Essential Splitboarding Gear for the Backcountry

Burton Incline 40L Backpack ReviewBurton AK Snowboard Backpack Test | Photo Mike Hardaker Mountain Weekly News

The following splitboard gear can be found in my backpack anytime I’m out splitboarding or backcountry snowboarding. I feel it’s better to be overly prepared than to spend an uncomfortable possibly life-threating night outdoors in the middle of winter. The gear I carry in my splitboard kit just may save my life, or yours too.

Updated Video:

Splitboard Gear Video

What I Pack Splitboarding

Links to where to find the gear mentioned in my video:

Burton ak guide backpack in black

Burton [ak] 40L Incline Touring Backpack

It’s surely pretty awkard trying to carry everything you need to go splitboarding in your hands or a tiny backpack.  That’s were a backpack like the Burton Incline Touring Pack comes into play.  It’s designed for backcountry snowboarding in avalanche terrain.  The perfect piece of gear for splitboarders that tend to carry some “extra stuff” like found on this list.

Price: $199.99

Voile Ski Straps

Voile Ski Straps

In the video I had 4, I recommend 6 or more. Your splitboard skins will fail, the glue fails, the profiles of the boards are not made for flat skins and so forth.  When they fail, because they will. Put one strap in the front, one in the back and one under your binding.  Now you can tour all day long with skins that have gone to shit.

Price: $6.00

Vice Grip Leatherman

Leathermen Crunch Vice-Grip Multi-Tool

It’s heavy, but it will do everything that you need in the backcountry for a multi-tool.  The Leatherman Crunch has a vice grip.  Can you think of a time you have needed that in the backcountry or time you would?  If so buy this. Hint when poles get stuck frozen (think carbon collapsible) this tool can help.

Price: $99.99


Compass and Slope Angle Reader for Splitboard Gear

Silva Ranger 515 Compass

I’m not sure why the price on this jumped so much.  This compass works, it’s a Silva they are tried and true.  It allows you to figure out the direction of travel, slope angle and slope direction.  Don’t get caught in the backcountry with your pants down on terrain that screams “avalanche terrain” learn to use a compass and read a map, or just stare aimlessly at your smartphone, your call.

Price: $39.99

Avalanche Rescue Gear

Under Armour Jacket Pit

Life Link Avalanche Shovel

I love this shovel, however not sure you can find it anymore.  Look for a shovel that is durable first and foremost, if you have ever tried to cut through blocks of avalanche debris you will realize the flimsy lightweight shovels won’t do you much good. The Life Link Guide Shovel is huge and barely fits in my pack, so keep that in mind as well.

Price: $69.95

Avalanche Probe MSR

MSR Striker 240 Probe

A nice probe that sits in my backpack and hopefully never has to be used.  It’s one thing to practice it’s another thing to go probing for bodies.  The MSR Striker 240 is great for skiing in the inner rocky mountains, of going to BC or Baker get a longer 320cm probe. This thing is lightweight, but not too lightweight.

Price: $49.99

Snow Saw

MSR Snow Saw

Great saw and very very sharp.  Don’t cut your hands in the middle of the day when temperatures are below zero.  What this saw allows you to do is make real cuts in your pit.  The back of your ski pole, splitboard or skis doesn’t count.  This takes up little space and is a crucial tool in making a snowpit. Plus it has a mark at 30cm, talk about convenient for cuts.

Price: $59.95

Emergency Gear

Personal Locator Text

SPOT X Two-Way Messenger

This little tool is a game-changer for anyone recreating in the backcountry. The SPOT X allows easy 2-way text messaging via Satellites.  This sort of tech in the past cost an arm and a leg, now for under $200 and an added cost of a service plan you can always have a way to get an emergency message out.  The standard SOS feature works but the reason to buy this is communication with your loved ones.  “Hey babe, we are going to be late, or hey babe call search and rescue, we are lost coordinates attached to this message” Then on the flip side you can now RECIEVE messages, “got it, search and rescue is on the way”. Plus you can also geotag locations to lookup at a later time, find a sick line.  Turn on the SPOT let it send a ping and when you get home Google earth will take you right there.

Price: $249.99


Petzl React+ Headlamp

This is my backup headlamp.  I like it because it’s got a ton of power, the cool looking red light for early morning tours and isn’t too heavy.  The only thing I hesitant with and why this is my backup is it can only be charged via USB.  Maybe you bring a battery pack with you to charge your devices?  I bring standard batteries instead, the kind our beacons and other devices take.

Price: $119.95

Extreme Start Fire Starter

Extreme Start Fire Starter Box of 24

I get cold easily after touring and riding for hours on end.  So I like to make a fire.  These tiny little Extreme Start Fire Starters take about the size of a Snickers bar in your backpack.  It’s a no brainer to carry + fire is fun.

