What is Backcountry Snowboarding?

Backcountry snowboarding is riding basically anywhere outside of the resort. This type of riding often involves heading deep into the wilderness to escape the crowds and find fresh powder. It’s riskier than resort riding, but the rewards are often worth it. 

I’m an avid snowboarder who lives for the snow. I love to get out in the backcountry as often as possible. I know what backcountry snowboarding is and what is involved with this style of the sport. 

This post will explain what backcountry snowboarding is. I’ll tell you some important things to consider if you want to venture away from the resort and highlight why the extra effort is worth pursuing. 

Let’s get after it. 

Backcountry Snowboarding Explained

The quick definition of backcountry snowboarding is any type of riding that occurs outside of the resort. But there are several different types of backcountry riding, and part of its appeal is that you can access challenging terrain that is out of reach for most people. 

A lot of backcountry riding occurs in areas near a regular resort that aren’t accessible by the chair lifts. If you see a gate at the resort that mentions it’s backcountry access only, this means you are free to go ride it, but you won’t have a way to get back up aside from your own two feet. 

To access backcountry terrain, snowboarders will either hike, splitboard, use snowmobiles, or even ride helicopters. Hiking and splitboarding are the most common types of backcountry snowboarding.

When you want to hike, all you need to do is attach your snowboard to your back and start marching uphill. When you get to the top of the slope you want to ride, you strap in and ride back down. 

Splitboarding can be a little more efficient and allow you to reach further out backcountry terrain. A splitboard is a snowboard that splits in half. You use it like skis to tour uphill and then attach it back together when you want to come back down. 

Snowmobiles and helicopters allow you to access some of the best backcountry snowboarding in the world. But this is typically only available to professionals or people who have a lot of money because it can be really expensive. 

Backcountry Safety

Whenever you head into the backcountry, you need to make sure safety is your number one priority. There are no ski patrollers or warming huts in the wilderness, and you will be a long way from any help if you happen to get injured. 

Carrying avalanche safety equipment and understanding avalanche behavior is a must for every serious backcountry rider. Snowboarders die every year in the backcountry because of avalanches, and they are nothing to mess around with. 

You also never want to venture into the backcountry alone. There is safety in numbers, and riding with others can very literally save your life. If you or a friend gets trapped in an avalanche, your only chance is to be dug out quickly.  


Here are a few short answers to some of the most commonly asked questions relating to backcountry snowboarding. 

How do you backcountry on a snowboard? 

There are a few different ways to go about backcountry snowboarding. You can hike into the wilderness with your board attached to your back. You can also use a split board that allows you to climb uphill, similar to skis, and then snowboard back down. 

Is backcountry snowboarding illegal? 

Usually, backcountry snowboarding isn’t illegal unless it is on private property. You always want to make sure that the area you plan on riding in is safe and accessible in case of emergencies. But you can snowboard on most public land in the backcountry. 

Who is the best backcountry snowboarder? 

There are many highly skilled backcountry snowboarders out there, and it’s hard to say who is the best because there isn’t one way to quantify this. Travis Rice often gets put on top of the best backcountry snowboarder list, but there are other close contenders.

Final Thoughts

Backcountry snowboarding is a fun and exciting version of the sport. It involves heading off into the wilderness and finding fresh tracks away from the crowds at the resort. 

If you are going to backcountry snowboard, make sure you stay safe at all times and bring avalanche equipment with you just in case.

About Lorraine
I'm a certified snowboard instructor. My first experience with snowboarding occurred at an indoor resort. One run had me hooked, and it has turned into a lifelong passion ever since then. I'm here to share with you some of the tips and advice I have learned along the way.

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