Essential Gear for Ski Touring

Ski touring, AT skiing, ski mountaineering, randonee … whatever you call it, getting into the backcountry on skis is becoming more and more popular and other are getting Canada ski packages.

The idea of escaping into nature and away from the crowds—and enjoying untouched snow—may sound really good, but where do you start? There are two essential components, education and gear. We’ll tackle the equipment question in this article; you can learn how to get an education in backcountry safety here.

But before you consider what equipment you’ll want to acquire, think about where you’ll be skiing, how you plan on skiing, and the type of terrain you’ll most often encounter while skiing. The difference between a ski-mo/randonee racing rig (super lightweight, designed more for speedy ascents) and a sidecountry rig (resort-friendly and not intended for a lot of skinning) is vast. While often-heard logic of “light is right” will generally hold true for most touring setups, the balance of lightness and fun is crucial and largely dependent on your end goal. A heavier setup will likely require at least one solo rest day in the hut during your five-day tour while the rest of the crew is slaying; similarly, a race rig will leave you sinking and wallowing on the deepest days of the year. Remember, you’re aiming for fun—don’t let peer pressure or bargains steer your decision.

Below is a list of the essential gear you’ll need to head out on your first ski tour. Always remember, however, that no gear is substitute for training and experience—take an avalanche safety course and practice regularly with your avalanche beacons before heading into backcountry ski terrain.


Any downhill ski can theoretically be set up for use in the backcountry, but alpine touring skis designed specifically for backcountry use usually feature lighter weight designs that make hiking uphill drastically easier.

Backcountry/alpine touring/ski mountaineering skis (the terms are used interchangeably) range from super-svelte trekking and racing styles focused primarily on uphill mobility and speed, to more freeride-focused models that offer the same massive dimensions and innovative rocker profiles as the newest inbounds powder skis. Many backcountry skis offer touring features like notches in the tip and tail for attaching climbing skins. Along with low weight comes some sacrifice in another areas, usually in the ski’s ability to remain damp and chatter-free on hard snow or to resist impact damage to the base and edges. So if you’re not planning to spend the majority of your time hiking for untracked lines, you might be better off sticking with a “resort” ski.


Skins are pre-cut or ready-to-cut sections of plush material that stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to travel uphill without sliding back down. This is because they have a ‘nap’ that helps grip the snow in one direction, and glide in the other.

Skins are made of mohair, synthetics or a synthetic/mohair blend. Synthetics are durable and grippy, while mohair skins glide with superior speed and efficiency, but may not grip as well as synthetics. Skins with a blend of mohair and synthetic offer a balance of these qualities.

Clips at the tip and tail and a sticky, non-permanent glue compound keep a skin attached to your ski. Most skins use clips that will universally attach to any ski, although pre-cut skins are often designed to interface with holes or notches in particular models of ski.

Some skins are manufactured to fit specific ski models. If one is not available for your ski, you’ll need to buy a skin that’s longer and wider than your ski at its widest point (usually the tip) and trim it to fit. Most skins ship with an easy-to-use trimming tool and instructions.


Backcountry touring bindings allow the heel to move freely off of the ski while you’re skinning uphill for an easier, more natural stride. When it’s time to ski down, the bindings lock down in the heel. There are several types of touring bindings: low-profile, lightweight tech bindings that are only compatible with AT boots with dimpled tech inserts, frame-style AT bindings that are compatible with traditional alpine boots, and hybrid bindings, which are a blend of the two.

Ultralight and minimalist by design, tech bindings (originally developed by Dynafit, now available from several brands) only work with ski touring boots with tech-compatible heel and toe fittings. This binding style places a premium on stride efficiency and low weight, rather than adjustability or downhill performance. These bindings didn’t historically feature traditional DIN adjustment, but new options like the Dynafit Beast Binding are indicative of big mountain skier’s desire to adopt tech bindings.

Frame AT bindings accept boots either with traditional alpine soles or lugged AT soles. In general, they feature a frame that encompasses the boot that can be released for the ascent and then locked down for skiing. Downhill performance of many of these frame bindings is comparable to that of standard alpine bindings. However, this advantage comes with increased weight—which will be felt on the skin track.

