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Author Topic: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?  (Read 8795 times)
blackdog102395
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What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« on: 12/28/16, 12:01 PM »

So let's say you are heading on a long day trip to an entirely new objective.  You want to bring an extra piece of safety gear for some added insurance in case something goes wrong.  This would be something in addition to all your regular safety gear.  What do you bring that adds no more than a pound or two to your pack (e.g. stove, bivy, sleeping pad, etc)?  Genuinely curious.
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dbrannon
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #1 on: 12/28/16, 01:13 PM »

down sleeping bag
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Snow Bell
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #2 on: 12/28/16, 02:30 PM »

I like your question but for me the answer depends primarily on the circumstances of the tour.  High alpine winter exposure concerns?  Summer uncontrolled slide risk?  Lost in the woods schwack-fest?   Precip in the forecast?  Drinking water availability?  Cell coverage?  Am I solo?  What are my partners bringing?
The answer can vary from an axe and/or whippet to a bivy, a stove to a crevasse kit, a shovel, crampons or extra layers.  I believe that we often tend to over-simplify what the appropriate safety kit consists of. 
A couple of catch-all responses might include a helmet, chemical hand warmers and a bit of closed-cell foam to sit on (I have one in each of my packs in place of the internal frame board).
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #3 on: 12/28/16, 02:47 PM »

I keep an ultralight emergency bivy bag in my pack on every outing (a.k.a. Rustle the mylar sack). PLB, too.

To answer your wintertime added-gear question, an MSR Reactor-type stove and a full winter-blend canister can convert a cold, sad time into a pretty good one in a jiffy.
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dave095790
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #4 on: 12/28/16, 04:52 PM »

Agreed that it is totally situational dependent. 

Jetboil MicroMo 0.8 liter is tiny, 4oz of fuel (nested in the cup) is enough for 2 people for a night's dinner and breakfast plus drinking water. 

You can almost always construct a snow cave with a shovel (especially in the typical PNW, less so in a continental snowpack).  Thus the tiny emergency bivy could make it easily survivable. 

Extra layers are always amazingly valuable; down shorts or 3/4 length pants are pretty epic.  Your summer sleeping bag packs tiny as another emergency layer. 

Eye protection should never be underestimated. 

I sometimes carry a Brooks Range sled, which can be used to self rescue. 

Interesting subject, I recently read (and just tried to refind it, and couldn't) an article about testing your overnight prowess with your typical day kit at an area close to the car for when you bail.  Strong, subtle reminder. 

In a group of 3 or more, it is pretty easy to amass the extra gear.  The real tough predicament comes with a group of two, where the "extra" stuff adds up quickly and you end up bringing an overnight kit on every outing. 
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #5 on: 12/28/16, 07:31 PM »

Andy Dappen had an article in a recent Backcountry mag about making fire for an unplanned overnight. It was intriguing, and I suspect that if you could really keep a fire going all night, it would be a really good thing.

I'm doubtful of my ability to do that, so I think the most important thing is to be able to dig a snow shelter so you can limit your cold exposure to 32 degrees F during the night. Then you need to be able to snuggle and share warmth with your ski partner(s).

Seems like the most important tools for that would be shovels, a tarp (to speed up the digging process, for example to roof over a snow trench), and some combination of pads and/or bivi sack to improve heat sharing inside the snow cave. Seems like a breathable sack would be best, to avoid soaking your clothes as you and your friend(s) huddle inside during the night.

Good topic.
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jakedouglas
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #6 on: 12/28/16, 08:28 PM »

While spending a mercifully dry night out, sitting on the snow/leaning against rock and the breeze were the biggest sources of heat loss. Sitting on my backpack offered remarkably little insulation and I could feel the heat draining out of me into the snow all night, so I've taken a small NeoAir XLite (big enough for 2 butts) on some trips since.

PLB and ultralight bivy sack are standard for all outings. Make sure the bivy sack is big enough for 2, provided you have a partner. They don't work so well when you try to fit 2 people into a 1-person and rip it in half.

Digging a snow cave in winter conditions is a thing, but in firm spring conditions could be arduous to impossible. I bring some kind of ultralight shelter more substantial than the bivy sack if I feel the exposure is serious and natural shelter might not be available.

