Backcountry Skiing: The Alpine Trekker

Outside magazine, January 1996

Backcountry Skiing: The Alpine Trekker
By Glenn Randall

Alpine skiers who long to explore the backcountry have always had a single option: buy a separate alpine-touring setup. Now a hybrid device called the Alpine Trekker is a ticket to take your downhill gear where a lift ticket won't.

With the Alpine Trekker, you can tour uphill using regular alpine boots, bindings, and skis (augmented with climbing skins). The bottom half of the Trekker clips into your binding, the upper half to your boot; the two parts are hinged, giving you the free-heel mobility you need to tour comfortably. To ski down, just click off the Trekkers and stash them in your pack.

The Alpine Trekker can save you a bundle. An alpine-touring setup can cost you $1,000, while a pair of Trekkers costs $180. Of course telemark equipment is another option, but that's expensive as well--and you have to be a mountain god to execute the telemark turn in a 45-degree couloir.

Mechanically, the Alpine Trekker performed as well as my alpine-touring setup. But the noticeable disadvantage is weight. My alpine-touring setup weighs three pounds less--per foot--than my clunkier alpine rig fitted with Trekkers. A smaller disadvantage: Alpine boots don't have lugged soles, which you'll miss if your itinerary involves any scrambling. But all gear has drawbacks. The Alpine Trekker provides backcountry transport at a modest price for downhill-equipped skiers.

From Backcountry Access, 4949 N. Broadway #139, Boulder, CO 80304; 303-417-1345.

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