insulation or liner
- Top Base Layer: We really like sun hoodies.
- Warm Gloves: How warm depends on you. We recommend a durable well-fitting ski glove.
- Light Gloves: lighter weight gloves are recommended for hiking up to reduce sweating
Lower Body + Feet
Note: Ski boots can be found under the technical gear section.
- Ski Pants: We recommend a light weight pants or a more waterproof pant option.
- Bottom Base Layer: base layer bottoms.
- Ski Touring Boot: Touring Ski Boots need to be compatible with your bindings. Boots must have a walk mode.*For anyone doing a ski mountaineering objective
- Ski Socks: We prefer lightweight socks
Personal and Group Items
- Sunscreen: 50 SPF or greater. Make sure your tube is not old as sunscreen can lose its effectiveness over time
- Lip Screen: Make sure it has at least 30 SPF
- Food and Water: 1-2 liters of water, enough food for the day
- Navigation/communication: InReach, Phone, extra phone battery or portable cell phone charger, headlamp, inclinometer/Compass
- Avalanche observation kit: Notebook, snow saw, cord, crystal card and hand lense
- Small First Aid Kit: CPR mask, Medical gloves, Blister stuff, wound care (band-aids, gauze pads etc), Med tape, Ibuprophren, Scissors.
- Repair Kit: binding tool, duct tape, extra batteries, ski straps, lighter, skin wax, scraper, baling wire, zip ties, binding screws, and boot rivets.
- Rescue Tarp/Shelter: One example