Backcountry ski touring is blowing up, so now’s the time to snag your gear—before demand outpaces supply. A light, smart ski-touring setup lets you ditch the crowds and earn your turns on the hill of your choice, whether in the backcountry or at a resort. And once you free yourself from lift lines and skied-out conditions, you might never go back to hot laps and overpriced après again.
Build Your Foundation With These Key Pieces
Dynafit Blacklight 88
All-rounder touring skis should inspire confidence in a wide variety of terrain and conditions, and the Blacklight 88 overdelivers on that aim in every way. Tuned by expert athletes for optimal speed and responsiveness, this mid-fat tourer features a core of ultralight yet super-strong paulownia wood with a top layer of unidirectional carbon fiber. That high-end construction makes for great stability at speed despite the light weight. Fast on the way up and incredibly versatile when gravity’s on your side, the Blacklight 88 also sports proportional sidecuts, and tip and tail rockers for each size, guaranteeing ideal effective edge length no matter your height or ability. 2.5 pounds, 123-88-111 (172cm).
Dynafit ST Rotation
Low-profile alpine touring (AT) bindings like the ST Rotation are designed to free your heel for the climb up, and to then lock it in place for the ride back down. The extremely tough and durable Rotation’s two graduated heel jacks, which you can easily flip up to match your ascent angle, allow you to stay level and comfortable as you make your way up the mountain. And once you’re up top, the heel piece rotates for lock-in and downhill performance. Ski-touring pioneer Dynafit makes these bindings as safe, reliable, and easy to use as possible. Just make sure your DIN—with a binding tension up to 10 or 12 in this model—matches your weight and experience.
Looking for a frame-style binding that lets you free your heel with standard alpine boots (or older AT boots with no toe inserts)? Check out the Tyrolia Adrenalin 14 [$450; tyrolia.com] or Marker Baron EPF 13 [$380; marker.net].
Fischer Travers CS
The Travers CS nails the most desirable qualities in a backcountry touring boot: big comfort, high performance, low weight, and impressive durability. With a range of motion topping 80 degrees in climbing mode, the ease of movement can make you forget how light these boots are, at just 34.6 ounces (for size 26.5). A BOA lace system ensures a dialed fit for max comfort, while the carbon-and-aramid sole provides torsional stiffness for increased control and power transfer, allowing you to jam as well on the descent as the ascent. And a sneaky but standout detail is Fischer’s Somatec footbed design, which slightly flares your stance for better edge control (and knee comfort over long hauls).
Round Out Your Ski-Touring Kit With These Top Picks
BCA Hybrid Climbing Skins
With 65 percent mohair/35 percent nylon construction, these skins make for an ideal mix of grip on the climb, glide on the slide, and multi-season durability, plus their hybrid glue stays tacky, peels easily, and can be quickly cleaned to restore tackiness.
G3 Via Carbon
These light but tough telescopic carbon poles feature sturdy aluminum clamp levers and soft ergonomic grips within a harder structure, which is topped with a utility tab for on-the-fly binding and boot adjustments.
BCA Float 22 Avalanche Airbag 2.0
If you’re really going deep and off-piste, be smart: Take an avalanche-safety course and and get an avy bag like the Float 22, which deploys a large head-and-shoulders airbag via a trigger-pull located on the backpack strap. Critical accessories sold separately are the must-have Float 2.0 Air Cylinder [$200] and the entry-level T2 Avalanche Rescue Package [$365], which includes the Tracker2 beacon and the collapsible Stealth 270 probe and B-1 EXT shovel.
Fjallraven Keb Touring Trousers
These water- and wind-resistant, breathable touring pants offer great fit, feel, and performance for alpine travels, with strategically placed stretch fabric for ease of movement, reinforced knees and butt, venting zips, and ample stash pockets. Plus they just look great and are made with organic and recycled materials.
The WangM jacket was designed with ski touring in mind, when you want comfortable performance during long, steep ascents. Beyond its soft yet waterproof feel and light weight, it features breathable, three-layer Gore-Tex Infinium, a built-in face mask, a beacon/tracker chest pocket, and stash pockets for your skins.
Mitts usually get too hot when you’re skinning up, so the full-fingered Camber’s mix of goat leather, pleather, and water-resistant knit panels provides the perfect mix of warmth, dexterity, breathability, and toughness. Plus they’re easily worn under or over sleeves, depending on your style of jacket.
POC Fornix Spin
With its full adjustable ventilation, the Fornix Spin allows for great touring versatility: wide open for those aerobic climbs and sealed up for chilly descents. It’s also reinforced for ample protection and stability while being lightweight.
Smith 4D Mag
Whether you’re in the backcountry or cruising a resort, maximum visibility in mixed terrain and conditions is crucial. The 4D Mag’s field of vision extends and curves below your line of sight, offering a noticeably bigger and better view of your surroundings, plus you can easily swap out the stellar lenses depending on light conditions.
Ibex Woolies Tech 1/4 Zip
The briefly defunct Ibex brand is back, and among their early offerings are incredibly comfortable, itch-free merino wool base layers, perfect for staying warm on the move without overheating, as well as wicking sweat, breathing better, and stinking less than anything else we’ve tested.
Smartwool PhD Pro Freeski Socks
Merino wool already makes for highly breathable socks that stay warm even when wet, but the PhD Pros add athlete-developed, ski-specific design to this magical recipe. The details address every aspect below your knees, with contoured cushioning at the shin and ankle, flat seams in the toe box, and a secure fit. Enhanced durability and stretch come courtesy of interwoven nylon and elastane.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL
At an insanely light 6.7 ounces, this water-resistant, ripstop puffy jacket is stuffed with ethically sourced, extremely high-quality 1000-fill goose down, which translates to incredible warmth in an easily packable, featherweight package. The slim profile lets you deploy it as an outer or mid-layer, depending on the conditions, and a hood helps insulate your head when the mercury really drops.
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