equipment list - ski & board touring

A clothing system that is adjustable for a wide range of temperatures is one of the most important aspects to get perfected for Ski and Board touring. It can be very cold, particularly in the early morning, so a clothing system based on layers is preferred. This way, you can control your temperature much more easily than if you were wearing one thick item. As temperature increases during the day, particularly when ascending, your outer clothing will be in your rucksack, increasing it's weight. Therefore if you can, choose lightweight, good quality items over bulkier, cheaper ones. This equipment list is intended as a guide to what you will need on the mountain and doesn't cover any clothing etc for valley use. Also, quantities of items e.g. socks and undergarments  are a personal choice. We have made some recommendations based on our experience to help guide you towards the best equipment for our itineraries. Please contact us if you need any specific advice before purchasing.

When touring, you will be required to carry all of your items with you and the lighter you can keep your rucksack, the more you will enjoy your itinerary.  Ideally your total rucksack weight should be as close to 10kg as possible. Before you add that extra item that may be useful, remember that light plus light plus light equals heavy!

It is possible to rent the items in bold lower case (cost not included), Please make sure you arrive in good time to collect equipment the day before. You can normally pre-order or reserve in advance via the internet (recommended for the busiest periods). In Chamonix, for ski equipment, we recommend Concept Pro Store and for snowboard equipment, we recommend ZeroG.


Skis - Either an all-mountain freeride ski or backcountry specific model with waist of 90-110 mm for all round performance. Igneous skis are our weapons of choice to ride and are thoroughly recommended, if you are looking for a more conventional brand then we recommend K2 - Wayback 88 or 96 and Coomback 104 being models to look at.

Ski bindings - We recommend a pin binding system for ski touring. There are many options available including G3 Ion, Plum Guide, Dynafit Radical ST, Fritschi Vipec and Marker Kingpin. If your boots are not compatible with a pin binding system, then a frame binding system is your option, suitable models include Fritschi Diamir (Freeride Pro, Scout & Eagle) or Marker Tour (F10 & F12). Marker Dukes/Barons and Salomon Guardians are OK for single day tours however for multi day tours they tend to be quite heavy particularly when combined with a larger ski, if you’re happy to push the extra weight – then we’re happy.

Ski poles - For skiing, normal non adjustable ones are fine, having an extended foam grip is nice, we recommend Black Diamond Expedition 1. If you want adjustable then we recommend Black Diamond Expedition 2, flicklock telescopic poles with extended foam grip. Either way make sure you have powder baskets.

Climbing skins - Most ski manufacturers now have a compatible skin system for their touring ski range. If purchasing a cut to fit skin - these must be cut to fit the ski – top and tail fix are best – mohair/nylon mix gives the best compromise between lightness, glide, suppleness and longevity. If you are not looking for a ski specific model then we recommend Black Diamond STS Glidelite as a skin that can be cut to fit all.

Harscheisen - Ski crampons suitable for your binding and ski waist dimension (couteaux in French)

Ski boots - Ski touring boots are preferable over downhill boots, as they are lighter and more comfortable/flexible for skinning/climbing. Many alpine skiboot manufacturers have entered the ski mountaineering/freeride market e.g Salomon, K2 and Tecnica as well as the more established brands in this sector e.g. Scarpa, Black Diamond and Dynafit all making a comprehensive range. There are now so many models available that it is difficult to make a single recommendation here – it is best to seek professional advice from a specialist boot fitting company such as The Boot Room in Chamonix or ProFeet in London to discuss your skiing requirements and also assess which boot is best for your foot shape.


Snowboard - We recommend a Splitboard system over a solid board and snowshoes - Jones Hovercraft or Solution.

Snowboard bindings - We recommend Karakoram bindings.

Snowboard poles - We recommend Black Diamond Compactor,

Climbing skins - Some manufacturers have a compatible skin system for their splitboard range e.g. Jones. If purchasing a cut to fit skin - these must be cut to fit the split – mohair gives the best glide, nylon gives the best grip, a mix will give you the best compromise between lightness, glide, suppleness and longevity, we recommend G3.

Snowboard crampons - Mr Chomps, Sabretooth - call them what you like - these are the harscheisen of the snowboard world. You will need the compatible model for your binding.

Snowboard boots - A pair of boots that you find comfortable for riding and hiking - best not to bring that box fresh, stiff, performance pair.


Items in BOLD UPPER CASE can be provided at no cost but must be requested in advance. It is possible to rent the items in bold lower case from a store as with the specific equipment detailed above (cost not included)

TRANSCEIVER - We recommend Mammut Element or Pulse.

