Pack it up, pack it in

I mentioned in this post that I’d be showing ya’ll how I’m changing up my backcountry pack since my Avalanche class.  I had some time this weekend between skiing at Snowbowl on Saturday and running the required 11 miles on Sunday to stock up on some goods. 

Previously, my pack had been used for just the essentials:  skins, probe, shovel, hand warmers, water and puffy coat (for emergency warmth).   On day two of the Avalanche class, we had a show-and-tell with our packs; meaning each person picked something from their pack (that they thought was particularly cool) to share with the group.  Our instructor said he’s gotten some great ideas for changes to his own pack after this quick roundtable.

What I learned from this exercise was that my pack was nowhere near where it needed to be.  I always made fun of The Hubs because of how heavy his pack was and how much “stuff” he always brought with him…he’s a worry-wart and I guess I always just chalked it up to that.   But in reality, he’s just prepared.  And I am not.  I decided that I can’t rely on him to bring everything that I need…I need my own supplies.  I mean what if something happened and we got separated?   Yesterday I would have been screwed!  Today…I’d maybe survive.  haha. 

So what did I change?

Here’s the innards of my pack before: 

Clockwise from top: Skins, pack, puffy, baclava, hand warmers, shovel, probe, Summy's paw

Pretty bare bones, eh?  Oh, and in case any of you are worried about food…I always stock Clif Builder Bars, Luna Bars, chocolate, apples, trail mix and a sandwich in there before heading out.  Trust me, food is typically my #1 priority!

And here are the new additions:

Clockwise from top:

  • 2 Ditty bags – because I’m anal I like things to be organized.
  • Spare batteries for headlamp (headlamp not pictured because it’s currently MIA).  Eek!
  • Firestarter – because you never know.
  • Ski scraper – good for getting snow off the bottom of your skis before putting your skins on.  And I’m sure there are other uses as well!
  • Compass – duh.
  • Duct tape – If I would have had this in my pack during class, my friend Jenn would have had a much more pleasant hike out from the lake.  Her skin wouldn’t stay on her ski, so she had to hike out with one skin on one ski.  I can only imagine how awful that was.  Although that’s nothing a little pink duct tape wouldn’t have fixed!
  • Cable – this could be used for several scenarios, but I purchased it for isolating snow columns in my pit tests.  Until I get I snow saw I suppose.
  • Pencil – I’m looking for an Avalanche Pit Test book that I can diagram snow charts in.  This pencil will be for documenting in that book.
  • Flashlight – backup for headlamp.
  • Lighter – for starting fire.
  • Multi-purpose tool – This sucker’s got a knife, screw driver, bottle opener and wine opener on it.  Just in case I want some Pinot Noir in the backcountry.

One other decision I made was to ditch the bag my probe came in.  My pack has a special carrying spot for it, so I don’t see a need to fumble around with the bag.  Besides, if-and-when I need it, I’ll be wanting quick access. 

So there you have it.  Nothing earth-shattering.  Just a lot more common sense stuff that makes me a lot more self-sustainable now.  There are still a few things I’d like to get, like the journal I mentioned above, a fusee, a thermos for bringing tea, flagging, basic first aid kit and some waterproof matches.   Until then though, I’m happy with Pack 2.0.  Who knows how many iterations and versions there will be…because undoubtedly I’ll continue to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. 

So tell me….what do you carry that you think is particularly cool?  Any suggestions for Pack 3.0?



  1. Well let me just say I’m happy to see that Summy made an appearance. :) But I am even happier that you have all of your supplies to be safe. I asked Lindan what he carries in his pack or what he thought would be cool and he mentioned powdered beer…apparently it is something new from a guy in Alaska. ;) I would recommend using it AFTER a day out on the slopes.

    1. Ha ha ha! I’ll definitely have to look into the powdered beer thing. Sounds…..interesting? For now I’ll just settle for a cold one when I’m done! :)

  2. Okay so I check out your blog for the first time ever and notice I made an appearance! Thanks for the heartfelt words of pity…thankfully Bill was there to help leverage me back up the mountain ;)or it would have been really really rough, instead I settled for an extra good workout.

    Anyway, I wanted to say I love the additions to your pack! I haven’t updated mine yet, but I’m def goin to copy some of your additions here. Other items you might consider…foot warmers (that was the first time I used them & they make it so much more enjoyable in nasty weather)and flagging in case you get seperated from your party or are in unfamiliar territory and think you might get lost. I myself will be placing duck tape and a ski scraper in my pack pronto ;)

    1. Oh…didn’t I tell you? All pictures and stories are subject to blog posts? Don’t you remember that waiver I made you sign? :) Ha Ha! Hope you don’t mind…

      Thanks for the suggestions…I definitely agree on the foot warmers. Once your feet get cold it’s O-VER. And I do like the flagging idea too! Maybe we can do a show-and-tell at the yurt for more good ideas.

      You might want to check another post about the avalanche class, called “a little reflection with a red chair.” You and I talked a little bit about some of the same things. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Pack 2.0 looks great! You are only missing one major component that would make Pack 3.0 absolutely bomber and that is a wee little med kit. Here are some basics that I carry; bandaids, SAM splint, koban (vet wrap), Ace wrap, medical tape, a few 4x4s, trauma shears (your MP tool could suffice for now), latex gloves, and a larger dressing of some sort like a trauma dressing, pad, or a stack of 4x4s… and the knowledge of how to use this stuff. Staying CPR and First Respondered certified is a great idea. If you are looking for more class time fun, get your OEC:) You would dig it! As you say, knowledge is power.

    1. Great suggestions Erin…and I definitely agree! I’m probably going to have to suck it up and take an Aerie Medicine class at some point. Just as soon as I get over this blood/bodily injury fear of mine. :) haha.

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