Other things I would have killed for:

dry gloves
dry socks
puffy pants
chemical warmers (turns out these work pretty well)
more food (hard to generate heat when you're running on empty)
more fuel

Hard to prioritize them though. I don't think my summer sleeping bag makes the list, as I suspect it would have turned into a limp noodle pretty quick coming into inevitable contact with my damp clothing and the snow. Stove depends on the conditions (wind, cold) that will dictate how much usefulness you can get out of it. The size of my puffy increases with the risk.

I suspect many people would have a desperate time spending the night out with their standard day kit.
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jtack
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #7 on: 12/29/16, 10:47 AM »

I have spent many nights out without shelter, most of them in the summer, but more than a few in late fall and early winter, and nothing saves the day like a fire and a space blanket. I come from a rural background and I have noticed that people who have been schooled on no trace camping seem so reluctant to build a fire, and more importantly, are not skilled in how to build one in difficult conditions.  I always carry fire building material in my pack and I'm not the least bit hesitant to get a nice big hog roasting fire going.  Of course there are plenty of places we go as skiers that may not present the possibility, and I really like the idea dave0597 suggested having a small stove, same thing, a hot drink changes everything. Great topic.



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PhilH
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #8 on: 12/29/16, 11:22 AM »

Great question and thoughtful replies. I frame this kind of question as what worries me the most the deeper I commit to the backcountry. Three things worry me: what if someone gets hurt, what if we have to spend the night out and what if equipment breaks? The night out scenario has been covered pretty well and the injury question is for a whole different thread. This leaves equipment failure. I carry a multi-tool, small roll of wire, some duct tape and Voile straps. Any other suggestions?
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blackdog102395
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #9 on: 12/29/16, 02:17 PM »

Thanks for the responses.  This is the exact discussion I was looking for and summed up nicely in this response from JakeDouglas, "I suspect many people would have a desperate time spending the night out with their standard day kit."  This is the crux of it for me.  What is that additional bit of weight that provides the best chance of success when things go wrong or making things a little less "desperate."  I also like PhilH's way of framing the question as "three worries."

On almost every mid winter tour I carry the following:

1) A fire making kit.  Vaseline soaked cotton balls are my go to. 
2) A small repair kit with the basics, but also a large hose clamp.
3) SOL Escape Bivy
4) Puffy
5) Spot Locator

Things I carry when wanting a little more insurance:

1) Stove Kit
2) Extra pair of gloves
3) Extra pair of socks

I'm adding hand warmers and possibly a pad, but Dave 095790's point is a good one.  At what point are you hauling everything you would bring on an overnighter.  Light and fast definitely has it's advantages and a case can be made the most important resource you have when things don't go as planned is energy and clear thinking.  Two things that may decrease with an increase in weight on your back.

« Last Edit: 12/29/16, 05:06 PM by blackdog102395 » Logged
Teleskichica
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #10 on: 12/29/16, 03:13 PM »

I've had an emergency bivy in the summer while climbing, so not the same, but here is my backup plan for winter:

The avi shovel is always useful for making a shelter (and in the process staying warm shoveling snow around but don't get sweaty!). The colder the weather, the bigger the puffy (extra hat and gloves). Line the inside of your pack with a closed foam pad for sitting on, and for smaller people like myself, I can use my pack as a bivy. I always carry fire starter and am not afraid to start said fire. I also keep extra pharmaceuticals on hand in the event of any blinding pain injury. I stuff all of the small incidental items in an old tin can that I can use to melt snow. I also add ramen seasoning packets and a stashed candy bar to the can for salt and calories. Lastly, chemical handwarmers. They work especially well for me when placed on the back of the neck.
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blackdog102395
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #11 on: 12/29/16, 03:48 PM »

I believe this is the article by Andy Dappen that Lowell referenced.  Lots to consider here:

http://www.justgetout.net/Wenatchee/post/To-Build-a-Fire
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flowing alpy
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #12 on: 12/29/16, 03:56 PM »

Extra battery for my vape cart, maybe an extra cart too.
Guess if I connected the 2 parts it would qualify as just 1.
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pipedream
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #13 on: 12/29/16, 04:57 PM »

When I'm lapping the sidecountry I tend not to bring much more than water, an emergency blanket and small first-aid kit (in addition to a shovel & probe) - reasoning being that in the event someone is injured or rescue is required, the emergency blanket can help keep one warm until help arrives as I wouldn't expect to spend an entire evening out in terrain close to a ski area boundary or highway (e.g. Crystal's Southback, Alpental's Back Bowls, Hemis/Shuksan Arm @ Baker).

