So What Is In My Pack Anyway?

Post by blogger | July 8, 2011      

So what is in your backcountry skiing pack? Or rather, what’s in my pack? And what about the relative weight split among different items?

Lou’s post on his springtime pack got me thinking. Especially thinking that my gear must be way lighter than this! Well, yes and no: my individual items are frequently lighter, but in my calcs I count more items.

A wee bit more convenient to carry all this in your pack, attached to your feet, and worn on your body!

A wee bit more convenient to carry all this in your pack, attached to your feet, and worn on your body!

How so? First off, the springtime skiing in New Hampshire’s Presidentials Range inevitably entails steep ascents that are firm enough to require various pointy implements. (Ditto for the typical late-spring and early-summer Pacific Northwest skiing with which I close out my season.) So even the lightest ski crampons, boot crampons, ice axe, and ski pole self-arrest grip still add up to a couple pounds of extra heft. Plus I feel a helmet is essential.

Second, and more importantly, the majority of my pack weight comprises emergency/back-up items, almost all of which I have never used on any spring or summer tour. That even includes the clothing I bring: Except for the waterproof shell during the occasional shower, and the insulating layers when my partners wanted to nap on Rainier’s summit, all I ever wear is my 2.1-ounce windshirt and (more rarely) 5.1-ounce vest. But if I should somehow have to stay put for more than a minute or so, my temperature drops rapidly from inactivity.

 Just another six-ravine Mt Washington circumnavigation.

Just another six-ravine Mt Washington circumnavigation. Click to enlarge.

So insulation layers, back-up gloves, extra sunglasses, additional first-aid supplies, repair items, etc., do I really need all that for my style of backcountry skiing? The way I formulate the question for myself before each trip is, if I go on 100 such trips, and need the item only the 100th trip, will I be grateful enough to have that item on the 100th trip such that I won’t have minded schlepping it along on the other 99 trips? For shorter outings with a readily available exit back to the car, I go much lighter than this. But on longer outings with portions on the “wrong” side of the mountain from where I started as well as descents into essentially exit-less ravines, I’d feel like I was without the proverbial net if I left any of this behind.

142.8 Skis, skins, poles
102.9 Lighter variation
26.3 BD Traverse adjustable poles w/ Grivel Condor self-arrest grip
99.6 Trab Duo Sint Aero skis + Dynafit Speed bindings + custom leash
16.9 Ascension nylon skins
60.9 or: Movement Fish-X skis + Plum 135 race bindings (w/ crampon catches)
15.7 Ascension nylon skins
212.8 In pack
109.1 Emergency/Back-Up portion of above
37.0 Dynafit Manaslu 28L pack
7.4 Garmin 60Cx GPS (w/ lanyard + Li batteries + pouch for carry shoulder strap)
21.3 11x Gu + 4x Odwalla (portion in pants pocket)
2.0 Water bottle (tall bike model)- no water
31.2 or: Water bottle- w/ 30 oz. (often only partially full or even entirely empty)
1.1 Purell "jelly wrap"
4.9 Dynafit Speed ski crampons (w/ posts to ensure adequate point penetration)
14.4 CAMP XLC 390 crampons
8.4 Camp XLA 50cm ice axe (w/ leash)
10.7 or: CAMP Corsa Nanotech 60cm ice axe w/ leash
2.1 Helly Hanson Mars windshirt
5.1 MontBell Thermawrap vest
1.1 Rudy Sport Mask Performance sunglasses (back-up)
1.5 Schoeller hat
8.5 MontBell Thermawrap jacket (w/ stuff sack)
13.0 MontBell Thermawrap parka (w/ stuff sack)
7.1 TNF Diad waterproof jacket
10.6 Waterproof gloves plus extra softshell gloves (stuffed inside)
10.4 rarely brought: Marmot Precip side-zip waterproof pants
1.8 rarely brought: REI waterproof baseball cap
0.5 Princeton Tec Impulse (w/ battery, and key ring to clip inside pack)
1.4 Balaclava
4.5 Spot (w/ batteries)
4.0 Adventure Medical SOL Emergency Bivy (w/ stuff sack)
1.9 Duct tape (wrapped around film canister w/ pack strap inserted through)
5.5 Leatherman Skeletool w/ extra bits
2.6 Clipped car key & two 24" Voile straps
9.2 Pouch/wallet w/ assorted emergency gear (spring pants lack rear pocket for this)
16.8 Emergency kit (first aid, Petzl Zipka Plus, repair gear, etc.)
7.7 BCA Arsenal 240cm probe
13.2 BD Alpine shovel blade (ice axe forms shaft)
117.6 Always worn or carried on body
42.2 Excluding ski boots
75.4 Dynafit TLT5 Performance (w/ custom footbeds, but w/o tongues)
1.6 Sunblock, lipbalm, dermatone
2.0 Plastic scraper & skin wax
2.4 Suunto MC-2 sighted-mirror magnetic compass
4.3 Droid Incredible
11.6 Avalanche beacon (w/ batteries)
2.0 Suunto Altimax altimeter watch
4.7 Marmot Glide softshell gloves
1.5 Rudy Zyon sunglasses
2.0 REI synthetic fiber baseball cap
10.1 Kong Scarab helmet

