Tech Tip: Backcountry Repair / Tool Kit

Backcountry Repair / Tool kit

Repair Kit

  1. Zipper bag or ziplock
  2. Gerber multitool
  3. Emergency bivy
  4. Fasteners
  5. Steel wool
  6. Pole splint
  7. Basket
  8. Voile strap
  9. Firestarter
  10. Batteries
  11. Duct tape
  12. Bailing wire
  13. Slider pin

A break down of the Repair / Tool Kit. After blowing up a binding, try post-holing chest deep several miles back to your car in the dark and you will know what I mean.  The following is a is an overview of a backcountry repair kit that you can work off of to tailor to your specific needs.

For an overview of all items suggested to carry in the backcountry, see the backcountry safety list.

Zipper bag

Pretty self explanatory to keep everything together and not loose in the pack.

Emergency Bivy

An unexpected night out, an injury or having to leave a person in the cold while help is sought-out, are all scenarios that can  happen.  An emergency bivy will provide critical and possibly live-saving warmth. In extreme and harsh conditions, the bivy can be stuffed with extra layers of clothing or other appropriate supplies to provide necessary insulation.  Additionally, the bright orange color of the bivy doubles as a visibility placard.

Gerber multitool

Gerber multi-plier with 1/4" drive adapter
Gerber multi-plier with 1/4″ drive adapter


Although a Gerber multi-tool weighs slightly more than other lightweight gizmos, I prefer the durability of the Gerber. Too many times I have seen gadgety tools such as binding buddies break and shear. While they seem like a good idea in practicality, in reality you want a high quality tool when you are out. The Gerber has a specialized ¼” socket adapter kit available that I can include various drivers with.

Gerber multi-plier with 1/4" drive adapter
Gerber multi-plier with 1/4″ drive adapter


Map of all fasteners and drivers
Map of all fasteners and drivers

Pole Splint

Pole splint
Pole splint

A pole splint can be made from on old ski pole or aluminum tube by cutting the tube in halg length ways. Broken poles happen often from accidentally wedging between rocks or vacancies while touring. The pole splint can be affixed to the outside of the break and secured with duct tape. Some people also keep a pole splint with a couple of steel hose clamps. Personally, I find the duct tape to hold just as strong and I don’t have additional weight of clamps.

Pole Basket

It’s inevitable to eventually lose a basket. This can be more than an inconvenience if touring a long way in (i.e. a backcountry hut). I generally add a few wraps of electrical tape below the basket at the threads which will keep it from unthreading itself. But sometimes a lost basket happens, and without a basket a pole becomes useless.

Voile Strap (ski strap)

There are a million uses for ski straps, and too many to list here. I always carry an 18″ long one in addition to the rescue sled ski straps.

Spare slider pin

Slider pin
Slider pin

Loosing a slider pin can make ‘unfun’ day. Especially true if use a system (i.e. soft boots) where you need it to tour and ride. If you get several miles back and discover a missing slider pin it can turn in to a long pothole event to get back to the trailhead.


An unexpected night out can take a sudden turn for the worst without some sort of fire. I carry a chemical firestarter (shown), and a small piece of inner tube about 2″ square which will burn for about five minutes. I also carry two torch matches and a lighter. The reason for both ignition sources is the circumstance. More often than not an injury is on an extremity. Lighting a storm match with one hand or frozen hands is complicated to say the least. Having been in that scenario, I carry two ignition sources in case one fails.

A small tea-light candle, also shown, can provide a lot of warmth believe it or not – especially in a snow cave. The wax can also be melted on to small tinder that is wet to help with ignition.

One that note; the reason I carry a BCA snowsaw is because the sharp 30cm blade is an arborist blade and can make quick work of low hanging branches for fuel.


I carry extra batteries for my avalanche beacon and headlamp. Even though a beacon check at the trailhead is almost always performed for battery power, there can be instances when additional batteries are needed. Especially if a beacon has to be switched to search mode.

Duct tape

Duct tape / bailing wire
Duct tape / bailing wire

Duct tape is carried in the first aid kit, but I pictured it with the repair kit because it is versatile for both. A high thread-count quality duct tape comes in handing for many uses both medical and repairing gear. I don’t wrap mine on a trekking pole or water bottle because low temps and chaffing affect it’s adhesive capability. I wrap a mico-roll onto a small dowel, roughly 10 yds in length.

Bailing Wire

This has many uses for repairs. Winding around a dowel or broom handle prevents kinks in it so that it does not break at that point.

Steel Wool


If a screw blows out on touring bindings or deck binding mounting, often the fastener hole is larger and stripped out. Packing steel wool in to the hole creates a shim to retighten. I keep a piece the size of a cotton ball. While five-minute epoxy is usually the solution for a blown out hole, it may not work at lower temperatures. The use of epoxy at lower temps exponentially makes the  ‘5-minute cure time’ more like five weeks cure time.

I hope this helps illustrate components of a backcountry repair / tool kit. This kit may flux and flow depending on your needs, and length of tour. For extended trips or extra mileage I might add other items. For a list of all items suggested to carry in the backcountry see the full list.

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