Professional snowmobiler Julie-Anne Chapman knows a thing or two about packing a backcountry bag. She takes us through what items she wouldn’t leave home without and makes some recommendations for the best everyday kit to help keep you safe, stoked and out of trouble.
To even think that people still snowmobile without wearing a pack still boggles my mind! Why are you depending on someone else to save you in any unfortunate circumstance if one were one to happen? In the She Shreds Mountain Adventures backcountry survival lessons, I always make sure to go over what everyone in the group has in their pack before we head out on an adventure, to make sure we are prepared for anything. I highly suggest doing this with your buddies that you regularly ride with.
“You’re out there on your own far from civilisation, be the most prepared you can be!” – Julie-Anne Chapman
Here is what I carry in my Highmark by Snowpulse avy pack…
- Full first aid kit – Everything from band aids, antiseptic wipes, compress dressings, splints, gauze, triangular bandages, trauma/accident report sheets, etc, etc. Make sure to keep all of this in a water resistant bag! And it wouldn’t hurt to take a first aid course so you know how to mend someone. The last thing they want is you trying to splint a broken bone if you don’t know how. You ask why would someone even attempt to touch someone with a broken limb? Well, because lets say you are very far from the trucks, you would want to make the limb immobile (make it the most comfy you can) for their ride down. You’re out there on your own far from civilisation, be the most prepared you can be!
- The pack itself – 20-30L (Highmark by Snowpulse avalanche pack recommended) to fit all of the following goodies…
- inReach Explorer – two way communication SOS device that relates on iridium satellites. Incase you need a helicopter for a big bobo, or text your lover at home (when you’re out of cell range) to get dinner started, this little gem of a device is awesome. It tracks you wherever you are in the world, allows you to communicate with people via text and email even when you are out of cell phone range, and if you call for SOS, your GPS coordinates are dispatched to the closest search and rescue in the surrounding area.
- 40-100+ft rope & carabineers – for rescuing “your buddy” that thought the throttle was the break when he approached the crevasse really fast.
- Shovel & probe & transceiver– duh!! Wear the transceiver on your body, not in the pack! Duh! Suggested transceiver, probe & shovel – Mammut.
- Snowmobile tools – hose clamps, spare break leaver, shock pump, basic kit with wrenches, screwdrivers, zip ties, duct tape!
- Survival kit – All hell breaks loose. You have to stay the night in the backcountry. I hope you are prepared! Extra warm clothes/gloves (suggested KLIM layers & gloves), a tampon (to dip in your gas tank to ignite a fire), water resistant/strike anywhere matches, flint, wood carving tool (knife), compass, mini fishing kit, whistle, flare, bivvy sack… And make sure to keep all of this is a water resistant bag!
- Two way radios – You’re deep in the trees or over in the next drainage and you can’t find your buddy. “I’m out of gas, Do you copy Bobby Jo?”… “10-4 rubber ducky on my way with the jerry”.
- Mouth guard – For when I like to think I’m going so big that I need one.
- Snow science tools – Snow saw, ruler, inclinometer, aluminium crystal card, thermometer, 10x loupe, field book (I call it my old lady diary, it’s the only book I write daily logs in). Always good to do your own research on what the snow is doing. Once you are comfortable using your transceiver, I highly suggest taking an avalanche course that touches on snow studies/science. A course that will help you understand why avalanches happen. Doing a multiple day backcountry trip and don’t have access to the avy reports for days? It’s a must to have these tools to observe what the snow is doing over such a period of time.
- Extra food and water – High calorie food, energy blocks (checkout our Ultimate protein ball recipe, recommended fuel for backcountry trips).
- A wood saw – We all go into trees! It’s so much easier to saw a branch off than to flip a 500lb machine that is all tangled in branches.
- Head lamp – I’ve seen people smash their lights out on a tree and have to sled out in the dark with only their head lamp shining the way.
- Extra goggles/lenses– The worst is when your goggles are all fogged up and you can’t see where you’re going! Suggested goggles/lenses – 509
- Extra fuel – Going on a long haul? Pack a jerry on your tunnel. Don’t be the kid that’s full pin all day and runs out of fuel first and uses everyone else’s fuel!! Every pack has a buddy like that!
- An extra belt for the sled – Suggested belt Dayco XTX
- One last thing – always find out if there is a safety cache near by with spine boards, etc. or a cabin you can make yourself a warm fire in.
Related article: Learning to Splitboard: 8 things I wish I had in my pack
My recommended retailer for all backcountry gear is Backcountry.com – they have a huge selection of kit and stock the largest variety of brands. Still Stoked readers get free 2 day shipping on orders over $50.
This article was originally published on sheshreds.ca. She Shreds is run by Julie-Anne Chapman and provides women specific snowmobile clinics in Canada, supporting progression in a fun and safe setting. Check it out if you’re wanting to get into snowmobiling or hoping to boost your skills to that next level.
Check out what She Shred Snowmobile clinics are all about: