Touring and backcountry skis have become lighter and wider every year. The width of traditional (European) backcountry skis has moved from around 80mm waist to about 90mm. And, more and more ski producers now offer good touring skis with a width between 85mm and 90mm that are lighter than 2.5kg per pair. This was not the case 2-3 years ago when just very few skis (such as the Movement Logic X, my test here) could be found in that width/weight category.
I consider 85-90mm at waist as ideal for (Swiss) Alpine ski touring. This waist width was “pioneered” by the highly successful K2 Wayback (88mm) which was – and still is – a great ski (at a bit heavier than 3kg per pair). The newer K2 Wayback 88 is a bit lighter (2.7kg per pair at 174cm), but not as light as some other skis presented in my posts. Narrower skis (not included in my test reviews) are also fine for serious ski touring, especially in hard snowpack or in spring.
In separate posts I summarize recent tests (and my personal experience) on most light and 85mm to 95mm wide backcountry skis. There are, of course, further makers of wide and light skis such as, Sportive, G3 or Black Diamond (the latter two are targetting mainly powder skiers).
The Austrian Alpine Clubs has an excellent online magazine that includes many test (in German, sorry) of backcountry skis: 2015 edition, 2014 edition. Highly recommended.
One comment on ski lengths: Some of the skis (such as the Hagan Y[wai] flow) are heavily rockered or quite soft. Such skis can be a bit longer as the turn very easy. I personally prefer touring skis that are about 5cm to 10cm shorter than my height (178cm, 76 kg). Heavier skiers probably should shoot for ski length >= height.
I personally prefer shorter skis because they are a bit lighter and turn very easy (downhill and also uphill at switchbacks) than longer skis. Shorter skis, however, have less edge grip and do not float as well in powder.
Fischer offers the Transalp 88, a classic touring ski at moderate weight (2620g per pair at 177cm). More interesting – in my view – is the wider Fischer Hannibal 94 (2700 per pair at 177cm). After reading the very favorable review at Outdoor Gear Lab (here) I have recently purchased one, but had not yet skied it yet (as per 16 Nov. 2015).
Snow and Bergsteiger Magazine (in German here) also rated the ski highly. Outdoor Guide mentions that the edge grip in hard snow is not great. They recommend it more for powder and soft snow.
PS: There is also a wider (and heavier) Fischer Hannibal 100.
I look forward to ski the Fischer Hannibal 94 this season and will report.
Salomon has introduced this year a new line of light and wide backcountry skis the “MTN Series” (which also includes a light touring boot and a new pin binding). I have not skied the Salomon MTN Explore 88 (2540g at 169cm), but reviews I found were very positive:
Test in Outdoor Guide (in German): Easy to ski, good in powder, stable, rather soft, also good on groomed slopes, highly recommended.
Test in Alpin Guides Blog (here): “It’s simply great fun to ski.”
The wider Salomon MTN Explore 95 (2800g at 177cm) also gets good reviews and has won the 2016 Editor’s Coice Skis 95-99mm of the Backcountry Magazine.
Salomon’s light MTN skis seems seem to perform great (and they are also a bit cheaper than other high performance backcountry skis). I have not skied them yet, unfortunately!
Movement, the Swiss freeride ski maker, has been a pioneer in wide and very light skis. The introduced the Movement Logic X (around 2.2kg at 88mm!) a few years ago. I do have a Logic X and I have to say it is incredibly light (especially with the ATK Race binding) and skis at least in powder quite well, at least in powder. See my feedback here.
The (unrockered) Logic X has been replaced by the rockered Response X (2.3kg at 177 cm). Click here to check out the full range of the Movement X Series.
The Response X has gotten pretty good reviews. Check out review at WildSnow.