Hybrid bindings accept boots with tech-compatible toe fittings, but typically have a traditional alpine heel piece. New options such as the Salomon or Atomic Shift binding offer the tech toe piece for the superior uphill performance, but then morph to offer a standard alpine toe cup for superior downhill performance.

Other things to look for in touring bindings include heel risers or climbing wires that can give you a boost under your heel for climbing steep hills. Brakes aren’t standard on some ultralight tech bindings, but can be purchased separately, as can add-on crampons that help with traversing treacherous terrain.


Touring boots feature a walk mode that allows the cuff to pivot freely for better range of motion when you’re hiking and skinning. They also usually include aggressively lugged rubber soles and lightweight shell material, all of which make the alpine touring boot suitable for gaining altitude. A carbon cuff or tongue, lightweight plastic shell, minimalist buckle design, or honeycomb structure help reduce the weight of an AT boot so you can move faster and feel less fatigued during a long tour. The newest generation of AT boots is highly attuned to downhill performance as well; these boots may be slightly heavier.

Be sure you are getting boots that are compatible with your bindings. A true alpine touring boot’s rockered sole is generally only compatible with pin-style tech bindings and some frame AT bindings that feature an adjustable toe height. Some traditional alpine ski boots, however, can be fitted with removable sole blocks (sold with boots or available separately) to make them swap-able between alpine, frame AT and pin-style AT bindings.

Like traditional alpine boots, AT boots cover a range of flex ratings. Stiffness benefits you during the descent, but it might cause you pain on the skin track—consider whether you prefer superior comfort or performance. A boot’s flexibility on the walk or skin up will also be affected by the range of motion on the walk/ride hinge.


Backcountry ski poles are essentially the same as your regular ski poles, but they ideally will have an adjustable or collapsible design to adapt to changing terrain. For example, you may want them longer than normal for flat terrain (so you can swing them like cross-country poles), and shorter when you’re ascending steeper terrain.

Now that you have your equipment assembled, what else do you bring along? It will depend on how long you expect to be out and how far you are going, among other things. There are, however, some things you shouldn’t leave home without.

Backcountry Ski Pack

A good backcountry ski pack is tough, offers a means of carrying your skis if you need to, a mid-sized capacity, and a sleeve or compartment that’s made specifically to hold your shovel, probe and other avalanche rescue tools for quick access. Beyond that, you may be interested in extras like hydration bladder sleeves (just make sure you have an insulated tube) and extra attachment points or compartments for things like your helmet (which you may rather not wear on a sweaty ascent).

At the very least your backpack should allow quick and easy access to your shovel and probe, but some backpacks may help save your life. The first avalanche packs to hit the market with survival features were Black Diamond’s Avalung packs. These feature a system which lets you breathe under the snow and give your partners additional time to dig you out if you’re lucky enough to live through the ride in the first place. Since then, a slew of companies have come out with backpacks featuring airbag systems. If you find yourself in a slide, you pull the oh-crap handle and an airbag deploys to increase your mass and help you stay on top of the debris and minimize your chance of trauma and burial. Neither of these backpacks will guarantee you survive being caught in an avalanche, but they’re much better than nothing.

Avalanche Beacon

Beacons are absolute necessities. Without one you cannot search for someone who was buried in an avalanche, and no one can find you. Some beacons have a lot of bells and whistles, but as a beginner the most important thing to look for is easy and intuitive use. BCA’s Tracker beacons are tried and true entry-level beacons that are ideal for beginners.

However, no matter how simple your beacon may be to use, you need to practice until operation is second nature. Grab some friends, go out in the snow, and bury some packs with beacons in them to practice your search skills. When things go south and lives are on the line, people don’t rise to the occasion, they fall back on their training. Beacons are computers, and computers are only as smart as the people operating them.

