Boots that offer incredible downhill performance and a massive range of movement at a fraction of the weight of their alpine counterparts are now commonplace in the market. Commonplace in touring boots are pin inserts in the toe to allow for engagement with tech bindings, rockered soles which are grippy when hiking and a walk mode that allows the upper cuff to move freely when walking.
A few years ago, these features were offered mainly by niche, specific brands at a pretty penny. But, as touring has grown in popularity, mainstream brands have taken note and offer many of the same features, their ability to produce products on a much larger scale has dropped the price of these specialist boots significantly in recent seasons.
Atomic is a great example of this, creating a touring capable model of their tried and tested Hawx Ultra last. The female-specific Hawx Ultra XTD 110 W model offers ladies who have their sights set beyond the resort boundaries touring capability to escape the lifts but more than enough downhill performance to blast around the pistes. As this boot is based on an alpine model it is an ideal first touring boot for those familiar with inbounds boots looking to explore further afield.
Another household name who has recently expanded their touring range is Salomon, and their top of the range S/LAB MTN boot is the perfect clog for those in search for the pinnacle of powder hunting performance. This through and through backcountry boot is stiff enough for the hardest chargers yet ticks the boxes for gram counters and experienced tourers looking for an uncompromising range of movement. This boot is best suited to experienced off piste riders, but softer versions with the same last are available for novice powder riders.
Both the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 110 W and the Salomon S/LAB MTN are available online and instore at Snow+Rock and make up part of an extensive lineup of boots, spending time with Snow+Rock’s boot fitters is the best way to ensure you find the best boots for you from their extensive range. Head to your nearest store to find the boots for you, discover more about the process online here.
Although it is mostly your legs that you use when gaining altitude on skis, Touring really is a whole-body workout. Poles play a vital role when climbing and descending but, on each occasion, may require to be different lengths. On the ascent, poles should be adjusted to match the gradient to help uphill propulsion and useful balance aids on more technical terrain and during kick turns, longer grips than alpine poles also allow for greater flexibility over mixed terrain. When ski tips are pointing down poles play a key role, as any instructor will tell you, providing balance and a useful contact point for sharper turns on steeper terrain, especially jump turns. It goes without saying that as a piece of touring kit, the poles need to be light!
For many years, Leki has been at the pinnacle of ski and walking pole technology, and their top of the range Tour Stick Vario Carbon Pole is another industry leading design. The pole fulfils all of the criteria listed above and more. Carbon construction keeps the weight down while the adjustable shaft suits a variety of terrain, the basket has also been specifically designed to help hands-free adjustment of heal lifters and boot buckles in a nice touring specific touch. Leki have also utilised their signature speed strap system for extra speed and safety with a touring specific grip designed to retain heat on long ascents. The poles are also collapsible which is of real benefit to those with their sights on more extreme terrain where a hands-on approach to climbing is needed or where your hands are taken up with an ice axe. The foldability of these poles will also make them an attractive option for splitboarders.
Backcountry aficionados G3 offers several different pole options, and the Via pole is the brand’s toughest touring specific pole to date. While the pole is not foldable, the burly stick offers a whopping 30cm of adjustment to suit most skiers over whatever terrain they encounter. While the pole is not constructed with the most exotic materials on the planet, the aluminium structure keeps the weight down, however, if you obsess over the gram count then carbon options are available.
Both the Leki Tour Stick Vario Carbon and the G3 Via Touring Pole are available online and instore at Snow+Rock.