How to Buy your first Backcountry Ski Setup for the Wasatch

Ski Touring in Salt Lake City

Shredding the powder of the Wasatch mountains in Salt Lake City is magic, but if you want more empty lines and to push yourself mentally and physically, it’s time to think about investing in a backcountry touring setup. The champagne powder of the Wasatch is undoubtedly some of the best in the country and if you are looking to earn some of your turns check out our guide on how to buy your first backcountry ski setup for the Wasatch.

Unlike skiing inbounds, backcountry skiing involves some more technical gear and you will also need to purchase safety equipment that is necessary for avalanche terrain. We recommend everyone take the AIARE 1 Course which is an introduction to avalanche hazard mitigation and to pay attention to the Utah Avalanche Center before they travel in the backcountry.

What Equipment do you Need to Backcountry Ski?

The main pieces of equipment that are necessary for you to buy besides your backcountry touring setup are a beacon, shovel and probe. These are necessary in the backcountry and will help with more swift rescues in case you end up in the path of an avalanche. A great place to purchase this gear is from The Ski Mountaineering Company. Check out their different avalanche safety gear as well as different options for climbing skins that you can trim and cut to fit your skis to hike uphill with ease.

Once you have purchased a beacon, shovel, probe and skins it’s time to focus on the three essential items of your alpine ski touring setup: the skis, boots and bindings. How do I choose a backcountry ski setup is a common question we often hear. Take some time to do research ahead of time and talk to your friends about what equipment they like the best since the options are endless and everyone has a different preference. It takes some research and time to figure out how to buy your first backcountry ski setup for the Wasatch.

Make sure to learn more about how to purchase the right touring boots, skis and bindings. Once you have a good idea of what you want, go to Park City Ski Boot to get boot-fitted and purchase a pair of alpine touring boots or dig through the used bindings and skis at The Gear Room.

how to buy your first backcountry ski setup for the Wasatch


What kinds of skis do you need for backcountry skiing? When buying a pair of skis for backcountry skiing and alpine touring it’s important to think about what kind of skier you are, the weight of the ski and how wide you want the ski to be. Since the Wasatch is known for epic powder, it’s great to purchase a lightweight powder ski that isn’t too wide so you don’t have extra weight skinning up the mountain. 

In the Wasatch mountains we recommend a ski that is moderately wide and moderately light for alpine ski touring. Having a width of around 100mm-115mm is a great option. Some skis we would recommend are the Atomic Backland 107’s , the Armada JJ/VJJ 116’s and the DPS Pagoda 100’s.

Spotlight Gear Review: Armada VJJ 116

The Armada VJJ 116 is a true gem in the world of women’s freestyle and backcountry skiing. Designed to excel in powder conditions, this ski offers an exceptional combination of versatility, playfulness, and stability. This ski is an excellent choice for powder, all mountain skiing or to use as a hybrid ski for the backcountry.

When it comes to floating through deep powder, the VJJ 116 is one of the best powder skis on the market. With a wide 116mm waist, these ultralight skis effortlessly stay on top of the snow, giving you an exhilarating and surf-like experience. The tips are rockered and the tail enhances maneuverability, allowing for quick turns and smooth transitions between slashes. The camber underfoot ensures excellent edge hold and stability, making it easier to charge through variable conditions. The playfulness of the VJJ 116 standouts over other skis with how responsive they are and the playful pop to explore tight trees and open bowls.

The Armada VJJ 116 is also an incredibly versatile ski. It performs surprisingly well on groomed runs and variable snow conditions. The combination of a lightweight construction and the right amount of stiffness ensures stability at higher speeds and confidence on hardpack. This versatility means you can enjoy the VJJ 116 in a wide range of terrain, including as a backcountry ski setup for touring the Wasatch mountains of Utah. This ski pairs very well with Marker Kingpin bindings. The lightweight wood core and the ultralight technology makes it an excellent ski for hiking up hill. The stability and width are perfect for untouched powder runs and canyons in the backcountry.

This is the perfect all mountain, backcountry hybrid ski for any advanced female skier based in Salt Lake City, Utah who wants to start backcountry skiing, but still uses skis inbounds at the resorts. These skis will be a game-changer in the backcountry for women skiing in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon and can push their skills both inbounds and in the backcountry. The Armada VJJ 116’s will bring joy, confidence and ease in the Wasatch mountains for female skiers and is a great ski to invest in for ski touring and all mountain resort skiing.

how to buy your first backcountry ski setup for the Wasatch


Purchasing touring bindings takes a lot of thought since you want to make sure it aligns with what type of skiing you will be doing, your boot size as well as what skis you have. Here are some factors to think about before you purchase ski touring bindings.

  • The weight of the bindings will affect your performance both uphill and downhill. If you have heavier bindings they will offer great performance for the downhill, but will be heavier for the uphill climb. Having a light binding will bring more ease for the uphill climb, but won’t be as sturdy and will affect your downhill performance.
  • Will you be using these bindings for inbound skiing at the resorts as well as backcountry skiing? If so, you need to purchase a binding that can be used for both types of skiing as well as with boots that can be used inbounds and for alpine touring.
  • Your boots need to be compatible with your bindings, so make sure you purchase boots first or know what boots you are planning on purchasing before you commit to a specific binding. Check out this compatibility guide so you can have a better idea of what bindings work with what boots for alpine touring.
  • Pay attention to the DIN, elasticity and release value of bindings before you purchase them. Make sure the brakes are wide enough but not too wide for your skis and make sure the release value is high or low enough for your weight and skier type. Pay attention to all the small details to make sure you get set up with the right pair of bindings that are safe and align with your style of skiing.

how to buy your first backcountry ski setup for the Wasatch


Do I need special boots for backcountry skiing? Yes you do! Unlike regular downhill skiing boots, alpine touring ski boots are made for going uphill and downhill. They have a walk mode and are usually much lighter for hiking. There are a few main factors you will need to think over carefully before purchasing an alpine touring boot.

  • Will you be using these boots for both inbound skiing at the resorts and backcountry skiing? If so it is necessary to purchase a pair of Crossover AT boots that will be able to be used with bindings for the backcountry as well as bindings for resort skiing.
  • Are you planning on using these for a few quick hikes in the backcountry here and there or are you planning on doing aggressive mountain hiking or several day ski touring trips? This is a huge factor to think about so you know whether to buy mid range AT boots or fast and light AT boots.
  • Get boot-fitted at Park City Ski Boot. This is necessary to purchase the right boots for your feet so your feet are happy and comfortable climbing up the mountain as well as skiing down. Unhappy feet are the recipe for a miserable skier. 
  • Make sure you think about what bindings you have or want before you purchase alpine touring ski boots. There are many different options for touring bindings and boots and only some bindings are compatible with certain boots. Talk to your boot fitter about what bindings are compatible or check out this compatibility guide for alpine boots and bindings.

Now get out there and do your research so you can get the best beginner ski touring setup to enjoy Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon this winter! Talk to your friends for more recommendations and go to the local shops to learn how to buy your first backcountry ski setup for the Wasatch and make a purchase. We promise that you won’t regret it! Stay safe and we hope you enjoy exploring the mountains near Salt Lake City on some alpine touring skis.

Check out for a full list of our services and to reach out for a booking. White Cloud Concierge is a Salt Lake City Concierge Service that can help you spend more time doing what you love this winter instead of running errands and doing chores.

Learn about other winter outdoor recreation options to enjoy during the snowy months in Salt Lake City!