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  1. #1
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    Building a Touring Setup - I have no idea what I'm doing

    Hi guys,

    I live in Colorado. I've always only skied resorts. I ski off-piste 95% of the time - powder, bumps, trees, small poppers, small cliffs, I like steep stuff but there's not a lot of it here. I've never touched the backcountry, but I would get into it quickly - my neighbors are backcountry guides and would take me out to all the terrain around Steamboat. From what I can tell, a lot of the backcountry up here is lower-angle. Lots of powder. I envision myself never using this setup in-bounds and spending full days in the backcountry when I go out.

    Do I go ultra-light? Do I go beefier sidecountry? Do I do light pin bindings with an in-bounds ski? Touring-specific ski? Shifts? Do I do a 50/50 boot or a dedicated touring boot? What bindings should I be looking at? What width skis should I be looking at? Can I get skis that will do well in the powder and then be good enough in springtime touring? Can you ski light touring boots as hard as in-bounds boots? Can you ski pin bindings as hard? Do you ski as hard in general in the backcountry?

    I've tried to glean as much as I can from reading all the threads, but I still have no idea what I should actually be looking for. Please educate me!

  2. #2
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    That must be everybody now?
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  3. #3
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    13 years on the forum and you can’t figure it out?
    ďLife has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.Ē
    Hunter S. Thompson

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Core Shot View Post
    13 years on the forum and you can’t figure it out?
    The explosion of non-specialized, quiver-killing, 50/50 gear has me scratching my head.

    Also I took a 12-year sabbatical.

  5. #5
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    Pin bindings. Light, but not ultralight. Salomon mtn, or comparable.

    Touring specific ski. Base the ski choice on the conditions you'll mostly tour for. Touring for pow? Get a pow ski with a tour layup. Mostly aiming for spring corn? Something narrower. A bit of everything? Get a ~105 width ski.

    Buy the boot that fits. Don't go too light if you want it to ski well. There are a number of boots in the 1300 - 1500 gram category that both walk and ski well.

  6. #6
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    Not touring specific ski, hey a ski you like, under 2000 grams

    Sent from my Redmi Note 8 Pro using Tapatalk

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    Pin bindings. Light, but not ultralight. Salomon mtn, or comparable.

    Touring specific ski. Base the ski choice on the conditions you'll mostly tour for. Touring for pow? Get a pow ski with a tour layup. Mostly aiming for spring corn? Something narrower. A bit of everything? Get a ~105 width ski.

    Buy the boot that fits. Don't go too light if you want it to ski well. There are a number of boots in the 1300 - 1500 gram category that both walk and ski well.
    Thanks for the actual answer, toast. I've seen a lot of pros on the 'Tubes using regular skis for their touring adventures - like Cody and Nikolai Schirmer. What's the reason to still go with full tour layup?

  8. #8
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    Depends on how and what you ski inbounds, I can't recommend a width ski if I don't know what you normally ski.

    That said, if you are low angle-powder, and are not doing huge vert, I'd do pin bindings with a dedicated touring boot but not go super light. Get a BC ski, aka light one, but around 100 width for float. You can ski low-angle pow in fresh conditions pretty hard with light set-ups. When things got manky or hardpacked I hated my super-light and floppy BC skis and upgraded to something beefier but nowhere near as beefy as my inbounds set-up. That's me though.

    Your neighbors probably could give better advice than any of us.

  9. #9
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    Light boots, light bindings, whatever skis you want.

  10. #10
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    like Cody and Nikolai Schirmer
    Think you'll be skiing the same terrain as those guys? If so then maybe it's worth a heavier ski. Sounds like you'll be skiing low angle pow, you can go really light and ski that just fine.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jvhowube View Post
    Thanks for the actual answer, toast. I've seen a lot of pros on the 'Tubes using regular skis for their touring adventures - like Cody and Nikolai Schirmer. What's the reason to still go with full tour layup?
    Because you are not Cody or Nikolai, and on top of that they are skiing fast for the camera not meadow skipping for fun in Steamboat.

