Backcountry skiing can encompass everything from those seeking steep and deep powder chutes to those who use skis to hike through the woods in winter. Backcountry touring gear, as it is called, differs substantially from downhill gear and also has subtle differences from standard cross country ski equipment, which is designed for skiing in pre-cut tracks. Backcountry touring gear is slightly wider, to provide flotation in snow, and usually has partial or full metal edges to provide traction on traverses and more control on downhill sections.
The Alpina Discovery ($209, 2010 prices), is a waxless ski with a 60mm waist, providing plenty of flotation in most snow conditions, and full metal edges for good control on traverses and downhill travel. A moderate amount of sidecut, with a 68mm width at the tip and 65mm width at the tail, assists with turning control. The wood core has good torsional rigidity, while staying lightweight with air channels, weighing only 5 pounds, 12 oz. per pair (180cm length). The Discovery is available in lengths of 160cm, 170cm, 180cm and 190cm.
Fischer Silent Spider
The Fischer Silent Spider ($239, 2010 prices) uses a variety of technologies to combine performance with lightness. The tips and tails have steel edges, while the middle of ski, at the wax pocket, has a ceramic edge to minimize weight. The edge pattern also enables the waxless pattern to extend from edge-to-edge for greater traction on uphill climbs. The core is a lightweight air core wood mixed with fiberglass for stability. The Silent Spider has a moderate amount of sidecut, with a 62mm tip, 52mm waist and 60mm tail and is available in lengths of 169cm, 179cm, and 189cm and weighs 4 pounds, 3 oz. (179cm).
Rossignol BC 90
The Rossignol BC 90 ($300, 2010 prices), aims for more downhill performance than a standard touring ski. The 88mm tip provides excellent flotation, while the 60mm waist and 78mm tail gives the ski enough sidecut for good turning in all but the most demanding conditions. The BC 90 has a wood/air core to keep the weight down and full metal edges for performance. The ski is available in lengths of 159cm, 169cm, 179cm, and 189cm and weighs 5 pounds, 14 oz. (169cm length).