Pro Guiding Service Owner and IFMGA certified guide Martin Volken is in the process of co-publishing a new edition of "Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering." The final release date of the book is tentatively slated for fall 2024. In the meantime, we'll be sharing snippets from the book, so check back often for more sneak peaks!
Our first excerpt is regarding gear repair kits for backcountry touring. This is a reminder to check your own kits and make sure you replace any missing pieces, or take it to the next level using some of the tips below.
Gear Repair Kits
Having a good repair kit can easily mean the difference between accomplishing the objectives of a trip and getting stuck. An ideal repair kit has many useful components, most of which have more than one use, but is still as compact and light as possible. That said, all repair kits are not created equal, and you should tailor your repair kit to your expectations for the trip’s length, commitment level, and potential for wear and tear on your gear. When deciding what items to take or leave on any given trip, think about your worst-case scenarios: if anything breaks, how well can you fix it, and how far will you have to travel with broken gear? The most bare-minimum repair kit consists of duct tape, zip ties, and a few rubber ski straps; the deluxe model may start to look like the back room of a small ski shop. Build the kit that’s right for your trip, and don’t be afraid to adjust it constantly as trips vary.
General items. Duct tape, rubber ski straps, safety pins, extra batteries (AA and AAA), multipurpose tool (with pliers, screwdriver, scissors), dental floss, and needle(s).
Binding items. Zip ties, bailing wire, hose clamps, compact screwdriver for binding adjustments, spare cables for your telemark bindings, spare parts if on a longer tour. Telemark binding screws and plumber’s putty allow you to remount a binding in ripped out or stripped binding holes.
Other fix-specific items. Extra skin bales, extra boot buckles, pack buckles, tent-pole-fix kit, patch kit for air mattress.
Sample Day-Trip Repair Kit
Binding fix. A broken toe piece of a tech binding is a catastrophic failure, meaning it is basically impossible to repair in the field. Because they are very light, though, it’s easy to carry an extra to have in your kit. Large plastic zip ties allow you to permanently fix a broken ski/walk mechanism on many of the bar-style AT bindings. Telemark binding screws and plumber’s putty can be used to repair poles.
Boot fix. Ever tried skiing chop or powder with your boots unbuckled? The experience is the same if a buckle blows out. Extra buckles/bales can make it much easier to ski down.
Skin fix. Carry extra skin-tip bales if an old ones break or wear through; skin wax and anti-balling spray come to the rescue when snow builds up under your skis because of snow temperatures or old skins. Of course, extra ski straps will help if the adhesive fails.
Pole fix. Extra baskets to replace a broken/lost one make a long skate out far easier (try doing without once and you won’t do it again); a broken pole kit (hose clamps and short segment of tube) does the same.
Sample Multiday Repair Kit
This kit would include all the items in the day-trip kit of the above, plus the following:
Binding fix. Extra toe- and heel-pieces in case one breaks or shatters, as well as telemark binding screws and plumber’s putty; zip ties and pole segments can fix a broken binding bar on frame bindings.
Boot fix. Extra parts as for the day trip kit, plus screw-in rivets in case the rivets in the boot hinge shear.
Tent fix. Dental floss and a needle for sewing, and a tent-pole fix kit.
Air-mattress fix. A patch kit is a mandatory item in your kit, especially if your gear includes crampons. Patch kits are available in any good shop.
Pack fix. As with tent fixes, keep dental floss and needle, pack buckles, and large safety pins.
Stove repair kit. Isopropane stoves are very popular, in part because there is essentially zero maintenance. If you are using a white gas stove, learn how to maintain good knowledge of your stove can to save yourself a lot of frustration. Most manufacturers of white gas stoves provide little repair kits these with their stoves.
Go one step further. What if you lose a piece of the stove? Bring an extra fuel pump and materials to replace any lost pieces.
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