Packing smart can make a big difference in the backcountry. Max Ritter photo.
When most of us head out into the backcountry, it’s likely for a day trip. But regardless of how long you plan to be out in the wild, you should always pack for the off-chance of spending the night. Preparing for the worst isn’t overkill, it’s being smart and realistic. Backcountry skiing and snowboarding are unpredictable sports. We can all do our best to mitigate risks and make a thoughtful plan, but the unexpected can and will happen. If your buddy breaks his leg after hitting a drop, then there’s a good chance you’ll be both waiting for search and rescue to help get him out safely. That process can take hours, and sometimes even stretch into the night or the next morning. Bringing items like an extra down jacket and bivy sack can mean the difference between staying warm and hypothermia.
Thankfully, emergency gear is becoming smaller, lighter, and even more inexpensive. We’ve compiled a list of essential things we like to keep in our packs for our adventures. Take a look:
Avalanche Safety Equipment
Beacon - You're wearing this, of course
Airbag* - Not necessary, but nice to have.
Communication & Navigation Essentials
Extra warm layer
Cell phone (if you live in Teton County download the Backcountry SOS app)
SOS device: Somewear Labs Hotspot
*Learn more about how this tool can turn your smartphone into a satellite device in our conversation with Jeremy Jones who helped developed this revolutionary device.
Somewear Labs, however, offers a reasonable alternative to traditional sat phones with their Global Hotspot device.
Food, Repair Kit, and extra Water
Snow study kit + Snow Saw (don't need to carry this every day)
Equipment repair kit and tools + batteries
2+ Ski straps
First aid kit (consider adding a SAM splint + N95 mask)
Sunglasses and goggles
Bivy sack/Mylar blanket
Mammut's avalanche safety kit is one that many of our athletes and crew trust, and after testing it at our International Pro Riders Workshop and in an epic Teton storm cycle that followed, we’re convinced it’s the perfect kit to keep you safe in the mountains. Max Ritter and Mammut photo. Avalanche safety equipment is the kind of thing you need to be able to trust your life to. It needs to work 100 percent every time, with no compromises. When you or a buddy are buried in an avalanche,
Utah's snowpack continues to be unstable and unpredictable. Three snowmobilers experienced it firsthand while riding in Franklin Basin, Utah near the Idaho border last week. The three were out riding when one of them triggered a slide and was carried down to a tree well. He deployed his airbag but was buried under three feet of snow for around fifteen minutes before being rescued by his partners. While the rider was unresponsive upon being found by his partners, they were able to revive him
Every winter you should be practicing with your beacon. Katie Lozancich photo. The most important aspect of beacon fundamentals is simple: practice. It's imperative to get to know your own beacon, its functions, and how to switch to search quickly. Practice search drills regularly throughout the season and repeat the process when you buy a new beacon. Here, we break down the search process into four phases with what we learned at this year’s IPRW while practicing with our Mammut Barryvox