There are many different popular skiing styles that involve getting waiting in line, getting on a chair lift, and skiing back down. While the common resort-style skiing experience is great and the way the majority of skiers experience the sport, there are other options out there. If you want to explore the deep backcountry and get a bigger sense of adventure, you might want to leave the resort behind.
Alpine touring is a steadily-growing ski style that harkens back to the beginnings of the sport. When you’re touring in the backcountry, you leave behind the comforts and amenities of the modern ski resort behind venture far off into nature. That can be a truly amazing and unique experience, but only if you have the correct gear for the adventure. Such options will be discussed below.
- The Icelantic Natural is one of the best alpine touring skis. This is a lightweight and playful ski that’s easy to take into the backcountry. It also is great on the way back down. Skins are easily attached to the bottom of the skis and the shape is made for carving big powder turns down steep slopes. A great all-around alpine touring option.
- Another great alpine touring model is the Blizzard Zero G. This ski excels in backcountry situations and has a lightweight, durable construction that makes it hold up well in various conditions. It features a carbon fiber and paulownia wood core that makes it strong and durable, but still light enough to take far into the backcountry.
- If you’re looking for a dependable alpine touring ski that’s light enough to take on long ascents and rip big lines on the downhill, check out the Atomic Backland. This is a great backcountry touring option that caters to big mountain skiing as well. A great choice for those who chase powder and fresh lines.
Who Should Get This
If you’re planning on going on any serious ski touring trips, you need gear that can handle the demands of the backcountry. All of the skis listed here are designed to be able to take on long ascents and perform well when you ski back down. With an alpine touring ski, you want something that’s strong, reliable, and lightweight.
It is possible to put alpine touring style bindings on other types of skis. If you only plan on going on short tours or just want the option to do a little backcountry skiing, you could use an all-mountain ski. If you plan on skiing more than a few times a year or going deep into the backcountry, you’ll want a dedicated alpine touring setup.
Best Alpine Touring Skis: What to Consider
One of the most important things to consider when deciding upon an alpine touring ski is its weight. Since the whole idea behind backcountry and touring skiing styles is spending long periods of time ascending, you need something you can handle. Lighter skis, which are easy to traverse uphill with, save time and energy so you can still cruise lines downhill after you make it to the top. All of the skis listed here are lighter than other styles.
Alpine skis are built to be lightweight. However, they still retain plenty of strength and durability in a way that helps you dive down backcountry lines. That’s made possible through lightweight construction that includes materials such as carbon fiber and wood cores. When looking for an alpine touring ski, be sure to choose one that’s built with such materials.
Your alpine touring skis’ width comes down to personal preference. Narrower skis are lighter and easier to manage on long ascents, while wider skis will perform better in deep powder and downhill skiing. I personally prefer wider skis that will do better in varying conditions, even if that means they are a bit heavier than other options.
Best Alpine Touring Skis: Our Picks
The Icelantic Natural is one of the best touring skis on the market. This is fully designed with backcountry touring in mind and is best used traversing up tracks with skins attached and bombing your way back down big mountain lines. This ski has a nice tip and tail rocker that allows for easy uphill, as well as a solid turn radius and float. It also has a light balsa wood core and vertical sidewalls that keep it light and strong.
- Great touring ski
- Can handle big downhill lines
- Strong and durable
- Great company guarantee
- Not many. This is a great ski for backcountry use
Another great choice for alpine touring is the Blizzard Zero G. These skis are built with a lightweight paulownia wood core and also have great flex and torsional rigidity. That makes them excellent on long uphill treks, but also gives them the response and control needed for untouched lines.
- Great downhill response
- Solid edge control
- Not the best option in deep powder
Every alpine tourer can appreciate the Atomic Backland. This is another lightweight option designed to be effective on long uphill journeys, but it also provides all of the fun and control you need to enjoy those hard-earned backcountry rewards. Full-length carbon inserts enhance the downhill characteristics, while a wood core keeps them easy to manage.
- Lightweight wood core
- Carbon inserts enhance control
- Fun to ski
- Not the lightest option
- Plain graphics
Useful Tips & Resources
Alpine touring is an amazing way to ski. There’s nothing quite like working your way up a mountain then being rewarded with untouched lines of fresh powder on the way back down. Anytime you’re in the backcountry, you need to be extra careful and as safe as possible.
Check out these tips on how to be safe and prepared in the backcountry before you venture out. It pays to plan ahead and know the potential dangers that could be out there. You should also know how to handle any such dangers when they come your way.
If you’re new to alpine touring, there are several pieces of equipment you need to know. The handy contraptions that enable you to ski effectively uphill are called skins. These long pieces of fabric attach to the bottom of your skis and will grip and pull you uphill. Skins are essential for backcountry and alpine touring skiing styles. Check out this video on how to attach skins to your skis.
If you’ve never tried alpine touring before, it’s highly recommended. There’s no better way to enjoy the wonders of winter than to get out into the backcountry and find areas that other skiers have never encountered. Just be prepared.
You need to get the proper equipment to meet the needs of alpine touring and that all starts with the best alpine touring skis. Get yourself properly geared up and then go out into the backcountry and explore!
Have you ever been alpine touring before? Where did you go and what skis did you use? Let us know in the comments below!