Thinking of stepping out of bounds for some extra powder this winter? Check out this checklist of backcountry skiing and snowboarding preparations.
Bring the Right Gear
If you're going to explore the backcountry on your skis or snowboard, it's essential that you wear proper clothing and bring the right gear.
- Beacon - this is the most important piece of equipment to bring and one which could save your life. A beacon, or transceiver, allows you to find somebody or be found yourself if an avalanche comes rolling your way.
- Shovel - this is a great for digging people out of the snow or digging a path for yourself.
- Tools and Repair Kit - always bring a wrench, screwdriver or a multi-tool for repairing or adjusting bindings and poles.
- Clothing - T-shirts and a hoody won't cut it in the backcountry. Wear a waterproof jacket and pants to keep you warm and dry and prevent hypothermia.
- Food and Water - if things somehow go wrong, you could find yourself stranded on the mountain for several hours, or even days! Bring extra food and an adequate supply of water.
- A Split Snowboard - a split snowboard is designed to split apart into a pair of skis for climbing up a mountain in the backcountry. It hooks back together to form a snowboard you can ride back down. They're great for the backcountry because you don't have to carry your board around on your back.
Bring a Guide
Backcountry snowboarding or skiing is dangerous by itself, so always go with a friend who knows about backcountry safety or go with a trained guide. Many mountains now offer tours through the backcountry by expert guides who know the area. You'll have more fun going with someone who knows where all the best powder is, and you'll be safer as well.
Check the Conditions
Before heading out on your powder mission, check out the weather and snow conditions. You won't have much fun in the backcountry if there's no snow, it's foggy or there's a high avalanche danger. You can check out conditions at mountains around the world by clicking here. For the latest info on avalanches around the world, click here.
Snow Your Limits
Skiing or snowboarding out of bounds can be very tempting - especially if there's lots of good snow and you're with a bunch of friends. Remember: it's always safer to ski or snowboard inbounds on marked trails. If you are going to ride out of bounds or hit the backcountry, know your limits. Just because your friends are going out of bounds or trying a run, it doesn't mean you have to. Stay safe and don't cave in to an avalanche of peer pressure.