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Packing your Backpack for a Day in the Backcountry

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

Shovel

Probe

Airbag* - Not necessary, but nice to have.

Communication & Navigation Essentials

Extra warm layer

Radio

Headlamp

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.

New Gear Roundup: What I'm Testing in 2020 | Fit For MilesSomewear Labs, however, offers a reasonable alternative to traditional sat phones with their Global Hotspot device.

Food, Repair Kit, and extra Water

Water

High-calorie snacks

Snow study kit + Snow Saw (don't need to carry this every day)

Equipment repair kit and tools + batteries

Safety Equipment

2+ Ski straps

First aid kit (consider adding a SAM splint + N95 mask)

Sunglasses and goggles

Ski/board Helmet

Survival Equipment

Lighter/fire starter

Bivy sack/Mylar blanket

My family and I have never been out camping, and we were not sure what to pack for an occasion like that. People must always be prepared to deal with any situation, no matter what it is. Today anything can happen to find here now, and if you have the right things, you can move on.

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