Glancing over the list, I’m also struck by the contrast between old and new backcountry skiing gear. Some items are the latest in lightweight mountaineering exotica: Movement Fish-X skis with Plum 135 race binding, Dynafit TLT5 Performance boots, second-generation Spot. Others have been around a long time yet are still my favorites: Grivel Condor self-arrest grip mounted on a very old large-diameter BD Flicklock shaft, my Trab Duo Sint Aeros skis in their sixth season of use (and late-season abuse), Dynafit Speed bindings (a relatively new pair, but the heel hasn’t changed significantly since the late 1990s TLT IV, and the toe hasn’t changed significantly since the 1993 version), and a super-bomber mid-1990s BD Alpine shovel blade that accepts an ice axe as its shaft.

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(WildSnow guest blogger Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts, where he is a member of the Northfield Mountain and Thunderbolt / Mt Greylock ski patrols. Formerly an NCAA alpine race coach, he has broken free from his prior dependence on mechanized ascension to become far more enamored of self-propelled forms of skiing. He is an AIARE-qualified instructor, NSP avalanche instructor, and contributor to the American Avalanche Association’s The Avalanche Review. When he is not searching out elusive freshies in Southern New England or promoting the NE Rando Race Series, he works as a financial economics consultant.)


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43 Responses to “So What Is In My Pack Anyway?”

  1. Matt Kinney July 8th, 2011 11:59 am

    You carry a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t for spring time efforts. Two repair kits? lip balm?… I can get by without it for a day. Skin wax?.. You can do that the night before if needed. You have lots of batteries for whizbang devises that adds up in weight and bulk. I doubt you will ever get lost carrying compass, map, GPS and Spot, altimeter, local knowledge, etc.. The only batteries I carry are in my beacon and pocketcam. No camera? Ice-axe in spring in NH? Seems your Grivels could satisfy your self-arrest needs on spring snow booting up or skiing down.

    You carry a winter parka? I ditched mine back in late April. I leave my wallet at the car along with my keys well hidden.
    11 GU’s!! But to each his own when it comes to our mountain “man-purse.” 😀 .

    Not sure what you mean by longer or shorter day trips as it pertains to your gear list. Things happen on short trips that can happen on long trips.

    Admittedly I prefer a more minimalist approach to spring skiing as it is a time to ski “gloriously” lighter by shedding stuff, lots of it.

