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I have seen some videos featuring the Finngrip. I think other generic bindings are more secure in the way of gripping the boot and holding on to it.

Remember skiing during military operations seldom include prepared tracks, and the best way to get where you are going is generally through brush and over some boulders.... That kind of skiing tends to make most bindings loose grip of the boot.


If going for a generic boot binding, I´d definitely go for something with as many solid anchorpoints as possible. One being a frontstrap and the other being something to secure the heel by some sort of lever.

I'm LE not mil so I'm not carrying the load that you guys are. I work in a winter environment and at times very remote. During the winter my only method of movement is snowmobile/ski/snowshoe. Hopefully my little bit of experience can be of some use.


First off, I am NOT a free heel skier. In fact for any kind of decent I despise free heel. Prior to this year, I only ran an AT setup (BD skis with scout bindings) or snowshoe. I like the support of the AT setup for covering distance with a pack, IF the boots fit. Last winter I had a few multi mile trips. My heaviest pack was in the 65lb +/- range. I was testing numerous different items on that trip that contributed to my pack weight, I would usually try to keep it well below that #. My boots hadn't been professionally fit prior to the trip and I lost a few toenails. This will be a consideration for your guys. It would suck (to say the least) to come up lame cause their boots didn't fit right. The rest of the guys in the group on this trip were using a mix of skinny skis w/ XC boots or beefier tele set ups. The guys with the beefier tele set ups definitely had the advantage over everybody for covering distance in unbroken snow but they have YEARS of experience operating in this environment on this kind of equipment. Also, depending on circumstances, my AT set up is louder than the tele setup. My bindings are constantly clacking as I take steps. For general use, covering miles with weight, with properly fitted and tested boots, with experience on skis, over flat to rolling terrain, I think the beefier tele setup wins. Note: there's a lot of variables there that need to be met. 


This year I ditched the snowshoes that live on my snowmobile. I discovered the Altai Hoks mentioned previously. These now live on my sled constantly. They don't climb as well as snowshoes, but they climb well enough. They obviously descend better than snowshoes. After a few days on them, I'd gotten comfortable enough that I prefer them over snowshoes. Those first fews days were rough though. They're not going to cover miles as fast as XC skis, but they're going to do better than snowshoes. They outperform XC skis off the beaten path. I find them easier to move in deep powder than snowshoes. Instead of trying to lift a snowshoe out of a hole (I've never found a snowshoe that really keeps me on top of powder), I just push the Hok forward and the tip floats to the surface. The width keeps them fairly stable in most circumstances. They can get a little squirrely on steep descents. I have not had a heavy pack on with these yet so I can't comment on that aspect. My concern in your role would be the universal binding. While it works great for me, I don't know how well it would hold up over time and abuse from your guys. I will say that after using these for the last month or so, they are my go to for anything SAR related or fugitive followup related in a winter environment. And it's nice to be able to strap them to any boot that I happen to be wearing at the time.


Let me know if there's any other info you need in regards to either of my set ups or the areas I'm using them in.  

Scattergun, DutyRanger,


Thanks for the comments. I found some more Finngrip videos and am concerned they might not be enough.


We had along talk today about fat skis vs. skinny skis and the boot, binding interface. Starting to get more data to work with, but we come up with a ton of conflicting points. Didn't help that there were some real conflicts of opinions, and very little test data. Would have been nice to have bought a bunch of different types and really wrung them out.


The biggest issue still continues to be wanting to put such a wide range of boots into a binding. I think we have figured out two options, but they call for a specific boot solution. The Mickey Mouse Boot is the biggest problem. Not really sure how we are going to tie this all together yet.


It has led to some great conversations about what's real and what's not but I'm not sure that it will amount to anything. Some of the discussion really questions the old TTP's and begs the question if we need to adopt new TTP's to make a real gain.





I have a ski touring buddy that has been using the Voile Vector for a couple seasons now as his primary backcountry ski.  He raves about them.   The patterned (read fish scaled) bases  allow for a ton of versatility as far as moving fast in the transitions (areas where it's too flat to glide well but not steep enough to warrant putting on skins).  I've been envious more than once in rolling terrain.  And he has no issues hanging while going down either, fwiw.    


