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The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023

Hiking for turns is one of winter’s great pleasures from moving uphill with friends to turns down a blank canvas of powder. To make the most of your touring adventures, check out the best backcountry skis of the upcoming season.

Salomon Backcountry skier(Photo/Mike Gamble)
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Backcountry skiing helps you leave behind lift lines, crowds, and boundaries to interact with the mountains on an intimate level. With that freedom comes ongoing avalanche safety and backcountry education plus many choices about the gear that will get you there. Few other mountain sports require more performance and reliability out of gear than a remote backcountry ski tour.

The best backcountry skis are the ones that match your backcountry ski priorities and style. If you want to speed to the top, buy a ski that’s light. If you’re all about the downhill, prepare to pay a weight penalty on the ascent for freeride performance when you’re carving down the mountain.

As with any ski, buy a length that matches your ability and a width that matches the snow conditions. Hone in on what fits and what matters, visit your local ski shop, educate yourself on backcountry safety, and get ready for some serious fun.

As we continuously test backcountry skis, we bestow awards on the ones that stand out as favorites but that doesn’t make the others listed below any lesser models. Here is our latest roundup of the best backcountry skis.

To learn more, be sure to check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide, FAQ, and comparison chart below.

Otherwise, scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:

The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023

Best Overall Backcountry Ski

Black Crows Navis Freebird


  • Length 167 cm, 173 cm, 179 cm, 185 cm
  • Weight 1550 g (173 cm)
  • Dimensions 136/102/116 mm (167 cm), 138/102/118 mm (173 cm), 138/102/119 mm (179 cm), 139/102/120 mm (185 cm)
  • Turn radius 18 m (167 cm), 19 m (173 cm), 19 m (179 cm), 19 m (185 cm)
  • Profile Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Construction Semi-Cap, Full-Cap in tip
  • Core Poplar, paulownia, carbon/fiberglass
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Reliable in all conditions
  • Skis powder well for its width


  • Not as playful as other skis due to its damper nature
  • Doesn’t deliver short radius turns
  • Beginners might need to consider other options
Best Budget

Völkl Blaze 94


  • Length 165 cm, 172 cm, 179 cm, 186 cm
  • Weight 1500 g (172 cm)
  • Dimensions 134/94/116 mm
  • Turn radius 25/14/33 m (165 cm), 27/15/37 m (172 cm), 31/17/38 m (179 cm), 39/19/44 m (186 cm)
  • Profile Tip and tail rocker
  • Construction Full sidewall
  • Core Hybrid multilayer (poplar, beech)
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Great ski for backcountry and resort skiing
  • Good for intermediate skiers and forgiving for beginners
  • 3D sidecut makes for a versatile and intuitive ride


  • Not exceptional in hard snow
  • Less stable at speed than other models tested
Skier Carving With Volkl Blaze 94
Best Freeride Ski for Resort, Sidecountry, and Backcountry

Nordica Men’s Enforcer Unlimited and Women’s Santa Ana


  • Length Santa Ana: 158 cm, 165 cm, 172 cm, 179 cm ; Enforcer: 165 cm, 172 cm, 179 cm, 186 cm, 191 cm
  • Weight 1560 g (172 cm)
  • Dimensions Santa Ana: 132-104-121 mm (158 cm), 133-104-122 mm (165 cm), 134-104-123 mm (172 cm), 134.5-104-123.5 mm (179 cm); Enforcer: 134-104-123 mm (172 cm), 134.5-104-123.5 mm (179 cm)
  • Turn radius Santa Ana: 15.5 m (158 cm), 16 m (165 cm), 16.5 m (172 cm), 17.5 m (179 cm); Enforcer: 18.5 (186 cm), 19.5 (191 cm)
  • Profile Powder Rocker / Camber
  • Construction Semi-Cap
  • Core Paulownia, beech, carbon stringers
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Great ski for both resort and backcountry
  • Short turning radius makes these great for tight trees and couloirs


  • Doesn’t hold an edge well at speed on firm snow
  • Not the best for stability at speed due to short turning radius
  • Generally better performance in powder and soft snow
Best One-Quiver Backcountry Ski

WNDR Alpine Intention 108


  • Length 164 cm, 170 cm, 176 cm, 182 cm, 188 cm, 194 cm
  • Weight 1700 g (170 cm)
  • Dimensions 126/93/111 mm (listed for all models)
  • Turn radius 15.5 m (164 cm), 17 m (170 cm), 18.5 m (176 cm), 20 m (182 cm), 21.5 m (188 cm), 22.5 m (194 cm)
  • Profile Rocker-Reverse Camber-Rocker (or traditional camber if preferred)
  • Construction Semi-cap Sidewall
  • Core Algae, Aspen
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Made sustainably in the USA with recycled materials
  • Playful and stable ride on the downhill


