Staying Warm, Safe, & Well Fueled In The Backcountry

By Stio Mountain on

Written by: Tanner Flanagan
Photos by: Fred Marmsater

I get a lot of questions about the gear I use and a lot of questions about what I choose to carry around with me in the mountains. I try to keep it simple by assigning everything into three main categories: 1. Energy 2. Safety 3. Warmth. This way I can keep a tally of what I will need depending on what the objective calls for and pack accordingly.

1. Energy - This is the sandwich/snack category. Some people choose to pack a lot of “power food” like GU packets or SHOTBLOCKS. While these work great and I always have some packed just in case I “bonk”, I’ve always liked real “human food” like a greasy turkey sandwich or a custom made trail mix or jerky of some sort. Power food works but tends to mess up my stomach so human food works best for me (although it takes up more space). Don’t forget the water! And a varsity move on cold days is to bring a thermos with tea or hot cocoa.

2. Safety - Avalanche rescue gear always! Other items: headlamp, helmet/goggles, repair kit, medical kit and of course an avalanche airbag. This category changes drastically depending on conditions and objectives. Sometimes I will need a full climbing safety setup: Harness, anchor stuff, ropes. Sometimes I will need my Sharps kit: Ice axe, crampons, ski crampons. Sometimes it will be a combination of Ice axe, crampons, ascension plates for steep couloirs with variable snow. It all depends on your comfort level in certain situations, better to be safe than sorry.

3. Warmth - This category is based off weather, snow conditions and objectives. Most of the time I run hot so I don’t bring many extra layers. Extra gloves are a must! I usually run two pairs, one for the way up and one for the way down. Often, I will pack a puffy and mittens just in case, and if there is room I often opt. for a wool cap and a touring cap with sunnies. Wool cap for cold, touring cap for warm.

Backcountry Skiing Packing List

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