    Thanks for the post and sharing your gear list. 🙂

  2. Jonathan Shefftz July 8th, 2011 12:18 pm

    Of the two emergency kits, the 16.8-oz Ziploc bag is mainly first-aid gear, and that includes the headlamp, extra BD flicklock mechanisms (two different diameters – I know, not multiuse, but sure could come in handy), etc. (I can’t recall the details though, since it’s on the west coast awaiting my return.) For a main emergency kit, I think that’s pretty good. I was surprised though by how much the little pouch weighs. I guess I must keep adding stuff to it each year…
    Battery weight definitely adds up. I bring two extra AA Li batteries for my GPS. Li batteries are about half the weight of alkaline, and they last way longer, but my 60Cx GPS provides almost no advance warning when they’re about to die. My avy beacon, Spot, and headlamp all use 3xAAA batteries, so I bring just three sets, with no back-ups. For pictures, I’ve left the dedicated camera at home and just rely on my Droid Incredible. In good light, for scenic pictures, and for posting on the web, it’s surprisingly good. (Too much shutter lag though for close-up action shops of my toddler daughter!)
    The Grivel Condor would work fine for self-arrest when climbing, but for steeper terrain, well over 40 degrees, and sometimes pushing 50 in short stretches, I want something shorter than even my shortened ski poles, plus the ability for self-belay is reassuring.
    By longer day trips, I mean trips that carry me further away from my originating trailhead, especially when I have to get back up and over to return. So for example, last week on Shasta, I took the usual route from Bunny Flat to the summit, but then skied 2k off the H-W route on the other side, which meant I had to summit again to get back to the car. (The pack weigh-in the night before was at 15 pounds.)
    And speaking of Shasta, I can go about an hour or two max w/o having to replenish my lip balm and sunblock. And even with zinc oxide, I still got burnt on a couple places, plus a burnt tongue, and lips. Finally recovering just in time for the next trip….
    The skin wax is not so much to prevent glopping as it is to securely press down the skin on subsequent laps. I find that the skin wax applies more pressure than my hand can by itself. This came in handy last week on Mt Hood when we were doing laps relatively low down in really wet snow b/c up high the weather was super threatening with zero vis.
    I need lots of insulation layers b/c I run really hot when active, but cool down quickly. So if I have to stay put for awhile, I need to pile on the layers.

  3. SB July 8th, 2011 12:25 pm

    That is a lot of stuff. Ditch the Bivy sack if you’re taking the parka. Of course, it always depends on what the objective is. Your shovel is probably next to useless with an ice axe handle anyway, so maybe ditch all the avvy gear, depending on the objective and conditions.

  4. SB July 8th, 2011 12:26 pm

    Also, a platypus for water carry is a lot lighter than bottles.

  5. Jonathan Shefftz July 8th, 2011 12:35 pm

    For water, I use a hydration bladder in winter, but in late spring and summer I’ve gotten into the strap-mounted Dynafit water bottle holder since it’s easier to refill along the way. Plus at two ounces, the ~20oz bike bottle is pretty light. In the Presidentials, since every ravine has open water at the base, I never bother bringing anything besides the bike bottle. For very long daytrips out west, I’ve been supplementing that with a small “reserve” collapsible Nalgene stowed in my pack.
    The bivy sack is only ~4 oz, so I think that extra protection from the elements could come in handy.
    I’ve tested the shovel digging out a tent platform on Shasta, and it late-season snow it works fine. Fluffy winter snow though, definitely not.

  6. Eric July 8th, 2011 4:14 pm

    Wow, that does seem like a lot of stuff. You list a vest, a parka, a jacket, and a waterproof jacket. I’m assuming you select 1 or 2 of those and not all.

    I started out carrying a lot of gear, then got tired of carrying stuff around the backcountry that never got used. I’ve changed my approach to gear by asking “Do I need this to get back to the car safely”, instead of “Do I need this to fix anything as good as new?” So far, it seems to be working for me (knock on wood 🙂 ).

  7. Jonathan Shefftz July 8th, 2011 4:22 pm

    The 7.1-oz waterproof jacket is brought along only when indicated by the wx fx. The 5.1-oz vest is the only insulating layer I ever wear on a regular basis. The 8.5-oz jacket and the 13-oz parka are the emergency insulation layers, i.e., what I need in case I’m not getting back to the car quickly. I wish the MontBell parka had several more ounces of insulation in it, since then I could leave the jacket at home.
    Although this does seem like a lot of stuff, my total pack weight last week on Shasta was only ~15 pounds (including ice axe, ski crampons, boot crampons) for a daytrip summit with bonus 2k ski off the other side, and smaller extra lap near treeline, for 10.3k total. Although Shasta is certainly not remote, I would have felt more uneasy had I not been prepared with all this emergency gear.

