Backcountry Essentials Checklist

The snow has been falling and we’re crossing our fingers that it sticks around. If you’re like myself and the rest of the crew here at Crow’s Feet, that means there’s a good chance you’re getting the itch to go exploring in our expansive backyard. Before you do, however, there are a few essential items everyone should acquire before venturing out into the backcountry, and I’m not talking about burritos and celebratory brews. I’m talking about the things we all hope we never have to use but know we could never live without if disaster strikes when traveling out of bounds. To help take the guesswork out of which items you and the rest of your party should carry, we’ve put together a list of the essentials for you. Consider this a jumping – off point. Your individual needs will vary depending on the size of your trip, but these five items have all of the power to save your bacon if things take an unexpected turn. And you can find them all here at Crow’s Feet! Along with the list we’ve added a few useful links to local and national organizations dedicated to avalanche safety and awareness.

In the event that you or someone in your party gets swept up and buried by a mountain of snow, this is arguably the most important item you can have on you. It’s the one main thing that will enable the rest of your party to locate you as quickly as possible. Choosing the right beacon can seem like a daunting task to some, but that’s why we’re here to help you! Basically, there are a few main things to consider when picking out which one will best suit your needs – range, number of built in antennas, and the ability to locate multiple buried victims. Below is a video tutorial of one of the models offered by Mammut we carry here in the shop. Come on by and we’ll answer your questions and sort the rest out for you!

The key things to consider when shopping for a shovel are weight, packability, and versatility. Like many other products on the market, shovels come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and intended uses. Not a lot of mystery in this department but it is worth stating that a good shovel will go a long way. After years of on-the-snow experience we are happy to be carrying G3 shovels. Check ‘em out . . .

Not to be downplayed or overlooked, a good probe is just as essential a piece of equipment as a beacon and shovel. Make sure you get one that is lightweight, easily packable, built with durable ice-resistant materials, and can be deployed quickly and easily. A probe with graduated markings that show snow depth can also be very useful in both snow tests and victim location.

Picking out a pack suitable for backcountry exploring, whether you ski or snowboard, can feel a little overwhelming at first. With options from nearly every outdoor gear manufacturer in existence it can often get confusing picking out the right one for your needs. It’s best to pick one that will not only carry all of your necessary emergency gear, but that will also carry any extra goodies you take with you. Like snacks, hydration and extra layers. Many also come equipped with some sort of airbag system for floatation if you get caught in a slide, as well as avalungs and other extras along those lines. If you anticipate some really hardcore terrain in your future then you might want to consider the latter options but for the average explorer it may not be necessary. As with everything else on this list, come on by and we’ll help you navigate the decision making process. We carry a wide range of packs, including the majority of the Jones Snowboards line and a great selection from Mammut.

That’s right, a partner. Always travel with a buddy when you go out into the mountains. Safety in numbers definitely applies to the backcountry. Plus, it’s more fun to shred with a buddy!

For further information regarding avalanche safety, education, local conditions, and preparedness click the links below. And don’t be afraid to stop on by Crow’s Feet Commons if you’ve got questions or are looking for a buddy to explore and enjoy a cold one with!


Avalanche Awareness Links

Central Oregon Avalanche Association – Our local resource for local reports, avalanche safety, and education

National Avalanche Center – Dedicated to raising awareness among those who work, travel and recreate in and around national forests


Crow's Feet Commons