Travel Checklist: What To Bring On A Heliski Trip

March 02, 2016 D'Arcy McLeish

Packing for a trip is always a challenge. Sure, if you’re going on a beach holiday it’s fairly straightforward; flip flops, shorts and a few tshirts. But packing for a ski trip is something else entirely. In the past, I’ve definitely struggled with the ‘what to bring’ question for a winter trip. Be it ski touring for a week, heliskiing or just going on a road trip, I often forget a few key items. So to help you out a little, we’ve put together a list of what to bring on a heliski trip.

He packed right... Photo - Hugh Barnard
He packed right…
Photo – Hugh Barnard

First, let’s go through the gear: Boots. Whether you’re skiing or boarding, bring your boots. Travel tip: to avoid any bad surprise when exiting the airport, bring your boots onboard as carryon luggage. For skis and boards, we have powder skis available for those on two planks and a selection of powder boards as well (although snowboarders are encouraged to bring their own boards because of our limited selection). We also have adjustable ski poles. On the safety front, we provide beacons, shovels, probes and ABS Avalanche Airbag Packs, as well as some training on how to use everything.

We provide all the safety gear.
We provide all the safety gear.

Next, Eyewear: One of the most critical pieces of kit in the mountains is proper eyewear. For heliskiing, this comes in the form of goggles and sunglasses. For goggles, if you can, bring a couple of pairs or at least extra lenses. It’s nice to have lenses for lowlight days as well as some dark lenses for those epic sunny days. Even on lowlight days, it’s bright when you’re skiing on a glacier. If you’re more into sunglasses, we recommend the same thing. Bring a couple of options. Some folks opt for goggles when it’s stormy and sunglasses when it’s sunny. Either way, eyewear is critical. It helps you see and also protects your eyes from snow, wind and faceshots.

Eyewear is critical, especially when it's like this... Photo - Reuben Krabbe
Eyewear is critical, especially when it’s like this…
Photo – Reuben Krabbe

Clothing: Clothing on a ski trip is two fold. First, you need your winter clothing. Outer layers, insulating layers and base layers. I like to bring a mix. A few different sets of base layers start things off. Next, I always have some sort of warmer weather softshell layer for those epic days in the sunshine. Another item I always have with me is an insulating layer. I am a fan of down, but some folks prefer synthetic insulation like Primaloft or Coreloft. Either way, it’s always nice to have a puffy jacket in your pack to stave off the winter chills. Finally, I have a shell. My choice has always been to have a Gore-Tex shell. It’s waterproof, breathable and durable. I tend to err on the large side with a shell so I can layer underneath. Last are your gloves. Bring lots of them. I tend to use leather faced gloves and always go away with three pairs; a light pair for warmer temps, a medium waterproof pair for everyday use and a thick, warm and waterproof pair for cold days. And I keep them in my pack so I always have something warm and dry to change into.

All that packing is worth it when this happens. Photo - Dave Silver
All that packing is worth it when this happens.
Photo – Dave Silver

Next is casual clothing. Bring some hang out clothes, winter boots and a comfy pair of shoes. There’s nothing better after a day of skiing then changing into a comfy pair of jeans, thick socks and a cozy sweater before dinner. Either way, bring a few items you can wear at night and around the lodge. Finally, bring a swimsuit. It makes using the sauna and hot tubs easy.

Always nice to have a cozy puffy jacket by the fire with a cup of mulled wine.  Photo - Caton Garvie
Always nice to have a cozy puffy jacket by the fire with a cup of mulled wine.
Photo – Caton Garvie

Electronics: First, bring a camera. This may be your smartphone or a top of the line DSLR. But you definitely will want to take pictures. I always have both. Next, should you bring a computer? Last Frontier Heliskiing operates in a remote setting. Our internet connections are a little slow compared to what you’re used to but by all means, bring whatever you need. I always bring my computer ’cause I like to work on photos at night. And sometimes I do, in fact, need to check my email every couple of days. Beyond that, I always bring some headphones and an ipod or phone with music.

Always nice to have a camera when you're out and about after an epic ski day...especially in Stewart.  Photo - D'Arcy McLeish
Always nice to have a camera when you’re out and about after an epic ski day…especially in Stewart.
Photo – D’Arcy McLeish

Miscellaneous: Ok, so this might be a tad subjective, but there are a few key items on this list. First, bring your passport, even if you are coming from Canada. In Stewart, it’s a necessity so you can walk over the border to Hyder, Alaska. Then, never travel without a credit card or travel insurance that covers guided adventure tourism (such as heliskiing). We do accept Mastercard, American Express and VISA at our two lodges. Books. I never travel without something to read. The easy way is an e-reader, but I tend to bring books. On the flip side to having something to read is having something to write. I never leave home without a notebook. Whether it’s jotting down ideas, thoughts or keeping a log of my trip, having a pen and paper is always handy. A few other items that come in handy are some ibuprofen, sunscreen, a few extra toques, and a harmonica.
Last, bring a snorkel, ’cause when it snows up here, it’s deep, and you’ll need it to breathe.

Be safe, ski hard.