Other tests: Outdoor Magazine (in German here: good in powder, edge grip not great, recommended mainly for lighter skiers) or Ski Magazin (in German): “… Er verfügt über eine neue Konstruktion – die Light Rocker Schaufel. Diese ist weich abgestimmt, sehr lang gezogen und bietet dadurch im Tiefschnee selbst bei schwierigen Bedingungen guten Auftrieb. Dank exzellentem Kantengriff lässt sich auch harter Schnee gut meistern. Ein echter Allrounder unter den Freeride-orientierten Tourenski. …”
The narrower 84mm Movement Vertex (here) replaced the popular Bond. The Vertex weighs 2.8kg at 177cm. The Vertex is also available in the X version (2.2kg at 177 cm).
As the weight difference between the Vertex X and the Response X is only minimal, I would clearly recommend the Response X over the Vertex X.
Völkl has been a produced of great touring and backcountry skis for years. While their skis were not the lighest, they were (and still are) great to ski in all conditions. Völkl now has “upgraded” their Alpine touring ski line (see here) with the light (and 88m wide) VTA 88 (pictured above) and the even lighter VTA 88 Lite.
Dimensions VTA 88: 127-88- 106, 1230g per ski at 170cm / VTA 88 Lite: 127-88- 106, 1090g per ski at 170cm
The reviews on the VTA 88 have been very good to excellent:
Bergsteiger Magazin (November 2015): ” .. Dynamik, Laufruhe und Grip verblüffend … ” (English: .. versatile, smooth at speeds, good grip, turns easy)
Outdoor Magazin (November 2015): “… gibt sich keine Blösse …gut bei fast allen Bedingungen … gutmütig … drehfreudig … toller Allrounder … KAUF TIPP”. (English: Great and easy-to-ski allround touring ski.)
Also check online reviews for the VTA 88 Lite such as on wildsnow.com earn or on earnyourturns.com.
I have not skied the VTA 88 yet unfortunately, so I cannot comment from personal experience. It seems however that the VTA 88 is a “highly recommended” touring ski. The very light VTA 88 Lite seems ok as well.
Dynafit is offering a wide range of ski and speed touring skis of all sizes and weights. The Cho Oyu is – in my opinion – the ski that fits “wide and light” best. I recently purchased an Cho Oyu and I am quite happy with it. The ski is fairly wide (125 – 88 – 111) and is at the same time quite light (1190g per ski at 174cm). The Cho Oyu is easy to in most conditions. Edge grip is not great and it certainly not a carving ski for groomed slopes. The Cho Oyu likes moderate speeds.
Check out the tests and reviews on Bergzeit.ch, wildsnow.com or on Mountain Weekly.
In summary, a good and light ski with moderate waist (88mm). Easy to ski. One should note, however, that Dynafit skis are usually a bit more expensive than skis of other brands.
“The Y[wai]-flow introduced the Y concept to the world —and the world took notice! With a waist width of 87 mm, it is the perfect all-rounder for all tour professionals. The narrow 100 mm tail with rocker provides incredible agility for quick turns and minimizes tail hook on hard surfaces and crust.” Quote from Hagan website.
I have already commented on the Y[wai]-flow (here), which – in my opinion – is one of the best light and pretty wide touring ski for powder conditions (new design picture above). The Y[wai]-flow has a very wide, rockered tip (130m) with a narrow tail (ski dimensions 130-87-100). For a weight per pair of only 2.4kgs the ski performs really well in powder and most other conditions. The shape looks a bit like a skinny fish. In hard snow or crust, the Y[wai]-flow is ok, but not great. Edge grip is also not great.
Hagan has issued an even lighter and slightly narrower Y[way]-drive (125-83-98) weighing 2.2kg per pair. While I have not tried the Y[way]-drive, I doubt that saving another 100g per ski is worth it. German Outdoor Magazine recently gave theHagan Y-drive its “Kauf Tipp”. Quote: Light touring skis with crusing qualities, floats well in powder, turns easily, highly recommended.” Hagan now also offers a wider Y[way]-boost (got also very good marks by Outdoor Magazine) and the even wider Y[way]-king. Both skis are not really light anymore.
The Chimera Ski Series of Hagan (link) have a more traditional shape and are a bit heavier
I can clearly recommend the Y[wai] flow for lighter skiers that are looking for an easy to ski for softer conditions. I would not recommend the ski for steep descents in hard or icy snow.