‘What should you pack for your average ski tour?’ Here, we answer this question by drawing up a handy kit list for you.
- Reparatur-Set (passt genau in Harscheisen)
- Akku-Pack mit Ladekabel
- Down jacket
- Insulated gloves
Food & drink
- Thermos bottle
- Granola bars, energy bars, …
At the ready
- Ski straps
- Cell phone with ear plugs/buds
- Sun cream / stick
What should I pack for a ski tour? You should have (avalanche) safety equipment, extra layers, and food & water in your backpack.
1.What should I wear?
It may seem an unusual question, but it’s also a good one, because we tend to actually wear some of our ski touring equipment on our body. The rest is packed away in our backpack, ready to be used for the ski down, for changeable conditions or in special situations, like an emergency.
Boots, bindings, poles, skins & skis or splitboard
Naturally, these are things you really can’t do without. But we won’t go into the details here. Just a short note on boots – the most important element on the list: If these don’t fit well, then your entire ski day will be ruined. That’s guaranteed.
Functional and versatile is the name of the game here. Closely followed by perhaps the most important point: comfort. You need to feel good in them. This is particularly true of your first layer of clothing, or functional baselayer, which is worn directly against the skin. Which takes us on to our proven layering system:
- Layer 1: Technical underwear made from synthetic fibers or merino wool
- Layer 2: Softshell i.e. wind- and water-repellent jacket and pants
- Layer 3: Windproof and/or insulated jacket, which will usually be packed away in your backpack during the ascent and is only worn in deteriorating conditions or for the descent.
Then, you’ll also need gloves, headwear and sunglasses for the ascent. Here too, it’s good to select the level of insulation according to your personal sensitivity and prevailing conditions. And when it comes to sunglasses, don’t cut corners –good-quality only.
Another thing you’ll want to ‘wear’ on your body – in early spring at the latest – is SPF 50+ sun cream for your face.
At the ready
Some equipment is stowed but needs to be readily accessed during a ski tour:
- Your avalanche transceivermust always be in a carrying case and worn under your outermost layer or in a specially-designed, secured pocket in your pants.
- A cell phone stowed at least 20 cm away (i.e. on the other side of your body) from your transceiver in a chest pocket, possibly in an insulated case. It needs to be accessible for navigation purposes or to place an emergency call.
- Sun cream/ lip screen, ski straps, snacks(bars, gels, biltong/dried meats, banana etc.) and a small water bottle or bladder, which can either be stored in outside pockets or inside your pack, so that you can access them regularly.
This is carried on your back. For a one-day ski tour, a +/-30-liter pack will usually do nicely. Specific ski touring packs have a few special features like a dedicated safety equipment compartment for your shovel and probe, ski attachment options and sometimes a built-in avalanche airbag.
2. What should I pack inside my backpack?
As listed in the image dropdowns at the top of this article, your general safety equipment includes the following items, in addition to your cell phone. You should have these items with you on mountain days, no matter what time of year you head out:
- Headlamp, which should be brighter for winter use, so there is enough light generated for you to be able to ski down in the dark.
- First aid kit, to include a heat pack maybe.
- Bivy bag, which in winter can be used for rest breaks in stormy weather, as well as for an emergency shelter; choose one that’s sturdy and functional, so it’s up to the job.
Then, there’s your specialized safety equipment for use in an avalanche emergency, which includes your transceiver and the following items:
- Probe, minimum 240 cm long
- Shovel,made from durable aluminum, and with a telescopic shaft and 90-degree angle hacking function
In addition to general safety equipment, there’s personal protective equipment like an airbag backpack and a helmet, which can be strapped to the front of your pack during the ascent.
A small repair kit to deal with skins that won’t stick or missing binding screws etc. can also be a useful addition for preventing a more serious situation from developing. This might contain items like a multi-tool and block of universal wax. If using your cell phone for navigation, it’s a good idea to pack a little power bank and charging cable as well, so you always have enough power to make calls. Some headlamps, incidentally, can also be charged in this way.
Down or PrimaLoft® have proven to be the most effective insulation layers for the ride down, as spares or if it’s freezing cold and windy – especially when enclosed in hard-wearing shell fabric. Even if you prefer to ski in a hardshell jacket, it’s highly advisable to carry a down (unbeatable for weight-to-warmth performance) layer with you too. In case of injury, you can use it to keep the injured person warm inside a bivy bag or survival blanket until rescue services arrive.
Take a warm hat (or helmet) and a pair of thicker gloves plus goggles with you for the ride down. Depending on how fast you skin or how much you sweat, it’s a good idea to take a change of T-shirt for the summit too.
Food & drink
The amount of food and drink you take depends on your preference, but also on the length of route you’ve got planned and whether you’ll be able to access catering facilities along the way.
It’s important you have enough liquids with you, and a 1-liter thermos bottle is an ideal size if you hydrate well beforehand. Some people prefer not to eat if it’s a day tour, but others like to have plenty of food – so it’s up to you how much you take. The main thing is that it needs to taste good and not be too challenging on the digestive system. But whatever you decide, it’s always good to have one or two energy bars with you, just in case.
Depending on exposure, how well you know the route etc. it might be useful to take a topo map and satellite messenger or similar, in addition to your cell phone. But that really depends on the situation, and we’ll deal with that in a separate article.
The PIEPS FIRST AID PRO is a kit for administering first aid on the move. Filled with high-quality contents including a flexible alu-synthetic splint, it’s specifically designed for outdoor activities and neatly organized across two compartments. An emergency headlamp, such as the Flare Headlamp from Black Diamond, would be another great addition.
- Easy updates and device setting via App and Bluetooth
- Wide, circular 60 m coverage for fast and stable initial signal reception
The PIEPS POWDER SERIES is designed for a wide range of users from weekend ski touring fans to ski mountaineers or freeride skiers. Devices in this series offer intuitive handling and exclusive PIEPS safety technology at a price point that’s keen for the level of performance too.
In send mode, the lithium batteries of the PIEPS POWDER BT offer an operating time of at least 300 hours.
The PIEPS BIVY is an essential piece of safety kit for you and your mountain buddy – it can even save lives. It’s hard wearing, silver coated on the inside, is easy to pack away, compact, and with reinforced eyelets is also multipurpose:
- as a bivy bag
- for makeshift emergency evacuation system (drag bag & emergency stretcher)
- for various uses during a ski tour (e.g. sit mat, sun shield, rain poncho)
The JETFORCE BT’s innovative technology allows for multiple deployments and the convenience of recharging your airbag at home. You don’t have to worry about sourcing replacement cartridges and can practice your deployment technique as often as you like, without incurring any costs. The option of multiple deployments means you can deploy it, even if not 100% certain the situation calls for it. Better safe than sorry, as they say.
The popular PIEPS ALU SPORT is a telescopic probe that’s quick and easy to extend.
- Speed-Cone-System for quick and straightforward extension
- Quick release latch to secure the probe in place
- Scale in centimeters to read depth of victim or for snow profiles.
- Elasticated buckle strap to keep it compact when packed away
- Compact size for storage
The PIEPS SHOVEL C660 with telescopic handle and C-shaped grip is the perfect shovel for any rescue situation. It’s lightweight, yet very tough.
- Hoe function (90-degree-angle blade)
- Non-slip footrest zone
- Anti-slip handle for better grip
- Raised spine along middle of blade
- Built-in bottle opener
Special coating for durability in extreme conditions
- Sharpened edges
- Rescue sled function