  8. Roy Haraldstad July 8th, 2011 5:08 pm

    Looks to me like you have a very well thought out kit born out of many years of experience. It is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  9. See July 9th, 2011 9:55 am

    I generally carry a significant amount of gear that rarely gets used (except by minimalist companions).

    Do you ever bring down, instead of synthetic, when conditions are really cold?

    I rarely need a scraper in the field. What do you use it for, and why carry it rather than using one ski to scrape the other?

    No goggles?

    Also, I like to use a Garmin Fortrex 401 in conjunction with waypoints downloaded from a computer at home and a printed map.

  10. Jonathan Shefftz July 9th, 2011 10:14 am

    I’ve thought about getting one of the latest & lightest super-high loft down jackets (or “sweaters”) of the most minimalistic designs. But would need some sort of waterproof – or highly water-resistant – yet very light outer fabric since even in the winter here in the east we have lots of snowstorms right on the edge of freezing, plus lots of my late spring and early summer touring in the PNW can have a small threat of rain.
    A scraper is more versatile and precise if I need to removed gunked-up dirt and/or skin glue from my ski bases in the spring/summer, or even frozen snow/ice from my ski topskins in the winter.
    I almost never use goggles for backcountry skiing, especially now that I mainly use the Casco shield in winter. (See review from last season.)
    How does the Garmin watch-style gps work for navigation? My impression was that those units are mainly designed for fitness and related activities. I really do like the large screen for map displays (free at GPSfileDepot) on the Garmin 60 series, although it is really bulky and relatively heavy.

  11. Christian July 9th, 2011 11:18 am

    The watches are fine as long as you prepare ahead and make a trail. I have used it successfully when kiting in whiteout (something that I really don’t want to do again…but it was either that or a white night).
    The water-bottle-holder is great. When not using a dyanfit backpack, I use a camp holder. I only use it with a camleback-style bottle, as I think that the bike bottle is too cumbersome to drink from. In winter I refill the bottle with warm water when skiing in winter, cold in spring.
    For clothing the aclima wool nets are great, as they breath great and keep you warm even when wet.

  12. See July 9th, 2011 11:25 am

    I use the watch style gps (carried in a pocket without the strap) in conjunction with a printed map marked with waypoints, which have also been downloaded into the gps, using a computer and mapping software. While the gps screen doesn’t display a map, it gives bearing and distance to waypoints, which can be used to determine location on the map. This method does involve spending some time on the computer prior to setting out, and can be a problem if one doesn’t anticipate possible route variations ahead of time and create useful waypoints accordingly.

    I like using a paper map (and old fashioned compass) along with the gps. Of course, the person I just let use my skin wax often has a gps with a map display.

  13. Jonathan Shefftz July 9th, 2011 12:32 pm

    By Camelbak-style bottle, do you mean the model with the flip-type straw? I like that for use in my car, but that top plus the bottle both seem really overbuilt for putting in the Dynafit holder. (Ditto for the Nathan bottle I found during some June skiing.) Right now the very tall bike bottle I use is just something I found by the side of the road while biking (and bleached overnight of course). When nearly full, I can just suck on it like a straw, but I’ve seen Euro rando racers with long straws for their water bottles. Camp unfortunately does not distribute its “Action Bottle” in North America. The closest I’ve found from some googling is the Mueller model, which I actually have (through some unknown acquisition), but it’s too wide and also very poorly constructed. I saw some triathlon models, but they all seem to have very weird shapes that wouldn’t fit in the Dynafit or Camp holders.

