There's nothing quite like backcountry skiing with its remote, untouched powder, and hard-earned descents. But it's also risky to go off-resort, where you'll have to fend for yourself in terms of deciphering the signs of shifting snow. Here are nine must-take items to help you read snow, avoid avalanches, and get back safe and sound.
Mammut Pro Protection Airbag 35
While it is no substitute for proper training and decision making, an avalanche air bag can save your life in a slide. This system does more than keep you up above the snow – the inflatable bag cradles your head, protecting your skull from both the trauma of being dragged through trees and the violence of the slide itself. Big bonus: You can use the smart, 35-liter pack on its own when you're not traveling in slide zones. [$950, plus $200 air cylinder; mammut.ch]