Congrats! You've scored the holy grail of ski trips - the backcountry hut. For this first post, we'll be covering essential gear and layers to bring on your hut trip, whether it's helicopter assisted or accessed via skinning. The hut party is up to you!
Things to consider:
A lot of what you pack for a hut trip depends on the weather. Make sure to look at a forecast for your zone before you leave, and even print or write down the forecast if you plan to be there for an extended period (a few days or more). For hard goods, consider these variables: Will you be traveling on a glacier? Is there nothing but powder in the forecast (lucky you)? Is your trip guided? There are many factors that go into the equipment you will bring on your trip.
This is a general packing list for a backcountry hut accessed via skinning through glaciated terrain.
Hardshell Jacket - Arc'teryx Beta LT. For ski touring in the Northwest or Canada, I rely on this 3L GoreTex jacket to breathe while I'm skiing on storm days.
Hardshell Pants - Arc'teryx Sabre AR. Again, don't skimp on the pants, especially in the Northwest.
Active Insulation - Arc'teryx Proton LT. I've found this to be one of the best pieces of insulation for backcountry skiing. Very breathable, yet warm. In addition, I prefer synthetic to down if there's a lot of snow in the forecast.
Hut Pants - Patagonia Nano Air. It's so nice to throw on a pair of dry, puffy pants after a day of skiing.
Big Puffy - Feathered Friends Helio. Usually worn in and around the hut - especially if the hut isn't heated. You can leave this at home if the weather forecast doesn't call for it.
Long Underwear - Whatever brand works for you. Just make sure you pack a few of each. Your hut mates will thank you.
Socks - Fits. For ski touring I prefer a good blend of wool and synthetic.
Beanie - Style above everything.
Headband - Skida. Look good, feel good.
Hat - Ciele. Synthetic, packable, and breathable. Great for keeping sun and snow off your face while skinning.
Gloves - Showa and Rab. In short, one daily driver, one warm pair, and one waterproof work pair/boot-packing-up-couloirs pair. You can never have too many gloves.
Goggles and Sunglasses - Whatever brand works for you. If you're going to be above treeline or on a glacier, make sure to bring glacier glasses.
Skis - Choose skis based on conditions. When in Canada, plan for powder!
Boots - Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour. Great range of motion and downhill abilities.
Skins - I've tried them all, but keep going back to Black Diamond Mohair Mix (not pictured). I've never blown a tip or tail attachment, and they stick and glide in all conditions. Pomoca's feel a bit more delicate, and their glue is less resilient. Just my $.02
Beacon - Mammut Barryvox. Nothing beats practice - consider having a safety conversation on the first day (or every day), especially if the group has a lot of new partners.
Shovel - Ortovox Pro Light.
Probe - Mammut Speed Lock 320cm.
Ski Crampons - Whatever works with your bindings. Essential for early season, traverses, or anywhere you're uncertain of the snow you'll be encountering.
Communications - Garmin inReach Mini and/or Radio. What is your plan if something goes wrong? Do you need to communicate with an incoming helicopter or search and rescue. The inReach is also helpful at getting point forecasts via satellite.
Headlamp and Battery Bank - Petzl Actik Core and Goal Zero. I always have a headlamp in my pack, but the battery bank is great for keeping your phone or radio charged on extended trips.
Repair Kit - Traverse Equipment Backcountry Ski Repair Kit. Discuss potential issues you might face with your group, before you set out into the mountains. Add to this kit as needed.
Water Bottle - 1.5L. Bladders leak, bottles don't.
Sleeping Bag - 30F degrees. This is dependent on your hut and the weather forecast. Heated huts generally don't get that cold at night. For unheated huts, take into account the low temperatures in the forecast. (Not pictured - Sleeping pad. Make sure you know if your hut has sleeping pads or not).
Sleeping Bag Liner - Optional. I really like having one for huts that don't have a sauna, shower, or way to rinse off after a day of skiing. The liner keeps the daily sweat off my sleeping bag.
Pillow - Treat yourself.
Hut Shoes - Crocs if it's heated. Down booties if it's not.
Pack - Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 4400. My go-to for multiday traverses and non-heli accessed huts. It's holds a lot and it can compress to the size of a daypack. For heli-accessed huts, I go with a 30-40L day pack.
Glacier Gear - Petzl RAD Line, Petzl Ride Axe, (not pictured - pulley/rescue system and harness). Applicable to huts with glacier access.
- First Aid Kit. Usually one per group works well. Make sure your medications are up to date.
- Tent and sleeping pad. A great idea if you're going to a first come, first served hut, which could be full.
- Fuel and backup stove. Some huts have stoves, but require you to bring your own fuel. It's always a good idea to have a backup stove incase the in hut stove doesn't work.
- Duffle bag. Patagonia Black Hole works great for heli-accessed huts. I prefer a few small bags instead of one large bag.
- Speaker, costume, cards, and toiletries. Oh, and don't forget a little pack towel for the sauna!
I'd love to hear what else you bring!