I've got about 40 days in the backcountry this season alone. Hundreds over the last six years. It's where I prefer to ride. Resorts are such a junk show, that the only reason I go to one is typically to access the slackcountry or ride with my lady. Otherwise I'll hit the bc.
Backcountry varies by region. Out on the east coast, most people that go out in the backcountry don't carry beacons, shovels, probes, etc, and for most areas they don't really need them. Emergency provisions, first aid, sure, but avalanches are not really a problem. That changes in a few spots, such as Mt Washington, the 'dacks, and the Chic Chocs. There is serious avalanche danger at those spots and you should have gear and knowledge. I'm sure there are some other ranges that have dangers out there, I am just not familar with them.
Burrito is pretty spot on. You need to have a partner. It helps to find someone that is experienced and will take you under their wing. Lack of that, find a reliable partner, read a book, go take a level I course. Then you can put that knowledge to practice, the more effort you put into your education the more you will get out of it. You also have to be willing to go out some where and turn around and leave. I've had around 6 missions, where I hiked for miles to get to an area, only to walk away because of the red flags we were getting. Sucks to put all that sweat and effort only to get skunked. Better to live to ride another day.
Fortunately, that is more the exception than the rule. Learning how to travel safely in the bc opens up a huge world to you. I've got 10X the terrain open for me to explore without the shit show that is the resorts. Trips to other place suddenly become a whole different dynamic, when you don't have to rely on a chairlift to get your turns. Riding in the backcountry, especially if you have touring gear (splitboards) really becomes a brotherhood. If you can show knowledge and respect for the terrain, it is very easy to meet people at spots that are new to you and travel with them. I had a great day my first time in the bc around Little Cottonwood Canyon. A teleskier couple invited us to tag along on their tour and we made fantastic turns and had a great time with new friends. The skier/snowboarder bullshit that can exist at resorts, just doesn't out there. Sure some people may have a notion that boarders aren't fit for the bc, but most of them change their mind after you put in the same effort they do and then rip turns with them. I think I've seen that once.
It's a different game for sure. Ski patrol isn't right there to scrape you up if you get hurt. There is a much higher chance that you can get killed if you make stupid decisions. So you need to learn how to make sound decisions. EVERY single avalanche accident this year, happened because someone made a bad decision. Every one of them. In fact you can look back at reports for every accident recorded and find the mistake. This doesn't mean you or I won't make one, but look back at them an learn. Some of them are things you would have never of thought of until you read about it. It's all about stacking the odds in your favor. The only sure fire way to survive an avalanche is to never get caught in one. That is what I strive for.