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Telemark Gear

Types of Telemark Gear

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Alpine Touring/Telemark Skis

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Telemark Boots

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Telemark Bindings

photo of a alpine touring/telemark pole

Alpine Touring/Telemark Poles

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Climbing Skins

Top Picks

How we choose: The best telemark gear highlighted here were selected based on 56 reviews of 46 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Top Alpine Touring/Telemark Pole

Black Diamond Compactor Ski Poles

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4 reviews)

Lighter, faster, and easier to use than other poles, yet worries about durability linger. Despite the worries, I really like these poles.

Reasons to Buy

  • SUPER quick to deploy
  • Simple to adjust
  • Solid powder baskets

Reasons to Avoid

  • Possible durability issues

Summary: From Black Diamond: "The aluminum compactor pole adjusts between popular pole lengths and uses an internal Kevlar cord to instantly break down to packable size and redeploys in a flash. One, rock solid, point of adjustment means you can keep moving instead of being the one always fiddling with your poles." I trek on my ski poles. Or maybe I should say that I ski on my trekking poles. Either way I use them all for both. I don't want to have a ton of single-purpose gear so these appealed to me as a possible do-it-all pole.

Read more: Black Diamond Compactor Ski Poles reviews (4)

Alpine Touring/Telemark Pole

Black Diamond Expedition 3

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

Light, tough, and cheap.

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent locking system
  • Tough
  • Inexpensive

Reasons to Avoid

  • Hard to find tip protectors that fit
  • Threads are easily damaged

I find it a bit amusing that after many years, the traditional leaders in hiking poles, Leki and Komperdell, are finally coming out with locking systems for their poles based on the Black Diamond Flicklock system. We've all heard stories about the old twist-lock poles collapsing at the wrong moment, dumping someone in a puddle or causing a fall, and it's good to see other companies following BD's lead. I've had my latest pair of Black Diamond Expedition poles for about three or four years, and they're still going strong.

Read more: Black Diamond Expedition 3 reviews (3)

Top Telemark Binding

TwentyTwo Designs Axl

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Absolute best binding for touring and performance. Easy switching between modes and resistance levels. Sturdy.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great performance
  • Sturdy
  • Easily adjustable
  • Switches modes easily
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Tours well

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavy

This is the perfect backcountry binding for the true telemarker.  First off, we have to start with the performance. The free release touring mode makes going up a cinch because you have zero resistance on your heel. It's very easy to switch between modes, you just use your pole and the ski can stay on. Once in ski mode, it skis like an aggressive alpine Tele binding. It is not quite as stiff as the Vice or the Hammerhead, but it is in the same range, and you really feel like you can put power into it.

Read more: TwentyTwo Designs Axl review (1)

Alpine Touring/Telemark Pole

Black Diamond Whippet

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The Whippet will give you added security in places where falling will have dire consequences. You have to know how to self-arrest for it to be useful. I recommend it for anyone that has ever wished they had, or actually had, an ice axe in their hand while skiing.

Reasons to Buy

  • Added security on hard snow
  • Easy to grip with hand on top of the pole

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavier than a regular pole
  • Only 2-section collapsable

I started skiing with a Whippet two seasons ago and I really like it. I don't have crampons for my skis so this gives me a nice sense of security when skiing on hard snow. I've had a few unexpected falls/slides where I couldn't stop if I wanted to but each time there were no bad consequences. When skiing above cliffs or other hazards you don't want to fall into, the Whippet could make the difference between a good day and a bad day. Having a pick as part of your pole is far superior to trying to carry an ice axe with a pole or stowing the pole and just using the ice axe.

Read more: Black Diamond Whippet review (1)

Top Climbing Skin

Black Diamond Ascension Nylon Climbing Skins

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Reliable, dependable, and well constructed skins that climb exceptionally well. I highly recommend them to anyone who backcountry skis.

Reasons to Buy

  • Universal tip and tail attachments
  • Long lasting glue
  • Great on the climb

Reasons to Avoid

  • Glide could be improved

Black Diamond Ascension STS skins are a staple up here in Northern New Hampshire. The tip and tail attachments are universal and will fit securely to any type of ski. Over the years I have used my set I have never worried about the skins detaching from the skis. The glue holds up well against the variable conditions I see which includes not only different snow conditions but also sticks, pine needles, and leaves. I truly appreciate that I have yet to have glue failure. While climbing these skins are able to tackle any angle the skier is will to attempt.

Read more: Black Diamond Ascension Nylon Climbing Skins review (1)

Telemark Binding

Rottefella Xplore Backcountry Off-Track

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

A smart, simple, and lightweight binding that tours well and can deliver sweet turns in reasonably friendly terrain and snow conditions. Step-in, pole-out convenience. Interchangeable flex plates for touring, climbing, and downhill add versatility but can be a bit fiddly.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Mechanically simple
  • Interchangeable flex plates for touring, climbing, and downhill modes
  • Step-in, step out with a pole stab
  • 70 mm wide engagement with the boot toe

Reasons to Avoid

  • Step-in requires verification to make sure both pins engaged
  • Changing flex plates can be a bit fiddly, easy to lose
  • Heel lifts a bit tricky to flip with a pole grip
  • Spring pins in compatible boots potentially vulnerable to damage

  Meet Xplore Ever since I first ripped out the pin holes on a 75mm Nordic Norm boot in the first season of my telemark career (over 40 years ago!), I’ve been willing to try out just about any other backcountry boot-binding system that has come along. Within a year after doing my first telemark turns, I tried the short-lived 50 mm Trakker system , maybe the first binding to introduce ridges and grooves on the binding and boot, respectively, an innovation that was picked up by both Rottefella and Salomon in their revolutionary xc systems (NNN and SNS respectively).

