Choosing a Ski Setup

We spent a lot of time advising people about which different models and combinations of skis, boots and bindings to buy for various types of backcountry skiing. Obviously, each skier is different, so this is open to quite a lot of variation - as much depends on your ski ability, skiing style, weight etc and also what other kinds of ski holidays you plan to use the kit for.

However, it usually comes down to 3 common backcountry ski setups - each optimised for a different ratio of time spent going up, to time spent going down! These are as follows:

1. A dedicated lightweight touring setup - for multi day ski touring holidays.

2. A mid weight all round 'one-ski-for-all' setup - for touring and resort use.

3. A lightweight freeride setup - for lift assisted  backcountry skiing and day tours.
Clearly, there are many variations to consider in each category and numerous other good skis etc on the market - so to help refine your choices, we give plenty of detailed product information on our site, or just give us a ring on 01943 816011, or come over to the shop for a chat.
1.  Lightweight Touring Setup
This is the kind of setup that's ideal for a week long hut to hut tour such as skiing the Haute Route, but for maximum versatility we recommend you buy skis that are still ok for occasional resort use too. For a dedicated lightweight ski touring setup, weight is clearly a big consideration - as you spend far more time each day skinning up than skiing down. Having said that, for most people the main reason for going up is to enjoy skiing back down again - so our key advice is: don't go too light on the skis.
We say this because nowadays you can buy excellent wider bodied touring skis that weigh ~2.5-3kg and ski brilliantly in all the conditions you are likely to encounter on a longer tour - whereas if you go much lighter than this, you'll find a considerable drop off in ski performance, which you will need to make up for with better technique (ie you may see various guides and locals skiing on narrow or very light skis, but for the majority of British ski tourers it makes far more sense to ski on something a bit more substantial!)

The other side of the coin is that we recommend you don't buy too wide a ski; as although there are some very light-but-wide skis out there, these usually don't ski very well in anything but powder and are a nightmare in tricky/tight terrain, on firm spring snow, or in icy skin tracks etc - ie they're not a versatile choice for multiday touring in the European Alps.

Recommended setup:
Above - mens lightweight touring setups
  • Skis (front to back): Rossignol Seek 7, Volkl VTA 88 lite, Dynafit Speed 90, Blizzard Zero G 95
  • Boots (front to back): Scarpa Maestrale 2.0, Scarpa Alien RS, Scarpa F1 EVO
  • Bindings (front to back): Fritschi Vipec EVO, Marker Alpinist, Dynafit Superlight 2.0

Above - womens lightweight touring setup
  • Skis (front to back): Atomic Backland WMNS 85, Rossignol Seek 7, Scott Superguide 88 W's
  • Boots (front to back): Scarpa F1 EVO W's, Scott Celeste, La Sportiva Starlet
  • Bindings (front to back): Fritschi Vipec EVO, Dynafit Superlight

2.  All Round Resort and Touring Setup
This is the kind of one-ski-does-it-all setup that's suitable for a resort or off piste holiday, as well as a weeks touring. The key difference here is that you'll need a more substantial freeride binding - ie one that's strong enough to take  1000s of metres of downhill skiing each day in a resort.

If you want to keep things at the lighter end of the spectrum (ie better for that annual hut to hut tour) then simply mount some freeride bindings onto one of our 'beefier' lightweight touring skis and pick a ski mountaineering boot that fits you well and you're done.

If you are a heavier skier, or want a bit more float and punch for charging around resort - then go for a lightweight 'all mountain' ski similar to the ones shown below and pair that up with either a beefier ski mountaineering boot, or a dedicated freeride boot. Just remember that the freeride boots aren't as good for skinning long distances in though, so you'd be well advised to tape your feet up at the start of any longer tour in order to prevent blisters if you go down that route.

Recommended setup:
Above - mens all rounder setups
  • Skis (front to back): Black Crows Camox Freebird, Faction Prime 2.0, Scott Slight 93, Salomon MTN 95, Dynastar X96
  • Boots (front to back): Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120, Scarpa Maestrale RS 2.0, Technica Zero G Guide, Scott Cosmos III
  • Bindings (front to back): Salomon Shift, Fritschi Tecton, Fritschi Freeride Pro

Above - womens' all rounder setup
  • Skis (front to back): Dynastar Legend W88, Dynastar Legend W96, Black Crows Orb Freebird
  • Boots (front to back): Scott Celeste, Scarpa Gea 2.0, Scarpa Gea RS 2.0, Dynafit Beast W
  • Binding: Frischi Tecton, Salomon Shift, Fritschi Freeride Pro

3.  Freeride and Day Touring setup
This is the kind of setup that  is ideal for blasting around resorts and making boot tracks/shorter tours in search of fresh lines, or for longer days skiing deep snow and backcountry freeride activities.  NB If in reality you mostly ski off piste around resorts, with only the odd skin into the backcountry, then you will be better choosing a heavier ‘resort’ freeride ski than the lightweight ski options listed below – as full weight freeride skis are more durable and perform a bit better in typical resort conditions.

However, if you do regularly head out into the backcountry in search of powder and bigger lines, then there are now a great range of wider bodied freeride skis available that have been lightened up for precisely this type of skiing. Likewise, freeride boots are getting lighter each year and tech pin insert freeride bindings are now well established – which means significant weight savings all round.

Recommended setup:
Above - mens lightweight freeride setups
  • Skis (front to back): Atomic Bent Chetler 100, Rossignol Soul 7 HD, Black Crows Corvus Freebird,Black Crows Atris
  • Boots (front to back): Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120, Scrapa Freedom SL, Salomon QST 130 TR, Dalbello Lupo AX 120
  • Bindings (front to back): Salomon Shift, Fritschi Tecton, Marker Kingpin, Fritschi Freeride Pro

Above - womens lightweight freeride setups
  • Skis (front to back): Dynastar Legend X96,Volkl 90eight W, Black Crows Atris Birdie
  • Boot (front to back): Scarpa Freedom SL WMN, Lange XT Free 110 LV W, Technical Cochise 105 WMS, Salomon QST Pro 110
  • Bindings (front to back): Salomon Shift, Fritschi Tecton, Marker Kingpin, Fritschi Freeride Pro