Destination selected, group set, dates picked, reservation made, gear packed, food readied – even a stay in a backcountry cabin takes planning. I’m just back from a spectacular three-day ski trip into the backcountry where everything went off without a hitch – even the emergency ski repair!
Why did it go so well? It’s simple; we were prepared.
Tips for a hassle-free backcountry hut getaway:
- Call to confirm cabin lock combination a day or two before departure.
- Know your group and plan travel time to accommodate the slowest skier.
- Do you need to bring a stove and fuel, or just fuel, or is it all at the cabin?
- If the list says “pots and pans, cutlery, and dishes provided” and you want a cheese grater or wire whisk or French Press for your coffee – consider that it may or may not be there.
- When the fine print reads “mattresses supplied”, give a cheer – you don’t need to pack a sleeping pad.
- If the sleeping is “dormitory style”, don’t forget to pack your earplugs and deodorant.
- Pack at least one full change of warm clothes (from socks to skivvies to sweater-weight fleece coats and pants) to avoid chill while the fire is heating up the cold cabin.
- The fire won’t provide much heat if it can’t be lit; always pack a lighter and/or waterproof matches and some firestarter or newspaper.
- Don’t forget to bring cabin slippers. IMHO, down booties rock.
- Always pack a well-stocked repair kit – think ski bindings coming loose – and first aid kit.
- Take a bivy sac or tarp for emergencies while on the trail in or out of your cabin destination.
- Yes, you’ll need a sleeping bag, but skip the pillow and use your down coat and extra clothes.
- Use the extra space left from not packing a pillow for packing pillowy-soft toilet paper.
- A shovel is always worth packing – whether for digging out the outhouse entrance, uncovering the woodlot, or building a practice quinzhee.
- Chocolate fondue with fresh or dried fruit for dessert is always a hit!
Hut Etiquette (or hutiquette):
- Carry in/carry out all garbage and unused food – always.
- For the record, sticking a candle in an empty wine bottle doesn’t mean you get to leave it behind – and why you’d want to pack in a heavy glass bottle when you can use a water bottle or wineskin is beyond me in the first place.
- Clean up before your departure – that means doing the dishes, wiping down the cooking and eating areas, sweeping the floors, and emptying the ashes Cinders! Others will follow your lead.
- Leave a well-stocked kindling box and chopped wood supply.
- Be sure to close up shutters, outhouse door, and fasten necessary locks to avoid hut damage.
What is one of your favorite backcountry cabins?