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Backcountry: An introduction

Written by backcountry enthusiast and Rhythm team member Flynn Armstrong.


You've spent all winter waiting for perfect conditions and now spring is here to bring you fun snow and lots of sunny days. With spring corn harvestable from mid morning, depending on conditions and aspect, you can enjoy almost every run the main range has to offer. Heading out of Dead Horse Gap and Guthega are great choices through September, giving you easy access to Leatherbarrel and Mt Tate; each with ripper terrain. Then, when the Charlotte Pass road opens in October, Club Lake, Blue Lake and all of the western faces are all within walking distance.


This blog post give you an overview of touring gear for Australian conditions to help you get out there and shred this spring.


Alpine touring skis

For most Aussie tourers, a 85-100mm underfoot ski is going to be ideal. Narrower options will emphasise hard snow performance and edge hold while wider options will float better in soft snow and generally provide a surfier, more playful ride. For most first time setups, I'll look at a 95mm underfoot ski for versatility in all conditions. The Volkl Rise Beyond and Armada Locator are both ripper backcountry skis at very reasonable weights.


The Rise Beyond is the perfect ski for beginner and intermediate riders. With a forgiving flex through the ski it is easy to manage in challenging terrain, and the 3D side cut radius gives it excellent slow speed dynamics and stability when charging. It is also super light at 1260g in a 170cm ski, so you're not going to be hauling a monster up the hill.


For our more advanced customers, the Locator 96 is an ideal ski for the Aussie Backcountry weighing only 1350g in a 178cm. It's a stronger flex than the Rise, which gives you a more confidence inspiring ski when skiing aggressively in big terrain. The stiff flex also increases edge hold along the length of the ski in icy conditions, which can be really helpful in Australia. Additionally, it features carbon stringers and titanal binding reinforcement for extra support. 


Sale Off
2023 Rise Beyond 96 Ski
$1,249.00$874.30
honourable mentions...
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2023 Zero G 85 Ski
$1,199.00$839.30

The Blizzard Zero G 85 offering ultralight weight (1100g in 172cm) and incredible stiffness with its paulownia core and carbon reinforced top sheet. It is the ideal ski for long traverses, or big vert days, in suboptimal conditions, as its narrow waist and stiffness give it great hold on ice. It's not for the faint of heart though, as its lightweight and stiffness can make it a handful, however, in spring slush it will ski like a dream.

The Voile Ultra Vector BC is a patterned base option great for covering long distances on mellow terrain as you don't need to use skins on low angle slopes which makes for incredibly efficient travel.


Tech bindings


For a touring set up, we are generally looking for a lightweight binding to reduce the overall weight we are carrying on the hike up. On top of this, we want to menage retention and release on the way down as well as useability and features. For a true backcountry ski, I'd look at mounting something under 600g to keep it nice and light, unless you are planning on hucking some cliffs or resort skiing regularly.


Midweight


Dynafit are the name in touring bindings. It could have something to do with the fact that they invented tech bindings and have created some of the most reliable products over the past thirty years. The Rotation is an excellent blend of reliability with its 7 years of backcountry usage, reasonable weight (600g), TUV release certification for safety and solid features, including two heel risers, easy step-in and brake. For occasional resort usage and everyday backcountry bashing, this veteran is hard to beat.


Lightweight


The G3 Zed is an excellent binding with 4 years in the field. It comes without a brake and weighs a measly 358g. It has independently sprung heel pins to increase safety, two heel risers and an easy step-in toe piece. Personally, on lightweight bindings, I like running then with a leash rather than a brake to keep weight low and make sure they don't run odd down the hill. But, if you'd prefer a brake, they only weigh an extra 85g~. The Zed is an awesome contender if you're looking to cut weight, but still want a safe, reliable and easy to use binding.


Lightweight


Another Dynafit binding, but this time at the other end of the spectrum, the Superlight 150 is pretty much as light as they come (150g). You can mount it as is, but it comes with an adjustable plate (59g) and brake (85g~). I'd highly recommend the plate as it will allow compatibility with multiple boots. The brake is optional and as above I'd go with a leash instead. These bindings have been in the field in this iteration for 2 years. They are reliable and offer excellent retention in committing terrain, but, being a U sprung ultralight heel, they will not be as safe as heavier options. If you're looking for an ultralight binding for massive days in extreme terrain, look no further.

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G3 Zed 12 Ski Binding
$949.00$759.20

Alpine Touring boots


With alpine touring boots you have heavy weight, hybrid options, like the Atomic XTD which will fit into resort, hybrid and tech bindings. There are ultralight touring boots with range of motion, like that of a hiking boot, such as Scarpa F1 LT and everything in between. Choosing the right boot is very personal, so it's best to come into Rhythm and chat to our boot fitters. They will help you find the best fit for you, your skiing ability and your needs.

Skins


Skins are a massive category with heaps of choices. My go to brands are Pomoca and Montana as they've both been operating for over 80 years and I've had great experience with their glue and mounting hardware. The Pomoca Free Tro 2.0 is my favourite as it glides incredibly well and grips well enough for me, it's super light and packable too!

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Montana Montanyl Skin - 130mm
$312.00
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Pomoca Ready 2 Climb Free V 2.0 Skin - 140mm
$399.99

Rhythm Snowsports, Cooma stocks a huge range of alpine touring gear to rent or purchase, Whether you're a seasoned professional or a beginner, pop in and talk to our backcountry team. We can guide you in the best products to suit your needs and goals and give you advice on the best routes for daily conditions.