We purposely have not got awards for skis in this category this year, but have rather focused on the text in the test so you can select skis based on matching your requirements.
Switching into Touring gear has been a complete game changer for many skiers. The freedom it gives is incredible, and can completely transform a ski area you thought you knew well, into a whole new playground…
There is no greater example of this than in the UK itself, from the Scottish highlands down through our much varied landscape, ski tourers are starting to see the light, and if there’s enough snow can have an epic backcountry adventure close to their doorstep! Back out in the Alps, trying to grab some fresh tracks near the lifts is starting to become more in demand than ever before, so having the ability to beat the crowds and get some pow is a major advantage.
Because of the demand, the choice of touring kit available now can be completely bewildering; all of the big manufacturers have come on board and directed their resources into claiming a big part of this market. More than ever, you need to have a good understanding of what you are getting into, before making a decision.
It’s essential before making a choice to reflect on the type of ski touring you are looking to do; Are you on for putting some long sessions in and potentially plenty of hut to hut tours? Or are you content to limit it to a morning session, maybe skinning no more than one to two hours to get into a back bowl. Finally, you might be more of a big game poacher, looking to get a distinct advantage over the crowds by making a quick skin, but are still committed to bigger turns and higher speeds in deep powder.
Once you have made a decision on the type of skier you are, you can then start thinking about packaging it up and putting a touring rig together that will suit your needs. More than any other category, you need to think about the boot, binding and ski all working together as one unit. This means that if you are going for a lightweight, narrower ski, that might suit multi hut tours, it needs to be matched up to a light, pin type binding and a boot that is light and agile. Conversely, a wider, more performance orientated ski needs to go with a strong binding and a boot which has the lateral stiffness to take on the extra load. If any of these three components are mismatched, the whole thing falls apart and simply will not work as intended.
Light needs to go with light, while heavy needs to go with heavy.
We have tested a selection of skis that are some of the main players in the touring scene for this winter. The type of binding and boot that you use does make a significant difference to how the ski behaves so we have held back on giving a definitive result, but the overall feel of the ski does come through. This year sees more high tech materials, lighter weights, yet performance levels have stepped up.