It's nice to hear they're going to be issuing equipment that takes advantage of some truly modern tech advances in this realm (the hybrid scales, a modern mid-fat shape with a good bit of sidecut, rocker technology, etc….).  I expect they'll be VERY well received across a wide range of skier abilities.   


Any further word on the binding selection side?





Looks like the USMC has decided to go Telemark:


Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) is conducting market research to identify solutions for a commercially available 75mm Toe Leather Ski Boot (LSB). A new ski/march boot is required by the United States Marine Corps to be utilized with a 75mm Telemark ski system.


 The LSB must meet the following minimum requirements:
-Boots must have a 75mm Toe for use with industry standard 75mm free pivot ski binding(s); -Boots shall have a combined weight of no more than 8 lbs; -Boots shall be water resistant (vapor permeable) and breathable per ISO 20347; -The ski boot with no socks shall have a clo value between 1.2 and 1.8. (USMC will physically test boots per ASTM F1291/ASTM F2370 to verify the clo value); -The ski boot shall be operable by a Marine wearing contact gloves (NSN 8415-01-555-4001) ; -Boots shall have a self-cleaning sole with no opposing straight walled lugs to facilitate use in snow, ice and mud; -Boots shall be designed to allow the wearer to walk on flat and varied terrain in a cold weather/mountain warfare environment while not on skis; -Boots shall integrate fully with current Marine Corps crampons (NSN: 8465-01-578-8908) and snow shoes (NSN : 8465-01-558-9958) ; -Color of boots shall be lusterless black per FED-STD 595C; -Boots shall not delaminate, corrode, rot or otherwise degrade while in storage at coastal and temperate locations, or while in transit per MIL-STD 810G ; -Boot design shall maximize comfort wherever possible in order to limit fatigue, yet maintain strength and durability when worn.

Congratulations to Trey’s team at Serket. Trey showed us his new ski, then took our feedback and a back of a napkin binding concept and turned it into a winning product.

It’s great to see the USMC reverse course from their telemark course and adopt this concept. The fact they did so is a testimony product the Serket team designed.

Serket press release:

United States Marine Corps awarded a maximum ceiling $9,085,675 five-year, firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the purchase of up to a maximum of 8,005 Serket Military Ski Systems (MSS). The Serket MSS will replace the current ski in the Marine Corps inventory and will provide the Marine Corps with a universal ski binding.



Would those civilians NEED to be able to:  Cover LONG distances, over "virgin" terrain/snow, under HEAVY loads (winter warfare makes pack weights go up substantially...clothes, sleep/tent systems, food/water requirements, etc.), under time constraints?  In MY local experience, snow shoes (SS) make much more sense in the local woods than skis ever would, for civilian "patrols" etc.  IF civilians would know how to cross country ski (and there IS a technique to it), then they would work.

I've been through Winter Environmental Training exercises, did the whole move/live in snow, at Taylor Park, CO (at 10,000ft MSL +/-), for a good week or more, several different winters.  I've been through the skiing classes, downhill as well as cross country (CC).  Both CC and SS take different muscles and different mechanics than just walking/rucking.  In my experience, SS most closely mimics walking/rucking, with just "wider" stride (as the snow shoes push your feet out to the sides further).  While it can end up causing discomfort/pain, from the odd leg/hip position, it doesn't take a lot of LEARNING to figure out (baring brain farts where you step on your own SS and fall).  CC skiing takes a good deal of practice, to figure out the stride, the gait, and over all your tempo (to last for distance and not turn it into a sprint).  There's a reason why the Army and Marine Corps spend a good amount of time ensure SOME of their troops know what they're doing, to the point of spending a good amount of money to equip and therefore train.

C: Gotcha, with the thought that hiking w/Yak Traks or equiv, then snowshoeing, then CC skiing would be the order of the day, I would look at some good snowshoes first, then possibly some skis.  Thoughts on Serket's military snow shoes?  They have two models (the Ranger, and the Vanguard).  The Ranger looks like one of the new light weight designs just for general tom-foolery; the Vanguard looks like a serious x-country ho-dad? 