When choosing a beacon, there are a number of things to look for, including number of beacons and range. Two or three antenna beacons have quickly become the norm due to their improved distance and directional sensitivity; the three-antenna design is a further improvement that helps to reduce signal spikes when doing close, precise searches. And the greater a beacon’s range, the more likely it is to be able to receive a signal early in the search process.


The classic winter tool is a necessity in the backcountry as well—your shovel is used to dig test pits for snow-pack analysis and to excavate other skiers in the event of an avalanche.

A plastic blade isn’t strong enough to dig through concrete-hard avalanche debris. Aluminum is the only choice for safety in avalanche terrain. Some blades offer a serrated edge or pointed shape for extra digging power. Blade size is also a factor; those with larger blades will move more snow, but are harder to manage.

You can choose between shovels with fixed-length shafts and adjustable shafts; A fixed-length shovel is lightweight and makes for easy storage in a backpack, but a shovel with an adjustable-length shaft gives you the potential for more leverage so you can move a lot of snow quickly. Some shafts feature extras like saws or probes stowed inside, to save space in your pack.


A lightweight folding pole between nine and ten feet long, an avalanche probe is used in an avalanche rescue scenario to probe the snowpack for buried skiers once you locate their general position with an avalanche beacon, enabling you to zero in with accuracy that a beacon can’t provide. This leads to less digging time and a faster recovery, which can save lives.

Puffy Jacket/Extra Insulation Layer

The layers you bring along and/or wear will vary greatly depending on the weather, but even on a bluebird day, having a good warm puffy in the bottom of your pack is always a great idea. Weather can change quickly and if an injury occurs in your group, keeping the person warm will be that much easier.

Extra Gloves

Gloves are a crucial piece of equipment and you’ll need a few pairs—bring a thin fleece pair for skinning up, a midweight leather pair for skiing and transitioning, and an insulated, fully waterproof pair in the bottom of your pack for storm days or challenging weather.


This may be totally obvious to the more food-oriented person, but it’s an easy thing to overlook. Skinning to a ridgetop can be sweaty work, so you want to be sure to bring along enough water to avoid dehydration. Likewise, you don’t want to run low on fuel, since you’re likely going to be burning a lot of calories. Even if it’s nothing more than a PB&J or a couple of bars and packets of gel, make sure you have a means of boosting your energy so it’s there when you need it.

Emergency Essentials

The items in your emergency kit will come down to personal preference, but a good multi-tool with a knife, duct tape, a headlamp, a lighter, and one or two adjustable ski straps makes for a great start.

But everyone has their own list of necessities, one that develops out of experience. For example, I now always take a small thermos of hot water on hut/yurt trip approaches. When, after a long slog on the skin track with 50lbs of gear on your back, you find a frozen-solid padlock protecting your shelter from the quickly declining weather conditions in the fading light, your touring partners will celebrate you as a savior  when you warm the frozen lock with your magically hot water. Point being—experience is the real teacher, and I learned this one the hard way.

Above all …

You may be all kitted out, but once again, we can’t emphasize enough: know before you go. The most important things you bring into the backcountry are knowledge and good judgment. Good judgment keeps you out of trouble, and knowledge may save you if your judgment comes up short. Unfortunately, judgment only comes from experience.

So, how do you live through the learning curve? You cannot start backcountry skiing with experience, but you can start with some knowledge by taking an avalanche 101 course. Ideally, your first trip into the backcountry with your new gear should take place with an avalanche instructor. If that’s not possible, make sure you’re heading to a safe, low-angle zone with a friend who knows what he or she’s doing and is willing to teach you. Then take a course as soon as you possibly can.

Above all, enjoy! A new world of experiences awaits.

Traveling Is Interesting And Exciting

No matter whether your trip is spontaneous or the result of careful planning, a little planning can make the whole trip a lot more enjoyable. The information in this article will help you gain a better travel experience. When you’re done heli skiing Canada adventure, the beauty of British Columbia is the number of world-class ski resorts just nearby – such as Revelstoke, Fernie and Whistler.

Create a list for your trip!

If you have to have a vaccination in order to get into a particular country, make sure you have the certificate verifying you have been vaccinated. If you don’t have your certificate, they cannot verify you have received any vaccinations and you may be quarantined.

