Mountain Safety
August 19th, 2019
Share

Essential Safety Gear for Mountain Sledders!

Here’s our list of key essential safety gear that every sledder should consider packing along for a ride in the mountains. We’ve broken the list down into three levels of priority, from highest-to-lowest: mandatory, invaluable and beneficial gear. Depending on the specifics of your planned adventure, some items might move up or down the list in priority, and extreme adventures might call for even more specific equipment, e.g. rope rescue gear for glacier travel.

Use your own best judgement and when in doubt, bring it!


MANDATORY GEAR

These items are necessary for ALL riders venturing into avalanche terrain. Riders should carry these items on their person so they are ready for immediate use in the event of an emergency. Time is of the essence when these tools are called for!

1. Transceiver, Shovel and Probe

Together with an avalanche shovel and probe, the transceiver is the most vital piece of safety equipment for riding in avalanche terrain. Without all three of these tools—along with the knowledge of how to use them—riders completely buried in an avalanche will have little-to-no chance of survival. Don’t go without them.

 

Essential Safety Gear


INVALUABLE GEAR

All gear that might be required to deal with an emergency should be carried on your person, because you never know when you might become separated from your sled. For that reason, it’s a good idea to keep these essential items close by—whether that be in your backpack or an outerwear pocket.

2. Avalanche Airbag

Okay, this doesn’t go in your pack, it IS your pack. No one plans to be involved in an avalanche, but it happens. This is one tool that can actively help prevent you from becoming buried in an avalanche.

3. First Aid Kit

At least one member of each party should carry a well-stocked first aid kit. A better idea is to disperse two or more first aid kits amongst a group.

 

Essential Safety Gear First Aid Kit

4. Satellite Communications Device

There may come a time when even the most well-prepared and self-reliant group of sledders might require outside help—as in the case of a life-and-death emergency. Most mountain riding zones don’t have mobile phone service, which often makes satellite communications the only option for contacting emergency services.

5. FRS/VHF Radio

It’s easy to quickly become separated from your group while sledding in the mountains. The ability to communicate within the group is crucial for convenience and safety. FRS radios are a popular option, while VHF radios can do double-duty for communication with vehicle traffic while travelling on resource roads.

 

Essential Safety Gear Radio


BENEFICIAL GEAR

The decision to carry these useful items can make or break your day. Generally, these can be stored on your sled to help move some weight off your body.

6. Compact Saw

A good quality saw is a necessity for tricky tree extractions or firewood gathering in a survival situation.

7. Headlamp/Flashlight

Ever try fixing your sled by moonlight? Fat chance. LED lights are lightweight, long-lasting and powerful.

8. Survival Kit/Bivy Sack

These are more important for travel in remote areas than, say, a riding area with a shelter. But if you have to overnight it anywhere, you’re going to want a decent survival kit that provides a way to make fire. A small roll of toilet paper tucked in your kit can save your ass in a bowel emergency.

Essential-Safety-Gear_07 copy

9. Repair Kit

The ability to make small repairs in the field can be the difference between limping your sled out and going back for it another day.

 

Essential Safety Gear Repair Kit

10. GPS

It’s easy to get lost in a whiteout, even in a familiar area. Helicopters can’t fly in these conditions either. A GPS will help you find your way home.

11. Tow Strap

If you can’t fix it on the spot, it’s often easy enough to tow out a busted sled with a good quality strap, rather than fly it out later at great expense.

12. Food

You might never need extra food in the backcountry. But if you ever do, you’ll be glad you brought it, and it’ll forever be on your packing list thereafter.

Essential-Safety-Gear_05 copy

13. Water Bottle

Sure, you can melt snow if you brought a stove (but few do!). Or find an open creek if you’re mobile. At the very least, bring a bottle that can be refilled and capped.

14. Spare Goggles

Really wet conditions can cause even the best goggles to fog up beyond recovery. It’s easy to restore your vision with a second, dry pair.

15. Spare Gloves

Gloves are usually the first things to get wet. A dry, backup pair can be a godsend when the temperature drops later in the day.

Essential-Safety-Gear_04 copy

15. Hat/Toque/Balaclava

Unless you want to try to eat lunch with a full-face helmet on, it’s a good idea to pack a toque or hat for those downtimes. A buff or balaclava is a great option for keeping snow out of your neck while you’re riding.

17. Sunglasses

Likewise when you’re sitting around throughout the day, a pair of sunglasses will help protect your eyes from bright sunlight reflecting off the snow.

18. Lightweight Down Jacket

A highly compressible, insulated layer can be a lifesaver in an overnight situation. It’ll get more use keeping you warm when you’re taking a break from riding though.

 

Essential Safety Gear

19. Extra Fuel

While not strictly necessary, extra fuel will allow you to stay and keep shredding just a little while longer!

 

Essential Safety Gear Fuel

 

– MS