Equipment List: Level 1 – Level 3

Equipment List:   Level 1 – Level 3


Alaska requires that backcountry travelers be prepared! In an effort to reduce exposure we have compiled a brief equipment and gear list. This list is only a guideline and can be altered to suit your preference. Depending on conditions you may not NEED or use every single item listed below. However, as all of you know Alaskan weather is unpredictable and it is best to be prepared for all types of conditions. During the field portions of the course there will be periods as long as an hour that you will be standing still for a demonstration, or to view and discus terrain and snow conditions. You will also be moving quite a bit so layering your outdoor clothing is recommended.

If you have any questions regarding this information please feel free to contact the AAS office. Our AAS office in Anchorage has a small avalanche specialty retail store. Our office staff will give the pros and cons of the various gear on the market and help you find the correct items to keep you safe this winter.

TECHNICAL EQUIPMENT (the following items are required for ALL field portions of the course)

Transceiver: If you’re still operating with an older single antenna (analog) beacon we highly recommend upgrading to a digital beacon. Single antenna beacons are old technology and should not be used as a life saving device.
Probe: All commercially available probes are acceptable.
Shovel: A small, lightweight backcountry shovel (metal shovel, not plastic).

Snow Saw
Inclinometer: This can be included in a compass or as a single plastic card.

TRAVEL: (you should be familiar, and have experience with your set up prior to the course)

Skis: Backcountry or telemark setups in combination with a pair of skins for traveling uphill.
Snowshoes: They must have metal teeth for ascending and descending steep slopes.
Snowboard: If you decide to bring your snowboard for the descents during the course please bring a pair of snowshoes and consider collapsible ski poles.
Splitboard: In combination with a pair of skins for traveling uphill. Snowshoes can also be used if you do not have skins. Skins: for use with your skis or splitboard. Skins are very important to travel uphill. Make sure that they are trimmed to your skis and that they work well BEFORE arriving to your class.
Ski Poles: Useful for everyone.


Backpack: This should be big enough to carry all of your gear for the field portions of the course. Thermos: For warm drinks during the frigid Alaskan field days.
Water bottle: In combination with a water bottle insulator.

Lunch Food: This should be field type food that does not freeze.
Extra Clothing: Be prepared for all types of weather: rain, snow, wind, or sun Notebook and Pencil

REQUIRED FOR LEVEL 2 & 3 COURSES ONLY (Optional for Level 1 Courses):

Field Data Notebook: AAS highly recommends the Snowpit Technologies Field Notebook.
Snow, Weather and Avalanche Observation Guidelines (SWAG): Compass: Some compasses have an inclinometer built in. Mechanical Pencil
Snow Saw
Magnifying Lens/Loupe
Crystal Card
Folding Ruler or Marked Probe: marked in centimeters 


CLOTHING: Do not bring cotton!

When cotton gets wet it retains its moisture content. This means it does not dry quickly, and leaves the user cold and wet. Poly-pro and wool dry out quicker and they do not loose their warmth even when damp. A winter environment is conducive to hypothermia, and you will miss out on class time if you are sitting inside because you are cold.
Long underwear: Polypro or wool tops and bottoms are recommended.
Warm outer layers: These layers should be wind and waterproof.
Warm socks: Polypro or wool are recommended.
Warm hat
Warm Gloves/Mittens
Glove liners: In combination with your gloves/mittens. These will help to keep your digits warm even when dealing with boots, getting into your pack, etc.
Parka: Your parka should fit over all of your other layers. This is extremely helpful when you’re standing around outdoors on the field portion of the course. We recommend a synthetic or down puffy.
Boots: Make sure they are warm and comfortable enough to allow you to stop traveling for as long as an hour!! No leather hiking boots! Having a good pair of boots is essential to being happy outside on cold days. If you have any doubts regarding your boots spend a day outside in cold temperatures testing them out before arriving at the course.

SLEEPING QUARTERS (For Hatcher Pass Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 Courses only)

Sleeping bag: This should be a medium to light weight sleeping bag.
Sleeping pad: Hatcher Pass Courses only: the floor is hard!
Toiletries: to include toothbrush/paste, deodorant, etc. You know the drill (hopefully). Comfortable indoor footwear: sandals, slippers, booties, etc.
Earplugs: some people snore…

FOOD (For Hatcher Pass Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 Courses only)

Bowl, plate, utensils, etc: You are required to bring all of your own eating and cooking utensils and supplies. Food: You are required to bring all of your food for the 3 days of the course.
Water: There is running water at both the Hatcher Pass Visitor Center.


Hand/Foot warmers: These are helpful during the blustery cold days.
First Aid Kit: A Small simple kit for blisters and cuts. Instructors will have an extensive kit on hand. 









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