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The 8 Best All Touring & Backcountry Skis of 2020-2021

The popularity of touring continues to grow, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Thankfully alpine touring gear has come a long way in the last several years, evolving from flimsy and unreliable equipment to bomber gear that can do double-duty in and out of bounds. As manufacturers continue to hone their processes, making gear that is both light and high-performance, there are more options for great touring skis than ever before. These options run the gamut, too, from inbounds skis on a diet, to full-blown ski-mo race skis.

As with all backcountry gear, there is an ever-present tradeoff between weight and downhill skiing performance. This means that choosing the right touring skis for you will depend on your backcountry skiing style and goals. With our list of the best touring skis here, we aimed for the middle of that balance. This means you’ll find skis that can handle the ups and the downs with vigor, but also skis that won’t be totally out of place if you take them on the chairlifts. So if you’ve been itching to get into the backcountry, and need a new pair of skis to take you there, this is the place to start.


Line Vision 108

Best 2020-2021 touring & backcountry skis
 
 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Line’s take on a touring ski is light, playful, and a whole bunch of fun. The Vision 108 is a touring ski for anyone who treats the whole mountain as their playground, in, or out of bounds. The Vision’s 108 mm waist, and plenty of rocker mean it floats well on the deepest days, but it doesn’t feel like a handful on firmer spring tours either. Instead it’s supremely versatile, if you’re looking to earn your turns on everything from untouched pow laps to spring ski mountaineering missions with just one ski, the Vision 108 is one of the best touring skis for 2020-2021.

At just 1600 g per ski, it’s shockingly light, but Line has managed to shave weight without sacrificing stability, so the Vision 108 won’t feel squirrely skiing chopped up inbounds snow. If you love jibbing and spinning all over the mountain inbounds, the Vision 108 will help you translate that ethos to the backcountry. However, if you prefer to keep your skis on the snow, the Vision is still a great choice. If you’re looking for a fun, but very versatile touring ski, the Vision 108 was made for you.

Waist WidthWeight (183cm) Original Price
108mm1605g$749

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Volkl Blaze 106

The best 2020-2021 touring & backcountry skis
 
 

Volkl’s Blaze is designed for folks who want to ski fast and value stability in their touring skis. Sure, they have the light weight necessary for long human-powered days, but it sacrifices very little high-speed stability to attain that goal. The Blaze falls into that same “do-it-all” category as the Vision 108, but is optimized for more directional skiers who like to “charge” more than “jib.”

The Blaze 106 have enough rocker to help them float on deep days, and a titinal plate underfoot to help keep the ski damp and help you transfer power to your edges. They’re designed for big, powerful turns, in equally big terrain. This isn’t the ski to get if you like to make small, short turns through tight trees, it begs to be opened up instead. Volkl employed a “triple turn radius” with the Blaze to give them some more versatility, however, with a longer radius at the tip and tail, and a shorter radius underfoot. Playful skiers who like to jump off things and spin will be better served by more freestyle-oriented skis like the Vision, and if you primarily ski firmer, less deep snow, a narrower ski will serve you better. But, if you like to ski aggressively inbounds, and are looking for a touring ski that can keep up with you, the Blaze 106 is a great choice.

Waist WidthWeight (186cm) Original Price
106mm1772g$599

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Atomic Backland 107

The best 2020-201 touring & backcountry skis
 
 

The Atomic Backland 107 has gone through several iterations, and this latest version is the lightest yet. In fact it’s shockingly light for its versatile 107 mm width. If the Vision is perfect for playful skiers, and the Blaze favours those who want to charge, the Backland 107 falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not quite as poppy or jibby as the Vision 108, and it gets bucked around a little easier than the Blaze 106, but it’s lighter than either and strikes a perfect balance for well-rounded skiers. And the Backland 107 also comes in a women’s version that brings the same performance to shorter sizes.

The Backland is most fun in fresh snow, but in this latest version of the Backland, Atomic has designed it to handle better in variable and firm snow than previous iterations. So, while it may be wider than you need for spring ski mountaineering missions, it’s got the light weight and edge grip you need. That makes it very versatile, and a wide range of skiers will get along with it. If you like to do a little bit of everything, the Backland 107 is one of the best all-around backcountry skis.

Waist WidthWeight (182cm) Original Price
107mm1550g$699

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Volks Blaze 94

The Best 2020-2021 backcountry & touring skis
 
 

For skiers who want a super light touring ski that can serve double duty inbounds, Volkl makes the Blaze 94. While it’s not quite wide enough for deep pow days, the Blaze 94 holds up well in a variety of conditions, from mashed potatoes, to corn, to icy ski mountaineering lines, and it’s really, really light.

As more and more people get into backcountry touring, weight becomes more important. The Blaze 94 manages to fall below that 1500 g mark, which means it’s light enough for the longest days, and a great choice for overnight hut trips, or challenging objectives far from the car. Like the Blaze 106, the 94 favours more directional skiers, it’s not meant to pop and spin, insead it’s designed to leave perfect figure eights woven through the mountains. And, while it’s not a pow ski, it’s wide enough that a few inches overnight won’t make you regret your ski choice. So if you’re looking for a super light touring ski that excels in variable conditions, the Blaze 94 is one of the best women’s touring skis you can choose, and the same can be said for the men's version.