  12. #12
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    Backcountry socks too
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  13. #13
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    I ski Moment Wildcat 184 and Black Crows Camox 181 in-bounds. I like skis on the more playful end of the spectrum (I like getting airborne), and skis with progressive mount/feel.

    I've been looking at the Kore 105, Wildcat 108 Tour, Bentchetler 100, Black Crows Atris as potential skis for the touring setup...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jvhowube View Post
    Hi guys,

    I live in Colorado. I've always only skied resorts. I ski off-piste 95% of the time - powder, bumps, trees, small poppers, small cliffs, I like steep stuff but there's not a lot of it here. I've never touched the backcountry, but I would get into it quickly - my neighbors are backcountry guides and would take me out to all the terrain around Steamboat. From what I can tell, a lot of the backcountry up here is lower-angle. Lots of powder. I envision myself never using this setup in-bounds and spending full days in the backcountry when I go out.

    Do I go ultra-light? Do I go beefier sidecountry? Do I do light pin bindings with an in-bounds ski? Touring-specific ski? Shifts? Do I do a 50/50 boot or a dedicated touring boot? What bindings should I be looking at? What width skis should I be looking at? Can I get skis that will do well in the powder and then be good enough in springtime touring? Can you ski light touring boots as hard as in-bounds boots? Can you ski pin bindings as hard? Do you ski as hard in general in the backcountry?

    I've tried to glean as much as I can from reading all the threads, but I still have no idea what I should actually be looking for. Please educate me!

    Honestly this is a bit like asking a general audience "What type of restaurant should I go eat out at, and what should I order?" You could likely ask 10 different people on the forums and get 12 different answers. That said - a few general thoughts here:

    1. If you plan on using this setup full time touring, do not get a quiver-killer or 50/50 setup. Those compromises, while meaningful for a small demographic of users, always end up in the "jack of all trades, master of none" category. It sounds like you want a pure backcountry setup, so why bother with a 50/50? Save the resort skis and boots for the resort. Get an ultralight, powder-chasing setup that can manage crud or chop or sastrugi well enough, but is optimized for moving fast (and light) in the mountains. You'll ski way more powder and your legs will thank you for it.

    2. Shifts suck. I'm a little biased here (they cost me $10k in surgery bills last year), but they have issues with pre-releasing, and they're super shitty to tour on. Do not go that route if you plan on using them any more than 20% of the time in the backcountry. Seriously. Do anything but shifts.

    3. Get pin bindings (light ones at that), and a boot with a great walk mode. There are so many awesome pin bindings out there right now, but in general, I'm a huge fan of ATK, Hagan, and the Black Diamond Helio line (which are ATK's). To that end, I'd recommend BD Helio 200's as an all-purpose, bomber backcountry binding.

    4. Boots - while it IS true that you will encounter all sorts of conditions in the backcountry, you're mostly there for the powder. You don't need some 2kg beef boot for most conditions - you can get away with a lighter, better walking boot that is survivable when conditions are rough. I would shoot for under 1.5kg/boot (ideally lighter), and find something that fits your feet well. There's a spectrum of boots from ultralight to "light beef" that I would consider; Dalbello Lupos, TLT8's, Dynafit Hojis, Scarpa Alien RS's, Fischer Travers Carbon... in that short list there is incredible variance, so again, it's like asking what you should eat tonight. Something you like? There are tons of good options out there, it just depends on what you want to prioritize. I would recommend, broadly, that light is right.

    5. Skis - If you're going for the "quiver of one" route in the backcountry, then I'd look at something between 90 and 105 underfoot. Again, that's a fairly broad range, but skis like the Tecnica ZeroG 95 are super popular in this category. Also worth mentioning - Down LD90's (my daily driver), DPS Wailer99 in Tour1, and about a half dozen others. Lots of really good options here, so find a shape that you like at a weight that you can walk with. I'd shoot for under 1800grams/foot with your ski + binding combo, but that's just personal preference. Others on here might say that anything under 2500g/foot will ski like shit, so YMMV.


    Hope this helps. Hit me up if you have any specific questions that I can answer.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNWbrit View Post
    Backcountry socks too
    That's super funny!! Thanks for contributing!

