To help you choose your equipment Vincent Deboissy, backcountry skiing product manager, gives you some advice.
- How do you equip yourself properly and choose the right equipment?
During backcountry skiing, you sweat a lot as you climb because it's very strenuous, and it is often windy as you descend because you are going fast.
With regards to clothing, it's better to wear a very breathable fabric for the climb, and then add a wind-proof jacket.
How to avoid damage from the backpack: the friction from the straps and the belt can damage your clothing prematurely, which is why the special fabric for backcountry skiing has reinforcements at the shoulders, under the the straps, and around the waist.
Skis and boots should be chosen according to what you prefer about the sport: some prefer climbing and choose very lightweight equipment, while others prefer the descent and opt for heavier wider equipment.
The problem with choosing equipment depends on getting the balance right between weight and skiability.
The poles need to be slightly larger than poles for downhill skiing, because we need to push down as we climb. They need to be 5 to 10cm higher than alpine skiing poles (with a 90° angle between biceps and front of the arm when the pole is on the ground.)
- Is this activity open to everyone?
Backcountry skiing can be practised in several ways:
around the edge of the pistes which suits most people. This choice provides a secure environment, groomed trails and the same quality of snow during the trip.
And backcountry skiing off piste. Skiers must have a good level of skiing because they will come across all types of snow: crud, crust, frozen and powder.
It is important here, if you don't have very much experience in the mountains to get help from a guide to check your directions, the snow and weather conditions and make sure your trip is as a safe as possible.
Backcountry skiing is a demanding sport: an average trip will involve a climb of 800m, and you therefore need to be in good physical condition in order to enjoy it.
How do you look after your equipment?
Backcountry skis are looked after the same way as downhill skis: they must be waxed. Waxing means you can adapt the way you glide to the snow conditions.
You should also wax the base of your skis at the end of season to protect them while they are stored over the summer. To prevent the edges of your skis rusting, remember to wipe them after each trip
Finally, there are professionals to help you to look after your skis properly: waxing the bases, resealing holes and sharpening the edges.
To help your skins last as long as possible, be sure to dry them out in a dry place away from a direct heat source.
It is possible to wax the skins to get more glide and especially to avoid balling where the snow sticks under the skin, which prevents you moving forward properly.
When you're going downhill it is best to put the skins in your jacket to keep them warm (not in your backpack): this keeps them warm and effective.
How do you fold them?
If they are straight or symmetrical skins: stick them to each other
If they are asymmetrical skins: a net is supplied with them to put on the glue of each skin.