  14. Jacob July 9th, 2011 1:11 pm

    May seem small but for the Flicklock mechanism spares how bout just one or two hose clamps, the skeletool is more than enough to tighten these down (although not as quickly as the flick) and the hose clamps could certainly be more multi use than the flicklocks

  15. roger July 9th, 2011 10:12 pm

    wow jonathan! that’s a ton o stuff! more than i carry even in winter! i guess the next time you give me crap about my typhoon/backlash/marker f12 combo, i’ll have to mention your plethora of extra unusables 🙂

  16. Lou July 10th, 2011 7:44 am

    I’ve never had a Fliclock fail, but if it does you can just duct tape the pole together by first tightly wrapping tape on the lower shaft just below the upper, then wrapping the whole thing. The tape has to stick, of course, so the theory might be easier than practice on a wet cold snowy day. Carrying one ski pole sized hose clamp could have multiple uses and yes would fix a failed Fliclock.

    I tend to vary my repair kit a bit according to what I’m doing. Powder laps above a hut, easy to ski with one pole back down to the cabin. On Denali, we took pole repair stuff, though our one broken pole up there was replaced by a kind hearted individual (walker/climber) who lent us one of his trekking poles on his way down the mountain.

  17. Jonathan Shefftz July 10th, 2011 8:03 am

    A pair of Flicklocks weighs a little over an ounce. I have had one break, but only after many years of use, and it was actually *after* a trip. So perhaps another ounce to leave at home. Perhaps.
    Overall though, all the just-in-case emergency gear reminds me of the question our local IFMGA guide Marc Chauvin asks: “How is your daypack any different from your overnight pack?” His answer essentially is, not by much, i.e., you should be equipped to spent the night safely, then the overnight pack makes it more comfortable. (For overnight hut trips, I do need the larger 35-liter Manaslu. Once when we showed up the hutkeeper asked where we were going on our daytrip: no, we’re staying with you tonight. “Oh,” she corrected herself, “I should know better than to judge people’s plans by their pack sizes.”)
    And remember, even with all that stuff, when we did a weigh-in before that big Shasta daytrip last week, my 28-liter pack weighed 15 pounds (including water and helmet, but with skins already on skis). Heavy boots and bindings though, that just isn’t doing anyone any good! (By contrast, I’ll admit that heavy skis can have some advantages in some situations.)

  18. Halsted Morris July 10th, 2011 8:52 am

    I carry hardly anything by compairison. As one old climbing/backcountry skiing friend has said, “Yes, you too can carry 60 lbs of ultralight weight ultraexpensive mountaineering equipment.”

  19. Lou July 10th, 2011 9:21 am

    As far as I can tell, Jonathan simply made an effort to be very detailed and inclusive in his list and carries a well thought out kit. Indeed, if he carried all that stuff all the time that might be a bit much, but I’d imagine he varies it according to what he’s doing, like most of us would. For example, I doubt he carries his GPS when he’s doing laps at a closed resort, that is unless he’s bringing it along to practice with, or something like that.

    Also, those of us who live in places like Colorado where the winter weather tends to be consistently dry, we sometimes don’t understand the need for more clothing… any possibility of being involved in dicy weather in the Northeast or PNW in the winter, and your backpack should be looking quite large, otherwise you could die.

    For example, even during those “bluebird” days we had during our recent PNW trip, I had a wall-to-wall waterproof/breathable layer stowed in the pack. While here in Colorado I might have just gone with one layer of softshell pants, and a softshell jacket.

  20. Jonathan Shefftz July 10th, 2011 10:45 am

    For laps at a closed resort, I wear my rando race suit, gloves, hat, sunglasses, altimeter watch, and Camelbak Racebak with Gu2O. I bring a ziploc bag with cell phone and balaclava, then put my car key on a lanyard around my neck. Total weight is, well, not worth weighing!
    Winter setup varies considerably, depending mainly on how close I’ll be to the trailhead and whether I need to go up & over to return to the car. But since I’ve come to believe that the best New England snow quality is found below treeline on mountains that don’t even have a treeline, the avy gear and sharps stay home, so my load is pretty light.
    As for 60 lbs of ultralightweight gear, as I wrote before, the weigh-in before a big Shasta daytrip was 15 lbs. Would be interesting to see though what the incremental cost per ounce is of the various ultralight items vs their more traditional counterparts.
    But yesterday for a local hike my load was pretty heavy: the carrier was only a pound or so, but the load inside was about 23 pounds. No way to lighten up the load though, and every day the load gets a little bit heavier…

  21. See July 10th, 2011 10:00 pm

    I was rereading the comments I made regarding the Foretrex gps, and I realized that they could be interpreted as a recommendation, so I feel I should elaborate a bit about my experience with the unit.