  • One of the heaviest skis tested for its width
  • A bit wide for bigger missions and steep skiing
Best Backcountry Ski for the Deepest Powder

Atomic Backland 117


  • Length 177 cm, 184 cm, 191 cm
  • Weight 1800 g (177 cm)
  • Dimensions 139.5/117/128.5 mm (177 cm), 140.5/117/129.5 mm (184 cm), 141.5/117/130.5 mm (191 cm)
  • Turn radius 18 m (177 cm), 19 m (184 cm), 20 m (191 cm)
  • Profile Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot
  • Construction Sandwich sidewalls
  • Core Beech, poplar
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Light on the uphill for width, stable and reliable on the downhill
  • Versatile for such a wide ski
  • Amazing float in powder snow


  • The fat waist makes it a quiver ski
  • Doesn’t come in shorter lengths for smaller skiers
Skier Using Atomic Backland 117
Best Expert-Level Backcountry Ski

Scott Superguide 95


  • Length 162 cm, 170 cm, 178 cm, 184 cm
  • Weight 1370g (170 cm)
  • Dimensions 126/93/111 mm (162 cm), 128/94/113 mm (170 cm), 130/95/115 mm (178 cm), 132/96/117 mm (184 cm)
  • Turn radius 19 m (162 cm), 20 m (170 cm), 21 m (178 cm), 22 m (184 cm)
  • Profile Pro-Tip Rocker 320
  • Construction Sandwich sidewall semielliptic
  • Core Paulownia, beech
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Light on the uphill and tours exceptionally well
  • Great for jump turns
  • Tip cutouts for dedicated clip-on skins


  • Can be chattery on hardpack
  • All business, less play
  • Narrow waist is not the best for powder days
Backcountry Skis - Scott Superguide 95

Best of the Rest

Black Crows Ferox Freebird


  • Length 170 cm, 176 cm, 181 cm, 186 cm
  • Weight 3400 g (170cm)
  • Dimensions 135/110/126 mm (170 cm), 135/110/126 mm (176 cm), 136/110/126 mm (181 cm), 137/110/127 mm (186 cm)
  • Turn radius 21 m
  • Profile Rocker-camber-rocker
  • Construction Half-cap
  • Core Poplar, paulownia, Isocore
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Super-versatile for such a light ski


  • Pricey
Skier Transitioning With Black Crows Ferox Freebird
(Photo/Black Crows)

Blizzard Zero G 105


  • Length 172 cm, 180 cm, 188 cm
  • Weight 1450 g (172 cm)
  • Dimensions 132/105/118 mm (172 cm), 133/105/119 mm (180 cm), 134/105/120 mm (188 cm)
  • Turn radius 20m (172 cm), 23m (180 cm), 24m (188 cm)
  • Profile Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot
  • Construction Half-cap [underfoot] ABS sidewalls
  • Core Paulownia
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Perfect combination of float and performance
  • Great for firm snow and steep skiing


  • Long turning radius prefers to be opened up
  • Not the best for beginners
Skier Transitioning With Blizzard Zero G 105

Dynafit Blacklight 80


  • Length 151 cm, 158 cm, 165 cm, 172 cm, 178 cm
  • Weight 3401 g (170cm)
  • Dimensions 113/77/97 mm (151 cm), 114/78/98 mm (158 cm), 115/79/99 mm (165 cm), 116/80/100 mm (172 cm), 117/81/101 mm (178 cm)
  • Turn radius 14.5 m (151 cm), 15.5 m (158 cm), 17 m (165 cm), 18.5 m (172 cm), 20 m (178 cm)
  • Profile Tip and tail rocker
  • Construction 3D sidewall cap
  • Core Paulownia speed core
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Ultralight and ultra-fast for skimo racers


  • Super-specific skimo race ski not a lot of fun on the downhills

DPS Pagoda Tour 112 RP


  • Length 151 cm, 158 cm, 165 cm, 172 cm, 178 cm
  • Weight 3022 g (178cm)
  • Dimensions 113/77/97 mm (151 cm), 114/78/98 mm (158 cm), 115/79/99 mm (165 cm), 116/80/100 mm (172 cm), 117/81/101 mm (178 cm)
  • Turn radius 14.5 m (151 cm), 15.5 m (158 cm), 17 m (165 cm), 18.5 m (172 cm), 20 m (178 cm)
  • Profile Tip and tail rocker
  • Construction 3D sidewall cap
  • Core Paulownia speed core
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Ultralight and ultra-fast for skimo racers


