When it comes to backcountry hiking and skiing, it is important to be well prepared–even if planning for a daytrip. An afternoon outing can turn into an overnight in the wild when unexpected weather or a missed turn can keep you out in the wilderness for longer than you planned. Be prepared for such events by taking along the ten essentials of hiking and backcountry skiing every time you set out. These backcountry essentials could save your hide.
10 Essentials for Hiking Snowshoeing and Backcountry Skiing
The 10 Essentials Checklist
- Extra Water – bring enough water for unexpected delays. How much you bring depends on the terrain. For instance, desert hiker should carry and drink about 4 liters of water per day. When snow or water is available, all you may need are matches or a water filter.
- Additional food – bring extra lightweight, high protein foods to give you energy for a cold night in the woods.
- Extra clothing for changing conditions
- Map, compass, GPS
- Headlamp or flashlight
- First aid kit
- Shelter material (large trash bags or space blanket) – I like my ultra-light bivy sack made of space blanket material that takes up very little room in my daypack.
- Fire starting kit or small backpacking stove
- Pocket knife or multi-tool
- Whistle or signal mirror
Those who recreate in avalanche country add two more items to the checklist: an avalanche beacon and probe.
Avalanche experts recommend that hikers, snowshoers, snowboarders and skiers using the backcountry during snow months should take avalanche classes by certified instructors to learn about snow stability recognition and rescue techniques.
Three further precautions
Search and Rescue personnel advocate that even when carrying the 10 backcountry essentials, you should take three further precautions.
- First, leave a copy of your planned route in your vehicle or with a friend.
- Next, tell someone when you expect to return and give him or her the Search and Rescue phone number to call if you do not.
- Of course, you should stick to your plan. In the case of a search, rescuers will first start looking along your planned route.
Stacey Wittig is an Arizona travel writer based in Flagstaff, Arizona. She spends hundred of hours in the Coconino National Forest which is just down the path from her home office.
Parts of this “the ten essentials hiking” article first appeared in Travel + Escape, Canada’s Travel Channel website at the time.
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