Tag Archives: skis

Ski Touring – What Gear is Best For You?

Ski touring can mean different things to different people – depending on the desires of those participating. According to Google dictionary, the defining features include ‘skiing across open country, walking uphill on skis as well as skiing downhill’. With this in mind; there are multiple options of how you can spend your day ski touring – depending on your own priorities. Many people use ski touring as a means of fitness. Some are captivated by the ability ski touring gives you to escape the crowded slopes and travel into the wilderness. Meanwhile, others use ski touring as an effective method of transport on the snow, ultimately to get to a destination. This destination could be anything from a mountain hut, to a line you have been dreaming about skiing for years, or even the finish line of a race. Therefore, to answer your questions of what gear is best; first you will need to prioritise your own ski touring desires.

There are two extremes within the ski touring world. At one end of the spectrum you have the lightest skis and minimal pin bindings, combined with extremely lightweight, soft boots. And at the other end there is the freeride setup, which uses heavier and fatter powder skis, with a more performance binding and stiffer boots. The lightweight setup is perfect for those hungry to push their limits on the ascent; by beating time records, increasing their distances, or simply for anyone wanting to make walking uphill on snow as effortless as possible. This is a good option for endurance ski tours, such as multi-day or hut-to-hut trips where you need to save your energy. Plus, for ski tour racing the lighter the gear the better. On the contrary, the heavier setup is designed for those really prioritising the decent and wanting to charge down a line with the best equipment for exactly that. This freeride setup tends to be used for shorter ski tours due to its weight, but what it does best is allow you to ‘earn your turns’ in most snow conditions, especially fresh powder. Also this setup is perfect for side country access skiing, where you may need a short walk to get to a line or even just to skin out from the bottom.


When choosing what gear to buy, there will always be compromises to make, but with technology constantly improving, those compromises seem to keep getting smaller and smaller.

However great each of these setups are for their purpose, choosing between them will subsequently mean compromising the ascent or decent. For example, super lightweight skis with pin bindings are not going to give you as much control or float in powder as a fatter, stiffer setup. On the other hand, climbing up with heavy gear will naturally slow you down and use up more energy. This limits the distance you can travel in a certain amount of time, and time is a critical factor when travelling in the mountains. Therefore, if you are looking to enjoy all aspects of ski touring, you may want something a bit more ‘middle ground’.

When choosing what gear to buy, there will always be compromises to make, but with technology constantly improving, those compromises seem to keep getting smaller and smaller. In fact Atomic (and Salomon) have released a brand-new binding, which is the ‘first compromise-free binding’. Whereas before you had to make a big decision of pin or freeride touring bindings, now the Atomic Shift binding perfectly combines the two systems. The many benefits include being lighter under foot for each step you climb, being securely locked in for charging the decent and importantly being able to release if you crash. Plus having brakes make transitions slightly less worrying when taking your skis off; unlike many pin setups which do not have such luxuries. These bindings are compatible with all Multi Norm Certified soles on the market today: Gripwalk ISO 9523, WTR ISO 9523 and Touring Norm ISO 9523 ski boots when in ski mode, as well as most ‘pin binding’ touring boots. The only sole not compatible with the Shift binding is the Non Touring Norm sole. Fundamentally, this makes tehn the ultimate all-round ski touring binding currently on the market.


The Atomic Backland skis are a great example of a versatile, lightweight ski, which can handle a range of conditions and terrain.

Touring skis are also closing the gap between what’s good going up and what’s good skiing down. The Atomic Backland skis are a great example of a versatile, lightweight ski, which can handle a range of conditions and terrain. Their ultra-light wood core and carbon backbone make climbing a doddle, while their HRZN tech tips, cap sidewall and all-mountain rocker increase float and give great edge control for ripping through the powder, crud or on piste. Furthermore, Atomic have an extensive range of their Backland skis, which include women specific models, and range from 65 to 107 under foot to cater for everyone’s needs. For the ultimate balance of up-and-down the women’s Backland 85 and the men’s Backland 95 are perfect. Combine these skis with the Atomic Shift binding and you will be well on your way to the perfect all-mountain touring setup.

To top it off, ski touring boots keep getting lighter, stronger and stiffer for you to really make the most of your time on the snow. If you are looking for a boot that can really do it all, look no further than the trusty Atomics, to complete your own ultimate touring setup. For both men and women the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD is the perfect balance between a freeride boot and a touring boot. With the pin system and lightweight shell ready for cruisey ascents, and a stiff flex for shredding at speed, you can enjoy one pair of boots for all your mountain adventures.

To top it off, ski touring boots keep getting lighter, stronger and stiffer for you to really make the most of your time on the snow.

And its not just me that thinks that; here’s what On The Snow have to say about the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD ski boots!

So, hopefully you will have a broader understanding of the different meanings of ski touring, and have a better idea of what will ‘tickle-your-fancy’ in the mountains. If you are at each end of the spectrum and want to push yourself in either the ascent or the decent, then size and weight are both critical factors when buying gear. If you see yourself as an all-mountain ski tourer, you will seek the perfect balance with the least compromises. The aforementioned Atomic setup (Backland skis, Shift bindings and Hawx Ultra XTD boots) will provide you with comfort, control and enjoyment in all aspects of ski touring.