  • Super-specific skimo race ski not a lot of fun on the downhills

Faction Agent 3.0 for Men & 3.0X 106 for Women


  • Length 172 cm, 180 cm, 188 cm
  • Weight 1680 g (172 cm)
  • Dimensions 134/106/124 mm
  • Turn radius 21 m (180 cm)
  • Profile Early rise, camber underfoot
  • Construction Half cap
  • Core Caruba
The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023


  • Freeride feel
  • Flat tail for powerful carving
  • Durable


  • Best for soft snow
  • Not as versatile as some other skis
Skiers Using Faction Agent Backcountry Skis
(Photo/Faction Skis)

Backcountry Skis Comparison Chart

Backcountry SkiPriceLengthTurn RadiusProfileConstruction
Black Crows Navis
Freebird 102
$900167 cm, 173 cm, 179 cm, 185 cm18 m (167 cm), 19 m (173 cm), 19 m (179 cm), 19 m (185 cm)Rocker-Camber-RockerSemi-Cap, Full-Cap in tip
Nordica Men’s Enforcer &
Women’s Santa Ana
$850-800SA; 158 cm, 165 cm, 172 cm, 179 cm
E: 165 cm, 172 cm, 179 cm, 186 cm, 191 cm
Santa Ana: 15.5 m (158 cm), 16 m (165 cm), 16.5 m (172 cm), 17.5 m (179 cm); Enforcer: 18.5 (186 cm), 19.5 (191 cm)Powder Rocker / CamberSemi-Cap
WNDR Alpine Intention 108$799164 cm, 170 cm, 176 cm, 182 cm, 188 cm, 194 cm15.5 m (164 cm), 17 m (170 cm), 18.5 m (176 cm), 20 m (182 cm), 21.5 m (188 cm), 22.5 m (194 cm)Rocker-Reverse Camber-RockerSemi-cap Sidewall
Scott Superguide 95$850162 cm, 170 cm, 178 cm, 184 cm19 m (162 cm), 20 m (170 cm), 21 m (178 cm), 22 m (184 cm)Pro-Tip Rocker 320Sandwich sidewall semielliptic
Atomic Backland 117$800177 cm, 184 cm, 191 cm18 m (177 cm), 19 m (184 cm), 20 m (191 cm)Rocker tip and tail, camber underfootSandwich sidewalls
Völkl Blaze 94$600165 cm, 172 cm, 179 cm, 186 cm25/14/33 m (165 cm), 27/15/37 m (172 cm), 31/17/38 m (179 cm), 39/19/44 m (186 cm)Tip and tail rockerFull sidewall
Black Crows Ferox Freebird$1,100170 cm, 176 cm, 181 cm, 186 cm21 mRocker-camber-rockerHalf-cap
Blizzard Zero G 105$850172 cm, 180 cm, 188 cm20m (172 cm), 23m (180 cm), 24m (188 cm)Rocker tip and tail, camber underfootHalf-cap [underfoot] ABS sidewalls
Dynafit Blacklight 80$700151 cm, 158 cm, 165 cm, 172 cm, 178 cm14.5 m (151 cm), 15.5 m (158 cm), 17 m (165 cm), 18.5 m (172 cm), 20 m (178 cm)Tip and tail rocker3D sidewall cap
DPS Pagoda Tour 112 RP$1,549158 cm, 168 cm, 178 cm, 184 cm138/112/122 mm (158 cm), 139/112/124 mm (168 cm), 140/112/125 mm (178 cm), 140/112/127 mm (184 cm)Rocker-camber-rockerPagoda (full sidewall)
Faction Agent 3.0 for Men & 3.0X 106 for Women$799, $749172 cm, 180 cm, 188 cm21 m (180 cm)Early rise, camber underfootHalf cap
Backcountry Skier Removing Skins from Skis in Mountains
Skins attach to backcountry skis via an adhesive, buckles, straps, or a combo; (photo/Andy Cochrane)

Why You Should Trust Us

Our GearJunkie gear testing team includes a range of skiers from intermediate to experts and professional guides who have spent decades exploring the backcountry and sidecountry across the United States — from the West to East Coast and around the Rocky Mountains.

