Backcountry skiing is popular because it gives you an adrenaline rush as you slide down the slopes. With various ski videos from Warren Miller to TGR showcasing the unspeakable glory of the deep mountains, nothing lights up the winter spirit like backcountry skiing. But at the same time, backcountry skiing presents some serious challenges, such as injuries or avalanches on the way to the slopes, so we need to read backcountry skiing guides in advance and prepare our equipment for any eventuality. Our detailed backcountry skiing checklist below covers everything from critical ski equipment (skis, boots, bindings, etc.) to recommended ski clothing, avalanche safety equipment, and other items you don’t want to forget. For more information on each product category, see below. These roundups are the result of field testing and expert opinion.
what is a Backcountry Ski
Backcountry Skiing is skiing outside of ski resorts. Backcountry Skiers enjoy Touring and climbing in secluded wilderness areas and then skiing downhill from there. More advanced Backcountry Skiers may venture into alpine wilderness areas for multi-day camping and Backcountry Skiing trips.
Any form of skiing that is done away from a ski area’s patrolled bounds is considered Backcountry Skiing (also known as cross-country skiing). When using alpine Touring or telemark equipment, you can ski upwards and then downhill, utilizing mountaineering skins and bindings with free-heel capability. But by leaving the ski resort limits, skiers who wear regular downhill gear and ride lifts uphill may frequently access inaccessible locations. You certainly must be outfitted and trained for avalanche assessment and rescue before you can go Backcountry Skiing.
Why Go Backcountry Skiing?
Good air, few people, quiet, etc. These are the reasons why we enjoyed skiing on the new course; we also enjoyed going uphill, working out, finding routes, slowing down with your partner, and enjoying every turn. When you fall in love with Backcountry Skiing, you will start to enjoy the pleasure it gives you!
The serenity of the Backcountry, the chance to challenge your physical and mental limits, and a closer connection to nature are all things that Backcountry Skiing offers. Remote skiers will experience the finest of skiing and snowboarding while gaining tremendous strength and endurance, in contrast to resort skiing, which may be fairly anaerobic. The capacity to remove yourself from your regular environment and establish a relationship with nature, however, are the aspects of Backcountry Skiing that have the most transforming effects.
What Equipment Do You Need To Bring For Backcountry Ski
- Beacon: Another name for an avalanche transceiver. This alternative word, however, is occasionally mistaken with a personal locator beacon (PLB), which transmits a distress signal but is useless for helping a partner find them in the snow. A victim’s local signal is transmitted by an avalanche transceiver in transmit mode, and the victim’s companions’ local signal is received in search (or receive) mode.
- Snow Probe: This long tent-pole-like wand, which is used to locate a buried person during a transceiver search, may be divided into many portions to fit in a bag. For finding someone who is severely buried, the longer the overall length, the better. Longer probes also increase detection efficiency by allowing you to repeat the process until you reach the target depth without having to bend down every time.
- Snow shovel: Snow shovel is usually removable, and the larger the better, it can improve the efficiency of snow digging
Backcountry Ski Boots
Boots are arguably the most important piece of ski equipment you own, and choosing the right boots is critical to keeping you warm and comfortable all day long. Backcountry Ski boots must fit well, or your feet will get blisters or sweat. Backcountry Ski boots also have some key attributes.
How do they fasten to the Skis? These days, pintech fittings are used on the majority of remote ski boots. The toe of the boot has what appear to be two metal holes. Your boot is fastened to the ski by pins from your pintech bindings that slide into these holes.
Even though you might not use pin bindings, I strongly advise that you purchase Backcountry boots with pintech fittings.
Secondly, some boots only have pintech fittings and no bindings for attaching alpine Skis. For those boots, you will only be able to use Skis with pintech bindings, so you need to think carefully.
Pay attention to other properties of the boots as well. For example, how much range of motion do the boots give you in walk mode? How stiff are the boots? How much do they weigh?
Ski boots for remote areas are expensive, but there is no saving this money, and you can use them for many years if nothing else.
Backcountry Ski Bindings
You will require Touring-specific bindings to go with whatever Skis you decide on. Alpine Touring bindings, also known as “tech” bindings, have a toe piece with two pins that lock into ski boots that are tech-compatible and a releasable heel, both of which improve mobility and efficiency on the ascent.
For your first pair of Backcountry Skis, choose a pair of versatile Skis that you can ride anywhere in the ski resort in all weather conditions.
Whether you’re going up or down a mountain, you need a good pair of Skis for your feet. In general, skinnier and lighter designs are more effective on the uphill, while fatter and heavier models provide better stability and flotation on the downhill.