You can use them to keep doors closed as well.

When traveling with young children, make sure to bring things to keep them entertained along the way. Bring toys and hassle. You may want to purchase a new item for this trip to bring some novelty to the adventure and ensure more time is occupied by the toddler.

Avoid rush hour traffic when travelling by car. If you are unable to avoid rush hour entirely, stop for a meal or a stretch break. This is the optimal time to grab a bite.

Find out if you need a visa to enter the country you are travelling to. It is a good idea to apply for a visa months before you have to travel, so it is a good idea to apply for your visa far in advance of your expected departure date.

Cash in traveler’s checks before going shopping or eating. Be safe and make sure you may see that you don’t get shorted.

You should buy a National Parks Pass if you visit them often. They only cost $50 and remain good for one year at any national park.

Take lots of breaks when driving with small children. Breaks may offer you time to stretch your legs and use the bathroom. Getting a small child out of cars here and there can help them avoid motion sickness. It may be a longer trip, but the trip will be a lot less stressful.

You can also write on the mirror. You can do this because dry-erase markers will easily erase them from your hotel mirror.

Try to get the “local” rate at the “locals”. A lot of hotels give special prices just to fill up their rooms. If you know a local in your destination, contact them too see if they are aware of any special deals. This could save you a bit of money.

Road trips can get very boring unless you have activities along the route. Breaking things up your trip can create memories that will last a lifetime. Provide your children with a copy of your activities.

Don’t forget to pack your kids car seat when you hire a road trip.Chances are that you will not get a high quality car seat with a rental car, the ones a rental car agency will provide would be of low quality and very uncomfortable for a long drive.

Always bring a contact case handy when you are out and about. You can fill these with a little gel or lotion inside to last through the entire bottle with you.

If you know there won’t be a place to easily exchange currency once you land in your destination country, exchange a few dollars before your trip begins and wait until you can locate a bank at your destination to swap out the remaining cash you need.

Be careful when receiving any emails you receive for travel deals.

Make sure that you are aware of what the airline’s policy is for carry-on policy. Most airlines let you bring a small suitcase and a laptop bag on board.Take full advantage of that policy and ensure you have everything you may need with you at all times!

Sometimes the only thing wrong with these rooms is a hotel will classify a room as being out-of-service for minor cosmetic needs.

If you have some flexibility in your travel dates, do so in order to get deals. You may find that there are special rates that are specific to these dates and you can save money by this way.

Do not panic if your luggage is not there when you get to your destination. Find the lost luggage claims center, keep your travel documents and passport on hand and complete all required paperwork as instructed by the baggage department personnel. Most of the time, your luggage will be found and reunited with you as quickly as possible.

When packing for a journey, think about choosing dark clothes, especially for dresses and slacks. Dark clothing can be more travel-friendly because it hides dirt and minimizes the appearance of wrinkles, both of which are a normal part of extended travel outside of your home environment. You can add small pieces of color with accessories to give your outfits a more cheerful appearance.

Travel light to keep that you do not have to tote extra baggage. Just bring what you will really need when traveling.

Pack with your scheduled destinations and activities in mind, and plan your itinerary when you are going on a trip. Efficiency ensures a good trip that is both fun and enjoyable.

Know your airport code. Your luggage will have the code on the bags so they go to the right place.This can prevent lost and delays.

You should roll your clothes when packing to make everything fit easier and prevent wrinkles. This is a more space that you can use to pack other things. This should help bring less luggage on your trip.

As previously stated, whether you travel a long way or a short way, you can plan things out to enjoy your trip. If you want to reduce your stress levels and feel better about your trip overall, take the advice found here to heart.

Travel Without Trouble By Using These Tips

No matter how experienced you are as a traveler, each trip is different, there are always many decisions to make. If you are armed with information about the travels you are interested in taking, the process will be much easier. The following article is filled with helpful hints and tips on traveling for travelers to use. Ski Canada is an amazing adventure for married couples having their anniversaries.

Don’t take any unnecessary valuables that you don’t need.

