Gear to Pack for Backcountry Snowboarding

Gear to Pack for Backcountry Snowboarding
Riding the backcountry is the way to escape crowds and gain access to big terrain and unlimited powder. But before setting boot in the backcountry, it's imperative to prepare properly and carry the right gear. In addition to the necessary tangible gear, it's also essential to have the proper knowledge and training and to ride with a partner. You should have some avalanche training and be comfortable and familiar with all of your gear.

Avalanche Transceiver

An avalanche transceiver or beacon is a vital tool that will be your lifeline should you get caught in an avalanche. The beacon will transmit a simple radio signal that will allow rescuers in your group to find your location in the snow. A transceiver communicates only with other transceivers, so it's important that everyone in your group be carrying one. They should be set to transmit before you set out, because if you get caught in an avalanche, you may not be able to move to adjust it. Modern transceivers operate on a 457kHz frequency and come in digital and analog models.



The probe is the second device a rescuer will use in a avalanche rescue. The transceiver is valuable in providing a general location, and the probe is used to pinpoint a victim's location under the snow. This way, shoveling can be focused and effective. Probes feature a number of segments connected with cable, allowing them to be broken down and easily carried.


A good, compactable shovel is the final piece of the avalanche rescue puzzle. Shovels should be sturdy, preferably with a metal head to provide the bite necessary to dig into hard snow. While flimsy, lightweight shovels will save some weight on your back, they won't be useful in a rescue attempt.


While you could always strap your snowboard to your backpack, a splitboard is a better option for backcountry touring, particularly when a lot of hiking and ascending will be involved. The splitboard is a snowboard that splits into two separate ski segments. With the addition of skins, the skis can be used to ascend over snowy terrain and provide additional traction, flotation and speed. The skis lock into place to form a snowboard for descending. A snowboard for backcountry use will be longer than a typical snowboard to allow for maximum flotation and stability when riding. A set-back stance for powder riding is optimal.


A good snowboarding backpack is important for carrying gear. A pack should include a winterized hydration system to provide a source of water. Vertical or horizontal straps on the exterior allow for attaching the board for foot hikes.

Other Gear

Other snow tools that are valuable include a snow saw, snow-testing kit and inclinometer. In addition to the primary backcountry provisions listed above, another piece of gear to consider based on the scope of your trip is a survival kit that includes the 10 essentials, such as fire-starting equipment, first aid, navigation equipment, sun protection and extra clothing. Repair tools for your snowboard and gear, such as screwdrivers, hexes, a multi-tool, duct tape and pliers are also good things to have. Ample food and water is also important. Other equipment that may be needed, depending upon the nature of the terrain, includes crampons, ice axes, rope and climbing gear. Multi-day trips will obviously entail additional gear, such as camping gear, cooking gear and extra clothing. When planning your provisions, bear in mind that you'll be far away from help with no ski lodge nearby.


Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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