When purchasing new skins, the first thing to consider is how they will attach to your Skis. The majority of G3 models use clips, so they should fit almost any ski.
But some skins (Dynafit, Volkl) have pins that slide through a hole in the nose of the ski or another specific attachment method that makes them only work with certain Skis. Make sure yours will be compatible.
The following factors to think about are length and width. Make sure they are wider than your Skis before you buy them because, obviously, you want them to fit. To cut them to the right size for your ski, use the tool that comes with the package.
Which ones ought you to buy? There are many different traction levels, and those made with nylon plush typically have better uphill traction. Mohair-surfaced models typically offer better glide, and you can even find a mohair-and-nylon hybrid.
The main requirements for a backpack are that it has a place where you can easily access your avalanche kit, as well as carrying some food, water, emergency gear, and layers of clothing.
It primarily carries your shovel and probe, though. It is best if there is a separate compartment for these tools because you need to be able to access them quickly. If not, remember to pack carefully because the probe and shovel need to be available at all times.
Naturally, avalanche airbags are a huge improvement for Backcountry Skiers. When a trigger lever or handle is pulled, the airbags in these packs almost immediately begin to inflate. If you frequently travel through avalanche terrain, they can be quite useful and increase your level of safety.
Backcountry Ski clothing
The best ski jacket will largely depend on the temperature, weather (wind and precipitation), and level of activity that particular day (serious skiers often have a quiver). Ski jackets designed for the Backcountry are typically lighter and more streamlined than those designed for ski resorts, and they come in both hardshell and softshell varieties.
When skiing, you should not only keep warm, but also pay attention to the matching of clothing, so as not to sweat profusely when going uphill, which will cause you to catch a cold
Beginner Backcountry Ski gear: The Extras
Ski straps: These can be used to fix all kinds of broken things in the field.
First aid kit: Bring some band-aids, sunscreen, and maybe some ibuprofen.
First aid blanket: Because you may need to ask for help to evacuate your friends, a first aid blanket can help keep them warm while they wait.
Water bottle and food: Bring water and food to keep your strength up at all times
Pick a three-meter carbon probe, such as the Black Diamond Carbon Quickdraw.
Avalanche transciever: discover more information on transceivers
G3 Minimist skins are a good choice for climbing.
The Arc’teryx Proton LT (lightweight warmth with breathability) and Dynafit FT Down jacket are the jackets shown (warmer). Listed below are some more we like: Patagonia Nano Air Hoodie or Arcteryx Cerium Hoodie are mid-weight options; for warmer options, see the Patagonia Macro Air Hoodie or Arc’teryx Thorium AR Hoodie.
Ski Shell: A hardshell jacket that is waterproof, breathable, and windproof is a necessity. Choose airy, light clothing over heavy, warm clothing. Here are a few that we like: San Juan, Patagonia Stormstride, Dynafit Radical, or Arc’teryx Beta LT
Water Bottle – When empty, the platypus water bottle takes up less room.
Both the Black Diamond Revolt and the Petzl Actika headlamps have USB rechargeable batteries.
We prefer the Smith I/O and I/O Mag Goggles for glasses. Check out this Tailgate low-profile goggles case.
Multi-tool with binding screws, steel wool, a lighter, and voile straps in a tool kit
Gloves to spare
A bandana, which is a small piece of soft cotton, is useful for drying electronics or cleaning spectacles and goggles.
Optional Items – Conditions or Tour-Dependent gear
GPS — I also bring a GPS when I go on tours in new places or for longer days. Consider the Garmin E-trex 22x for a portable device or the Garmin GPSMap 64sx for a model with lots of features.
portable VHF radio, such as the Yaesu V7R (requires license)
FRS/GMRS radio such as the BC Link from BCA (no license required)
Snow Saw: The G3 Bonesaw is fairly lightweight and capable of cutting wood if necessary.
Can I use my downhill Skis for Backcountry?
Skis. Theoretically, any downhill ski can be configured for use in the Backcountry, but alpine Touring Skis made specifically for the Backcountry typically have lighter constructions that make climbing hills much simpler.
Do you want longer or shorter Skis for Backcountry?
Because they have more control over the ski and feel more at ease making longer turns, taller, heavier, and more experienced skiers tend to prefer longer Skis. The maneuverability of a shorter ski will typically feel more comfortable to shorter, lighter individuals as well as novice skiers.
What happens if you use Skis that are too short?
Skis that are too short to support your weight will lack control, response, or rebound, and they won’t be able to absorb vibration when you’re moving faster.