Backcountry skiing can be so much fun: exploring new places, skiing powder with friends, moving efficiently through the mountains. But every once in a while, something goes wrong. A binding breaks, skin glue gets cold and loses its stick, that old ski boot rivet finally blows out. Or worse yet, you hit a buried stump and tweak your knee, your partner slices her head open on a tree branch, your spouse gets a nose bleed that just won’t stop.
It’s times like these that the people and gear repair kit at the bottom of the pack comes in handy. The kit is an item that lives in my pack at all times. It’s that piece of gear that I almost never use, but am psyched I have it when I need it.
The obvious pieces that live in my repair kit are the multi-tool, 3-4 ski straps, duct tape, 10-15 feet of p-cord. These are the pieces that can fix the simple problems -– loss of a skin tip, skins with no skin glue, loss of a snowboard binding strap.
I always carry a headlamp, a lighter, and fire starter just in case I get caught out in the cold. I also carry a small bivy sack/tarp in case I need to stay out or keep a patient warm, and a chunk of bright flagging in case of needing outside help.
One of the less obvious pieces that I carry is a large hose clamp. It has come in handy when my partner blew his heel piece up on a tour. I strapped his boot to his ski with the clamp and we skied out. It was much better finish to our tour than a three mile post-hole.
Regarding the people repair kit, I carry medical tape, blister repair including moleskin, mole foam and 2nd Skin, and steri-strips. I carry a pair of gloves, scissors (unless they are on my multi-tool), ibuprofen and Benadryl. I also carry a few tampons. They are hard to improvise, you are the superhero if you have them when they are needed. They are also good for nosebleeds. I don’t carry many gauze pads or band-aids, as I can improvise these from clothing and other items in the first aid kit.
The people and gear repair kit changes size based on the objective. Multi-day or multi-week trips merit a larger repair kit –- more of the essentials and added pieces that might be needed on an extended trip. Ski objectives where weight matters might lend to a lighter kit and a triple check on the condition of your gear. A guiding day calls for a larger kit than a ski day out with my husband.
The important piece is to have a repair kit for gear and people. I have the essentials in two zip lock bags and add or subtract as my objectives dictate.
(WildSnow Guest blogger Sarah Carpenter has spent most of her life on skis. She is the co-owner of the American Avalanche Institute and an AMGA certified ski guide. She lives in a strawbale house with her husband, Don, in Victor, ID. A year spent building a house convinced Sarah that backcountry skiing, climbing, and working in the outdoors is easier than working in construction.)