Home Page
Expert Help

Our Herd’s Favorite Touring Gear And Styles

Fresh lines, peace & quiet, no pricey lift ticket—we ride the backcountry for good reasons. As interest in skiing and riding away from the resort grows, so do the gear and apparel options. In this mini-guide, we’ve narrowed down our picks for ski and splitboard gear,  and the best layers and accessories for the backcountry, so you don’t have to. 

Generally speaking, our Gearheads have said it before, and we’ll say it again: A pound off your boots is equivalent to a pound off your back. The less weight your feet carry on the skintrack, the more energy you’ll have stored for waist-deep turns and maybe even extra backcountry laps. That said, we don’t want to sacrifice downhill performance only in the name of weight, so these picks are well-balanced.

Whether you’re upgrading your hybrid kit, looking for top-of-the-line touring gear, or piecing together your first setup, we’ve got you covered.

Note: Don’t go into the backcountry without avy safety gear! While we don’t cover avalanche gear here, you can read more about choosing the best options here, and if you’re starting from scratch, consider a bundle like the Mammut Barryvox Tour Package

Ski Touring Gear Picks

Ski Boots

The Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 115 Tech Alpine Touring Boot can do a little bit of everything, ideal for transitioning between the resort and the backcountry. Compatible with both GripWalk alpine bindings and tech bindings, it refuses to skimp on downhill performance, while still offering up an impressive 54º range of motion on the skintrack. And as Atomic’s stiffest backcountry boot for women, it’s send-friendly.

For all-day touring, our choice is the Dynafit TLT8 Expedition CR Boot, weighing in at just over 2.5 pounds with a minimalist design. A single upper buckle tightens the entire cuff through a series of cables and acts as both buckle and walk-mode lever. And that funky-looking toe? It’s a speed nose and features a setback pivot point for efficient walking gait. Lapping the backcountry has never been easier.


At ten ounces a pop, we’re hard-pressed to find a lighter touring binding than the Salomon MTN Pure + Brake Alpine Touring Binding. Salomon used step-in aids for easy clip-ins to our tech inserts, and brakes for added peace of mind.

If you’re a dedicated backcountry tourer, you probably already know about the Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13 Alpine Touring Binding. If not, take it from Gearhead Ashleigh: “Resort, backcountry, sidecountry? Ski them all on any given day with the Salomon S/Lab Shifts. I love their versatility and how easy they are to swap modes.” 

Touring Skis

Backcountry skis are all about balance. We want something that performs well on the descent—that’s why we’re out there after all—but isn’t going to wear us out before we even get to our first turn. 

The Black Crows Ferox Freebird Ski lets us have our powder and eat it, too (hello, face shots!). Fattest among Black Crows’ touring collection, it has the profile of an in-bounds charger, with a unique H-shaped construction that gives it the weight of a touring ski. It strikes just the right balance between uphill and downhill performance.

We can’t always wait for blower pow, and that’s when we reach for the Atomic Backland 98 Ski. Built for variable conditions, this mid-fat touring ski reliably gets our editor Maya out there every time: “I absolutely love the versatility of the Backland. Incredibly light for the skin up, has enough float with its soft shovel design, and even handles crud well.”


“​​I recommend [the PomocaClimb ProS-Glide Ready2climb Climbing Skin] to all my customers. They are on all of my touring setups because they don’t wet out or ice up, and the glue stays sticky forever. Easy to pull apart and the tip/tail attachments are easy to use. Perfect blend of grip/glide.” —Ashleigh, Gearhead

Lightweight and adjustable, the Black Diamond Ascension Climbing Skin is another favorite thanks to its reliable performance. This one’s a cinch for folding into our pockets when we travel light.


We made the Backcountry Plinko Ski Touring Pole with all the obvious features—adjustable, extended grip, lightweight—but we also gave it a titanal aluminum shaft for top resilience on our more adventurous tours.

Splitboarding Gear Picks


Grabbing a splitboard-specific boot before you head out into the backcountry isn’t always a necessity, especially if you’re dedicated to a soft boot for familiar descents, but hard boots do come with some benefits—like crampon compatibility, sidehill rigidity, or a solid toe box. 

