Ski touring a logical progression for many who find their in-bounds resort experience leaves them wanting a bit more from their ski days. Ski touring is skiing or splitboarding in the backcountry on unmarked or unpatrolled areas. As with any off-piste expedition, you will need the appropriate education, fitness level, and gear before embarking on your first ski tour.
Before heading out on any out-of-bounds expedition, you absolutely need to take an AIARE Level 1 course to familiarize yourself with how to travel in avalanche terrain. There are a number of courses that combine avalanche education with basic ski touring skill eduction, we recommend taking a course like this for beginners looking to get into ski touring. There is simply no substitute for learning from trained professionals, it may save your life.
Fitness can be one of the biggest perceived barriers to entry to ski touring. Thankfully, ski touring can take the form of anything from a short 1-mile jaunt to multi-day peak bagger. Ski touring is typically done at high altitude, so cardio strength and fitness is the most important factor. We've found that Leg Blasters are the most effective way to get in shape, and stay in shape, for ski touring.
Touring boots have a 'walk mode' which gives the skier a wider range of motion for the uphill portion of the tour. This makes for a far more pleasant touring experience and reduces the awkward motion and fatigue caused by walking in downhill boots.
Touring bindings are lighter than downhill bindings and are built to enable the heel to move freely away from the ski. While there a few different options here, it's important to know that weight and stability play a critical role here. If choose a lighter binding to ease your ascent, chances are that you may pay for it with a less stable downhill experience. However, new binding technology (the Salomon Shift binding, for example) is changing this perception.
Skins attach the bottom of skis and splitboards to create a surface on which the ski can grip as you move uphill. Skins keep the skis in place when placing weight on the uphill, and slide as weight is taken off of them.
Touring poles are adjustable, as you will often need to adjust the height of the pole while traversing over steeps or other instances when one side of the hill is significantly higher than the other.
You'll need a functional backpack with a size that is appropriate to the length of your tour. Check out our in depth look at ski backpacks to figure out which style of backpack is the best fit for you.
Shovel, Probe, and Beacon
You'll need all the proper avalanche gear and training for any off piste adventure. This is your most critical group of equipment.
We recommend a transition / photochromatic lens for most ski tour expeditions. It limits the amount of gear you have to carry (one lens does it all) and covers you through any conditions you might encounter.
If you're looking for the right ski backpack or snowboard backpack there are a number of things to consider. The biggest and most important decision is use case: are you looking for a day bag for in bounds resort skiing? A light backpack for brief backcountry day trips? Or full on multi-day expedition backpacks? Below, we have compiled our favorite and best performing backpacks used by our team here at Glade:
Our go-to in bounds day pack, the Ortovox Free Rider 18L is the perfect companion for a day spent a the resort. With a built in back protector, eight cushioned pads, and ski and snowboard fastenings, you're set for any in bounds hike or climb. The pack is compatible with any hydration system you might have, and has ample space for extra gear and layers.
The Osprey Kamber 32 is the ideal pack for backcountry ski touring missions. The pack features multiple options for ski and snowboard carry and offers easy access to critical avalanche tools like your shovel, probe, and beacon. Ample space for gear, ice axe attachments, and critical padding are all included in this 32 liter pack as well.
Coming in a variety of sizes, the BCA Float series is the standard by which all other avalanche airbag packs are measured. The bag creates buoyancy and decreases your burial depth but also protects your head and neck from trauma in an avalanche. The BCA cylinder system is also sufficiently lightweight, making for seamless backcountry travel.
Choosing a skiing and snowboarding helmet can be one of the most important gear purchases of the season. As we are often asked "Which helmets fit best with Glade goggles?" we have compiled a list of helmets that fit great with our goggles and perform well on the mountain.
The ultimate in low profile and lightweight protection. With MIPS technology and level 1 venitilation, we find ourselves reaching for the Pret Cynic X over every other helmet we've tried. Bonus: they fit great with our goggles.
Updatedwith a new compression formed convertible liner for this season, the K2 Diversion is a fantastic skiing and snowboarding helmet for someone looking for both light weight and safety. The Diversion's hybrid design combines the best elements of molded and hard shell constructions.
Made with MIPS technology, the Trooper II is our favorite high end free riding helmet. The helmet is one of the safest on the market today and includes built in audio capabilities and a 2 year warranty.
With ski season rapidly approaching, we thought we'd whip up a list of some of our favorite ski movies to get us fired up for the season. While there are certainly some older classics (Blizzard of AAAHs) as well as some campy Hollywood movies that everyone should see (Aspen Extreme), this list focuses on the relatively new wave of ski movies.
