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Backcountry Ski Gear

The One-Ski Set-Up That Takes Kids From the Resort to the Backcountry

You don't have to invest in a second set of equipment to introduce your kids to backcountry skiing.

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As ski parents, we’re well aware that our passion is not a cheap pastime. Take the added step of introducing your kids to ski touring, and you’ll need to buy yet another set of equipment for your growing rippers. Not the soundest investment. 

Yet learning ski touring and backcountry skills early is a huge boon for tweens and young teens, and helps get them on the path toward a lifelong love of (safe) travel beyond the ropes. Equipment should not be the barrier to getting them into the backcountry. Instead of buying AT-specific gear for your kiddo, you can invest in one set-up that will do it all—at the resort and beyond—thanks to durable frame touring bindings, freeride skis that are light but substantial enough to take them anywhere, and alpine boots with walk/hike mode.

Also Read: Here’s How to Safely Introduce Your Teens to the Backcountry

To be clear, you can get super-lightweight, tech-toe AT setups for kids—Dynafit, Movement, and Austrian brand Hagan are all worth checking out. But they come at a price, and they’re better suited to uphilling than to playing in the trees or exploring sidehits at the resort. More delicate tech-toe bindings are also not known to withstand a lot of abuse.

The youth skis, boots, and bindings below will be heavier and less nimble than AT-specific options, but will be the best bang for your buck since your growing ripper can use this set-up for in- and out-of-bounds skiing.

Junior Alpine Boots with Walk/Hike Mode

Rossignol Alltrack Jr. 80

Rossignol All Track
Photo: Courtesy of Rossignol

• Sizes: 22.0-27.7
• Last: 100
• Flex: 80
• Weight: 1,640 kg per boot

This is a medium-fit, lightweight freeride junior boot with a hike mode that offers 50-degree range of motion for efficient touring. The customizable inner liner features mono-injected Polyethelene so you can mold them to your kid’s feet, and an upgraded hike mode now features a wider opening on the back shell for better uphill mobility. Lock it down, though, and the boot won’t sacrifice downhill performance. This boot doesn’t have a tech toe, which means it’s primarily a resort boot, but one that can be paired with an alpine or frame binding for when your kiddo is ready to head beyond the resort ropes. [$395]

Related: 8 Classic Backcountry Routes For Beginners Through Experts

Salomon QST Access 70 T

Salomon QST Access
Photo: Courtesy of Amer Sports
• Sizes: 22.0-27.5
• Last: 104
• Flex: 70
• Weight: 1,580 kg per boot

An all-mountain boot with a wider fit, the QST is Salomon’s lightest junior boot. It features the brand’s patented V-cut release on the lower back of the shell for easy hiking and good forward flex when locked down for the descent. The Thermic Fit Junior liners can be heated-molded for a performance fit. Again, no tech toe on this boot means it’s not compatible with a pin-style touring binding, but it will work with a frame touring binding or traditional alpine binding for resort shredding. [$280]

Junior Skis

Elan Ripstick 86 T

Elan Ripstick 86 Jr.
Photo: Courtesy of Elan Skis

• Dimensions: 121-85-110 (at 148 cm)
• Lengths (cm): 138, 148, 158, 168
• Weight: 1,310 grams per ski

Lightweight enough for the uphill but burly enough for the downhill as well as variable conditions, the junior Ripstick boasts the same tech as its grown-up counterpart: a laminated wood core with fiberglass reinforcement for structural support. Elan’s Mountain Rocker—full rocker at the tip and semi at the tail—promises flotation and maneuverability. Unless you live somewhere that measures fresh snowfall in feet rather than inches, an 85mm waist makes this ski versatile enough to tackle backcountry crud and an inch or two with fresh, without bogging young legs down on the uphill with the added materials and weight that come with a wider waist. [$350]

Atomic Bent Chetler Mini

Atomic Bent Chetler
Photo: Courtesy of Amer Sports

• Dimensions: 126.5-90-117.5 (at 153 cm)
• Lengths (cm): 133, 143, 153, 163
• Weight: 1,350 grams per ski

Designed for kids 8-13 who can and will ski everything inside and outside the ropes, this Atomic all-mountain ski also mimics the adult version with a Densolite core, Powder Rocker for flotation, and Dura Cap Sidewalls for stability in bulletproof conditions. A wider one-ski-quiver option for kids who wake up early to get the goods. [$300-$350]

Related: Ski Touring Tips for Beginners

Atomic Backland Girl

Atomic Backland Girl
Photo: Courtesy of Amer Sports

• Dimension: 122-85-112
• Lengths: 110, 120, 130, 140, 150
• Weight: 1,250 grams per ski

A freeride ski designed for young-lady rippers to take anywhere at the resort and beyonds the ropes, the Backland Girl has a similar construction to the boy’s Bent Chetler with a Densolite core and Dura Cap sidewalls to keep her grounded. Despite a more modest waist width, the Backland’s All-Mountain Rocker keeps it afloat in a few inches of fresh and offers effortless turn initiation on the groomed. [$200-$260]

Frame Touring Bindings

Tyrolia Adrenalin 14

Tryrolia Adrenalin 14
Photo: Courtesy of Head

• Boot lengths: 270-360mm
• Weight: 2,420 grams per binding
• Brake widths (mm): 85, 95, 110, 130

The lightest of the heavyweight touring bindings, the Adrenalin combines ease of use at the resort with performance and simplicity in the backcountry. The binding’s Freeride Pro Toe tilts up to 9-degrees for efficient climbing and the Ascender Lock makes clicking in for the descent pretty effortless. Compatible with traditional alpine boot soles and Gripwalk. [$399]

Go Deeper: SKI’s Picks for the Best Backcountry Bindings