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Recommendations for first set of AT boots and skis?

Original Post
Ethan Ayer · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

I had a taste of AT skiing last year and this weekend I will be in Bishop ( or Mammoth) looking for a used set of skis and boots. I will be looking for a boot that fits and then skis to match them at an affordable price.  Does anyone have recommendations of what to look for?  I know the difference between tech and frame bindings but that is about it. I have never own a pair of skis. I'm not a great skier so I will be looking for very moderate backcountry routes for touring and therefore high performance is not a priority. I have done enough snow mountaineering trips to be aware of the dangers of winter backcountry trips, bad weather, and avalanche risk and I have an avy beacon.

Any advice would be great!

Jacob Winey · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 1,059

The most important thing is make sure you get boots that your feet are happy in. You want your foot to be snug, but without any noticeable pressure spots. If they're used boots, check out how much life is left in the soles, if there's any noticeable cuts out of the tech pieces (at the toe and heel), and make sure the walk mechanism is working well in both boots.

Definitely try to get tech bindings (instead of frames), and try to check that whatever bindings you're looking at haven't been recalled. A lot of AT bindings have gone through recalls and even if they're most likely to work fine, you'll never be able to resell them or have a shop remount them.

Ethan Ayer · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

Thanks!

Ethan Ayer · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0
Jacob Winey wrote: The most important thing is make sure you get boots that your feet are happy in. You want your foot to be snug, but without any noticeable pressure spots. If they're used boots, check out how much life is left in the soles, if there's any noticeable cuts out of the tech pieces (at the toe and heel), and make sure the walk mechanism is working well in both boots.

Definitely try to get tech bindings (instead of frames), and try to check that whatever bindings you're looking at haven't been recalled. A lot of AT bindings have gone through recalls and even if they're most likely to work fine, you'll never be able to resell them or have a shop remount them.

I got some good boots and now I'm looking for a used set of skis and bindings.  I'm looking through Craigslist, Ebay, and MountainProject. Any recommendations on what I should look for, in terms of wear and tear?  Can tech bindings be broken and worse for wear?

Jacob Winey · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 1,059

Expect more wear and tear on used backcountry gear than resort gear (every backcountry ski is a rock ski). However, having sharp edges and smooth bases isn't as important in the backcountry as it is in the resort. Check how many times bindings have been mounted on the skis (ideally, it's only once), and make sure the bindings will adjust enough to fit your boots so that they don't need a re-mount. I feel like any severe damage to tech bindings should be pretty obvious, there would be loose parts or sharp edges, but I don't really have any better advice than that. Lastly, backcountry bindings vary in skiing performance much more than alpine bindings do. Heavier bindings will offer better control and lighter bindings are obviously easier to tour with. Don't get a heavy, aggressive ski with extra-lightweight touring bindings, or an extra lightweight ski with frame bindings, try to find a setup where the ski and binding are built for the same thing.

Jacob Winey · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 1,059

One more thing to add; if you can find a setup that comes with skins, that's very convenient.

Ethan Ayer · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

I got some 2015? VOLK Nunataqs 170 cm with skins and speed radical bindings for a very good price.  They served me well last season, learning to ski, skiing in the San Gabriel Mountains, and in the Eastern Sierras.  I might eventually upgrade to a new pair of skis.  They are a little short.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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