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Alpine Touring Essentials

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How to Buy an Alpine Touring Ski

The right alpine touring ski for you will balance your need for speed on the way up with the ability to handle all kinds of snow and terrain on the way down. If you’re going to be doing a lot of touring with long approaches, you might want to go with a lighter ski. If you’re using this setup for both lift-assisted or gate-accessed skiing as well as touring, a heavier, stiffer ski might serve you better.

Weight
When you’re earning your turns, every ounce counts. An AT ski is significantly lighter than a powder or big-mountain freeride ski, so it won’t hold you back on the ascent. The downside of the light weight is that you might get tossed around a little more by variable conditions, so again: find the balance that works best for you.
Width
As with alpine skis, you’ll find a lot of variation in width. Narrower skis will be faster on the ascent but may sink into deep snow, while fat skis with 105mm+ waists will be slower going up but float more easily in powder. Again, it’s all about a balance of uphill speed and downhill performance.
Camber
You can for the most part expect a blend of camber underfoot and either tip-and-tail rocker or early rise in an AT ski. This adds a touch of surfy maneuverability for deep snow and tight terrain, without sacrificing the edge hold you’ll need if you encounter hardpack. But you can also find full-rocker and traditional camber models.

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