    First, I use the thing, so obviously I think it is worth the 2.35 oz it adds to my total gear load.

    Second, it is very basic compared to full featured units, although it does have a compass.

    Third, it is not without quirks and glitches. The compass needs to be recalibrated often. It sometimes points in what seems to be the wrong direction when going to a waypoint. And when reviewing downloaded tracks, they often include bizarre detours to places I know I did not go– it gets lost.

    The way I cope with this is by referring to it frequently and discarding anomalous readings. Using the thing while in motion seems to improve accuracy.

    Perhaps I don’t ask that much of the unit, but I am old enough to remember a time before gps, and we usually managed to get where we were going, and the mistakes were sometimes among the most interesting parts of the trip.

  22. DaveC July 11th, 2011 8:04 am

    A wise man said that we pack our insecurities.


    I’m in the “too much repair junk” camp. Also, that pack is super heavy.

  23. Jonathan Shefftz July 11th, 2011 8:49 am

    “Pack *for* your insecurities” actually sounds like a pretty good mantra to me in the context of backcountry preparedness.
    But which pack is super heavy?

  24. Lou July 11th, 2011 8:50 am

    How much repair gear involves a lot of somewhat philosophical questions. For example, is your repair stuff designed to continue the trip goals, or just for limp-home capability? I tend to the latter view because the resultant weight is so much less, and today’s gear is generally quite reliable. In days of yore, for the ‘continue the trip’ style of repair kit we would have had to carry things like spare crampons and spare ice axes (and even spare skis) to get the reliability we take for granted in present times. Things have really improved.

  25. Brian July 11th, 2011 8:54 am

    Funny, the comment thread and justifications are as long as the gear list.

    The solution to the flick lock problem is to not use flick locks. The only time I like them and actually take advantage of shortening my poles is for booting straight up. But I have traded that small convenience for frickin’ stupid light Dynafit carbon race poles with their pseudo powder baskets at 141 grams each. I shortened them to a “normal” pole length and never think about them. The perfect pole, IMO.

    A Mylar bivy sack, a lighter and a couple of hand warmers are my nods for an emergency. Otherwise, that’s a lot of stuff. Each to his own.

    Thanks for sharing. Sorry you are getting kinda beat up on this. But, hey. You’re the only one that has to carry it.

  26. Lou July 11th, 2011 9:05 am


    I do like my non-adjustable carbon poles, but have to admit that having the Flicklocks for spring snow climbing, with Whippets, is truly one of the great improvements in snow climbing gear over the past decades. Though they can get you into trouble when you really should be using an ice axe…

  27. Jonathan Shefftz July 11th, 2011 9:45 am

    The efficiency gains from a longer ski pole on anything up to moderate-angle skinning far outweigh the drawbacks of a Flicklock adjustable pole. For rando racing, I just use my xc classic cf poles, but skiing downhill with them is a bit odd, and for steep spring & summer skiing would far worse. Given your rando race background, I’m really surprised you don’t mind skinning with a downhill-length ski pole.

  28. Lou July 11th, 2011 9:50 am

    Jonathan, good points, I think what’s happened with my personal ergonomics is I’ve gotten so used to skinning with shorter poles I really don’t notice, also tend to do as little low-angled terrain as possible. And my messed up shoulders don’t lend themselves to agro pole work on the uphill, so I’m not looking for the big long push-stick.

  29. Matt Kinney July 11th, 2011 10:40 am

    Second Lou’s comment that most the main gear like boots, bindings, boots are pretty bomb-proof and reliable is spot on in regards to carrying spare parts. For instance I do not carry a spare cable for my bindings anymore.

    The art of “jerry rigging” is still a repair option in many situations. When I look at my roll of white 1″ cloth tape, I see a repair kit, not a roll of cloth tape. I can think of countless repairs I can rig up with a simple roll of tape.

