How to Choose Randonee Ski Gear

How to Choose Randonee Ski Gear
Randonee skiing, with its focus on summits, steep descents and mountain traverses, is also known as alpine touring, AT skiing or ski mountaineering. Randonee bindings allow the skier to lift his heels for cross-country or uphill travel--as much as with traditional cross country skis. Once it's time to ski downhill, however, the heels on randonee bindings can be locked in place to allow for conventional alpine-style skiing.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Start with the bindings because they will dictate your skiing style and also may dictate which boots you can wear. If you're a beginner, you will probably want bindings with a binding or base plate. You'll be able to lock or unlock your heels with just the flick of a ski pole. If you're a seasoned AT skier looking to travel long distances, you may want to select lighter ski bindings without a base plate, but these are less convenient--you have to get out of them to switch between climbing and downhill modes--and will greatly limit your choices of compatible ski boots.
Step 2
Select boots. Randonee ski boots are typically sized in the Mondopoint sizing system, so use the Mondopoint sizing chart (see Resources section) to convert from your U.S. shoe size to the appropriate Mondopoint size for your boots.
Step 3
Try on the randonee boots if possible before you purchase them. Err on the side of purchasing smaller, because the linings will pack down and leave more room for your foot, as long as the boots aren't tight enough to cut off or restrict your circulation. Squat down then stand up, walk around a bit, and shift your weight from side to side. Your toes and heels shouldn't have much room to shift around as you do this, and there shouldn't be any pressure points or "hot spots" of discomfort anywhere on your foot.
Step 4
Keep in mind that if you're using AT bindings without a base plate, only boots specifically made to fit those bindings will work with them.
Step 5
Select skis by standing the ski on its end beside you. A beginning skier will typically want skis that reach up to his chin. The more advance you are, the higher the skis will reach on you, until they reach at least to the top of your head. This is a basic rule, but there are always exceptions, the most noticeable of which is a very heavy or light skier. If you are disproportionately light for your height, you'll probably want a shorter ski. If you're quite heavy, you may want a longer ski to help float you above the snow.
Step 6
Use downhill ski poles if necessary, but telemark or climbing ski poles are typically much more effective with AT gear. Telescoping or adjustable poles are the optimum solution. If you choose these, make sure they adjust between waist height and armpit height; these are the optimum ski pole lengths for downhill skiing and striding, respectively.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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