Also this set-up is perfect for those new to ski touring, because it’s very user friendly and great value for money. So, if you are looking for one pair of boots and one pair of skis with bindings that you can truly take anywhere and have a good time, this is for you!

Finally, when ski touring in the backcountry, choosing your gear is only the beginning of all the important decisions to be made. Take no unnecessary risks and be snow avalanche aware; but most importantly have fun and enjoy the freedom!

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Alpine Skiing – Sort Your Kit Out!

As a ski instructor, I recommend that ski lessons should be factored into your ski holiday. Ski lessons aren’t just for beginners and can help everyone to get the most from their holiday, whatever their goals.

However, some things are even more fundamental than the technique or tactics that instructors can pass on – equipment.

Along with your physical capabilities, the equipment you use will determine what you can achieve on the slopes, and how much fun you will have whilst trying. Equipment includes clothing and protection, but in this piece we’ll just look at ski hardwear.

The Most Important Bits- Boots

Keen skiers need their own boots. Once you are cruising the blues, you should be looking to buy your own ski boots. Good deals can be found online, but great boot fitters cannot work remotely. Uncomfortable boots can ruin your day – trust me.

A good boot fitter will match your foot shape to a particular boot (not all boots are the same shape on the inside). If there are any further modifications needed to accommodate your feet, then the boot fitter will be able to re-shape the inside of the boot to make them comfortable, they may also recommend a footbed which can help to keep the foot comfortable. If you suffer from very cold feet, then heated insoles are possible.

A good boot fitter will also match your skiing ability and power to the flex of the boot. An off piste boot will have different forward flex, lateral flex, delta angle, forward lean and insulation levels to piste boots. Balancing all of this can be tricky, that’s why we use boot fitters.

The Flash Bits – Skis

Pick a pair of skis for what you do, rather than what you dream of doing. If you’re doing something exceptional, you can hire something different.

Piste skis need to be stable on their edges. Fat skis don’t do this, and can create some awkward leverage on the boot and the lower leg.

Pure piste skis will be 70 mm wide underfoot, and off piste skis over about 100mm. Anything in between is a compromise. If you want skis to perform well in powder and grip hard on the piste, you need two pairs of skis.

The Forgotten Bits – Poles

Poles aren’t as important as boots or skis, but they’re still important. Without covering all the possibilities, here are my top tips:

Fat baskets for deep snow
Longer poles for skiing steep and deep
Grippy handles, not shiny ones
Shorter poles for freestyle
Stiff, not bendy

Photographs Giles LewisFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) In Alpine Skis

Alpine ski manufacturer Head has implemented a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) in their skis!

For those who follow Formula One you will be familiar with the term KERS; the Kinetic Energy Recovery System that stores the kinetic energy whilst the vehicle is braking to use later when the vehicle is accelerating. And you may have read that the Royal Navy want to use KERS to power laser guns on its warships.

KERS In Skis

So why would you want to have KERS in your skis? To go faster like an F1 car, or blast fellow skiers off the piste with a James Bond-like laser in your ski; I think not! It’s all to do with turning.

The skis have piezoelectric fibres which transform kinetic energy whilst skiing into electrical energy. This electrical energy is stored for when the skier is at the end of their turn, when the ski is at maximum flex, and released to stiffen the tail of the ski. This gives the skier extra ‘pop’ into their next carving turn.

supershape ititan skis
The Head Supershape iTitan skis have KERS, so get motoring!

As with comedy; it all about ….. timing. So the boffins at Head skis programme the sensors to release at the appropriate point of the out-turn and depending upon the ski type how stiff to make the tail of the ski. The Head iSupershape iTitan skis have KERS technology.

Clever stuff, but I still like the idea of a Bond-like laser in my skis!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Our Experts Guide To Alpine Skis

Alpine skis should be bought with a goal in mind. Like a car, they are suitable for certain terrain. Looking for speed then you wouldn’t buy a Ford Focus, you would buy a Ferrari so don’t settle for second best when it comes to your skis.

Best All-Piste Ski…

Our instructor’s picked Saloman X Drive 8.0 FS 2015, £549.99. With the best bindings of the lot, and excellent technology with an integrated carbon rod, this is a clever ski that will see you high and dry on all surfaces. While at the steep end, its all-rounder nature makes it a cheaper alternative than buying multiple skis for different occasions. Rather than settling for second best, this all rounder is at the top of its game. This ski boasts a super light honeycomb/Koroyd insert at the tip ensuring decreased weight at the extremities and increased dampening, the result? Ease of manoeuvrability. With Integrated PTP provided by elastimer pads at the ends of the X-Chassis, as well as a full basalt layer, Salomon have ensured power is smoothly transferred to edges ensuring that vibrations are reduced. This ski also boasts a rocker stabilizer system which improves precision and steering while on-piste. Combined with the twin rocker all-terrain 2.0 system, this ski is able to adapt to whatever skiing condition you expose it to. The combination of technologies means this ski is light but stable, innovative and long-lasting; an awesome option for any confident skier.