Among our lead testers, Kaylee Walden is a mountain guide, avalanche educator, and writer based primarily in Southwest Colorado, where she backcountry skis from her front door. Walden spends upwards of 120 days per year on snow, guiding everything from sidecountry skiing in Colorado, to plane-accessed base camp ski expeditions in the Alaska Range and mountaineering ascents of Denali.

Another lead tester, industry veteran, and Vermont-based outdoor journalist Berne Broudy, who has been a writer for nearly 25 years, and is a former professional hiking and bike tour guide.

We’ve put these backcountry skis through the wringer. From glades to steeps, couloirs to low-angle meadows, powder to sastrugi, breakable crust to corn, the Rockies to the Alps and everything in between, we’ve tested these skis to help you make the decision of what to put beneath your feet this upcoming winter. Skis are like snowflakes: No two are the same, which makes finding the right ski both a daunting and exciting process.

These off-piste skis have joined us on sled-accessed high-alpine tube missions, uphill workout sprints, and remote hut tours. Our testers also travel around the U.S. and overseas — including the Italian and French Alps — hike in-bounds at ski resorts, and pursue skimo races.

While testing for the best backcountry skis, we assessed a range of factors including each design’s stiffness, maneuverability, and playfulness as well as the ski’s energy, damping, chatter, weight, shape, edge hold, and turn initiation. The size, width, base, and edge tune also influence how a ski performsWe considered what type of skier and conditions are best for each ski.

We tested skis in a range of snow conditions affected by ice-cold temperatures, blizzards, blustery wind, intense sun, rain, and (of course) powder. Really deep powder.

Beyond our field tests and personal experience, we considered the most popular, innovative, award-winning, and bestselling backcountry skis on the market as well as a broad range of price points and applications to serve a range of skiers.

Salomon Mike Gamble Bootpacking To A Backcountry Ski Line
Lightweight skis are appreciated on the bootpack of high-alpine ascents; (photo/Andy Cochrane)

Avalanche Safety Education

Seek out the proper avalanche safety education before you head into the backcountry. Head out with partners that share your risk tolerance and goals, and seek out experienced mentors. Be sure to carry the proper rescue equipment for each mission and know how to use it well.

Where to start: Sign up for courses that are accredited by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), American Avalanche Institute (AAI), or the American Avalanche Association (A3), which are several of the most credible, historic organizations in the United States that provide standardized backcountry education courses. It’s easiest to choose one organization to complete multiple courses with than to transfer as your education progresses.

The mountains are a beautiful and inherently dangerous place — the hazards of backcountry skiing should not be taken lightly.

Choosing the right skis is a small piece of a large, complex puzzle — as many of you already know, especially if you’ve been out there playing the game.

Backcountry Skis: A Buyer’s Guide

Let your daily goals inform the backcountry ski that you choose.

Alex Quitiquit, senior hardgoods buyer at Backcountry, said, “The first thing a skier needs to do is determine what type of skiing you want to do with the skis you’re buying, which will help you wade through confusing attributes like rocker and turn radius, and find a pair to meet your needs.”

Backcountry skiers must decide if their biggest priority is the uphill, the downhill, or both. If you’re mostly after first tracks, look for something a bit wider to maximize float in powder. A heavier ski will also glide through variable snow and grip on the ice better, but it will likely be slower on the uphill.

If you’re all about fitness or ease on the uphill, a lightweight ski will help you move fast and rack up vertical gain while keeping your legs fresher, but it may not be as stable or fun on the descent. Just remember, you usually sacrifice a bit of uphill or downhill capability depending on your priorities. That said, there are certainly skis that are great “quiver killers.” We cover all of those options in this guide.

Ski Length

Once you know what’s important to you, figure out your ski length. The right ski length depends on your height, weight, and ability.

A 5’10″ 180-pound male should consider a length around 180 cm for a resort-focused freeride powder ski. If you’re a hard-charging expert, you may opt for a ski closer to 190 cm. If you’re a beginner/intermediate, you may opt for a ski in the 170 cm range.

For a newer skier, shorter skis are more fun and manageable because they’re more nimble and easier to turn. Some backcountry tree skiers also prefer shorter skis because they’re more nimble turning.

Waist Width

A ski for arcing groomer turns will have a waist of 80-90 mm. So, most backcountry skiers opt for something wider and more versatile.

Skis with 90-105 mm waist width will have good float in soft snow. They’re best for skiers who spend half their time on more consolidated snow and half their time in soft snow.

