Sky Touring Essentials


The sky is filled with wonders that you can discover, whether using a telescope or simply your eyes alone – star patterns, constellations, and planet lineups all offer something remarkable to observe. There are also plenty of free apps to assist with beginning this experience of observation.

The Great Lakes region boasts many Dark Sky Preserves, such as Rockport State Recreation Area, Thompson’s Harbor State Park, and Negwegon State Park. As darkness increases, so will your ability to see stars.


There is an impressive variety of skis available, ranging from narrow and light to wide and heavy. Your chosen type of skiing may dictate which ski is right for you; otherwise, renting equipment from a rental shop might provide the best start for experiencing this exciting sport! For beginners looking to try it out the first time around, we recommend renting gear before committing to buy anything outright.

Skis are built around their core, which consists of the central component wrapped in either fiberglass or carbon shelling. The composition of this core determines its flex pattern, which in turn affects performance and durability; common choices for core material include fiberglass and carbon fiber composites, as well as metals such as titanium.

Recently, many manufacturers have employed various materials to lower the weight of touring skis. A common technique involves filling the core of their lattice structure with air or another lightweight substance to make their touring skis lighter.

Another effective way to decrease ski weight is by increasing their glide. Most manufacturers now produce skis with nylon or mohair skins attached at the base, and consumers have their choice between nylon (better for wet snow conditions) or mohair (glider) gliders; both come at additional expense, although nylon may ball up more quickly while mohair glides more smoothly but is more costly if exposed to moisture, while mohair gliders tend to tear under pressure if wet conditions prevail.

Camber is the visible arc visible when you lay a ski flat on the ground and its effects on how a ski turns are hugely influential. Skis with less camber require more effort to turn, while those with more camber are livelier and more powerful – most touring skis now feature both rocker and camber for optimal energy transfer and control across various conditions.


Skins are critical components to making backcountry skiing possible and can really shape your experience. When selecting your skin for any given tour, take some time considering both its type and location; some work better under certain conditions than others. There are various skin manufacturers on the market; choose your brand according to glue quality and plush thickness instead.

All skins feature an adhesive layer designed to attach securely to the base of your ski, as well as some plush surface that provides grip as you travel uphill. Most ski tourers use nylon or mohair skins, though a mix may be better suited to inexperienced mountaineers or racers looking to travel quickly and light. Nylon offers more grip than pure mohair skins, which is ideal for less experienced mountaineers or racers seeking fast, light travel. Pure mohair is better suited for experienced mountaineers, who are able to compensate with more effective glide.

No matter which kind you select, the key to keeping them looking their best when not being used is keeping them dry and clean as much as possible when not being used. This helps them last longer while decreasing contamination that could spoil a day of skiing. Storing them in a warm location or using cheat sheets when keeping them can reduce exposure to dirt or other contaminants that damage glue bindings.

Modern skins typically feature attachment points at both ends that connect securely to the attachment hardware on skis, typically including loops that go over the tip of each ski and an adjustable strap with clips on its tail end for secure connection to dedicated touring skis. These proven systems will offer secured links.


Boots are essential components for ski performance, protecting feet from cold and hard snow conditions. Soldiers in armed forces units, miners who work underground mines, mountaineers, and anyone spending time outside during cold conditions wear boots to keep their feet protected against harsh elements.

Those looking to explore the backcountry on skis will require boots capable of handling both uphill and downhill terrain, such as lightweight designs with ample range of motion in walk mode and stiff ski mode, crampon compatibility, tech binding compatibility, and non-slip soles.

There are a number of boots on the market that provide an intermediate option between alpine and touring models. Hybrid boots typically include features like tech toes and walk modes with sufficient range, making them suitable for skiers who wish to explore touring without fully committing to an entire quiver of boots.

The K2 Mindbender 130 BOA is an exceptional hybrid boot, providing both tremendous downhill performance and an intuitive walk mode. Made of carbon, it offers durability while remaining light – only two pounds per boot!

Check out Scarpa’s F1 LT for something even lighter – this hybrid of their Eskimo-oriented Alien and all-mountain F1 models weighs just 2 pounds 3 ounces per boot!

Scott Freeguide Carbon offers more freeride-inspired models. This four-buckle boot features progressive flex, carbon grilamid shell and cuff material, and a 3D Lambda frame, which provides stability and support during more prominent descents. Furthermore, its indicators on the toe make aligning tech fittings with binding pins much simpler.


Helmets provide essential protection in the event of an impact, making them necessary gear for backcountry skiers and mountaineers. Constructed with foam padding and plastic to absorb shock waves and lessen energy transmission to your neck, most helmets are also certified for alpine skiing, mountaineering, and climbing activities for even greater versatility in backcountry adventures.

Fit is of utmost importance when selecting a helmet; its bottom edge should rest one to two finger widths above your eyebrow, and its straps should form an “X” at the base of your ears. Also, look out for venting systems that can be opened or closed to adjust the temperature accordingly, and ensure that its chin strap fits securely; any looseness should not leave loose ends hanging down your neck when wearing your helmet.

Some helmets feature WaveCel or Koroyd material that provides enhanced protection over standard EPS foam by absorbing more angled impacts and reducing rotational forces without increasing bulk or weight. This technology can be found on select models from Smith, Anon, and other manufacturers; furthermore, some helmets that include this technology feature MIPS integration as well.

The POC Obex BC MIPS helmet is an ideal lightweight, comfortable solution for backcountry skiing and mountaineering, perfect for compact stowing in any backpack and equipped with a headlamp and goggle clips that won’t obstruct its visor while using it. Furthermore, ten vents can be opened or closed as conditions change, giving you more excellent temperature regulation capability.


No matter your level, goggles are essential gear when starting their day on the mountain. Not only can they protect against UV rays and debris flying into your eyes, but they can also offer a wide field of vision while sealing in warm air to provide comfort.

When selecting goggles for skiing in different conditions, you should carefully consider which lenses work best in those particular environments. Different lens colors tend to perform better depending on their surroundings – choosing the appropriate pair for your journey is vital!

If you’re searching for goggles that will perform in all conditions, the Smith I/O Mag is an excellent option. These goggles feature a spherical lens equipped with ChromaPop technology for sharp terrain definition and wide field of vision; additionally, they boast a Mag lens change system to enable quick and effortless lens swapping to adapt to changing light conditions.

Volt lens from CMH Cariboos is another fantastic solution, explicitly designed to cut out glare on sunny days for an improved view of the mountain – making for the ideal ski experience!

As much as it may appear purely aesthetic, the tint and color of the lens affect its Visible Light Transmission (VLT), filtering light differently depending on which tone is chosen. Therefore, if you plan on skiing frequently in varied conditions, it might be worth investing in goggles that feature Green, Amber, or Blue lenses so as to be prepared for all circumstances encountered during skiing trips.