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The 10 Best Touring & Backcountry Skis of 2022-2023

By: Jordan Sunshine: Ski Buyer | September 30, 2022

 

There’s no discipline of skiing that’s seeing as exciting of innovations as backcountry touring. There’s been an explosion of innovation in the last few years, with more and more brands releasing their takes on backcountry skis, bindings, and boots. With that explosion comes an added challenge for folks shopping for the best backcountry skis. There are more options on the market than ever before, so it’s harder to choose the best ski for you, your fitness, skiing level, and terrain. Luckily, we’ve made it easier with this list of the best backcountry skis on the market right now.

New This Year:

Every ski on this list is lightweight making it easy to walk uphill all day. But, new for this year, these skis feel more capable and composed on the way back down than ever before. While old touring skis were often light at the expense of skiing performance, this new crop uses new materials and construction techniques to keep things light without losing any downhill performance. So, if you’re looking for a new ski to walk uphill on, and then make the most of every turn back down, there’s something on this list for you.

Season Pass

Season Pass

Introducing a backcountry ski for the most creative, pow-hungry earn-your-turners in the land, the Season Pass Skis are a wider, lighter take on the ultra-versatile Nexus skis, because the crew at Season knows why you tour. Built with an ultra-light wood core of Poplar and Paulownia and a nearly symmetrical twin shape, the Pass is light enough for full days on the trail but stout enough to shred hard on the way down. Never has there been such a wealth of options for skiing beyond the confines of the resort - the Season Pass pushes the envelope for the most playful and imaginative among us. This ski might be understated, but it’s sure to overdeliver.

WidthWeightOriginal Price
115 mm1690 g$799.00

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Armada Locator 96

Armada Locator 96

You know a company like Armada couldn't just make a standard issue touring ski without putting their own twist on it. The all-new Locator series brings Armada's special blend of freestyle heritage and creative style to the ultralight touring market, and the outcome is something special. The Armada Locator 96 Skis are the most traditional touring skis in the series, with a sub-100 waist width and a respectably airy 1350-gram weight. But those techy uphill numbers are paired with smooth lines and tapered tips to make for a ski you can count on for long, technical missions without sacrificing any fun on the descents. The Locator is a big mission ski for freestyle skiers who still want to have fun deep in the backcountry.

WidthWeightOriginal Price
96 mm1350 g$749.95

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Atomic Backland 95

Atomic Backland 95

The Atomic Backland 95 Skis are a mid-fat, do-it-all touring setup that transcends the need for separate touring rigs. With a tip width of 125+ millimeters and Atomic's HRZN tip contour, they're a match for many wider skis in fresh snow, and at 1350 grams in a 177 they fly up the skintrack (actual speed is motor-dependent, of course). Mount these up with a light tech binding and get after it, that snowpack's not gonna ski itself. The Backland is one of the most lauded backcountry ski lines in history for good reason.

WidthWeightOriginal Price
95 mm1350 g$699.99

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Line Skis Vision 108

Line Skis Vision 108

108 has long been considered the sweet spot for the width of an everyday freeride ski. But most skis you're looking at in that category come with a hefty weight, a ton of metal in the build, and a racer-friendly mount point far back on the ski. Not so with the Line Skis Vision 108 Skis. These skis put all the emphasis on the "free" part of freeride. They're nimble, quick edge to edge, and extremely well-balanced in the air. Their feathery 1605-gram weight puts many dedicated touring skis to shame, which has earned them a cult following in the freestyle touring scene, but their blend of pure fun and predictability makes them a top contender for any playful big mountain rider. The Vision 108 is a truly versatile ski that will make a wide range of skiers happy.

WidthWeightOriginal Price
108 mm1605 g$799.95

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Blizzard Zero G 105

Blizzard Zero G 105

Ask anyone on the skin track what their favorite touring skis are, and there's a very good chance that something in the Zero G family will get a mention. Blizzard has been honing the recipe for years, tweaking and perfecting both shape and construction until juuust right. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and the Blizzard Zero G 105 Skis taste damn good. The cool carbon cats get an update with the latest iteration of Blizzard's Carbon Drive Technology, but the overall philosophy remains the same. They eat up vert like few other 105-waisted skis can, and rip downhill like few touring skis could dream of. As the most downhill-oriented ski in a decidedly uphill-oriented family, the Zero G 105s have earned a place in the hearts of adventurous freeriders everywhere, and it's well deserved. The Blizzard Zero G 105 Skis are still right up there with the best in the game. These are competent, versatile skis.

