What to look for with Ski Touring Skis.
As with all things ski touring, the first question is 'how much do they weigh?'. As you'll be spending hours pushing or carrying the skis uphill is is very important that they are not too heavy. When ski touring you will often encounter the full range of snow conditions from powder to breakable crust with ice and crud along the way, this means that it is important to choose a ski which can handle the full range of conditions, not just the pristine powder. This, along with the fact that you will be traversing mountain sides and sidesliping steep sections etc, means that you want a ski with good edge hold. Edge hold depends on a lot of factors but some important ones are; turn radius, don't go too short, a short radius ski will have less edge in contact than a long radius ski. The short radius ski might be easy for quick edge to edge turns on the piste but it can be hard work keeping your height when traversing and the tips are prone to nose diving under crust. Aim for 16m too 20+ m, with around 19m being optimum for most people. Ski stiffness, stiffer skis transmit your weight along more of their edge, improving the edge hold and they are better at punching through chopped up crud, they can take more effort to ski though! Softer skis are good for people with a light build or wanting a forgiving ski that is good for developing off piste skills rather than for hard charging. Underfoot width, because you're looking for performance in a range of conditions the general rule is don't go too wide. Lightweight wider skis don't usually edge too well and can be hard work on icy, steep terrain. We think that for most people in classic European touring conditions 85mm to 100mm is best, you can happily go wider if the snow is soft but be carefull if its icy! Profile, Big rockered skis have less edge in contact so can be less good on traverses and ice than more cambered skis. I prefer a bit of tip rocker (20% ish) with good camber and a flatish tail, the flat tail is better for fitting skins, cutting blocks and planting as an anchor. Watch out for twin tips as they can be tricky to fit skins to.
If you would like more info on skis see our guide to buying skis article here or give us a call.