Snow Advanced Gear List

Use this list to help you quickly compare what you usually carry into the backcountry against what we require for our SAC (Snow Advanced Course) offered throughout the Winter and Spring months. Gear lists may be different for different Courses, so be sure that you have the right list for your Course. The items listed are our choices, what we have chosen to use after 34 years of teaching snow-hiking in the Sierra. We prefer reliable performance and durability over light weight to assure personal and group safety. We suggest that you do the same, even if it means more weight.

In the context of maintaining your safety on steep snow, it is required that you bring the right gear, or tools, if you will. Without them, you are a danger to yourself and others and may be barred from attending the course. With them, we will be able to teach you how to use them efficiently and competently to maintain your personal and group safety as we teach it so you can have fun out there! If you show up without the required gear, you may be immediately expelled from the course of instruction. We take your safety very seriously.

If you want a detailed explanation of an item, why we choose it, the design and construction we look for, the brand, the uses we put them through, and more, please find in the school library (Resources tab) thus far, “Why Boots?” and other related information.

Recommended Gear Check-List for SAC Courses:

Footwear: medium-weight leather boots (see “Why Boots?”)                                                                                                                   Creek crossing shoes
Insoles (i.e.: Superfeet, as needed)
3 pair socks (i.e.: Smartwool or sock sets composed of liners and rag socks)
Traction Devices (Kahtoola Hiking Crampons or equivalent. Microspikes will not be allowed.)
1 Black Diamond Whippet Self-Arrest Pole with snow basket
1 hiking pole with snow basket (no little summer baskets on snow!)

Pack Cover (for snow and rain, as needed)

Sleeping Bag (that you know will keep you warm down to 10 degrees)
Down Booties (for in-tent and around camp)
Pillow (optional)
Sleeping Pad(s) (that you know will keep you warm on snow)
3-Season Tent (recommended) and summer stakes

Canister Stove (for cooking indoors–no alcohol stoves allowed)
Fuel (an 8 ounce canister can boil approximately 20, 2-cup meals)
Fire Starter: Lighters, Matches
Cooking Pot (or whatever cooking system you are using)
Clean Up: Soap, Sponge, Rags (for tent spills and pots)
Garbage Bag (often your first empty ziplock bag)
Plates & Utensils: Cup (if needed), Spoon, Multi-Purpose Knife
Water Storage: Canteens, bottles, or bladders
Water Purification: Filter or Chemical Treatment for use in shallow springs, creeks, or lakes
Extra Food: (must include hot food and fluids for forced, snowy days off)

Electronics: Cell Phone and whatever else electronic you want to bring
Extra Batteries
Low-Reading Thermometer (optional)
Lighting: Headlamp or other lightweight light
50 feet Parachute Cord (emergency shoe laces, tent guy lines, and clothes line)
Repairs & Maintenance: Sewing Kit, Repair Tape, Fabric Patches, tent pole splint, Spare Pts
Personal Medicines (G.I., Stomach, Allergies, Inflammation, Infection, etc.)
Bags: Plastic and Stuff bags (for carry-out and organizational uses)
First Aid Kit, Emergency Whistle
Boot Care: Sealer and applicator (if needed)

Sun Hat (wide-brimmed style)
Bandanas (for sweating and sun protection)
Gaiters (Tall, for powder snow and postholing)
Waterproof/Breathable shells (pants, parka with hood. For glissading, you can use a “diaper”*)
Under-Layer: Underwear, Long Underwear, Tee Shirt
Mid-Layer: Fleece/Turtleneck/Flannel Shirt, Fleece Pants (or equivalent)
Insulating Layer: Down Jacket/Parka, Fleece Hat
Waterproof/breathable Gloves or Mittens
Thin Glove Liners (if desired)

* A diaper is a small, cut piece of woven tarp you wrap around your rear, pull up between your legs, and fasten the three ends at your waist).

Toothbrush & Toothpaste (or equivalent)
Sunscreen (at least SPF 40 and/or zinc, as needed)
Lip Balm (with sunscreen)
Skin Cream (for dry, exposed skin)
Toilet Paper, Lighter, Baby Wipes, Hand Sanitizer, Carry-Out Bag
Bathing items: Multi-Purpose Soap, Towel, Skin/Facial Wipes (as needed)
Prescription Glasses or Contacts, Contact Fluid & Case (as needed)

Dark Glasses for snow (i.e.: Julbo brand is excellent) and retainer (to keep on head when fall)
Still/Video Camera
Maps (Halfmile’s Topo for detail and USFS/NPS for larger picture)
Compass (Silva, basic)
Trail/Flora/Fauna Guide Books to the area (if desired)
Car Keys
Journaling: Recording Device, Pen, Paper

Leave a Reply