  16. #16
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    Dec 2005
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    2,059
    do an avi course, buy all the avi gear, learn how to use it, buy a ski that's close to your in bounds powder day ski, put tectons on it, find the best fitting pin boot that is going to give you the best ski performance (most touring boots suck for actual skiing) so if you're going up to primarily go down
    don't ski your pin boot and binding at the resort
    what's orange and looks good on hippies?
    fire

    rails are for trains
    If I had a dollar for every time capitalism was blamed for problems caused by the government I'd be a rich fat film maker in a baseball hat.

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tgapp View Post
    Honestly this is a bit like asking a general audience "What type of restaurant should I go eat out at, and what should I order?" You could likely ask 10 different people on the forums and get 12 different answers. That said - a few general thoughts here:

    1. If you plan on using this setup full time touring, do not get a quiver-killer or 50/50 setup. Those compromises, while meaningful for a small demographic of users, always end up in the "jack of all trades, master of none" category. It sounds like you want a pure backcountry setup, so why bother with a 50/50? Save the resort skis and boots for the resort. Get an ultralight, powder-chasing setup that can manage crud or chop or sastrugi well enough, but is optimized for moving fast (and light) in the mountains. You'll ski way more powder and your legs will thank you for it.

    2. Shifts suck. I'm a little biased here (they cost me $10k in surgery bills last year), but they have issues with pre-releasing, and they're super shitty to tour on. Do not go that route if you plan on using them any more than 20% of the time in the backcountry. Seriously. Do anything but shifts.

    3. Get pin bindings (light ones at that), and a boot with a great walk mode. There are so many awesome pin bindings out there right now, but in general, I'm a huge fan of ATK, Hagan, and the Black Diamond Helio line (which are ATK's). To that end, I'd recommend BD Helio 200's as an all-purpose, bomber backcountry binding.

    4. Boots - while it IS true that you will encounter all sorts of conditions in the backcountry, you're mostly there for the powder. You don't need some 2kg beef boot for most conditions - you can get away with a lighter, better walking boot that is survivable when conditions are rough. I would shoot for under 1.5kg/boot (ideally lighter), and find something that fits your feet well. There's a spectrum of boots from ultralight to "light beef" that I would consider; Dalbello Lupos, TLT8's, Dynafit Hojis, Scarpa Alien RS's, Fischer Travers Carbon... in that short list there is incredible variance, so again, it's like asking what you should eat tonight. Something you like? There are tons of good options out there, it just depends on what you want to prioritize. I would recommend, broadly, that light is right.

    5. Skis - If you're going for the "quiver of one" route in the backcountry, then I'd look at something between 90 and 105 underfoot. Again, that's a fairly broad range, but skis like the Tecnica ZeroG 95 are super popular in this category. Also worth mentioning - Down LD90's (my daily driver), DPS Wailer99 in Tour1, and about a half dozen others. Lots of really good options here, so find a shape that you like at a weight that you can walk with. I'd shoot for under 1800grams/foot with your ski + binding combo, but that's just personal preference. Others on here might say that anything under 2500g/foot will ski like shit, so YMMV.


    Hope this helps. Hit me up if you have any specific questions that I can answer.
    +1 for all of this. And don't sweat people splitting hairs here ("light but not too light" bindings, but recommending the MTN? can you honestly tell the difference between a MTN and an ATK when skiing? you absolutely cannot)

    Boots with good walk mode are the most important thing imo. Try them on. Don't listen to people who recommend boots in the MTN Lab / Maestrale / Lange Tour category because of its "great walk mode" but have never skied something in the Alien RS / Travers / TLT category, they are just talking shit. Don't waste your money on tech bindings with brakes or fancy shit (Tecton, Vipec, Radical ST, etc etc etc) it's just extra shit you don't need. If you can live with a ~8 RV, you can ski basically any binding, and there are a lot of them and some of them can be had pretty cheap if you look around. If your boots have a good walk mode, you probably don't need a high heel riser. If you're going to go "heavy" anywhere make it the actual ski. But 2kg/ski for a pure touring setup is absurdly heavy imo.

