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Backcountry Ski Gear

Pros Reveal the Most Unexpected and Trusted Gear in their Backcountry Packs

Beacon, shovel, probe, plumber's putty? Here's what the pros consider essential gear for backcountry missions.

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You’re headed into the backcountry for some spring turns and you’ve got the essentials—beacon, shovel, probe—in the pack. But what else might you need while earning your turns beyond the resort ropes? Some of the biggest names in backcountry skiing reveal what’s in their backcountry packs, from the must-haves to the random yet potentially life-saving.

Related: Read SKI’s annual guide to getting after it in the backcountry

Mike Hattrup: Extreme Skiing Pioneer and AMGA Guide

Mike Hattrup
Photo: Keri Bascetta

Hattrup’s extreme skiing and mountaineering reputation precede him. He broke onto the silver screen in Greg Stump’s cult classic “The Blizzard of Aahhh’s” and evolved his extreme skiing career from there. An AMGA guide, Hattrup has climbed and skied big peaks all over the world and helped clients explore remote corners of the backcountry on skis. He’s now based in Sun Valley, Idaho. Hattrup always carries the following into the backcountry:

Garmin inReach Mini

Garmin inReach Mini

“People overlook the importance of communication or rely too heavily on cell phones that may not have coverage, run out of battery, or get damaged in a fall. With the inReach (or similar satellite communication) you can notify friends that you need help, or that you’re just running late and everything is ok (even though it’s an hour or two after nightfall). And you can call for SOS if it’s a serious situation. I learned this the hard way when I lacerated my kidney mountain biking (but same scenario for skiing); I was lucky to have two bars of cell phone reception. It was a local trail, and just before sunset. If I didn’t have cell coverage (a half-mile lower and I wouldn’t have), I would have been soaked by the thunderstorm that hit and been waiting until somebody came to find me, very likely in shock and in dire condition.”

Find it at REI: Garmin inReach Mini

Plumber’s Epoxy

Plumber's Epoxy

“It comes in two parts and is like clay. When you knead the two parts together, it sets off a chemical reaction and then hardens. Its main use is to remount bindings that have torn out of a ski. Again, this is a low probability, high consequence situation. I’ve used it to remount a binding two days deep into a multi-day tour. Without it, we would have had a massive rescue scenario.”

Leah Evans

Leah Evans

Evans is the founder and head coach of Girls Do Ski, an organization that hosts skiing camps exclusively for women. She’s based in British Columbia and spends much of her time touring and skiing in the backcountry around Revelstoke, especially off Rogers Pass. Evans doesn’t skin into the backcountry without:

BCA Snow Saw

BCA Snowstudy Snow Saw

“My dad—who is a team leader for search and rescue and has done many backcountry rescues—is the one who taught me to always have this tool. It’s great for two reasons. A) For snow safety and digging a pit. B) If you have to spend the night in the backcountry, it can help you cut down trees to make a fire or clear out a landing zone for a helicopter.”

Shop for it online: BCA Snow Saw

Wax Candle

“I always carry a long skinny candle because it’s multi-functional. It can be used for its implied use, as a candle, or it can be used as skin wax in the springtime to make sure you don’t get clumping on the base of your skins.”

Cody Townsend

Cody Townsend
Photo: Oskar Enander

Townsend first made a name for himself by hucking huge cliffs and straight-lining impossibly scary lines on the Freeride World Tour and in ski films in the mid-2000s. More recently, the Squaw Valley-native has transitioned to big ski mountaineering endeavors in his pursuit of climbing and skiing North America’s 50 classic descents for The Fifty Project. Watch any one of the 27 episodes already released, and you’ll see that Townsend has learned first-hand the importance of being prepared for the backcountry. Townsend’s backcountry kit hack:

Hyperlite Stuff Sacks

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Drawstring Stuff Sack

“From the touring itself to transitions, efficiency is the name of the game. Having all my gear neatly organized, packed up in a similar, repeatable way, and bagged up to be protected from the elements while removing your gear from your pack is something I value a ton to increase efficiency in the backcountry. Having your pack filled up like a laundry bag of gear makes it super hard to access that one piece of gear you need at that moment, so to me, using stuff sacks is the key to being organized and efficient.”

Find it on Backcountry.com: Hyperlite Stuff Sack

Christina Lustenberger

Christina Lustenberger
Photo: Bruno Long

Pro ski racer turned serious backcountry skier, Lustenberger is now one of the biggest names in ski mountaineering. An ACMG guide, Lustenberger has notched several first descents in the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains around her home in Revelstoke, B.C. Lustenberger never sets out on a backcountry mission without:

Icom F1000T Radio

Icom F1000T Radio

“I always have my Icom VHF radio with a mic attached to my pack strap for easy communication to my ski partners or the outside world. Programmed with local channels and desired operations if I need to call for assistance.”

Somewear Global Hotspot

Somewhere Global Hotspot

“I’ve started bringing my Somewear satellite communication device as well. Having both the radio and satellite covers all the corners and valleys of the backcountry.”

Drew Petersen

Drew Petersen

Petersen was born and raised in Silverthorne, Colorado but has since made the Wasatch Range in Utah his backcountry playground. In 2017, the pro skier and Salomon athlete trekked across the western U.S. to ski the 11 highest peaks in the American West and documented the adventure in his film “Ski the Wild West.” You’ll always find the following in Petersen’s backcountry pack:

First Aid Kit

“I consider having my first aid kit in my pack as essential as the essentials of beacon, shovel, probe. My kit is full of life-saving essentials to stop bleeding and stabilize injuries—and while it may seem overkill on benign days, you never know when things can go sideways.”

Athletic Tape

“I keep a roll of athletic tape in my pack because I find it to be more versatile than duct tape. I have used it to repair ski gear, patch blisters, stop bleeding, and fix camera gear.”

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