3-day 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 this 3-day SBC offered throughout the Winter months. The items listed are our choices, what we have chosen to use after 35 years of teaching snow-hiking in the Sierra. We prefer reliable performance and durability over lighter weight to assure personal and group safety. We suggest that you do the same.DSCF1145


Boots (i.e.: traditional leather, snowboard, Snowpacs, Sorels, etc.)
Insoles (i.e.: Superfeet)
2 pair socks (i.e.: Smartwool)
Snowshoes (preferably not tubular-framed designs. We like MSR Lightning Ascent)

Pole & SA Device Choice:


1 lever-lock adjustable pole with snow basket (We like the BD Traverse) and

1 BD Whippet Self Arrest (SA) pole



2 lever-locking adjustable poles with snow baskets and
1 Ice axe (i.e.: B-D Raven with or without leash)


Sleeping bag (that you know will keep you warm down to 10 degrees)
Down booties (for in-tent and around camp)
Air pillow (or substitute)
Sleeping pad (inflatable, down insulated, R-8 value or equivalent)
3-season tent (anything less may cave in with the weight of snow)
Snow stakes, snow/sand fabric tent anchors, or summer stakes


Canister/white gas stove (for cooking indoors as well–no alcohol stoves allowed)
Fuel (8oz is overkill, but if we have to melt snow, you’ll be glad you have it)IMGP3368
Back-up lighters, matches, fire starter
Cooking pot w/lid (or equivalent)
Soap, Sponge, Rags (for tent spills and pots)
Garbage Bag (for meal wrappers)
Cup, Spoon, Multi-Purpose Knife
Canteens (2) or equivalent, Storage Bladder (4-6 liter)
Water filter, chemical treatment, or equivalent
Food for 4 days (hot meals, drinks, and electrolytes)


Sun Hat (baseball or other wide-brimmed style)
Bandanas (for sweating and sun protection)
Gaiters (Tall, for powder snow)
Waterproof/Breathable shells (pants, jacket with hood. A must for self-arrest training)
Long Underwear, Tee ShirtDSCF1588
Mid-Layer: Fleece/Turtleneck/Flannel Shirt, Fleece Pants (or insulated equivalent)
Insulating Layers: Down sweater/jacket/parka, fleece hat (if cold easily, all of the above?)
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)
Toiletries: TP, lighter, wipes, sanitizer, zip-lock trash bag (all in a stuff bag)
Multipurpose soap, towel, skin/facial wipes
Glasses/Contacts, contact fluid & case



Phone w/ full charge on airplane mode (keep warm)
Extra Batteries for headlamp
Low-Reading Thermometer (nice to have)
Headlamp or other lightweight light
Dark glasses for snow (UVA/UVB & Polarized. We like Julbo)
Topo map of the area. Mytopo.com or Halfmile
Compass (Silva, basic)

GPS unit (nice to have. We encourage the Garmin InReach Explorer+)
Trail/Flora/Fauna guide book to the area (nice to have)
Car Keys
Journaling: Recording device, Pen, Paper (nice to have)



Backpack (doubles as a day pack or bring a day pack, also)
Pack cover (for snow and rain or plan on bringing your pack into your tent)
Rescue shovel (for digging out your tent or snow-caving)
50 feet parachute cord
Repair Kit: sewing supplies, repair tape, patches, spare parts, pole sleeve
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

Sit pad (for sitting on snow)

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