Love’m… and Leave’m Behind

| September 5, 2008
Thermos’, goggles, ski crampons and helmets – these are a few of my least favorite things, at least in terms of backcountry skiing day trips.  I’m a less-is-more kind of guy and if I’ve carried something in my daypack for more than a few trips without using it, it gets the chop.  If I find that I really need/miss some item, I’ll bring it back, but more often than not backpacks suffer from gear-creep, as witnessed by my wife’s pack.  Everytime I pick it up I ask her “What do you have in here..?!”

Goggles – I like them for resort skiing, but wish I could get back all hours in life I’ve spent waiting for people to clear their gogg’s, only to have them instantly fog up again.  I prefer well-vented sunglasses and case-hardened corneas.

Thermos’ – Great for saving fuel on expeditions, but pack-hogging dead-weight anchors for day trips. 

Ski Crampons – Backcountry crutches.  Learn to skin and you’ll be way better off in the long run.

Helmets – I like them for technical skiing, resorts, kiting or alpine climbing, but not general BC skiing.  If anything, I think they instill a false sense of confidence.

Skiing with elephants - Jordy Margid (the man behind plastic teleboots in the US) shows how NOT to do it.
Skiing with elephants – Jordy Margid (the man behind plastic teleboots in the U.S.) shows how NOT to do it.

Other items that must go:

  • – water purifiers
  • – ice axes, especially those with classic picks.
  • – big lunches.

Help support and get my all-time favorite daytrip backpack, the Black Diamond Slide Pack on sale now for 30% off at! Click on the photo below…

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Category: 02 Gear

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (10)

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  1. Bart says:

    Agreed on all of those, although if I’m skiing with my wife (sadly this is rare since we have little kids) I will take a thermos and good food and a z-rest for a nice picnic.

    One thing I’m back and forth on is how much first aid equipment I carry. My usual kit is about the size of a sandwich bag and weighs about 1/4 lb. Adding airway adjuncts and a pocket mask to that doesn’t add much weight but they are bulky. So sometimes they go, but usually stay home. How much, if any, first aid stuff do you take?

  2. Bob says:

    My apologies to an excellent ski partner, but whenever the discussion comes around to keeping your pack light, I have to pull out this picture:

    One of the better tips I’ve heard for a day pack is to take out all the little things that you haven’t used in two seasons. I may have gotten that from you Andrew, but it helped me drop a pound or two.

    My medical stuff usually consists of some ibuprofen, a couple sterile dressings, and some tape, and I’ll ramp that up as seems appropriate (CPR mask, Superglue(tm), etc). FWIW, I’m an EMT-B and figure that tape and a (more or less clean) bandanna will get you through a lot of bc emergencies along with the stuff you already have in your pack…like a probe. ;^)

  3. Bob says:

    I forgot to mention that switching to aluminum crampons for most of those kind of trips helped drop some significant weight.

  4. Andrew_L says:

    No axe? My God, next you’ll be having all of us ski naked!


  5. Andrew says:

    My first-aid kit looks a lot like my repair kit and consists mainly of tape, some sterile pads, etc..

  6. Andrew says:

    It’s all about Whippets. If I do carry an axe, I prefer something like the BD Venom with a technical pick.

  7. David says:

    Great topic, though I’m not sure if gear sponsors would like it. Some other stuff I’ve seen friends pull out of their pack, that I did’t think was necessary for a day trip.

    Rain gear
    Snow saw
    Enough water for a small elephant
    Enough food for a weekend
    Extra socks

    If you don’t have stuff in your pack, you don’t spend much time stopped using it or looking for it, so you get done faster and don’t need even more stuff cause you spent too much time looking for your stuff and now it’s night and your too tired to just keep going to the car cause you were carrying too much stuff all day.

  8. Randonnee says:

    My kit varies as to whether I am alone, whether I am upslope of the car and not up and over to the car, the temperature, the weather, the altitude and exposure. I am guilty of upward creeping weight in my pack and sometimes it is too much. This spring on Mt Adams I was a bit freaked about a reported death from hypothermia on another volcano the previous week and carried way too much on a tour, it really slowed me. My second trip there I was back to a light pack, must more enjoyable.

    Warm clothes that one can survive in while lying on the snow overnight are primary for me, and can be quite light.

    As far as first aid gear, bandages seem necessary, tape of course, but I question CPR masks. Firstly, I know my partners and would not worry about needing a mask, especially for say, ventilating someone suffocated in an avalanche. Secondly, statistically speaking, resuscitation of a trauma victim needing CPR is almost a zero chance, I would certainly carry a probe (if I owned one : )} ) before carrying a CPR mask. Even in cardiac resuscitation in the field, without defibrillation CPR rarely is effective; one Medic once told me he was 0 for 33 doing CPR during one period.

    Years ago I found that water consumption is lessened when one learns to dress properly for thermoregulation. Going uphill I wear a silkweight and a thin shell until it is colder than about 20 degrees, then add a light layer, etc. On moderate tours one may hydrate before and carry a relative small water supply.

  9. Katie says:

    Jordy! What a great pic. I miss seeing that smile when I walk through BD.

  10. Stephen says:

    Funny, I just carried a 22oz of Rouge American Amber to the top of Broad’s Fork Twin Peaks. I accidently forgot it in my pack but it did make for a pleasant summit!
    I will definitely keep the “if you need it but don’t have it you don’t need it” mantra in mind this winter.

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