SHOVEL - We insist on metal and not plastic, we recommend Black Diamond Deploy or Transfer.

PROBE - We recommend Black Diamond Quickdraw Tour 240.

HARNESS - Must be able to go over all clothing. We recommend Black Diamond Couloir.

CARABINERS - 2 locking screwgates. We recommend DMM Shadow, Phantom or Petzl Attache.

LONG SLING - 240 cms (8ft).

ICE SCREW - Petzl Laser Speed Light 21 cm

Ice axe - Mountaineering style 50 – 60 cm. We recommend Petzl/Charlet Summit.

Crampons - With crampon bag and anti ball plates. We recommend Petzl/Charlet Vasak Leverlock. Grivel make a Snowboard boot specific model G10 Wide.  For lightweight aluminium we recommend Grivel Air Tech Light.

Helmet - More of our clients are wearing helmets, even on multi day tours. A freeride model is appropriate but we recommend that it is lightweight and comfortable with good ventilation for touring as you will most likely be carrying it when going uphill, we recommend Poc, Sweet or Giro G10 series. There are lighter models available that are specific for Ski mountain racing and touring. These provide head protection at a fraction of the weight, we recommend Salomon, K2, Dynafit and La Sportiva.

Rucksack - 25-35 litres for day touring, 35-45 litres maximum for multi-day touring, must have straps for attaching skis or board, we recommend Mammut Nirvana Pro 35L     

Headlamp - For multiday touring. Lightweight LED type, we recommend Petzl Tikka.

Base layer -  Long sleeved, high neck top and pants, trunks or 3/4 length bottoms, Synthetic or Merino wool, we recommend Arc'teryx Phase & Satoro ranges.

Mid Layer - Long sleeved, high neck, Synthetic or Merino wool. We recommend Arc'teryx Arenite & Delta ranges.

Top Layer - Lightweight synthetic or down vest or jacket. We recommend Arc'teryx Atom LT Jacket and Vest or similar..

Jacket - Soft Shell. We recommend Arc'teryx Gamma series Hoody or similar.. 

Trousers - We recommend a combination of Soft Shell Arc'teryx Gamma and over-trousers Arc'teryx Alpha SL OR a ski/board specific pant Arc'teryx Sabre or similar.

Outer Jacket - Waterproof and Breathable, Goretex or similar with appropriate hood. We recommend Arc'teryx Alpha SL or similar.

Socks - Wool or wool mix, loopstitch of a length that is suitable for your boots. We recommend Falke.

Hat - Woollen beanie.

Buff or Balaclava - Spare headwear, and neck protection.

Gloves - Two pairs. Thin (single layer) with synthetic or leather palms and thick (double layer) with synthetic or leather palms and waterproof/breathable shell/lining. We recommend Black Diamond Kingpin (thin) and Black Diamond Patrol (thick) or similar.

Sun hat - Baseball cap or full brim style for sun protection.

Sun glasses - Good quality, protection category 3 minimum, either wraparound or with side pieces.

Ski goggles - Good quality. protection category 3 minimum,

Sun cream - High protection factor depending on your skin type. SPF 30 minimum recommended.

Lip salve - High protection factor. SPF 30 minimum recommended.

Small thermos flask - Lightweight stainless, 0.75 litre max.

Water bottle - Hydration systems tend to freeze at altitude, we recommend large neck Nalgene or similar, 1 litre max.

Personal items - Personal medication (please inform us on your medical declaration), Compeed blister plasters, Elastoplast adhesive tape (wide) to cover Compeed, plasters, painkillers (ibuprofen/paracetamol), small pack towel, small soap (washing facilities are limited so baby wipes are a good option for personal hygiene), toothbrush and small toothpaste, ear plugs, spare batteries.

Sleeping bag liner - Required in alpine huts for hygiene. We recommend silk, more compact and lighter than cotton.

Camera - Make sure that you have sufficient battery power and film/memory cards.

Snacks and lunch items - These can be bought locally before leaving on itineraries.  It is possible to get snacks and packed lunches from high mountain huts.

Insurance - Rescue, medical and repatriation cover.

EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) - For European citizens. Replaces old E111 in the UK for reciprocated healthcare in mainland Europe.

Passport - Check that it is valid for itinerary countries and in date.

Money - Appropriate denomination to cover personal expenses, hut costs, snacks, lunches, drinks- credit cards are not always accepted in mountain huts.

Optional Items - These are items that can be useful – it would not be expected that you would wish to bring all of these; book, iPod, mobile phone (reception and charging facilities are normally limited), playing cards, notebook and pen, map, compass, gps.

© Simon Abrahams 2005 - 2019