Off-piste & ski touring equipment

We get lots of enquiries from people about what equipment t
hey should consider buying or renting for our skiing courses, both off-piste and touring. This page answers many of these questions, and is designed as an overview of the style of equipment to consider buying or renting, not a review of each make and model.

- Quick links to the equipment advice pages...

Off-piste equipment

Dynastar Legend 8000
K2 Xplorer skis
Dynastar Legend Mythic

Advice for off piste skis

The range of off piste skis is awesome and growing! The key advice is not to try to use your piste skis for our off piste courses, and their handling and flotation are not good enough. For example the waist of a slamon style ski such as the Salomon Crossmax is about 65mm, and you are looking for at least 80mm at the waist for a suitable off piste ski. Don't suffer - if you haven't got a suitable ski, then hire some for the week. It will make the world of difference to your skiing and enjoyment of the course. We work with a range of local ski hire shops who specialise in supplying our guests with the latest off piste skis. Some examples of the most popular off piste skis that you can hire, are pictured above.

Off piste boots, helmets, rucksacks etc

If you are on an off piste course and already have boots, you should use them as you will be used to their feel and fit. Do not try to wear in new boots on a course, as this always ends in tears! As regards boot liners, thermo fits are great and you can even consider a custom fit liner. We recommend custom footbeds (eg Superfeet), as this provides many people with greater precision in their skiing due to greater comfort. A good pair of ski goggles is essential. If you are skiing off piste a helmet is required for our off piste courses, and is recommended for day ski touring such as the Intro Touring & Backcountry course. You must ensure that your goggles fit comfortably with the helmet. In addition you should carry sunglasses for when you are touring or there is hardly any wind. For off piste, a rucksack size of up to 35 litres maximum will suffice, but ensure it has side straps for carrying skis. Keeping very well hydrated is essential, and you should carry up to 1.5 litres of water for each day. Playpus style hydration tubes are great for a quick sip, but could freeze if it is especially cold.

Ski touring skis

Ski Trab Freerando
Movement Iki's
Volkl Snow Wolf

If you are on a ski touring course and are looking to buy a ski, there are two elements to balance; performance and weight. At one end of the scale you can get very light skis (eg Movement Red Apples) which as great for the uphill, but which flap around on icy descents. On the other end of the scale you can get heavy skis which are an effort on the up and a delight on the descent. Any of the skis listed in the off piste section above would be examples of this. For most people a happy medium is ideal, and the three skis listed above are popular and highly recommended for ski touring.

Ski touring rucksacks

When you are in huts you can ski with quite a light rucksack (ideally no more than 7kg), but if you have not skied with a pack before, it is worth trying it out (even on piste), so you get used to the different weighting and balance. Also ensure that your rucksack has straps for carrying skis for the portage (booting) sections. Before you set out on any tour our Chamonix team will help you check
through your bag to ensure that you are travelling as light as possible. For all our tours we highly recommend that you do not take a bag any larger than 40 litres maximum. When staying in guardianned huts, no bedding is required (just a sleeping bag liner), so all you are carrying each day is some safety kit, spare clothing, snacks and water.

Ski touring boots

Scarpa F3
Garmont Adrenalin
Black Diamond Factor

Following the explosion of interest in ski touring, the manufacturers are reacting, and the three boots pictured above are popular choices and styles to consider. We recommend the Scarpa touring boot series (Tornado, Denali, F1 etc) as the best range, and it is this that you will most likely be offered if renting touring boots. Of course it is possible to ski tour in downhill boots (or to ski off piste in touring boots), but the key differences and advantages of touring boots are that they can be made more flexible for the ascents / walking, and more rigid for ski descents. They tend to be lighter than off piste / downhill boots too, which all helps on a multi day ski tour.

Ski touring bindings & skins & safety kit

Diamir Explore bindings
Dynafit TLT Speed bindings
Diamir ski crampons
Touring Skins and glue

Advice for ski touring bindings
There are two leading types of ski touring bindings, both pictured above. The determining factor in the choice between them is your style of boot. Some boots have Dynafit locator dimples / hinges built into them, in which case the lighter Dynafit binding is highly recommended. Otherwise for all other boots, the Diamir step in system is the obvious choice. The Diamir system is heavier, but either model is equally durable. One key factor to weigh up if that the Dynafit bindings do not release as easily as the Diamir's, so if you are less stable skiing with a pack on, then the Diamir binding might be a better option, as it releases exactly the same as a classic Alpine binding. Guides and advanced / frequent ski tourers are almost all using Dynafit when buying their own kit. The choice as to the binding system boils down to the usual culprits; price, weight, reliability, range. Here are our thoughts...
Type Price Weight Reliability Range
Diamir c.£350 c.1800g The current models of Diamir Fritschi bindings have very good reliability reports, and the old issues have all been resolved, so a great choice for long tours. Each size of binding has about 55mm of adjustment possible, so can cater for roughly 5 sizes of boot, which makes them popular in hire shops.
Dynafit c.£330 c.680g These can release easier than a Diamir binding if you are skiing very agressively / steep couloirs / moguls, but remember they are a rando, not alpine binding. The TLT binding only can vary about 6mm, so not a good choice for rental shops, as one ski can only take one (or max 2) boot sizes.

