Crucial Items To Bring While Cross-Country Skiing

Crucial Items to Bring While Cross-Country Skiing

Some skiers want to enjoy the outdoors at a slower pace, taking in the serenity of winter and getting some great exercise. Cross-country skiing is the perfect escape for them. So now they are planning to spend a day or two in the backcountry and they don't want to leave anything to chance. Good idea. Being unprepared happens too often.


Head, neck, and toe warmers are the things you're parents always bought you in bulk and insisted you bring with you. Naturally, you didn't want to wear them then, but you probably should now. These little miracles can make all the difference when the temperature really drops.


Don't even think about leaving the house without sunglasses or goggles, which actually offer a larger area of protection and the strap keeps them more secure. Ideally, you will take both – use the goggles when you ski and the glasses when you take breaks. They are more breathable and lighter.

Cell phone

Many skiers leave their phones behind because they don't want to break them. This is silly. If you're with friends it's easy to lose one another on the mountain. A phone will help you find each other. It's good to know the time so you can get that last run in before the lifts stop for the day, and if you get hurt you may need to call for help. You can also use it to call for help if you're in trouble.

Energy bars and extra food

Skiing is a taxing sport and it takes a lot of energy, despite the fact that it seems smooth and easy. You need food. If you are spending more than 4-5 hours on the mountain, you have to make sure that you bring energy bars, sandwiches or other snacks to keep you full. That level and length of your skiing style can quickly drain your energy, making you vulnerable to mistakes and injuries.


Most of your body is covered, but at times your face might not be. You don't want to have a red face from the wind or the sun at the end of a thrilling day of skiing? It hurts. The only guaranteed way to prevent that from happening is by protecting your skin and that means applying sunscreen.

Heat blanket

This is an essential part of a winter survival kit. It doesn't take up much space so don't make excuses not to bring it. It'll be handy in the worst-case scenario of you being stranded and having to spend hours on the cold mountain. They weigh just two or three ounces and they generally cost around $20.


Cell phones don't always have great service in the mountains, but you can always rely on a whistle to call for help. It is generally recommended for the more advanced or those venturing into avalanche territory. During the worst-case scenario, a whistle will allow help to find you. Many ski and boarding backpacks even come outfitted with a whistle.

Extra pair of gloves

When temperatures drop, your fingers are the first to feel the change, which can lead to pain if you don't have the right kind of protection. And cold, wet hands, are the last thing you'll want on the mountain. Packing an extra pair will ensure you can keep them dry and stay out longer.

Avalanche transceiver

Contrary to popular belief, shouting and loud noises don't cause an avalanche. It is usually triggered by weight – a person walking in the wrong spot is enough – or wind. Wearing a valance transceiver is common sense because they are designed to find people buried in an avalanche. The signal can transmit a location as well as search for another signal.

Chap-stick and lip balm

The winter weather can be harsh on your lips. The constant exposure that comes with snow sports and the added wind will certainly take its toll. Make sure the lip balm has an SPF of at least 15. Harmful UV rays penetrate clouds and can do just as much damage as if it were sunny and hot outside.


The single most overlooked and underrated item in snow sports is water. You are exercising and sweating and you need to replenish what you've lost. You'll need to keep hydrated, especially if you'll be out on the mountain for more than one day. Your muscles need it, your body needs it, so don't ignore it.  

GPS, compass or a map

Bring a map and compass—and take time to learn to use them. A lot of people rely on GPS but they won't work if the signal is weak, which is a possibility since you are in the backcountry. You need to know where you are if you get lost so you can find your way back. 

Wilderness first-aid kit

You have to anticipate problems so they don't become serious in case they occur. A kit will usually include safety items for fire (matches), light, knife or multi-purpose tool, a backpack. Bandages, antiseptic cream, hot and cold packs, sterile gauze pads, adhesive tape, breathing barrier...Look for a kit that has all of these items. Add hand sanitizer, bulb suction device for flushing wounds and a thermometer.