From skis to skins, base layers to beacons, here’s the ultimate packing list for everything you need to bring for a day out in the Australian backcountry, whether ski touring, splitboarding or snowshoeing.


It’s surprisingly hard to decide what the most important piece of equipment is when it comes to backcountry skiing and snowboarding. At first it was obviously skis, but you won’t get far on those slippery sticks without your boots. Throw in skins, jacket, sunglasses and scroggin and it’s hard to keep track of what’s really important when making fresh tracks. 

One thing is for sure, you’ll need your beacon, shovel and probe if you’re entering into the backcountry. 

Read our day out with Mountain Safety Collective and listen to the Inside Out Podcast Episode on Backcountry Safety for more information on what backcountry skiing and snowboarding is about.


Meet The Mountain Safety Collective — The Non-Profit Community Making Backcountry Travel Safer, matt wiseman


So, there are must do lists.  and then there are these, the must not forget lists. 

Like all backcountry missions, this is a pick your own adventure type list. 

To begin, what are you riding on?


Skis – These aren’t your regular alpine/downhill skis, you’ll need to have these fitted with special backcountry bindings that allow you to travel uphill — tech or frame bindings are the most common choices.

Split-board – a snowboard that’ll split in half, with adaptable bindings for uphill travel, like touring skis.

Snowboard – if you are riding a regular snowboard (not a splitboard) you’ll also be snowshoeing. 

Snowshoes – we’ve written about this adventure before.Check out Solo Snowshoeing The High Plains in Falls Creek and Snowshoeing From Guthega To Schlink Hut


Meet The Mountain Safety Collective — The Non-Profit Community Making Backcountry Travel Safer, matt wiseman, snow, gumtrees


Any of the above won’t do you much good without:

Ski Boots – (don’t forget your boot liners either… It happens and those hard shells are even less comfy without them)

Snowboard Boots

Snowshoe compatible boots – For the uphill, you’ll be sticking skins to the bottom of your skis/split.

Skins (for both planks) – The half furry/half adhesive strips that attach to the bottom of your skis/splitboard and grip the mountain as you climb up it.

Poles – (ideally telescopic ones which allow you to lengthen or shorten them depending on the terrain. Snowboarders tend to use collapsible poles which can be packed away for the downhill.)


Meet The Mountain Safety Collective — The Non-Profit Community Making Backcountry Travel Safer, matt wiseman, snow, skis, person


Unique to alpine travel is these three essential pieces of backcountry safety equipment – shovel, prove and beacon.

Shovel – An ‘avalanche shovel’ is designed to dig for buried avalanche victims. Hopefully you will never use it for such, but you must carry one and if nothing else, they’re good at building jumps, seats and igloos.

Probe – A metal or carbon fibre rod used to probe through avalanche debris for buried victims.

Avalanche Beacon aka Transceiver – An essential electronic device that backcountry users wear on their body to aide in quickly finding buried avalanche victims


Meet The Mountain Safety Collective — The Non-Profit Community Making Backcountry Travel Safer, matt wiseman, snow, gps


First Aid Kit – depending on the size of your group, this might be carried by one or more members.

Much of the stuff you would carry in a hiking first aid kit will apply to the backcountry as well, although you might consider extra warmth bringing items like reusable hand warmers and heating pads.

Fire starter – waterproof matches/lighter or a flint stick and something that will light (used for if you’re forced to retreat into one of the many huts on the Australian Main Range for shelter).

Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) – a small emergency device used to alert the authorities and potential rescuers to a life threatening situation. 

Emergency Blanket – At least one of these should be contained within your First Aid Kit. Have enough for everyone.

Emergency Shelter – An emergency bivy may save your life and the 1-person ones weigh less than 100 grams.


GPS – When it comes to navigation, it’s important to have a few options and a failsafe. I use a combination of Gaia Maps, My Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar Watch and have a paper map just in case.

