Choosing the right alpine touring skis can be tricky. Here's everything you need to know before you buy

Whether it’s the lure of fresh tracks, fewer people, or the risk and responsibility, alpine touring (also known as randonnée) is increasing in popularity. If you’re a skier making the jump to backcountry or alpine touring your skis are as important as ever.


You’ll be spending about 90% of your time going up the mountain under your own power, and the 10% downhill time will be in variable conditions and terrain, so it’s important you choose the right planks. The best alpine touring skis are those that you feel most comfortable with for the terrain and type of snow you’ll be riding on. These might be your usual lift-served skis but with alpine touring bindings and climbing skins, or a separate AT specific pair altogether. 


Our stores have a wide range of ski bindings, so if in doubt, visit us in store and get expert advice from our knowledgeable staff.

Finding the right AT ski 

You need to find a good balance between uphill performance, either with climbing skins or hiking with your skis on your pack, and downhill performance. 

AT-specific skis

In theory you can use any ski for alpine touring however more and more brands are developing touring-specific skis with lighter constructions and shapes suited to the variable backcountry terrain.


Always consider which type of climbing skins you want to use with your skis as some AT-specific skis have cutouts or holes in the tips and tails designed for your skin system. Other AT-specific skis are made from the same moulds as the brand’s alpine skis, but with a lighter core and without an additional metal or laminated layer to save weight.


If possible, try before you buy. 


Narrow and light skis are brilliant for the climb, sadly, where you’ll be spending most of your day. Wider and heavy skis are ideal for downhill, especially handling speed and difficult terrain in soft or deep snow. But don’t forget to factor in the weight of your AT ski boots and bindings. 


Many alpine touring skiers prefer a rocker or early rise in the tip, making it easier to both ski and skin in fresh snow. A rocker in the tail can add manoeuvrability in steep terrain but can make attaching skins more difficult so it’s usually again down to personal preference. 

Weight class

Alpine touring skis can be divided into three weight classes; ultralight, standard weight, and heavy. While lighter skis are easier to carry up the mountain, your downhill performance may be compromised and vice versa. 


Ultralight skis are usually under 2.7kg for the pair, allowing you to easily glide up the hill. They can be made with advanced materials such as carbon fibre for increased performance. 


Standard weight is usually around 2.7kg and 3.4kg for the pair and offers a good balance between easy climbing and good downhill performance. 


Typical alpine skis weigh in around 4kg and above which is considered heavy for backcountry.

Let us know you agree to cookies

We use marketing, analytical and functional cookies as well as similar technologies to give you the best experience. Third parties, including social media platforms, often place tracking cookies on our site to show you personalised adverts outside of our website.


We store your cookie preferences for two years and you can edit your preferences via ‘manage cookies’ or through the cookie policy at the bottom of every page. For more information, please see our cookie policy.