From Aspen, Colorado, to Mount Snow, Vermont, uphill traffic has become routine. The climbing typically occurs before the opening bell, and you may have to sign a waiver and follow a set route or abide by other rules: Crested Butte, for example, now requires you to buy an uphill pass ($10) and will rent you a complete touring setup. It's a low-stress way to get in a great workout before the lifts start to spin or, for newbies, to try skinning for the first time. Here's what you need.
GlideLite Pure STS
Angora-goat mohair skins like Black Diamond's GlideLite Pure STS ($180) are the slipperiest and lightest. Learn how to reglue them and they'll last forever.
Skinny, cambered skis are light on the uptrack and ideal for arcing first tracks on buttery corduroy. Kastle's TX77's TX77 (115/77/102; $679) have enough guts that even in touring boots you'll leave trenches on the way down.
Speed Radical Bindings
The toe pieces on Dynafit's Speed Radical bindings ($400) guide your boots into position better than those on other tech bindings. The touring platform is also easier to flip up, and they're durable as hell. We own pairs that have lasted 13 years.
Hybrid High-E Hoodie
Voormi's hybrid High-E hoodie ($229) combines wicking synthetic fabric on the inside with hard-faced wool on the outside. Wear it next to your skin on temperate mornings or over a thin base layer when it's sub-20. The exterior's tight weave cuts the wind on the way up.
Ultralite Ski Socks
Fits Ultra Light ski socks ($20) are the best we've ever tried. Credit goes to the pronounced heel pocket and U.S. knitting.
Sonic R2 Ski Poles
Swix's adjustable carbon Sonic R2 poles ($149) are nearly as stiff and light as XC racing poles; extend them to shoulder height for aggressive poling on the way up. Bonus: the powder baskets are cut from rugged Hypalon fabric and are resort and backcountry worthy.
Dy.N.A. PDG Boots
At a slim 3.4 pounds a pair, Dynafit's Dy.N.A. PDG boots ($850) are light, but they're also stiff enough to use on a hut trip. Switch to tour mode and back with a flip of the top buckle.
Alpine Guide Pants
Patagonia's soft-shell Alpine Guide pants ($229) are warm and stretchy, and they act like the French in combat—no interference.
Next Up: The Women's Backcountry Skiing Essentials of 2015