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If there is any one piece of equipment that I think…
Price Paid: $200 (Long ago)
If there is any one piece of equipment that I think is lacking from most backcountry skier's packs, it is a portable rescue sled. The ability to travel independently is the essence of backcountry skiing. It is our responsibility to demonstrate this independence in times of trouble, not just times of reward.
In other words, it's awesome that you can escape the crowds and find your own powder. Now, can you get yourself out of a jam?
I am a Brooks Range ambassador, so I admit some bias. But the Brooks Range Backcountry Rescue Sled is the piece of equipment that introduced me to the company years ago. It's still one of my favorite pieces of gear.
I like the Brooks Range sled because it is simple to build, strong, and functional. It's extremely light, and packs down small. This type of system can be improvised with gear from the hardware store, but I really can't figure out why one would do that.
Brooks Range has figured out how to build this sled in a way that uses only gear you should be carrying anyway. There's no wing nuts or washers; no bungee cords; no bailing wire or duct tape. (Although you should probably have those last two.)
Here's a video on how to assemble the rescue sled. The Ultra-lite version has an integrated tarp that the one in the video doesn't have. I definitely recommend the Ultra-lite version.
The video is long. I don't anticipate that everyone will watch it in entirety. It is meant as a reference. Take what you need from it. I hope it helps.