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Suggestion Backcountry Setup Weight

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by Team Weasel, Apr 13, 2020.

  1. Team Weasel

    Team Weasel One of Us

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    I'm unemployed and bored. This is the result.

    I figured I’d throw out some thoughts after this topic was broached in the chatter thread a while ago - hopefully someone gets some use from it, or it at least provokes a lively discussion. Feel free to chuck in your own thoughts. Except if you splitboard.


    Why Weight is Such a Big Deal

    As soon as you start traveling uphill for your turns, the weight of your gear suddenly becomes something of a balancing act. We want to go up as unburdened as possible, but we go up to ski, which means we need some kind of mass on our feet to make the all-important descent more enjoyable than desperate survival skiing.

    Stable, damp metal-lined skis are heavy, and lugging them uphill is damn hard work. Same same for alpine boots with tokenistic ‘walk modes’ and inefficient frame bindings. Most people who tour a decent amount figure this out quickly. I’d argue that the above setup is only good for a rental experience to determine if the BC is for you or not. Don’t fall into the trap of buying frame bindings coz they’re cheap - you’ll do FA touring, and they’ll ski worse than alpine bindings in the resort (stack height, dead spot and all that).

    How bad is heavy stuff on your feet? Turns out it’s quite impactful.

    Here’s some figures from Mountain Tactical Institute (slightly cultish Crossfit mountain trainer) that I’ve converted to rough metrics because no one should ever use the imperial system ever again:

    500g on your feet equals 2.5kg on your back.

    500g on your feet equals five percent more energy expended.


    The second of these is perhaps the most profound for BC skiers; it essentially means that in the comparison between a 6kg setup and a 8kg setup, using the latter will mean you’ll be doing 20% less touring, or taking around 20% longer whilst spending 20% more energy.

    That’s essentially 20% less skiing, which is a lot in anyone’s book. You may as well buy a split board and spend half your time as a man-child playing with Meccano every transition. This is why the weather-beaten BC folk of the forum will say light is right. And in comparison to resort gear, they’re not wrong.

    But can you go too light? I think so.

    I came at skiing from the opposite end - as a try-hard ice climber looking for a glorified snow shoe to access the mountains. I got shown a pair of TLT4s at Unwin Hut, and my expensive and obsessive path into ski mountaineering / BC touring was sealed in that moment. I bought a lightweight BC setup (4.6kg total!) and started teaching myself to ski.

    Looking back, I’m not sure how I survived. I have footage of me skiing down Avalanche Gully in Dynafit Evos that makes me question my fitness to make sane decisions. Especially given that I fell, broke a rear spoiler, skied down to Fed Hut, used the axe to bash the pin back in, and then tried again.

    Whippets saved my arse more than a few times. And I think that it did no favours to my shoddy downhill technique. Getting down ugly was the name of the game, and not needing SAR intervention was my prize. Did I mention I almost always ski solo?

    I even tried one-ski-quivering a pair of Salomon Minims with La Sportiva Syborgs (3.43kg for the whole shebang). That’s a complete setup that weighs less than a pair of alpine boots.

    To get to the point, these setups had some significant limitations. You couldn’t ski fast, and variable snow conditions made life pretty challenging. Going up was amazingly easy, but I feel that the energy I saved on the ascent was wrenched away on the down due to thin, unstable skimo skis. And most of us are here to have fun on the way down, not to wonder if Jesus is coming for you as your tech binding chatters free of your boot on that icy patch above the cliff band.

    My Rough Guide to Setup Weights

    Note: this is based on my own experience and my dimensions (178cm tall, about 80kg including day pack). If you are fatter / a sasquatch, maybe bump up a bit. Another figure I’ve heard thrown about is around the 10% of your body weight (with pack) mark as a decent starting point - so 80kg person (including pack) could aim for around the 8kg total setup mark, with some variance for preference (more weight for descent-focused, less for something like ski mountaineering).

    I list some stuff that I use in some examples, but I’m not a fanboi or brand pusher, so feel free to substitute something else instead. I might be off slightly with some of my weights as products change from time to time, but they’re close enough.

    I've done a bit of touring, and used setups in every weight class...so there's some experience there. Yes, I have a bloated quiver of skis, and as the saying goes, my wealth is tied up in assets at the moment...


    Ski Mountaineering/Racing (sub 4kg)

    Who’s it for: People who want to focus mostly on the fitness or pure distance-covering aspect of touring. You probably don’t want to be using this rig at all in deeper and variable snow, and there are definite speed restrictions. Can be fun for long spring days. You don’t mind jump turns.

    Example setup:
    Salomon Minim: 1.48
    Plum race binding: 0.3
    Scarpa Alien RS: 1.96
    Total: 3.74kg

    Speed Touring (5-6kg)

    Who’s it for: Realistically, the lightest BC setups you can consistently enjoy on the way down, primarily in corn/spring conditions. Race boots with a bit more beef, simple but reliable bindings and classic 88-ish underfoot skis. Great for big spring adventures and folks who like to cut weight. You secretly enjoy lapping people. Not for going mach chicken in variable snow or hitting frequent airs, but still quite capable (particularly if you’re an accomplished skier…so not me).

    Example setup:
    K2 Wayback 88: 2.54
    Salomon MTN binding: 0.65
    Scarpa Alien RS: 1.96
    Total: 5.15kg

    Touring / Free Touring (6kg-8kg)

    Who’s it for: I reckon most of us can find a happy compromise hereabouts - around the 6kg mark you’re talking general ski touring, a bit more than 7kg is around the ballpark for skiing faster/harder with some hucking on the menu. Most skis here are quite capable with the exception of firm, bumpy conditions (at least when compared to resort skis). Lots of skis in this class (Blizzard ZG108/105, Wildcat Tour, Black Crows Freebird (pick your colour.))

    Example setup (touring):
    Black Crows Orb Freebird: 2.75
    ATK Free Raider 12: .74
    Scarpa F1: 2.5
    Total: 5.99kg

    Example setup (free touring):
    Blizzard Zero G 108: 3.3
    Fritschi Tecton: 1.31
    ZGTP : 2.77
    Total: 7.38kg

    Freeride Touring (8kg plus)

    Who’s it for: These folks are definitely prioritising the descent. You can ski pretty damn hard on these setups, and still have a fair bit of dampness, retention and power. Not bad 50/50 setups for those who spend equal amounts of time in and out of the resort. Do a lot of days with this setup and you’ll be a total animal for spring - if you haven’t been psychologically broken by then and crawled back to the ski lifts.

    Example setup:
    Black Crows Atris: 4.0
    Fritschi Tecton: 1.31
    Technica ZeroG Tour Pro: 2.77
    Total: 8.08kg

    Beefy Bois (9kg-10kg - too heavy for meaningful touring)

    Who’s it for: FWT competitors? Pros making films with guides breaking trail for them? Realistically, it’s people using lifts to get most of the way up - that means you’re skiing with all the other peasants temporarily skulking out of bounds. You probably need the extra mass, as you’ll be skiing chopped up snow. Enjoy.

    Example setup:
    Lange Freetour: 3.7
    CAST: 2.0
    QST 106: 4.1
    Total: 9.8kg


    Mixing and Matching


    Some folks will happily use gear from across the spectrum - a good example is going with super light tech bindings with more beefy boots and skis. If I had to prioritise where in a setup I’d willingly cut weight to where I’d most like to keep mass, it’d be in this order:

    Bindings
    Skis
    Boots

    Using a lighter binding is a bit of a no brainer. If you can go lower in mass whilst getting acceptable downhill performance, solid retention and safe release, you can use a pretty damn light binding (600-800g for a pair is pretty achievable). As a general rule, you’re probably doing one fifth of the vertical that you do in resort, so the plush ride of alpine bindings isn’t so essential. Retention, safe release and power transfer can be more significant aspects of performance to weigh up - along with weight itself.

    Along with some others, I’d argue that the Tecton is probably the best compromise of all those factors right now. Otherwise, a Dynafit Radical, ATK Free Raider or Salomon Mtn are all good options. If the snow is great, have at it. But when it gets firm, they aren’t alpine bindings, and you can get rattled loose. Your options then become locking the toe and skiing a bit more conservatively, or finding more agreeable snow conditions elsewhere.

    As for Shifts and their ilk, they are undoubtedly great bindings once you get them dialled in. The question is, how many of us are really skiing rad enough in the BC to justify using them? They do make sense for those who can afford only one setup though - just be aware that you generally end up with a rig that has mediocre performance in both touring and resort skiing.

    I won’t dwell too much on ski weight; lots of examples mentioned above. I feel my personal sweet spot for an up/down compromise is around 3kg-3.4kg for the pair. Heavier is burdensome, lighter is hard work on the way down. I can - and will be seen to - drag around 4kg skis with some metal in them at times, because I like a bit of speed on the down, and they compensate for my limited technical portfolio. But the planets have to be aligned for that to consistently work - I better be hydrated, well-fed, not too fatigued from previous days, not a long approach, etc. And you’ll quickly find out how efficient you are in every regard, from transitions to stride length and cadence.

    Boots are constantly evolving at the moment, and the performance of light weight boots has improved dramatically. Whilst going too light here is definitely not a great idea, they are also the part of your setup you never remove throughout the day - when you’re booting because it’s too steep to skin out, you’ll notice the considerable difference between a ZGTP and a Cochise. I’m a fan of a heavy-ish boot and a light boot as a quiver; something like a Maestrale RS and a Backland Carbon. This approach kind of fits in with a few folks I know - heavier boot for proper winter, with bigger skis for deeper / more variable snow, and then the lighter setups for long spring days in sublime corn.

    TLDR - Ben Franklin nailed ski touring gear, without ever earning a single turn:

    “Experience is a dear teacher, fools will heed no other.”

    See you out there.
     
    BoofHead, Rimey, Jacko4650 and 16 others like this.
  2. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I love this so much.
     
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  3. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    This is my favourite part:

     
  4. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great points TW and a great blog all round.

    a couple of thoughts;
    - perhaps us teleheads need a similar (parallel) blog.
    - skins will add another 3-800g pair to the set up (being pedantic I know). Possibly a lot more if really wet. Not sure if any AT skiers use BD kickers? ~ in a 50mm width, lightest set up anywhere.

    - just for comparison purposes; in Japan my day tour (3 -4 piece) tele set was:
    - Scarpa TX Pro; (Mondo 30) 4kg pr.
    - Enforcer 104 (186cm); 4.6kg.
    - 22 Design Outlaw X (NTN) binding; 1.6 kg pr.
    - Total @ ~ 10.2 kg ex skins ~ 700g G3Alpinist 2M long ~ 128/94 wide tip/waist.
    - So Total + skins near 11kg.

    So even at 112 kg, I am right of the top of my ‘max tour weight’.

    And gee did I feel all of those 11kg heading up through deep snow with Evergreen on my Day tour out of Hakuba! This was not helped by me carrying too much redundant gear in my pack and being the oldest customer by around 15 years (where did I get so old!)

    But as you see in my thread on the Camox FB; My Japan day tour reinforced the need to have a lighter tour set and note it’s increasingly necessary as one gets older (50s) to fully and happily participate in their chosen winter sport.
     
  5. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Light is right.
     
  6. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    I agree
     
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  7. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Working on it!

    Binding plates & Tele binding / insert warranty on these light skis would help. (;-)
     
  8. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I wouldn't be to fussed about the warranty thing. If the 22 Designs hole layout is done right there should be no issues. If you stuff up the binding mount the warranty is void anyhow regardless of the binding type.

    I had Voile Vectors with Meidjos which have 13 holes per ski with no issues. I can't remember if I also set them up to take the ATKs (so 13 plus 8 holes per ski) like I have for the Moonlights and Wailers.
     
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  9. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    PS you need to move the Lynx to save weight, uses the same insert set out as your Outlaws so no brainer.
     
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  10. Interruptedbyfireworks

    Interruptedbyfireworks One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Could have been a good discussion, without the unnecessary splitboard hate.
     
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  11. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    mm have had similar thoughts SF - the big question if I have ‘home approval’ for one thing this ‘winter’ what is the best bang for buck? Lynx or a light mid-fat touring ski? I really can’t do both post Japan - mot in this ‘climate’.

    A Lynx saves what? 650g over the Outlaw X? and means I achieve more with the several skis I have. (Not bragging btw - if anything embarrassing!)

    ie Enforcer 104, Rustler 9, PowderBird (83mm waist) but short @ 176; Old but good cond. K2 Seth Annexe 118 (5kg. Pr.) - All of these in theory would (should) tour more easily if lighted by 630g.

    my old 75mm skis: Skinny Morottos & Fischer Alltrax 68 wont benefit but are light enough with excursions.

    this buys some time to work out if I ‘need/want’ something even lighter down the track? Next couple of years?
    Does that make sense?
     
  12. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    yes
     
  13. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Didn't notice, musta self filtered.
     
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  14. Kletterer

    Kletterer Thredbo Doughnut Tragic Moderator

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    My Sidecountry/ daytour-steeps setup is 5.526 kg ( 88 underfoot) but i would not exactly refer to it as a Speedtouring setup. Maybe im just slow and weak :oops:. With the current outlook i reckon my race/tour set will see some use this season- its 4kg ( thats for both sides combined). Add a bit for skins and leashes
     
  15. Team Weasel

    Team Weasel One of Us

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    I think you've nailed your problem right there. I think the other beard-strokers can help with the tele gear, but that Enforcer is a beast to be lugging uphill. Even being maybe a bit fitter and younger than you, I'd struggle with that weight.

