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A Taste Of Skiing And Riding Beyond The Lifts

If you’re seeking adventure and want to escape the crowds there is little better than spending the day exploring in the backcountry. This hunt for first turns and untouched snow draws skiers beyond piste markers opening up endless possibilities and epic lines to experience with friends.   

The backcountry is often referred to as a mindset, not a location. Whether you’re lapping the cable car on an epic storm day, using the lift to dive into the side-country, or working through a long day tour you need apparel, equipment and snow safety tools you can trust.

In addition to an up-to-date and reliable set-up/safety equipment; terrain knowledge, rescue drills, weather conditions and route planning all contribute to minimising the risks of venturing off-piste.  

Some of the best days skiing you’ll ever experience are awaiting you this winter… so go get some.  

 Follow Ellis Brigham on Instagram to get your backcountry inspiration this winter

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The feeling of skiing in fresh snow, making new tracks is a very unique one, especially when the turns have been earned through sweat and effort, climbing uphill, step-by-step.

Backcountry is a diverse category meaning the skis have to be too. What binds them together is the focus on weight reduction and the fact that they're pushing the boundaries of ski design. 

Where they differ is the emphasis placed on the up or the down. Bigger models blur the lines to freeride and are created to hunt fresh snow or charge hard-to-reach areas: the slimmest skis are about the ascent and achievement as much as the ride back down.

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Ski Boots

The boundaries between Alpine and Backcountry are blurring, with technology swapping easily between the categories and bindings becoming more versatile. it's no longer a straight choice of a heavy, stiff Alpine boot or a lighter but less precise tour one.

These adroit boots utilise a range of modern materials such as carbon fibre and lightweight plastics to weigh little but remain stiff and make use of advanced manufacturing techniques for greater accuracy and further weight savings. 

Our experienced boot fitters will help you find the right boot for your feet and the terrain you wish to ski. Employing proven processes from our SUREfit System and utilising a wide selection of fitting tools and aids, they ensure that you receive the right combination of comfort and performance.    


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Ski Bindings

Frame, pin or hybrid binding? Backcountry skiing has various options when it comes to boot and binding systems, with each setup lending itself to lightness, ease of use or power. There'll always be compromises but the latest equipment minimises these. 

Frame systems use a bar or rails to join the toe to the heel, clipping the boot in the binding akin to a traditional alpine binding. This system is easy to use, fits a wide range of ski boots and delivers good all-around performance.   

Pin systems use two pins at the toe that clip into corresponding holes on ski boots. At the heel, two pins slot into the back of the boot. This is the lightest touring system and requires specific touring ski boots. 

Hybrid systems use pins in the toe and an alpine heel for a combination of control and weight savings. The boots must contain toe pin inserts to be compatible.  


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Ski Wear

Backcountry skiing demands a lot from you and your clothing, exposing you to inhospitable terrain and weather conditions. To make sure that you remain comfortable on ascents, have a wide range of movement and stay dry, a three-layer clothing system should be employed.

This system requires each layer to be breathable with an outer shell jacket and pants providing waterproof protection. Having three layers allows you to adjust the level of warmth and protection as you travel across a variety of terrain.

All of these layers utilise the latest in fabric design, engineering and technology to remain lightweight yet hardwearing, comfortable, and breathable. They will also have been through a rigorous testing and refinement process with professional backcountry riders.

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One of the greatest risks you face when skiing off-piste in the backcountry is that posed by an avalanche. The majority of victims are caught in avalanches that have been triggered by themselves or their companions.

Statistics show that in the event of an avalanche, the buried victim's greatest chance of survival is to be located and uncovered within 15 minutes. With the average call-out time for an official search and rescue team to arrive on location and begin searching at around 30 to 40 minutes, it is apparent that the avalanche victim's greatest chance of survival is through fellow skiers carrying out an effective and efficient rescue.

To carry out such a search, all members of your party must be equipped with at least a transceiver, shovel and probe. These are three items that are essential for all off-piste adventures.

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When skiing away from lifts and pistes, quality accessories that are efficient and dependable are every bit as important as the big pieces of equipment. If you haven’t got the right poles, skins or crampons then you won’t be making the most of your time and energy.

Our range of ski poles from Leki, K2, Atomic, Line and Black Crows covers varies budgets with both adjustable and fixed length models, as well as different materials and innovative features such as releasable straps, integrated tools and inclinometers. They all have one thing in common, they’re built specifically for the Backcountry skier.

We’ve a selection of different skins, both pre-cut and shaped for specific skis as well as trim to fit models that will suit various models, with choices between Mohair and Nylon versions. You’ll also find a full selection of crampons for all our bindings.

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