Alpine Trekker Ski Touring Binding Adapter — Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 7, 1994      

Shop for Alpine Trekker.

Sean Crossen on El Diente Peak in 2003, using Alpine Trekkers.

Sean Crossen on El Diente Peak in 2003, using Alpine Trekkers. Click to enlarge.

(Editor’s history note, 2014. According to Backcountry Access, the Alpine Trekker was readied for retail in July of 1994. While we do still tout the efficacy of this product for certain skiers, we also feel it and other heavy touring solutions of those days are what drove the trend to today’s amazing array of lightweight alpine touring bindings. Adapters such as Alpine Trekker still have their place, but be sure to consider other solutions if you need a backcountry skiing rig that’s purposed to some distance and vertical.)

Review
Dream nightmares of mega-slogs such as Canada’s Mount Logan; or nail your favorite Austrian couloir. In either case skis are the tool for amazing adventure; and in most cases you’ll want modern backcountry bindings that switch between locked and free heel.

But sometimes, the need for an alpine binding supersedes the need for a touring binding. Perhaps you’re sidecountry skiing and only walking a short distance from and back to the resort. Perhaps you ski so aggressively only a competition quality alpine binding works reliably enough for you. Or perhaps you just don’t have the money for a ski touring rig.

While various solutions exist for getting touring capability from your alpine bindings (e.g., CAST), the tried and true standby is the touring adapter, and the best of those out there is the Alpine Trekker.

Alpine Trekker is simply a dummy ski-boot sole that you clip into your alpine ski binding. Attached to the dummy is an adjustable frame that holds your ski boot via a clip such as those used with clip-on crampons. An axle attaches the front of the frame to the foundation, and the resulting pivot allows you to lift your heel and walk with the shuffling gait of a backcountry skier. Attach climbing skins to your skis and up you go.

Alpine Trekker inserted in an alpine binding, showing how the boot can lift in a walking stride.

Alpine Trekker inserted in an alpine binding, showing how the boot can lift in a walking stride. Click to enlarge.

To keep your Achilles tendons happy the Trekker even has adjustable heel lifts. If your path gets hard and icy, snap on the optional crampons. When it’s time to ski down, stow your Trekkers in your pack and cut snow on the same gear you use at the ski resort.

If you’ve done much backcountry skiing, the first difference you’ll notice about using Trekkers is the weight. I calculated one rig, using my heavy alpine skis, at over twelve pounds per foot! Even so, ski touring a short distance with that kind of load is not as bad as it sounds, since you slide your skis rather than lift them. Also, it’s easy to cut weight by building your alpine rig using modern and usually lighter skis, bindings, and boots. Further, many alpine boots now have some sort of “walk” mode switch. While such switches may not free the boot cuff to match the articulation of a state-of-art ski touring boot, they do make a boot totally capable for a short walk in the sidecountry.

Another interesting part of using adapter plates is your stilt-like position jacked up about four inches off your planks (or more if your bindings are on risers). While you’ll get somewhat used to this, it is not ideal.

Alpine Trekker inserted in alpine ski binding, allowing stride.

Alpine Trekker inserted in alpine ski binding, allowing stride.

Perhaps the most worrisome problem with Trekkers (and common to all adapter plates) is that you can place ominous torque on the system by driving your foot forward in a “knee fall” or twisting the binding plate sideways. If you take a hard fall while touring, and such forces don’t release the plate from the binding, you may bend the adapter or damage your alpine toe piece. Building an adapter without these problems would add great weight and expense. Indeed, the Trekker is an excellent compromise between weight and strength, and holds up fine under proper use: Be aware of potential problems, keep everything properly adjusted, and use good touring technique. As with any binding system, carry a repair kit if you’re on a long journey.

Adjusting the Trekkers is easy, just turn a screw at the rear and match up the length to your ski boots. You can use a Swiss Army knife for this, but a cordless drill works better. After that, adjust the toe and heel wires for proper tension. Doing so took me all of five minutes. Loan your Trekkers to your friends or change your equipment; one size fits all.

