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Ski Trip Equipment List

SKIS: Backcountry touring skis are usually best for our trips. They have a waxless grip pattern, metal edges, 8 to 20 mm of side cut, and three-pin or NNN-BC bindings. We like the Fischer "Outabounds" The Atomic "Ranier" appears to be as good. Narrow skis and light boots are fine on groomed tracks, but difficult to control in the woods. Waxable skis and a wax kit can work if you have lots of experience waxing in changing snow conditions, Telemark (mountaineering) skis and climbing skins are fine on some or our trips, but can be too slow on a long tour in gentle terrain.

BOOTs should be sturdy, with good ankle support and a torsionally rigid sole. They should fit well to avoid blisters. The new light weight plastic boots are excellent. The Garmont "Excursion" and "Libro" and Scarpa "T3" have a loyal following. Bring your insoles or orthotics, they help a lot. Bring several pairs of socks, both thick and thin to achieve a good fit.

SKI POLES should be arm pit length. If your pole basket is white, color it with a felt marker pen to find it in the snow.

SKI BAG is useful on bus trips, and necessary on airplanes. You can put extra gear in there too.

DAY PACK needs to be big enough to hold everything you aren't wearing. Ski holder side pockets are nice when you have to hike and carry your skis. The pack should hug your back and not sway when you move. A tall skinny pack will throw you off balance. A large fanny pack will work if your gear is very compact.

INSULATED BOTTLE HOLDER keeps your water from freezing, and should be within easy reach without removing your pack. Water tubes must be insulated or inside your sleeves.

CLIMBING SKINS are recommended. Your ski's grip pattern needs help on icy mornings. Skins can slow you down on scary descents too.

GLIDE WAX is necessary to prevent snow build up on your skis. This situation is common just after a storm. Candle wax is fine.

REPAIR KIT includes Duct Tape, screw driver, pliers, wire, straps, and more Duct Tape. Your leader will have a kit.

AVALANCHE BEACON is for remote trips with avy hazard. The ski section has some loaners.

SNOW SHOVEL must be carried with a beacon.

RUNAWAY STRAPS are necessary if you ride a chair lift at a ski resort. Anyway you can tie your boot to your ski will do.


The layer system is best. Several thin garments will keep you cozy as the weather changes. Ski clothes can be inexpensive, but only if you shop carefully. End of season sales are best. The ski shops and outfitters (like REI and A16) charge many times more than you need to pay. Target and Walmart will have some items.

INNER LAYER: polypropylene long underwear (tops and bottoms). Other synthetics are fine. Wool is OK if you don't itch. Cotton and silk are not allowed: they will not keep you warm if they get wet. Check the labels!

OUTER LAYER: Nylon pants and jacket (with hood!). In good weather, uncoated, breathable synthetic is all you need: just like runners and bicyclists Wool pants may be too warm. In bad weather, you need more protection. Coated nylon (rain suit) is good if you have full length zippers on the pants and jacket. Ponchos will not stop the wind, and will interfere with skiing. Waterproof/breathable fabrics will work, but still require ventilation. They are heavier, bulkier, and more expensive than simple coated nylon. Goretex and the like will not "breathe" fast enough to vent your perspiration when you are skiing.

INSULATION LAYER: You put this inbetween the other layers when it is cold. This fabric should have thickness when you wear it, but compress when it is in your pack: fleece, down, polarguard, fiberfill, are just a few. We all need different amounts of insulation. Make sure your pack is big enough to carry it when you aren't wearing it. Two thin layers are more versatile than one thick layer. Wearing uncoated jacket and pants under a rainsuit may be all the insulation you need.

SUSPENDERS hold your lower layers up.

SOCKS are both the inner and insulation layers for your feet. Bring several thicknesses to help fit your boots. Expensive wool ski socks are worth the cost.

BALACLAVA is better than a knit hat. Covering your neck and mouth and breathing through the fabric is important in the cold.

HAT is to cover your head and should have side flaps to keep the sun off your face and neck. A bandana under a visor also works. You need a chin cord to keep your hat on your head when it is windy.

GAITORS cover the tops of your boots to keep snow out. Ankle high are fine. Replace the instep cords when they break.

GLOVES AND MITTS should have 3 layers too. Thin synthetic liner gloves are for good weather, wool mitts (no fingers) for cold, and waterproof overmits when it's snowing. Extra liners are good in storms. Chemical heat packets are always welcome.

SUN GLASSES should have side protection as well as 100% UV blocking. The sun is very bright and dangerous at altitude and the snow reflects the U.V. Retainer cords hold them on your head if you fall.

GOGGLES allow you to see when it's blowing snow. You may need ANTI-FOG stuff, especially if you wear glasses underneath.

SUNSCREEN is applied early and often. 50 SPF is best. Bull Frog and Banana Boat work well and don't hurt your eyes too much. Some brands don't actually give the protection they advertise.

LIP BAUM (Chapstick) Sunscreen for your lips. Chapped lips are really sunburned lips.


Staying hydrated and mainaining glucose levels is necessary to ski well.

WATER BOTTLE is essential. A one quart wide mouth bottle (or two) will allow you to refill it with snow. Check for leaks. Sport drinks (like ERG) will give you energy and potassium you need to help prevent muscle cramps.

LUNCH and SNACKS should be high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. Fats are difficult to digest at altitude, and when you are active. You can replace fats, protein, and the rest of the muscle glycogen you burned at dinner.

SIT PAD keeps your but warm when you are eating and drinking.


MAP and COMPASS can lead you home. Practice before the trip. HEADLAMP with extra BATTERIES and BULB will get you home after dark. You need your hands free to ski. CANDLE and WATERPROOF MATCHES are to start a fire in case you don't make it home. WHISTLE should be on the ready so we can find you right away. FIRST AID KIT should have blister remedies, Advil, and ace bandages for sprains. POCKET KNIFE has many uses and should have many blades. TOILET PAPER needs no explaination.


CAMERA, BATTERIES, FILM (if used). Cold weather is hard on electronics, but we still enjoy the pictures. FRS TWO WAY RADIO should have 14 channels and 34 codes. You may help relay an important message. CELL PHONE in case we need to call 911.

Equipment list revised November 14, 2003.

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