I do a fair amount of winter camping in NY,NH,and ME. A buddy of mine who instructed at Bridgeport uses large traditional shoes(that says alot to me). He has used skis on occasion they are good for packed trails lightly loaded pretty useless around camp or breaking trail with a sled/pulk. I would like to be able to add skis to my skill set all it takes is money and time and is the juice worth the squeeze. We all use sleds or pulks for camp gear  with small day/3 day packs for whatever walter mitty/murphy thing that may come up.

This is a very interesting thread.  I never knew there was a hybrid of sorts, between skis and shoes.  That's pretty amazing, although it's also one of those, duh, why didn't "I" think of it things.  I can see that back country mobility, like many other things, is not a one size fits all solution.  When there is snow on the ground, on varied terrain, you might want a variety of tools to work with it.  

It sounds like the traditional snow show still works.  So yeah if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

But it also looks like newer designs are out there for specific tasks.  

And finally, we have hybrid ski/shoes that offer qualities from both.

Other than the fact that I am fascinated with winter warfare ops, I don't have any real need for back country snow mobility.  Right now.  But you never know.  

One thing I have learned, and this is no poke at anyone here, just a general observation, is that the gear the military picks may or may not be the best choice.  Back in my lane, I have seen various rucksacks come out over the years; and I've seen the reasons why this one was picked over that one, and why something didn't work, even thought it was thought to be the best solution, and, occasionally we have seen some really good stuff come out.  At the end of the day, you might conclude that the lowly ALICE still out-performs all the johnny come lately's, and you wouldn't be alone.  I suspect this is why you still see classic snowshoes still in action.   

When we are talking about equipment, optimized for military use, there are many factors that come into play, which combined, can bite you in the ass, in ways you never imagined.  Putting skis on troops is one of those things.  You may have kids who literally never played in snow before who are being taught to ski.  At what level do you decide to go in at, with your equipment and techniques.    

But back to the OP, this is what I find fascinating; not the skill set itself, but the military application of it.  I'm not interested in skiing/snowshoeing by themselves, but how I would use these techniques to accomplish the mission.  So military ski programs are fascinating to me, although to the purist, they are often derided as compromises and mickey mouse bullshit.  But that is the key.  The blending of T,T,P's  for our application.  That, to me, is the greatest challenge.     

I spent two years in Ushuaia, with Fritschi Diamir bindings with randonee boots. We had military skis in our depots, but we found the diamirs better. However, when crosstraining with army mountain guys on their Andes terrain, the arrived at a different solution. It´s very terrain dependant.

In the low,  thick wooded and rocky areas of Tierra del Fuego, we would ALWAYS carry the snowshoes and a mountaineering ice axe. It could start snowing in summer. In winter, being able to ski would make all the difference, in access and speed. And we would carry both our randonee boots and the Scarpa Invernos. You get used to do fire and maneuver on them.



Yeah that's one thing I've always wondered about.  When you get to specific skiing boots, what happens on contact front.  Something "pure" skiers never have to worry about.  I'm trying to think of what it must be like tromping around in those plastic ski or mountaineering boots.   So much to think about.   Likelihood of contact and how to set up, carrying two sets of boots, skis, snowshoes, poles and ice axes.  Maybe even ropes.  Plus cold weather clothing layers.  And sleep systems.  And shelters.  Pretty much have to have sleds, we called them Akios, don't know what you call them today.           

In medium to deep snow, It´s hard to do drills in skis, but it´s way harder without them.

It´s easier in snowshoes, but it´s much slower to march.

You go really fast in skis, but you can´t  move in rough forest, so you have to carry snowshoes anyway.

Down south we have officers on short tours and longer staying NCOs. Battalion had military ski systems, telemark style, but also a lot of COTS systems bought over time. We crosstrained a lot with local alpine club, and that had it´s influence. We benefited from having some guys very proficient in mountaineering and skiing skills. 

It was much more relaxed than the rest of the units, I was really surprised on my first day to see Batt XO on mid hike Salomons. As a new guy, I just did what everyone did and carried what they carried. I was company XO, and our instructors were the longest staying privates and junior NCOs. So gear choices were made by experience in the field and not by some kind of doctine.

