For skiers and snowboarders who chase powder beyond resort boundaries, huts are the ultimate backcountry basecamps. These revered alpine abodes are mostly in the middle of nowhere — perched on precipitous mountainsides, tucked in the woods or sequestered at the base of mighty peaks. Come winter, the quiet cabins become havens for travelers who aren’t opposed to long approaches, simple living and, assuming the snow dances pay off, bottomless powder.
The word ‘hut’ brings to mind mud-hewn hovels with thatched roofs and rickety beach shanties. However, in this shred-specific context, ‘hut’ refers to any permanent refuge found in the backcountry, like Colorado’s famous 10th Mountain Division Huts. These outposts range from drafty shacks to palatial chalets. Some have running water and solar power, even ping-pong tables and saunas, while others are merely walls and a roof, offering shelter from the storm and nothing more. What they have in common, though, is unbeatable access to backcountry skiing and a place that’s warmer to sleep than outside.
Regardless of how spartan the accommodations, huts are always a step up from the bare bones of winter camping, as they generally boast stoves, mattresses and outhouses. While winter campers have to haul in essentials like tents, sleeping pads and kitchen gear, hut trippers can travel relatively lightly. That being said, when you’re heading out, be prepared to spend a night or two out in woods — just in case disaster strikes. Some of the gear included in this guide, like the the liquid fuel stove and saw-equipped avalanche shovel, reflect the perspective that it’s better to have it and not need it than vice versa.
Whether you’re planning your very first out-and-back hut trip or prepping to embark on a Homeric hut-to-hut epic, here you’ll find gear tuned to your needs, including lightweight outerwear, comfy yet high-performance base layers, breathable touring gloves, high-volume airbags, essential avalanche safety equipment and more.
The Gear You Need
Quiksilver Mamatus Jacket
When ski touring, your shell should be waterproof, breathable, lightweight and hopefully stylish in case your partner’s wielding a DSLR. Quiksilver’s Mamatus 3L Jacket ticks all the backcountry boxes — the shell relies on ultra-comfortable Gore-Tex C-Knit Technology to keep you dry on grueling climbs and deep descents alike. Prolific pit zips reach from the ribs all the way to the elbows, so built-up moisture gets the boot, quick. Plus, the fit is tailored, and the muted navy and forest green hues are subtle yet undeniably stylish.
Patagonia Micro Puff
The Micro Puff’s distinctive quilted construction is packed with lofty PlumaFill, a synthetic insulator that mimics down’s fluffy composition yet performs well when wet. The 10-denier nylon ripstop fabric isn’t the most durable on the market, but the sky-high warmth-to-weight ratio, snug hood and packability make the Micro Puff our go-to for hut trips — and backcountry skiing in general, for that matter.
Patagonia Capilene Air Base Layers
When you’re wearing the same base layers day after day (and night after night), Patagonia’s Capilene Air base layers are a smart pick: the merino and recycled polyester blend is less prone to stink than a fully synthetic option, and the stretchy, textured, three-dimensional knit pattern serves up ample airflow. They keep you warm during freezing alpine starts, breathe when you start huffing up the skintrack and guarantee you won’t be the smelliest dude in the hut. Bonus: our favorite hoody version comes with the equivalent of a built-in balaclava.
Arc’teryx Beta SV Bib
What do ski edges, crampon spikes, ski poles, ice axes and tree branches have in common? They’re all more than capable of ripping your ski pants. Arc’teryx’s Beta SV Bibs are built to withstand the perils of hunting powder, thanks to reinforced paneling and burly Keprotec and Cordura cuffs. Gore-Tex Pro keeps you dry, while full side zips allow you to manage moisture like a sprinter in a tearaway track suit.
Oyuki Haika Gloves
Your everyday resort gloves are probably fine for backcountry skiing, but you won’t want to wear them while hauling a heavy pack from hut to hut — you’ll want something more dexterous. The Oyuki Haika Liner is a slim, intelligently designed glove: the breathable fabric keeps your hands cool while breaking trail, gummy silicone strips along the fingers make beacon or camera operation a cinch and goatskin leather pads offer both longevity and comfortable grip. Prior to testing them out, you might consider the liner an accessory — after a hut trip or two, they demand essential status.
Black Diamond Saga 40 Airbag
The Jetforce-equipped, battery-powered Black Diamond Saga 40L offers more than enough space for day trips, but even on short hut trips you may need to strap your sleeping bag, extra food, etc. to the pack exterior. A battery-powered airbag is the way to go for extended adventures in avalanche terrain, as the system can be deployed multiple times on a single charge, in just over three seconds. When you contrast this with the typical canister airbag system — which requires a refill with every use — you realize just how efficient it is.
Mammut Barryvox Beacon
Simple, effective and reliable, Mammut’s Barryvox beacon has everything you need and nothing you don’t. The Barryvox shares many features with Mammut’s award-winning Barryvox S, though the cheaper Barryvox has a smaller screen and loses some of the smart tech and state-of-the-art graphics that saw the S win critical acclaim. However, by eschewing features and keeping the Barryvox simple, the streamlined beacon is both more straightforward and affordable than its complex big brother.
Black Diamond QuickDraw Probe Tour 320cm
This 320-centimeter aluminum Black Diamond probe isn’t exactly lightweight at 12.3-ounces, (roughly the weight of a can of soup) though it’s undeniably durable and reliable. Design details help shave valuable seconds off of your go-time: the red handle is distinct from the black and white body and the QuickDraw pull is easy to yank into a locking position. The alloy tip is wider than the shaft, allowing it to more effectively pierce and penetrate cement-like snowpacks and unyielding debris piles.
Ortovox Shovel Kodiak Saw
The snow saw is a versatile and useful tool that not only allows for quicker, cleaner pits and auxiliary snow tests, but also comes in handy if you need to build an emergency snow shelter for the night. The telescoping, grippy shaft of Ortovox’s high-volume Kodiak is home to a sneaky saw, so whenever you bring your avy essentials out on a hut trip, you’ll always have a saw as well.
The North Face Inferno 15 Sleeping Bag
On a hut trip, you never know how your night’s going to go: you could be cozy in your bunk as the wood stove rages — or, you might take a wrong turn and be forced to hunker down outside. The North Face’s lofty Inferno bag is rated to 15-degrees, so if disaster strikes, this bag will help get you through the night. If the Inferno gets too toasty in the hut, unzip the foot box for steady breeze of cool air.
Even though most huts have kitchens, it’s not a bad idea to bring a liquid fuel stove (canister fuel stoves often crap out when the mercury drops) and pray that you never need it. Pack space is precious, and MSR’s WhisperLite weighs less than a pound and doesn’t take up much more room than a softball (not including the fuel canister). This is the best-selling liquid fuel stove for a reason: it’s lightweight, reliable and trustworthy in frigid temperatures.
BCA Link 2.0
When traveling in avalanche terrain, which can be anywhere you’re headed into deep snow, communication is key. BCA’s updated Link 2.0 system is a go-to system for many professionals and snow lovers alike. A compact user interface that’s linked to the radio body by a durable, coiled cord clips to your backpack strap, allowing you to tweak settings on the fly. It’s designed to withstand brutal weather and unexpected tumbles. Rally your crew, pick up a few of these powerful two-way radios and step up your communication game in the backcountry.
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