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.