Gear: Six skis for the backcountry shredder

Gear: Six skis for the backcountry shredder

When you’re in the backcountry, trying to get to that dream line you’ve been scoping out, the last thing you want is a heavy, unreliable ski. Below, we’ve put together a list of six touring options that are guaranteed to help you get there and enable you to rip that line, top to bottom.

1. Declivity — Armada


Lengths: 176, 184 cm
Radius: 26 m @ 184
Dim: 128-98-118 mm @ 184
Weight: 1,970 g/ski @ 184


The late, great JP Auclair designed this ski with both grueling ascents and hard-charging descents in mind—after all, those were two of his favorite pastimes. Being the perfectionist that he was, he tinkered and toiled until he struck the ideal balance of power and weight savings in the Declivity. The winning mix: Poplar provides dampening and spring while keeping weight in check and beech wood delivers serious power. Two layers of Titanal and a matrix of fiberglass laminates boost the stability and torsional rigidity factor even further. Carbon and Kevlar stringers add lightweight strengthening to the equation, and nose rocker keeps them playful, ‘cause, well, we’re talkin’ about air-master Auclair, here. When grounded, though, traditional camber and a longer turn radius keep the Declivity steady at speed and a flat tail helps you power through turns like a champ. A touch of tip rocker keeps it maneuverable through the choppy stuff and a notch on the butt easily accommodates skins. Breeze through the uphill, crush the downhill then raise your après beer to the man who helped make it all possible.

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2. Navis Freebird — Black Crows


Lengths: 169, 179, 185 cm
Radius: 19 m
Dim: 133-102-118 mm @ 179
Weight: 1,675 g/ski @ 179


Like all Black Crows skis, the Navis Freebird comes complete with a hint of Chamonix—the ski-mountaineering capital of the world—in its soul. It’s crafted by skiers who generally crush intensive ski-touring outings before you’ve sipped your morning cup of Joe each day. Regarding this particular model, those product designers cut, glued and pressed with versatility in mind. Perhaps its most obvious attribute is its bomber nature. Triaxial and biaxial carbon and fiberglass laminates coupled with full camber take care of the gnar factor, ensuring a smooth descent even when you’re disregarding the speed limits. Yet, a paulownia-poplar wood core provides playfulness and dampening while keeping the weight savings at a premium. Tip rocker and early rise in the tail lend to even more play, allowing you to float above the crud and make quick, controlled movements with ease. From full-on backcountry expeditions to quick sidecountry jaunts, the Navis Freebird has you covered.

[su_button url=”https://www.evo.com/skis/black-crows-navis-freebird.aspx#image=96468/420914/black-crows-navis-freebird-skis-2016-169-detail-1.jpg” target=”blank” style=”flat” background=”#006699″ size=”5″ radius=”5″]Shop now[/su_button]

3. Sick Day Tourist — Line Skis


Lengths: 179, 186 cm
Radius: 18.7 m
Dim: 135-102-120 mm
Weight: 1,670 g/ski @ 186


Take the FREESKIER-favorite Sick Day 102, shave off some of the weight and voilà(!), you have yourself the Sick Day Tourist. Just like the 102, a ski we’ve described as “surfy, poppy and maneuverable,” the Tourist boasts remarkable floating capabilities. This character stems in part from Line’s Cloud Core—a crazy-light balsa wood laminated with flax fibers—and also its tip and tail rocker, providing smeary good times in the soft stuff. Its weight is an obvious turn-on for uphillers and its traditional camber, five-point sidecut and stiff tail translate to ample power and smooth control when you’re driving through your turns. It’ll ensure you look and feel very non-touristy on the downhill. Remember, Line Skis is rooted in funky good times and that’s exactly what will result when you click into this ski.

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4. FINDr 102 — G3


Lengths: 174, 179, 184, 189 cm
Radius: 21-25 m
Dim: 133-102-120 mm
Weight: 1,560 g/ski @ 184


All-new this season, the FINDr 102 is so light you’ll mutter “Damn…” when you first hold it in your hands. Inevitably, a wide smile will also grace your face when you imagine the skiing made possible by such a tool. Registering at just 1,560 g/ ski, this offering boasts a lightweight, playful poplar-paulownia core that holds its own in the liveliness department. Quadraxial and triaxial carbon fiber weaves and a touch of camber underfoot up the stability factor and ultimately balance out the play. Furthermore, polyurethane sidewalls lend to a super-smooth ride, while tip and tail rocker work to the same end, ensuring stellar maneuverability and float when the going gets rough. All told, this beast caters to those who crave ultimate efficiency on longer touring slogs and also expect to push the pedal to the metal on the downhill.

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5. Coomba — K2


Lengths: 170, 177, 184 cm
Radius: 23 m
Dim: 136-104-122 mm
Weight: 1,650 g/ski @ 177


The skiing community owes much to the late Doug Coombs—a pioneer of extreme skiing and one of the men who introduced heli-skiing to the world. After he passed in the spring of 2006, K2 set to work producing a tribute ski. The signature model celebrates its 10-year anniversary this season and hits shop walls with a new name: Coomba as opposed to Coomback. One thing didn’t change, though: Like its name- sake, this ski brings serious speed and power to the off-piste. Paulownia in the core keeps the scales from tipping the wrong way and a denser maple yields supreme stability when you’re opening up on those steep, wide-open faces. Also assisting with gnarly descents, carbon web inserts up the torsional rigidity factor; camber yields strong edge hold; and vertical sidewalls underfoot provide that sought-after power transmission. Cap construction in the extremities lowers swing weight while tip and tail rocker provides ease-of-use in variable snow conditions and improved float in the soft stuff. Furthermore, a coated, “snow-phobic” topsheet prevents snow from piling up on the ski while you’re ascending—because extra weight sucks. The Coomba also comes equipped with removable tip and tail grommets to accommodate K2 climbing skins, available in trim-to-fit or pre-cut versions.

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6. Agent 100W — Faction


Lengths: 169, 174, 179 cm
Radius: 20 m @ 179
Dim: 132-102-122 mm
Weight: 1,480 g/ski @ 179


The 2016-17 season marks Faction’s 10-year anniversary. For those who have their finger on the skiing industry’s pulse, they know well that Faction has catapulted from under-the-radar indie brand to household name in an impressively short period of time. Success like that doesn’t come without top-notch products to stand behind. On the women’s side of things, the Agent 100W shines especially bright. At just 1,480 g/ski, it’s an uphill dream. This trait results from a full paulownia core, which makes it incredibly lightweight. Carbon inserts provide torsional stability for your high-speed downhill pursuits and rubber inserts dampen vibrations for an even smoother ride. Sandwich sidewall construction and camber underfoot further boost your experience on the descent, as does a flat tail—ideal for powering through turns. Meanwhile, a hint of nose rocker helps you to stand tall in the face of crud monsters. From the up to the down, this Agent will broker nothing but the best of times.

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