Gear – Ski Touring
For purchasing gear online from the UK we recommend Facewest or Backcountry UK for ski and ski mountaineering gear.
For ski hire & gear in the Alps – skis, touring equipment, transceivers, boots perfectly fitted to your feet, we recommend Jean-Mi and colleagues at Sportech in Argentiere. Their experience, stock levels, prices, laid-back knowledge and professionalism are just the job. You can check the Sportech website and email or call ahead to reserve skis, snowboards and mountain equipment on 04 50 54 00 56.
In Chamonix, a good place to hire ski gear is Coquoz Sports on the main street. You can book hire equipment online via their website
Gear list for ski touring
List 1 – Provide your own or hire in UK or locally in the Alps. These are all essential items that you must have.
For some items I have included links to retailers. Other links are just for information.
Ski Touring Boots (preferable to downhill boots – ski touring boots are usually warmer as they have a more relaxed fit, and also have a vibram sole which makes it easier for climbing). If you are thinking of buying and would like advice then feel free contact us. Generally I would recommend buying where you are going to be skiing.
Skis & Poles Either skis specifically designed for touring or a general freeride ski or all-mountain ski with a touring binding – which is the preference of most people. Avoid very light skis – although they are great for the uphills they can make downhill harder work.
Skins & Harscheisen The skins should fit neatly to the skis and you should check that they are a good fit when you hire them. Harscheisen are ski crampons – again make sure they fit correctly to your skis/bindings.
Boot Crampons. If you are keen to buy ski touring crampons I’d recommend something like Grivel Air Tech Light Classic as they fit most boots and they are great for lightweight use on mountain boots too. Check out the link and see the other ski touring crampons too. The main thing is they fit your boots well. They can be hired from Sportech on a ‘pay when you use’ basis so that is a good option too.
List 2 – Items I can normally lend to you if you let me know beforehand
Transceiver. I can supply transceivers. If you wish to buy then I recommend 3 antennae transceivers such as the DTS Tracker 2 or the Barryvox for ease of use.
Shovel & Probe – Light modular aluminium shovel and 2.4m probe. There are some good deals on these if you are buying a transceiver, shovel and probe together a a full safety package.
Ice Axe (55cm-ish lightweight)A general mountaineering axe will do but there are some lightweight axes specifically designed for ski touring that will make a difference to the weight of your bag.
Harness Either a general mountaineering harness or a specific touring harness – all comes down to weight, but a good all rounder that is quite light is the Black Diamond Alpine Bod.
Crevasse Kit: 2 Prusiks, 1 ice screw,Sling & Krab, Pulley etc.
List 3 – Clothing and Equipment.
Rucksack – Ideally it is best to have a proper ski pack. For day touring a 25-35L pack will be fine. For longer hut to hut tours then a 40-45L pack is more realistic. The main thing is that your pack is a simple sack with a good system for carrying skis (either “A” frame or strapped diagonally – I prefer the latter as it is quicker and easier). Definitely avoid sacks with side pockets or sacks that are bigger than 45L capacity. Many ski sacks have separate compartments for avalanche safety gear – which is a good idea too.
Shell Jacket & Pants – a good lightweight shell is best. Shell Pants should be very light as hopefully they will stay in the bag.
Spare warm layer – fleece or light synthetic insulated jacket or vest.
Gloves – one thin pair (eg Powerstretch gloves )and one thick pair (eg Guide Gloves).
Ski Goggles & Glacier Sunglasses (Cat 4)
Headtorch (light LED / maglite)
Sun Hat (good cover including the neck) & Factor 50 Cream (Sunblock)
Map & Compass
Water Bottle – not platypus type thing, but a Sigg bottle type 1.5 litre max
Blister Kit / Personal first aid kit (plasters/headache pills etc)
Money, INSURANCE details, Alpine club card (if you have one)
Other useful items for ski touring:
Light clothing, thin layers, light colours etc – most people suffer from being too hot, ideally you need good “wicking” material and definitely not black!
Silk sleeping bag liner for huts – don’t bring cotton – v heavy
Good idea to have some cash (euros / swiss), and mobile phone for safety.
The main thing is that your bag is not too heavy, there will be a little group gear to share round on top of your personal stuff – which should be as lightweight as possible.
Reading material- for afternoons in huts!
Group kit to be shared around: 1st aid, tool kit, group shelter, ropes, gps, crevasse kit, spare skins etc…