What Gear to Buy For Backcountry Skiing | UNITED STATES, WYOMING | 09/15/2008, by HotChocolate
Here are some suggestions about how to choose backcountry/Alpine Touring (AT) skis, boots, bindings, poles, skins and a backpack.
Backcountry skis cost $300-$1000.
In general, touring skis should be more lightweight than alpine skis intended for use at ski resorts. Since you'll be searching for powder, you will probably want shorter, fatter skis that will float well. Ideal backcountry ski dimensions are something like: Tip 125 mm / Underfoot 95 mm / Tail 113 mm. If you plan to ski in conditions other than powder, you might want more of an all-mountain carving ski. If you plan to heli ski in Alaska, go as big and fat as you dare!
AT boots cost $500-$800.
Once again, Alpine Touring boots are
significantly less heavy that alpine boots for resort skiing. However, you can expect to notice a
significant difference in skiing performance if you choose ultralight
boots. Some skiers prefer more
comfortable lightweight models and choose to sacrifice skiing performance (most
of these boots will have only 3 buckles).
Other skiers will suffer through uphill travel, choosing to lug stiffer
and heavier boots that perform better on the downhill turns (These boots will
generally have 4 buckles.
We also suggest finding a boot that has a wrap around liner,
rather than the classic tongue.
AT bindings cost $180-$600.
In this case, performance doesn't require choosing a heavier model. Dynafit TLT Vertical FT bindings are very lightweight and they ski better than many heavier competing models. However, they are slightly more expensive and they require Dynafit compatible boots. All AT bindings on the market today are significantly more user friendly than models even 5 years ago. At the same time, all AT bindings have plenty of potential for improvement.
Backcountry Ski Poles cost $30-$150.
It's entirely possible to use traditional alpine ski poles in the backcountry. As a luxury, many touring enthusiasts purchase lightweight carbon models that have adjustable lengths. In different situations, it can be helpful to shorten your uphill pole while traversing, lengthen both poles while skating, or shorten both poles and attach them to your backpack.
Backcountry Climbing Skins:
Backcountry climbing skins cost $100-$200.
Choosing climbing skins is largely a matter of preference. Glide, Grip, Glue, weight and attachment mechanism are all things to consider.
A Backcountry Skiing Backpack will cost $50-$250.
A backcountry ski backpack needs:
1) a way to attach your skis and
2) enough space to carry avalanche safety gear, extra layers, extra food and water.
It's nice to have a pack with
pockets to keep everything organized.
When it's cold outside, you'll want to find what you are looking for as
quickly as possible. Weight vs
Durability is a matter of personal preference.
Helpful Hint: It's often possible to buy AT skis, boots and bindings as a significantly discounted package deal!
For tips on purchasing Avalanche Safety Gear (Beacons, Probes, Shovels, etc), click here.