What’s in my ski touring Rucksack?

Written by Oliver Allen
8th March 2024
packing list, pack, rucksack, kit list, what guides carry, guide packing list, ski touring kit, ski touring backpack, ski packing list, shovel, probe, transceiver, ice axe, crampons, Ortovox, harness, recommended kit, What’s in my ski touring Rucksack?, Elan, Roxa Boots

What’s in my ski touring Rucksack?

The clothing and equipment you carry for winter backcountry skiing and ski touring is always a thorny subject with a vast array of kit on offer to baffle and confuse!

Remember the golden rule, ‘light is right’. Today ski shops are awash with good quality, lightweight kit. The second rule is ‘be prepared for changing conditions’. During the ski touring season, temperatures can be well below freezing in the mornings and reach double figures in the mid-day sun. Carry layers that allow you to adapt to the prevailing weather conditions.

Choose a good ski rucksack which concentrates all weight around the hip area. This prevents you from overbalancing when turning downhill. Narrow tall climbing rucksacks aren’t ideal as they have a high centre of gravity.  A secure way of attaching skis for carrying is also essential. I would recommend the Ortovox Haute Route 32 or the Ortovox Ravine 34 (very light) as they are specifically designed for skiers and of excellent quality. Some people like a little bit more space so the Ortovox Haute Route 40 is great but bear in mind the more space you have the more superfluous kit you’ll bring!

Your Mountain Guide will carry a rope, crevasse rescue equipment, map compass and other safety materials. Your technical equipment should include a harness (with a locking carabiner and a 120cm sling), ice axe, aluminium crampons (for advanced ski tours you might need steel crampons), fitted skins, ski crampons, shovel and probe. We recommend a modern digital avalanche transceiver with new batteries.


Below are some recommendations:

  • Harness

Petzl Tour or Black Diamond Couloir

  • Ice Axe

DMM Spire, Petzl Ride or Petzl Glacier

  • Boot Crampons

Black Diamond Neve or Neve Pro, Blue Ice Harfang

Grivel Haute Route (these are a good compromise as they have a steel front section all the above crampons are very light aluminium only for ski use and are unsuitable for Ski Mont Blanc)

  • Shovel

Ortovox Badger

BCA Dozer 2

  • Probe

Ortovox Alu 240

  • Transceivers

Ortovox Diract (excellent, the only one with a rechargeable battery)

BCA Tracker 3 or 4

Mammut Barryvox



Touring skis should be between 90mm and 100mm underfoot. Bindings are now all pin style or pin hybrid such as the Salomon / Atomic Shift. Ski Touring boots must have a walk mode and rubber soles. Poles ideally should be telescopic as I skin uphill with my poles at least 10cm longer than when skiing downhill. Don't forget large baskets on the end for pushing in soft snow.

Warm ski gloves can be supplemented with thin, lightweight gloves for skinning.

Pack a warm hat, sun hat and a pair of sunglasses (at least Category 3). You must also carry ski goggles with flat light lenses. Skiing in a whiteout without them is torture and dangerous.

Bring a water bottle (at least 1 litre and avoid 'Camelback' style systems as they freeze). Purchase a waterproof case for your money, passport and cards. A waterproof bag or stuff sack is essential to keep clothing dry in your rucksack.

For the huts, silk sleeping bag liner, ear plugs, toothbrush, wet wipes, sun cream, lip block, book, phone and head torch. Some teabags and powdered milk is useful if you enjoy a proper cuppa! Snack food is a personal thing but I usually take some cereal bars, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate and jelly sweets. Most huts have a full selection of food and snacks to purchase so don’t carry too much. Huts also have power but this can be very restricted (Guides get the first charge) so lots of people carry a small power bank.

Clothing wise a lightweight waterproof jacket and trousers are essential for bad weather.  I use a thin softshell jacket, fleece top, and thermal long-sleeve top. If the weather is cold I’ll have an extra thermal top and bottoms. A lightweight duvet jacket or extra fleece is always at the bottom of my rucksack just in case. Softshell trousers are great for ski touring and if a multi-day tour I will carry a clean pair of socks and a thermal. Check out the Ortovox clothing range, it's an excellent technical kit that will cover most bases both winter and summer.

Remember when packing, heavy or spare stuff goes at the bottom and light, regularly used stuff at the top or in pockets.

There you have it! Hopefully, this has shed some light on the mystical art of packing your rucksack! If you would like more advice on technical equipment, use the search function on our website to access in-depth articles.


See you in the mountains ‐ Olly Allen

Olly Allen is an IFMGA British Mountain Guide and a Lead Guide of Mountain Tracks.

He lives and works in the Alps throughout the year.



Winter Ski Touring Equipment Summary


  1. Touring skis and bindings
  2. Extendable ski poles (large baskets)
  3. Ski rucksack around 35 litres - Ortovox Haute Route 32, Ortovox Ravine 34
  4. Minimum 1-litre water bottle
  5. Ski touring boots with a walk mode and rubber sole
  6. First aid kit including, blister plasters, painkillers, zinc oxide tape
  7. Sheet sleeping bag for hut nights
  8. Hut kit, toothbrush & paste, sun cream, lip salve, ear plugs, small head torch
  9. A waterproof container with, a book, phone and charger
  10. Avalanche probe at least 2.4m long - Ortovox Alu 240
  11. Metal shovel - Ortovox Badger
  12. Harness, 1 locking carabiner and a 120cm sling
  13. Sunglasses and low-visibility goggles
  14. Spares, skin wax, plastic scraper and pen knife.
  15. Dry bag for all kit and waterproof container with valuables, passport, money
  16. Transceiver with fresh batteries - Ortovox Diract
  17. Ski Crampons (cuteau)
  18. Warm hat and sun hat
  19. Snack food
  20. Thin gloves for skinning in - Ortovox Fleece Light Glove
  21. Thick ski gloves - Ortovox Merino Freeride Glove
  22. Two ski ties for joining skis when on your rucksack
  23. Ski skins (please check they fit your skis)
  24. Lightweight waterproof jacket and trousers (some skiers prefer touring in their normal waterproof hardshell trousers with thermals underneath instead of soft shell trousers) - Ortovox 2.5L Civetta Jacket
  25. Lightweight duvet jacket - Ortovox Swisswool Zinal Jacket
  26. Softshell jacket - Ortovox Col Becchei Hybrid
  27. Aluminium crampons (on some advanced tours steel ones may be needed)
  28. Aluminium ice axe (on some tours a steelhead may be needed)
  29. Spare socks and thermal top for multi-day tours
  30. Softshell trousers (add some thermal leggings if the forecast is cold) - Ortovox Cavedale Pants
  31. Long sleeve thermal and fleece jumper - Ortovox 120Comp Light Base, Ortovox Fleece Grid Jacket

 Whats in Ollys Ski Touring Rucksack resize


MrZenTravel Website Development
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now