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Water

gear advice for ski newb wanting to get into AT

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Howdy,

 

I'm going to post a similar bit over at TAY but CC is more my haunt so I'd see what I get here too.

 

I skied a bit when I was younger back east but hadn't for about 15 years. Went lift-serve twice over the last few years. This year I've gone a handful of times and have taken a lesson, going to take another one, and have a spring pass.. I have great balance fwiw, and can manage to get down easier blacks though it isn't graceful.

 

That said my long-term goal is to be able to tour and get some ski descents like say middle sister, etc.. not gunning for being the honorable Mr. Helmstadter.

 

I'm trying to buy AT gear and learn on that at the resort this year and likely next.. I'm willing to spend a bit more now so I'm not buying one alpine setup and then another AT rig just down the road. A few folks have confirmed this isn't a preposterous idea at all and is a reasonable path.

 

I demod some K2 Wayback (174) and dynafit manaslus (169) last weekend.. the waybacks were harder to stay over the top of but I felt less demanding to turn, smoother turns..the manaslus I felt I could stay over the top of a lot better but were chattery and really required my all when turning...it was a bit icy in spots during the afternoon so may account for that. I realize being totally green to this my assessment of the skis is limited to pretty basic factors, and limited by my skill level. Wondering if the greater side-cut of the waybacks is what made the turning seem easier?

 

Right now I have been trying on boots in PDX but it seems like the mountain shop is glutted for sizes really and I'm not sure where else to go? Worth driving up to Seattle next weekend and hitting a few stores? will check out NextgaragesaleAdventure tonite.. On the bindings side, would like to head towards dynafit based on everything I come across--skiing on them seemed fine last weekend--for me i didnt notice any difference for my skiing performance compared to alpine bindings.

 

Suggestions for a pair of skis? I've spoke a bit with evo.com and they had some suggestions.. the guy there offered Line Prophets 98 as a good all arounder..realizing they are not exactly light, but suggesting really worrying about weight right now should be on the lower rung of importance, and I can agree with that to a point.

 

 

Thanks for any tutelage-much appreciated!

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Yup, it's likely the more aggressive sidecut on the K2s is what you felt made them easier to initiate turns. Those are both good skis, and well represented among B/C skiers in the PNW. Light skis like the Manaslu will give more chatter in ice, chop, etc. For skiers with more experience, this may not be a problem and is a reasonable tradeoff for a ridiculously light ski that handles a wide range of conditions pretty well for the most part. Light weight is great, but especially with less experience, I'd really focus on getting something you enjoy skiing a lot and can handle the conditions you expect the most frequently the best. The ski makers often tend to categorize skis by skill level, but I think personal taste and individual ability make it a lot more complex than that. More accurately, I think a more experienced skier will be able to handle a wider range of skis and make them work. As you progress, not only will skiing whatever ski you pick become easier but you will open up more options for yourself and begin to be able to better evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of particular skis in different conditions. Hopefully that makes sense and of course it's only my opinion based on my own experience and watching others learn and grow. By demoing some skis to see how they behave differently, you are already on the right track.

 

I've heard the K2s run longer than the stated length, so the 178cm Manaslu would probably be a closer comparison to the 174cm Wayback. Both of them make a good "quiver of one" ski, which sounds like what you are aiming for. I own several pairs of skis and find myself on the Manaslus more often than the rest combined. Personally I prefer a rockered tip witout a twin-tip tail for ski mountaineering, just like both of the skis you tried. I've heard good things about those Line Prophets that EVO suggested, though I have no personal experience with them. I'd agree with them that light weight should fall second in priority to something that you enjoy skiing and can handle well.

 

For boots, definitely spend some time finding ones that fit you really well and will handle whatever conditions you want to throw at them. Obviously a more stout boot is going to be better at driving larger, more aggressive skis and skiing more aggressive lines, if that is what you are aiming for. However, plenty of the modern light weight boots ski amazingly well for their weight, such as the Dynafit TLT5s. I would personally concentrate on finding the best boot first. Skis are much easier to select since there is a wider range and you are much less constrained by availability of sizes, fit for your specific foot, etc.

 

As for bindings, you are on the right path with Dynafits or one of the Dyanfit compatible bindings such as the Plums. I honestly can't see the point of going with a frame touring binding any more if your primary goal is backcountry and not slackcountry or lift skiing, especially considering almost all boots now have Dynafit inserts. The weight difference is just too great. You can find Dynafit Speed Radicals new for a little over $300, which is a pretty good all around binding. Stepping up to FT or ST adds a bit of weight and small riser plates.