Everyone carried snowshoes and iceaxes always, and platoon sergeants would tell us new guys and new officers to carry them, and check our survival gear.

On drills, there was a certain amount of binding breakage. We´d have to buy a few every year. We´d talk a lot of what would we do if deployed in a similar environment. You could do with one ski and one snowshoe. Snowshoes were a MUST. It´s survival gear. We speculated on carrying one or two extra skis on the platoon.

If I had to make a choice now, I´d go with long wide skis, some tough binding like the Marker´s (I had privately purchased Marker Dukes on mine) a light touring boot like Scarpa F1, and an extra pair of regular or technical boots on by pack or sled. It´s a compromise.

Influenced by hype, I bought a pair of Bates Tora Boras, but didn´t like them much. I used the issed Scarpa Invernos on winter and mid hike Salomons on summer. I really love the invernos. It´s kind of counterintuitive at first to go around all day in plastic boots, but they pay themselves when it gets technical. You could ski on them in a pinch. And you can carry a second pair of the inners, and change every so often. Very easy to dry and very warm.


As I say, it´s very dependent on terrain, and every country gets to a different answer. Putting just a little bit of everything on the depot, and then see what the guys fight for, it´s a good way of seeing what works.


M1AVon posted:

Is the USMC's insistence on working with currently issued, soft sided boots not in direct contravention with their stated desire to have a shorter learning curve? Will this new  binding that  Desert01 helped design mitigate this finally?  If so, is that due to the height of the binding creating a stiff ankle for power transfer during turns?


First, I didn’t design anything, I simply drafted out a design concept based on several mature ski concepts like split board bindings, with a different application. We also spent a lot of time discussing what US .mil skiing is and is not. Most likely use vs. pie in the sky employment. What we discribed is non-alpine over the snow mobility that was faster than snow shoes and easier to use than white rockets.  The training base between alpine and simple cross country proficancy (vs mastery) put the more technical solutions out of scope. Altai ski’s are one of the material solutions we did informal testing on. They work,  but the binding was only fair. Another company built a different binding for it, but I don’t know that it was ever formally evaluated.

Sub, Diz, 

We spent a lot, as in center of attention lot, discussing the boot binding interface. The USMC wanted only telemark boots and bindings, they would then carry a second boot for walking. We, Army, wanted an agnostic binding so we could use current and future boots. But had a reservation that’s that time material solutions didn’t meet the needs. Now that a ski/binding solution has been provided we wait to see were the USMC & Army search for a new boot ends up. They have been breifing the requirement at the DLA Advanced Planning Brief to Industry for the last two years. This years breif is the end of Nov.

There was also resistance from old school types to individual pulks vs wearing your packs. Skiing with full kit AND a 100 lbs ruck on any terrain is not for the faint of heart, but it’s where we are/were at the time. Only time spent on skis will change that.



Not directly related to the topic but this is a great opportunity to get your cold on:

I took Outward Bounds Veterans program two years ago in the 10,000 Islands and loved it. One of my crew had done this program and loved it.  She was a intell sailor that had been attached to one of the SEAL teams in Iraq and now works for DOJ and cool as shit.

Outward Bound covers your flight, and even a hotel if your travel arrangements make it needed. If I can figure out how to get the time I’ll be at this class.

That's pretty impressive that OB would give those classes to vets for free. 

This area continues to fascinate.  Maybe because I spent some time as a kid up in Alaska.  Anyways, makes sense what your saying; across the snow mobility vs mastery of cross-country skiing; and also the right way, the wrong way, and the military way of doing things.  

Be interesting to see how things shake out with the boot issue.  Perhaps an issue hiking/mountaineering boot with provisions for ski bindings, like the classic SF boots I would see in Germany as a kid.  

Question: Where do the "overboots" fit into this equation, like you see in Nordic countries, and I believe New Balance made for the Teams?  Is that strictly for hiking in boots or could they be used at least with snowshoes, if not the new hybrid skis?  I don't know if there would be too much "slop" in this set up for anything but walking/hiking or if it's a valid approach to things.  I know we went with separate "mickey mouse" boots, but some countries adopted this technique of just covering the existing boot.  Seems like a valid approach but I don't know if that's just for specific terrain/weather, and/or strictly hiking in.  


