We dress using the layering principle, which makes it easy and quick to adjust for temperature, precipitation, and wind.
Shell jacket – A light waterproof shell version, which, when stowed away in the backpack, doesn’t take up too much space, is perfect. It should have a good hood, vents under arms, and be made of good quality materials (E.g., Goretex).
Note: Insulated ski jackets are not recommended for ski touring, as they get too warm and often are too heavy and bulky. They are also slow to dry when wet.
Pants – 2 possible setups
- Sturdy Shell pants
- A durable pair of gore-tex salopettes with a few pockets that can zip up on the side for ventilation.
- Base-layer – Long underwear base-layer pants. You can bring a thin and thicker pair to cater to different temperatures. (Light and warm version).
- Guide Pant Setup
- Shell pants – Light shell version, which doesn’t take much space being “packed” in the backpack.
- Guide pants – This type of pants is great for ski touring. Made of a stretchy material,” Scholler”, they are comfortable and weatherproof. While they aren’t 100% waterproof, they ventilate better than gore-tex pants. If you have such pants, you should only have a pair of light-shell pants as a backup for bad weather. Make sure that you can wear them with your ski boots on.
- A light base layer for use on cold days.
Base layers – Long sleeve upper base layer and long base layer bottom. You can adjust these to be either a light or warm version. If you are doing a hut-night, it is a good idea to bring an extra short-sleeved t-shirt version, so you can change from the one you used touring.
Mid-layer – A mid-grade fleece sweater or jacket is great.
Extra warm layer – Light fibre and down jacket.
Warm hat – Should cover your ears.
Neck gaiter – Something that can warm your neck and protect against wind and bad weather. A “buff” or other balaclavas are great.
Warm gloves – Finger gloves – if you suffer from very cold hands, mittens are the choice.
Lightweight gloves – Lightweight yet durable and windproof gloves. We often use these more than our warmer gloves.
Socks – Choose a pair of socks that will keep you warm yet still fit well with the boots.
Head-lamp– make sure you have new batteries.
Sunglasses – Category 4
Ski goggles – For those bad weather days.
Water bottle – 1l water bottle. Water systems will freeze. If long tours, 1.5L is often enough.
Thermo Flask – 1/2l flask for those appreciating a warm drink on the mountain.
Snacks/sandwiches/energy bars – A few snacks for the day.
Suncream & sun-stick – Factor 30-50 is recommended.
Small first-aid – Pain killers, tape, Compeed (or other blister-kit), personal medicaments.
Camera – + spare batteri. A small digital pocket is perfect.
Personal items – Money, passport, social security card, insurance card, etc.
Phone – Type in the emergency number and keep it warm/dry during the day.
1 x T-shirt (easily drying version)
1 extra underwear
1 x extra socks
Book – Choose a small, light one. A “Kindle” is perfect
Sleeping bag liner – a light silk version is great
Backpack – A good ski touring backpack is durable and lightweight. The backpack must have straps or a system to carry skis comfortably. You should be able to attach an ice axe.
- Day Tours – A 30-40l backpack. On day tours, we can get away with a smaller backpack. Check with the guide.
- Hut-to-Hut – 40-45l back-pack. As we are bringing more items, you need a bit more space.
Ski touring boots* – We use ski touring boots with a good “walk-mode”, “Vibram-sole”, “tech binding inserts” and softer overall flex than more free-ride-related boots. It is worth buying your ski touring boots in a shop that has a good selection of boots and can do “boot-fitting”.
Touring skis* – You need a pair of touring skis that are relatively light yet good to ski on. A width of around 90-100mm is good, medium-flex, max 1500g/ski without bindings.
When renting a touring setup, they come mounted with bindings, skins, ski crampons, and ski poles. Make sure to rent touring boots in the shop or bring those you want to use so they can make sure they fit the bindings.
Touring bindings – If you put your own ski touring gear together, we advise you to get a pair of “tech bindings” (e.g. Marker Alpinist). Whatever model you choose, make sure they fit your boots, have a good heal-lift, and are of quality material.
