Touring skis range widely in dimensions, weight, and construction. Manufacturers and experts design touring skis with everything from the side cut to the color in mind. With tenuous thoughts of losing a ski, or even scarier, getting buried, a high-visibility top coat is essential to ensuring your trip in the mountains is as safe as possible. Beyond color, the intended function of touring skis is to provide a stable feeling underfoot that is light, strong, and can perform in a variety of snow conditions. Below is our list of the best touring skis of the 2017 season: (last years picks are at the bottom of the list)
1. DPS Tour 1 Series
A touring ski list should never be devoid of the DPS brand. DPS is the top manufacturer of touring skis in the world. Their proprietary core construction and brand reliability make DPS a favorite of professionals, and an envy of their competitors. Any ski in their Tour 1 line is reliable and worth the investment. DPS provides the “one-ski-quiver” more than any other brand. For the average touring enthusiast, we recommend their Wailer-106 Tour 1. And for those simply searching for long surf-like turns in deep powder, try the Wailer 112RP2 Tour 1.
2. Blizzard Touring Zero G Series
Blizzard, arguable the best downhill performance ski manufacturer in Europe entered the touring scene a few years ago. They recognized that other ski manufacturers were sacrificing downhill performance for uphill performance. Thus, Blizzard created a line of skis that are just a nimble and solid going up as they are going down. Blizzard boasts, “THE ZERO G 108 IS THE RESULT OF ENDLESS RESEARCH, DESIGN, AND TESTING IN ALL TYPES OF CONDITIONS AND TERRAIN.” For skiers looking for BC powder, we recommend the Zero G 108 and for those looking for more versatility, we recommend the Zero G 095. Blizzard Zero G 108 -$799 Backcountry.com
3. Black Diamond Helio Series
Year after year, Black Diamond comes out with new skis that surpass their old skis. It feels like buying technology–just when you think you have the latest piece of tech, the new version comes out. Your old version still performs great, but your mouth waters for the newness. It’s quite frustrating but business is business, and Black Diamond innovates faster than most outdoor industry brands that manufacture quality equipment at the size, rate, and variety of Black Diamond. Their Helio series provides versatility and flexibility, is light-footed, modern shaped, quick in the crud, and forgiving in the powder. For deep snow explorers, we recommend the Helio Carbon 116. But for those looking for a nimbler ski, try the award winning Helio Carbon 95. Black Diamond Helio 116 -$899 Backcountry.com
4. 4FRNT Raven
Built with their lightest core technology and with carbon fiber reinforced tips and tails, the Raven is 4FRNT’s most innovative ski.
Serving as the third shape in the Hoji series the Raven boasts a versatile 102 underfoot width, 184 length, and pivoting 30 meter combined dual side cut radius. The 4FRT Raven is certainly the ski for someone looking to add a versatile all mountain ski with touring performance to his or her quiver. 4FRNT Raven – $834.95 Backckountry.com
5. Line Magnum Opus
This ski isn’t for the resort bomber, its built for the buttery masters of the backcountry who like to send it deep into the deepness. This is a powder ski, and for its size the ski was quick and agile. It bounced through the woods, smeared the groomers, was water in the bumps, and a pretty decent pipe ski. Weighing in at only 3,800g a pair you wouldn’t believe that it has a 148-124-145 profile.
You better be ready to ski it at 189 because it is the only length Line is making. With early rise in the tip and tail, and a smidgen of camber underfoot, the Magnum Opus ski by Line is the perfect booster, butter, booter machine. Line Magnum Opus Skis – $799 at REI.com
6. DPS Wailer 105
In my opinion this is the perfect one ski quiver because it rips groomers, floats through pow, charges big lines, and is quick in the bumps. If you’ve got the loot drop it for a pair of these, just don’t lose them in a double eject over the handlebars cliff drop.
Coming in a hybrid or pure, the Wailer 105 boasts a 136-105-119 profile. It whips, grips, and rides with ease and style…steeze. DPS Wailer 105 Pure3 – $779 Backcountry.com
7. SkiLogik Ullr’s Chariot
Coming in at 4100g (174 cm), and built with SkiLogik’s proprietary Vektor 8 technology, a combination of carbon fiber and fiberglass, Ullr’s Chariot RL hold its edge better than any other 100mm+ underfoot ski I’ve tried.
It whipped down groomers like a slalom ski and held down huge turns in cruddy pow. On days when I know I might mix backcountry with groomers, the Ullr’s Chariot is sure to be my ski for the day! SKILOGIK Ullr’s Chariot – $599 at Skis.com
8. ON3P Steeple
The Steeple felt like they had a pillow-line tracking device in their tips. They cruised the open woods like butter, and gave me the confidence to take quick turns between trees and powder slashes on the steeps. This is certainly not a groomer ski but they did carve on steeper corduroy.
As for a park ski, if you’re into hard icy landings then this isn’t the ski for you but of all the skis I took into the superpipe, the steeple went surprisingly huge! Said to have the strongest bases, ON3P skis are naturally heavier than other brands but the biggest ski in the Steeple line; the Steeple 112 at a 189 length only weighs in at 2300g.
Equipped with a notched tail for skin clips, and awesome graphics, the Steeple 102 or 112 is the touring ski to have for backcountry chargers!
These are some of the best touring skis currently on the market. We will be sure to update this article again next season!