Whenever I'm setting-out in the backcountry from the start, I always pack my SOL emergency bivvy, stormproof matches and SPOT locator. If I'm going somewhere we've never been before or the tour has the possibility of becoming significantly extended, the canister stove and titanium 1L pot is what gets the nod as that "extra piece" of gear. Being able to melt snow for water is essential should you become stranded overnight. Having a way to make hot beverages (even if it's just warm water) will greatly improve your ability to fend off the cold. Often when taking the stove along for a long day I'll pack some tea bags & instant coffee - even if you don't get stranded it can be nice to have an afternoon cup of caffeine to perk you up for the return to the car.

In the spring it might be prudent to carry a lightweight tarp as I hadn't really considered how one would dig a snow trench/cave in that situation to get out of the elements. You can fashion a makeshift shelter pretty easily with two poles, a tarp and some tent stakes. If you're toting rope it makes it even easier.
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David_Lowry
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #14 on: 12/29/16, 06:59 PM »

Lowell, your Zdarsky tent article has had me intrigued for several years. Has anyone had experience with the (half) breathable hilleberg windsack? I think that is what i'd like to add to my pack.
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SKIER-X
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #15 on: 12/29/16, 08:14 PM »

 I really enjoy my patio umbrella with a cargo parachute draped over it while frying blueberry fruit bars in butter with melted string cheese on top with  a Westwind alc. stove and opening a can of beef tomales with a p-38 during a snowstorm... in my folding chair , Jus say'n.   X
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El Destructor
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #16 on: 12/29/16, 08:35 PM »

I often bring a light, durable, reflective bivy sac and an extra insulating layer + gloves.

Sometimes i slide my chopped-short ridgerest pad into my pack, in a rolled/tubular fashion, then i stuff my packs contents inside of that.  It also provides a nice structure to the pack.

For christmas I received a tiny ACR ResQlink 406 MHz PLB.  So that's going in the pack too.  I like this PLB compared to the messaging beacons like spot etc.. Much more effective for contacting rescuers.  More power to broadcast (5 watts compared to 0.5?) and it uses government satellite networks. 
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jakedouglas
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #17 on: 12/29/16, 08:50 PM »

For christmas I received a tiny ACR ResQlink 406 MHz PLB.  So that's going in the pack too.  I like this PLB compared to the messaging beacons like spot etc.. Much more effective for contacting rescuers.  More power to broadcast (5 watts compared to 0.5?) and it uses government satellite networks. 

I bought into this line of thinking until I was involved in the deployment of a ResQlink that performed very poorly and caused a ton of confusion for searchers, and then had a horrible customer service experience with ACR. I've since switched to using a DeLorme inReach, and I won't be switching back until I see some hefty evidence to back up the oft-repeated notion that ACR is vastly superior due to its simplicity and "industrial" design. At least with the inReach I'll know whether I'm on my own or not. Being able to let my wife know when I'll be late getting out is a bonus. YMMV.
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El Destructor
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #18 on: 12/29/16, 09:22 PM »

I bought into this line of thinking until I was involved in the deployment of a ResQlink that performed very poorly and caused a ton of confusion for searchers, and then had a horrible customer service experience with ACR. I've since switched to using a DeLorme inReach, and I won't be switching back until I see some hefty evidence to back up the oft-repeated notion that ACR is vastly superior due to its simplicity and "industrial" design. At least with the inReach I'll know whether I'm on my own or not. Being able to let my wife know when I'll be late getting out is a bonus. YMMV.


Can you explain some of the details of that experience?  What was the issue with the plb's performance?  Really would like to know!

I was planning on paying for ACR's plus plan, only one time, so that I can use the GPS testing feature on the 406.  If I see where i'm at on their webpage withing a reasonable amount of time i'll be happy.  Was going to test it in narrow spot; steep walled drainage/ couloir/ canyon.  They claim it does better in enclosed areas than the rest.. Shitty deal how they make you pay to test the damn the thing.  Did you do this with yours?
« Last Edit: 12/29/16, 09:31 PM by El Destructor » Logged
jakedouglas
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #19 on: 12/29/16, 09:33 PM »

Despite being deployed for many hours with a clear view of the sky, the ResQlink never sent any GPS coordinates, and most of the triangulated locations were a mile or more away.

ACR was difficult to get in touch with and slow to respond in most exchanges. They eventually sent me a new PLB for free, but were never able to tell me what the problem was or give me any assurance that the new one wouldn't have the same problem.

