Staying warm, safe, & well fueled in the backcountry

JACKSON, Wyo.—Stio Athlete and Skier Tanner Flanagan gets a lot of questions about how he equips himself in the mountains. From what gear to bring, to what layers to wear, he has a very specific plan for what he carries in the backcountry. Read on to find out what Tanner keeps in his pack.

Written by Stio Athlete Tanner Flanagan

I try to keep it simple by assigning everything into three main categories: 1. Energy 2. Safety 3. Warmth. This way I can keep a tally of what I will need depending on what the objective calls for and pack accordingly.

1. Energy – This is the sandwich/snack category. Some people choose to pack a lot of “power food” like GU packets or SHOTBLOCKS. While these work great and I always have some packed just in case I “bonk”, I’ve always liked real “human food” like a greasy turkey sandwich or a custom made trail mix or jerky of some sort. Power food works but tends to mess up my stomach so human food works best for me (although it takes up more space). Don’t forget the water! And a varsity move on cold days is to bring a thermos with tea or hot cocoa.

Photo: Fred Marmsater

2. Safety – Avalanche rescue gear always! Other items: headlamp, helmet/goggles, repair kit, medical kit and of course an avalanche airbag. This category changes drastically depending on conditions and objectives. Sometimes I will need a full climbing safety setup: Harness, anchor stuff, ropes. Sometimes I will need my Sharps kit: Ice Axe, crampons, ski crampons. Sometimes it will be a combination of Ice Axe, crampons, ascension plates for steep couloirs with variable snow. It all depends on your comfort level in certain situations, better to be safe than sorry.

3. Warmth – This category is based off weather, snow conditions and objectives. Most of the time I run hot so I don’t bring many extra layers. Extra gloves are a must! I usually run two pairs, one for the way up and one for the way down. Often, I will pack a puffy and mittens just in case and if there is room, I often opt for a wool cap and a touring cap with sunnies. Wool cap for the cold, touring cap for warm.


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