We advise against the Salomon Shift for full ski touring days. They are heavier and have a more complicated build than tech bindings. They are more suited for short touring while chasing off-piste runs near the resort.
Skins – You need skins cut for the skis, with flush or maximum 1-2mm distance to the edge. If you have more space between the skins and the edge, you will have a problem with hard snow.
The best skins stick well to the ski, slide well, don’t absorb water, and are light. The Mohair versions are, in our opinion, the best. Do not choose any skins with any “suction” ability. They fall off too easily, and once they fall off, they are hard to put back on.
For multi-day ski tours, you can bring an extra top/bottom piece to replace any damaged or lost ones.
Ski Crampons – It’s important to have ski crampons that fit your bindings. As all brands have more or less different ski crampons, ensure you have these before you meet the guide.
We have experienced that it can be a frustrating experience to find a pair that fits in the shops at the last minute before a trip.
Ski poles – Normal poles are okay, but a pair of telescopic poles are better. You will need a “wider” basket at the pole, so they can be useful for pushing around in soft snow.
Harness* – When we bring the harness, it is mostly worn all day. Opt for a well-fitting, compact & lightweight ski touring model.
Crevasse & personal rescue kit** – 1 x ice-screw (16cm-19cm), 2 x non-locking carabiners, 3 x locking carabiners, 1 x belay carabiner, Petzl Micro-Traxion, 1xPetzl Tibloc, 1xprusik (60cmx6-7mm), 2x120cm Dyneema sling.
Crampons* – Good ski touring crampons are a hybrid model with steel front teeth and an aluminium back piece. This is lighter than a full steel version yet sturdy enough for touring. A full aluminium model can work on routes where we only encounter snow, but on any hut-to-hut trip, they will not be strong enough.
Ice-axe* – A 40-45cm classic or light technical touring ice-axe is the best. We prefer that you don’t bring any ice-axe longer than 45cm, as they will protrude too high above your backpack, making them dangerous in case of a fall.
Ski helmet – We strongly recommend you wear a helmet. We understand it’s a personal choice, but we will impose this as “obligatory” if conditions are delicate. New ski touring helmets are light and comfortable, have good ventilation, and are generally worn throughout the day, not adding bulk to the backpack.
Ski strap – Used mostly to keep your skis together and to attach the tips when carrying them in the backpack.
Avalanche beacon*/** – Choose a trusted model w. 3 antennas.
Avalanche shovel*/** – A lightweight and compact model with a telescopic handle made of metal.
Probe*/** – A quality probe of carbon (light), Aluminium or steel. Should be 240-300cm long.
Avalanche backpacks – They are proven to add safety in an avalanche situation, but in our opinion, they are not light or practical enough yet for anything else than shorter single-day ski tours.
You won’t see many wearing these bags for ski touring in the Alps on longer ski tours and in particular on multi-day ski tours.
You will not go wrong with avalanche gear from “Ortovox”, “Mammut”, “BCA”, and “Pieps”. Transceivers are frequently updated, and new models are released. Make sure to read up on the latest news before you go shopping. It’s a good idea to go to a specialist shop.
Whether you use your transceiver frequently or only occasionally, most manufacturers advise you to get it checked every 3-5 years. You should be able to send it to the company’s service center, who against a fee will do a maintenance service, making sure that features such as the frequency, transmit and search modes, buttons, screen etc. are all working as intended.
*Can be rented in Chamonix.
** We can supply you with some of these items. Let us know what you need.
The guide will always bring extra group safety gear selected according to which ski tour is on the program:
Technical gear – Rope, crevasse rescue kit, karabiners, slings…
First-aid kit – An extended first-aid kit
Radio – A radio or other means of calling rescue.
Knife – A small knife
Repair kit – A small selection of screws, glue, tape, straps, etc.
Survival blanket/shelter – Emergency bivouac.
Stove – A small stove for emergency bivouacs.
Emergency food – a few soups, etc.
On hut-to-hut tours, items will be spread out to be carried by all group members.