For example, if we know there’ll be gnarly backcountry terrain in the forecast, we’ll wear the ThirtyTwo Jones MTB Snowboard Boot. Built with a waterproof gaiter and Vibram soles, it’s ready for bootpacking at a moment’s notice, while walk mode collars mean we don’t have to choose between uphill and downhill performance.

Meanwhile, the Burton Felix Boa Snowboard Boot does a little bit of both. It’s designed for in-bounds riding, but additional stiffness and a few key features make it a great choice for occasional splitboarding ventures. The Boa fit system makes it easy to adjust fit during transitions, the Vibram outsole has obvious bootpacking advantages, and DRYRIDE Heat Cycle lining means warm feet on the skintrack.


The Union Explorer Splitboard Binding uses a simple, lightweight design to achieve solid performance at every turn without weighing us down. And it’s a Gearhead favorite—take it from Brodie: “Are you counting grams on the way up, and still want a sweet ride down? These Forged Carbon bindings give you the best of both worlds on big backcountry missions.” 

Space-grade aluminum. Made in the USA. Just over a pound each. What’s not to like? The featherlight Karakoram Prime-X Binding featherlight binding is our top choice for long backcountry tours, and boasts the best performance-to-weight ratio we’ve found yet.


Surfy prowess meets eco-friendly construction in the Jones Snowboards Hovercraft Splitboard. Its nimble profile delivers plenty of float, while a shorter running length handles intuitively on the skintrack. And if conditions are less than ideal? The Traction Tech 2.0 edges catch us every time. 

The Capita Neo Slasher Splitboard is just as stiff as our in-bounds board because it’s based on a cult favorite—the Slasher. If we feel like charging hard in the backcountry, we grab this board for its stiff flex and mid-body camber. It doesn’t even feel like we’re on a splitboard.


The Karakoram Karakoram Ranger Skins are our top all-around pick for splitboard touring because they’re lightweight and the mohair-nylon blend delivers the perfect balance between grip and glide. 


A good ski touring pole is adjustable, lightweight, and features an extended grip—but the requirements for a splitboarding pole go a little further. Thankfully, Burton teamed up with Black Diamond to give us the Burton x Black Diamond Compactor Poles, a super stashable pole that we can tuck away easily for the ride down.

Touring Apparel

Men’s Touring Apparel

Tested from dawn patrol to our last après beer, our Cardiac kit is an obvious favorite because we built it specifically for touring. Breathable, packable GORE-TEX Pro tech and an abundance of backcountry features make it easy to love. The Backcountry Cardiac GORE-TEX Pro Jacket has durable shoulders for carrying skis and extra-large pockets for skins. The Backcountry Cardiac GORE-TEX Pro Bib Pant boasts plenty of ventilation points, too.

The Mountain Hardwear Keele Grid Hoodie blends weather protection with breathable warmth all the way up, then slides easily beneath our shell on the way down. What more could we ask for?

A long-time favorite for outdoor pursuits of all types, we choose the Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Jacket for colder touring days and reliable warmth in snowy conditions. 

Women’s Touring Apparel 

In case the many accolades that the Outdoor Research Hemispheres kit has received don’t speak for themselves, our customer reviews can fill in the details. 

“I love the zippers that come up from the hips so that you can keep your coat on for the uphill. There are snaps at the bottom of the zippers, too, so, the fabric doesn’t flap all over the place.” —Zoe, on the Outdoor Research Hemispheres Jacket

“The ease of peeing with these puppies was one of the things that struck me most! All you have to do is reach into your jacket, undo the side zipper on the bibs and get into position.” —Erica, on the Outdoor Research Hemispheres Bib

Wool doesn’t need to be reserved for socks and baselayers. We’re big fans of it in the Ortovox Swisswool Piz Bial Jacket, too. It’s lightweight, breathable, slides beneath our shell with ease, and gets bonus points for being reversible. 

If we’re going synthetic, we like finding products with recycled polyester, like the Rab Filament Pull-On Fleece Jacket. Lightweight and cut for movement, it’s our choice for warmer, faster tours, and plays well at other pursuits during the off-season.

Are some of our favorites here already sold out? No stress—just give our Gearheads a call at 1-800-409-4502 or chat 24/7. They’re always happy to share their picks for getting out there.