Ski Movies That Get Us Stoked For The Season
Few Words (2012)
Few Words takes us on a journey through the life of Candide Thovex, considered by many to be the best skier on the planet today. As inspirational as it is mind blowing, Few Words deserves a spot on every skiers must-watch list.
Shane McConkey and company show you how to be the best skier on the mountain. Spoiler alert: you get a lot more points for skiing naked. GNAR is perhaps the best movie in the genre at capturing the true essence of what it means to be a skier. In an industry that often takes itself too seriously, GNAR is welcome breath of fresh air.
A glimpse into a skiers lifelong journey of discovery, Days of my Youth is a poignant look at the highs and lows of a lifetime spent skiing. The first few minutes of Days of my Youth are surefire way to inject stoke straight into the veins.
Part environmental film, part shredfest, All.I.Can. is a masterclass in intertwining a powerful message amongst high octane entertainment. Powder Magazine said it best, "Ski movies are not supposed to do this--leave a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd searching for meaning outside of skiing."
Maybe the most widely popularized movie on the list, we'd be remiss if we didn't include a snowboarding focused movie. Art of Flight without a doubt goes BIG, and is still considered one of the most progressive snowboarding films ever made. Stunning imagery and out of this world talent make this a ride worth taking.
When it comes to buying the best ski socks, it is paramount that you find a pair that is comfortable, warm, and durable. We've had our fair share of mishaps with ski socks, so we thought it would be helpful to outline what you should be looking for, and some of our favorites.
Ski Socks 101
Socks come in a wide breadth of materials. The biggest thing here is to avoid cotton at all costs. Merino wool typically does the best job of moisture wicking and warmth at an efficient weight, but you might have to pay a bit more for this luxury.
The weight of the sock directly effects how warm the sock will be in your boot. This is largely dependent on where you ski and the conditions of the day. Typically anything around mid-weight is sufficient for everything but the coldest of days.
Many ski socks have padding on various parts of the sock to improve comfort on the mountain. If you suffer from shin bang, padding on the shins can help mitigate painful contact with your ski boot. If you have some hot spots in your boots, padding on the ankle, foot, and toe can help relieve some of this pressure as well. If you find that you are perfectly comfortable without padding it's probably not necessary, but it's worth considering if you have foot, ankle, or shin pain throughout the day.
Our go-to socks in just about every scenario. Darn Tough is a Vermont based brand that makes ski socks at the highest level - with a lifetime guarantee. The Function 5 socks are made with merino wool and were developed with boot fitters to protect the 5 most common pressure points.
Another crowd favorite, the Smartwool PhD socks are built to last and offer great warmth to weight ratio. We've found this sock to versatile, turning to it for both in bounds resort days and touring expeditions.
A lot of our customers ask if our goggles are suitable to be used as snowmobiling goggles as well as for skiing and snowboarding. As snowmobiling often takes place under the same conditions as other alpine sports, our goggles are well built for a day spent on the sled. That said, there are a few specific lens types you'll want to look at if you're going to use our goggles for snowmobiling rather than skiing or snowboarding.
The main thing you want to look for in snowmobile goggles is ability to mitigate fogging and handling variable light conditions.
Fogging: You absolutely need a pair of goggles that have robust anti-fog features. All of our goggles come with double lenses, anti-fog treatment, and ample ventilation. We're so confident that our goggles won't fog up that we offer a free replacement pair up to one year after the date of purchase!
Changing light conditions: Because of the long days and huge amount of terrain covered in an average snowmobiling excursion, you need to make sure you are prepared for all light conditions. We recommend pairing an everyday lens with a low light lens, or going with an all in one photochromatic lens to help mitigate glare and cut through cloudy, overcast, or snowy conditions.
With this in mind, we're happy to answer any questions you may have about our lens technology or suitable for a day spent snowmobiling. Just ask!
We get a lot of questions from our customers about what skiing and snowboarding gloves we recommend. While there are a number of different factors that go into this decision, we've created a basic outline for how you should think about buying gloves as well as some of our favorites on the market today.
Skiing and Snowboarding Gloves 101
You have three separate configuration options with your ski and snowboard glove set up: glove, mitten, and lobster claw. Mittens will be the warmest, but you will sacrifice a bit of dexterity for that added warmth. Lobster claw gloves are usually a good middle ground, and gloves are less warm but offer the most control and dexterity. If you choose to go with gloves, we recommend pairing the set of gloves with some warm liners as this way you're prepared for any temperature conditions you might encounter.
