Essential Items for Your Winter Backcountry Hut Trip


A backcountry hut trip is a perfect way to enjoy the Colorado high-country winter in comfort. If you want to be cozy, however, you need to pack the right gear. It's easy enough to remember the basics, such as your skins, skis, shovel, beacon and probe, but what about hut booties and other less-obvious essentials? Here's everything you need to take on your next backcountry hut trip.

Top-tier Necessities

When assembling your hut trip inventory, some things should be top of mind. This includes avalanche safety gear, a shovel, probe and beacon with plenty of extra batteries. You will also need to pack your waterproof boots, skis, poles, skins and snowshoes, if necessary.

When it comes to clothing, you will want lots of layers. Bring along a shell jacket and pants, a hat and gloves. It's generally best to pack wool base layers instead of cotton, which can make you feel cold. While not absolutely essential, it's a good idea to bring along some sunglasses and a helmet. 

It's also important to remember that the intensity of UV radiation increases by about 12% for every 1000-meter increase in altitude. Since clean, fresh snow is highly reflective, it can reflect up to 90% of UV radiation. With this in mind, pack plenty of sunscreen. 

You will also want to bring along a sleeping bag, headlamp and plenty of extra socks. Most experienced backcountry hut trippers bring a repair kit with duct tape, zip ties, a multi-tool, spare screws and a little bit of wire. You also want to bring a couple of lighters, an emergency blanket and first-aid kit to treat scratches, sunburns, chapped lips and potential puncture wounds. 

When planning your meals, try to bring relatively lightweight but filling foods, such as pasta, rice and dehydrated, freeze-dried entrées. You should also bring some salt, pepper and spices to add some flavor to bland food. Bring along any necessary medications, along with several water bottles and some drink powder that will add some flavor and electrolytes.

The "Nice-to-Haves"

While they aren't necessarily critical, some items will just make your trip more enjoyable. These include: 

  • Camera
  • Goggles
  • Playing cards
  • Slippers or hut booties
  • A portable speaker for music
  • Solar charger for your smartphone
  • An inflatable camp pillow to save space
  • Earplugs in case your hut mates snore
  • Comfortable clothing for inside the hut
  • Candles or a lantern in case the hut doesn't have one

Things to Consider

While not absolutely necessary, it's a good idea to bring along a compass and topographical map. A GPS device or backcountry navigator app is fine, but what if your device gets wet or the battery dies? You should also bring along plastic trash bags to store wrappers, waste and food. The latter should be sealed up at all times to keep from attracting curious bears. Last but, definitely not least, bring along plenty of hygiene items, including toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

With the items on this guide, you will at least have the bare basics covered and shouldn't be missing any critical necessities. If your pack starts getting too heavy, remove the fun, nonessential stuff first.

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