 

Hopefully this helps a little, and wasn't too long winded. I intentionally stayed away from making specific recommendations (aside from bindings) because it really does come down to personal choice and what you seem to like the best. The good news is the market is full of great backcountry skis and boots these days; far more than ten or even five years ago, so I'm sure you'll find something that you'll be quite happy with. :)

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If you dont need something right away, I'd consider waiting for next seasons crop of boots. It looks to be by far the best line of tour/ski compromise yet. Dynafit has some lightweight but beefier touring boots that build off the TLT design. Also the new scarpa maestrale look like a nice step up in performance with very little weight/tourability penalty. I have some beefy AT boots and some tlts, and the temptation is certainly strong to sell both next year for the new breed.

 

Ski and binding wise, I'd say buy now on sale. Dynafit is less expensive than plum. I havent had any problems with my radical st's, although others have reported issues. All around skis: 95-105 waist, rockered tip, length dependent on your weight (which is???), light weight if you want to keep the focus on uphill, add a bit more beef if you want to balance with more downhill. If you want to drop some $$ DPS skis are reputed to balance the weight v performance equation pretty nicely.

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JoshK,

 

Thanks for your feedback-not long winded at all and helpful. I just got the similar advice from a pretty chill staff member at NextAdventure last evening.. he said really skis wise, demo a few more and figure out which one you like best, most people's opinion is going to be they like the skis they've skied which work for them based on their skills, predominate activity, and physical stats. His rec was find a boot that fits like a glove and you'll come to do fine on about any ski you get within reason, if you can test a few more out you may find one that is a bit more of a sweet spot.

 

I hadn't fully thought out if I was looking more into 'wanting to tour' or 'the descent', or a good compromise. In all honesty between honing at the resort and then my next goal being more like spring-summer on things like middle/adams/hood..probably more in the camp of a heavier ski that is more enjoyable for the down than something light for distance and touring weekend. My main goal once I get more proficient is backcountry with an occasional day here or there of lift serv with wife or friends.

 

I'm going to demo another ski (or two) this weekend at the resort, see how that goes.

 

 

 

Trogdor,

 

Care to point me towards some of this ubertech you're seeing/reading about? Sounds a little bit like digital cameras...the version around the corner is always revolutionary....tho it often seems incrementally. The best camera is the one you're using to take pictures.. But I appreciate the angle of thought..getting skis and bindings now doesn't do me so much without boots, esp when I want to practice skiing.. I hear you on the buying discounted now though, I'm shooting for ball park $1200-1500 for the skis/boots/bindings.

 

I'm 5'8", 150. If you want to throw out any skis be my guest, DPS probably a bit steep side from when I've perused their site.

 

cheers, thanks for the response

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In all honesty between honing at the resort and then my next goal being more like spring-summer on things like middle/adams/hood..probably more in the camp of a heavier ski that is more enjoyable for the down than something light for distance and touring weekend. My main goal once I get more proficient is backcountry with an occasional day here or there of lift serv with wife or friends.

 

Consider the K2 Sideshow for those goals if you haven't looked there already. Rips in firmer conditions (potatoes, wind effect, hardpack) and does well in all but crazy deep powder, and even then they're manageable and still a fun ride.

I picked up a pair in 174 at the beginning of the season looking to use them for an all around touring ski that would do well in the mank and in the spring too (already have a wider ski so deep powder wasn't a concern). I haven't been disappointed yet by this ski. They aren't the lightest due to the titanium sheet, but the performance difference is well worth it in my opinion. Makes for a great inbounds ski too. I was incredibly surprised by the amount of rebound I got off of these, akin to my GS planks. A really great ride that's worth a demo.

 

Good luck on the search, and have fun out there!

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Boots are the #1 thing that makes or breaks a skiing experience. I try to buy gear on sale, but boots are the one thing I'll buy at retail if it means I get a good fit. Go to a reputable shop with a good bootfitter and buy something that fits your foot well out of the box. Get said bootfitter to modify shell and liner as necessary to get the boot to fit perfectly. Hint: If they don't take the liner out and fit the shell to your foot, it's not a real ski shop. Also, they should hurt a bit for the first 10 days until the liner packs out or they'll be too big.

 

Good advice above on the skis: 95-105, rockered tip, 8-9 lb for the pair (weight measured in the 180 ish length, though the length you buy will depend on the height). I'd seriously check out the Praxis Backcountry, as well as the Moment PB&J. Both have gotten excellent reviews. Full carbon offerings from DPS and PM Gear. The Vicik from ON3P is on the heavier side of things, but might be worth a try. At your size, I'd shoot for something between 170 and 180 (though 185 isn't out of the question). Oh, and the K2 Coomback is a pretty well-liked, known ski.

