Ski touring | Dec 20, 2021

A beginner’s guide to ski touring

What you should know
ATOMIC
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You love snow, nature and outdoor sports? Then ski touring might be the perfect activity for you to try. Unsurprisingly, this type of winter sport has become immensely popular. After all, it allows you to experience the snow-covered mountains from a different perspective, far away from the hustle and bustle. You get to enjoy all the untracked powder and breathtaking views – but without the lift queues and the crowds.

Sounds tempting? If you would like to try the trend sport yourself, we have a few useful tips for you. Together with the ski touring experts of ATOMIC, we have compiled a comprehensive beginner’s guide to ski touring.

What should you know before your first ski tour? What skills do you need, and which gear should you get? Read on to find out!

What level of fitness do I need?

If you ever saw a ski tourer skinning up a mountainside you will probably have guessed: Ski touring can be quite challenging.

While you don’t have to be a marathon runner to be able to master your first ski tour, you should have a basic level of fitness. Ski touring is an endurance sport that takes a certain degree of stamina. To get fit for ski touring, we recommend aerobic sports such as running, cycling or hiking. These sports will help you to boost your cardiovascular fitness.

What’s more, it’s a good idea to work on your flexor and extensor muscles to improve knee stability. Some helpful exercises to do that are:

  • squats
  • wall sits
  • lunges

Our tip: Go slow! This applies to route selection as well as pace. Start with shorter, manageable routes before moving on to longer ones. Plus, skin up the mountain slowly and steadily instead of trying to keep up with others!

What skiing skills do I need?

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Do you know the saying “what goes up must come down”? Well, in case of ski touring, the same is true for you, meaning that you will have to be able to get down the mountain you just skinned up.

As you might have guessed, this requires good skiing skills. You should be able to ski down red and black runs comfortably before trying ski touring. It also helps to have some experience with off-piste skiing, ideally in poor visibility.

Which gear do I need?

Tackling your first ski tour with your alpine skiing gear? Not a good idea! The equipment needed for ski touring is different to that used for alpine skiing. That’s why you should invest in high-quality ski touring gear before getting into the sport.

Our tip: You don’t want to shell out on professional equipment yet? No problem: Simply rent your ski touring gear from INTERSPORT Rent! The advantage: You can try different products before settling on your favourites to buy.

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A basic ski touring set consists of:

  • touring skis with skins (such as ATOMIC’s Backland 85, Backland 85 W, Backland 95 or Backland 98 W)
  • ski touring bindings (such as ATOMIC’s Backland Tour)
  • ski touring boots (such as ATOMIC’s Backland Sport or Backland Expert W)
  • adjustable ski touring poles (such as ATOMIC’s BCT Touring SQS or BCT Carbon SQS W)
  • a helmet (such as ATOMIC’s Count XTD)
  • ski goggles (such as ATOMIC’s Count 360° HD)

Our tip: Don’t make the mistake of going ski touring with your usual ski jacket! Ski touring usually involves a lot more activity, requiring you to dress in layers. That’s why you should pick special ski touring clothes such as ATOMIC’s Backland Infinium Jacket or Backland Infinium Pant (available for women and men).

Do I need an avalanche kit?

If you start out with on-piste ski touring, you don’t need any additional avalanche equipment. However, as soon as you venture off the groomed slopes, carrying safety gear is an absolute must! A basic avalanche kit consists of

  • an avalanche transceiver
  • an avalanche probe
  • an avalanche shovel

Our tip: While you may not need it for your first couple of on-piste ski tours, an avalanche course becomes a potentially lifesaving investment as soon as you hit the backcountry.

How do I get started?

Your first ski tours should be mainly about having fun and getting a feel for the sport. You don’t necessarily need a guide or instructor to accompany you, just ask along a friend who has some ski touring experience.

Having said that, ski touring will be a lot more fun if you have mastered the technique. Gliding steps, kick turns, climbing aid adjustment … there’s a lot more to ski touring than just hiking up a mountain on skis.

To learn the right technique, you can watch online videos before your first ski tour or ask experienced friends for their tips. Most of it is basically learning by doing. However, if you want to get it right from the start, special ski touring courses are the best way to go. During the multi-day courses, you will learn the right skinning technique and find out about avalanche safety and other important aspects of ski touring.

© ATOMIC
© ATOMIC

Should I first try on-piste ski touring?

Yes, you should! Before you have mastered the technique and gained more experience, you should stay close to the slopes, preferably accompanied by experienced friends.

A number of ski resorts offer skinning lanes that make it easier to skin up the mountain without getting in the way of alpine skiers. On-piste ski touring offers several benefits:

  • You’ll be safe from avalanches.
  • It gives you the chance to familiarise yourself with your equipment.
  • It’s easier to ride down groomed slopes than steep backcountry runs.
  • There’s no danger of getting lost.

Our tip: Ski touring trails and ski touring parks are perfect places to practice your technique in a safe environment.

Anything else I should consider before my first ski tour?

Practice makes perfect – and it starts right at home! Before your first ski tour, you should take the time to practice using your equipment. Try to put on your skins, to step into your bindings and to adjust your heel raiser. This can help you to prevent unpleasant surprises on the mountain.

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INTERSPORT Rent tip

You’re all excited about going on your first ski tour? Then you should definitely drop by at INTERSPORT Rent and have a look at our top-class rental equipment for ski touring!

Browse our vast selection of touring skis, accessories and clothing and benefit from helpful expert tips from our RENTertainers on site! What are you waiting for?

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