Hut-to-Hut Ski Touring Gear List

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The spring ski-touring season is close at hand. And as we’ve seen a surge of interest from our athletes, both coached and those following plans, in prepping for long ski tours across the globe, many have asked me for my hut-to-hut ski touring gear list. I developed this list over the past decade spent guiding hut-to-hut ski trips in Europe, such as the incredible HochTirol (High-Tyrol) Traverse through Austria’s wildest mountains and the much more famous (and much more crowded) Chamonix-to-Zermatt Haute Route.

This gear list, like any such list, can be modified for your needs. I suggest fine-tuning it to your exact objective and the expected weather and conditions.

Of course, before you go, make sure to take care of your fitness!

-by Uphill Athlete co-founder Steve House

Steve House’s Hut-to-Hut Ski Touring Gear List

SKIING EQUIPMENT
  • Alpine touring skis, telemark skis, or snowboard (split-board or with short approach skis). Skis should be a minimum of 85mm underfoot and a maximum of 105mm. Wider skis get very heavy and impact your ability to tour uphill. Narrower skis are more appropriate for late-season tours and traverses. I use the Kaestle TX82. My wife, being from Austria, imposes a strict rule that our family is only allowed to ski on skis made in Austria. Not a hardship, believe me!
  • Alpine touring (ski) or snowboard boots. Typical downhill ski boots do not work for touring. People spend days discussing ski boots, but the single most important component of a boot for a weeklong tour is fit. They have to fit you well and be comfortable to wear every single day.
  • Adjustable ski poles. I prefer two-piece carbon poles with a flick-lock style adjustment system.
  • Climbing skins. These must fit your skis perfectly. A good-fitting skin covers all of the p-tex base, but leaves all of the metal edge exposed. Nothing tests your skins like daily use with often-inadequate overnight drying. Make sure they’re relatively new with excellent glue.
  • Ski brakes. Recommended. Retention leashes may be preferred for tours that cross glaciers.
  • Ski crampons. Mandatory for spring tours.
  • 2 ski straps. The typical rubber-based ski strap has many purposes.
  • Skin wax. One bar per group.
SNOW SAFETY EQUIPMENT
  • Avalanche transceiver with new batteries
  • Avalanche probe
  • Rescue shovel. Flat-backed metal blade is recommended.
  • Pack. 25–40 liters, depending on tour type.
  • Small personal first-aid kit, including blister care
  • Avalung, Avalung pack, or ABS pack. Should be considered situationally.
  • Emergency locator device, 1–2 per party
GLACIER EQUIPMENT

Only for glaciated or technical tours:

  • Ski touring rope. I use a lightweight 30-meter 8mm rope for most glacier-tours.
  • Ice axe. A lightweight 50-to-60-centimeter straight-shafted ice axe is preferred for most situations. A technical ice tool will also work.
  • Boot crampons. Aluminum crampons with an attachment system designed for ski boots are preferred.
  • 1 ice screw, 19–22 centimeters in length
  • 2 lightweight locking carabiners
  • 2 lightweight nonlocking carabiners
  • 1 60-centimeter nylon or Dyneema sling.
  • Belay/rappel device. A lightweight device is preferable. Make sure it works with your rope.
  • Climbing or ski helmet. Situationally appropriate.
  • Small ascender like Ropeman or Tibloc (optional)

A north-facing run on day two of the HochTirol Traverse

CLOTHING

Bring all necessary under, mid-, and outer layers appropriate to the area and season. The following is a good example for normal winter conditions:

  • High-quality, stormproof jacket with a hood. Example: Patagonia M-10 Jacket
  • Lightweight wind/weather shell. Example: Patagonia Houdini
  • Soft-shell (or ventable hardshell) pants. Should fit over boot cuff and have integrated gaiter that works with your boots.
  • Midweight fleece shirt or jacket. Example: Patagonia Nano-Air Light Pullover
  • Long underwear top with zip-tee/neck coverage; either synthetic or wool.
  • Long underwear bottom; either synthetic or wool.
  • High-quality, packable insulated parka appropriate to temperatures and forecast. If a lot of snow or bad weather is forecast, consider opting for a synthetic parka instead of down (aka “puffy jacket”).
  • Winter gloves, 2 pairs: 1 light, 1 medium-weight.
  • Mittens. Lightweight mittens are an important asset, especially in an emergency situation. Very warm gloves may work as well.
  • Warm hat
  • Sun hat
  • Balaclava or neck gaiter
  • Ski socks. Typically 2 pairs for up to one week.
  • Women’s knee-high nylon stockings. Yes, you read that right. GREAT for blister prevention.

The best hut-to-hut tours get you far away from the trailheads where the skiing is the best.

OTHER ACCESSORIES
  • Headlamp. Lithium batteries are more expensive, but lighter than alkaline batteries and they perform better in the cold.
  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles. I prefer yellow-colored lenses that work well in cloudy conditions.
  • Sunscreen, SPF 30 or greater
  • Lip balm, SPF 30 or greater
  • Butane lighter (optional)
  • Ear plugs. Crucial for overnight tours in huts.
  • Personal hygiene articles
  • Small supply of toilet paper or facial tissues
  • 1-liter vacuum thermos bottle. My personal preference over a water bottle. Note that hydration tubes usually freeze while ski touring.
  • Camera
SKI CAMPING/BIVY EQUIPMENT

For overnight tours spent camping, NOT sleeping in huts:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Spoon
  • Tarp/tent/bivy
FOOD
  • Varies widely based on tour type and length

Hut accommodations in Austria are incredible, and often include showers. Beds at the Kursinger Hut.

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