Read more: Rottefella Xplore Backcountry Off-Track review (1)

Top Telemark Boot

Alfa Free A/P/S GTX

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

A high-end boot for the Rotteffella's new Xplore backcountry binding system. Torsionally rigid sole and ankle stiffeners for downhill performance. BOA lacing for easy entry and exit plus Xplore's step-in and-out functionality add up to a lot of convenience. A great choice for tours-for-turns type skiing, especially hut-to-hut with downhill fun on the side.

Reasons to Buy

  • Solid design and construction
  • Torsionally rigid Xplore sole and ankle stiffeners give good turning performance in a (mostly) leather boot
  • Dial-in BOA lacing system for easy entry, exit, and adjustment
  • Step-in and -out convenience with Xplore binding

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavy compared to some other Xplore boots
  • BOA not for everyone?
  • Soft rubber heel vulnerable to damage

Alfa Free boot + Xplore binding = freedom + fun  The Norwegian outdoor footwear company Alfa was one of the first to produce ski boots compatible with the Rottefella’s new Xplore backcountry binding system. This review of the Free, Alfa’s top-of-the-line offering, goes along with my reviews of the Xplore binding and the Åsnes Rabb 68 ski, which I purchased together as a package deal. I have been test driving the system mainly in Bymarka, a big city forest park in Trondheim with a couple hundred kilometers of groomed xc ski trails and a lot of untracked space in between, including some quality powder stashes, but also on some forays into the Norwegian mountains.

Read more: Alfa Free A/P/S GTX review (1)

Top Alpine Touring/Telemark Ski

Black Diamond Convert Ski

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Go anywhere, do anything ski comfortable in the backcountry as well as on the groomers. A one quiver ski that is capable of taking you anywhere within your ability level.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Great floatation
  • Moderate width comfortable in powder and on ice

Reasons to Avoid

  • Chatter during high speed turns on hard surfaces

The Black Diamond Convert skis are the Jeep of touring skis. They are comfortable anywhere in any conditions. I have ridden them on fresh powder, breakable crust, icy New England resort trails, and freshly groomed corduroy runs and enjoyed every turn. Front Country Their performance in the front country, on groomed resort trails, is adequate but you need to be a confident skier to feel comfortable taking these down steep high speed runs. The rocker tip and tail, which are helpful in the powder, cause the ski to chatter on hard packed snow and decrease turning and stopping abilities.

Read more: Black Diamond Convert Ski review (1)

Climbing Skin

Åsnes X-Skin 58mm Mohair

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

A lightweight, short skin that integrates with Åsnes skis via dependable locking system. Gives a solid kick and moderate climbing power while still allowing some glide on easy terrain, at 1/4 to 1/3 the weight of a full-length skin. Small enough to fit a pair in a chest pocket. Ideal for hut-to-hut trips, and good skiers can take them to the summits.

Reasons to Buy

  • Big weight and effort savings compared to full-length skins
  • Climbs well on firm snow, notably corn
  • Glue still holds if skins get a little wet

Reasons to Avoid

  • Åsnes skis only
  • Don't climb well in deep powder
  • Should come with skin savers to protect glue

As backcountry or mountaineering skis have gotten bigger, skins have followed along. My full-length skins for my biggest skis, G3 Finder 107s, weigh about 300 g each. Add that to the weight of boot, binding and ski (3.8 kg) and you’ve got 4.1 kg (9 lb) per foot to haul uphill with every step (the good news is that you can slide, not lift). Then that skin weight goes in your pack on the way down. For skiing steep slopes or in demanding snow, that is more or less necessary if you want to maximize the FQ (fun quotient)—fat skis perform better in a wide range of snow conditions, and for climbing and especially traversing on steep slopes, full skin coverage is needed to prevent backslipping.

Read more: Åsnes X-Skin 58mm Mohair review (1)

Alpine Touring/Telemark Ski

Åsnes Rabb 68

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

A high-performance, lightweight, and wide mountain ski that tours well enough for hut-to-hut adventures and turns well enough for some summits on the side. Best in friendly snow conditions, but can handle some degree of crust and crud. Requires some driving rather than just riding in difficult snow.

Reasons to Buy

  • Broad tip and deep sidecut for good turning performance (for a mountain ski)
  • Lightweight wood core carbon-reinforced construction
  • "Nordic rocker" for staying on top of deep heavy snow
  • Cambered mid-ski for touring performance
  • Skinlock system for short skins, tip and tail notches for performance skins
  • Suitable for backcountry-weight boots and bindings for an overall light system

Reasons to Avoid

  • Can require more aggressive technique in difficult snow (than a big rando or telemark ski)
  • Not your friend on hardpack

Me and my Rabbs doing our swing  Here's the deal: you’re coming to Norway for a multiday hut-to-hut ski tour, with side trips to big slopes and summits, in late March or April when the mountain gods may offer up anything from fresh powder to creamed corn to nasty crust and ice. One pair of skis, boots, and bindings for the whole show. What’s your choice? I asked that question on a backcountry skier's forum and got suggestions ranging from old school leather boot/3-pin binding/skinny ski setups through to lightened-up plastic rando or tele boots and bindings on no-compromise fat skis with rocker.

Read more: Åsnes Rabb 68 review (1)

More Telemark Gear

Trailspace reviewers have shared 56 reviews of 46 different telemark gear. Narrow your search and view more specific telemark product recommendations in these categories:

Alpine Touring/Telemark Skis

Telemark Boots

Telemark Bindings

Alpine Touring/Telemark Poles

Climbing Skins

All Winter Gear

Other Types of Winter Gear

Find more winter gear reviewed in these related categories:


Nordic Touring Gear

Alpine Touring Gear

+7 more types

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