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Backcountry Skis

The 7 Best Backcountry Skis of 2022

Designed to make the uphill almost as enjoyable as the down, these skis offer lightweight constructions and performance-focused shapes.

If you’re looking for a dedicated backcountry ski, which is to say the journey up the mountain may be equally important to you as the ski out, here are seven of the year’s top picks. Build with weight and ease of movement at the forefront, you’ll be glad to hear none of these skis had to sacrifice much performance to make the cut for this category where you’ll find the skis listed in order of increasing waist width.

Looking for more in-depth ski gear coverage? Join Outside+  to read extended ski reviews, compare ski test scores, and get more insight from SKI’s veteran gear testers. 

DPS Pagoda Tour 106 C2

  • Available Lengths: 155, 163, 171, 179, 184cm
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions: 137-106-121mm
  • Turn Radius: 19m
  • Weight: 3lbs 7oz
  • Price: $1,299
2022 DPS Pagoda Tour 106 C2

Yes, it’s a cliché to say that a backcountry ski performs well in soft snow, but the Pagoda Tour 106 C2 became a magic carpet ride of pure joy while lapping ripe corn snow on Colorado’s Loveland Pass. It can carve, slarve, and make every little terrain variation incredibly smooth and fun. The unique soft-snow feel, as well as the ski’s strong desire to go back uphill to do it again, come from the use of aerospace-grade foam integrated into the core. All it takes is two inches of fresh, soft snow, and these skis will make you forget the steep price tag. Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback.

Shop the DPS Pagoda Tour 106 C2: Backcountry | evo

Black Crows Mentis Freebird

  • Available Lengths: 157, 164, 171, 178cm
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions: 110-80-100mm
  • Turn Radius: 19m
  • Weight: 2lbs 4oz
  • Price: $880
2022 Black Crows Mentis Freebird

Whether you’re looking for a super-light ski to head uphill at the resort or a tool that will probably spend more time attached to your backpack than to your feet during a summer skiing mission, the Mentis Freebird exists to make sure the downhill doesn’t suck in either situation. The weight-to-stability ratio comes from a paulownia wood core, carbon and fiberglass laminates, and a Titanal reinforcement under the binding mount point. This construction isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but the skinny Mentis highlights just how capable it is. Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback.

Buy the Black Crows Mentis Freebird: Backcountry | evo

Dynafit Blacklight 95

  • Available Lengths: 165, 172, 178, 184cm
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions: 127-95-115mm
  • Turn Radius: 19.5m
  • Weight: 2lbs 11oz
  • Price: $750
2022 Dynafit Blacklight 95

The lightweight Blacklight 95 isn’t afraid of long ski-touring missions. Dynafit breaks the three-pound barrier with its UD Carbon Construction, which incorporates unidirectional carbon laminates around a paulownia wood core. The sidecut has a sharp transition at the ski’s widest points before tapering off towards the tip and tail, a feature that skiers will appreciate on steep descents where the vampire-tooth sidecut can bite into the snow with authority. If you like it steep and tight, these skis do, too. Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback.

Purchase the Dynafit Blacklight 95: evo | Backcountry

Movement Alp Tracks 100

  • Available Lengths: 170, 177, 185cm
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions: 132-100-120mm
  • Turn Radius: 19m
  • Weight: 2lbs 13oz
  • Price: $1,175
2022 Movement AlpTracks 100

“Not only do the lightweight Caruba wood core and full carbon laminates incorporated into the construction allow for easy uphill travel, but they instill confidence when it comes to the downhill. With added speed, they behaved like a burlier ski, able to handle serious terrain and all that comes with it.” –Jon Sexauer. Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback.

Shop for the Movement Alp Tracks 100: evo

Scott Pure

  • Available Lengths: 182, 190cm
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions: 142-109-128mm
  • Turn Radius: 21m
  • Weight: 4lbs
  • Price: $850
2022 Scott Pure

The Pure is an undeniably freeride-oriented backcountry ski. Sure, you can carve on it, but to get the most life out of this ski, take it on steep, open terrain and let loose. Designed by Swiss freeride legend Jérémie Heitz and built with a three-piece Titanal plate and a paulownia/beech hybrid core, this ski has plenty of damp power that can handle the strongest skiers —including Heitz. But it is also accessible to mere mortals including smaller skiers and those with tired legs ready to cash in on a big tour in gnarly terrain. Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback.

Buy the Scott Pure: Backcountry

Weston Grizzly

  • Available Lengths: 166, 176, 186cm
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions: 144-120-134mm
  • Turn Radius: 20m
  • Weight: 4lbs 5oz
  • Price: $899
2022 Weston Grizzly

“Although wider skis are often stiffer, straighter, and harder to turn, Weston gives its powder planks a more flexy, the rockered tip and tail that make turning feel more like driving a jet boat than a barge. This extra playfulness let me pop from edge to edge while savoring the flow of every turn.” –Scott Yorko. Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback.

Shop for the Weston Grizzly: Backcountry

WNDR Reason 120

  • Available Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191cm
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions: 147-120-138mm
  • Turn Radius: 20.5m
  • Weight: 4lbs 12.8oz
  • Price: $699
2022 WNDR Reason 120

The Reason 120 can be built with or without camber. If you miss the zero-camber rockered skis that have become hard to find, order the full-rocker; if you like having a bit more control on the way to the chairlift, get the camber version. Best at moderate speeds and surprisingly quick in the trees, these are great for both yo-yoing your go-to secret backcountry stash as well as that big trip to Japan next season. Bonus: The brand’s Algal Core and sidewalls reduce the amount of oil used in production without sacrificing performance. Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback.

 

Want to compare what’s new for 2022 with last year’s models? Here are our reviews of backcountry skis from 2021 below.

Scott SuperGuide Freetour

2021 Scott SuperGuide Freetour backcountry ski
The 2021 Scott SuperGuide Freetour Gear of the Year Backcountry SkiPhoto courtesy of Scott

Scott releases an entirely new line of SuperGuide backcountry skis this season, and they are all a massive step forward for the brand. With an uphill-friendly weight and perhaps the best downhill performance of any Scott ski in recent memory, the line’s flagship SuperGuide Freetour is particularly impressive. The key is in the ski’s construction: The wood core comprises a blend of lightweight paulownia and sturdy beech, plus blended carbon and aramid laminates keep the ski lively and energetic without the jitters that some backcountry skis with carbon are known for. The Freetour’s well-behaved materials are perfectly suited to its progressive three-radii sidecut, which allows the ski to perform dynamic turn shapes that can quickly and comfortably adapt to different terrain, snow conditions, and speeds. Given the freeride-specific design of the ski, however, the SuperGuide Freetour begs to be taken off-leash so it can run fast down steep, open terrain. Best of all, the construction and shape add up to perform harmoniously on-piste as well as in the backcountry, giving the Freetour a solid claim on the podium for backcountry-loving skiers looking for an everyday ski that can handle occasional chairlift rides, too.

WATCH: SKI Review – Scott SuperGuide Freetour Backcountry Ski

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2021 Scott SuperGuide Freetour Factsheet

  • Available Lengths (In Centimeters): 178, 185
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions (In Millimeters): 134-104-122
  • Turn Radius (In Meters): 24 (178 cm length)
  • Weight per ski: 3 lbs. 8 oz.
  • MSRP: $850

Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104

2021 Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104 backcountry ski
2021 Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104 Backcountry SkiPhoto courtesy of Black Diamond

With a full paulownia wood core, the all-new Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104 has an ideal weight-to-performance ratio for North American backcountry purists. The ABS sidewalls and near-perfectly engineered pre-preg carbon laminate remain so stiff and stable on descents, however, you’ll probably forget about the weight factor until you’re putting skins back on for another lap. Despite the feathery feel in hand, the brand was able to sneak in a Titanal mounting plate for added stability and energy transfer. No matter how fast our testers skied, the generous rocker in the shovel remained almost chatter-free, and the ski stayed silky smooth on death cookies and creamy corn equally well.

2021 Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104 Factsheet

  • Available Lengths (In Centimeters): 166, 172, 178, 184
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions (In Millimeters): 131-104-118
  • Turn Radius (In Meters): 22 (178 cm lenght)
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 3 oz.
  • MSRP: $880

Völkl Blaze 106

The 2021 Völkl Blaze 106 Backcountry Ski
The 2021 Völkl Blaze 106 Backcountry SkiPhoto courtesy of Völkl

The built-from-scratch Blaze series from Völkl fits in the gray space between affordable freeride ski and backcountry-oriented do-it-all tool. With a proprietary multi-layer wood core and a vibration-damping suspension system strategically placed in the tip and tail, the construction of the Blaze 106 is relatively simple but very functional. This Völkl is particularly versatile in the backcountry thanks to the brand’s 3D Radius Sidecut, which keeps the ski nimble at slower speeds and in tight spaces, but is especially capable when going fast down the fall line. Best of all, with an affordable price tag, this ski is a perfect choice for skiers looking for an intro-to-backcountry ski that is also very comfortable off the chairlift.

WATCH: SKI Review – Völkl Blaze 106

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2021 Völkl Blaze Factsheet

  • Available Lengths (In Centimeters): 165, 172, 179, 186
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions (In Millimeters): 146-106-128
  • Turn Radius (In Meters): 19 (186 cm length)
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 14.5 oz.
  • MSRP: $700

Faction Agent 3.0

The 2021 Faction Agent 3.0 Backcountry Ski
The 2021 Faction Agent 3.0 Backcountry SkiPhoto courtesy of Faction

The Agent 3.0 stands out as one of the more versatile skis Faction has produced in recent memory. Featuring a sturdy, lightweight caruba wood core, full carbon weave, and a Titanal mounting plate, these bright orange sticks are made for full-throttle descents beyond the gates. While the width and freeride-oriented shape warrants use on softer snow, the Agent 3.0 can maintain damp performance in variable snow and is especially fun in wide-open bowls of spring corn. Skiers with freestyle roots or freeride styles will be happy with this directional Faction as a backcountry quiver addition or a one-ski option ideal for trips into the untouched snow beyond the ski area via both touring and mechanized assistance.

WATCH: SKI Reviews – Faction Agent 3.0

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Faction Agent 3.0 Factsheet

  • Available Lengths (In Centimeters): 164, 172, 180, 188
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions (In Millimeters): 134-106-124
  • Turn Radius (In Meters): 21 (180 cm length)
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 13 oz.
  • MSRP: $819

Movement Alp Track 106

The 2021 Movement Alp Track 106 Backcountry Ski
The 2021 Movement Alp Track 106 Backcountry SkiPhoto courtesy of Movement

Swiss brand Movement is planning a re-launch into the North American market for 2021. The fattest member of the brand’s backcountry-oriented Alp Track family provides enough quality engineering and solid construction features to make a good impression on any skier. In the category of “wide skis that are lightweight but ski well,” the Alp Track 106 is made for backcountry purists who want versatility and float without the extra grams. With a caruba wood core and full carbon weave, these skis are ideal for long days in the skin track, and are more than awesome on the descent with high energy from turn to turn. And, thanks to a sidecut that enables these skis to bite into snow, they really shine on steep, technical terrain.

2021 Movement Alp Track 106 Factsheet

  • Available Lengths (In Centimeters): 177, 185
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions (In Millimeters): 138-106-126
  • Turn Radius (In Meters): 19 (177 cm length)
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 14.5 oz.
  • MSRP: $1,125

Atomic Backland 117

The 2021 Atomic Backland 117 Backcountry Ski
The 2021 Atomic Backland 117 Backcountry SkiPhoto courtesy of Atomic

The extra-wide Backland 117 was designed in part by Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, and as one might expect, it is a high-performance fat ski that can charge hard when needed. But, thanks to a nimble turn radius and a very poppy and playful tail, these skis can turn the backcountry into a playground for any skier. Directionally oriented carbon stringers keep the ski both damp and lightweight, and thanks to a wood core blend of poplar and beech—the same woods used in Atomic’s World Cup Race skis—the Backland 117 can get from the top of a line to the bottom incredibly comfortably at any speed. This is an ideal touring ski for deep days in the backcountry and can more than hold its own on powder days at the resort as well.

WATCH: SKI Review – Atomic Backland 117 and 107 W

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2021 Atomic Backland 117 Factsheet

  • Available Lengths (In Centimeters): 177, 184, 191
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions (In Millimeters): 140.5-117-129.5
  • Turn Radius (In Meters): 19 (177 cm length)
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 2 oz.
  • MSRP: $975

G3 SLAYr

The 2021 G3 SLAYr Backcountry Ski
The 2021 G3 SLAYr Backcountry SkiPhoto courtesy of G3

Skiers looking for a superlight deep snow ski will find it in the new G3 SLAYr. With a balsa wood core sandwiched between two layers of Titanal, this fat ski barely tips the scales but can charge hard through soft snow with ease. The PU sidewalls add stability for descending in variable snow as well, but this ski really stands out on the skin track considering its girthy proportions. Lighter testers were enthralled by the downhill performance of the SLAYr, considering it to be unsinkable in deep snow and as playful as it gets. Bigger testers struggled a bit when skiing in crud, but found just enough float to keep happy so long as the snow was soft. A great choice for a backcountry-specific pow ski.

2021 G3 SLAYr Factsheet

  • Available Lengths (In Centimeters): 178, 185, 190, 195
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions (In Millimeters): 143-114-128
  • Turn Radius (In Meters): 22.7 (185 cm length)
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 10 oz.
  • MSRP: $999

Dynastar M Tour 99

The 2021 Dynastar M Tour 99 backcountry ski
The 2021 Dynastar M Tour 99 backcountry skiPhoto courtesy of Dynastar

The M Tour 99 has the same dimensions as Dynastar’s All-Mountain M Pro 99 resort ski, but changes the construction lay-up to create a lightweight backcountry-specific power tool. The brand mates PU with paulownia in the core to create energy and a unique, supple feel. Dynastar then adds a layer of basalt to quiet the ski when the snow gets chunky. The result is a very capable backcountry specialist with do-it-all dimensions that will feel just as at home in tight Northeastern trees as it will in the high alpine of the Rocky Mountains. Don’t be afraid to kick up the speed a notch on the M Tour to maximize performance, and, thanks to its featherweight classification, that goes for skiing up and down the mountain.

2021 Dynastar M Tour 99 Factsheet

  • Available Lengths (In Centimeters): 162, 170, 178, 186
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions (In Millimeters): 127-99-117
  • Turn Radius (In Meters): 20 (178 cm length)
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
  • MSRP: $900

DPS Pagoda Tour 94 C2

The 2021 DPS Pagoda Tour 94 C2 backcountry ski
The 2021 DPS Pagoda Tour 94 C2 backcountry skiPhoto courtesy of DPS

DPS’ new Pagoda Tour line is most notable for bringing back integrated foam into its core. But this isn’t the foam you’d find in a decade-old rental ski; instead it’s purpose-built space-grade material designed specifically for DPS touring skis, and has particular characteristics—including durability—as well as great downhill performance. When sandwiched between two pre-preg carbon laminates and combined with a generous amount of paulownia and some ash wood, the result is a foam ski that’s strikingly lightweight but charges downhill like a boss. The Pagoda 94 C2’s shape provides plenty of versatility for every type of snow that skiers in continental snowpacks might face, but truly shines in springtime corn in the high alpine.

2021 DPS Pagoda Tour 94 C2 Factsheet

  • Available Lengths (In Centimeters): 157, 165, 171, 178, 185
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions (In Millimeters): 131-94-110
  • Turn Radius (In Meters): 19 (178 cm length)
  • Weight: 3 lbs.
  • MSRP: $1,299

Kästle TX87

The 2021 Kästle TX87 backcountry ski
The 2021 Kästle TX87 backcountry skiPhoto courtesy of Kästle

Skiers looking for a skinny ski for big ski mountaineering objectives—or those who want a quality lightweight ski for in-bounds fitness laps—should be excited about the updated TX line from Kästle. The Austrian brand increased durability across the entire line for 2021, and the new TX87 has the perfect mix of hard-snow performance with minimal weight to make long ups and big downs more enjoyable. With a full paulownia wood core wrapped in a carbon-fiberglass laminate and a captivating translucent Hollowtech tip, this lightweight ski begs to be taken somewhere far away quickly. And it will definitely reward any long-term investment in the skin track with solid skiing performance on the way back.

2021 Kästle TX87 Factsheet

  • Available Lengths (In Centimeters): 150, 158, 166, 174, 182
  • Tip-Waist-Tail Dimensions (In Millimeters): 124-87-111
  • Turn Radius (In Meters): 15.5 (174 cm length)
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 12.5 oz.
  • MSRP: $949