What are Touring Skis?

Touring skis are made to help you venture deep into the backcountry. These are lightweight skis that are effective at helping you get uphill while still providing excellent downhill performance when it’s time to get after it. 

My name is Christine, I’ve been skiing for most of my life and have been on many backcountry excursions over the years. I’ve used touring skis for these adventures and know how they perform in demanding situations. 

This post will provide you with an in-depth breakdown of what touring skis are and what ski touring is. This is good information to know if you ever want to go into the backcountry and get away from the ski resort.

Let’s skin up and get started.

What is Ski Touring? 

Ski touring is a style of the sport that not everyone is familiar with. It happens away from the ski resort and involves a lot more work than most skiers are used to. Basically, ski touring avoids the chairlifts and the crowds at the resort. 

Touring skis help you get uphill without the use of a chairlift. That might not sound like much fun to some skiers, but it’s an amazing experience that lets you access untouched snow and terrain that other people only dream of. 

Ski tours can be day trips or multi-day trips. Most people just like to get out in the backcountry for a single day, but I highly recommend going out for multiple days at a time if you ever have the opportunity. 

It’s a lot of work to get up an entire mountain without the assistance of the chair lift, but I promise you it’s worth it. If you like nature or want to experience what it feels like to ski deep powder that no other skier has touched, touring can make that dream a reality. 

What are Touring Skis?

Touring skis are explicitly built to help with these backcountry pursuits. They are designed to be lightweight and efficient when headed uphill while still giving you good performance in variable conditions on the way back down. 

You can technically take any type of ski into the backcountry, but touring skis are going to be much easier to handle than regular alpine skis. Most of this comes down to weight, but there are some other construction characteristics that I’ll get into below. 

Modern ski technology has enabled these skis to be extremely lightweight and flexible while also performing very well when it’s time to come back downhill. Touring skis won’t give you the best downhill performance in the world, but they hold their own. 

Touring skis are pretty specific, and you won’t want to use these in other situations other than in the backcountry. They aren’t built for everyday resort use, and you use different bindings and boots for touring purposes.

I always like to have a pair of touring skis around just so I am ready for any and every adventure that I have the opportunity to pursue. They are expensive, but a good pair will easily last you for five to ten years. 

Touring Ski Construction

Touring skis have a unique construction that allows them to excel in the backcountry. The most significant construction difference between these skis and other types is their weight. Touring skis need to be very lightweight. 

This means they are often constructed out of innovative materials and use cutting-edge ski design technology. The result is a ski that is easy to use when headed uphill while also giving you solid control and power in demanding downhill conditions. 

Today, many touring skis don’t have a wood core. That’s pretty rare for alpine skis, but it helps reduce weight to increase uphill performance. A composite or honeycomb core construction is pretty standard these days. 

In addition to the lightweight construction of touring skis, it’s also important to know that you need touring bindings and boots to go along with the skis. Without these, you won’t be able to get uphill effectively at all. 

Touring bindings have a design that lets you switch from uphill to ski mode. This involves keeping your heel free during the uphill and locked in when it’s time to ski back down. Touring boots are also smaller and more flexible than standard downhill boots. 

You also need skins that attach to your skis and give you the grip to climb uphill. These are easy and effective to use. 

Who Should Get Touring Skis? 

If you want to venture into the backcountry, you need to get a pair of touring skis. While short backcountry trips are possible without touring skis, if you plan on going out regularly, a touring setup will really help you out. 

Keep in mind that you’ll need to get a complete touring rig if you want to take backcountry skiing seriously. This means that you’ll need specialty boots and bindings to go along with your touring skis. It can add a lot to the cost but be worth it for those untouched lines. 

If you are a beginner skier or don’t have any interest in backcountry skiing, you really don’t need a touring setup. You need to be pretty skilled on the mountain and be in great shape to dive into serious backcountry skiing as well. 

Final Thoughts

Ski touring is a fantastic way to experience the wilderness. It also gives you the ability to reach untouched terrain that offers deep powder and fresh tracks. 

Touring skis will allow you to dive deep into the backcountry, and they are essential equipment if you take this seriously.

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