Backcountry Skiing

Research, Rent, Buy Used

Backcountry skiing – hiking up mountains before skiing down them – is abundant across the northeast. Once primarily the domain of telemark skiers, backcountry skiing is today very popular with Alpine Touring (A.T.) skiers. The new A.T. gear – beefy alpine-like bindings, boots and skis has made alpine backcountry skiing easier, safer and more fun.

The best way to access the sport – without spending Titanic amounts of money on ill-advised gear – is to: Research, Rent and Buy Used. Research the equipment, Rent different brands and styles of gear and then Buy Used equipment. Several publications offer excellent information, many shops across the northeast rent A.T. gear and a handful sell used equipment.

Tuckerman Ravine

Mount Greylock (MA)

Mount Cardigan

Magazines -- Gear Guide

Backcountry Magazine Gear Guide

The Gear Guide is the starting point for gear research. It describes the current year’s A.T.  bindings, boots and skis. Purchase the Guide in the Fall at outdoors shops or as part of a subscription; back issues can be purchased on for $10 each or on Ebay. If possible purchase up to five years of back issues to use as a reference when buying used gear.


Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival

Backcountry Magazine and The Mountaineer shop co-sponsor the Ski Festival annually in early March offering demos of A.T. gear and guided backcountry ski trips in the Lake Placid, NY-region of the Adirondack Park. (

Mt. Washington Backcountry Ski Festival is held annually in late March/early April and offers demos of A.T. gear, instruction and guided backcountry ski trips on Mount Washington and nearby peaks. (

Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), NH Chapter -- Annual Winter Hiking, Skiing & Leadership Workshop

The two annual workshops (held in January and February) offer a variety of winter outdoors instruction including backcountry skiing; the AMC does not provide or rent equipment and A.T. gear must be rented elsewhere. (


Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast by David Goodman

This book is the Bible of backcountry skiing in the northeast. The book lists 50 backcountry ski tours – the majority of which are true backcountry alpine slopes and trails (with vertical drops of 1,000 to 3,000 feet).

Presidential Skiing: A Guide to Backcountry Skiing in New Hampshire's Presidential Range by Kurt Niiler.

This excellent book is written primarily for extreme skiers who regularly ski Tuckerman Ravine or other super steep lines. Offers more than 50 descriptions of the various skiable chutes, gullies and ravines in NH's White Mountains.

Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book by Allen O'Bannon and Mike Clelland

Book is chock full of useful backcountry skiing tips -- from gear to safety to winter camping -- with hundreds of entertaining illustrations.

Ski Trips

The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) sponsors more than two dozen alpine backcountry ski trips each winter for telemark skiers, A.T. skiers and backcountry snowboarders. Most trips are sponsored by the NH Chapter, but other chapters also offer trips. Trips are free and AMC membership is not required; trips vary in difficulty and participants must have backcountry ski and hiking experience.

Starting in the Fall, search for backcountry ski trips on

Tips for Buying Bindings

Unlike alpine bindings which may be used by an adult of any boot size, A.T. bindings come in two or three different sizes. When purchasing bindings, make sure your boot's sole size is compatible with the binding size.

A.T. Rental & Used Gear Shops

As Alpine Touring has exploded in popularity over the past few years many outdoors shops in ski towns have started renting A.T gear - and a few sell their used rental equipment.

Both of the below shops sell A.T. gear on consignment - in store - not online and equipment is inspected prior to being listed.  Most shops sell limited used A.T. gear; one shop -- Outdoor Gear Exchange -- offers vast quantities of used A.T. equipment. 

Alpine Touring - Used Gear Shops

International Mountain Equipment
North Conway
New Hampshire 

Outdoor Gear Exchange