Paradis Pros Share their Backcountry Kits for Confidence

Paradis Pros Share their Backcountry Kits for Confidence

At Paradis Sport, we outfit female athletes with the all-important first layer.  We also strive to help women feel comfortable and confident spending long hours on the trails in underwear that is designed for adventure.  We checked in with three of our Paradis Pros who spend a lot of time in the backcountry to find out what Kits for Confidence they bring with them in case they get into trouble. These "Oh Sh*t Kits" are essential and can save lives. These three women have learned a thing or two about staying safe in the backcountry, and we're grateful that they took the time to share their packing lists and advice. We hope their expertise will inspire more women to get out on the trail, overcoming any doubts and fears along the way. 

Jess Cerra, Ex-Pro Cyclist, Endurance Enthusiast (cycling, running and skiing), Whitefish, MT  

My backcountry kit is inspired by summer bike riding weather, be it deep in the woods on a mountain or gravel bike.

  1. Bear spray. Absolutely essential here in MT as this is grizzly country.  Being loud and aware goes a long way, but also properly carrying and knowing how to use bear spray has saved lives where I live.  I use a Bear Claw Holster - to keep my spray safely on my bike so it won't explode, and so I have easy access to it. When riding alone, I rarely go into core grizzly habitat, but if I do I also use bear bells to make extra noise.                                                                

  2. Seat pack/mechanical extras.  I once forgot to replace my coin cell battery replacement that I carry for my shifter.  Of course my shifter died in a remote location without cell service.  After limping to an obscure road, I found a tourist who actually gave me the coin cell battery out of the key fob of their rental car to get me back to town. My top three essentials to keep in a seatpack: 
  • Battery: coin cell or possible SRAM battery
  • Tweezers: which I've used for pulling metal out of a tire and a bee stinger out of my husband's face, true story!
  • Spare cleats/cleat bolts: this is a devastating loss and not having a spare can result in lots of walking and potential injury

3. Water filter - When my friend Laura King and I did the Colorado Trail, this was our lifeline.  We also learned not to skip water opportunities.  I don't leave home without it in the summer.  

4. A plan and someone who is accountable for that plan on the other side.  When going into the backcountry, you should have a plan and a way to communicate with someone in "civilization" who is accountable. Carrying a Garmin InReach and setting up a way to check in is key. My husband, Sam, was once cycling in an unexpected storm and I noticed through tracking the InReach that something was wrong. It was getting dark and I drove to find him. I found him freezing, wet ,and crying as he was in a bad way. Tracking him that day potentially saved his life. 

Hilary McCloy, US Ski Team Alum, Physical Therapist and Trail Runner, Jackson, NH

Traveling in the backcountry here in the White Mountains, we do have to carry many of these essentials in order to be able to respond to injuries, avalanches, severe weather, and staying hydrated/fueled.  When I've taken AIARE (The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) avalanche safety courses, we often joke that we train to be proficient but hope to never have to use these skills because then something really has gone sideways.  That said, there is comedy sometimes in trying to get fresh water on warm, spring ski days in Tuckerman Ravine.  I was refilling water out of the river that flows out of the ravine and ended up lying half in/half out of the water as I reached in.  Luckily it was the end of our day and my backpack took the brunt of the cold plunge!

If someone were to get hurt, staying warm is essential. I pack the following to ensure warmth in an emergency:

  1. Small bivy
  2. Down knicker pants 
  3. 5+ sets of hand warmers 
  4. Extra gloves
  5. Warm down jacket

If there is avalanche danger or a recent avalanche triggered:

  1. Standard beacon
  2. Snow Shovel
  3. Probe

Wound care supplies:
Ski edges and crampons are sharp. I have only had to use the clotting bandages for when dogs get hit by skis - please be careful about dogs in the backcountry!
  1. Tourniquet
  2. Clotting bandage, gauze, wrap.   

Navigation and Tracking:

     1. Garmin InReach is essential for finding one's way in whiteout conditions, activating emergency response with the “SOS” button, or enabling a loved one to see and keep tabs on your location.  

Kaylee Lettau, Thru-Hiker, Sustainable Gear Expert and LNT Master Educator, Portland, OR

When I was descending from the summit of Mt. San Jacinto, I got separated from my group and I slipped off trail due to poor snow conditions. I slid down the side of the mountain about 40 feet into a tree well!  The uphill angle was not steep enough for me to be able to use my ice axe, but the snow was slippery enough that I needed 4 points of contact.  So my ice axe was on my pack and I had my trekking poles out. When I slipped, I tried to self arrest with my trekking poles, but that didn't work and they slid out of my hands. I got tangled up in some downturned branches and got pulled into a melted out tree well. 

When I stood on the ground the snow was over my head! Amidst the fall, I lost a few items out of my pack but I didn't lose my medkit or my poop kit. I knew that I needed to get back onto the trail where someone would be able to meet up with me and hike out. I searched through my remaining supplies for something that I could use to dig myself out and I came across my poop shovel. I used my tiny “The Duce 2” shovel to dig out hand and foot holes and climbed out of the tree well and back up to the trail. 

Once on the trail, I used my Garmin InReach to let my family know what happened and that I was ok. Taking stock of my injuries, which turned out to only be superficial scrapes and bumps, I rinsed my scraped palms with clean water and waited for another hiker. In a group of four, we descended the rest of the way down the snowy path until we got to solid ground and I met back up with my party. I had hoped I would not need my emergency supplies on the trail, and I also never thought I would use my poop kit to get me out of a deep well of doo doo.

I have two emergency kits: one for summer backpacking and one for winter sports. My intention for these kits is for them to work in tandem with my everyday items like water filtration and bathroom kits. 

Backpacking Kit

A bright red water resistant first aid bag that contains the following:
  1. Garmin InReach
  2. A small container of Unscented Badger Balm 
  3. Diva Cup & a small reusable panty liner
  4. Nail clippers
  5. Tweezers
  6. A safety pin 
  7. 2 Hair ties
  8. A hair pick 
  9. 2 Gear repair tape pieces
  10. Essential medicines: Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Imodium, Zyrtec, Benadryl, AZO UTI tablets 
  11. An EpiPen (one goes in my emergency kit and one goes in my fanny pack. I always carry two)
  12. Small lighter
  13. A small tube of Ayr saline nasal gel
  14. 2 large and 2 small bandaids 
  15. A small container of castille soap

Winter Sports Kit

Everything in my backpacking emergency kit plus the addition of the following items:

  1. Emergency beacon 
  2. Avalanche probe
  3. Avalanche shovel
  4. Spare pair of gloves
  5. A set of hand and feet warmers 
  6. Multitool 
  7. Emergency blanket