Mandatory Gear

The GORE-TEX® Grand Traverse is an unsupported backcountry ski race. The equipment racers carry into the backcountry is crucial. Each team must be independently prepared for a 24-hour bivouac. Due to the length of the course, varying conditions, and the number of racers, all participants must be prepared to be self-supporting in any and all situations.

Mandatory Equipment will be checked during the Gear Check process of Athlete Clearance on Thursday or Friday.  For important information about gear check, see the Athlete Clearance page. Both team members must be present during this process for teams to be cleared.

Random gear checks will occur prior to the race start and the top 5 teams finishing in each category (Men, Women, Co-Ed), and other teams chosen randomly, will have their gear checked at the finish.

This is a self-supported race. Racers will be disqualified if they accept outside support. If racers lose their equipment, they cannot rely on other racers, Race Staff or volunteers to locate it.

Questions concerning gear may be emailed to

Download Gear List as PDF

Important Gear Considerations:

The race travels more than 40 miles, beginning in the dark, through alpine terrain following an un-groomed route.  Teammates must be capable of erecting a temporary shelter in minutes.  Light gear may enable racers to travel faster, but it is more prone to failure.  If racers break their gear, they must fix it.  The race will not provide evacuations for racers with broken gear.  Most importantly, the following list is the essentials required on course, however racers should exercise their own backcountry sense as to what supplementary gear they may wish to carry.


Individual Gear – EACH PARTICIPANT must carry this gear:

Each racer is required to provide valid proof of Search and Rescue coverage.  Participants may pre-purchase a Colorado Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card online through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.   Participants with a valid Colorado hunting/fishing license, boat, snowmobile or ATV registration are already covered by the fund, but must also provide valid proof at check-in.

Skis – Skis of any type can be used.  Minimum length of 150cm.  At least 3/4 length metal edges strongly recommended.  No snowboard splitboard systems permitted.

Boots – Commercially manufactured boot with over the ankle cuffs at least 15cm tall, measured from the heel sole.  Boots must be compatible with bindings, designed for un-groomed backcountry terrain.  THIS IS NOT A NORDIC SKI RACE!

Bindings – Skis must be fitted with bindings that allow free movement of the heels for ascending.  Bindings must accommodate a ski retention suitable for ski area use.  Note: The use of a ski retention system (leashes) is mandatory on Aspen Mountain.  Each racer’s ski retention system will be checked at the top of Aspen Mountain before racers are allowed to enter the ski area and descend to the finish.

Poles – 2 alpine or cross-country ski poles.  A broken pole seriously impairs a team’s travel and many teams carry a spare pole.

Climbing Skins – Good quality, cut to fit racer’s skis and freely fixable/removable.  Skin failure can easily force a team out of the race and many racers carry extra pairs of skins and/or kick wax.

These items are the minimum to be worn or carried at all times regardless of weather. Racers should consider bringing/wearing more layers under most conditions.  In prior years, temperatures have been as low as -20F and winds have exceeded 60 mph during the race.  The race course crosses several running streams where falling into water is possible, making a spare set of socks and clothing imperative.

Helmet- Suitable for mountaineering, climbing, ski mountaineering or cycling. Helmets MUST be worn for the duration of the race.

Warm Hat

Neck & Face Protection –  Neck gaiter, balaclava or Buff.  Wind chills of -60F degrees have been calculated on the course.

Base Layer – Non-cotton top and bottom.

Insulation Layer – Jacket must be warm down / synthetic.  Pants must be warm down / synthetic or heavyweight fleece / wool.  Each team must be independently prepared for a self-supported, 24-hour bivouac.  These items are a critical part of your warmth strategy in the event of a bivouac.

Wind Shell – Jacket & Pants that are windproof & water resistant.  This is NOT your skin suit!

Extra Socks – Non-cotton.  This is in addition to socks worn at start.

Gloves – Racers must have at least two pairs of gloves or mittens.  Temperatures can vary greatly during the race and most racers carry both lighter and heavier gloves or mittens to accommodate these extremes.

Eye & Skin Protection– Sunglasses, goggles and sunscreen

Pack – Sufficient to carry the following gear

Food and Water – Minimum 100 oz of water and food to sustain you for 24 hours

Note:  Checkpoints MAY have limited water rations and should be considered only supplementary!  DO NOT rely on checkpoints for water!  This is a backcountry race with limited support and racers MUST be prepared for a 24-hour bivouac.

Headlamp – Each racer must carry at least one headlamp.  Back-up team headlamp and spare batteries are discussed under Repair Kit below.

