Gear Guide - 2020/21 Steep Camps Ski & Boot Guide
We are often asked by guests who plan to join us on one of our Steep Skiing Camps what ski kit they should bring. It’s a great question and an important thing to get right so you can make the best of your trip and enjoy the ski conditions during your holiday.
There are so many skis, boots, and bindings on the market these days, sometimes the choice is baffling and it’s hard to know where to start with making a choice on what to buy. First off you need to identify the type of skiing you most want to do, is it resort skiing, off-piste lift accessed, ski touring, or even ski-mo racing. This will make it easier to narrow down your search to a specific set of skis, boots and bindings that have been designed for that type of skiing.
On our steep camps we mostly ski lift accessed terrain but there will be times when we need you to ski tour to reach the best snow and skiing. If you have never ski toured before then our guides will show you the basic techniques you need, and how to use the equipment.
If you are brining your own skis/boots/bindings and you only have a downhill set up, that’s fine you can hire locally in any of the resorts we go to, kit to use for ski touring. This will include skis with ski touring bindings, skins and ski crampons (couteaux).
For the ladies joining us on one of our Women's Steep Camps Liz Smart firstly suggests that if you plan to buy new boots for the trip you do this well in advance and ideally try to ski in them a few times before you join us in the Alps. If you can’t get to ski in them before you come, then try to wear them around the house or the office a little bit for a few days to wear them!
The key piece of advice is to visit a shop with a good boot fitter, avoid buying boots online that you cannot try on and get professional advise on; you are most likely going to end up making an expensive mistake. Having a good fitting boot it probably one of the key points to good skiing and a good skiing experience so it’s worth investing time, effort and money in getting it right.
Liz says “you want a boot that offers a strong downhill ski performance for our women’s camps. If you can come with a hybrid type boot with a walk mode then you can use this for ski touring and it offers a flexible solution”.
We recommend the K2 Mindbender 110 Alliance boot. This is a 4-buckle boot with tech inserts so it can but used with “pin” style bindings like the Marker Kingpin or Dynafit, it has a walk mode and a grippy sole. It’s not the lightest boot on the market but a great all rounder for all mountain, freeride and some ski touring.
K2 Mindbender 110 Alliance boot
For skis Liz recommends the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance or the 106C Alliance, both great skis for soft snow days and freeride skiing. The 106C is more versatile with it’s all-terrain rocker and mid-fat waist plus it’s lightweight wood core for a great feel. If you want a one-ski-does-it-all then this would be the best choice.
K2 Women's 106C Alliance Ski
For the perfect ski touring ski the K2 Talkback 96 is Liz’s ski of choice, it offer a great blend of uphill efficiency thanks to its Tour Lite core but also great downhill performance.
For the men joining any of our Steep Camps Miles suggests you consider the Mindbender 130 or 120 boot from K2 it is a great all-round boot for all mountain and freeride skiing and has the tech inserts for use with all “pin” style bindings. Again, it is essential to visit a boot fitter in a store to ensure this is the right boot for your foot.
K2 Mindbender 130 boot
For skis Miles says “if you want to bring 2 sets of skis for the camp then this is fine and will cover all conditions, you can always check with us before you travel what the conditions and weather are due to be and we can make a recommendation on what skis to bring”.
The K2 Mindbender 116C is for big powder days, it’s powder rocker will ensure you can make effortless turns in the deepest snow. If you are bringing a second ski or just a one-ski-quiver then the K2 Wayback 106 is the ski of choice. It has a mid-fat waist, all-terrain rocker but is stable enough to charge though the powder and chop as well as skin uphill to access the best lines.
K2 Wayback 106 Ski
If you are buying new skis, then you will probably need new bindings. If you plan to do any type of touring and have a boot with a walk mode, then it is worth choosing a type of touring binding so you don’t have to change skis to often. For lift served skiing and short tours Miles and Liz suggest the Marker Duke PT which is a mix of a pin binding at the toe for the uphill called its Ride & Hike Toe and a regular heal piece for downhill performance.
The option for a one-ski quiver would be the Marker Kingpin binding it is solid enough for most skiers on all terrains and offers good downhill performance, ski touring ability and is not too heavy. If you plan to do more ski touring and have a narrower ski (105mm underfoot or less) then the Marker Alpinist binding is the best choice, lightweight and good for longer ski touring days and multi-day tours note that the breaks for these bindings only come in 2 sizes 90 or 105mm so ski width is key.
Marker Kingpin binging
If you are bringing your own skis for touring then you must have your own skins cut to fit your skis and also bring ski crampons that fit your bindings as you cannot just rent these items from a shop in resort. If you buy ski touring bindings buy the ski crampons to fit the width of ski at the same time as almost all ski crampons are specific to the binding and cannot be interchanged with others.
Skin used for ski touring, placed on the bottom of your ski
Ski Crampon to fit a Marker Kingpin binding
We hope this gives you an insight into some good ski, binding and boot combinations to consider if you are planning on buying new for this winter and what we suggest are good options for our steep camps. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or want to chat over some options, we love talking about kit.