Snow Basics Course (SBC) Gear List

This List is to help you quickly compare what you usually carry into the backcountry against what we suggest for the Snow Basics, 3-day weekend, Course (SBC) offered throughout the Winter months. The items listed are our choices, what we have chosen to use after 32 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.


Boots (i.e.: traditional leather, snowboard, Snowpaks, Sorels, etc.)
Insoles (i.e.: Superfeet)
2 pair socks (i.e.: Smartwool)
Snow Shoes (preferably MSR Lightning Ascents)
1 pair Poles with snow baskets (or B-D Traverse and Whippet)
Ice Axe (i.e.: B-D Raven with or without leash)

Backpack (doubles as a Day Pack or bring a Day Pack, also)
Pack Cover (for snow and rain)

Sleeping Bag (that you know will keep you warm down to 10 degrees)
Down Booties (for in-tent and around camp)
Pillow (or substitute)
Sleeping Pad(s) (that you know will keep you warm on snow)
4-Season Tent (anything less may cave in with the weight of snow)
Snow Stakes or fabric Anchors

Canister/White Gas Stove (for cooking indoors as well–no alcohol stoves allowed)
Fire Starters: Lighters, Matches
Cooking Pot
Clean Up: Soap, Sponge, Rags (for tent spills and pots)
Garbage Bag
Plates & Utensils: Cup, Spoon, Multi-Purpose Knife
Water Storage: Canteens (2), Water Storage Bladder
Water Purification: Pump Filter or Chemical Treatment
Food for 4 days (must include hot food and fluids)

Snow Shovel (for digging out your tent or snow-caving)
Electronics: Cell Phone (may not work in the cold)
Extra Batteries
Low-Reading Thermometer (nice to have)
Lighting: Headlamp or other lightweight light
50 feet Parachute Cord
Repairs & Maintenance: Sewing Kit, Repair Tape, Patch Kits, Spare Parts
Personal Medicines (G.I., Stomach, Allergies, Inflammation, Infection, etc.)
Bags: Misc. Plastic and Stuff Bags (for carry-out and organizational uses)
First Aid Kit, Emergency Whistle, foam pad (for sitting on snow)
Boot Care: Sealer and applicator


Sun Hat (baseball or other wide-brimmed style)
Bandanas (for sweating and sun protection)
Gaiters (Tall, for powder snow)
Waterproof/Breathable shells (pants, parka with hood. A must for self-arrest training)
Under-Layer: Underwear, Long Underwear, Tee Shirt
Mid-Layer: Fleece/Turtleneck/Flannel Shirt, Fleece Pants (or insulated equivalent)
Insulating Layer: Down Jacket/Parka, Fleece Hat
2 pair waterproof/breathable Gloves/Mittens (one may get wet)
Thin Glove Liners

Toothbrush & Toothpaste (or equivalent)
Sunscreen (at least SPF 40)
Lip Balm (with sunscreen)
Skin Cream (for dry, exposed skin)
Toilet Paper, Lighter, Baby Wipes, Hand Sanitizer, Carry-Out Bag (all in a stuff bag)
Bathing items: Multipurpose Soap, Towel, Skin/Facial Wipes
Glasses/Contacts, Contact Fluid & Case

Dark Glasses for snow (UVA/UVB & Polarized.  Julbo brand is excellent)
Still/Video Camera
Maps (Topo for detail, Area/F.S. for larger picture)
Compass (Silva, basic)
Trail/Flora/Fauna Guide Books to the area (nice to have)
Car Keys
Journaling: Recording Device, Pen, Paper

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