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Touring Skis

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More about Touring Skis

Anyone can do long powder runs and icy slopes. But to actually gain yourself the descent, you have to get up on the mountain first! You love having the entire mountain for yourself, enjoying nature and its calmness? You appreciate the struggle of having to go up meter by meter to reach the peak or need that exhausting training through the snow? Then you are in need of touring skis, and these come in a great variety of types, widths, lengths and brands.

Many manufacturers also have special women's touring ski models in their range. These are generally softer, lighter and come in shorter lengths to accommodate the female physiology.


Touring is a sport done by diverse groups of people with different needs. There are the uphill ski tourers, who put much value on the ascent. Whoever finds the descent through the powder more important, will get himself freeride touring skis. Anyone looking for an everyday go-to gear will have an eye on allround touring skis, which have some advantages for everyone. And then there are the specific racing touring skis: performance oriented, to climb the mountain as fast as possible. Based on these needs, there are various lengths and widths. Furthermore, these skis come equipped with different types of rocker, radius, camber constructions and sidecuts.


Most touring skis come with a rocker construction, as for example the Völkl Rise High 88 with its Tip & Tail Rocker. This is can be understood as a negative camber along the entire ski, or just in the tip or tail. The full rocker ski is bended upwards on tip and tail, creating a point of contact between ski and snow around the binding. Through this, the ski gets more float in powder or corn snow. Especially the tip rocker makes turning easier. On the other hand, there is the full camber construction, basically the reversed rocker. While there is no weight on the ski, contact points will be around the tip and the tail, while there is a gap between the ski and the snow underneath the binding. As soon as you put pressure on the ski by standing on it, the entire ski edges will be on the snow. This is especially useful during great speeds and on rougher snow conditions. To make the assembly of the touring skins easier, each manufacturer has created set-ups on the tip and tail. Of course you could buy adjustable skins, but it is advisable to purchase those skins that are already made to fit your specific ski. Purchasing the fitting skins does not only spare you the hassle of cutting and adjusting them, but also makes it easier to mount them on the skis.


In the construction of touring skis, the emphasis is naturally on materials that are as light as possible. The ski core is of particular importance here. Materials such as glass fibre, titanal, ash, balsa or often paulownia wood are used, such as in the K2 Wayback 88. In general, however, it can be said that a ski with a higher weight is somewhat more stable. That is why many manufacturers use carbon in their ski construction. To increase the torsional stiffness, i.e. the stiffness around the longitudinal axis of the ski, a carbon structure is often built around the core or used as a honeycomb construction in the ski shovel. This gives the ski more stability and edge grip. 


Generally, your ski should be about 10 cm shorter than you are. This will keep it maneuverable for the ascent and stable enough for the descent. Uphill ski tourers will oftentimes choose a shorter ski, making those kick turns easier, while the freeride tourer will opt for a longer ski. However, (unless you are a racer) the ski should not be shorter than your chin. The radius of the touring ski is, as with any other ski, based on its side cut. The stronger the side cut, the smaller the radius. The smaller the radius, the easier it gets to initiate turning. A greater radius will lead to more stability. In touring, you need both. Therefore, the radius for allround touring skis, freeride touring skis and uphill oriented will be at around 15 m. Race touring skis have less side cut and therefore a larger radius of around 20-23 m.


Uphill touring skis: The be-all and end-all of an ascent-oriented touring ski is its weight. It should be as light as possible and as manoeuvrable as possible. It doesn't matter whether it's a short ski tour as a training unit or a tour lasting several days with many ascents, the main thing is that it's easy to get up. That's why the ski here is on the narrower and lighter side with a width of approx. 80 mm and a weight of approx. 1100 g. The Kästle TX 77 convinces here with 77 mm and only 1080 g. If you don't want to miss out on downhill skiing either, you will choose a ski that is a few millimetres wider, although this will make it weigh a little more again. A pin binding is of course recommended for an ascent-oriented touring ski. After all, the ski is designed to be lightweight, so the binding should also be as light as possible! If you want to save a few grams of weight, you can do without the stopper. In addition, the right touring boots, i.e. light touring boots, are of course crucial for a coherent ascent-oriented set.

Freeride touring skis: For the freerider, it's all about the descent through the deep snow. The ascent is more a means to an end. Therefore, the focus of this touring ski should also be on its deep snow performance. Accordingly, this ski is significantly wider than the other touring skis, with centre widths of 100 mm or even more. A large contact surface in combination with the rocker construction ensures lift in deep snow and thus optimal powder fun. On the other hand, at 1500 g and more, it is somewhat heavier than other touring skis. A good average is offered by a ski like the K2 Wayback 106 with 1625 g and a centre width of 106 mm.

Allround touring skis: This ski combines lightness and agility with downhill performance. As the name suggests, the ski is suitable for everything. For ski touring beginners as well as seasoned touring skiers. And whether it's a brisk tour up the local mountain or a versatile high alpine tour, with this all-round ski you're always on the safe side. The centre width will be around 88 mm and the weight around 1300 g, like the Atomic Backland 85, for example. Special women's models like the Dynafit Blacklight 88 W are even lighter.
The all-rounder lies between the ascent-oriented and the freeride touring ski and, depending on the tendency of the skier, the ski approaches the other category in the central values of weight and centre width.

Racer’s touring skis: The faster the better! The racer is really only concerned with the best performance and the next best time. And this is certainly easiest with a light ski. The race touring ski weighs well under 1000 g and is only available in short lengths. It is, of course, correspondingly narrow and manoeuvrable. On the other hand, a ski like the Atomic Backland UL 65 is somewhat weaker on the downhill and can only be recommended to experts who know how to handle these ultra-lights. To complete the race set, the other components such as bindings and boots are of course also available as race lightweights.

For the ski tour, the right outdoor equipment should not be missing: Bindings, climbing skins, boots, poles, ski touring apparel and above all avalanche safety equipment!

Our advice: Take it easy and have a look at our pre-selected tourings set to get going without any hussles and save money. 

For more detailed info, visit our skitouring guide!