Avalanche Training Equipment Checklist

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Black Diamond Equipment/Pieps:

Beacons, shovels, probes, airbag packs, skis, boots, bindings, skins, clothing and more…


Clothing, packs and more…

Ortovox USA:

Beacon, shovels, airbag packs, probes and more…

Backcountry Access:

Beacons, shovels, probes, airbag packs, snow study kits and more…

Brooks-Range Mountaineering:

Portable rescue sleds, shelters, field organizers, snow study kits, snow saws and more…

Items below are REQUIRED for all AIARE courses unless marked otherwise:

Clothing for moving and standing still in cold/snowy weather (no cotton)

  • Outerwear & underwear
  • Gloves / mitts – 2 pair
  • Spare puffy
  • Warm hat & sun hat

Protective & storage equipment

  • Pack (airbag pack OPTIONAL)
  • Helmet (RECOMMENDED for skiing/boarding, REQUIRED for snowmobiling)
  • Knee pads (OPTIONAL, nice for kneeling in snow)
  • Goggles, sunglasses & sunscreen
  • Water bottle &/or insulated beverage container & food

Navigation, communication & observation equipment

  • Navigation kit – terrain images, local map (1:24,000 scale preferred), compass, altimeter & GPS or smartphone
  • Digital camera or smartphone
  • Small binoculars / monocular for distance viewing
  • Clinometer
  • Headlamp & spare batteries
  • Two-way radio, GMRS or VHF w/ license (OPTIONAL)
  • Cell-phone (OPTIONAL)
  • Satellite phone or transponder (OPTIONAL)

Avalanche rescue equipment

  • Avalanche probe 260cm or longer (dedicated collapsible avalanche probe, integrated ski pole probes are not sufficient)
  • Collapsible metal shovel
  • Digital avalanche transceiver
    • AIARE Instructor Trainings and AIARE 3’s require three antennae models, less than 10 years old; transceivers between 5 and 10 years old must be sent to the manufacturer and function-checked prior to the course.
    • Note:  The following equipment can affect your transceiver function.  Do not bring or use the following items during field sessions without provider consent:
      • Electrically heated gloves or other garments
      • Clothing with magnets (e.g. magnetized zipper flap closures)
      • Camera or electronic devices with wireless capability (e.g. GoPro Hero3+)
      • Chest mounted cameras or other electronic devices
      • Wristwatches with radio transmission functions (e.g. GPS capability)
      • Heart rate monitors
  • Avalanche rescue response checklist, found inside the back cover of the AIARE field book

Other accident response equipment

  • Personal first aid kit (blisters, meds, wound care, gloves/face shield, splinting material, sugar etc.)
  • Repair kit, specific to your mode of travel (consider multi-tool, bit driver, hose clamps, straps, spare screws, tape, zip ties, spare basket, pole repair, spark plugs, drive belt etc…)
  • Insulating pad (can be part of pack)
  • Firestarting kit (lighter & tinder)
  • Rescue sled, portable w/ supporting slings/straps (OPTIONAL, one per group is sufficient)
  • Emergency shelter as appropriate (OPTIONAL, space blanket, guide’s tarp, bivy sac / bothy bag etc…)

Travel equipment may be specific to your course, check with your course provider in advance to confirm one of the following:

Skiing Equipment:

  • Touring boots
  • Skis with touring bindings & skins (please adjust bindings to boots & skins to skis before the course)
  • Poles


Snowboarding Equipment:

  • Split Board with touring bindings & skins (please adjust bindings to boots & skins to board before the course). For students using a snowboard, split boards are preferred, as compared to traveling with snowshoes.
  • Boots
  • Collapsible poles



  • Well maintained, mountain sled, topped off on fuel & fluids; spare parts & tools on-board
  • DOT certified helmet



  • Snowshoes (adjusted to boots, please test thoroughly before the course). Snowshoes are not recommended for courses where deep new snow conditions or steep terrain will likely be experienced. Please contact course provider to see if snowshoes are appropriate.

Observer’s Kit, Required for AIARE 2 & AIARE 3 in addition to the list above:

  • Snow saw or folding pruning saw (minimum 35-40cm blade)
  • 3m long knotted cord (2-4mm thick), or manufactured Rutschblock cord, or 70-100cm folding “long-saw” for setting up large column tests
  • Snow thermometer (graduated in degrees Celsius; NOT Fahrenheit). Dial stem &/or glass/alcohol types are commonly used. Electronic thermometers are acceptable, but make sure you have a spare battery.
  • Crystal identification screen, dark color made of thick plastic or stiff metal (some observers carry one of each)
  • Magnifier (10x-15x), wide angle view
  • Folding ruler (graduated in centimetres; either bring a 2m ruler or 1m ruler + probe w/ cm graduations)
  • Inclinometer (may be integrated with compass)
  • AIARE fieldbook (provided on course) + 2x Pencils
  • Avalanche Handbook (2006 3rd edition)
  • Snow, Weather ,and Avalanches: Observational Guidelines for the Avalanche Programs in the United States (revised 2010 edition)
  • Laptop, tablet or smartphone for accessing weather stations and submitting observations (bring to class each day)

Note: Pre-packaged snow observation kits may have thermometers in °F, rulers in inches, white crystal cards that are difficult to see clear snow grains and magnifiers that are narrow, overpowered and difficult to see multiple grains or to identify grain size and type. Please take the extra effort to purchase quality magnifiers (also available in photo shops or linen shops), dark crystal cards and metric rulers.

For another perspective on what to put in your pack, check out  Rob Copollilo’s or Leo Lloyd’s take.