School me on skis
Nov 20, 2022 at 11:48 am #3765718
I do a good amount of snowshoeing in the Adirondacks during the winter. Looking to try out skis instead. What are some recommendations for skis, boots, bindings that don’t break the bank? Any strategies or where and when do buy? Also for multi day trips do you guys walk about in your ski boots while not trekking or do you bring separate boots?Nov 20, 2022 at 12:09 pm #3765722
Depends on the terrain and your preferred technique. Steeps or flat? Nordic/telemark or alpine touring? You might want to try renting first. Go to a mountaineering store or even REI, have a chat, and look at the gear.Nov 20, 2022 at 2:36 pm #3765731YoPrawnSpectator
That’s a VERY difficult question to answer that depends on many variables. If you don’t have any skiing experience at all, even at resorts, using skis for backcountry work is probably going to be frustrating and even dangerous. It’s tough to learn even for people with resort skiing experience.
If you want to get into the serious stuff, it’s going to cost a lot of money for the gear and swapping gear to get what you need out of it.
If you are just putting about on mellow terrain, nothing steep, and want some of that skiing “vibe” without the commitment, then the Black Diamond Glidelite 147cm skis are pretty neat. I’ve been using mine since this time last year, when snow is around, and they are easy to use with regular snow boots since they have strap bindings. They are horrible for steep terrain (I’ve done it, but I’ve also been doing similar stuff for decades of practice), but without any backcountry skiing experience, that’s a good thing to keep one from confidently getting in over their head.
The Glidelite is so vastly more fun than snowshoes on rolling terrain, or even flat ground. Being able to glide with each step is bonus. You can also ski with snowshoes strapped to your backpack to put them on when things get too gnarly for the skis.Nov 20, 2022 at 5:46 pm #3765740nunatakBPL Member
For multi day trips I wear tall down booties with a CCF sole in camp.
If you have prolonged climbs and descents the skills and gear becomes involved and very techy; while mostly flat terrain with short rollers can be negotiated with moderate skill level and medium wide steel edged skis with scales (waxless) and three pin bindings. Boots are also forgiving and comfy.
All the gear for the latter style can be craigslisted for under $100. I just saw some Fischer 109’s with Rottefella three pins and really nice leather boots for $60 on the Denver CL.Nov 20, 2022 at 7:08 pm #3765742jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
If you’re looking to go into relatively non-challenging terrain, for several hours on a day trip; and you’re skiing back country–then :
stiffer skis are better for gliding and striding and covering ground. Softer skis are better for turning, especially at speed.
–If you’re not looking for steeps and turns, then half or three quarter metal edges work better than full metal edges for covering ground
–skies are a great option instead of snowshoes if the terrain is relatively unobstructed with downed trees and brush etc.
–even on gentle hills skis pick up speed on settled or hard pack snow on gentle downslopes. If one is in trees, this can become an issue. Especially if the snow has turned icy. snowshoes do better at handling ice.
–Again, for traversing ground, nordic systems that allow heel lift with a single attachment at the toe to the ski are very good, but there’s a learning curve. Other systems allow for heel lockdown as well as free heel, but now things are becoming expensive and complicated
I prefer skis to snowshoes in most winter day ski/shoe scenarios that I take. But I’m not looking for turns and fast descents. I downhill skied for decades. Those skills barely translate into backcountry skiing at any level
–I actually like my VERY skinny non metal edge Nordic skis even in the back country IF the conditions are appropriate and the terrain is gentle. I simply take off my skis and carry them on my pack over the steep sections. These are the lightest and move the best on packed snow. I’ve used these on sections of the Tahoe rim trail in winter, instead of my wider Madshus edged skis, depending on how the snow is.Nov 20, 2022 at 10:46 pm #3765746David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
I’d suggest that the easiest type of Nordic skiing to try out is in-track skiing on groomed trails. Waxless, edgeless, “touring” or “in-track” skis with a low to mid-height boots more akin to running shoes than hiking boots will be more comfortable and less exertion, as you build your skills on moderate terrain. In my town, that would be the two city golf courses or the recreational ski trails where there are over 100 km of set tracks (in total) and staying to the easier trails initially.
You could get that gear at REI or, if someone else could come along with you, for much less at a swap meet, resale shop or thrift store.Nov 21, 2022 at 7:26 am #3765752
I actually like my VERY skinny non metal edge Nordic skis even in the back country IF the conditions are appropriate and the terrain is gentle.
And as a major bonus, without edges, one doesn’t need to make as many emergency trips to the veterinarian to have one’s dogs stitched up. :-(Nov 21, 2022 at 7:40 am #3765753
Thanks everyone for the great feedback. I’ll probably start by renting for the first few times. For reference this would be easy terrain for travel not big climbs and downhill skiing. Most of what I do is recreate canoe routes from the spring so travel over flat lakes with hilly portages in between. If I end up purchasing anything I’m leaning towards buying a new set of Alpina Alaska boots then finding some used skis with NNNBC bindings to get me by til I see if I’m hooked.Nov 21, 2022 at 8:16 am #3765756
Considering the terrain I’ll be on is pretty mellow but the trails aren’t groomed and can tend to be pretty powdery, would I be better served with a wider steel edged ski?
Also as far as any experience I have, I skied a little at resorts in high school but switched to snowboarding for the most part. I’m gonna get out to some resorts for skiing this winter. And the areas I’ll be going are spots I have snowshoed before. Like I said big stretches of perfectly flat terrain (lakes) broken up by hilly stuff through the woods.Nov 21, 2022 at 9:56 am #3765771
It sounds like you may be able to get by with nordic touring skis like the ones that you are describing, and you may not need skins. However, if you don’t have nordic skiing skills, steel edges aren’t going to do you much good, and if you end up having to ski down even a gentle hill through trees, you’ll find yourself in a tough spot. I’m speaking from experience here because I can’t telemark to save my life. If I go into the backcountry with skis, it’s AT only.
I like David’s suggestion of exploring some groomed trails first, that’s the only place I’m personally comfortable on nordic gear. If your skiing experience is limited to alpine skis/boots in a resort setting, you are going to find skiing with nordic gear to be a huge change.Nov 21, 2022 at 4:32 pm #3765887jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I was a pretty good downhill skier for many decades. when I got on Nordic skis at Royal Gorge I was down on my butt in 12 seconds. You'[re only attached by a thin rod at the toe and the damn things are super skinny, with no edges. An entirely different animal than downhill. My Madshus Glittertind back country skis are much more ‘like’ downhill in that they’re wider, but I’d learned to ski toe attachment skis on Nordic by the time I tried them. By the way, Nordic skiing on groomed trails is a beautiful thing. Again, not anything like the downhill scene. I could ski for hours on a weekday through forests around Lake Tahoe and see few people once I was back in a ways.
Non-groomed backcountry snow presents its own problems. But the terrain that you'[re describing sounds perfect for you. To clarify: skinny Nordic skis can glide better than wider backcountry skis in the right backcountry conditions, for sure. But they offer almost no control for turning for a beginner or anyone really, especially in icy or choppy snow. In deep powder you won’t be gliding all that much, except a little on the way back in your own tracks, if they haven’t filled in with fresh falling snow. On settled snow, over a frozen lake, they could be a lot of fun. Way better than snow shoes in the right conditions.Nov 22, 2022 at 11:51 pm #3766073AK GranolaBPL Member
I would not wear ski boots for walking any considerable length. Here on dry snow I use mukluks, which are lightweight to pack. On wetter snow – I assume the Adirondacks are wet? – you’ll want something waterproof, and probably heavier. Anything that makes feet comfortable is worth the weight.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.