    I shunned the spare shoelace years ago 😀

  30. Ryan July 11th, 2011 11:30 am

    Sorry you’re getting taken to the mat on this. It really doesn’t seem like that much when you read through it.

    I also think it is a little misleading as I’m assuming you’re not bringing the Montbell puffy vest, jacket and parka all on the same trip? My guess is if you edited the list to make it a little more easily read people would see that there isn’t that much there. Also many people are probablu used to no shell jkt or pants but here in the PNW that’s a part of my kit almost everytime as we get lovely psuedo-snow where it’s right around 31.5 degrees.

    This is a pretty complete list as well. I don’t think people realize what all migrates into their packs. I would hope a partner would help to share some of this burden. I knowsome items that amongst the three of my regular partners can be shared as backups we’ll divy up. Does everyone need to bring a GPS, Spot, bivy sack, complete first aid kit, etc.? Probably not. I hope to have all the things I’d need in an “Oh Shit” situation but I don’t think I’m likely to need two or three of them so I can share them amongst the group. I did have a friend who was involved in a slide this last season and I can tell you they all revisited what was in their pack and will be adding more emergency gear.

    I also have an in-car “Oh Shit” kit. These are things of often forgotten items that can save a trip from the dreaded bail at the parking lot. I find this helps to keep me from carrying all the redundancy on my back. Obviously this does you no good when miles and thousands of feet from the car but it helps to keep you from forgetting things and helps out partners who forgot something.

  31. Jonathan Shefftz July 11th, 2011 11:40 am

    I actually do often bring the MontBell vest + jacket + parka. Each layer fits very well over the other. The only insulating layer I ever actually use is the vest. But I need more insulation in case I’m ever immobile for more than a few minutes (which admittedly happens only every other year or so, but in an emergency…). The weight of jacket + parka is 21.5 oz – I’m definitely open to suggestions for a parka that weighs less but offers the same insulation value. (What I really wish is that MontBell would take the parka and just stuff maybe four or five more ounces of fill into it.)
    Agreed on the in-car kit. Definitely comes in handy.
    Splitting up emergency kits is an interesting proposition. Pretty much mandatory on real expeditions. And of course on overnight trips the cooking, shelter, etc. gets divied up. But I haven’t been coordinated emergency kits, b/c:
    1. I’m worried about the “but I thought *you* were supposed to bring the []” scenario.
    2. Since there is no definitive list of what to bring, and since kits will likely overlap yet also complement each other, and since some items can be helpful even in duplicate, I don’t think independently assembled kits are necessarily redundant.
    3. Partners might split up, whether deliberately or otherwise.
    4. The weight savings would probably amount to only several ounces or so, out of a 15-lb pack.

  32. Ryan July 11th, 2011 11:54 am

    That’s the take home message that seems to be gtetting lost here is that this pack is 15lbs. I’d venture to guess that most folks if they broke out the kitchen scale and started a spreadsheet of what they actually take they would quickly realize your load is pretty impressively light.

    I hear you on all three layering pieces as well. Ultimately if you can’t be absolutely still for hours on the snow and keep from getting hypothermia then you’re rolling the dice. If you break a leg, blow out a kneee or simliar and you’re waiting for a resuce you’re not going to be generating any heat. Layers and padding are going to be critical.

  33. See July 11th, 2011 5:25 pm

    “I really wish is that MontBell would take the parka and just stuff maybe four or five more ounces of fill into it.”

    Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody is 20.5 ounces, maybe warmer than the Monbell combination.

  34. Max July 12th, 2011 2:26 pm

    Just curious why you are using ascension skins. I find that having fast skins makes a much bigger difference in efficiency than the weight of my pack. When touring on my race skis I generally carry two or sometimes three sets of pomoca skins

  35. Jonathan Shefftz July 12th, 2011 2:30 pm

    For rando racing I use mohair (of course), for winter snow I use mohair-nylon mix (Dynafit skins on the Manaslu, and BD mix on my Logic-X), and for spring/summer snow I use nylon (Ascension orange on my Logic-X, Trab Duo Sint Aero, and Fish-X race skis). My feeling is that mohair doesn’t provide any advantages in spring/summer snow (whether frozen hard in the morning or all slushy later on), whereas abrasive spring/summer snow does wear down mohair (and presumably mohair-nylon mix) skins much more quickly.
    But that is just my feeling — I don’t have any firm evidence to substantiate it.

