Appendix A: Required Personal Equipment

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Required Equipment for Patrollers, Candidates and Guests

Patrollers and guests (visiting patrollers and ski-along recruits) are required to have the following personal equipment when on patrol.

Patrollers and guests should have familiarity with their equipment before taking it out on patrol, and to be able to use this equipment independently. Regardless of experience level, don't use a patrol day as a day to try out new equipment for the first time. Take reasonable precautions to keep your equipment current and in good repair; inexperience and poor gear is a liability for other users and for your fellow patrollers.

National Ski Patrol candidates may be eligible for discounts on gear through the NSP store.

Downhill Travel

A typical Tahoe Backcountry patrol day includes 6-10 miles of over-snow travel, with 1500-2000' of elevation gain and loss. Sturdy downhill ski equipment is required. Properly fitted climbing skins are required. Adjustable poles are required for everyone, including snowboarders.

  • Recommended Bindings
    • Telemark binding with "free pivot" touring mode (recommended)
    • AT or Dynafit binding (recommended)
    • Touring Compatible Freeride Binding (recommended)
    • Splitboard with internal and external metal edges
    • Telemark Binding without tour mode

Snowshoes, edge-less approach skis, and edge-less splitboards: Efficient backcountry travel requires working as a team to break trail. Snowshoers and edgeless approach ski users often have a hard time using a skin track broken by skiers and end up having to break their own trail. These devices are highly discouraged for use on patrol, but may be acceptable under specific circumstances. Get approval from the mountain manager ahead of time if using such devices.

The following equipment is not permitted on patrol:

  • NNN bindings - Unable to keep up with downhill travel required by patrols.
  • Skate or Classic Nordic Skis - there are no groomed trails in the backcountry, and this equipment is not efficient for breaking trail
  • Alpine Trekker or similar "Free heel Adapter" - Can be uncomfortable or fail under long distance travel.


The backpack itself should be large enough to accommodate the items mentioned below and approximately one-third of the modular equipment carried by patrollers. Packs must have a volume of at least 30 liters; appropriate size will depend on your size and how you accommodate cold weather. Enough capacity to carry the equipment on this list, your personal gear (lunch, water, etc.) and a few items of patrol gear. Packs between 30 and 40 liters are ideal. A Black Diamond Cirque 35 or Patagonia Snowdrifter 30L pack are good examples of the size and type of pack many patrollers use. Packs should have attachment points for carrying skis or snowboards. Airbag packs are not required, but some patrollers use them. If you do decide to use an airbag pack, ensure that you have ample capacity for patrol equipment.

Avalanche Safety Equipment

Patrollers, candidates and guests are required to have this equipment even if they lack specific training in its use. Patrol can supply loaner equipment of avalanche gear.

  1. Avalanche Transciever: Each member must have a transceiver by the beginning of the second year on patrol. Patrol can supply loaners.
  2. Avalanche Probe: 250-300cm breakdown avalanche probe. Convertible ski pole/probes are not an appropriate substitute.
  3. Snow Shovel: Snow shovel with a metal blade. Lexan shovels are highly discouraged.

Navigation and Survival Equipment

  1. Map: Maps of the area being patrolled. Included in MTR and ISP course fees, and available for purchase from TBSP.
  2. Compass: preferably one which automatically adjusts for declination such as the Silva Ranger Type 15CL or Suunto MC 1D Professional. An integrated clinometer is also helpful for slope angle measurements.
  3. Water: At least one liter of water for personal use and to assist patients or dehydrated skiers. If sharing your bottle with others is distasteful, carry two smaller bottles, or a cup.
  4. Food: Your lunch, power bars, etc. Emergency food for patients is found in the Stove Module. See Appendix B: Patrol Equipment Modules
  5. Ensolite Pad: For sitting on during breaks. Should be 3/4 length or full length.
  6. Headlamp
  7. Knife, whistle, waterproof matches/fire starter
  8. P-cord (length of parachute cord)
  9. plastic bags or WAG bag for human waste disposal


Use jacket, bibs, poncho, etc. for layering and weatherproofing yourself. These features are recommended:

  1. Armpit zips for comfort and excess heat removal
  2. Pants permitting maximum range of leg motion
  3. Sufficient number of layers to permit comfort in all environmental conditions

Required Equipment for Patrollers and Candidates

This section describes required equipment for Patrollers and Candidates. MTR and Avalanche course students, guests and Ski Alongs do not need to carry this equipment.

Individual First Aid Kit

Because much of the first-aid equipment we carry is contained in the Trauma Module described in modular equipment, the individual patroller's first aid kit is limited to the following, which should be contained in a small organized kit such as those obtainable from Outdoor Research or Adventure Medical:

  • 1 CPR mask
  • 1 space blanket
  • 6 4in x 4in non-stick sterile dressings
  • 2 4" Kling bandages
  • 2 2" Kling bandages
  • 2 Kotex pads
  • several pair of latex examination gloves in your size
  • 4 cravats
  • assorted band-aids
  • betadine swabs
  • handi-wipes
  • penlight
  • 2-3 large safety pins
  • several small plastic bags
  • 1 zippered case for contents.

Survival: Tarp

A small tarp with grommets for keeping patients warm and dry. Included in MTR course fees. Available for purchase from NSP.

Personal Sled Hauling and Rope Rescue Kit

Equipment for pulling the portable sled and running the rope kit. The patrol offers this item at wholesale cost.

  • 20feet of 1" tubular webbing
  • 20' of 6mm accessory cord
  • 2 locking carabiners
  • 18" Prusik loop (6mm acc. cord)
  • small stuff sack for above items

Required Equipment for Candidate Training and Patrol Refreshers


One SAM splint for OEC training. SAM splints for patient use are found in the Trauma Module (part of modular equipment). Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol Manual

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