I don't believe I ever used the paid testing plan. But I sure recommend it now!
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El Destructor
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #20 on: 12/29/16, 09:38 PM »

Copy.  I'll post my findings here after I test it.
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Kyle Miller
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #21 on: 12/30/16, 12:55 AM »

DeLorme inReach is a vital piece of gear that I wouldn't go on trips without.
Having an open line of communication is key to being prepared for anything.
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ADappen
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #22 on: 12/30/16, 09:15 AM »

Enjoying all the thoughtful replies.

For me, if I will be in the trees or able to retreat to  trees, the essential emergency items break down to wind shelter (tarp or 2-person bivy), bombproof ability to make and sustain fire, and the ability to heat water (for drinking and for  pouring into a Nalgene bottle to make a hot water bottle that tucks under clothes). If there's a chance I might get stuck above timberline, then wind shelter,  and a Jetboil-type stove with adequate fuel are my additional essentials.

Being old school and something of a Luddite, I'm somewhat irrationally resistant to communication devices (they change elements of self-reliance and thorough planning). That being said, lots of bad decisions are made because people are pressed to get home on time so as not to worry/anger loved ones or so as not to have loved ones launch unnecessary rescues. The ability of the Spot or the InReach to send a preset message saying you are fine but delayed is a huge benefit when a day goes a little south. The Luddite in me also admits the ability to call in a rescue is a huge benefit if the day goes a lot south (injury). If you are thinking of investing in one of these satellite communicators, the InReach is much superior -- as Kyle says the 2-way texting ability is a very significant benefit and its use of the Iridium satellite network gives better world-wide coverage (or so my research says).

Regarding the repair kit question that PhilH poses, to his list I would add two 3-foot Arno straps (very light and for some applications better than Voile straps)--these are in addition to the Voile straps. I also carry a pole repair kit (cut a 5-inch length of ski  pole longitudinally so you can clamshell it around a broken pole as a splint and tape it in place), a spare ski-pole basket, and a few oversized screws for my bindings should I rip off a toe or heel piece (rare but it happens, especially with super light skis).
« Last Edit: 12/30/16, 06:31 PM by ADappen » Logged
kamtron
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #23 on: 12/30/16, 11:21 AM »

Along the repair kit lines, screwdriver or multitool with bits for all your various screws is key. Sometimes tightening a loose Dynafit toe can prevent imminent gear explosion. I also take a small hose clamp which can be used to splint a broken pole along with a big one which can clamp down a ripped off toepiece (with help from bailing wire or work straps). Having 4 or more long ski straps can help you fix a number of common breakages, build a rescue sled, etc.

I think the ability to make water is the biggest "extra" item I regularly bring on spring tours, where the days are long but not cold. It's also nice not to carry too much water weight and brew up at breaks.
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El Destructor
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #24 on: 12/30/16, 08:30 PM »

In regards to the messaging devices vs the acr plb,  I have seriously considered the benefits of being able to communicate with someone, but the deciding factor for me was stories I read of the weak power not being able to penetrate tree canopys, or broadcast from canyon-ous terrain. 
So I figured the messaging functions wouldn't be worth it if you couldn't use them because your'e stuck in less than ideal terrain without a nice, wide, clear shot to the open sky.  Plus having to go through a private network who receives your signal, then passes it on to authorities.  Wanted to eliminate that step. That just how it weighs out in my head.. 

And to address another recent post,  having this tool will in no way effect the time and energy I put into trip planning, or change how I spend time in the mountains.  I seriously do not ever want to use it and will take all the normal precautions pre and during trip.  I often go out solo, and having a plb now definitely brings some peace of mind.     



« Last Edit: 12/30/16, 08:40 PM by El Destructor » Logged
samthaman
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Re: What Piece of Extra Safety Gear?
« Reply #25 on: 01/01/17, 11:29 AM »

I carry an MSR reactor stove on almost all tours, even simple day tours. The weight of the stove + fuel is comparable to a full Nalgene, so it basically replaces weight and volume I'd be carrying anyway. An added bonus is the mid-tour hot lunch.

Other than that, a shovel, emergency bivy sack, and a down or synthetic parka are all that goes along on day trips. My thought is that I can dig a decent snow cave, warm up with the stove, and stay warm with the parka. If you leave the skins on your skis and put them in the furry side up with your pack over them, they make a decent sleeping pad, so I don't worry about packing a pad for day trips.

PLB and a rescue sled rig should probably be in the kit as well.
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