The ski equipment industry is a bit of a jungle with all of the different features, binding systems and accessories that are available. Skis and binding systems are constantly being improved and many details on today’s equipment are more precise than before. Despite the fact that a modern binding can appear to be more fragile than older cable bindings, its reliability is quite good and your journey should even be safer when your foot is in place. As always, it is important to remove snow and ice from the boot and binding. Be particularly careful when leaving your skis in above-freezing temperatures - wet snow that freezes can render a binding useless.
Touring skis (e.g. mountain touring) are 50-60 millimetres in width and should have a steel edge to offer traction on hard, packed snow on sloping mountainsides. Wide, long touring skis (e.g. light touring) without a steel edge are good for deep snow on flat terrain, but do not work as well on wind-blown mountain slopes. It is important that the amount of camber is appropriate given your weight and skiing ability. If there is too much camber, you will not be able to push down and you will lose traction. If there is too little camber, you will find it more difficult to glide and the wax will wear away faster. When you are testing the camber, wear the backpack you will wear during your trek.
The decision about whether to use waxed or unwaxed skis, or skis with a small climbing skin under the glide zone (also called skin lock system by some manufacturers), comes mainly down to personal preference, but consideration should also be given to what is most practical in the type of environment where you will be skiing. One accessory that will always come in handy in rocky terrain is climbing skin, particularly if you are pulling a sled.
It used to be recommended that you bring an extra pair of ski tips on your trek, but this advice is seldom given today. In reality, if today’s skis break, they often snap behind the heel and in many cases the cause is defective material. This kind of problem is difficult to predict and it is often not possible to carry a whole extra ski. If it is not possible to improvise a solution, you should still make sure you have a reserve ski on a sled.
Poles are just as important as skis for cross-country skiing and, unfortunately, they have a tendency to break easily if someone happens to sit on them. On a longer trek it is often a good idea for someone to bring an extra pole. Telescope poles take up little space and can be tied on to the outside of a backpack.