During testing I stowed my Trekkers in my pack, along with climbing skins, avalanche beeper and shovel, and headed out for a sidecountry tour near our local ski resort. After a morning of warming up on the packed slopes I ducked through a backcountry access gate, snapped in my Alpine Trekker adapters, and switched to adventure mode. The snow was less than perfect; but my ruthless alpine gear churned butter from the crust.

At the bottom of the backcountry run, my smile stayed bright as I snapped my Trekkers into my bindings, stuck my climbing skins to my skis, and strolled through a pristine aspen forest back to the ski resort. Another quick click, strip my skins, and I was again in full alpine mode. After a few runs on the groom, I decided to dive off the back again. Variety, the spice of skiing.

Weight of one Alpine Trekker ski touring adapter: 21 ounces, 594 grams.

Shop for Alpine Trekker.

(Other brands of adapter plates may be available in the used and retail market. Adapters other than the Backcountry Access Alpine Trekker may have durability problems. Test all adapters near civilization before heavy use.)

Alpine Trekker thumbnail.

Alpine Trekker thumbnail.

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  Your Comments

  • Christian: Doh! Never mind, wasn't reading the descriptions of the different cuts clea...
  • Christian: Any experiences on straight skin all the way down on wider skis? eg a 110mm...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Seems what folks need to know is that if you do not need heel flat on ski, ...
  • Lee Lau: Alex - the downside to using the Expert spring is that you can't easily wha...
  • Matus: VTskier, what is considered wider ski? I ski on 107mm skis and have my Raid...
  • VTskier: Just picked up a set in Val d'Isere. Locals in climbing/guide shop there (M...
  • Matus: IONs are OK but not light enough....
  • Lou Dawson 2: Regarding helmets, while I was skiing uphill today and thinking (imagine th...
  • Jack: Jim, See. Thanks for the advice. The G3 IONs appeal to me (they look coo...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Xer, I guess I did need to do a video (smile). The spring controls both sid...
  • XXX_er: a generic question on minimalist tech bindings, how is the up and down ret...
  • Daniel: I have the legacy Mammut RAS Pro 45 pack, very nice long back. I am 6'2 but...
  • Brent MacGregor: I have 2 European bottles. One steel, one carbon. I am happy to sell them a...
  • Alex: So if you are using the expert spring on this, to rotate the heal piece for...
  • Greg Louie: Thanks for the look, Lou, and hats off to Amer for taking the "Everything Y...
  • Matus: Lou, video is always easier for us to understand. Step by step photos of di...
  • Lou Dawson 2: See, I have some older Vipecs I can do a take-apart of, been meaning to, bu...
  • See: Interesting post, Lou. Thanks. Now if you could only break some Vipecs…...
  • Matus: I am switching from ATK to this Atomic next season. It looks like and ideal...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Eric, the plastic housing on the rear of the spring is strong, and doesn't ...
  • Eric Steig: Cool. What keeps the plastic housing, which holds the U-spring, from blo...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Shafty, not sure what you are referring to, you mean using screw rivets to ...
  • shafty85: Would this work on the Dynafit Mercury?...
  • Brent MacGregor: I have a carbon cylinder and a steel one both of which we brought from Euro...
  • See: And, as Lou said, alpine bindings aren’t perfect either. Tech toe lock is i...
  • See: I have a couple dozen days on G3 Ion 12’s, and I have a feeling that they a...
  • Jim Milstein: Jack, if you want a tech toe that behaves more like an alpine toe, consider...
  • Tom Gos: Cool Lou, and gutsy - I would be freaked out about doing this to a new pair...
  • AT: Hey lou- I'm somewhat confused by this post. Are the Fischer bindings just ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Nice! And yeah, for exchange you can mail them empty totally legal, but yo...

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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