Safety kit for ski touring

For all ski tours we will provide you with a specific technical kit list, but this section considers the key kit. A classical ice axe (curved pick) for steeper climbs is great, and you can get very lightweight axes for touring. Skins for your skis are essential, and for fairly curved (carver style) skis, fitted skins are better. Also you will require ski crampons (harscheisen) that are complient with your type of touring bindings. Please note that we do not supply ski crampons on any of our courses, and you must hire these at the same time as your touring skis and skins. On tougher tours you may require regular climbing boot crampons for some sections. These can be fitted to your touring boots, and you can get very lightweight models specifically designed for touring that are made in aluminium or another light alloy.
For safe glacier skiing a climbing harness is essential. For skiing you can use a basic and light-weight model, and make sure that the leg loops are fully adjustable, so that you could put on the harness without taking off your crampons / skis / boots.
On your harness you should have a sling, prussic loops, and three screw gate karabiners. These items are for your general safety, and especially for crevasse rescue and abseiling.

Clothing (for both off piste and touring)

Jacket: a shell style jacket is more versitile than a padded jacket, and a built in wired hood is very useful. If the weather is looking good, soft shell jacket may also be ideal, and this is often the prefered choice for ski touring, as it allows a good level of vapour release while staying water resistant.

Base Layers: wicking materials (eg Patagonia capalene) takes moisture away from your skin when skiing.

Mid Layers: several thin layers are better than one thicker one, to regulate your temperature better.

Extremities: a fleece hat is a great way to keep warm, and neck gaiters are very useful too. For cold conditions you should also consider a balaclava, face ski mask and thin liner gloves (eg silk). Also ensure that your ski gloves are gauntlet style and good quality (leather palms give great grip on poles, ropes etc).

Salopettes: good features are bib fronts for deep powder, breathable fabric (eg Goretex or Event) and side zips or vents to regulate your temperature, drop seat pants so you can go to the loo, and stretch fabric for your knees for the all important leg flexibility. Some soft shell fabrics are ideal for this too.

Ski touring pants: when you are ski touring, regular ski salopettes / pants are often far too hot, which aside of being uncomfortable, will also impact on your performance as you dehydrate. If the weather is good, then soft shell ski pants are ideal for touring, as are many of the Schoeller style fabrics. A good ski touring pant has side zips for the upper legs to allow heat to escape, and a good snow skirt around the ankles, to keep the boots dry. They often have detachable braces, so you can opt for belt or braces, though when wearing a harness, braces are best.
Ski Touring - packing list

As one of the UK's leading providers of ski touring trips, we have produced a very detailed ski touring equipment list that is designed for Alpine ski tours.

The list has been carefully produced by our guiding team, to help you keep the pack weight to a minimum, and to enjoy the skiing to the maximum

For some advice on clothing and assessing your ski level, click to vist page. All clients who book on a course receive a Course Info Booklet which gives equipment selection advice, and a course specific equipment list.

In addition look at the
Kit List (click to link) page for further details on different types of equipment.

Ski equipment
Touring skis
Ski boots
Poles (telescopic)
Ski crampons (couteau)
Helmet (completely optional)

Technical kit
Boot crampons (12 point)
Ice screw*
Prussic loop
Ice axe

2 base layers
2 pairs socks
Sun hat / cap
Goretex jacket
Thin gloves
Thick gloves
Ski trousers
Duvet / insulated jacket

Snacks & Extras
Cereal bars
Wet wipes
Tootbrush & toothpaste
Travel towel
Spare batteries
iPod / MP3 player (optional)
Camera (optional)

Medical & Paperwork
1st Aid Kit
Asprin (for altitude)
Anti-septic wipes
Zinc oxide (strapping) tape
Insurance card (e.g. Snowcard)
Bank card for ATM (e.g. Verbier)

General kit
Rucksack (35 litre max)
Head torch (e.g. LED)
Mobile phone
Water bottle (tubes freeze)
Sleeping bag liner
Ear plugs for sleeping
Gaffer tape (wrap around pole)

Note: * = items that will be supplied by the guide, amongst the group, if required. You do not have to provide these items yourself. On certain ski tours, some technical equipment is provided included in the course price. Read the course itinerary, to see what technical equipment is included for the duration of the course.
Ski helmets
Off Piste: If you are asking yourself whether to wear a helmet or not, then you already know the answer! Wear one!! For off piste courses, we insist that everyone wears a ski helmet. It's obvious why they are required, as there is always the chance of a fall onto hard packed snow / rock / trees etc.

Ski touring: You are more than welcome to wear a helmet for ski touring, and many people do, but many find them far too hot for wearing on the ascents, as they act like a pressure cooker! If you prefer skiing with a helmet, then for touring we suggest carrying the helmet on the ascents, and just wearing it for the descents. Unless you are superhuman, the ascents are made at walking speed, so there is very little danger of injury if you were to fall over on the climbs.
Vallee Blanche film
Latest news from Icicle
Suggested reading and kit
To view the full course equipment list, with examples of kit, please click here.
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.

Get in contact to arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee to discuss your course in person with a trip advisor.

Facebook Icicle Instagram Twitter Icicle
Online & Lake District mountain store - quick links; technical kit | clothing | accessories | books & maps
conditions|privacy|sitemap|copyright 2017 Icicle, Church Street, Windermere, Lake District, LA23 1AQ
Icicle logo is the registered trademark of Icicle Mountaineering|UK company 413 6635. VAT 770 137 933