How To Choose Backcountry Skis? [Facts!]

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You’re an experienced skier or snowboarder looking to get off the beaten path and ski some backcountry terrain? Or perhaps you’re a complete beginner looking to dip a toe in the snow sports world? Either way, picking the right gear can be tricky. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and curated this detailed buying guide, where we’ll cover everything you need to know about picking backcountry skis that’ll have you cruising for snowfalls in no time.

Modern

With the advancements in technology and miniaturization, we now have the ability to produce superior performance in a more compact package. The best backcountry skis will always be the most modern and cutting-edge models, designed to enhance your skiing experience by eliminating any friction and allowing for faster speeds.

Although absolute top performance is usually reserved for the professional skiers, the technology involved in making modern backcountry skis is significantly cheaper, resulting in the average person being able to afford a pair. This makes them a more popular choice with intermediate and beginner skiers and snowboarders who want to get away from the crowds but don’t want to sacrifice performance.

Durability

Backcountry skis are designed to endure harsh conditions, so much so that many ski resorts won’t accept any other type of skis as legal equipment. Durability is thus an especially important consideration if you plan on taking your ski equipment out for more than a couple of weeks at a time. The best backcountry skis will be those that are most resistant to damage and can take a bit of a battering before giving up the ghost.

On the other hand, more expensive models are usually built with a thicker layer of material over the entire length of the ski, offering greater protection and enhancing the overall durability. This in turn makes them more expensive to maintain and repair, limiting their practicality as a temporary fix for poor weather conditions or when the novelty of skiing has worn off and you want to get back to your everyday life.

Sizing

Another important consideration when picking a ski is how you plan on using it. For example, if you’re a small person looking to ski smaller snowcapped areas, you might want to pick a 2nd or 3rd tier sized ski. Larger people or those who plan on skiing the grand tours might want to opt for a bigger size, such as a 3X or 4X.

The best backcountry skis will be those that fit snugly against your body for optimum aerodynamics, leaving you with less effort to push off the snow and more speed. The amount of drag while skiing can greatly influence how much enjoyment you get out of the sport, so cutting it down to a minimum is always a better option.

Style

You might be used to skiing big alpine ski resorts with endless chairlift queues and complicated terrains, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to that. There are numerous smaller resorts around the world where you can find untouched powder and perfectly formed glaciers, which is what makes this type of skiing so appealing.

When it comes to style, you always want to look for the big brands like Patagonia, North Face, and Rossignol, as well as the big-name ski resorts like Stowe and Squaw Valley that produce the most unique and stylish skis. If design is a concern and you want to keep things minimalistic, opt for a more functional and aerodynamic ski, preferably those manufactured by a well-known brand like the French company Leisure Lakes.

Comfort

This one might sound a bit odd, but how you plan on using the equipment is also a factor when it comes to comfort. You don’t want to pick a ski that is too soft or bulky, as that would make you uncomfortable while skiing, especially if you plan on taking off the equipment often. The comfort level of a ski largely depends on the materials used and the structure of the ski itself, with some examples including: metal, plastic, wood, and foam.

Bouncing around on a surface that’s too soft can lead to injuries. After all, you’re not a professional skier yet, and things can happen that you weren’t prepared for. In this case, you might end up with bruised knees, which can make it extremely uncomfortable. Especially if this happens frequently, it’s better to go for a more comfortable ski that isn’t as good technically.

Racing

This one might not be as obvious, but if you’re into competitive skiing, you might want to consider looking for a model that’s been optimized for speed. In these cases, you usually have two options; metal or composite. The former is usually associated with greater speeds and power, while the latter is used in professional competitions and is thus more durable. More often than not, the winning skiers are the ones that can produce the most speed on the slopes.

As a general rule, pick a metal ski that has a composite frame whenever you’re not sure about the racing capabilities of the model.

Cost

The price of a ski is largely dependent on how much you’re willing to spend. The higher the number, the higher the quality and thus the better the performance. As a general rule, expensive skis are better than cheaper ones, as they tend to offer greater durability and longer life cycles. That being said, don’t get too carried away and pay a premium just because the model is a bit cheaper; it’ll break sooner than you know it.

When it comes to buying ski equipment, it’s always a tricky decision making process. You want to pick a model that’s good, comfortable, and offers the right price, but sometimes that doesn’t make for a good combination. The key is to keep your budget in mind and only buy what you need – you can always ask the salesperson at the ski store for help, too.

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