I have a pair of those New Balance overboots you mentioned.  I bought them after reading Arctic1's thread. 

I used them just like the puffy coat: as part of my stop suit. I'd be moving in whatever boot the transportation plan made pertinent (Scarpa T4 telemark duckbill boots or waterproof,  insulated issued 8" boots for snowshoeing or ice cleats), then when I stopped for long, I'd don the overboots, and remove again once moving. We were able to cram them into snowshoe bindings and some universal bindings, I think the exact Xtrace ones that I think Desert01 linked to here or somewhere. They are doable for that but compressing insulating leads to cold spots and wearing them all the time could get dicey if it's kinda warm or heavy activity. 

I think the way forward is issuing a Dynafit/Tech binding plastic boot with disposable,  individually heat treated liner, for all deep winter mobility, plus an overboot like the New Balance for long halts.

People like me with sweaty feet just have to wear over roaster bags on our feet as Vapor  Barrier Liners to protect the sock and insulation liner from our sweat , while the boot protects them from snow.

The USMC selected the Serket ski system. It’s significant because they had been experiencing issues with their old ski system in Norway to the pint DLA had reached out to us about options we had been researching. MARSYSCOM had been firmly connected to a telemark type of solution, but that also meant maintaining an additional boot, with no US manufacturing options.  These skis also premiered at Ft McCoy this season.


“As the Corps increases its footprint in the Arctic to align with the new security strategy, it’s also in the midst of overhauling its cold weather gear.

On Thursday the Corps awarded a contract to Provengo LLC for more than $9 million for the purchase of its new ski system, according to the government’s business opportunities website.

According to, the ski system will be made by Serket USA and will include its Scout model mounted with its Patrol ski binding.

The Scout skis are shorter and wider than traditional backcountry military skis and weigh in at just over six pounds for the pair. The Patrol binding can accommodate a variety of boot styles and can operate in “free-heel” mode for walking or can be locked down for gliding

The new skis move the Corps another step forward in its process to modernize for a potential fight with near-peer rivals.

The Corps announced it was searching for a new ski system in a command release in May.

The Marine Corps said it wanted the new ski system to be compatible with the Extreme Cold Weather Vapor Barrier Boots and the Intermediate Cold Weather Boots, according to May’s command release.

A durable and reliable ski system is vital for mobility in Arctic terrain where even the simplest of tasks can be very arduous and physically tasking.

Marines have been training in Norway to hone their warfighting skills in the extreme cold-weather climate. This week, the Corps’ largest and fourth six-month rotation to the Arctic country kicked off. first reported the new ski system contract.“

I’m Swedish military, I would not consider my self a skiing SME but compared to most nations GP-forces we do plenty of work on skis and snowshoes as we more or less work in a place that has more snow than it has summer. 

I’d be happy to answer questions to the best of my ability. 

Mine has to remember that for MOST units, military skiing will be nothing like ski touring in the civilian world - it’s more akin to walking in snow with skis on. 

Skis are vastly superior to snowshoes for covering any real distance in the snow but it is also climate and terrain dependant. For example, I’ve been on longer movements in the spring where the days were warm enough for snow to start melting but night time temperatures plummeted to -20°C/-4°F. This type of climate poses several challenges but as far as mobility is concerned the snow will more or less be frozen solid which makes it real hard to ski on, making snow shoes a better choice. 

Typically we’ll bring both skis and snowshoes along, where we’ll switch to snowshoes for moving around temporary bases, ambush points and other such situations where we’ll move short distances. 

Winter warfare is pretty much about just surviving the elements well enough to get to where you have to be, find/fix/finish the enemy and then survive back again. With that being said, if you ditch your skis in deep snow to manage an unexpected fight - you won’t really move. Train breaking contact while on skis. 

Military ski programs are almost an oxymoron.  You are taking two almost incompatible tasks and trying to make them work well together.  To your point: "contact front"; trying to deliver accurate fire and maneuver, in deep snow.   This is a huge challenge for experienced winter warfare specialists; much less regular Soldiers or Marines.  The US Army and MC seem to have different approaches to it, as do our Nordic brethren, I'm sure.

