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I love backcountry skiing. I love the quiet of mountains in winter, the soft texture of snow under my skis, the white of my breath in front of me on every exhale as I make my way up the skintrack, the creativity of choosing your way down an untracked run, and the freedom of being able to contour ridges, arc turns, and meander through woods by your own power.
There’s a lot to love about venturing into the backcountry. But then I explain it to one of my friends who doesn’t ski and it goes something like this: “Well, yeah. I walk uphill with skis on my feet and a pack on my back in (mostly) freezing cold temperatures.” In the process of glorifying backcountry skiing, it’s easy to forget that it’s a really hard and physically demanding activity. And in racing to get the just-released ski boots, lighter version of your favorite ski, or newly-on-sale tech binding, it’s easy to overlook the importance of snacks.
Yes, having the proper equipment for backcountry skiing is crucial. But when you’re spending long days outside in the middle of winter and physically exerting yourself, snacks are crucial, too. Snacks are a personal preference, but there are some general considerations to make when thinking about snacks for your backcountry ski pack, specifically.
It Might Freeze
If you’re out all day, the likelihood of things in your pack freezing is high, so make sure that whatever snack you bring won’t be ruined if it freezes. I mean, I love pickles and apples and other fruits and veggies just as much as the next person, but I prefer that they remain unfrozen.
Ease Of Transport
Since you have to carry a lot of safety gear, warm clothes, water, and are walking in ski boots with skis, it’s good to think about how to minimize your weight in the backcountry. Snacks can really add up both in weight and volume, so look for options that won’t take up too much room in your pack and offer a good bang for your buck when it comes to calories.
In my experience, backcountry snacks are often eaten relatively quickly during transitions. You definitely don’t want to be the person that holds the group up because you’re still dipping carrots into your tupperware of hummus while everyone else is waiting to drop in. Consider snacks that you can eat quickly and efficiently on the skin track or at the top of a line.
Can you eat it without taking off your mittens?
Figuring out how to keep your gloves / mittens on as much as possible is a great skill to have in the backcountry. I’m continuously working to master the art of opening granola bars, gels, gummies, and candy bars on the skintrack without taking my gloves off (harder than it sounds!). This is important for keeping your hands warm on cold days and is an often overlooked factor when choosing backcountry snacks.
Some Of My Favorites
Chocolate covered espresso beans
Peanut butter pretzels
While you’re breaking in new boots, tuning skis, and preparing other gear for the upcoming season, it’s a great idea to also think about snacks so you can stay fueled and happy on the skintrack.