This three finger ski and snowboarding glove is the weapon of choice for our team here at Glade. A great middle ground between glove and mitten, the Hestra Leather Fall Line stays warm through any conditions while still allowing us to have great range of motion in our fingers and hands.
For warmer spring days many on our team choose the Dakine Phantom. The breathability and snug fit mean you'll have maximum pole grip and you can avoid hand sweat on those bluebird April days. At only $100, it's a decent deal as well.
For ultra cold days we turn to the Black Diamond Mercury Mitten. At $110, in terms of warmth it's the best bang for your buck you can find. The split fingered liner helps avoid the traditional 'mitten' feel.
Other things to consider
Synthetic vs. Leather
Without getting too deep into the details, we almost always going with a leather glove over a synthetic ski or snowboard glove. Leather is naturally water resistant, and when treated can be completely waterproof. We've found that leather gloves tend to last longer and are more pliable than synthetic gloves, but a bit pricier.
The purpose of the cuff is to keep snow from getting inside your jacket. Because jackets come in many shapes and sizes, we recommend pairing your cuff to your ski jacket. This means your cuff style will largely be personal preference - as there isn't a huge different between short or long cuffs as long as the snow is staying out of your jacket.
Anti fog goggles are a critical piece of any ski and snowboard gear set up. When choosing ski goggles, it is vital that you ensure the lenses come with an anti-fog treatment or coating to ensure you can stay on the mountain even in damp and humid conditions. So, what exactly should you look for in an anti-fog snow goggle?
What to look for in anti fog goggles
Double Lenses: Double lenses create a thermal barrier between the two layers of material that reduce fog more than any other feature of the goggle. You should look for goggles with double lenses, no exceptions.
Anti-fog treatment: Another preventative measure involves a hydrophilic coating on the inside of the lens. This prevents moisture build up on the lens and in turn helps reduce fogging. Be careful, if you rub or wipe the inside of the lens this coating could get worn down.
Ventilation: Ventilation increases air flow through the goggle and reduces fogging by preventing moisture build up within the goggle. Look for goggles with ventilation on the frame both above and below the lens. Don't be fooled by high tech goggles with fans or motors in them, these are largely unnecessary and only serve to add bulk to the goggle.
Storage: Absolutely do not put them in a damp ski bag immediately after skiing. Let the goggles dry fully before storing them in a dry place.
Tips: Avoid putting the goggles up on your forehead and try to keep moving. If you take a fall and get some snow inside the goggle or on the vents, try to clear this as efficiently as possible.
But what if I'm skiing on a foggy day? If you frequently ski in foggy conditions, we recommend going with a dedicated low light lens or photochromatic lens to help battle the conditions. These lenses will allow more light through the lens and enable you to see through the fog.
Glade anti-fog treatment: All of our models are double lenses and are coated with an anti-fog treatment on the inside of the lens. We have ventilation on both the top of the frame as well as the bottom, and our Challenger model has additional vents etched into the lens. We're so confident that our goggles won't fog up that we offer a free replacement pair up to one year after the date of purchase!
Nothing quite beats the feeling of a newly waxed snowboard under your feet, that is unless there is a few feet of powder under there as well. Our guide on how to wax a snowboard begins below:
Iron: While any iron will get the job done, getting a ski and snowboard specific iron will make the whole process a lot easier for you. These irons get hot enough to melt the wax, but not so hot that it will burn the base of your board. If you do choose to use a conventional iron, make sure to take the iron off the board anytime you see smoke.
Scraper: Start with a plastic scraper for your first few waxes, you're less likely to damage the board than with a steel scraper.
Brush: We recommended getting a few brushes with varying levels of stiffness. Most wax kits come with 2-3 brushes.
Towel and rubbing alcohol
Choose the Right Wax
Wax can be broken into two categories: all temperature and temperature specific. If the temperature and weather varies at your home mountain, we recommend going with an all temperature wax. Otherwise, go with a. temperature specific wax as these waxes will almost always perform better than all temperature waxes (assuming you are using them in their defined temperature range).
Your board absolutely needs to be clean before you start the wax process. Ideally the board is also tuned, but this isn't 100% necessary. Use the rubbing alcohol to wipe the board down, and then wait for the board to completely dry before you continue. If your bases seem clean, err on the side of not cleaning them, as rubbing and wiping can remove any and all residual wax on the snowboard.
Get after it
You are ready to go! We recommend watching this video from REI for an in depth explanation and visualization of how to wax a snowboard:
Ski goggles and snowboard goggles are one of the most important pieces of gear you can buy for skiing and snowboarding, so it's important that you do adequate research and figure out the best ski goggles or best snowboard goggles for you