Ultimate day pack guide: what to take on b/c snow trips downunder

snow action team 01.09.2019

What to take in your ski day pack made simple by our B/C guru Steve ‘Crazy’ Leeder. Check out his guide for a big, and safe, day out in our awesome back and side country. Get out there soon, it’s going off!

Steve Leeder leaps into the Aussie backcountry
Let’s go back country Australia © Steve Leeder

Second season is the rad season in Oz and it’s starting early this year. Working in a back country shop – the Snowy Mountains home of all things backcountry Wilderness Sports at Nuggets Crossing (and Perisher in season inside the National Parks building there) I see just how many crew are heading out, where they are going, and how many of them don’t have a clue. I have been really lucky with all my time spent in the mountains in North America skiing and climbing with some pretty epic skiers and some amazing mountain guides. I’ve been able to learn a bunch of cool tricks to keep things simple but still be safe traveling in the mountains.

Being in the mountains in Australia is actually no different to anywhere else in the world and that means you need to pretty much carry the same amount of stuff to be safe and still have a rad time.

Ultimate ski day pack contents spread out to view
What’s in Steve’s pack? © Steve Leeder

So whats in my pack?

Obviously I have a shovel and probe and transeiver (wear your transiever on your body not in your pack).   I use the Black Diamond DEPLOY shovel. I like how the handle is curved and slides right into the blade so it stashes in my pack real easy. The BD Quick draw probe is just easy to put together and its bomb proof, Simple. 

First on the list for ultimate ski day pack contents are your avi gear essentials: shovel, probe and beeper
Avi gear essentials © Steve Leeder

My skins are from Contour. I love how no matter how wet they get they still work.  Also they are really easy to pull apart. For our on snow test report on these check the link here:

Last year Bruce from Wilderness Sports pushed a pair of SKEATS onto me and as usual he was right. Now they are always in my pack. I use a bunch of different skis, so having a crampon for each would be insane. These things fit everything I would ever want to ski on, and come out almost every early morning in the springtime here in Oz. Some days I need them on every skin track. After a few crew have climbed up and the track gets that glazed over crust on it, the Skeats are so easy to pull out and strap on.

Skeats are a strap on crampon tool for any skis
Skeats are great for icy ascents © Steve Leeder



















First Aid gear is pretty key. I throw myself down a bunch of silly lines and things can go pear shape quick. I always have a PLB (Personal Locator Device) in the front of my pack with my avy gear.

Inside is a first aid kit from MEDICAL ADVENTURE KITS. I use the Ultralight / Watertight .9 Medical Kit, its got enough bandages and pain killers to sort out most anything already, but I add a couple tensor wraps. Just in case.

I have a windproof lighter that always travels with me. I also keep sunscreen and some paw paw ointment in this kit, and a pack of Wilderness Wipes and some EXTRA strong painkillers.  I have a bung leg from a crash almost 20 years ago that still drives me bananas.


Your ultimate ski day pack list must include a decent medical kit
A medical kit is essential © Steve Leeder

Something I hope I will never need is this emergency Bivy Bag. I have never been caught out but I one night I was just so freakin cold in my 1 man tent one night that I actually pulled my SOL emergency bivy out and wrapped my sleeping bag in it and I was way warmer. I never leave home with out it any more.

An emergency bivi bag is a smart inclusion © Steve Leeder

Because I’m on my phone all the time even in the mountains, it is my camera; I carry a power bank as well and charge cords.  My phone is my lifeline to the world and it would suck for it to be dead. I also have my mini tri pod and a few attachments to mount my HITCASE to a tree or something else to get some cool shots.

Don’t run out of phone or camera power – take a charger © Steve Leeder

The way I got into testing gear for companies was because I seem to be able to break pretty much everything. That has taught me to always have a little repair kit and a multi tool. I love this little kit from 22 Designs, I just beef it up with a few extra parts. 

A decent repair kit is an essential inclusion for your ultimate ski day pack
Repair kit plus a few essentials © Steve Leeder

Key pieces:

  • Duct tape
  • Hose clamps
  • Ski straps
  • A small piece of sheet metal (for a pole splint)
  • Bailing twine
  • Zip ties
  • Allan keys
  • Batteries
  • Webbing

One thing I have only started to carry lately, and I don’t know why it hasn’t been in my pack forever, is a little chunk of foam. Snow is cold to sit on; rocks are sharp and well IF something mega happens that you need to splint something up the foam can make the splint much more comfortable over the break.

A piece of foam is a very handy addition to the ultimate ski day pack selection
Be comfortable when you stop, and it can be very handy if anyone breaks a bone © Steve Leeder

This is by far not the be all and end all list of gear to take with you. Your systems and preferences might be totally different to me but there are some essential pieces and depending on where you go a few more things may become a necessity.  

Which pack? Mine is an Osprey KAMBER 32

Pack choice is personal, there are some great packs out there now.

The pack that I am using these days is from Osprey, called the KAMBER 32. The reason I went to this pack was all the separation in the pack. The front compartment is set up for all your avy gear and wet gear and then having back access to get into the main compartment is awesome.

When I throw my pack on the snow the back part doesn’t get snow on it at all. Easy access is key, and keeping things separated helps so much.

I know when I’m up and down a slope it’s straight to the front pocket and it keeps all my other gear dry.  I have always just clipped my helmet to my belt loops like a park rat, but the helmet stash pocket is awesome, no more flopping helmet. I always carry my skis bases together across the back and the strap system works awesome for this.