 

As far as tech changing - Trogdor is right about Dynafit's offerings for next season. Definitely a step up from the past. I've got my eye on the Vulcan for sure, even though I just bought new touring boots at the start of this season. But these boots will likely not be found on sale and retail will be steep.

Edited by skibum14

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Not to send you away from CC.com or TAY, but if you've not checked out the tremendous wealth of information over on Lou Dawson's www.Wildsnow.com you're missing out. Reviews, tech information, essentially everything Randonee you might imagine. Perhaps this is just too obvious. Just saying.

 

One more thing, check out the Scarpa Maestrale, and the 3 buckle Scarpa Rush boots if you've not already.

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New Dynafit: any of these 3 would be awesome boots that will take you from beginner to advanced, and probably tour great.: http://www.wildsnow.com/6542/vulcan-mercury-dynafit/

 

The current tlt5 is not at all incremental compared to prior boots. These new stiffer boots using the same platform look excellent (but could be considered more incremental than the jump to tlt from everything else). I ski my tlts in reasonably full-value terrain, and they still get the job done. Still, something that skied like my titans, but toured like my tlts would be great. You are fairly small, so the need for a stiffer boot will be even less. Also, if earlier in the learning curve, you dont need as stiff.

 

For current boots, with a bent toward future touring plans, check out:

- current tlt5 mountain or performance. the tlt last doesnt fit all feet, but supposedly the new breed of boots next year are a bit wider.

- current dynafit zzero (higher end = better)

- current scarpa maestrale (next years will be better, but probably incremental by your definition)

 

For skis:

Something in the low-mid 170s with some rocker should be good for learning:

- Manaslu (i think they make a 169 and a 178). 169 will be easier to learn on

- Black Diamond aspect 176

- voile vector 170

- K2 coomback 174

- La Sportiva Hi5 178 (these have huge rocker, so i worry the 168 could ski too small) next year they will have a 95 waist version that IMO would be a better all around

 

 

 

Edited by TrogdortheBurninator

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Thanks for the help here. Ended up with Garmont Axons.. they are heavier than dynafit stuff, absolutely.. but they fit best of what I tried on (i have a very flat foot the splays out a bit wide when I weight it, lower volume, narrow heel)...

 

They were a steal as well being last year's model. I'm happy with it as a place to start as I was willing to spend what I needed to have comfort, it was a happy surprise at the register when they range up bunches below the price the guy thought they were when I was trying them on.

 

 

I've been on tgr tay and a handful of sites and just need to get some damn skis. I demod some nanuqs at 177 (a bit long but all they had) this weekend.. overall happy but i'm sure i was not able to fully utilize them in the pow.. more fun than the waybacks or the manaslus I tested, but that could be my ability improving. Anyways my taste and preference for what I like just isn't refined to make researching skis more do anything to help me..so I am thinking of getting either of these for a hair under $400. At that point if I hate either I don't have heart burn paying for a ski that meets my needs and prefs more fully once I've actually established them.

 

Line Prophet 90 (172cm).. heavier, going to hold up better to learning curve mistakes and physical abuse, geared more towards resort

 

G3 Saint (170).. cosmetic blemish.. lighter weight and more BC appropriate probably. maybe more to grow into as a ski.

 

I'd like to just order some damn skis today and be done with it. Any thoughts/suggestions of the two?

next up.. which dynafit bindings..though the 2012 model redesigns keep seeming to have minor issues pop up on wildsnow? then everyone seems to pimp those plum bindings too..

 

thanks

Edited by Water

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Heavier is OK if it is what fits you best! Good move on concentrating on the boots first, and always nice to score a deal. This is the best time of year to buy ski gear for sure.

 

As for the skis, I wish I could offer advice on the two you mention, but I haven't skied either of them. If I had to choose one of those two for myself, I'd go with the G3 Saint. I'm basing this just off reading the online blurbs from each of the manufacturers and the dimensions and weight they list. Assuming they are reasonably accurate, the Saint is considerably lighter. Not a few grams different, but on the order of enough weight that I would notice it going uphill. Again, this would be my choice for myself and is only based on a glance at the online info; I can't say how it would differ for a skier of differing ability or in real world use.

 

Sounds like you are well on the way to finding a good setup and one that you'll really enjoy racking up some BC miles on.

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Skis came today, bindings tomorrow. While there are some 'issues' with the Radical ST, they seem to impact a relatively small amount of users and are not a compromise in safety (like the stainless sabertooth rumblings).

