Alpine Touring Ski Gear for Kids
Have you been using the lack of quality pint-sized alpine touring equipment as an excuse to leave your kids at home while you alpine tour?
No longer. Manufacturers have finally caught on to the idea that some kids like skiing up as well as down.
Alpine touring, which is also called skinning, involves skiing uphill (or sometimes on a level surface) on alpine skis. After the hill is submitted, the skier turns around and skis downhill.
To climb, mountaineers need bindings that release the heel and removable skins to allow their skis to grip rather than slip.
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Kids who love a challenge will love the adventure, thrill, and exercise they get from alpine touring.
Backcountry skiing is like cross country skiing, but I get to go downhill, too.— Ethan, age 9
By alpine touring, skiers may explore slopes not serviced by lifts. My region is littered with former ski slopes that have closed. If you are willing to climb uphill, these slopes become skiable again.
Many use touring equipment to explore the backcountry — areas not serviced by resorts. Increasingly, people are discovering ski-able terrain outside the bounds of a ski resort.
Important Note: If this excites your family, make sure you take proper precautions for exploring the wilderness in the winter. Carefully select your area to ski. Take an avalanche safety course. Be prepared, and always go with another adult.
Anyone who has shuffled up a slight grade to the lift line knows that going uphill on alpine skiing equipment is exhausting! Although the alpine touring equipment makes uphill travel more enjoyable, it is still a fun and challenging cardio exercise.
All that body heat warms up a cold winter day. Alpine touring can make 5 degrees feel like 95. We recommend this kids shell with pit zips for backcountry skiing so they don’t overheat. Use code MTNMAMA25 for 25% off too. See our full review of Shred Dog Ski Gear for kids here.
I like backcountry skiing because it’s really fun to be out there and working hard to get up a mountain. Usually there are good views, and I can downhill ski without a lift.— Oliver, age 11
Alpine Touring Bindings For Kids
Alpine touring equipment has a binding that uplocks to allow the heel to move freely in the back — like a cross country ski. This makes uphill travel possible.
Usually, the bindings will also have “elevators” that lift the heel for more comfortable and efficient uphill travel. The elevator may reduce the strain on skiers because their feet do not need to flex all the way for every step. Some bindings only come with one height but most will have several height options.
Contour Skin Ski Touring Adapter — An Affordable, Simple Binding Solution for Alpine Touring
One of our kids received a Contour Skin Ski Touring Adapter for Christmas. He was thrilled! We love it because it is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to introduce your child to touring.
The adapter’s size can be adjusted.
Kids grow. Usually, we need to shop for our kids’ skis and boots every year. It’s great to have a ski system designed to fit multiple boot sizes.
Kids ski downhill on their normal bindings, skis, and boots.
When it comes to the downhill portion of alpine touring, kids may prefer their traditional boots and bindings. With this adapter, your child can ski down on his normal skis and feel confident tackling the slopes.
I also appreciate not needing to purchase another set of skis strictly for touring. Not only does this get expensive but can be yet another pair of skis to store. (Our family of five currently owns 16 pairs of skis!)
The Contour Adapter costs are significantly less than a traditional touring binding, which can easily cost a couple of hundred dollars. Not only is the binding less expensive, but you also no longer need to buy special boots or skis designed for touring.
Easy to use
Once the Contour adapter is attached to the child’s boot, they can easily stomp into their ski bindings as they normally would. We love how intuitive this is for kids who are comfortable skiing.
Has elevators for climbing comfort
Elevators may help kids feel stronger while climbing because their heel does not need to drop all the way down to the ground. These adapters have a single-size elevator but it’s enough for little skiers to climb more easily.
What We Would Change about the Contour Skin Ski Touring Adapter
The plastic construction of the Contour Adapter may break or wear out sooner than traditional bindings. It may also take additional pounding from kids as they attach it first to their boots and the stomp into their ski bindings.
Another disadvantage to having an adapter rather than a traditional biding is that it requires a longer transition time. These have to be attached to the ski boot and then inserted into the binding — two steps rather than one. In most circumstances, this is not a big problem. But if your skier has racing ambitions, it may mean minutes off of their total ski time.
Dynafit ST Rotation Lite 7 Binding — Designed for Safer Skiing
Dynafit has designed a binding perfect for small skiers. The Dynafit ST Rotation Lite 7 Bindings offer several major advantages.
One Dynafit binding weighs 1lb 3.4 oz, which is fairly light for touring bindings. Young alpinists will appreciate climbing with less weight encumbering them.
The heel unit has aluminum construction, which is both light and durable.
Low Release Value
Safety release binding help prevent many ski-related injuries because the skis release from the boots when a skier crashes. Smaller skiers (including petite adults) struggle to find bindings with a low enough release value. Dynafit Bindings are designed to release reliably at lower settings, thanks to their rotating toe.
With these bindings, most crashes result in yard sales, not hospital visits.
The Dynafit bindings have a couple of added benefits to make touring a little bit easier.
The rotational toe can be centered for easy step-ins. Ice breaker pins make climbing easier in icy conditions.
What we would change about the Dynafit ST Rotation Lite 7 Binding
The Dynafit ST Rotational Lite 7 Binding only fits one size after it has been mounted. When your kid grows, you’ll have to purchase a new binding.
It’s also one of the more expensive bindings on our list. However, its innovative safety features may still make it a worthwhile purchase.
ATK Candy 5 Binding — Simple, Light, and Fleet
The ATK Candy 5 Binding has all the design features of a full-sized adult technical binding but it’s child-sized.
We all know that kids aren’t as strong as adults. They tire out must sooner and need frequent breaks. So why are so many kids’ bindings heavier in portion to their bodies than adult bindings? Thankfully, these bindings are much easier on little bodies.