    Might be the first year of the inaugural Bogong skimo race just for fun. Sounds like you've dialed in how to be efficient in the mountains.
     
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  16. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I’m liking those weights K - what’s the total boot weight then? 1.2-1.3kg?

    my boots are 4Kg only with (old) 75mm Garmont excursions (low 2 buckle plastic) do I get down to a trim 3kg pr. Then I use my older (Hammerhead 75mm) binders.

    I do envy you AT guys at times - just saying! (;-)
     
  17. Kletterer

    Kletterer Thredbo Doughnut Tragic Moderator

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    Resort/ sidecountry boot = 3.312 kg per boot
    Skimo boot = 830 grams per boot
     
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  18. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Got it in one TW - the E104 is a Beast but a beautiful one and did really well in the mixed conds in Japan as well as the odd powder day. Without a super light fat ski like Camox FB, the R9s would be my every tour ski when there's turn to be had. The Lynx suggestion would certain lighten them up for longer days.

    My Contour skins (due any day!) waxed up - may also assist - we need snow & ‘Dan Pass’ to test that theory?
     
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  19. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    hey Skifree after Hardwires & Hammerheads - now Outlaw X - what are the main issues (negs?) to be aware of please?

    I’m thinking I may need a new M5 bolt length as a minimum for QK?
     
  20. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Umm can you expand on your questions?
     
  21. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    mm are there major negatives using Lynx’s ?
     
  22. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    It’s Lynx Vs Meidjo.

    Meidjo has release.

    Lynx has standard 22Designs hole pattern.

    I use the Meidjo because Lynx did not exist when I moved to ntn. And I’m happy with it so why change. And I’m happy with the release.

    I’ve tested the Lynx, thanks to Wilderness Sports for letting this happen. There is a separate thread just for the Lynx. Basically the two ski & tour & weigh pretty much the same.
     
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  23. nezumi

    nezumi One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    As far as weights for splitboarding, it depends on the choice between softboots or hardboots.

    Softboot:
    Jones Solution 161 :3,054g
    Bindings (Karakorum): 1,706g (pair)
    Attachments: 630g
    Boots (Burton Tourist): 1,975
    Total: 7,365

    Hardboot:
    Jones Solution 161 :3,054g
    Bindings (Phantom): 900g (pair)
    Attachments: 312g
    Boots (Arc'teryx Procline): 2,700
    Total: 6,966 (descending) / 6,066 (ascending)

    Now try and tell me that a 5-6kg Speed Touring setup would be as capable in the descent as a splitboard?
     
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  24. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    cheers will suss out the Lynx thread. With QK inserts on 4 skis the Lynx would have to be significantly inferior for me to chose the Meidjo. But having seen a video of the latter it’s seems like a pretty impressive binding. The forthcoming V3 (now due next winter) might be even better?
     
  25. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I expect it to ski the same based on what I’ve seen. But will have simpler handling to get in & out & will get a strength upgrade to some parts.
     
  26. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I don’t think this is a yes or no question.
     
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  27. nezumi

    nezumi One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    It was more directed at Team Weasel, specifically in relation to the assessment of a 5-6kg "speed touring" setup and the generally derisive attitude towards splitboards. :)

     
  28. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Geeze, took me ten minutes to find the reference and I was actually looking for it.
     
  29. nezumi

    nezumi One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I didn't see it initially, but once I did it was pretty egregious and unnecessary.

    (To find it, I just searched in the page for "split")
     
  30. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    Broken ankle/tibia.
    No release at all laterally, duck butt and thus toe.
     
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  31. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I note our forum doesn’t offer a ‘dont like’ button.

    That’s awful and life changing (seen it wife’s Navicular fracture ~ 97’) - hence change to AT eh?

    But I don’t think I can go to the Meidjo 12 months after drilling 4 skis to the 6 hole front, 22D pattern with QKs.

    Was it a freak fall, unusual or standard just unlucky result?
     
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  32. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    Grabbed a tip at full speed, compression and counter rotation on TTS. Destroyed a ATK tech toe and ankle.
    Unlucky but preventable.
    Tectons now with releasable toes and alpine heels.
    PS: Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro boots, amazeballs.
     
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  33. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Full speed? Yikes!
    Yes I’d go AT after that result? If any?
     