Compass – I have one on my watch + miniature one in pack.

Pack – For a day trip, you’re looking at around 20L to  35L, whereas overnight trips will necessitate a larger pack, possibly over 70L.

Basically, you need enough room to fit everything listed here — and be able to access it in a pinch.

Some hiking packs can be adapted to use in the backcountry. It’s important to have a pack with hip and chest straps to keep it secure while riding.


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Sunglasses – an absolute must… ski touring in goggles is fog hell.

A pair of so-called ‘glacier goggles’ will do a good job at blocking bright light from entering the side of the glasses.

Another option is something like the Oakley Sutro Sunglasses which we reviewed.


Oakley Sutro Sunglasses - Lite, Vented or Non-Vented


Goggles – optional if you have sunglasses (but recommended) for the downhill fun time slidey part.

Multi-tool – something that can tighten bindings, cut something etc.

Voile straps aka ski straps – these little things are critical to backcountry touring. I know people who have forgotten their skins and used a ski strap to secure a pine branch to the underside of their ski, enabling them to walk uphill. 

You can use them to create emergency slings or strap your skis together for an efficient bootpack. Heck, last season at Dead Horse Gap I had a boot malfunction and tightening one of these around the cuff meant I could ski down in one piece and not in walk-mode as my boot had decided it wanted to do. I can’t stress enough how rad these are!

Sunscreen – A high spf sunscreen is crucial in spring. It seems paradoxical but I’ve had some of my worst sunburns ever in the snow, as the white reflects the light back at you as well as radiating from above. 

Wind balm/Zinc/Lip Balm – ‘ski balm’ which is kind of like a zinc without the threat of goggle foam getting stained a tan colour.


Baselayers (top and bottom) – we recommend a Merino Blend for breathability while touring.

Midlayer – a lightweight fleece.

Down Jacket – a packable down jacket + a synthetic down jacket as a more waterproof backup.

Shell JacketWe’ve been wearing the Arc’teryx Rush Ski Jacket touring this year and it’s been outstanding.


Arc’teryx Rush Ski Jacket - Review


Glove liners – lightweight (preferably merino) gloves

Gloves/Mittens – a thicker ski glove for colder weather and riding.

Balaclava/Neck Gaiter – A natural merino blend will wick moisture and keep you cool while also preventing sun and windburn.

Ski Socks – LÉ BENT makes a backcountry specific snow sock.

Beanie – good to stuff in the bag when not wearing.

Hat – a hat is important for the blaring spring sun in the alpine.

Helmet – A helmet is a good idea for the downhill part, especially if skiing in trees or other hazardous terrain.

Camping in the Backcountry?

Camping out on the snow is an incredible and immersive experience, but we haven’t covered the requirements in this article.

If you’re interested check out Snow Camping – A Beginner’s Guide and Essential Gear For A Snow Camping Trip.



Food & snacks – always include more than you need in case of emergency!

Water – 1L+ is a good amount for a day trip. It’s also wise to take a water bottle with a large opening — like a Nalgene — that way you can fill it with snow to refill it easily.

Headlamp – Carry a headlamp in the event you linger out there too long and have to make your way home in the dark.

Crampons / Ski CramponsAustralian backcountry travel can come with plenty of ice hazards, what professionals call ‘slide for life’ hazard. Crampons and ski crampons help one travel over icy surfaces, although are not a piece of equipment to be used lightly. 

Fill out a trip intention form – like with other remote bushwalks, it is important to have a record of your trip and objectives in case you are lost or caught in an emergency. You can fill out a NPWS trip intention form here


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Check the Mountain Safety Collective Backcountry Conditions Report! This is an invaluable tool to help you understand the condition of the snowpack, and relevant hazards and weather factors.

If you’re inexperienced we also strongly recommend hiring a guide.

In addition, there are a number of courses you can take locally here in Australia like an AST1, which are invaluable for learning how to navigate safely in the backcountry.