Price: $19.99

Homemade First Aid Kit

Homemade DYI First Aid Kit for Mountains | Photo Nate Fochler Mountain Weekly News

Homemade First Aid Kit

Making a first aid kit is easy, figure out the sort of injuries you have had or may have in the backcountry.  Small stuff like medicine is easy to pack, as are things to stop bleeding, I will make a future video about building a first aid kit in the future

Backcountry Comfort


Lightweight mid layer

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Hoodie

Ahh my new favorite piece of outerwear comes from Mountain Hardwear.  The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Hoodie is cozy, packs down to almost nothing and has a recycled story if that tickles your fancy.  If you don’t have a puffy in your pack, let this be the first thing on the list you buy. This midlayer weighs around 12 oz stuffs into just about any nook and cranny in your pack and looks great even after repeated use.

Price: $220.00

Ridge Merino Wool

Ridge Merino Wool Top Long Underwear

I have talked about these base layers before they rock.  A small company out of Mammoth Lakes California designing performance base layers at a great cost.  It doesn’t take much room to toss one of these into your backpack either, even at the very bottom.  Pull it out after your sweating swap, eat sleep repeat.

Price: $49.99

Leather Ski Glove Black

Black Diamond Kingpin Gloves

I have used these gloves in BC in very wet heavy think rain to snow.  Even after having them soaking wet 9 on the outside) I have been able to count and trust in these gloves in the worst of situations.  It’s not really what you think of in a ski glove, more so a motocross glove.  It works great as a backup if the shit is hitting the fan. If you rock anything leather, be sure to use some waterproof sealant to keep them waterproof over time.

Price: $74.95

Now this is what we call steep terrain, Ryayn using his Dakine Chris Benchetker Team Mitten to dig his ice in. Photo | Mountain Weekly News

Mountain Weekly News writer Ryan Ariano rocking the Dakine Chris Benchetker Team Mitten to dig his ice in. Photo | Mountain Weekly News

Dakine Bencthler Mittens

I like mittens, although I don’t wear them enough. These mittens have one of the awards for best snowboard mittens of the year because they are cozy, warm and you can still do “some” stuff while wearing them.  Personally I like mittens when sitting around and going downhill.  For everything else, I like more of a work glove. Writing in mittens is hard as is using zippers.

Price: $100.00

Related Articles: 

  1. What to Pack for Ski Touring
  2. Top Gloves for Snowboarding
  3. FlyLow Mittens Review

About the Author

Mike Hardaker
Mike Hardaker grew up surfing and snowboarding in Orange County and followed his love of surfing to Hawaii before eventually moving to the mountains to concentrate on snowboarding. He went on to found Mountain Weekly News based in Jackson, Wyoming.

5 Comments on "Essential Splitboarding Gear for the Backcountry"

  1. Adam Szymkowicz | December 4, 2019 at 10:49 AM | Reply

    I notice that you didn’t mention a transceiver, which of course wouldn’t go in your pack, but on your body, so maybe that’s why it doesn’t make the list. I have an older Mammut Barryvox (from 2005/2006) and I’m wondering if I need to think about replacing it for any reason? It’s been well cared for (no storing it with batteries, it’s dry and clean, not left on for long periods of time when not in use, not left where there are big swings in temperature, etc.) Would love to hear your input.

  2. Nalgene for water/replenishment, plus snacks that are OK while freezing, etc – a definite must in case you’re out there longer than expected. Thanks for the list!

    • Scott,

      Nalgene great tip, what about the anti-freezing snacks. You’re saying there is a better solution then bitting into frozen energy bars? Im all ears.

  3. Sweet article! It’s an interesting perspective to see the gear you take into the backcountry.
    It also signals a different approach taken to the backcountry in the Rockies compared to where i mainly splitboard (the Alps). We generally carry much less, I’d only bring a 40L pack when doing a multi-day tour with a mountaineering component (ice axes, boot crampons, harness with all the necessary ropes and metal bits). Having to do an emergency bivy, while not unheard of, is rare (again, in the Alps). The emphasis is getting rescued more than self-reliance in an emergency situation. Also, I wouldn’t weight my pack down with gear for digging pits and recording the output. I’d love to dig pits and analyze how the snowpack evolves, study the crystals, etc., but we generally have enough published / official analyses to give us the necessary info on the snowpack. Regardless, there are a few additional pieces which I always have in my pack even for day tours:
    -split crampons: when the skins don’t hold up on an icy skin track or face
    -emergency space blanket / bivy sack: this is more to put a wounded partner in, while waiting to be evacuated
    -Alpine club card: i think the helicopter will still take you, but they tell you to bring it. Also, gets you discounts at the mountain huts.
    -Sunglasses: especially on the glacier. Skinning with goggles isn’t rad
    -thermos: with warm tea

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