  36. Max July 12th, 2011 8:08 pm

    Your reasoning makes sense on abrasive snow/ higher wear. I do all my touring on race skins because I think worn skins are generally fast skins and are good to have in the skin quiver.

  37. Lou July 13th, 2011 6:28 am

    Jonathan and all, I’ve got years and years of experience with mohair. They do wear incredibly fast on frozen corn, to the point where you do need to be concerned about how much you’d use them on such. On the other hand, they do glide better than anything else on frozen corn, so if you can swing replacing them when necessary, they are a joy on frozen just as they are in other conditions. My approach is to use the mohair as much as possible in all situations, and carry ski crampons for when the track gets a bit too steep for the mohair. Also, when I travel to places with known testosterone induced track angles, such as Wasatch in winter, I do bring a set of nylons so I don’t have to mess around with my ski crampons.

    Also, mohair does glide better after being broken in, but the first thing to go is often the edges, and that quickly compromises their performance for climbing/traversing harder snow. One trick: If you have a quiver of skis, start every pair of mohair on your widest skis. When the edges of the skin start to wear out and lose traction, re-cut for the next narrowest ski in your quiver, and so on till you cut them as “skinny skins” to use for approaches.

  38. Max July 13th, 2011 2:49 pm

    I like the idea of slowly making your skins narrower. Any tips on cutting straight skins? When I cut skins they never turn out as good as ones out of the box. They work ok but i really notice an error of even a few millimeters when folding them

  39. Jim July 14th, 2011 1:02 pm

    Don’t forget the safety gear is not only for himself, but for his infant daughter. Well worth the weight penalty. Definitely changes your priorities.

  40. greg July 14th, 2011 3:08 pm

    Download the backcountry navigator pro app on your droid. You can downlowd topo maps on it, etc, so no need for cell service. It’s replaced my gps. You seem like a numbers guy so it might not have everything, but do the 2 week free trial. I think GPS Essentials is another that has more stats stuff available.

  41. Jonathan Shefftz July 14th, 2011 5:09 pm

    I was hoping that my little gal would soon starting sherpa-ing up some gear for me, then I could just get her a size XXXXXXXXXXS Camp Alp 95 harness and tether her to an anchor at base camp so she wouldn’t toddle off into a crevasse.

    Last year I played around with some GPS apps for my Android phone, but found them incredibly lacking in even the most basic functionality. I think Backcountry Navigator has finally really stepped it up though. But for any possibly intense navigational exercises, I still need my Garmin 60Cx, b/c:
    1. The touchscreen on my Droid Incredible requires removing my gloves.
    2. The battery life is very short with the GPS on.
    3. The chipset is far less accurate than the Garmin’s SiRF III in the trials I’ve run.
    Still though, for straightforward tours, the phone should be a good substitute.

  42. Tyler B July 15th, 2011 9:37 am

    Hey Jonathan,

    I did my first Rando Race last year and I am hooked. I am curious about where you would start on the Skis and bindings. My backcountry setup includes some Dynafit Manaslus, vertical st dynafit and BD Quadrants. I am planning on springing for the Tlt 5 performance boot but would like to find a decent race ski to train and race on.

    Could you provide some different skis to look for on the classifieds, swaps and ebay? Or if you have another idea of where to get some used light skinny race skis.

    Thanks for all your great posts.

  43. Lou July 15th, 2011 11:59 am

    Tyler, if you’re just getting started, just about any narrower AT ski makes a good rando race ski, used in a bit shorter length than you would otherwise, to save weight and make easier to mount on pack etc. Mount Dynafit TLT or other simple tech binding without brake, cut some mohair skins, and get on it! Look for rando skis at Sierra Trading Post.

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