I have a bit of a history of forgetting important items on ski tours. I’d like to think that’s just because I’ve gotten a lot of ski days in over the years. Maybe I’m just a forgetful guy.
Either way, over time I started carrying spare items in my car “just in case”. As I’ve forgotten more gear, the number of items grew enough that eventually they warranted their own bin. Thus my “spare box” was born.
The bin has come in handy numerous times. It’s saved the day for me, and also allowed me to help out friends. However, the biggest benefit is the peace of mind it offers. As I’m rushing out the door in the morning, I run through a mental checklist of gear in my head. It’s often the small things that I’m unsure if I brought or not. “Did I actually grab those gloves off the drying rack this morning?” With the spare box, no need to worry!
As I was prepping my gear for this season, I went through my box and made sure everything was inside and nothing needed to be replaced. It occurred to me it’d be a useful thing to post about, and that others might do something similar. Here’s what’s in my box.
In order for an item to qualify to be in the box, it has to (mostly) meet three qualifications:
1. It must be essential enough to severely impact my day if it was forgotten.
2. It must be small enough to fit in the box (sadly I can’t bring spare skis).
3. I have to own an extra so I can spare it sitting in a box all winter, and so that it doesn’t get pilfered for everyday use.
Here’s what I have in my current box:
Beacon: I use an old, retired beacon. I occasionally test it to make sure that it still works. That being said, using an old beacon is always a risk, and it’d be a judgement call on whether to use the retired beacon or go back home and grab my standard one.
Batteries: It’s best not to keep batteries stored in a device (like a beacon or headlamp), as they can corrode. Instead, I keep enough batteries to power the beacon and headlamp. This is probably the most used item in the kit.
Neck gaiter (buff)
Ski strap: because, of course
Eyeglasses and/or contact lenses: After I had to abort a trip to after a contact lens fell out… and I had to drive two hours back home, this got added to the box.
Granola bars: These are almost certainly expired, and probably don’t taste very good, but they’d be better than nothing!
Split-skins: An old pair of skins that have been modified to work on almost any width or shape ski. As with many items in the box, they aren’t perfect, but would be better than missing out on a day of skiing.
Rain jacket: I use a “Frogg Toggs” jacket I bought on amazon for about $20. It’s super light, waterproof and breathable.It looks pretty funny and feels about as durable as tissue paper, but it’s light and cheap.
Screwdriver with pozi-bit: Although this isn’t necessarily a spare item, I’ve found it useful multiple times when bindings aren’t adjusted correctly, which is often only found out at the start of the skin track.
Multi-tool: Again, not necessarily an extra, but useful to have nonetheless.
Lighter: important on overnight trips especially
First-aid kit: pretty small and simple
Sunscreen: not often needed out in the PNW, but sometimes it’s important.
There’s also a few items that I wish I could have in there, but I don’t have extras, and they’re a bit pricey to buy another just as a spare. Maybe someday I’ll add these:
2-way radio: This would come in handy if I was touring with someone who didn’t bring one. Radios only work if you have n>2!
InReach or similar satellite messenger
Although that’s a lot of items, most of them are pretty small. They fit in a box a little bigger than a shoebox that easily sits unnoticed in the back of my car. I just use a large tupperware-style bin, with a waterproof lid.
That’s the kit I’ve assembled over the years. I think it’s pretty complete. I’m sure others have similar setups, either more or less elaborate than mine. I’m curious what spare items others carry!