WHEN YOU'RE PLANNING TO head out into the backcountry, self-sufficiency is more important than ever. Though it’s important to have a team of trusted and experienced skiers or riders to lean on, ultimately, it’s up to you to come prepared for the day ahead.
The goal for backcountry preparedness is equal parts safety and balance. You want to be prepared for any possible outcome—whether it’s an unexpected storm rolling in, tacked on mileage that requires extra fuel, or the possibility of an avalanche—but you want to be streamlined enough that you’re not lugging around too much weight and wasting energy. With help from The Mountain Guides, this article will give you a better idea of the gear you'll want to bring for a single-day backcountry ski tour. Depending on your body, environment, skill level, and personal preferences, some items may vary—however, if you’re new to backcountry skiing or are just looking to gain a better understanding of how the experts keep themselves safe and comfortable on more extreme terrain, these guidelines will provide a solid starting point for you to dial in your own system.
Keep in mind, the gear that you bring for these kinds of trips is going to be a little different than the gear that you'd use at the resort because we don't have that big shiny lift to take us to the top of the mountain—we have to use our legs, which generates a lot of heat. Having lightweight layers to dump that heat as well as heavy layers to trap it and keep us warm while stopped or going downhill is crucial for human-powered travel over snow.