Waist WidthWeight (165cm) Original Price
94mm1427g$549

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Dynastar M Tour 99

The best 2020-2021 touring & backcountry
 
 

Dynastar is jumping into the deep end of touring skis this year with the M-Tour Line. The M-Tour 99 is a do-everything freeride ski, at near ski mountaineering weights. This ski is ridiculously light for its size. While it doesn’t have the deep powder chops of some of the other skis on this list, that’s not the point of the M Tour 99. Instead, it’s designed to help you climb and ski big lines. If your ideal touring day starts long before the sun comes up, involves bootpacking big couloirs, and climbing lots of vert, and ends just as the last light fades, the M Tour 99 is a great choice. It’s got enough tip rocker to handle some fresh snow, and make committing turns easier, but its main priority is stability and edge grip.

This ski isn’t for people who want to slash, pop, and spin their way down pow lines. Instead, it’s perfect for skiers who want to ski aggressively, no matter what the snow conditions are. In that regard, it falls somewhere between the Blaze 94 and 106, it handles pow better than the 94, and has better edge grip in bad snow than the 106, while managing to be lighter than either. That means that it’s a little easier to get bucked off line, but you’re also hauling a lot less ski into the backcountry. The M Tour 99 is the lightest ski on this list, but Dynastar has gone to great lengths to create a ski that still holds up at high speeds in variable snow. If you want to go fast on the up, and the down, the M Tour 99 is one of the best lightweight touring skis for 2021.

Waist WidthWeight (186cm) Original Price
99mm1350g$799.95

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Black Crows Ferox Freebird

The best 2021 touring & backcountry
 
 

Black Crows’ “Freebird” line of skis has always offered a good range of backcountry options, but the new Ferox Freebird offers a unique take. Many of the skis on this list are just thinned down versions of inbounds skis, the Ferox was designed from the ground up for skiers who want the damp feel and confidence they get from their inbounds skis, in a touring-ready package. The Ferox isn’t designed to be poppy and playful, instead, it allows you to plow through whatever snow conditions stand in your way.

Black Crows used a special topsheet technology, and isocore reinforced PU foam and to make the Ferox surprisingly damp without adding too much weight. The result? A touring ski that feels almost as good as a much heavier inbounds ski when it comes to absorbing impacts. That means it’s also comfortable on the occasional chopped up inbounds lap as well. Combine that with the Ferox’s versatile 110 mm waist and rocker profile, and you’ve got a really versatile ski. It can handle everything from inbounds groomers to deep backcountry laps. If you like damp skis, and want one ski to do it all, the Ferrox Freebird fits the bill.

Waist WidthWeight (181cm) Original Price
110mm1800g$1,019.95

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Icelantic Nomad Lite

The best 2020-2021 touring skis
 
 

Icelantic took their popular Nomad 105 and put it on a diet to create the Nomad Lite. They have the same shape and rocker profile, but with a much lower weight. This means it’s a completely seamless transition to jump from the regular Nomad to the Nomad Lite and back again. If you love the Nomad and are looking for consistency between your touring and inbounds skis, this one is a no brainer.

The Nomad has always been a little unique, it’s twin tipped with a playful rocker profile, but not much tip or tail taper, and a pretty stiff flex. That means it’s easy to jib and spin, but it also likes to go fast in big terrain. So a wide range of skiers will get along with the Nomad Lite, it might just take a short adjustment period to get comfortable. The Nomad Lite isn’t quite as playful as something like the Vision 108, it’s harder to spin and slash in deep snow, but it’s close. Similarly, it’s got nearly the directional stability of a much more traditional ski like the Blaze. It’s not as damp as metal skis like the Ferox though, so if you prefer to plow instead of dance, it won’t be your best choice. And that lack of taper does mean that it’s not the easiest to turn in tighter terrain and dense trees, but if you like going fast and jumping off stuff, the Nomad Lite is perfect for you.

Waist WidthWeight Original Price
105mmNA$799

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Faction Dictator 2.0X Womens

Best 2021 backcountry skis
 
 

The Dictator 2.0X is Faction’s women’s ski mountaineering weapon. It’s designed to help you feel strong and confident even in steep, tight terrain, or less-than-ideal snow. To that end it’s got two sheets of metal to help it stay damp through icy runouts, and a hybrid rocker/camber profile that makes it easy to initiate turns, but also gives you plenty of edge grip when things are exposed. If your idea touring day involves ice axes, and maybe a rope and crampons, the Dictator 2.0X is the ski for you.

But, in pursuit of those ski mountaineering dreams, ski brands sometimes make skis so narrow and light that they’re hard to ski if you’re not scrabbling your way down some gnarly line, Not so with the Dictator. It’s got the waist width and rocker necessary to make deeper snow fun, and is damp enough that you can ski it hard inbounds when your touring day requires a resort lap. That said, Dictator 2.0X’s main priority is firmer conditions and bigger lines. And it comes in at a light enough weight that you’ll stay fresh through long, challenging human-powered days. If that sounds like something you love to chase, the Dictator should be high on your list.

Waist WidthWeight (163cm) Original Price
96mm1680g$679

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