Looking at it from the outside, in my easy chair, with a brewski, it looks like (from here) that a hybrid snow shoe/ski approach would make a lot of sense.  Something that would give the winter warrior good mobility in deep snow and rolling terrain.  As opposed to "just" mobility, from "A" to "B", you could actually (fire and) maneuver, in a meeting engagement.

Lots of questions in my mind; very limited experience with it (with all that old crap the Crotch is finally shit-canning).  Lots of variables here.  Obviously terrain and weather, specifically the snow conditions.  Likelihood of enemy contact.  "Actions on" SOP.  Travelling formations and the use of scouts, forward/outward deployed (on different platforms?) to screen in front of main body.  "Skirmishers" if you will, to break up or delay enemy attacks until main body can deploy.  Bases of fire versus maneuver elements.  Crew-served weapons teams with "Akios" (or whatever they call the sleds today).  Drones or other assets to mitigate chance encounters.  Supporting arms?  Etcetera.    

I think this aspect of ground warfare is fascinating.  If not unbelievably complex.  We have been discussing the difficulties of fielding good  LBE for the soldier's load in other threads.  Adding winter warfare on top of that doubles the suck factor.  At least.  Hoo-up, Ooh Rah, or 'Til Valhalla, as appropriate.                              

SHAGGY posted:

I’m Swedish military, I would not consider my self a skiing SME but compared to most nations GP-forces we do plenty of work on skis and snowshoes as we more or less work in a place that has more snow than it has summer. 

I’d be happy to answer questions to the best of my ability. 

Mine has to remember that for MOST units, military skiing will be nothing like ski touring in the civilian world - it’s more akin to walking in snow with skis on. 

Skis are vastly superior to snowshoes for covering any real distance in the snow but it is also climate and terrain dependant. For example, I’ve been on longer movements in the spring where the days were warm enough for snow to start melting but night time temperatures plummeted to -20°C/-4°F. This type of climate poses several challenges but as far as mobility is concerned the snow will more or less be frozen solid which makes it real hard to ski on, making snow shoes a better choice. 

Typically we’ll bring both skis and snowshoes along, where we’ll switch to snowshoes for moving around temporary bases, ambush points and other such situations where we’ll move short distances. 

Winter warfare is pretty much about just surviving the elements well enough to get to where you have to be, find/fix/finish the enemy and then survive back again. With that being said, if you ditch your skis in deep snow to manage an unexpected fight - you won’t really move. Train breaking contact while on skis. 

OK, so how did the ordinary field units (Brit, German, USA & Sov) conduct warfare in WW2 come snow time?

Well they mostly floundered in deep snow, kept to the MSR's, and basically froze their asses off.

I would say in southern Europe, on the Italian front, you had some specialists troops that did mountain leader work, like the North Americans, 10th Mtn, etc.  The Brits, Germans, and Italians also had mountain troops.  Or Commando type troops with ski training.  These guys would do route selection/screening for the main body, as required.  And sometimes mountain assaults on their own.  But ordinary units just avoided that kind of terrain, for the most part.

As far as the Sovs go, in the "Winter War", the Finnish troops were masters of winter warfare and basically fought the commies to a stand-still.  The Sovs were road-bound, for the most part, while the Finns maneuvered freely in the back country, with skis, snowshoes, and on foot.  So if anyone could claim competence in this regard, I would look to the Finnish example.  

Another example would be the Norwegians.  They had a vigorous resistance program during the war, which depended on mobility over snow and ice.  The Heavy Water plant saboteurs skied overland to Sweden for their exfil plan.

And to be fair, the Sovs were no slouches during winter warfare, just didn't really emphasize ski mobility.  They rode to battle on T-34's.   

So surprise, the guys that grew up in snow and ice were pretty fucking good at fighting in it.  Those that didn't, pretty much sucked.  

Kinda ironic; the Crotch was ass-deep in japs during WWII, with ski mobility being a low priority, like fucking zero.  Now they are getting their Nordic thing on.  I just talked to a young Marine right out of bootcamp this morning.  I said hey, you putting in for Northern NATO, he said hell no, that shit's cold up there.  Well, yeah, no shit.       

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