WidthWeightOriginal Price
105 mm1530 g$849.95

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Elan Ripstick Tour 104

Elan Ripstick Tour 104

The man, the legend, the ski. It's hard to believe the Elan Ripstick Tour 104 Skis are Glen Plake's first signature model, but we can't think of a better candidate. Elan has paid tribute to Plake's mold-breaking style with a ski that combines raw freeride power with incredible agility and maneuverability, all at a touring-friendly weight you can take to the skin track. They come with Elan's legendary Amphibio Profile, a light, snappy Tubelite Wood Core, and all-new Carbon Bridge Technology for stability and vibration damping. Available in unisex lengths, the only thing missing is a perfectly coifed mohawk. If you want a ski that eats uphill kick turns for breakfast, and downhill hop turns for brunch, the Ripstick Tour 104 is your ski.

WidthWeightOriginal Price
104 mm1540 g$799.99

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Salomon MTN 96 Carbon

Salomon MTN 96 Carbon

When it comes to pure touring skis, it's always hard to figure out just the right balance to strike. The better they are for the uphill, usually the worse they are on the way down. The Salomon MTN 96 Carbon Skis are here to put your worries to bed and get your feet on the trail. These ultralight skis are made with long days of skinning in mind. They weigh in under 1400 grams per ski and have specialized carbon fittings to make sure your skin clips are never slipping. But don't think of them as some chattery carbon ski. The comfortable 100ish waist width is wide enough to make its way through some questionable backcountry snow, and the Cork Damplifiers keep the ride smooth, even when you're charging hard. If you’ve got big objectives on your mind, the MTN 96 is the ski to get you there.

WidthWeightOriginal Price
96 mm1390 g$799.95

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Faction La Machine Mega

Faction La Machine Mega

Name your line, call in sick on a pow day, and grab the Faction La Machine Mega Skis to snag those tracks first. Freetouring is a real thing these days, never mind the old school Euros who dismiss anyone with a touring binding on a ski wider than 95mm. You know the score, when it's hip deep and falling is not an option, those narrow planks just don't cut it. Get a 109mm waist, some serious rocker, and an ultralight carbon-Paulownia design with the La Machine Mega, and leave those dudes floundering. The La Machine Mega isn’t your grandpa’s touring ski. Instead, it’s a purpose-built monster, perfect for modern freeskiers.

WidthWeightOriginal Price
109 mm1530 g$899.00

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K2 Dispatch 101

K2 Dispatch 101

Ringing in the lightweight champion of the Dispatch Collection, the K2 Dispatch 101 Skis embody most of the key characteristics of their wider brethren while still packing a pretty punch when it comes to uphill performance. If you don't feel like hopping on the skin track to earn your turns, these skis have mastered the art of reliable stability and control when things start to get skied out inbounds. A fantastic one-stop shop for skiers of all stripes. The Dispatch might be new to the market, but it’s quickly carving out a place for itself.

WidthWeightOriginal Price
101 mm1695 g$899.95

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Black Crows Navis Freebird

Black Crows Navis Freebird

The Black Crows Navis Freebird Skis are all-around excellent tools for any human-powered mission. Built for versatility, this 102-waisted ski is exactly what most riders are looking for in an all season touring ski. It's built with a directional freeride shape, plenty of camber underfoot, and just enough rocker in the tip to plane over mixed snow surfaces. Pair that do-everything design with a featherweight layup that's designed for hybrid binding compatibility, and it's easy to see why so many skiers look to the Navis anytime they hit the skin track. There’s a reason you see the Navis underneath so many mountain guides, it’s a reliable classic.

WidthWeightOriginal Price
102 mm1700 g$899.95

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The Selection Process:

Our ski buyers have an endless amount of knowledge on all things skiing stemming from years of experience in the ski industry in tandem with their countless hours spent on slopes everywhere from groomers to the remote backcountry around the world. evo's buyers assess all products coming to market, lean into this knowledge, and put together this selection of the best products. They have a unique perspective as they truly see everything offered across the category.

Jordan Sunshine

I was born and raised in northern Vermont and moved west as soon as I turned 18. I bounced around the PNW for a while eventually following evo’s store openings to Denver where I have called home since and although I will always take even the wettest of pow days, have come to appreciate any day skiing in the sun, be it with friends or my kids.

I have been skiing since I was 2 and started working in a ski shop when I was 14, which was way more fun than washing dishes. Over the years I have worked as a ski tech, boot fitter, liftie, product copywriter, and eventually came to manage evo’s Portland and Denver stores. Now I am the Ski Buyer, overseeing ski hardgoods and backcountry accessories.