Ski touring, Freeride | Oct 7, 2021

Touring skis for beginners

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Untracked snow, pristine landscapes, no resort crowds in sight. Does this sound like your personal winter’s dream come true? Then it might be time for you to try ski touring! The peacefulness and tranquillity of the sport, combined with the thrill and physical exertion appeals to more and more people – and that’s not surprising.

Do you want to try ski touring this winter? Then our beginner’s guide to choosing the right touring skis might save you from unwelcome surprises. Read on to find out what to keep in mind when shopping for beginner’s touring skis. Together with the guys from ATOMIC, our INTERSPORT RENTertainers have compiled some useful tips for ski touring first-timers. Give it a go – you might just get hooked!

A beginner’s guide to choosing touring skis

The first snowflakes are falling, and you’re ready to head to the mountains for your first-ever ski tour? We feel you – but take a minute to read this article first! After all, you want to come perfectly prepared for your first ski tour, right?

Before you get started, there are a few things you should consider. Like any other sport, ski touring requires some essential skills and must-have items – make sure you can check all of the boxes before heading into the backcountry!


What do you need to start ski touring?

Uphill fitness
You don’t have to be a marathon runner to be able to skin up a mountain. However, as with any other sport, sliding uphill takes a certain level of fitness. Better start slow, find your own pace and build up from there. Because one thing’s for sure: Desperately trying to keep up with other ski tourers is not the way to an enjoyable ski tour!

Skiing skills
Obviously, being an accomplished skier helps if you want to try ski touring. After all, the prospect of a steep backcountry descent can be daunting for the best of us. However, there are numerous easy beginner routes that can also be done by non-experts. Some resorts also offer slope touring, with special skinning lanes for ski tourers. 

Safety gear
If you don’t know, don’t go! Before heading to the backcountry, always make sure you are well-versed in avalanche safety  and search and rescue techniques. Always carry the necessary safety gear (beacon, shovel and probe ) and check the avalanche report before your tour.  

The right equipment
Of course, you also need the right equipment before tackling your first ski-touring mountain. Do you already have a helmet, a ski backpack and the necessary safety gear? Then it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty – choosing your first pair of ski touring skis!


How to choose touring skis for beginners

First of all: You don’t have to go and spend lots of money on an entire beginner’s ski touring setup if you’re not even sure you’ll like the sport. At many ski resorts, you can rent top-class ski touring equipment on site – for instance at one of the many INTERSPORT Rent shops. The advantage: You also get some expert advice on top!

Equipment tip: If you’re unsure what skis to rent for your first “taster tour”, go for medium-width touring skis. If the skis are too narrow and light, it will make the downhill part more difficult for you. If they are too wide and heavy, things will quickly get exhausting.

If you want to buy instead of rent, there are a few things you should consider. One of them is your preferred type of ski touring. For what type of terrain and technique will you mostly be needing your skis?


Ski running
Ski runners need lightweight yet sturdy equipment for different types of terrain. If you want to go chasing new records, we recommend ATOMIC’s Backland UL series – for instance, the Backland 78 UL. It’s a great choice for fast and easy skinning and reliable descents.

Ski touring
Low weight, high comfort and functionality: ATOMIC’s Backland series is perfect for classic ski touring. Expect top performance on the way up as well as on the way down! 

Freeride touring
If you like fresh powder descents, you will love ATOMIC’s wider Backland skis. They offer comfortable and easy ascents, reliable downhill performance and ultimate freeride power.

Our tip: Try on several different models to find what suits you best. Top choices include ATOMIC’s Backland 85 and Backland 85 W. Both offer a great combination of weight, comfort and functionality, making them ideal for both slope and backcountry skiing. 


What’s the ideal length for beginner’s touring skis?

Touring skis are lightweight and offer maximum manoeuvrability. That’s why they are usually a bit shorter than alpine skis. In general, they should be 5 to 15 centimetres shorter than you, with the tips ending somewhere between your lips and the top of your head.

Our recommendation: If you’re looking for better performance on the way down, you can add a few centimetres. If you want to perform better kick turns when skinning uphill, go for shorter skis.

Another important aspect when choosing the right length of your touring skis is your weight. While heavier skiers will benefit from longer skis, lighter skiers should opt for shorter ones.

Top picks: the best Atomic touring skis for beginners

  • ATOMIC Backland 85: great all-round ski for touring, with a specific shape for climbing
  • ATOMIC Backland 85 W: perfect women’s ski for alpine touring, lightweight and versatile
  • ATOMIC Backland 78 UL: ultralight endurance touring ski with carbon fibreglass
  • ATOMIC Backland 107: wide freeride touring ski for multipurpose backcountry performance
  • ATOMIC Backland 107 W: light and playful women’s touring ski


You have done your first ski tour and have already caught the ski touring bug? Then keep in mind that your ski touring skis have to be tuned and waxed regularly. You don’t feel like servicing your skis yourself? Then leave it to the experts! The staff at INTERSPORT Rent will be happy to get your skis back in shape for you.

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