Be aware of certain food allergies when going to a foreign country to avoid dangerous liaisons. If you are allergic to certain foods, it is a good idea to learn some words for food in the native language. This will give you to communicate to others what foods that you have an allergy to so that they can be kept out of your meals.

The less you carry with you, the less chance you will have of losing valuables or risking having them stolen.

If you have to drive a distance to the port to get on a cruise, always find a hotel that offers free parking and arrive the night before. Ask the staff at the hotel where you stay about parking deals.

There are many pet friendly hotels and even have facilities for them as you head out to explore.These range from pet-friendly cruises to cat spas and doggie day care centers. You can being your pets with you; you just need to be certain they are allowed.

The price per unit for these small products is ridiculous. Try folding your luggage space instead. These techniques will help you to pack more in a smaller space.

Travel can be a great way to educate your family. As long as you’re cautious, you should feel confident about visiting developing nations, as they can offer extremely enlightening experiences for your children and you.

Join forums and social networks. Getting connected with fellow travelers is a great way to get prepared for your trips. This will put you in a group of people who share experiences to avoid making their mistakes or missing some great spots on your own trip.

A desert contains beautiful vegetation and animals that often are not seen anywhere else.

Sleeping pills or tranquilizers can help you get through those long red-eye flights. It is often hard to get much rest on airplanes, given the cramped seating, and the uncomfortable seats. Try taking sleeping pill might help get you some rest on a long flight if you have trouble falling asleep otherwise.Don’t take these prior to takeoff, as a delay or problem may require that the plane returns.

Always look at the expiration dates on your passports. Different areas of the world have different passport regulations. Some countries won’t allow you into their country if your passport is about to expire.

Use environmentally responsible services that are environmentally friendly to have an ecologically responsible trip. A number of hotels have linen reuse programs, recycling bins, put recycling bins out for guests to use, low flow plumbing, and feature plumbing with low flow. Tour companies, restaurants, auto rental companies and other service providers are looking for innovative ways to let travelers go green.

Jet lag is an all too common problem when traveling across time zones. While it cannot be avoided, you can minimize the effects by sleeping a bit more during the days leading up to the flight. You should also try to sleep during the flight.

Road trips are boring unless you have activities along the way. Breaking up the same old thing with things instead of meal and bathroom breaks can create memories that will last a lifetime. Provide children with a list of your intended itinerary and route so that they can follow along.

Hotel walls can be very thin at times. A reliable pair of earplugs can filter out excess noise and give you a restful night’s sleep.

If you run into issues in your plans, it can be frustrating. You may not be able to get the rental car you want or flights may be delayed. The discussion is between you and an employee that likely did not make the agent in charge. Make sure that you work to solve the problem, otherwise it can quickly escalate into a major issue.Keep your cool and stay polite. This will generate the best results for an easier resolution and less stressful trip.

Don’t put your little one by the aisle seat on a plane.Make sure there is another adult between them and the aisle and your child. Children are naturally curious and could harm themselves if they reach into the aisle while a cart is coming through. They won’t run off as easily if you are in the aisle.

Be honest when you buy travel insurance. Let the provider know if you are sick.You’ll be stuck with all of the bill yourself.

Make sure you allow yourself ample time for checking out of the hotel. Many hotels charge a steep fee if you not check out of the room by a specific time. Always allow yourself enough time to check out.

Travel by bus to avoid hefty baggage fees. While buses have much small fees for larger and heavier bags, there is usually a much more relaxed policy when it comes to the amount of luggage you bring. You can also bring large items without paying a large fee.

Make sure you understand the carry-on policy. Most airline allow passengers to carry a small suitcase in addition to a personal bag or purse. Make sure you take advantage of this to ensure all your important things with you!

Take note when taking your dogs on a road trip, give them a quick brushing before getting in the car. This will get the dog hair that ends up in the car.

There are some overwhelming decisions to be made when planning to travel. However, once you are equipped with the right travel information and advice, you will be able to plan an amazing trip quite easily. Use the tips listed in this guide and you will surely be able to make great travel plans.