Choose a ski with a 105-120 mm waist for powder. If your standard conditions are 6-12 inches of fresh powder, alpine fat skis will give you maximum float.

Opt for a waist above 120, and you’re firmly into the big-mountain powder category for special days when you’ll be skiing 2 feet or more of fresh snow. “Over 120 waist is a dream-day quiver ski,” said Quitiquit. “Don’t expect to take it out all the time.”

Turn Radius

Then, it’s time to consider a ski’s other characteristics and how those match your preferences. A ski’s turn radius is based on the sidecut of a ski: the shape of the curve along either side of its length.

To some degree, all skis have an hourglass shape, but the radius of these curves has a crucial effect on steering, speed, and stability.

Skis that are much wider at the tip and tail than at the waist will have a shorter turning radius. A shorter turning radius is great for quick and nimble movements in the trees and moguls. Anything less than 16 m can be considered a short turning radius.

If you like to carve super-G turns, pick a turn radius over 20 m. If you like to make tight turns, look for a turn radius of 15 m or below. A shorter turn radius will be easier to ski if you’re a beginner or intermediate.

Quitiquit said that the sweet spot for a turn radius is 17-19 m.

Rocker and Camber

These describe the profile of the ski when you’re looking at it from the side. A fully rockered ski will have a shape like a banana and a surfy feel on the snow.

Add camber, which looks like a bow underfoot, and it gives the ski potential energy that you can engage when you pressure into a turn. A cambered ski will let you carve, and it will make quick turns.

Most all-mountain and backcountry skis use a blend of rocker and camber so skiers can have the best of both worlds. Rocker and camber together make a ski easier to turn. A ski with a rocker in the tip and tail won’t get hooked up in chunky snow or deep snow. The upturn allows the ski to float through powder and it offers a more playful, less aggressive feel.

Many skis have a rocker-camber-rocker profile, which makes them good carving and easy turning. Some also have a flat tail, which gives the ski a racier profile for carving longer and more powerful turns without washing out.


Quitiquit said, “Honing in on materials is the fun part of deciding which ski is your best ski.” Most skis have a wood core, usually beech, poplar, or aspen. Add metal to the construction, and the ski gains bite underfoot, which is key to carving in hardpacked and icy conditions, but it gets notably heavier.

Carbon, whether it’s used as a sheet or in strips called “stringers,” is stiff and light. In a lot of backcountry-focused skis, it’s used as a lighter alternative to metal with a less aggressive feel. Stiff and light carbon gives a ski grip and saves you energy, but it can be more chattery than metal in hard snow.

Quitiquit said that a lot of skiers don’t worry about turn radius and rocker profile once they’ve settled on length and width. For a lot of skiers, how the ski looks trumps some of the finer points of how it skis because the human body is adaptable, and you’ll find your rhythm once you’re on it.

While it’s important to understand what you’re getting, it’s also key to be stoked on your new skis. So, pick the one you’ll be proud of. Because as a Jackson Hole-based ski buyer once told us, “When you look good, you ski good.”

We go more into how the materials fit together in a ski below.

Backcountry Skiers Moving Up A Skin Track
GearJunkie founder Stephen Regenold backcountry skiing in Colorado; (photo/Adrian Ballinger)

Parts of a Ski

High-quality backcountry skis are complex tools that pack lots of technology into a streamlined package. The physical construction of your skis will define your experience using them.

The parts of a ski that have the most significant effect on performance are the core, laminates, sidewalls, and base.

Core and Laminates

The core of a ski is the innermost material and partly determines a ski’s flex and shape. Most backcountry skis feature a wood core made from poplar, aspen, beech, or a combination.

Manufacturers tend to use thinner materials in areas where the ski should be able to flex and thicker materials where the ski needs to be rigid. Around the core, metal and carbon fiber laminates may be added to boost or reduce characteristics such as pop, rigidity, and dampness as needed.


Sidewalls cover the outer edges of a ski. Generally, sidewalls are made from dense plastic that protects the sides of the precious core layers. In some skis, the top sheet layer may be extended to conceal the edge and serve as the sidewall.


A ski’s base is the surface that comes in direct contact with the snow. There are two kinds of bases: extruded and sintered.

Generally, extruded bases are found on beginner skis due to their low maintenance requirements. Most backcountry skis feature sintered bases. Though this kind of base requires frequent waxing and general maintenance, they’re the best option for consistent long-term performance.

