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8 Gifts for the Backcountry Beginner

Touring through Japanese powder. Leslie Hittmeier photo.

If your loved one is just getting into the backcountry, then you’re in luck this holiday season because there are about a million things that person probably needs to complete their quiver of techy gear. 

Here are eight ideas on how to kickstart a budding backcountry skier or rider's setup. (Please note: This is NOT a complete backcountry checklist, these are just a few suggestions for gifts—if you're looking.)

1. Avy 1 Course

Four TGR team members practice shoveling out a victim after locating them with a probe at TGR's annual International Pro Riders' Workshop. Leslie Hittmeier photo.

If the backcountry novice in your life has yet to take an Avy 1, this would be the best present you could possibly give them. There are so many courses available—everything from a simple classroom-based awareness course to a multi-day hut trip. Just start by googling avy awareness courses in your area, or go to AIARE's site and look for classes near you.  

Price: Give or take $350

2. Beacon

If they don't have a beacon yet, they'll love you for getting them one.  I'm a fan of Mammut's Pulse Barryvox. The Barryvox is a top-end beacon with a "simple" and "complex" profile setting, so it's great for a beginner, but also caters to a more sophisticated range of uses. In my opinion, it's the "dream beacon" for backcountry skiers. 

Price: $490 |  Mammut Pulse Barryvox 

If you are looking for good products that are a little bit more affordable, you can also find some really great deals on BCA also does beacon/shovel/probe packages from $329-$420.

3. First Aid Kit

Buy one and customize it, or build your own. Things to include: fire starter, ski straps, triangle bandages, pain meds, splint, tape, hand wipes, latex gloves, lots of gauze. 

Price: $50-$100+ | Check these out

4. Snow Science Kit

Most backcountry skiers are total nerds and will really appreciate new additions to their snow science kit. Again, you can buy a kit (Brooks Range makes great ones) or build your own.  

A few things to include: 

- Rite in the Rain book ($7) for observations and avy pit profiles.

- Snow saw, I love this one from BCA ($34).

- A piece of paracord with knots tied in it to cut out your avy pits. (Get at your local gear shop.)

- Aluminum snow crystal card ($12). 

5. Touring Gloves

I've been touring in Black Diamond's Spark glove this season and I love them. They are a great weight and have been working really well for both touring and skiing in colder temps. 

Price: $80 | Black Diamond

*For warmer days I love the Outdoor Research Versaliner ($52).

6. A Warm Parka

Braving the storm on Teton Pass. Stio's Hometown Down Hooded Jacket. Leslie Hittmeier photo.

A warm parka is a must-have for backcountry skiers. We throw them on whenever we stop and they become essential in any rescue scenario. Almost every technical apparel company makes them, and they are usually all pretty good. I have the  La Sportiva Tara 2.0 and love it—it's really light, insanely warm, and I think $300 is a good price point. The Patagonia Fitz Roy ($450) is a good option for someone who likes the idea of a warranty and has more money to invest. (The Fitz Roy also goes on sale every year, so look for it at the end of the season for 40 percent off.) 

7. Alpine Start Coffee

This is the best instant coffee I've ever had— the perfect antidote to the 4am wake up call. (Pair with a  Miir thermos for bonus points.)

Price: $8 | Alpine Start

8. Some Good Reading Material

No Words for the Way Down

This book goes deep into Jeremy's mindset throughout the six years of filming his trilogy. Read excerpts from Jeremy's personal journal entries, and enjoy stunning imagery—all while stoking your own backcountry fire. 

Price: 35.99 | Get it in our shop.

Staying Alive In Avalanche Terrain

The bible for backcountry skiers. This insightful book by Bruce Tremper has an easy-to-understand style and makes safety knowledge and information accessible even for everyone from snow-sport novices to snow safety veterans. I don't know anyone who frequents the backcoutnry who hasn't read this thing cover to cover.

Price: $14 | Amazon

About The Author

stash member Leslie Hittmeier

Leslie is a freelance writer and photographer. Storytelling is her focus and she spends her time following badass skiers and climbers around in their natural habitats. As an obsessed skier and climber herself, she plays and trains in the Tetons.

Great article. But I think that aid kit should be on numer one. HEALTH is the most important thing guys.