Backcountry skiers skinning up a slope

Ski touring checklist

Thinking about doing a hut-to-hut ski tour like the Wapta Traverse or the Canadian Haute Route? Or maybe planning the Spearhead with a couple of overnights? Bring what you need without getting too weighed down to float some turns while you’re out there.

Things to note: daylight hours in the winter are scarce, so good lighting and spare batteries are essential (lithium works best in the cold). Bring lots of calories to help keep yourself warm. And if you’re out in the spring, be aware that sun reflecting off snow can be super-intense and can burn the underside of your chin and the bottom of your nose if you forget to put some sunscreen there.


Depending on conditions, in glaciated and crevassed terrain, you may also want to bring a lightweight harness, rope, an ice axe and a crevasse rescue setup. Just getting into backcountry skiing? Many MEC stores carry backcountry rental gear. Call to see what they have available.



If you’re not sure what to bring, read our article about clothing layers to learn about materials that move moisture, insulate and offer protection from the elements.


For winter camping, as well as all the camping and kitchen equipment found in our backpacking checklist, you’ll want some additional cold-weather gear:

Avalanche training skills

And one last thing. The most critical thing to have in your winter backcountry quiver is knowledge about the conditions and the skills to assess the terrain around you. Learn avalanche training skills from Avalanche Canada or Avalanche Quebec, and find out how to get a free avalanche safety package rental at some of our stores when you sign up for a course.

Be safe, and have a great trip!

Top photo credit: Michael Muller for Dynafit

Jumping people on a dock
MEC Staffer

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