Randos: A Guide to Badass Ski Touring Style
THE COOL GUISEThere's an easy swagger to a ski tourer as they walk along, skis on one shoulder. You may think it has something to do with their superiority as part of the badass Rando club looking down on piste punters, but it's actually just because their touring boots are in walk mode...
Ski tourers eat vertical metres for breakfast and will extol the virtues of the latest Fritschi Xenic 10 binding heel lifts over ski lifts until the Alpine cows come home. Their love of the great backcountry is as boundless as their touring.
There was a time when ski tourers were either ski bums who couldn't afford a lift pass or more senior skiers from mountain villages only just out of leather boots and wooden skis. Now, though, tourers are a growing tribe of skiers and snowboarders whose style is a few mountain ranges away from a ski bum's hoodie and the local skier's cable knit sweater.
Those with wallets as big as their wanderlust know no limits to their gear from €1000+ touring skis to €850 airbags to €500 bindings. If it's newer and lighter and maybe better for touring than last year's gear then they want it now. And they'll take it to the remotest off-grid destinations, Siberia, Norway and beyond land to Antarctica, basically wherever there's snow, at least a 30 percent gradient and no magic carpet.
Just like a piste skier or snowboarder? Right? Wrong. Randos have a distinct badass uncompromising style that's based partly on superior kit performance and partly on a look that may have taken days of retail therapy but has to appear effortless. The only time a Rando wants to looking like they're making an effort is when they're sweating on the traverse of a steep icy ridge.
Ultimately Randos are as comfortable in their gear as in their own skin. Preferable brands have green credibility ie not made by outdoor companies that pollute the great outdoors. Expensive? Although the higher end brands often make clothing with good performance credentials, there are small less pretentious labels that fit in with the Randos' ethos of escape from the crowds and consumer overload. There's nothing wrong with Decathlon for stripped-back quality basics.
Light, light, light. This is the key for touring skis, boots and, also, clothing. Warmth is created by layering, cooling down by discarding and packing them in your backpack. Colours while never matchy matchy and tend towards the muted are nonetheless thoughtfully combined, which is no mean feat when a ski tourer has up to four layers to consider.
JACKET: A lightweight down jacket can be used as an outer or mid -layer depending on the weather. Never bulky (need to pack it away) or baggy, the Rando's jacket is streamlined and always hooded, wind and water resistant for more hardcore all-weather tourers. Also a shell that is completely waterproof, windproof, whatever-the-weatherproof with taped seams for gnarctic conditions.
PANTS: Number one must-have, side vents to let the air in when your legs are melting in the spring sun. Number two, enough bagginess and/or stretch so as not to inhibit your swivel action on a kickturn. Number three, pockets that provide easy accessibility to mobile, cereal bar, transceiver.
LAYERS: Always start climbing with one layer less than you think you need (see Patagonia, above). Take an extra layer for the summit where the wind might be howling. Therefore you need...
BACKPACK: Preferably an avy bag, like the Scott Alpride E1, below, which is as light as an airbag can be and with as much room as possible for layers, water, snack, extra gloves, shovel, probes.
HEADGEAR: A beanie or, if that's too warm then a wide bandana while touring up with sunglasses worn over (don't tuck the arms inside). Carry your helmet on your backpack for the descent - or not. You don't need it as safety from skiers/snowboarders crashing into you as on the piste, but there may be rocks.
SUNGLASSES V GOGGLES: Obviously goggles if you're powder ski touring and it's snowing. Preferably avoid wearing sunglasses with a helmet, leaving a lot of twat gapping. Never wear goggles while touring up over your beanie / bandana because they will fog up however good their anti-fogging might be.
GLOVES: A lighter pair for ascending - Decathlon fingerless mitts (below) are perfect - a spare pair for the transition and ski gloves for the descent.
UNDERLAYERS: A gilet is one of the best pieces of ski touring kit, a lighterweight layer that'll keep the body warm but cooler for climbing than a jacket and easily packed away if it gets even hotter. Thermals depending on temperatures - definitely advisable for Japan in January.
TECH: Garmin InReach Mini for going to infinity and beyond mobile signal. Smart watch for mapping and ski tour route apps and to upload your session to Strava to create FOMO for all your Rando followers. Also a walkie-talkie mountain radio so you can 'what's your 20?' with fellow randos.
KEY ACCESSORY: A Rando chien. What dog doesn't want to go on extreme walkies? Our Style Altitude Jack Russell mascots who have short and long hair, tiny legs but huge hearts, keep to our ski tracks in the powder and love touring almost more than their Rando owners, especially in spring when the marmots are whistling.They're known as The Rando Chiens, legends in their own touring time. Follow them on Instagram @allrightjacks.
BRANDS: Patagonia, Ortovox, Scott, Norrøna, Millet (French), The North Face, Marmot, Elevenate, Jottnar, Dynafit,
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY: 'I never sweat.'
MOST LIKELY TO SAY: 'Summit? No sweat.'