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Outdoor Skills and Advice: What’s in Your Winter Day Pack?

By Contributing Writer Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Faculty member and Diversity & Inclusion Manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), with help from Lindsay Yost, NOLS winter instructor. Photo courtesy of Brad Christensen/NOLS

Oh adventurer, be not tempted this winter by the thought of lounging languidly on your La-Z -Boy in front of the hearth with a warm mug of liquid in your paws! Instead, strap on your skis and skins the head outside to shred the nar nar. Besides what we’ve already told you to stash in your summer and fall daypack, senior NOLS field instructor Lindsay Yost urges you to take these few extra items to beat the winter chill.

1. Chocolate
Sugar and calories are essential when you’re burning those extra calories to stay warm. So besides that hot cocoa you’re carrying in your thermos, take some extra chocolate. Lindsay prefers Chocolove Dark Chocolate with Peppermint. I’m a huge fan of the Lindt Touch of Sea Salt Bar. And then there is always the good ol’ Snickers Bar.

2. A multi-tool
Whether you’re on skis and skins or on snow shoes, a multi-tool (like the Black Diamond Binding Buddy) is always great to have on hand to fix any gear problems.

3. Avalanche essentials
If you’re getting vertical, you must take an avalanche shovel, probe, and saw, and keep an avalanche beacon on your body. Read here for more tips on how to be more avy savvy.

4. A puffy jacket
Light but toasty warm, a down or synthetic puffy jacket is a must pack for the winter.

5. Sunscreen, visor, and sunglasses with UV protection
What’s more dangerous for your skin than a sunny day? A sunny day on snow! (And don’t pack those sunglasses—wear them!)

6. A balaclava
“Just ‘cuz it’s fun to say,” says Lindsay. I suggest fleece.

7. A straw
To suck it up when things get cold and miserable!