11

I rent out a lot of alpine touring (AT) skis. We advise people not to use these skis for downhill resort skiing. Part of that is because we don't want people renting out the skis (which we rent at a lower price than resorts) just go to a resort and then deny people the ability to go into the backcountry.

However, my question is this: are there other, more legitimate reasons why we should advise people not to use our AT equipment at a resort? My first assumption is that it provides a lot of wear and tear on the bindings. They aren't made to go downhill as much as they would at a resort, but this could be incorrect.

The obvious second concern is safety and the release mechanism on AT bindings - we have traditional AT bindings (not tech) in our fleet.

  • Maybe an answer to your problem, but not your question, is to raise your rental rates. – Martin F Feb 6 '18 at 20:27
  • Again another business decision - If you get people renting from you for resorts, why not expand into that market. and stock downhill skis? – user5330 Feb 6 '18 at 23:53
  • Off piste gear won't perform as well on piste. That probably the biggest reason you'd advise people not to use it on the groomed runs. – ShemSeger Feb 7 '18 at 3:09
9

There are two different norms for ski bindings (and their release characteristics): ISO 9462 for alpine ski bindings and ISO 13992 for touring ski bindings. The former is tested together with alpine boots/soles (ISO 5355), the latter with touring boots (ISO 9523), which are bent and have rubber.

I assume you are not mixing the boots and bindings of either kind in rental. I am not a lawyer, but I would assume that could even open you to lawsuits in case of injuries. In addition as far as I know the requirements on alpine bindings in terms of consistent release are significantly higher than for touring bindings.

I guess safety is always a good selling point. Another minor point (at least for the average skier) is binding performance: Average touring bindings have less direct force transfer to the skis than alpine bindings (that's one reason for having dedicated freeride touring bindings).

In my opinion your main argument should be the increased safety, as a customer going for the cheaper binding option, despite being the "non-dedicated" type will hardly care about performance characteristics (unless they are the show-off type which do not care about safety, then that point might be better suited).

Addendum: The above is specifically addressing the question in the body, asking for reasons not to use touring bindings. I am not saying that downhill skiing with touring gear is a bad practice in general, I do it myself (just because I don't own dedicated alpine skiing gear), just that dedicated gear is better.

4

There's nothing wrong with using your AT gear at a resort. Actually, to a degree, your gear will probably see less wear on a resort than during traditional AT use.

When climbing hills, your bindings and boots will see on the average a few thousand steps each day. That's thousands of actuations of the pivots in the bindings and the boots. On a resort, your clients would probably leave the boots and bindings locked out most of the day. On the flip side, your clients will be getting more runs in each day, which will likely result in more wear on the bases and edges, but if your clients are sticking to groomed runs, then the wear should be almost negligible. Riding through wild terrain, climbing up and down over stumps and all the other unknowns in the deep snow is where you're more likely to rip a skin or gouge out your bases.

As far as safety goes, as long as your AT setups have bindings with DIN settings then you're fine.

Ultimately, the wear and tear on your gear will depend largely on its intended use and who's using it. There's a broad range of types of AT gear from big mountain use down to ultralight randonee, but the super light randonee skis with dynafit style bindings and no brakes probably wouldn't even be allowed at some resorts, but everything else should be just fine.

The only real reason you would deny people the ability to take your gear to the resort would be store policy. You mentioned you wanted to reserve the AT skis for people who actually wanted to go use them in the backcountry for AT skiing. If that's your philosophy, then that's your prerogative. But as a business model, it's good business if people are renting from you more than the competitors.

3

AT skis are optimized towards low weight; downhill skis are optimized towards high stiffness. So in general, AT skis will not be as stiff as downhill skis.

Stiffness translates to stability at speed. If skis are less stiff they tend to start to flap at higher speeds, especially on groomed slopes, leading to loss of control.

Even moderately experienced skiers will notice the difference on groomed runs, and they will prefer downhill skis. Probably for beginners AT skis might be slightly more comfortable because the instability at speed is not an issue while the decrease in weight makes it easier in other situations, but this should be a small subset of your clients.

A similar story for AT boots vs downhill boots (with the addition that AT boots are not just lighter, but also more flexible by design, so loss of control at speed is even more of an issue).

3

I use both AT skis and downhill skis. I have different bindings for AT skis (dynafit TLT and Marker where boots connected to the frame). I'm not good at skiing, so for me there is no difference which bindings to use for downhill skiing. Both work just fine.

The problem is in skis and boots (not bindings). AT skis are made light and AT boots are soft compare with downhill skis and boots. In AT boots you are walking 90% of time and 10% time skiing. So when I'm buying AT boots I'm checking if it's comfortable to walk in boots, and I don't care about skiing because again skiing is just small amount of time.

I have tried to use AT boots with downhill skis and the problem is that AT boots does not hold the leg as good as boots for downhill skiing. So it's difficult to control skies.

My AT skis has no brakes and I have to tie skis with laces; that takes a lot of time. On a resort you should do this operation very often as you take off skis very often.

As a conclusion I can say that it's possible to use AT skis for downhill skiing but it's uncomfortable.

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