 

Question for Portlanders.. Recommended place to get them mounted? Tualatin REI is across the street from my work and have said they do dynafit mounts. It is super convenient for me to drop them there than driving downtown or to east side. But rather have a good mount if there is a hairs diff in anyones book going to mnt shop/eomc/us outdoor

 

thanks--looking forward to getting out with my own gear this weekend, should have gotten into all this a year or two ago1

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Make sure you take the skis to someone who knows how to mount dynafits properly. I've had a few friends pull their bindings out of their skis due to mounting issues.

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any pdx folks rec on where to get dynafits mounted? e-omc/usoutdoor/mnt shop? cdmike, I'll politely get confirmation if the REI tuala tech has experience w/ dynafits. properly being more or less whats on wildsnow as opposed to?

 

next mounting i'll do myself. want to ski my setup this weekend but do not have the time to do it before then.

 

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The most important factor in mounting Dynafits is getting the alignment of the toe and heel pieces correct. If they are off by a little bit, the boot won't engage correctly. It's pretty easy to do yourself (as shown on wildsnow, as you saw) but does require some measurement and taking your time. If a shop does it they should have a jig. Other than that, preventing them from pulling out is the same as any binding: cleaning drilled holes, not overtapped, and some epoxy before screwing in the bindings. Depending on which binding you got, the heel piece will have some fore/aft adjustment in case you switch to a boot with a slightly longer or shorter sole length. It's best to have them mount with the adjustment in the middle so you can go either way. Any shop with half a clue about Dynafits should know this.

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I would just suggest taking them to someone who is competent and has installed dynafits and has a jig. The new radical series uses a star drive rather than a philips head for the screws. I have the radicals and have had no issues, I've taken them off jumps in the terrain park and have gotten pretty rowdy on them in the backcountry. I have them mounted to a pair of rossignol S7's.

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Hi guys

Im new to this blog (and the world of AT) but I wanted to check if you could give me some advice. I just bought a pair of K2 Coombacks (181cm) and Dynafit TLT Radical ST bindings and Im now wandering about which boots to buy. Im 183 cm (6 ft) and I weigh some 84 kgs (185 pounds). I tried the Scarpa Mobe but it feels to sturdy for a touring boot. I then tried the La Sportiva Spitfire and they feel great on my foot but Im not sure if they are robust enough to drive these skis with my weight. Im not an aggressive skier and my Head carving boots are 90/100 flex.

 

Im sure that the Spitfire is great uphill but what do you think will the Spitfire handle the K2 Coombacks well enough downhill?

 

Thanx in advance

 

Bessi from Iceland

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Hi Bessi,

 

I have no experience with that La Sportiva Spitfire boot, so I am only speculating here, so keep that in mind. It is a very lightweight boot with only 2 buckles. Spec says only 1065g a boot, so I imagine it would be a dream on the uphill or for climbing in. It probably won't perform quite as well on the downhill as a heavier 3 or 4 buckle boot; at least that's my guess. If you mostly ski easier terrain in forgiving conditions and tent to focus on the uphill, maybe this won't matter to you. Though if you are looking for something to give you better downhill control in steeper terrain or challenging conditions (deeper, heavier snow, crust, chopped up snow, etc.) it may help to have a bit sturdier boot. Perhaps a 3-buckle boot somewhere between the Spitfire and the 4-buckle Mobe would be a good choice. I hope that helps, and maybe somebody who has actually used the Spitfire could comment.

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Josh

Thanks for the feedback. Most of the feedback I have received from skiers that I have spoken to, and have not tried the Spitfire, seems to be the same, i.e. that it looks to be light for the more challenging downhill conditions. At the same time La Sportiva claim that it is stiffer than the 4-buckle Scarpa Maestrale. Actually they claim that with the (optional) powerstrap the Spitfire is 120 flex.

 

Anyone from La Sportiva monitoring this blog?

 

Thx again Josh,

Bessi

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http://www.wildsnow.com/6599/la-sportiva-ski-boots/

 

Haven't tried em either but they look to be in the same niche as the TLT5, Scarpa Alien, etc which is more oriented towards uphill ad climbing. Those aren't exactly on the part of the shelf I'd be looking at for an all-around touring boot. I don't now your purposes/experience but some of the recommendations upthread might fit the gap between the Spitfire and the Mobe better.

 

Or if they fit you can probably learn to ski em if you work at it hard enough and you'll enjoy the uphill more. :-)

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wanted to thank those of you who responded with the advice for this learning curve. Managed to get out on the setup two weekends ago and happy with it thus far

 

thought I may as well throw a feeler out there for a preferred skin for spring/summer cascades? probably just going with g3 alpinist but open to other suggestions from those who can speak from actual experience.

 

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