Dustin Byrne's Backcountry Ski Kit

Dustin Byrne's Backcountry Ski Kit

Dustin Byrne is a silent sender who guides in Washington, Nevada, California, Utah, Colorado, Alaska and Canada. He is a seasoned AIARE instructor, a Leave No Trace Master Educator and an AMGA Certified Alpine Guide. In his off time he enjoys climbing, skiing, and writing. @dustinbyrne

This is his typical kit for a day of backcountry skiing in the Cascades:

  1. Mammut Alugator Light shovel - I always use a lightweight metal shove for touring. Works for avy rescue and building shelters in a pinch. Sometime if I know I am snow camping I may take a slightly bigger one for moving snow more effectively.

  1. Mammut Barryvox S beacon - A beacon is a must for touring. I like ones that can mark victims just in case you get in the worst case scenario with multiple victims burried. Get one with three antennas. Two antenna beacons are simply outdated.

  1. Mammut Speed Lock 320cm probe - A three meter probe is great for checking snow height and makes it so you don’t have to bend over during a rescue to probe deep enough to make sure you are not missing your victim.

  1. inReach - This is my link to the outside world when I'm deep in the backcountry. Also helpful for getting weather forecasts if I'm going to be out for a couple days. 

  1. iPhone - Great for maps, syncing to the Delorme, music, and Netflix when your partner is dragging ass. Also takes pictures.

  1. Repair kit - I carry pretty basic stuff. Ski tool, extra screws, ski straps, skin parts, an extra pole basic, and a pole spilt. Extra binding parts are also a must.

  1. First Aid Kit - Stuff to control major bleeds, spilt, and deal with minor injuries. Also carry some basic medicines such as aspirin, Benadryl, and some GI meds. 

  1. Tarp - Used for making emergency shelters and constructing a rescue sled. 

  1. Ski wax/skin wax - Prevents snow from sticking to stuff.

  1. Snow study kit - Thermometer, ruler, 10x loop, compass, cord for cutting cornices or ECT’s, and crystal card. I don’t always carry this when I am skiing. It depends on the avalanche problems.

  2. Dynafit Ski crampons - Great for alpine starts and beat-up ski tracks. I don’t carry these much in the winter, but come spring, they are staple in my kit.

  3. G3 Snow Saw - Useful for snow test and building an emergency shelter. Like the snow study kit, only bring this when appropriate.

  4. BD Cirque Pack 45L - This is a great touring pack that can fit everything I need for a day of guiding. I will take an airbag on certain days, but for the most part, I prefer to keep it light.

  5. Smith goggles - We get a lot of wet days here in the Cascades, so my goggles have to work in storms and low light. 

  6. Revo Traverse sunglasses - Great for the uphill when it’s bright out. Even in low light I feel that these glasses give better definition than the naked eye.

  7. Beanie - Keeps the head warm.

  8. Ball cap - Great for the uphill when you're exerting more energy. Keeps snow off your face in a storm and blocks the sun when it’s nice out.

  9. Black Diamond Dirtbag gloves - I honestly love these gloves. They are cheap and warm enough for most days in the PNW. I can usually get a season or two out a pair, which at 40-80 ski days a year, is a heck of a bargain.

  10. Camp gloves - I always carry a back up pair of gloves. These are pretty warm and light. If I know it's going to be cold, I'll bring a pair of warmer gloves. Something like the BD Punisher.

  11. The North Face gridded fleece - This layer is what I live in. It’s a fair bit lighter than a Patagonia R1 which is great for me as I get hot on the uphill. It lets me layer over it well and breaths great.

  12. Outdoor Research Trailbreaker Jacket - This is one of my favorite ski softshells. The cut allows me to layer well under it and it’s comfortable for the up. Not to hot and has decent protection from the elements. I also really like the color.

  13. Mountain Equipment Lhotse Jacket - One of the better storm jackets I have ever had. It’s really waterproof (3L Gore-Tex Pro) and blocks the wind. Great for those 30F powder days we get in the PNW. 

  14. Patagonia Powder Slayer Pants - I like Gore-Tex pants for winter tours in  the PNW. Keeps the legs dry and isn’t too hot. I’ll usually only rock softshells in the spring. I also grew up snowboarding and am firmly in the baggy pants camp.

  15. Socks - I have owned roughly 20 pairs of Smart wool ski socks. They are the perfect weight for me and last a long time. 

  16. Black Diamond Nylon STS Skins - These skins are great. They work well for skinning up the steep tracks that get set in the Baker backcountry.

  17. Scarpa Maestrale RS – I love these boots. Mine are probably 6-7 years old now and while I need a new pair, they're still warm, comfortable, and drive a heavy ski well.

  18. Black Diamond Carbon Touring Poles - Basic, light weight touring poles. This is my second pair and the first pair lasted me ten years.

  19. 4FRNT Kye 120 skis w/ Dynafit bindings - These are quite heavy for touring but are super fun on the downhill. Great for heavy snow and super deep days. I definitely favor the down hill over the up. I also have a lighter set up for spring skiing and when it’s not as deep.

  20. Snacks - Always in my pockets.


Not pictured, but often included:

  1. Down Jacket - I like down as it’s warmer for the weight. I often bring a light down jacket for ski touring in the PNW - something in the 5-8oz of fill range. Synthetics are great for the days you know are gonna be wet.

  2. Thermos - 1L is perfect. Great for the cold days. I can also add snow to the hot water to make more water if I am especially thirsty. If I am going especially far, I’ll carry a separate water bottle in addition to my thermos. I like fluids.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published