Backcountry Skis

Oct 22, 2007
Outside Magazine
Arrabelle at Vail Square

Room with a view at Arrabelle    Photo: courtesy, Arrabelle at Vail Square

In the Store: The main difference between alpine skis and backcountry skis is weight: The latter are often built without any metal in the topsheet. A few major companies still market some skis as "telemark" and others as "alpine touring," but we don't believe in segregation: Buy the boards you like best. And you can put alpine-touring or telemark bindings on alpine skis—just be aware that they might be much heavier.

In the Field: Make sure you've got the right safety gear and knowledge. Sign up for a Level I certification with the National Avalanche Foundation (

Telemark skiers: If you're heading out-of-bounds, remove your leashes—in an avalanche, attached skis can drag you down or hang you up. Coming soon: Rottefella's releasable bindings.

At Home: If your skins are losing their stick, run a hot iron over a paper bag to remove the glue, then reapply. We like BD's iron-on Glue Renew Transfer ($25;

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