It’s that time of year again – the shops are full of shiny newÂ skis and no one has a clue what to buy (again!)Â For what it’s worth, these are my own opinions on what to look out for in off piste and touring skis this year.
Latest Trends – skis continue to get fatter each year, but I’ve set a personal ceiling of around 80mm underfoot for anything I’d be doing a reasonable bit of touring on.Â Wider than that leads to a pretty slow ski edge to edge for shorter turnsÂ andÂ poorer edge grip on harder snow.Â Fat skis are certainly the tools of choice in the right place – ie powder days at La Grave -Â but they are rarelyÂ the idealÂ ski for general touring in the Alps (If I did enough lift based off piste work I’d definitelyÂ have a pair, but since so much of my work involves skinning I have a good all round work skiÂ andÂ a secondÂ lighter specialist ski for high mountain tours).
Down to the nitty gritty then – this year I’m on a pair of Dynastar Legend 8000’s.Â
Why? – because they have a slightly longer turn radius and narrower tail thanÂ other similarÂ skis (eg Scott Aztec Pro, Scott Neo Aversion – both highly recommended) which makes theÂ LegendÂ better for holding traversesÂ and a bit easier toÂ cut the tail out to control speed on tight or steeper ground (the flipside is that you needÂ to use a bit more technique to carve them as well).Â
If I did more resort based skiing, I might equally go for one of the other two (or a Rossignol B3 perhaps – Rich is on these this year). Any of these are a good choice for strong, keen off piste skiers after a great all mountain ski.Â For something a bit fatter, orÂ as a second weapon on powder days, the Legend Mythic RiderÂ or Scott Mission areÂ a good choiceÂ (if you are after a pair of Missions though, then get themÂ sooner rather than laterÂ – as they are already nearly sold out in the UK!)
Â If you are more of an intermediate level off piste skier, then the skis mentioned above will probably be a bit too stiff to initiate turns easily at lower speeds – in which case I’d look at the slightly softer Scott Aztec Limited.Â I’ve been using these as a general work ski for the past 2 seasons and they really are ideal for most British ski tourers.
For my lightweight touringÂ ski, I’m on Trab Sint Aeros. I love ’em, but wouldn’t recommend this kind of ski to anyone unless you ski really very well – as they need a good level of technique to enjoy them.Â If you haven’t got that, then you will struggle to stay on your feet and would be much better off onÂ a light all mountain ski like the Aztec Limited.
Items in the ‘look good, but possibly best avoided’ category include in my opinion many of the Movement skisÂ (generally too stiff for most UKÂ users + I’ve also seenÂ a number that broke) and Naxo bindingsÂ (serious useability and reliability issues – they also come packaged up on Rossignol and Dynastar skis as own brand ‘Freeride’ bindings – but please don’t turn up one of my tours with a pair, coz you won’t be going anywhere!)