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THE ABCS OF SKI TOURING:
HOW TO START SUCCESSFULLY

How are the BLACKLIGHT touring skis so light and stable?

Climbing-oriented ski tourers focus most on lightness and maneuverability, while those who are downhill-oriented focus on wider skis that have good float in deep powder. For those ski tourers who aren‘t partial to up or downhill touring, these skiers will want a ski with moderate weight and a waist of somewhere between 80 and 95 mm. Choosing the correct ski length relies mostly on personal ability and where you plan to use the skis at. 

Touring Skis

SKI TOURING BINDINGS

When it comes to bindings, there are two different systems you can pick from: frame bindings and pin bindings. With frame bindings, your boot is secured to a connecting plate between the toe piece and heel unit. It must then be lifted with every step you take and can be locked out for the downhill. In contrast, with pin bindings the boot is secured directly to the ski using two lateral holes at the toe of the boot called an insert and corresponding metal pins at the toe piece. The heel unit of the binding remains on the ski and the boot itself moves freely, which in result saves weight and is significantly more comfortable on the climb. In addition to frame and pin bindings, there are also hybrid bindings available that rely on a combination of pins and an alpine heel unit.

SKI TOURING SKINS

Ski touring skins are the piece of equipment that you stick to the bottom of your skis for the climb up the mountain to avoid slipping backward. At the same time, skins must also allow you to slide forward and up the mountain so the climb isn’t too intense. Aside from the types of stick your skin has, there are also hooks, clips and wires that are clamped on or to your skis to hold the skin in place. When it comes to creating the skins, most brands utilize mohair, which is the hair of the Angora goat, or a blend of mohair and synthetic. What is important when deciding which ski skin is right for your skis, is making sure that the ski skin totally covers the ski base but leaves your edges free.

SKI TOURING BOOTS

Ski touring boots have a ski/walk mechanism that offers freedom of movement on the climb, which enables a more natural, energy-saving walking technique. For the downhill, this mechanism can be locked shut, which then secures the boot to the foot. As with touring skis, you can also differentiate ski touring boots as either downhill- or climbing-oriented models. For climbers, the boots that they desire are very light, flexible and comfortable, while downhill enthusiasts focus on secure stability. In choosing ski touring boots, it is essential to pay attention to compatibility with the chosen binding – especially with the pin system or hybrids.

POLES

This winter, it‘ll be be hard to avoid the sport of ski touring. For many years, the activity has experienced a boom and especially now during the coronavirus pandemic, ski touring will see even more growth. Experts estimate that globally, approximately five million people will partake in ski touring this season, two million of those people being in Europe. But how does this endurance sport really work, and what gear do you need to head out properly on a tour?

Ski touring poles are essential on any tour. They are light, durable and, as a rule, longer than normal ski poles. They are often adjustable to match the length to a slope’s grade or to be able to adjust them to a shorter length for the downhill. A comfortable grip with good hold is also important. For poles to have enough float in deep snow, ski touring poles have a large basket. In addition, they feature a claw-shaped tip for secure traction on rocky sections.

PERFORMANCE APPAREL

Snow and below freezing temps, or sunshine and  t-shirt weather - conditions for your ski tour can change a lot from the bottom to the top in very little time. You will also sweat a bit on demanding climbs, then quickly find a chill on the downhill – there is no constant temperature on a ski tour!  

SAFETY GEAR AND AVALANCHE SCIENCE

Safety is an enormously critical topic for ski touring enthusiasts. If you ski off-piste in the backcountry, it is critical to take avalanche safety courses to learn how to avoid avalanches and learn what to do in case a rescue is necessary. Safety equipment, such as an avalanche transceiver/beacon, shovel and prob, as well as a first-aid kit always should be in your pack. However, carrying these things with you isn’t efficient or effective in the backcountry if you don‘t know how to use them. So, before each tour you should make sure all of your safety equipment is working and check the avalanche conditions report and the weather forecast.  

SKI CRAMPONS, PACKS AND MORE

In icy and difficult snow conditions, ski crampons, a.k.a. crampons for ski tourers are a must-have. These can be attached to the skis when more grip on snow is needed, or when you´re climbing and don’t want to slip on frozen surfaces. For safety on the downhill, you must have a helmet in your pack. If you head out into the backcountry, you should also have navigational gear – a map and compass or GPS device. In addition, we also recommend that you have sunglasses or goggles, gloves/mittens, and cap or headband.

For your first touring attempt, we recommend trying it out near groomed runs. Many ski areas now have ski touring parks, designated times for uphill or marked touring climbing routes for tourers of all skill levels. More information on how to make the beginning of your ski touring hobby easier can be found here:

More than 70% of touring bindings sold today utilize the pin system, which was introduced to the market by DYNAFIT more than 35 years ago. 

 

TIP FOR SKI TOURING NOVICES

The rule of thumb for sizing your touring skis is to take your height and subtract 10 cm.

The base layer, which is next-to-skin, should have a performance property that ideally regulates your body temperature, wicks away sweat, and at the same time ensures that you do not overheat. Worn over your baselayer, is your midlayer, which should be a warm, insulating jacket that you can put on and take off easily.  The last layer you need is an outer layer, which is either a softshell or hardshell jacket or pant to protect you from wind or any other types weather.

To be well-equipped for various conditions, you need to focus on the materials of your layers and dress yourself appropriately.  

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