Ski Touring Gear & Listener Questions (Ep.146)

On Blister's GEAR:30 podcast, Luke Koppa and I talk about a bunch of ski touring gear they've been reviewing, including the Ronin 108, Fischer TransAlp Pro, DPS Pagoda Tour 100 RP, Weston Summit, WNDR Alpine Vital 100, and Moment Voyager XIV, and then answer a number of listeners' touring-related questions.
Luke Koppa using the Fischer TransAlp Pro, Moment Voyager XIV, & WNDR Alpine Vital 100, Crested Butte, Colorado.


Which tech bindings feel the most like alpine bindings? What “very light” skis offer the best suspension and damping? Luke Koppa and I talk about a bunch of ski touring gear we’ve been reviewing and answer a number of your touring-related questions.

TOPICS & TIMES:

  • Blister Membership details (0:37)
  • Fischer TransAlp Pro (3:46)
  • DPS Pagoda Tour 100 RP (10:26)
  • Ronin 108 (13:21)
  • Weston Summit (16:48)
  • WNDR Alpine Vital 100 (18:26)
  • Alpine touring bindings (26:24)
  • Downsides of the Hoji Hole? (35:54)
  • “Very light” AT skis (37:25)
  • AT vs Touring vs SkiMo (40:41)
  • Pin bindings & the Hoji Pro Tour (42:36)
  • Heel lift & AT boots (46:12)
  • Inexpensive AT setups? (50:54)
  • Backpacks for touring (55:23)
  • What We’re Celebrating (59:26)

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14 comments on “Ski Touring Gear & Listener Questions (Ep.146)”

  1. For preventing heel blisters in touring boots, I just stick a piece of duct tape across my heels directly on the skin as a preventative measure. Works well; never had blisters even in boots with roomy heel pockets.

    • Good tip. This hasn’t *always* worked for me … but I also probably have to spend time in a broader range of boots than a lot of people. For people who are having issues, it’s definitley worth a try.

      • Also, is the Fischer TransAlp Pro compatible with Shifts? i.e., are the heel and toe lugs alpine binding compatible, or pin binding compatible only?

  2. Thank you for answering my question regarding the Hoji pro tour! Looking back on my email, instead of simply asking what you’d recommend, I ought to have specified “what option do you think is the least bad?”. Because, as you point out, skiing pin bindings in the resort is, at the very least, a fairly serious roll of the dice that can definitely result in an injury. And that’s on top of not skiing as well as regular alpine bindings (seriously people, they don’t, it’s tiny metal pins inside slightly less tiny metal cups). I knew all that when writing in my question, but I failed to articulate it properly.

    Anyway, thank you for the answer and I will be inquiring with Fritschi to see what they say. I owe you guys some beers if you ever make it up to AK! Thanks again!

  3. Hey Luke and Jonathan, thanks for answering my question on AT boot fit. I just got a pair of Atomic Hawx XTD’s (haven’t skied them yet) and after listening to your podcast I tried them on with the idea of a tight heel fit and roomy toe box. Having my S-lab Mtns as comparison, I get the feeling that these boots will be a great starting point to avoid blisters. I have a narrow heel and can really feel the extra hold these boots provide in the heel. I have a size 13 foot but quite narrow and feel like I have a comfortable amount of room in the toe box when unbuckled. Will definitely try buckling up the cuffs lightly and see how it goes. Thanks again!

    • Ha, “epic” is probably the most charitable and / or euphemistic word you could use to describe my form in this one. So, thank you. And glad you enjoyed.

  4. Yo! I just started listening and one of the hosts talked about his favorite packs for his camera setup. Is there a dig on what camera setup he’s running?

  5. Going uphill training in resort I’ve seen two people have big ejections from their tech toe piece’s this winter when they have been skiing too fast on pistes. So not only does the pin binding have different performance, it’s dangerous in the wrong conditions, and I know you have spoken about this many times.

  6. I’ve been having some conflicting thoughts all winter about the advice that beginning ski tourers should take a avy 1 course before thinking about heading into the backcountry. I’m not sure that’s the best strategy. We’ve all heard the stories of folks showing up for their avy 1 class or field day with brand new beacons and gear still in the box. I feel bad for the folks who have to be in that class when the instructor has to spend their time helping someone figure out how to put their skins on. There’s no way that a person is ready for the BC by simply attending an avy 1 class. I don’t think anyone is promising that, but I think it’s kind of implied when everyone says step one is to take a class.

    Here’s what I have suggested to people who’ve asked me about getting into BC skiing. Realize you’re gonna spend 90% of the time going up, so you’d better make sure you like hard work and you’d better be working out. Get the gear and figure out how to use it. That can be in the backyard with the beacons or at a resort for uphilling, or putting skins on in the house, or seeking out super mellow terrain. It’s really not hard to recognize safe terrain, just look for something that wouldn’t be fun skiing. Snow covered roads are perfect. Read books and avy forecasts and watch videos by the avalanche centers so the vocabulary is at least familiar. If you can go out with a mentor, that’s even better. My point is that by the time you attend an avy 1 course the material shouldn’t be completely foreign, and you should know how to use your equipment and be comfortable touring into the field session. You’ll learn a whole lot more and get so much more value from the course.

    I think you guys said some similar things, so kudos. I’ve just been kind of irritated with (granted, mostly “mainstream”) exhortations that a new person’s first priority is to take a course.

    • Thanks for the good thoughts – I’m definitely on board with all of this. I can’t really say what percentage of people will actually go poke around with their gear and get used to it – or start reading books and avy forecasts prior to their avy 1 – but I think this statement of yours is certainly true: “My point is that by the time you attend an avy 1 course the material shouldn’t be completely foreign, and you should know how to use your equipment and be comfortable touring into the field session. You’ll learn a whole lot more and get so much more value from the course.”

      That said, I’d still **strongly** encourage people to get to the course even if they haven’t familiarized themselves in the ways you (and we) have suggested. I worry just a little about people postponing an Avy 1.

      • I agree, it’s a tough line to walk without seeming to say that the Avy 1 can wait until you have more experience – define “more” experience. You should do it as soon as possible, but do a lot of homework before ever signing up.

        One other thing I didn’t mention but probably should have is that if you don’t know how to ski, you should go learn at a resort before you go into the backcountry. The BC is a terrible place to learn to ski, most beginners will be lucky to get a few thousand vert in a day, which is maybe two runs at a resort. And when skiing at a resort, you should be seeking out the worst snow to improve your skills. Because, unfortunately, that Instagram hero blower pow is most likely not what you’re gonna find, it’ll be challenging more often than not.

        I’ve helped with a few Avy 1 field days and I’ve seen examples of all of these types of unpreparedness. But, true confession time, that was me 15 years ago, not knowing how to ski well, no formal avy training, going along with perceived experts with very little knowledge of my own. So I get it, we all have to start somewhere and I don’t want to come across as a pompous gatekeeper. BC skiing is just really complicated and it’s a lifetime learning experience, and starting on the right foot is more likely to lead to that (safe) lifetime of enjoyment.

  7. On the pack question. If you are in the 6ft 4 region, the Patagonia 32l snowdrifter fits a long back (just, but better than others i tested in a shop, not a blister test). Other packs I can have issues get the weight down onto the hip belt as the shoulder straps aren’t long enough.

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