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.
- Skis or splitboard
- Snow shovel
- Snow study kit
- Snow saw
- Skin wax
- Ski crampons
- Daypack or avalanche pack
- Ski straps to keep them together
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.
- First aid kit plus blister protection
- Knife or multi-tool
- repair kit
- Route guide and map
- GPS / compass
- Headlamp + batteries
- Sunscreen and lip protection
- Bivy, tarp or survival bag or blanket
- Insulating jacket
- Soft shell or waterproof-breathable jacket and pants
- Base layer top and bottom
- Mid layer top and bottom
- Warm hat
- Sun-protective hat and sunglasses
- Liner gloves and waterproof, insulated gloves or mitts
- Liner socks and thermal socks
- Hut booties or slippers
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.
- Toothbrush and toiletries
- Toilet paper
- Biodegradable soap
- Phone or communication device
- Hand warmers
- Lunch and energy bars
- Vacuum bottle and hot drinks
- Insulated pad for sitting
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:
- Sleeping bag liner or overbag
- Winter-rated sleeping pad or an extra pad
- Big pot for melting snow
- Extra fuel
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