    Remember that the TGR demo skews tall, fat, old, and inbounds. The "minimum possible ski to even think about enjoying" for a 6'3" 225lb guy who skis 125 days a year inbounds and tours 5 is gonna be vastly different than for the 5'10" 150lb guy who skis 125 days in the bc and 5 inbounds. Me and tgapp are the latter style of guy. Most people here will be the former.

  18. #18
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    You should go into your local shops and chat with them. You should also talk to the people that you'll be touring with about what they use and why. There are a lot of different philosophies here and no right or wrong ones. I'll give you answers based on my personal preferences but these are by no means the only right way to do things:
    (Edit to add per mall walkers point about demographics above - I'm mid 30s, ski about 50 days/year, with about 75% of those in the backcountry, 5'9" 145lbs).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jvhowube View Post
    Do I go ultra-light? Do I go beefier sidecountry? Do I do light pin bindings with an in-bounds ski? Touring-specific ski? Shifts?
    I personally dislike how most ultralight skis feel so my preference is to go with a moderate weight ski and a fairly light pin binding. "Inbounds ski" or "touring ski" is pretty much marketing jargon and I wouldn't pay much attention to it. My go-to touring skis generally weigh around 8-9lbs per pair for the ski; much lighter than that and I find you start to have to sacrifice ride quality.

    For bindings, I've been gravitating towards moderately featured bindings with no brakes - I currently own G3 Ion LTs, Salomon MTN Pin, and Dynafit Speed Radical, but there are a number of other players in this category now. I don't see a point in Shifts or similar if you are not skiing in the resort unless you are hucking big, are the type that breaks bindings or needs a very high release value, or have major issues with the ski feel of pin bindings (more on that below).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jvhowube View Post
    Do I do a 50/50 boot or a dedicated touring boot?
    Again these categories are mostly marketing jargon. I go with a boot that's reasonably stiff and walks reasonably well. Currently that's an Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130, previously it was a Scarpa Maestrale RS. Fit first, how they ski second, how they tour third, weight fourth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jvhowube View Post
    What bindings should I be looking at?
    Depends on what you want out of the binding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jvhowube View Post
    What width skis should I be looking at? Can I get skis that will do well in the powder and then be good enough in springtime touring?
    I tour most of the winter on 128mm underfoot in Colorado, I find a nice wide ski that floats really well is nice for the low angle powder we often find ourselves skiing in CO. However I have different skis for spring. For a single setup rig, I'd target around 105-115mm underfoot. Whatever characteristics you like in your inbounds skis (damp, poppy, progressive mount, traditional mount, tail rocker, flat tail, etc.) you will probably tend to want in a touring ski as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jvhowube View Post
    Can you ski light touring boots as hard as in-bounds boots?
    No. Although it depends on the boot. I find my Atomic XTD 130s ski about 85-90% as powerfully as my Dalbello Scorpion 130 race boots. My Dynafit TLT6Ps, however, are like a different sport entirely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jvhowube View Post
    Can you ski pin bindings as hard?
    Depends. Traditional pin bindings lack the toe elasticity and heel forward pressure of alpine bindings, and thus do not perform exactly like an alpine binding. In soft snow, I find that the differences are minimal. Or firm or variable snow, the toe will transmit a lot more feedback from ski to boot, and the heel can feel vague and disconnected. That's the main advantage of the beefier bindings like the Shift, Duke PT, Kingpin, Tecton, Dynafit Radical 2.0, etc. over the lightweight bindings I use. To varying degrees, they have features that make them feel more like an alpine binding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jvhowube View Post
    Do you ski as hard in general in the backcountry?
    No. First, especially in Colorado, we are limited most of the winter on the terrain we can access by avalanche conditions. You want to ski steep powder, go to the resort, you ain't doing that in the CO backcountry very often. Second, the consequence of injury in the backcountry is much higher than the resort as you don't have the safety net provided by ski patrol and quick transport to definitive medical care. Dial it back and ski within your ability in the backcountry.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  19. #19
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    Don't forget a powder skirt!

  20. #20
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    Awesome thanks for all of this guys - super useful.