Best Value Ski…

Then look no further than the K2 Rictor MX 12 All Mountain 2013/14 ski, ideal for intermediate to experts. Reduced from £564.99 to £282.49, this sale bargain proves that you don’t lose out on technology if you go for last season’s skis. With an all terrain rocker, this ski will ensure you feel at ease no matter what the surface, even at high speed. Their in-built dampening system which combines Mod suspension and Mod Monic (a solid zinc mass attached to the suspension) reduces vibration and increases ski control. K2’s choices of core materials are also crucial. The combination of Aspen and Paulownia wood ensures that this ski is quick, and when combined with metal laminate construction which surrounds this wooden core, the ski remains stable and stiff at speed. This ski is the epitome of versatile and high end performance yet at a snippet of the price.

Off-Piste Skiing For You?

Look no further than our window display where you will find the Line Sir Francis Bacon 2015 at £489.99. Wide, at 108mm, combined with Line’s 5 Cut Sidecut, this ski is designed to handle whatever the mountain throws at you; bring it on deep powder! Relatively stiff, it is ideal for experts who have the skills to ensure maximum power and control.  With the cherry on the top being the Maple Marco Block Core, under the right feet this ski can handle the highest speeds and the most uneven of surfaces while maintaining stability at all times. Combine all this technology with the essential thicker and stronger base and edges and this ski is made to last season upon season; priceless!

The Opposite, Looking To Ski On-Piste?

Our Ferrari equivalent is the Head iSupershape Magnum Ski SW TFB 2015. While at £679.99 our most expensive offering, it is worth every penny. This ski is designed to maximize performance, with Head’s infamous ERA 3.0 technology but S, that’s right, this includes the ERA sports model, this ski is the sports car of the pack. ERA 3.0 technology is exclusive to Head, it ensures all-ability steering excellence, increased turning efficiency, and increased stability through the reduction of vibrations via their piezoelectric Intellifibers. Confused? Don’t be. Just know that that the additional S means that the magnum’s ERA technology has been supersized. Combine this ERA 3.0 S technology with a speed rocker, Head guarantees that every wannabe-racer is at the front of the field. These skis are for experts; a combination of expert technique and expert ability will ensure that you feel the benefits of this skis top-end technology. This is personified by the KERS inbuilt technology. The faster you go, the more you get out of these skis. KERS stands for kinetic energy recovery system. The energy stored from the vibrations is transferred down the length of the ski, the result? Additional power and acceleration through the increased rigidity in the tail upon turning leading to increased speed upon your next turn. Imagine putting your foot full throttle on the accelerator, KERS has that same affect but does it for you, the result: effortless speed. The icing on the cake is the Race Structured UHM C Base, a combination of the fastest base and finish which ensures high performance, high quality, high speed, and expert precision. This is our instructor’s dream ski!

Racing Not Your Thing? Instead You Freestyle?

Our instructor’s favourite is Line’s Afterbang Ski 2015 at £349.99. Unlike the other Line on our list, the Sir Francis Bacon, the Afterbang is suitable for intermediate to expert skiers. 10% lighter than its 2014 equivalent, 2015’s Afterbang offering retains its technical prowess and then some. Its integral Skate Deck Construction is enhanced through the addition of increased durability and a carbon Ollieband which creates a spring that freestyler’s dream about. Further, the ski boasts 3D Butter zone technology which means that the thinnest part of the ski remains in-front and behind the binding in order to increase control over pressure placement. All this with the added bonus of Line’s Fatty Base and Edges, the 30% increased overall thickness means these skis are durable and long-lasting, and with a rocker-free camber base, Line ensures maximum edge hold when on-piste.

Feeling Left Out Lady Skiers?

Head’s Women Absolut Joy Ski SLR 2015 is an excellent all mountain ski, and a steel at £429.99. Unless you are buying a ski that can suit both yourself and your partner, it is best to pick a woman specific ski. The women’s camber on the Absolut Joy means that the ski technology compensates for women’s smaller and less powerful frame and lower centre of gravity by ensuring that the waist of the board is further forward. As a result, unlike unisex skis, the weight is evenly distributed ensuring that maximum speed can be reached. Essentially these skis are high performance, and easier to handle. With the additional benefits which arise from the inclusion of their ERA 3.0 technology, Head is a brand not to be messed with.

head absolut joy women's skis
Head Absolut Joy ladies skis.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

If this article, full of technicalities has left you bewildered, after-all you were only looking for a beginner’s ski that you could easily control to avoid looking the fool on the slope, we have the ski for you. Welcome into your life the Atomic Nomad Smoke Ski+ XTO 10 Bindings 2015 at £374.99. All mountain versatility…check. Unisex…check. Bindings included (no need to read another technical website, the world of bindings is as complicated as skis)…check; you are on to a winner! And yet this ski can rival the technicality of the others featuring a metal laminate core, which increases power and reduces vibration, and ARC technology, a single central bind point which ensures natural flex. The Atomic Nomad is the epitome of smoothness, encourages accuracy, and ensures that the beginners among you feel at home on the slopes.

All you need to do now is order the one that matches your ski personality at Tallington Lakes Pro Shop.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather