Best Backcountry Skis – Reviews & Buying Guide
Outlinist's team and our families are supported thanks to affiliate commissions that we may earn when you buy through links on our site. Read more

Best Backcountry Skis – Reviews & Buying Guide (November 2019)

Updated: January 15, 2019

DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis

After 46 hours spent researching the best backcountry skis, we think DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis is the best for most people.

This choice is based on several criteria: ability level, color, turn radius, length, waist width, tip width, tail width, tail type, core, camber, laminates, construction, terrain, weight, and warranty, among other things.

 ProductPriceOverall RatingQualityDurabilityAppearanceMaintenanceValue for Moneyability levelcolorturn radiuslengthwaist widthtip widthtail widthtail typecorecamberlaminatesconstructionterrainweightwarranty
DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry SkisCheck Price4.95.05.04.55.05.0Advance / expertYellowMedium168 - 189 cm112 mm141 mm128 mmPart twinWoodcoreNot specifiedCarbonUHMW sidewallsGroomed / powder9.66 lbs2 years
DPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry SkisCheck Price4.85.04.54.55.05.0Advance / expertBlueMedium168 - 185 cm106 mm137 - 139 mm128 - 130 mmSemi twin BalsaTip / tail rockerCarbonTour1 capBackcountry5.98 lbs2 years
Dynafit Beast 108 Backcountry SkisDynafit Beast 108 Backcountry SkisCheck Price4.65.04.54.54.05.0Intermediate / advanceOrangeMedium168 - 185 cm108 mm134 - 136 mm124 - 126 mmFlatAsh poplar rideFull rockerCarbon / fiberglassFull ABSGroomed / powder9.54 lbs1 year
Salomon QST 99 Backcountry SkisSalomon QST 99 Backcountry SkisCheck Price4.44.54.04.54.54.5Intermediate / advanceBlueMedium167 - 188 cm99 mm134 - 140 mm116 - 122 mmSemi twin WoodcoreTip / tail rockerSingle Ti laminate Full sandwich sidewalls 360degGroomed / powder16 lbs2 years
Salomon MTN Explore 95 Backcountry SkisSalomon MTN Explore 95 Backcountry SkisCheck Price4.34.54.04.04.54.5Intermediate / advanceWhite / blueMedium169 - 184 cm95 mm130 mm116 mmSkin clipWoodcoreTip / tail rockerCarbon flaxFull ABS / semi sandwichBackcountry9.56 lbs2 years
Best Backcountry Skis

Going on a backwoods snow adventure is always best with the best backcountry skis. They provide stability and ease of use no matter where you’re going.

Finding a great pair of backcountry cross-country skis for sale may take some time and research, but it’ll be worth it when you’re out enjoying the untracked snow.

Going out and exploring the woods is lot of fun, and during the winter months you may want to look at trying out some sort of experience to make it unique. Instead of going with the traditional snowshoes, have you considered backcountry skiing instead?

The best backcountry skis are very different than all-mountain skis and cross-country skis because they make it easy for you to traverse the woods without trails. Instead of it being about speed and sport, it’s about exploring and transportation – which means that they need some unique things to make it happen.

You’ll need much of the same equipment, including a comfy pair of ski pants, warm ski gloves with a good grip, and ski boots that will keep your feet warm and secure. You will need a special pair of ski poles, as well.

Your ski bindings will be strong and may feel a lot more flexible, and your winter boots have higher tops (which means you’ll need tall ski socks to go with them), but you will be able to move nimbly over varied terrain.

So, if a life of Nordic-style adventure is for you, grab a ski backpack, the best Nordic skis and gear, suit up and get out to enjoy that untouched backwoods snow.

Selection Of The Best Backcountry Skis

Here are the best backcountry skis for most people according to Outlinist:

DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis

DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis
(rated 4.9 / 5)
Quality
Durability
Appearance
Maintenance
Value for Money
Check Price

The beauty and excitement of a day spent skiing on powdery fresh snow is glorious.

Imagine if the shape and design of a pair of backcountry skis actually made you ski better and enjoy the sport even more than you already do.

Backcountry skis are often equated with skiing in powder. When they handle well in a variety of other conditions, it’s a serious bonus for the user.

Versatility is appreciated when snow conditions change quickly. Backcountry touring skis that double as all-mountain skis are a brilliant investment.

If you ski mixed conditions, treat yourself to exceptional powder skis that cope with whatever is hurled at them.

Information

These skis, known for their distinctive bright yellow color, come in a variety of lengths.

Playful, easy to turn, quick, and effective at dampening are just a few of the descriptions given to DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis. They really shine for taking powder runs but have loads of other virtues to consider.

Their distinctive shape is legendary. They now come with an even better pure carbon core for added smoothness. Once promoted almost exclusively as the best powder skis, the Wailer 112 is still an excellent choice for powder, but the new construction is a bit heavier than before.

The weight change increased the stability and dampening to make them work well under a variety of conditions, but they are still lightweight skis. The tapered tip and tail, along with plenty of rocker in both, enable quick turns in soft and mixed snow. That design also provides a playful feel in deep powder.

ability levelAdvance / expert
colorYellow
turn radiusMedium
length168 – 189 cm
waist width112 mm
tip width141 mm
tail width128 mm
tail typePart twin
coreWoodcore
camberNot specified
laminatesCarbon
constructionUHMW sidewalls
terrainGroomed / powder
weight9.66 lbs
warranty2 years

The DPS engineers have placed an aerospace grade aspen wooden core between two carbon layers to relieve chattering, which will gain you a smooth ride even in conditions that are rough. If you’re eager to ski off-piste, you’ll value the adaptability of the DPS Wailer 112.

These skis, known for their distinctive bright yellow color, come in a variety of lengths. The amount of rocker in these skis makes them ski “short” so you could adjust upward in size a bit.

The Wailer 112 can accommodate those seeking freeride skis for sale or those needing backcountry models. You may find your skill level has jumped up overall, simply because of switching to DPS Wailer 112 skis.

Pros

Even though its best performance is in powder, there’s a lot of versatility in this ski.

As your ability improves to take on broader challenges, all the more reason to scrutinize the positive aspects of skis to ensure getting precisely what you need. DPS has incorporated a range of features in the Wailer 112 Alchemist that may suit you perfectly.

  • Excellent skis for deep powder conditions: Powder is the favored snow for the DPS Alchemist. Experienced skiers love the playfulness they achieve with the shape and construction in powder. Hardpack is not the intended use and won’t yield great results, but most other variables are fine.
  • Tapered and rockered tail and tip: You’ll enjoy quick turns and pivots with the design of the tail and tip. The shape and control of this ski have gained a reputation for improving a skier’s ability and control, whether in the backcountry, off-piste or other settings.
  • Wooden core between carbon layers: DPS improved their core again, and it’s performing even better than it was before. The aspen wood core along with two carbon layers makes the Alchemist a solid ride which is able to dampen vibration. The stiff flex doesn’t break down.
  • Usable in a variety of snow conditions: Even though its best performance is in powder, there’s a lot of versatility in this ski. There’s great turn engagement and most find it’s easy to pivot. Even on firmer snow, the amount of camber underfoot provides a good hold.
  • Comes in a variety of lengths: Select from a graduated list of ski lengths. You may want to “go long” on backcountry or off-piste skis like these, due to the generous amount of rocker in the tail and tip, and the early taper which makes them great in powder.
  • An established reputation since their inception: The latest DPS Alchemist series has improved construction and a little more weight, and the brand has a solid reputation. Founded in 2005 by a skier/ski designer and a ski engineer, DPS is a U.S. company recognized throughout the ski world.

Cons

Fabulous reviews aren’t the only guide you need for selecting skis. What’s best for one person may be totally unsuitable for another, depending on their usual terrain, climate, and skill. Don’t neglect any possible drawbacks that indicate these aren’t your best choice.

  • Need to keep an upward centered stance: To find the “sweet” spot on these DPS skis, it’s best not to take a forward-leaning stance. This is partly due to the overall shape of the ski, and partly because of the high amount of rocker in the tip and tail.
  • Sticky snow can be challenging: As mentioned a few times, the type of snow that brings out the best in the Wailer 112 is deep powder – up to 20 inches is great. Don’t expect the performance to be as stellar when you’re skiing in wetter conditions.
  • Only available in one color: Many skiers recognize the DPS Wailer 112 by its bright yellow hue and distinctive shape. They’re super easy to spot against bright white slopes. This is likely only a negative if you’re determined to match skis to your outerwear or prefer skis with patterns.

Comparison

 

DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis

DPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry Skis

Dynafit Beast 108 Backcountry SkisDynafit Beast 108 Backcountry Skis

PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
ability levelAdvance / expertAdvance / expertIntermediate / advance
colorYellowBlueOrange
turn radiusMediumMediumMedium
length168 – 189 cm168 – 185 cm168 – 185 cm
waist width112 mm106 mm108 mm
tip width141 mm137 – 139 mm134 – 136 mm
tail width128 mm128 – 130 mm124 – 126 mm
tail typePart twinSemi twin Flat
coreWoodcoreBalsaAsh poplar ride
camberNot specifiedTip / tail rockerFull rocker
laminatesCarbonCarbonCarbon / fiberglass
constructionUHMW sidewallsTour1 capFull ABS
terrainGroomed / powderBackcountryGroomed / powder
weight9.66 lbs5.98 lbs9.54 lbs
warranty2 years2 years1 year

Summary

If you’re looking for a playful ski with a stiff flex that endures over time, DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry skis meet your requirements with style.

Get yourself psyched for some beautiful blue sky powder days, but relax knowing you can also enjoy a variety of other conditions that may arise. Sometimes the best off-piste skis can’t adjust to variances brought about by weather or location changes, but that’s not the case with these.

If you’re looking for a playful ski with a stiff flex that endures over time, DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry skis meet your requirements with style. Significant rocker on the tapered tip and tail improve your control and aid in pivoting.

The engineering and construction are undeniably top notch. High-grade materials and technology combine to provide high-level quality. You’ll find yourself enjoying measurably better skill levels because of the excellent performance of these backcountry skis.


DPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry Skis

DPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry Skis
(rated 4.8 / 5)
Quality
Durability
Appearance
Maintenance
Value for Money
Check Price

If you’ve ever worked hard for something only to be underwhelmed by the reward, you’ve experienced a common problem that AT skiers have with backcountry skis.

The good news is a brand has just made going up the mountain worth it again.

Skis made for the backcountry should do two things. First, they should get you uphill efficiently. Second, they should have enough power to be fun downhill and make you forget how much effort traveling uphill was.

As backcountry explodes in popularity, the accompanying skis have seen some impressive upgrades.

Now, it’s possible for one ski to be enough for all your backcountry needs.

Information

A rockered tail and tip is coupled with a traditional camber for incredible edge control and a ski that can blast through crud and float gracefully on powder.

The backcountry is typically for people allergic to the ski lift. These skiers like to work for their turns and slashes, willfully skinning untracked mountains in search of untouched powder.

The problem is most skis are too heavy to lug up hundreds, if not thousands, of feet of track. You can get tired pretty quick and have no energy for all the fun of going downhill. Even worse, when you manage to make it uphill, the ski doesn’t have the performance of a typical downhill ski because of the free heel structure.

DPS Wailer 106 Tour1 Backcountry Skis have come along to shut that nonsense down. Weighing in at 6 pounds, 6 ounces, they are light. Very light. Because of this, they could be one of the best women’s backcountry skis.

ability levelAdvance / expert
colorBlue
turn radiusMedium
length168 – 185 cm
waist width106 mm
tip width137 – 139 mm
tail width128 – 130 mm
tail typeSemi twin
coreBalsa
camberTip / tail rocker
laminatesCarbon
constructionTour1 cap
terrainBackcountry
weight5.98 lbs
warranty2 years

With three lengths to choose from (168cm, 178cm and 185cm) and only one color, a gorgeous blue, the Wailer 106 is the long-awaited answer to those backcountry enthusiasts who are tired of not getting the descent they deserve after long hours of touring.

A rockered tail and tip is coupled with a traditional camber for incredible edge control and a ski that can blast through crud and float gracefully on powder.

Powerful, precise and stable in most snow conditions, it’s a stiff ski for uphill that guarantees a rowdy performance going down. No more floppy skis that take all the fun out of touring descents, this ski makes each climb uphill worth it, every time.

Pros

Ultra-light alpine touring skis that get you uphill quick, Tour1 skis also have more than enough power and fun-factor to make the whole uphill battle worthwhile.

Beautifully made, the Wailer 106 Tour1 has some strong traits on display for backcountry hardliners. Its strong materials and light weight impress even more when you experience how well it operates downhill. You’ll have fun figuring out just what this ski can do.

  • Skin-track designed, these were born to climb: These feather-light carbon planks don’t create unnecessary friction between the ski and snow. The wide base does well skinning across steep slopes and feels good strapped to your pack when boot packing is necessary. These DPS skis are some of the lightest on the market.
  • Compromising on the downhill is for quitters: A slight camber lets you execute a turn easily and hold your line on hardpack. The tapered sidecut makes for great responsiveness and maneuverability charging down the mountain. The Tour1 can hold an edge on just about anything except pure ice.
  • A powder hound’s fantasy come true: The camber/rocker combination and twin tips provide a buttery and playful ride on loose snow. Underfoot, they feel wider than they are, have great floatation and are easy to control in deep powder. These off-piste skis have no speed limit in soft snow.
  • The ideal ski every alpine touring skier needs in their quiver: Ultra-light alpine touring skis that get you uphill quick, Tour1 skis also have more than enough power and fun-factor to make the whole uphill battle worthwhile. Nimble, yet stiff, they surprisingly cut through a number snow conditions found in the backcountry.
  • Extend the days of your touring: Though power-oriented in design, they work amazingly well as backcountry touring skis. The lightweight body construction and stable stance allow you to spend longer days touring, having much more fun that you would think for a relatively wider ski.
  • High-quality with no sacrifice in durability: Reducing the weight of a ski usually compromises its lifespan. The Tour1 undermines this rule. The balsa core and carbon laminates are no joke. Aggressive skiers can expect to see nothing more than cosmetic wear and tear after hard charging a full season.

Cons

The Wailer 106 Tour1 knows who it is. It takes on quite a few snow conditions and keeps on going, while instilling confidence in the skier thanks to a stable, smooth ride. Watch out, however, there are some things its light weight just cannot handle.

  • No thank you to chunder and hardpack bumps: A ski this light can only handle so much. When it runs into chunkier snow and ice, it struggles to stay grounded and the vibrations toss it around quite a bit. It’s best for soft snow. If there is none around, be careful.
  • This is not the all-in-one quiver: This ski loves the soft snow. Definitely not for the groomed runs of the resort and not for those who need a ski that can slice through the ugliest ice and snow variations, the Tour1 is really for powder purists.
  • Expensive: This fantastic ski is beautiful on powder and its construction is some of the highest quality, but it’s not affordable. Though worth it to some, finding these backcountry skis for sale is your best chance at owning them.

Comparison

 

DPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry Skis

DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis

Dynafit Beast 108 Backcountry SkisDynafit Beast 108 Backcountry Skis

PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
ability levelAdvance / expertAdvance / expertIntermediate / advance
colorBlueYellowOrange
turn radiusMediumMediumMedium
length168 – 185 cm168 – 189 cm168 – 185 cm
waist width106 mm112 mm108 mm
tip width137 – 139 mm141 mm134 – 136 mm
tail width128 – 130 mm128 mm124 – 126 mm
tail typeSemi twin Part twinFlat
coreBalsaWoodcoreAsh poplar ride
camberTip / tail rockerNot specifiedFull rocker
laminatesCarbonCarbonCarbon / fiberglass
constructionTour1 capUHMW sidewallsFull ABS
terrainBackcountryGroomed / powderGroomed / powder
weight5.98 lbs9.66 lbs9.54 lbs
warranty2 years2 years1 year

Summary

Though able to handle various snow conditions admirably, they do better when a few inches of powder are atop rougher snow and truly come to life in soft snow, floating and turning like a dream.

DPS Wailer 106 Tour1 Backcountry Skis give you the lightweight performance of touring specific skis but their power is unmatched on the downhill ride. Surprisingly versatile, they don’t sacrifice the smooth, stable ride DPS skis have become known for.

Though able to handle various snow conditions admirably, they do better when a few inches of powder are atop rougher snow and truly come to life in soft snow, floating and turning like a dream.

For those who are devoted to never-ending days in the backcountry, linking multiple peaks and touring but who want a fun, playful ski for face shots and big lines on the descent, these backcountry skis are a winning choice. Built to last, their construction stands up to a mighty beating, while remaining backcountry ready season after season.


Dynafit Beast 108 Backcountry Skis

Dynafit Beast 108 Backcountry Skis
(rated 4.6 / 5)
Quality
Durability
Appearance
Maintenance
Value for Money
Check Price

There’s something about your backcountry skis being the first to leave their tracks on an untouched steep that makes trekking uphill worthwhile.

Make sure you get a pair you can carry and that make deep tracks so no one forgets you were there.

Before you can descend a mountain, you have to reach the top. To do this you’ll want to find a set of skis that are friendly for hiking uphill or you risk defeat.

And you didn’t come this far not to shred that powder.

Because riding downhill on that untouched snow is the best reward your skis can give you.

Information

As it opens up on soft snow, you’ll feel the nimble, lightning fast edge to edge maneuverability. You may even start to feel invincible.

Would the hike really be worth it if the downhill experience left you wanting? Dynafit already knows the answer is a resounding no. That’s why they set out to make a ski that gets you uphill with sheer anticipation of the downhill shredding to come.

Dynafit Beast 108 Backcountry Skis are designed with downhill powder in mind. The full rocker on powder is indescribable. Do you really care how it performs in crud or chunder when you’re in search of precious fresh snow? Okay maybe, but it’s definitely not the priority when fresh snow has fallen.

With a focus on lighter materials and fun, powerful downhill charging, this ski weighs less and is now a real option for some decent touring in the backcountry.

ability levelIntermediate / advance
colorOrange
turn radiusMedium
length168 – 185 cm
waist width108 mm
tip width134 – 136 mm
tail width124 – 126 mm
tail typeFlat
coreAsh poplar ride
camberFull rocker
laminatesCarbon / fiberglass
constructionFull ABS
terrainGroomed / powder
weight9.54 lbs
warranty1 year

The full rocker makes for a lot of fun going downhill, giving you full control and free range to slash about. The ride is a smooth one thanks to the carbon core that dampens the rough patches.

As it opens up on soft snow, you’ll feel the nimble, lightning fast edge to edge maneuverability. You may even start to feel invincible. Any backcountry skis and bindings that make you feel like that should be a part of your collection immediately.

Available in Rooster/General (red), the Beast comes in a range of lengths, which goes right along with the theme of versatility. This ski can go anywhere, and in all honesty, why wouldn’t you want to test it out on every terrain possible? It’s just too much fun not to.

Pros

Stiffer than it has any right to be, the Dynafit Beast 108 prefers aggressive riding, gaining its confidence as you push it.

Rock solid, Dynafit Beast 108 skis are the perfect companion for just about any skier who likes to spend over 80% of their time off-piste but still can’t resist dabbling in downhill with the commoners at the resort from time to time.

  • A full spectrum of options: Alpine touring skis that women can get behind, the Beast 108 has a wide selection. Offered in four sizes: 173cm, 181cm, 188cm and 194cm, skiers in various weights and heights will be able to find the ski length that works for them.
  • The freerider’s secret weapon: You’re a skier that knows how to ski off-piste without a ton of fresh powder and still have a good time. The elliptical rocker allows easy pivots and turns which makes jabbing through the gaps of narrow tracked trees or hitting powder bumps more fun than ever.
  • Improved weight for ripping uphill: Once too heavy to make the uphill trip worth it, a lot has been done to make this ski lighter without sacrificing the downhill performance of its predecessor. The new ash/poplar core and lighter fiberglass material has achieved the goal.
  • Deadly in the hands of a powder specialist: Unlike any experience on deep powder descents, it floats, it slashes, it surfs and smears. This animal belongs in wild snow, where the terrain is infinite and the powder is bottomless. The full rocker makes these touring skis versatile and a blast to ride.
  • Backcountry ready at all times: Stiffer than it has any right to be, the Dynafit Beast 108 prefers aggressive riding, gaining its confidence as you push it. One of the best backcountry skis, the Beast cuts through chop, crud and powder with ridiculous ease and maintains stability in multiple snow conditions.
  • Do not put the Beast in a corner! Known for its versatility, it is more than a powder performer and can handle more than just the backcountry. It shreds the bounded resort area too, holding its edge on groomers really well. It cannot be told where it belongs!

Cons

Each alpine touring skis review will tell you the same thing; this may really be a true one quiver ski for those who do not want or cannot afford multiple pairs. Little can be found wrong with this fantastic, playful ski, but we found a few things to note.

  • A little camber would be nice: The lack of camber on this ski doesn’t make it less fun to ride, but it does mean that you don’t get that pop transitioning into the next turn. You can release early and reduce speed when you need to.
  • Very targeted toward the powder lover: Dynafit makes no secret of this one – the Beast 108 is specifically designed for deep snow. It just also happens to be great at other things but you can definitely feel the bias of the design in non-powder terrain and snow conditions.
  • Leave it at home for multi-day tours: Still too heavy for longer touring trips, the Beast is perfect for mid-length distances and longer uphill travels. You’re better off with something lighter if you are going to be traveling long distance in the backcountry or you’ll wear out quickly.

Comparison

 

Dynafit Beast 108 Backcountry SkisDynafit Beast 108 Backcountry Skis

DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis

DPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry Skis

PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
ability levelIntermediate / advanceAdvance / expertAdvance / expert
colorOrangeYellowBlue
turn radiusMediumMediumMedium
length168 – 185 cm168 – 189 cm168 – 185 cm
waist width108 mm112 mm106 mm
tip width134 – 136 mm141 mm137 – 139 mm
tail width124 – 126 mm128 mm128 – 130 mm
tail typeFlatPart twinSemi twin
coreAsh poplar rideWoodcoreBalsa
camberFull rockerNot specifiedTip / tail rocker
laminatesCarbon / fiberglassCarbonCarbon
constructionFull ABSUHMW sidewallsTour1 cap
terrainGroomed / powderGroomed / powderBackcountry
weight9.54 lbs9.66 lbs5.98 lbs
warranty1 year2 years2 years

Summary

They shine when ridden hard and can easily navigate moguls, trees and any other terrain you’ll find in the far out unpatrolled lands.

Super versatile and high-performing, these Dynafit backcountry skis are easy to love. Almost performing like all-mountain skis, unleash them off-piste for some of the best times you’ll have, or hop on the resort life – they do surprisingly well on hardpacked snow, even without having traditional camber.

They shine when ridden hard and can easily navigate moguls, trees and any other terrain you’ll find in the far out unpatrolled lands. They are not light enough for the longest days of touring but do well for short and mid-length ski tours.

For the skiers that spend most of their time in the backcountry, avoiding the crowds of people at the resort in search of untracked snow, Dynafit Beast 108 Backcountry Skis were unabashedly made for you.


Salomon QST 99 Backcountry Skis

Salomon QST 99 Backcountry Skis
(rated 4.4 / 5)
Quality
Durability
Appearance
Maintenance
Value for Money
Check Price

Sometimes backcountry skis can feel a bit intimidating. After all, you are no longer at the resort and it’s a more dangerous situation for you and your skis.

Try getting skis that inspire you to be more confident in your skills as they’re growing.

If you’re looking for a backcountry ski that can do it all, you may value experience over performance. Luckily, there are a number of brands that you can look to.

A ski that helps you become more comfortable with your skiing but with well-defined limitations may be the right way to go.

Something versatile you can drive hard in the backcountry should do the trick.

Information

Ideal for less aggressive skiers who are just making their way off-piste for some exploring would have a great time with this particular ski.

Built for touring, Salomon QST 99 Backcountry Skis are among some of the most popular skis for those who enjoy the soft snow. At 99mm, it feels much wider than it is as it smoothly glides across the snow, dancing nicely in powder.

It has rocker that increases its versatility, allowing it to take on a number of different snow conditions and terrain without hesitation. It has fantastic edge grip, thanks to an underfoot camber and the rockered tip makes navigating the powdery white stuff beyond easy.

Offered in four sizes (167cm, 174cm, 181cm, 188cm and available in blue), it is stable as a table, even when it doesn’t sound that way at its highest speeds. No matter what terrain you’re riding, the durability and power of the ski can always be felt.

ability levelIntermediate / advance
colorBlue
turn radiusMedium
length167 – 188 cm
waist width99 mm
tip width134 – 140 mm
tail width116 – 122 mm
tail typeSemi twin
coreWoodcore
camberTip / tail rocker
laminatesSingle Ti laminate
constructionFull sandwich sidewalls 360deg
terrainGroomed / powder
weight16 lbs
warranty2 years

Salomon use flax fibers and carbon to manufacture the ski’s core. There’s a surprising amount of stiffness to it considering how light the ski is. The ride is a smooth, damp one that has lots of control in turns and is even more fun in moguls where its nimbleness is on display.

Quick on its feet, fast and light, it can cruise and carve. Ideal for less aggressive skiers who are just making their way off-piste for some exploring would have a great time with this particular ski. It is ultra-responsive, has soft, forgiving landings good for practicing jumps and offers an all-around fun ride.

Best in predictable, consistent snow conditions, it still won’t let you down outside in any backcountry terrain.

Pros

Easy to ski but with performance to spare, expect the effortless nature of the QST 99 to keep you on the slope all day.

An interesting backcountry ski that plays nice in the resort, the QST 99 keeps you on the mountain all day long, playing around in whatever soft snow or line of trees you find on the slopes. Versatile and smile-inducing, it’s hard not to love.

  • Transition from the resort to the backcountry: These skis do best a lower speeds and their playful off-piste nature make them great for people stepping into the backcountry for the first time. You are sure to have fun doing some laid-back turns on a stable ride that isn’t demanding.
  • A master of the powder: Sure, you know how to carve skiing on these, but you won’t want to. The tip and tail rocker are all-terrain, giving you optimum float in the deepest powder. These slash turns easily in soft snow, almost like a genuine powder ski.
  • Balance of performance and usability: Easy to ski but with performance to spare, expect the effortless nature of the QST 99 to keep you on the slope all day. You won’t feel exhausted working through icy moguls or trickier snow conditions. You’ll think these are metal edge touring skis.
  • Backcountry versatility: There’s nothing subtle about the QST 99. The way it ploughs through crud, unexpected ice patches and soft troughs inspires confidence in weird snow or tighter terrain. It never feels like you’re going to lose country as it bulldozes its way forward.
  • Hit bumps, moguls and catch air: Where the best all-mountain front skis stop, this one picks up. On ice covered moguls and long bumps, it shines. Nimble with forgiving landings, you can leap over jagged rocks and weave between trees. Is this secretly one of the best big mountain skis?
  • Inspires playful, creative lines: Light, but with a rather aggressive rocker, this ski is downright playful. It doesn’t have that “pop” out of a turn, but its powerful agility is hard to resist. Drive it fast with no fear. Soon enough, you’ll be jumping off every hit you see.

Cons

Salomon QST 99 skis offer a little bit of everything and that usually comes with a sacrifice or two. The level of fun and playfulness you’ll experience may be able to overcome the flaws, depending on what style skiing you prefer.

  • Too heavy on the uphill: Clocking in at a little under 8 pounds, this is not an easy pair of skis to skin with. That’s some major weight for longer objective-oriented missions. If you’re touring for longer than a few hours, this ski will do your no favors.
  • It’s not hard to find the limit: It has a soft front that begins to chatter at high speeds. It can be pushed, but if you’re not that confident in your downhill ability, the chatter and vibrations can unnerve you. Keep it at low to medium speed for best results.
  • Crud and rougher snow make their presence known: The QST 99 can barrel through crud, but it will let you know that it is on crud. The dampening gets overwhelmed by the nastier conditions, and though you never feel unstable or afraid, soft snow is this ski’s bread and butter.

Comparison

 

Salomon QST 99 Backcountry SkisSalomon QST 99 Backcountry Skis

DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis

DPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry Skis

PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
ability levelIntermediate / advanceAdvance / expertAdvance / expert
colorBlueYellowBlue
turn radiusMediumMediumMedium
length167 – 188 cm168 – 189 cm168 – 185 cm
waist width99 mm112 mm106 mm
tip width134 – 140 mm141 mm137 – 139 mm
tail width116 – 122 mm128 mm128 – 130 mm
tail typeSemi twin Part twinSemi twin
coreWoodcoreWoodcoreBalsa
camberTip / tail rockerNot specifiedTip / tail rocker
laminatesSingle Ti laminate CarbonCarbon
constructionFull sandwich sidewalls 360degUHMW sidewallsTour1 cap
terrainGroomed / powderGroomed / powderBackcountry
weight16 lbs9.66 lbs5.98 lbs
warranty2 years2 years2 years

Summary

These backcountry skis are very light but can be skied pretty aggressively, though at higher speeds it’s easy to lose confidence as their dampening properties are overcome.

A happy-go-lucky ride that loves to slash turns more than carve and knows how to skid crud but would rather float powder, Salomon QST 99 Backcountry Skis are more than a good time when they are off-piste in soft snow.

These backcountry skis are very light but can be skied pretty aggressively, though at higher speeds it’s easy to lose confidence as their dampening properties are overcome. In the right hands and the right conditions, however, these skis are hard to take off.

Still, these are one the best alpine touring skis, and bindings that match would only take them to greater levels. Great for those not taking the mountain too seriously and who love to catch some air, these skis are at their best when you’re relaxed and cruising.


Salomon MTN Explore 95 Backcountry Skis

Salomon MTN Explore 95 Backcountry Skis
(rated 4.3 / 5)
Quality
Durability
Appearance
Maintenance
Value for Money
Check Price

Adventurous skiers will tell you there is nothing that matches the freedom and intensity of a great backcountry session.

Now think about how much you could improve your backcountry skiing skills if you had the best possible equipment.

A quality set of backcountry skis will make all the difference when you are floating on soft snow outside the boundaries of a patrolled ski spot.

Backcountry skis are designed to allow for efficient uphill treks, while they exhibit the necessary versatility to handle various downhill conditions.

A lightweight and reliable set of skis will let you explore untouched slopes to your heart’s content.

Information

The performance in firm and smooth snow is excellent. Even when dancing in the snow at speed, these skis never get out of sorts.

One of the toughest challenges for a backcountry skier is finding off-piste skis for sale that can deliver the necessary uphill and downhill performance. Many skis ask you to compromise between saving energy for the uphill, or getting the absolute best performance and stability while going downhill.

Salomon MTN Explore 95 Backcountry Skis do not ask for such compromises. It is why all backcountry ski reviews rate these skis among the best models available. The company describes its MTN Explore 95 as delivering the ideal ratio of climbing efficiency and downhill performance.

There are no compromises with these skis. They feature a stiff tail and underfoot, while the shovels and tips are a little softer. Such a makeup can be an issue in firm, bumpy conditions but the MTN Explore 95 performs admirably in all conditions, making them an ideal pair of backcountry skis.

ability levelIntermediate / advance
colorWhite / blue
turn radiusMedium
length169 – 184 cm
waist width95 mm
tip width130 mm
tail width116 mm
tail typeSkin clip
coreWoodcore
camberTip / tail rocker
laminatesCarbon flax
constructionFull ABS / semi sandwich
terrainBackcountry
weight9.56 lbs
warranty2 years

While the MTN Explore 95 is not the lightest model of skis available, it is for a reason. Salomon wanted to add a bit more weight, allowing for better performance on the descent. These skis deliver an effortless, predictable and very stable experience.

The performance in firm and smooth snow is excellent. Even when dancing in the snow at speed, these skis never get out of sorts. And the stability when performing slow turns is also excellent.

What is most impressive is how they perform in bumpier terrain, where stiff and light skis can be difficult to handle. The MTN Explore 95 remain easy to control, while they do not flap as much when going at speed in bumpier snow, compared to similarly priced models.

Pros

Thanks to a vertical ABS sidewall construction, these off-piste skis deliver the necessary edge hold that is required to maintain performance and stability in harder snow.

Hone your backcountry ski skills with one of the best alpine touring skis for sale today. Salomon MTN Explore 95 skis will never let you down, regardless of the conditions you are facing while skiing through rough terrain. Here are six reasons why these may be the ideal choice for you.

  • Lightweight and durable construction: At 1,400g per ski, these skis are a very respectable weight. The 3D full wood core construction delivers the necessary touring efficiency and downhill performance that advanced backcountry skiers will demand.
  • Features Salomon’s Honeycomb Tip and CFX Superfiber tech: These technologies combine to provide much needed energy absorption and stability when skiing in variable conditions. The ride is always consistent with the MTN Explore 95, which is remarkable given its weight and stiffness.
  • The built in Carve Zone helps with turning: The Carve Zone that is built into these skis helps provide precise turn initiation, along with edge-to-edge quickness and excellent stability when going downhill at high speed.
  • Full sandwich sidewalls: Thanks to a vertical ABS sidewall construction, these off-piste skis deliver the necessary edge hold that is required to maintain performance and stability in harder snow.
  • Three length options: The MTN Explore 95 backcountry touring skis are available in three different lengths – 169cm, 177cm and 184cm. The length that you choose will depend on your weight. We always recommend consulting a sizing guide before investing in freeride skis.
  • Reputable manufacturer that offers a two-year warranty: Salomon has over 50 years of experience in producing some of the best skis and related gear. Buyers will be happy to know this model comes with a two year warranty.

Cons

While the MTN Explore 95 from Salomon are among the best backcountry skis available today, they are not perfect for everyone. It is crucial to understand why these skis may be great, but not the ideal fit for you.

  • May not be ideal for big powder days: Most skiers would agree that 95 is the lowest underfoot width that is suitable for going off-piste on a regular basis. While these skis perform very well in different conditions, they might not deliver the performance you want on big powder days.
  • Not suitable for beginner or intermediate skiers: When it comes to skiing hierarchy, backcountry is definitely up there as one of the toughest skills to master. Only an advanced to expert skier can handle areas that are outside the patrolled boundary at resorts. These skis are designed for such skiers, making them ill-suited for beginners.
  • Slight weight penalty when going uphill: Skiers who prefer to have the easiest experience going uphill will note these skis are a little heavier than comparable models. That extra weight delivers great downhill experiences, but does mean that you must be okay with carrying a bit of extra weight when going uphill.

Comparison

 

Salomon MTN Explore 95 Backcountry SkisSalomon MTN Explore 95 Backcountry Skis

DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis

DPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry SkisDPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 Backcountry Skis

PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
ability levelIntermediate / advanceAdvance / expertAdvance / expert
colorWhite / blueYellowBlue
turn radiusMediumMediumMedium
length169 – 184 cm168 – 189 cm168 – 185 cm
waist width95 mm112 mm106 mm
tip width130 mm141 mm137 – 139 mm
tail width116 mm128 mm128 – 130 mm
tail typeSkin clipPart twinSemi twin
coreWoodcoreWoodcoreBalsa
camberTip / tail rockerNot specifiedTip / tail rocker
laminatesCarbon flaxCarbonCarbon
constructionFull ABS / semi sandwichUHMW sidewallsTour1 cap
terrainBackcountryGroomed / powderBackcountry
weight9.56 lbs9.66 lbs5.98 lbs
warranty2 years2 years2 years

Summary

Salomon MTN Explore 95 Backcountry Skis deliver exactly what you would need to ensure an exhilarating and comfortable off-piste experience.

When you have progressed to an advanced level as a skier, you may be interested in exploring the backcountry to see what all the fuss is about. Skiing away from course boundaries is a risk, but it is all about relishing the challenge.

It is even more important than usual to have a set of backcountry skis that will deliver exactly what you need when you are pushing through powder in various conditions. Salomon MTN Explore 95 Backcountry Skis deliver exactly what you would need to ensure an exhilarating and comfortable off-piste experience.

Salomon has worked very hard to create a set of skis that are reliable in various conditions, deliver excellent downhill performance, while being easy enough to manage on the uphill. If you are committed to excelling at off-piste skiing, these skis are a must purchase.

Best Backcountry Skis Buying Guide

How wide is the base?

Looking for the best backcountry skis means that you’re looking for wide bases that allow you to get through areas that don’t have any sort of trail or path on them.

Not only that, but the wider the base, the easier it will be for you to keep control when you need to make a turn. This will help you to maintain control, prevent falls, and allow you to be less frustrated while skiing.

What are the edges like?

Your backcountry skis are going to have strong, steel edges, which makes them very different than most other skis that you’re going to find. That’s because the steel helps with grip and stability while out in unmarked areas.

These steel edges allow you to turn and will ensure that, even if you’re in deep snow while you’re out there, your backcountry touring skis are going to be able to handle any sort of terrain you may come across.

Weight classes of skis

There are three different weight classes for your Nordic touring skis – Ultralight, Standard, and Beefy/Large. Ultralight options are more fragile, have high uphill performance and are used by those who are used to backcountry skiing.

Those with less experience may want to look at Standard (between 6 and 7.5 lbs. for each ski) and Beefy (between 7.5 and 9 lbs. per ski). These are often a bit easier to maneuver and, if you already do downhill skiing, there will be less of a learning curve.

Proper length is essential

Your skis need to be a certain length for you to be able to maneuver them well and for you to prevent injuries while you’re learning how to backcountry ski.

Many professionals recommend that, if you put the back of the ski on the ground, the top of the ski should be somewhere between your chin and the top of your head. This will ensure that they aren’t too bulky or awkward for you to use.

Your experience level

How many times have you gone backcountry skiing? If you’re an expert, then you can use any of the skis on the market with ease, just choose what you believe is right for you.

If you’re a beginner, you want to have a more versatile ski that gives you control and speed both uphill and downhill. Intermediate backcountry skiers – including expert downhill skiers – will find that the lighter their skis are, the easier it will be to enjoy your time on the snow.

Wax or no wax?

Just like if you buy classic cross-country skis, you want to know whether or not you need to have wax on your skis. The wax can help with grip, but could cause problems in other contexts.

If you’re concerned about traversing hills and such, then you want to have waxless skis. But sometimes you could slip on soft, fluffy snow, which means you want to buy climbing skins to help you out.

Your activity level

If you regularly throw your skis and ski boots bag in the car, and enjoy other activities throughout the entire year, you will be better suited with a pair of skis that is meant for more athletic persons.

But, if you’re out of shape or just getting back into the groove of exercising regularly, you want to get skis that are meant for beginners. They’ll cause less strain and make it so that you can learn how to enjoy the process more.

Type of terrain

Different types of terrain require different sorts of backcountry skis, and on rougher terrain, you may want to buy a ski helmet for climbing because falls and injury are a lot more common in those circumstances.

When you look to buy skis online, you can often find information on the page about the types of terrain that the skis are recommended for. The recommendations are usually based on the size, shape, and rocker of the ski.

Materials used in the skis

While most backcountry skis have steel edges, the rest of the skis may be made out of any number of materials. The core is typically made of wood or foam, giving it a stable base (foam is more common in backcountry skis since it’s lighter).

The composite layers and sidewalls can be made of fiberglass (most common), carbon, aramid fiber, and plastic. Many times, it’s a combination of multiple materials in order to help the skis be more stable and last longer.

Rocker type

The rocker is the amount of curve that you see in the ski. An “early rise” (where the ski starts to curve from the front) is easier for you to use in harder, well-packed snow. Some people compare the curve to the shape of a snowboard.

The tip and tail rocker is the most common type for backcountry skis. They have a concave shape that makes turning easier and is great for “do it all” skiing. Full rockers are for the deepest, fluffiest snow and are often seen with wider skis.

Are bindings included?

In many instances, you will be able to buy a set of bindings along with your skis. You can let the manufacturer know your boot size or you’ll get a pair of adjustable bindings that you can change as necessary.

Sometimes, you may have to go ahead and size a pair of bindings to use with your skis. You’ll want to be sure that you try the bindings with your ski or snowboard boots that you will be using when you head out.

Cost of the skis

Because of the wide array of styles, sizes, and material choices available for backcountry skis, you will find that you could be paying anywhere from $150 (which you’ll find at discount ski gear stores) to $600 and sometimes more.

Obviously, you get what you pay for, so you want to be sure that you find a set of skis that meets your requirements and that is known for quality and performance.

Color of the skis

This is where the fun comes into buying the best backcountry cross-country skis – what color do you want? Since your skis will be in the snow when you’re using them, you may not be too concerned about the color of your skis while you’re out and about.

But, if you’re like a lot of skiers, you may be in a position where you want the bottoms to look cool, either for your own aesthetic wants or for when you have them stored on your snowboard wall mount.

Gender-specific options

There are actually both women’s and men’s styles of touring cross-country skis, which means that you want to take that into consideration to your search as well.

Women’s skis are much lighter than men’s skis, and are usually shorter as well. If you’re an average to short woman, these may be a better option for you to consider. If you’re a tall, athletic, or heavy-set woman, you may find that men’s backcountry skis work better for you.

Additional accessories and options

Buying high quality accessories is worth it when backcountry skiing as well. Be sure that you have a heavy ski jacket that has been rated for the coldest temperatures you may encounter, and a ski mask that protects your entire face. You also want a set of ski goggles to protect your eyes, too.

You want to have safety gear in case you’re stranded or staying overnight. If you have all of these, plus the best backcountry skis, you should be more than ready to enjoy your adventure.

DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis
Our pick for the best backcountry skis is: DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis. This choice was made after spending 39 hours researching backcountry skis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need specialized skis for backcountry skiing?

While many people will tell you that backcountry skis are just special types of cross-country skis, there are some distinct differences between the two, as discussed in this guide.

You should still be able to use cross-country skis in order to try it out, but like using a snowboard bag to tote your skis instead of a ski bag, it just isn’t going to work as well for the long term.

Do I need to buy climbing skins with my skis?

This goes along with the tip we had above for buying waxless or waxed skis. While waxless skis are usually best, uphill climbs (rather than smooth, rolling hills) can be quite a pain if you go waxless.

Climbing skins are great no matter what sort of cross-country or backcountry skiing that you’re doing. They grip to your bases with all-weather adhesive and help to give you that extra boost you need while climbing.

What are alpine skis?

During your search for backcountry Nordic skis, you may also find some alpine touring skis online or in stores as well. These are best described as a cross between cross-country and downhill skis, which allow you to get through the snow easily while making turns like you would on a downhill ski.

If you are going to be doing a lot of downhill work as a part of your backcountry skiing, it may be worth it to look at alpine skis as an option.

Should I be worried about flexibility in my bindings?

Like snowboard bindings, your backcountry ski bindings are going to have a lot of foot and ankle support in order to prevent injury while you’re out in the woods.

You are able to pick your heel up from the bindings, however. This allows you to make more of a walking or running motion, which is important for your speed and your stability during tour skiing in the woods.

Should I rent or buy my backcountry skis?

It all depends on what your expectations are. If you’re only going to be using them once a year for a short period of time; or you’re trying it for the first time, then it may be better to rent them.

As you become more experienced and get better at backcountry skiing, then it may be time to invest in a pair or two of the best backcountry skis so that you can have your own skis that match many of the attributes mentioned in this guide.

DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis
Our pick for the best backcountry skis is: DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist Backcountry Skis. This choice was made after spending 39 hours researching backcountry skis.

Sources

Pin this article now!

Click this link to enjoy Exclusive NOVEMBER 2019 Deals »