Sleeping Pad – Minimum 20”x45”x1/2” with a minimum R-value of 2.  Closed cell foam pads and inflatable pads with a patch kit are allowed.  No yoga mats (too thin & cold).  No open cell foam mats (absorb water)

Avalanche Transceiver – Avalanche transceivers must be worn (on the body and NOT in a pack) and “on” at ALL times during the race.  Transceivers must be on the 457kHz frequency.  A transceiver check will be completed at final check-in and at various points on-course.  Failure to pass any transceiver check will result in disqualification.  Participants are advised that newer transceivers are more accurate and more reliable.  Units newer than 5 years old are strongly recommended.

Avalanche Shovel – Commercial quality, minimum blade size of 7.9”x7.9” (20x20cm).  Minimum handle length of 13” (33cm).

Avalanche Probe – Commercial quality, dedicated probe pole required.  This is not a ski pole!  Minimum length of 7.5’ (230 cm).


Team Gear – The following items can be shared between two team members:

Emergency Shelter* – Two-person shelter.
Brooks Range Ultralite Alpini Shelter 200 or the Terra Nova Bothy 2 Emergency Shelter are practical examples. The Adventure Medical SOL Bivy does NOT qualify, nor will a fly or “blue tarp” pass.  In an emergency situation, it is strongly advised that teams stay put, set up the shelter and wait for support to arrive.

Course Map – Teams must carry a waterproof map of the course. Suggested Map: Latitude 40 – 1:125,000 Scale

Compass – No electronic compasses.

Altimeter* –   Cell phone applications are permissible, ONLY with a back-up power supply and charging cable.

Stove – Commercial quality stove must be capable of melting snow in sub zero temperatures.  Solid fuel stoves (Esbit) are allowed.  Teams may be required to demonstrate the ability to melt snow at gear check-in.

Fuel & Igniter –  A full fuel container or 8 solid fuel blocks.  Matches and/or lighter to start stove.  Propane (isobutane mix) is the recommended fuel as butane is not an appropriate fuel at below-freezing temperatures.

Pot with Lid – Minimum capacity 20 oz.

Satellite GPS Messenger* – Each team must carry a tracking beacon and know how to use it.  Through online registration you have the option to either rent a GPS tracking beacon, or supply your own unit to link to our tracking application. Visit to purchase a unit.

Rental SPOT fee- $40
Rented units will be handed out during the beacon check at Mountaineer Square – Friday, starting at 10:30 PM

Linkage fee for personally owned SPOT or inReach device- $15
(must have a tracking subscription to enable linkage).

Minimum Includes:

  • Spare pole basket
  • Spare binding – (unless using Alpine Touring or Telemark gear).  Compatible spare bindings can be shared between teammates, unless teammates have incompatible systems, in which case an extra binding for each racer must be carried.
  • Binding screws – A binding ripping out of skis is not uncommon so racers are required to carry the proper repair equipment and tools. Racers will explain their strategy for repairing their binding to the judges unless using Alpine Touring or Telemark gear.  For more information, visit the FAQ page, under the Athletes tab on this website for some suggestions.
  • Multi-tool – Minimum components include knife, pliers and screwdriver (binding repair).
  • 3′ of duct tape
  • 3′ of baling wire
  • 3′ of 2mm cord
  • 1 spare headlamp
  • 1 set of spare batteries for headlamps

Minimum Includes:

  • 4 large safety pins and triangular bandage
  • 3′ of 3″ Coban (or other self-adherent elastic wrap)
  • Band-aids
  • 2  4”x4” gauze pads
  • Surgical ABD or sanitary napkins (or some means to manage heavy bleeding)
  • Any prescription meds racers require.  Over the counter pain killers if desired.

Minimum includes:

  • Alcohol swabs
  • Moleskin or second skin
  • 3 ‘ of of  athletic tape

Gear Discounts From Retail Partners




Alpineer Offers:  10% off select race related gear.






Cripple Creek Backcountry Offers:  10% Off all non-sale items on the gear list – one transaction






Ute Mountaineer Offers:
  10% Off all non-sale items on the gear list – one transaction only (multiple items ok)


  • Map

    For a downloadable PDF of the Grand Traverse Map please click here: Grand Traverse Map

  • Live Tracking


  • Course Facts

    Start: Crested Butte, CO
    Finish: Aspen, CO
    Distance: 40 miles
    Elevation Gain: 7,800 feet
    Typical Finishing Time: 8-16 hours

  • Snow Safety

    Teams of avalanche forecasters assess the route in the weeks prior to the race. Current regional avalanche conditions can be found here:

    Colorado Avalanche Information Center

    Crested Butte Avalanche Center