Every rider in a party must have, and know how to use, an avalanche transceiver.Luckily, transceivers (beacons) are becoming easier to operate all the time. But, despite their improvements,transceivers will never replace knowledge of how to avoid avalanche-prone slopes in the first place. If youcan’t afford a transceiver, then you can’t afford to ride the backcountry. Tracker DTS (digital, $300), PiepsOpti 4 (analog, $250). Life-Link’s Variant Approach probe pole ($115) is designed to use while hiking,and for locating avalanche victims.

Ovalized tubes prevent slipping and, when combined with an extension,create a six-foot three-inch avalanche probe. The Voile Mini Shovel ($38) hopefully will be used mostoften to build backcountry jumps, but when duty calls, it’ll be there to get through the avalanche debris, too.With an aluminum blade, the Mini Shovel weighs one pound eight ounces and tucks neatly inside a pack.

Assorted Dermatone skin protection products ($3-6) keep the sun and wind off your skin, preventingburning and chapping. Hardcore mountain folk have used this stuff forever. Snowshoes are probably themost cost-effective, and often the most functional, mode of accessing off-piste terrain. With bindingsspecifically designed to suit snowboard boots, snowshoes have become the backcountry rider’s tools ofchoice. Lash ‘em easily onto a pack for the ride down.

Redfeather Condor 30 ($265),

Atlas Summit 33 ($279).

Backcountry packs have to wield a variety of loads: shovel, probe, lunch, extra layer, and on theway up, your snowboard. They also have to fit well enough not to hinder the ride down.

Da Kine Poacher ($100),

K2 Interglacier ($119).

Atlas (415) 703-0414 www.atlasworld.com

Backcountry Access 1-800-670-8735 www.bcaccess.com/bca

Da Kine (541) 386-3166 www.dakine.com

Dermatone 1-800-225-7546 www.dermatone.com

K2 1-800-666-2579 www.k2snowboards.com

Life-Link 1-800-443-8620 www.life-link.com

Pieps 1-800-443-8620 www.life-link.com

Redfeather 1-800-525-0081 www.redfeather.com

Voile (801) 973-8622 www.voile-usa.com