While skinning in the backcountry today, I was going through my gear checklist in my head. My pack was heavy and I was thinking of what I could get rid of and still be safe. As I went through what I could potentially toss out, I started thinking hard about what were the most crucial pieces of gear with me. This lead to the simple question:
“What is the most important piece of gear I bring into the backcountry?”
Once home, I asked my crew of experienced mountain friend that very question as I knew their answers would be useful and interesting.
What Is The Most Important Piece of Gear You Bring Into the Backcountry?
Rich: Avalanche Education and Experience. It’s by far the most important thing you could ever bring into the backcountry and/or avalanche terrain. There is absolutely no substitute for knowledge and experienc out there, especially when the shit hits the fan.
Lee: “My Avalanche Airbag Backpack. Because I don’t trust any of you.”
Zach: “If you take avy gear [beacon, probe, shovel] for granted, then Snacks. Because the boost morals and perception. I shouldn’t have to explain myself.”
Charlie: “Backcountry Buddy. Someone you trust. Some you’re comfortable making decisions with. Your partner in the backcountry can be the single most important safety item you bring.”
Nick: “My Brain. Because any piece of equipment could save you once you’re in a bad situation, but your brain could potentially keep you out of the situation all together. You’ve also gotta make sure to turn the thing on. Not thinking is likely the biggest cause of accidents in the backcountry.”
Matthias: “If you exclude avy gear [beacon, probe, shovel], First Aid Kit. If something happens you can fix an injured partner up and that could save his/her life. Also, a Bivy Bag. You never know if you’ll end up in the position that you have to spend the night out there and a bivy bag can save your life if you end up in that position. A bivy bag can also be a huge help if a member of your party gets injured and has to stay put for a long period of time.”
Patrick: “Beacon, probe, shovel is the most important, but besides that: A Fully Charged Cellular Phone. Because it’s the fastest way to call for help if I need assistance.”
If you’re headed into the backcountry, you should strongly consider all the the items mentioned above and make sure you go out and get some avalanche education now. If you already have some, get more, if you already have Avy 2 or 3, go take it again.
As for me, I’d have to agree with Avalanche Education & Experience, but since that’s already been said, I’d go with my Micropuff Jacket because it’s saved me in so many bad situations. It’s light, it packs small, and it provides big wamth.