What gear do I need to recreate safely during the winter?

The question, “what gear do I need?” can feel daunting. With endless options, what items should you put in your pack for a day in the mountains? It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. There are a few pieces of gear essential to a safe and enjoyable day in the snow. The module below is a high level review of winter equipment and links and resources for buying and maintaining backcountry equipment. 

Click here to explore the “Gear” e-learning module.

Avalanche Safety Gear

Avalanches are avoidable with an understanding of how and where they form. However, if an avalanche does occur you need to have rescue gear and know how to use it. This module is designed to help you understand what the critical gear is when you’re heading into avalanche terrain, but in order to use it you must get training.

The following three items: transceiver, shovel, and probe are the requirements for every member of your group when heading into avalanche terrain. Together they will allow you to locate, pinpoint, and dig out an avalanche victim.

  • Avalanche transceiver (commonly referred to as a beacon): These are small electronic devices worn on the body to help you quickly locate someone who has been buried in an avalanche. Transceivers can both send and receive radio signals, so if someone gets buried, other members of the group switch their beacons to “receive” mode to find the signal of the avalanche victim.
  • Probe:  A probe is a collapsible metal rod that allows you pinpoint a person’s location quickly after you have located their transceiver signal. Probes look similar to tent poles and are designed to assemble quickly and slide through snow to locate the victim so you can save precious minutes digging.
  • Shovel: A shovel designed specifically for avalanche rescue will be collapsible, durable, and lightweight. Avalanche debris is heavy and challenging to move, so a plastic or flexible shovel will not work to extricate an avalanche victim.

More resources

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