There are ski patrollers but no lifts? Gear rentals but no heated cafeterias? As the first backcountry-only ski area in the US, Bluebird Backcountry kind of created its own category of outdoor adventure zone. So, if you have some questions on what exactly you need to bring to ski or ride at Bluebird, you’re not alone.
To help you prepare, we created the ultimate Bluebird Backcountry packing list.
A Good Backpack
Your packing list starts with a good backpack. Backcountry safety is all about winter self-sufficiency, and that means having a system to carry the essentials with you. We recommend a pack with a wide, sturdy hipbelt to take the load and keep your shoulders from getting sore. A good hiking pack will do, but most backcountry skiers and splitboarders strongly prefer a backcountry touring pack with dedicated compartments for avalanche gear.
- A 25- to 35-liter pack
Avalanche Safety Equipment
Bluebird Backcountry is patrolled by some of the best snow safety experts in the biz. We close slopes that we evaluate to have high avalanche risk. However, Bluebird still sits somewhere between resorts and wilderness on the spectrum of avalanche safety. Whenever there’s even the slightest concern about snow conditions, it’s best practice to bring a full avy safety kit. To ski or ride at Bluebird, you must bring the following gear (avalanche safety gear is also available for rent at our base area):
- Avalanche beacon (required)
- Avalanche probe (required)
- Avalanche shovel (required)
The Big Essentials
Now for the fun stuff. You can rent the following gear at Bluebird or bring your own.
- Boots (make sure any ski boots have a walk mode; regular snowboard boots are compatible with splitboard bindings)
- Skis or splitboard with AT bindings
- Collapsible poles
A big part of having fun and learning effectively in the backcountry is knowing how to stay comfortable in cold and variable weather. That all comes down to smart layering. We recommend wearing and/or packing the following.
- Wool or synthetic baselayer bottoms
- Wool or synthetic baselayer top
- Ski socks
- Wool or synthetic undies
- Neck gaiter
- Warm hat
- Lightweight touring gloves
- Warm mittens or downhill gloves
- Wool or synthetic midlayer
- Softshell pants (or hardshell pants with zippers for venting)
- A waterproof shell jacket
- A warm puffy jacket for stops and emergencies
- An insulated vest or lightweight puffy
Stay comfortable over a full day outdoors by packing these important odds and ends.
- Face mask
Food and Water
Bluebird Backcountry has lots of great food offerings at our base area this year. Think giant s’mores, chili, and breakfast burritos. However, it’s always good practice to throw a few things in your pack to keep you fueled on the skintrack. (If you forget, you can stop by the Bluebird Base Area, where we offer snacks from local brands like Patter Bars, Kate’s Real Food Bars, Upqua Oats, Mike’s Mighty Ramen, and Honeystinger.) We also recommend bringing warm beverages—they make it easier to stay hydrated in the cold.
- Freeze-proof snacks
- Water (at least a liter)
- A thermos with hot tea or soup
Emergency Safety Gear
We also recommend getting into the habit of packing these backcountry essentials, too, which will give you an extra layer of security in the true backcountry. (However, thanks to our staff of trained patrollers, this gear is less critical at Bluebird Backcountry and isn’t required.)
- Extra batteries for your beacon
- First-aid kit
- Repair kit
- Satellite beacon (PLB)
- Backcountry radios
- Emergency shelter or safety blanket
- Spare socks
- Spare gloves
- A helmet (not required at Bluebird, but recommended)