Boot and Binding Compatibility

In order to get the most out of your time in the backcountry, it’s important to carefully select boots and bindings that are a good match for your skis and skillset.

Backcountry Ski Boots

It’s crucial to match your boots to the performance profile of your skis. A soft and flimsy boot paired with a stiff and aggressive ski will diminish the performance potential of both.

Of the many individual pieces of gear in your touring kit, your boots will have the greatest impact on physical comfort. Like skis, touring boots come with strengths and weaknesses.

If you plan to prioritize downhill ability, you’ll likely want well-built and stiff boots that can handle high speed and hard-charging. As a result, downhill-oriented boots are often heavy and offer a limited range of motion while hiking uphill.

If you plan to prioritize uphill efficiency and comfort, you’ll want a relatively lightweight boot that feels dexterous and nimble while in walk mode.

Backcountry Ski Bindings

As for backcountry ski bindings, there are two basic types: tech bindings and frame bindings.

Tech Bindings

Tech bindings are lighter, more efficient, and generally considered to be the gold standard for backcountry skiing.

Very light skis will pair best with a tech binding, which is binding with pins that insert into tech fittings in an alpine touring boot.

The design has a release value but isn’t DIN-certified. And they don’t have as much elastic retention as a hybrid or alpine binding. So, if you hit a bump hard, they’re more likely to release.

While skinning uphill, tech bindings are as good as it gets. The only minor downside of tech bindings is that heavy in-bounds skiing on firm surfaces will wear them out quickly.

Don’t tackle an in-bounds mogul field in tech bindings.

Frame (Hybrid) Bindings

Frame bindings, also called hybrid bindings, are very much like traditional alpine ski bindings, except they’re mounted on a frame that releases at the heel for uphill travel. Compared to tech bindings, frame bindings are heavy, cumbersome, and less efficient while skinning.

However, if you plan to bounce back and forth between backcountry skiing and resort skiing or sidecountry laps, frame bindings may provide the best of both worlds.

A hybrid binding will ski more like an alpine binding. Hybrid bindings have an alpine heel and toe for descents. For ascending, they usually also have tech pins. They’ve heavier, and they’re DIN-certified for predictable release.

Frame bindings are also typically affordable.

Don’t Shy Away From Small Brands

“It’s cool to support the little guy. Every brand is making great skis, and some of the independent brands not only have a cool and interesting look but the construction that can compete with the biggest and best-known brands, which is why more and more people are buying them,” said Quitiquit.

Backcountry Skiers Ascending A Skin Track
Backcountry skiing is full of variable conditions; (photo/Sean McCoy)


What Makes Backcountry Skis Different From Downhill or Cross-Country Skis

In many ways, backcountry skis are a hybrid between their downhill and cross-country counterparts. Because backcountry skiing involves both uphill and downhill travel, backcountry skis must be able to perform well in a wide variety of terrain.

Backcountry skis are typically outfitted with tech bindings or frame bindings, which allow skiers to maneuver on flat and uphill terrain. Read more about the two types of backcountry bindings in our buyer’s guide above.

Additionally, backcountry skis use another piece of gear known as skins to prevent them from sliding backward when traveling uphill.

While some downhill skis are compatible with skis and the proper bindings, backcountry-specific skis are definitely your best bet due to their specialized design and lightweight profile.

Most backcountry skis include a waist width between 105 and 120 mm, which is a little wider on average than downhill skis.

What Are the Best Backcountry Skis for Beginners?

Beginner backcountry skiers will want a ski that is properly sized, maneuverable, and progression-oriented. Generally, beginners should avoid skis on the extreme ends of any spectrum. In other words, don’t go for the widest powder ski or the ultralight mountaineering ski, or an aggressive super-stiff ski.

Beginners will benefit from middle-ground do-it-all skis that can be used to experiment, grow, and find your groove in various scenarios.

If you plan to also use your backcountry ski at the resort, we recommend you purchase a versatile ski with the right characteristics to meet your wide-reaching needs. On this list, the Völkl Blaze 94 is a solid entry point that can also be used within bounds.

Of course, safe backcountry skiing is about much more than gear. Before you head out there, you need to be educated on avalanche safety and backcountry hazards.

How Much Do Backcountry Skis Cost?

Generally, backcountry skis are a bit more expensive than downhill skis. With that said, the cost of backcountry skis exists on a broad spectrum. A solid and high-quality pair can be purchased for between $500 and $700.

If you’re looking for high-end and specialized backcountry skis, expect to pay between $700 and $1,500 per pair.

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