Understanding Backcountry Gear
If your next adventure is taking you out of bounds, you need to make sure you have all the right backcountry gear. Here is a list of some important gear you'll need to have with you.
When you are ready to adventure into uncharted territory, you are going to need the proper gear to make sure you get in and out safely. Whether you are doing some out of bounds splitting or full blown heli drop-offs, the right gear makes all the difference. We will break down some of the various supplies that you should have for your snowy adventure.
Before we get into backcountry specific gear, be sure to sock up on general safety and well-being supplies. We won’t go into too much detail but here is a quick list of things you should always have on hand when embarking on your backcountry adventure.
- Map and Compass
- Phone and/or Radio
- Food/Water (prepare for extra day’s worth)
- First Aid Kit
- Knife/Multi Tool
- Matches (waterproof)
- Sun protection
- Rescue Ropes and Carabiners
- Travel partner (never go out alone!)
Compact backcountry shovels are a must. These can be used in both emergency situations or to simply build a sweet kicker. With a telescoping handle and aluminum blade, these shovels are small, yet mighty, and are worth the weight they will add to your pack. Many technical backcountry backpacks will have a specific slot for your shovel.
Avalanche beacons are required for some more serious backcountry missions. Training is required to ensure that you are using the equipment properly. In short, a transponder will help to locate you in the event that you are trapped in an avalanche. There are many different kinds of transponders out there with varied range and features. Overall, a transponder is able to send out a series of signals based on the type of situation you are in. You can locate those in need, or be located with a simple push of a button. In high-risk backcountry situations, it’s always better safe than sorry.
ABS (Avalanche Balloon Secure system) packs are a must in any area where avalanches are a possibility. These packs are expensive but can be the difference between life and death if you are caught in an avalanche. ABS packs have a built in airbag system that inflates when triggered, in an effort to keep your head above snow during/after an avalanche. When shopping for ABS packs be sure to note that many packs are ABS-ready or ABS-compatible which means they DO NOT come with an airbag but will work with the system. Also make sure you understand what it takes to travel with an airbag system. They are armed with C02 cartridges so there may be restrictions that could prohibit you from bringing the bag on an airplane.
A good splitboard Pack will come equipped with all the padding, pockets and gear straps that you need to get the job done in the backcountry. These are not to be confused with ABS packs and can not save you in an avalanche. For average (non-avalanche risk) splitboarding adventures, a split pack is all you need. There are generally straps to carry your board as a whole or in ski mode, they will have a padded backing as well as ergonomic padded straps and include gear pockets for all your other accessories like shovels and split hardware.
The skins are what you adhere to the bottom of of your board when in ski mode. They help create friction between you and the snow for easier climbing, traversing and hiking in slick terrain.
Even though you won’t be skiing down the hill, poles are a must. They will help keep you steady during climbs and also assist in weight distribution so you don’t get fatigued as quickly as hiking without them.
Pins are small and easy to lose, so it’s not a bad idea to have extra pins in your stash. The pins attach to the front of your splitboard binding when in touring mode. They allow the binding to move up and down with each step so you have more free movement and control when ascending.
If a little extra support is needed from your bindings, you can attach the Strappy Strap around your calf area and around the binding hi-back. This creates a more stable attachment between you and your bindings so you get more support from your hi-back on steep terrain.
For icy or hardpack conditions, crampons are a must. They act like teeth under your bindings and dig into the snow giving you added stability and support while climbing.
You now have the knowledge to travel in the backcountry safely. Make sure to view our guide on understanding splitboards for a more detailed guide to splitboards or our understanding splitboard bindings guide for more detail on splitboard binding types.