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  34. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    AT is so much lighter, cheaper, more efficient and releasable but less hippy.
    Everything seems flatter and slower!
     
  35. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    :metun::metun::metun::metun::metun:
     
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  36. Chaeron

    Chaeron A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Tell me more about the Tecnica Zero B Tour Pros...
     
  37. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Backtracking a tad re NTN binding weights:
    - changing from:
    Outlaw X - large (@1,670g pr.) to
    Lynx - large (@ 1,000g pr.)

    saves ~ 670g pr. if my maths serves me?

    plus my Outlaw X s have brakes @ ~ 50g pr. (From memory)

    So a handy 720g although for a cost of $800 pr.

    Using the 5:1 pack to foot rule - This would make a fair difference over a day of touring - especially if it involved a lot of vertical? ;):):skier::snowboarder:
     
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  38. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Scroll up 3 posts.
     
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  39. Chaeron

    Chaeron A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    LOL
     
  40. Jacko4650

    Jacko4650 One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Crossover or hybrid boots appear to be getting lighter nowadays. For example: Nordica Strider 1855 grams, Technica Zero G 1310g, Technica Conchise 1935g, Salomon QST 1665g etc.
    The new Shift bindings are 865grams each (1730 for the pair).
     
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  41. Endless_Winter

    Endless_Winter One of Us

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    Surprised the proclines are that heavy, I guess there's the carbons/lites that are a bit lighter.

    I have recently changed to "fruit booting" and have found it to be a quantum leap for touring. The efficiency gains are amazing. I went with atomic backland carbons, mainly because they were available locally on sale and they're compatible with the phantom link levers.

    My soft boot combo was burton tourists (as quoted above they are about 1kg each) with karakoram prime carbons (they are a little lighter than the standard karakorams - about 700g each). The backland carbons are 1100g (i.e. 100g heavier than the tourists), but not having 1.4kg of soft boot binding on your feet when touring makes for a rather large efficiency gain. I also noticed the pivot point with tech toes is further forward than with soft boot bindings which, in my experience, meant: 1) a longer stride; and 2) i didn't have to lift the "ski" as much.

    It was a leap of faith (and not a cheap one I might add!) as I flew off to Canada for a month with as-yet-unridden hard boots for touring, so if I had boot issues it could have f#$%ed the touring part of my trip. I was able to trial the riding part inbounds at whistler to make sure everything worked. My first tour was a day trip up on the spearhead range, close to civilisation if I had dramas. Luckily the boots fit well, with no modifications needed.

    At the end of the trip I had a week with 10km worth of vert in the selkirks and the hard boot system performed brilliantly. Game changer and I can safely say it is unlikely I will ever tour with soft boots ever again.
     
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  42. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    Sounds awesome, do you have a TR with pics?
     
  43. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes
     
  44. Telemark Phat

    Telemark Phat Pass the butter Ski Pass: Gold

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    Truth hurts. Mind you I'm so slow in the transition I might as well be playing with my meccano set as well.
     
  45. Team Weasel

    Team Weasel One of Us

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    I'd say a 7kg ski setup would be pretty equivalent to a splitboard of similar weight - which is the descent weight you have.

    It's in transitions and uphill efficiency that splits can't favorably compare to AT.
     
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  46. Interruptedbyfireworks

    Interruptedbyfireworks One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Eh I don’t mind a bit of friendly rivalry but the tone was a bit off IMO. Especially the man-child bit.
     
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  47. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Did you buy two pairs of skins for your splitboard? Pachydermal as well as the phoqing ones ;)

    Splitboarders v randonnee v telemarketing v cross-country is a constant source of banter once you go past off piste and into the backcountry.
     
  48. satanas

    satanas Addicted

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    ^ I have feet in three of those camps, which can be awkward at times.

    If it looks like we'll be able to go skiing this year I have a pair of Atomic Ultimate rando race skis and some Salomon Pilot bindings to go on them. My theory is that the S-Lab skating boots ought to be enough to drive the skis in reasonable conditions, and the setup would be super light; walking would be a pain though.
     
  49. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    My solution to this is having a spitboarding mate who is also one hell of an athlete. He fully acknowledges that transitions are slow and fiddly and a PITA but they're usually occurring as a speck in the distance.
     
  50. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    As someone who came in via x-country, everyone is fair game really. You know snowboarding was only invented like 30 years ago! Alpine not much longer, and AT even less, though one could vaguely claim AT was how alpine was born.

    Now we just need those Figglers to get out there.
     
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