One ATK Candy 5 Binding weighs only 9.9 ounces — the pair of them weigh less than only one of the Dynastar ST Rotation 7 Lite Bindings!
Lighter weight on the feet means happier, faster uphill skiers.
The ATK Candy 5 binding has been designed to allow kids to easily step in and out of their bindings. This makes less frustrating transitions.
We are huge fans of equipment that recognizes that kids can shoot up an inch overnight! These binding can be adjusted 50mm to grow with your kid’s boot size.
What we would change about the ATK Candy 5 Binding
The heel elevator is not included with the regular binding but as an optional add-on. While we are glad to see elevators as an option, we would prefer it to come as part of the regular package.
Alpine Touring Skins for Kids
Give your kids a grip on the ice and snow with a set of skins for your kid’s skis! These skins transform slick alpine skis into uphill skis.
Usually, climbing skins are sold in a wide width and then trimmed to fit the ski. (The trimming is a fairly simple process using a tool that comes with the skins.)
The composition of materials used to make the skins affects how the skin grips and glides on the snow. Usually, they are composed of mohair and nylon. More mohair means more glide, and more nylon gives move grip and durability.
All skins have a reusable adhesive on the back to cling to the ski. Tip and tail connectors help the skins stay on the skins while climbing.
Contour Kids Skins
Contour Kids Skins are thinner than most skins. For parents, this means less material (and money) wasted when trimming the skins to fit smaller skis. Contour Kids Skins are designed for skis 95mm wide to 140 cm. Their mix of nylon and mohair will make climbing more fun.
The skins come with a metal tip connector, but no tail connector. The lack of a tail connector saves weight, which may be important for some skiers.
However, it also increases the likelihood that the skins will delaminate in the middle of an uphill climb. This becomes more likely in cold conditions or during a second lap when the glue adhesive is less sticky.
Trimmable Skins with G3 Tip and Tail Connector Kit
If you don’t mind a little DIY project, consider getting trimmable skins with a tip and tail connector kit. Skin material, such as Ski Trab’s WC Race, can be purchased by length and width. Once you have your material, it may be trimmed to fit the ski.
This method gives you the most control over the type of skins your kid will use, and the type of connectors that hold them in place.
The G3 Tip and Tail Connector Kit comes in three sizes and has two metal tip connectors, two adjustable tail connectors, and a skin trimmer. Installing the connectors requires some skill but it is fairly straightforward.
Alpine Touring All-In-One Setups
Sometimes it’s easier to just buy an entire setup in one purchase. You know everything works together, and you can be sure that you have exactly what your mini-mountain maverick needs to earn her turns.
Contour Kids Startup Setup
The Contour Kids Startup Setup is a great, affordable set up for a kid’s first alpine tour experience! It includes the Countour Skin Ski Touring Adapter and Contour Kids Trimable Skins
Dynafit Seven Summits Youngstar Ski Setup
Skis, skins, bindings are all included in this tech-style setup. The Dynafit Seven Summits Youngstar Ski Setup includes the Dynafit Rotation 7 Lite Binding and the Seven Summits Skin. This skin is a speedy mix of 70% mohair and 30% nylon and comes with a tip and tail connector.
The skis have a wood-constructed sidewall and come in five lengths. They have been designed to be very skiable and consistent.
Amelia’s kids ski on this set up and find them to be significantly more comfortable and light compared to the contour bindings above. That said, size is less limited for younger kids for the Contour set up.
Alpine Touring Boots and Poles
Hagan Pure Junior Boot
While not necessary, alpine touring boots definitely make the touring experience more enjoyable. Touring-specific boots allow for ankle mobility while climbing and then lock-in for a controlled downhill.
The Hagan Pure Junior Boot is a great option for kids. It’s relatively light and allows for 60 degrees of mobility during the climb. Kids will also love that it flexes comfortably during the downhill.
The liner is heat-moldable around the calf, shin, ankle, and instep. This customizable fit ensures that the boot fits your skier precisely.
Hagan Pure Junior Boot’s durable sole has traction to allow for safe boot packing across un-skiable terrain. The boot is a bit of an investment, but fit both Amelia’s sons who have a wide foot and a narrow foot.
Black Diamond First Strike Pole
Poles help skiers climb with power! These Black Diamond First Strike Poles are adjustable and grow with your child or can be adjusted to match the angle of the hill. They can be as tiny as just over 2 feet to 3 feet 6 inches long.
This scaled-down four-season pole will help your kiddo summit on skies in the winter and by foot all summer long. The basket can be swapped depending on the conditions. Wider baskets are perfect for snow and smaller ones for mud or dirt.
Extra Gear to Consider for Backcountry Skiing with Kids
Being able to safely and effectively communicate while you’re skiing is key for safety. Amelia’s family uses, loves, and trusts Rocky Talkies in particular. They stay charged even in cold conditions and have an excellent battery life. Check the full review out here.
Towable Bungee Cord
Have kids that tire out easily or anticipate them just needing an extra boost? This bungee tow rope is our favorite for both biking AND skiing. It’s super easy to attach to a waist belt and pull kids on up.
If you are skiing in the backcountry, never, ever go without one of these AND know how to use it. We like this BCA one.
Kids: Earn Your Turns
With the right bindings and skins, you can bring your kids on uphill adventures. They, too, can experience the freedom of self-powered alpine skiing.
- How to Teach Kids to Downhill Ski
- Shred Dog Ski Gear Review
- Rocky Talkie Review
- Teaching Kids Cross Country Skiing
- Cold Weather Gear
Alpine Touring Ski Gear for Kids Backcountry Skiing
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