If you are looking to start backcountry skiing, or if you’ve been at it for years and are looking to upgrade your equipment, here’s a list of some of our favorite items to keep you safe and efficient while out touring, including an option for pack/shovel/probe combos from K2 or Black Diamond as well as a look at the cutting edge Ortovox 3+ avalanche transceiver.

Black Diamond Bandit Avalung Package

With the Black Diamond Avalung Package you get part of the essentials for heading out into the backcountry, complete with pack, shovel, and probe.  This kit also comes with the an integrated Avalung – a device that will redirect poisonous Carbon Dioxide away from your mouth in the event of an avalanche burial.  The pack is a bit on the smaller side, with a volume of 11 Liters, but it is perfect for those shorter day hikes around Tahoe or wherever your destination may be.

The probe in this  kit is 265cm and weighs a light 10.6 oz.  The shovel blade is 14 in. x 8.5 in. and weighs 1lb 4oz.

Buy your Black Diamond Bandit kit here from Granite Chief

K2 Hyak Pack Kit

With the K2 Hyak Pack kit you get 3/4ths of essentials for heading out into the backcountry: your pack, probe, and a shovel.  The pack is perfect for day missions around Tahoe, with a volume of 15 liters you can fit all of your safety equipment as well as your lunch and an extra layer.  The Hyak Pack also allows for diagonal or A-Frame carrying of you skis.

The probe included with the kit weighs 230g and has an extended length of 230cm.  The shovel features a lightweight aluminum head that is 25cm x 28cm.  If you are starting out and in need of the essentials, the K2 Hyak Pack Kit is perfect for you.

Buy your Hyak Kit here from Granite Chief.

Ortovox 3+ Avalanche Transceiver

The Ortovox 3+ Avalanche Transceiver is one of the best on the market.  With its 3 antenna design, you can be guaranteed the beacon is transmitting a solid signal, no matter the orientation.  It is simple to use so you can be as efficient as possible in the event of a burial, and has superior support in identifying victims in multiple burial situations. Combine that with an easy to read display showing distance and orientation of the victim and you have yourself a solid Avalanche Beacon.

You can get your Ortovox 3+ Transceiver here at Granite Chief.

Black Diamond Ascension Climbing Skins

If you are hoping to venture into the backcountry, you are going to need a pair of climbing skins to do so.  And Black Diamond makes some of the best, most reliable, and longest lasting skins around. The toe clip on these skins is no fuss, easy to use and the tail clip is compatible with virtually every ski on the market.  These skins will last you for years to come.

Buy your pair of Black Diamond Skins at Granite Chief.


Remember, before you set foot into the backcountry it is critical that you learn at the very least the fundamental skills, including how to properly use your beacon, how to dig for the buried victim, and most importantly how to avoid avalanches all together.  Check the Sierra Avalanche Center forecast (or your local forecast center) before you head out, and familiarize yourself with potential avalanche hazards.

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