  21. #21
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    Iím about three seasons into backcountry adventures. My current setup is Tecnica Cochise 130 (which I love for both touring and inbounds), Blizzard Rustler 11 with CAST 2.0 and g3 skins. I love all of it. The CAST setup weighs a bit more but Iím also carrying a 192 Rustler 11 up the hill, I didnít choose lightweight. The Cochise has lasted me through 4 seasons of 30 plus resort days and 10-15 backcountry days. I recently had an issue with going from walk to ski mode and the boot not holding on, sent em in to Tecnica and they fixed them for free.

    Just make Ake sure to factor in the cost of all of the Avalanche gear. That is the MOST important thing about backcountry as well as an AIARE one course. Plenty of people I know have purchased the setups without any other gear or experience and either risks their lives going with inexperienced people or risk the lives of others.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mall walker View Post
    Remember that the TGR demo skews tall, fat, old, and inbounds. The "minimum possible ski to even think about enjoying" for a 6'3" 225lb guy who skis 125 days a year inbounds and tours 5 is gonna be vastly different than for the 5'10" 150lb guy who skis 125 days in the bc and 5 inbounds. Me and tgapp are the latter style of guy. Most people here will be the former.
    Yes, this point on demographics is 100% accurate. Mallwalker and I tour primarily, which means walking, and no matter how strong or fit you are, you'll always benefit from lighter gear. I started my ski touring career with a heavy, "good-skiing" setup. It took me a number of years to realize that for all the talk about "forward elasticity" and "toe rotation", none of that mattered for 95% of the conditions I encounter. Are there times when I wish I had a better binding or a beefier ski? Of course. But why optimize for the exception rather than the rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated
    I tour most of the winter on 128mm underfoot in Colorado, I find a nice wide ski that floats really well is nice for the low angle powder we often find ourselves skiing in CO. However I have different skis for spring. For a single setup rig, I'd target around 105-115mm underfoot. Whatever characteristics you like in your inbounds skis (damp, poppy, progressive mount, traditional mount, tail rocker, flat tail, etc.) you will probably tend to want in a touring ski as well.


    I agree with this advice, but I think touring on a 128-underfoot ski as an extreme outlier. Most people will fall between 95-105 in Colorado and Utah.
    Last edited by tgapp; 02-12-2020 at 01:24 PM. Reason: formatting

  23. #23
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    Seems to be a general consensus on the bindings and boots. Any of the simple pin bindings without brakes etc, and some boots under 1500g that fit well and have decent ROM. For the skis people are a bit more divided. A one-ski quiver for the colorado backcountry would be about 105mm underfoot imo. But then you fall into that jack of all trades master of none trap. Not wide enough for mid winter and too fat for couloir season. I say if you're touring for low angle pow shots around steamboat, go fat and light. Voile v8 comes to mind, and in the regular layup they are actually quite a bit more sturdy than other touring specific skis. Deathwish tour would be another good one. Fatter skis float quicker at slower speeds (flatter terrain), and will make skiing sun baked afternoon hot pow a lot more enjoyable.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by tgapp View Post
    I agree with this advice, but I think touring on a 128-underfoot ski as an extreme outlier. Most people will fall between 95-105 in Colorado and Utah.
    Outlier yes, extreme no. Most of the people I tour with regularly are skiing midwinter on 110mm+, all of us have been touring for well over 10 years. More than a few use 120mm+ regularly.
    It's worth noting that none of us are the "get as many laps in a day" types. My day to day life is busy enough, I go touring to slow down, relax, enjoy the mountains and time with friends, and get some great skiing in too. I don't live/work close enough to the mountains to dawn patrol so I'm rarely constrained by time. If I cared about getting that extra lap, I'd ski lighter/narrower stuff. Additionally we definitely ski much lower angles much more frequently in CO than in UT - wide skis matter less when you have the pitch to get speed up for a narrower ski to float.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  25. #25
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    I always wonder if people with super-light gear are very good skiers who can get away with their gear because they are more than anything well-balanced on their skis, and athletes, or are they skiing so slow that super-light gear is fine because they make the same small pendulum turn over and over for 5000'? 99 percent of time it's the later, no judgement, but I wouldn't take any advice from someone you haven't skied with. Hopefully though we point you in a solid direction.

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