You’re going to a backcountry ski hut! Yay! Untracked pow, great friends, cozy nights. Here’s a packing list to help you prepare for the adventure.
All brands mentioned below are products we use and recommend in the backcountry. Links are provided for your reference only. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing all your gear from a local backcountry / mountaineering shop in a ski town. Knowledgable staff will set you up for success, make sure your gear functions together, teach you how to use it, give real time recommendations, and really set you up well!
By the way no one pays us to write these lists, and none of these links are paid affiliate links. These are real recommendations. Some of these brands are generous sponsors, like BCA, DPS, Osprey Packs, Scarpa, but I don’t think they even know we write these lists. Either way nobody pays us to write these packing lists and we only recommend products we think are excellent, useful, high quality items.
1. Ski Gear
- Backcountry Skis Powder Skis!! At least 97mm underfoot. This is what I am skiing: DPS Skis Wailer 112 – Tour 1 Construction. I recommend this ski for BC’s powder… lightweight, great floatation, great shape, super perfect ski. This ski is yellow, it also comes in pink for women (ha, but true!)
- Touring bindings If you’re skiing at a backcountry lodge, you’re probably already familiar with the importance of good bindings. We’re stoked on G3 Ion bindings – they are lightweight and easy to step into. Dynafit is another good brand. If you have heavier bindings, you will have to work harder skinning uphill, but you’ll have the benefit of extra fitness.
- Backcountry Ski Boots The Backcountry Babes consensus for best make and model? Scarpa Gea boots. Stiff on the downhill, yet light and flexible on the uphill. I just got the Scarpa F1 boots and they are fantastic, as well. Super light and very comfortable. The best boot is the boot that fits your foot…light weight is also nice.
- Ski Poles -adjustable height, powder baskets
- Climbing skins trimmed to fit your skis. I’m really digging my new Pomoca skins.
- Scraper – to get sticky snow off your skis and skins while you tour on those warm days.
- Wax – a little block of solid rub-on wax for your skins & bases for possible warm, globby days 🙂
- Avalanche Transceiver w/extra batteries
- Shovel – metal not plastic. Here’s a good BCA shovel
- Probe –BCA probe
- Repair kit and spare parts for bindings. Make sure all your ski gear and avy gear is in good working order before the trip.
- At least 40oz carrying capacity for water. Water bottles, a hydration bladder (I avoid these in the winter because of the frozen hose situation) and an insulated thermos for tea- a nice touch but heavy.
- Backcountry ski backpack to put all this in. A favorite style is the Kresta 30L from Osprey Packs. The Kresta has lots of organizational pockets and is favorite for comfort. I also like the Osprey Mutant 38L pack. No extra pockets or frills, but nice and light and still very comfortable
2. Skiing Outfit
- Sun hat: Something with a big brim. Backcountry Babes Trucker Hat
- Sun glasses: High quality sunglasses with great sun protection, big rims to keep the sun out! One year I brought my new cycling sunglasses and they would have blinded me with all the light coming in from the bottom. Once again, ski guide to the rescue, Kristina helped me out with her extra pair. Guided is better, even for professionals!
- Goggles with low light lenses: For snowy days.
- Sunscreen: Winter formula to prevent chapped skin.
- Lip Balm with SPF
- Helmet? Some people don’t use a helmet in the backcountry, others do.
- A warm layer: down jacket or vest
- Waterproof outer shell
- Waterproof shell pants. Uninsulated and bring layers for underneath.
- Wool Buff to keep your neck warm, or a thin buff to keep the sun off your neck.
- Layers! Once you’re hiking uphill you might want to shed layers until you’re in your lightweight base layer, even on the most arctic Canadian Rocky days. Here’s my layering system:
- Patagonia R1 Hoodie or some kind of expedition weight base layer top.
- Wool long sleeved shirt or some kind of midweight base layer top
- lightweight base layer – short sleeved wool tshirt to hike in, or longsleeved lightweight layer to keep the sun off too.
- Wool long underwear aka midweight base layer bottoms
- Ski Socks I like wool socks, as thin as possible, and a new pair each day to keep them from getting crusty and cold.
- Sports Bra
- Gloves – I’m loving these: handout gloves. I usually bring 2 pair of gloves to rotate through wet and dry.
- Warm Hat – Pistil Designs for style points
3. Hanging at the Hut
- Hut Slippers – crocs, wool clogs, slippers, or simply just socks.
- Towel for the sauna. (And maybe a bathing suit if you are shy).
- Snow Boots for walking to the outhouse, sauna, and checking out the views in the evening. Lightweight is fine, even tennis shoes seem fine. Typically hut care takers pack the trails down between the hut and bathroom and hut and sauna, so you won’t posthole. You can also skip the snow boots and tromp around in your ski boot shells if you’re packing light.
- Comfortable Lounge wear for apres ski the hut is very warm, filled with people and a wood burning stove cranking heat, so you can pack lighter weight clothes, T-shirts, whatever!
- Headlamp with extra batteries – usually the huts have lights, but always nice to have your own for going to the outhouse or reading once your roommates are asleep.
4. Random Essentials
- Credit Card, Driver’s License, and Insurance Card in the world’s thinnest Allet Wallet .
- Personal first aid, blister ampoules bandages, personal medications, tampons
- Hair ties, mini hair brush, mini shampoo, mini toiletries
- Contact lenses or eyeglasses
- Cell phone – great for photos and communication on your way into and out of the backcountry. Oh, and no cell service at the hut (yay!)
- Yes, many huts have solar powered electricity with regular electrical sockets, so bring a charger
- Yes, many huts have wifi. It’s satellite powered, so expect spotty service and put up a robust away message for your work. (I can’t be reached, shredding the backcountry, sorry not sorry!)
- Border Considerations: Non US citizens, check the newly changed visa requirements. Also, have a DUI in the last 10 years? You might not be let into Canada. Limits on alcohol and food, etc. Don’t bring Bear Spray across the border for any reason!
5. Bonus Points
- a surprise stash of chocolate to share on a special day
- a quote or reading to share with your group on a peak
- a ukulele or guitar with chords/lyrics (most huts have a guitar up there!)
- a great camera and share your photographic efforts
- iPod, often there are speakers at the hut.
- Post-trip change of clothes to leave in the car.
- Cash (Canadian or US) to purchase souvenir items and tip. It is customary to tip your ski guide 10-20% of trip cost. The lead guide will split the tip among the chef, custodian, and 2nd guide.
- Books, backgammon, cribbage, cards, games – usually the hut has these things already!
- You are allowed to bring in 24-12 oz. cans or bottles of beer or 40 oz liquor or 1.5 litres of wine per person when crossing the border from the US into Canada. Recommend boxed wine over glass, cans over bottles for the helicopter situation. Pour the good liquor into plastic for better heli travel.
**The less stuff you bring, the lighter you’ll travel and the more freedom you’ll have. Plus, there’s usually a weight limit if you are taking a helicopter.**
To be clear, we’re talking about what you need for a backcountry ski lodge with warm beds, a sauna, firewood, and a full kitchen– British Columbia style. Stay tuned for a future blog about what to pack for the more rugged Sierra Club or 10th Mountain Division huts.
Special thanks to DPS Skis, SCARPA, G3, PISTIL Designs, BCA, and Osprey Packs for supporting Backcountry Babes.