Skis Are 50/50 Setups Viable?


I grew up doing a lot of backcountry snowmobiling and lift-access skiing from a young age. Now that I'm on my own and can't afford a snowmobile and would like to focus on my goal to get into backcountry skiing. I still would likely spend most of my time within the ropes of a resort and haven't warranted a touring specific setup yet.
I have the opportunity to replace my worn-out existing boots and skis and would like the input on whether it would be best to get something that can try to do both. I could go the route of something like a Salomon Shift on a 50/50 ski like the Icelandic Nomad Lite 105, or could just get a new resort setup and rent backcountry gear until I warrant purchasing it.

I'd love opinions and recommendations!

I’ll chime in… I think they are viable! Absolutely! But personally I would avoid the shifts… they are clunky pieces of gear in my opinion. Go with a caste touring setup with look pivots and get the best of both worlds (especially if you truly want a 50/50 setup). Kingpins are a viable option as well… even if a binding with forward pressure and pins makes no sense… they do work well and are nicer for touring than the shifts from my experience. Personally I feel like a burly ski with a lightweight tech binding can make a rad inbounds/backcountry setup… it just may not handle the use and abuse that a typical alpine binding can (and yes the shifts may slightly fall in that category) but the issue lies in the functionality… if you have a heavy alpine setup that “can” tour… it’s likely you won’t be inspired to take them out of bounds and lug them around… that said… some mid to lightweight skis with a 350 gram atk binding can absolutely rip inbounds and make a great backcountry ski setup as well. That’s my two sense… don’t get me started on boots
We're in an era right now where the 50/50 stuff is pretty impressive. A dedicated touring setup will obviously be better for strictly backcountry, but if you're spending most of your time inbounds and just starting to tour, then I'd say the 50/50 (or 80/20 or whatever) will be a great option for now. And then when you get a dedicated touring setup, you can use the 50/50 one for just inbounds and sidecountry.

To echo what Caleb said, the CAST system is awesome. I just put it on my 80/20 setup (80% inbounds) and am really impressed. Obviously there's a weight penalty there, and the transitions are more time consuming as well. But there's a reason you see a ton of pro skiers on these.

I'd highly recommend against skiing any pin binding hard inbounds. They don't release in a predictable way, and the ride quality on choppy/firm snow is terrible compared to an alpine binding. That being said, the Fritschi Tecton binding is one of the only (or maybe THE only) pin binding that has a certified DIN release. And it has an alpine style heel piece. I use these on both of my dedicated backcountry skis and love them. They have their flaws, and I personally wouldn't want to use them extensively in the resort, but they are one of the most viable options if you want to go that route.

For boots, you'll want something that is both pin compatible and gripwalk compatible (so you can use alpine or pin bindings). Luckily there are a lot of good options in this regard- Scarpa Maestrale XT, Technica Cochise, K2 Mindbender, Salomon Shift, and many more that I can't think of off the top of my head. Mostly a matter of what fits your foot well. I just got a pair of mindbenders and am liking them so far.

As for skis...too many good options. Just don't get ones on the extreme ends of too heavy/too light and you'll be fine.


Staff member
Good points above, but I'll add in an alternative opinion on the Shifts:

I think they're a solid option for an inbounds skier who goes for a few ski tours a year. I've been skiing them at the resort for the past couple years without anything to complain about. They've got some (manageable) quirks in tour mode and transitions.. but for a short tour out of the gates they work out well.

About a third to half the skiers in Level 1 courses in recent years are on Shifts. I think they have their place but for true backcountry days: pins / light gear is the better choice.
100% yes you can have one setup that works well in-bounds and out. The caveat there is if you want carvers… but if you are talking powder skis, you can definitely get a great dual-use setup.

I have 2 sets of kingpins that are on my daily drivers. Set one is mounted on Salomon czars. These are my beater/early/late season mountaineering skis, ie mt hood later this month. Prior to the kingpins, I had dukes mounted on them, and they were awful in the BC. I skied them in the resort plenty, but was getting my butt kicked trying to drag them around, so my touring was very short and infrequent.

second set of kingpins are mounted on armada JJs, and I have 75+ resort days & 75+ days touring on them. It’s not the lightest ski, but I keep up with guys running much lighter setups no problem. Also I have never had an issue in bounds charging pretty hard (whistler, alpental, etc). I ski them without ever thinking about the fact that they aren’t an alpine binding. And they do have a certified din release.

Take all this with a grain of salt. I haven’t kept up with new gear the way I used to, and as such I am living in the past. But my setups have worked great for me.