Following our Women’s All Mountain touring ski guide, we have general All Mountain touring skis. Going back to our favorite Lou-ism, the Obi-one-skinobis are the skis to grab when you are visiting a new location where you are not quite sure what the snow conditions or terrain will be, or you just don’t have a garage the size of Lou to store the full quiver. With a careful balance of weight savings for the skinning convenience and a love for downhill performance, here are some of our favorite picks for the first time ski tourer or the experienced enthusiast who wants to fill in the middle of the quiver.
DPS Pagoda Tour 100 RP
When we look at seven-year-old versions of DPS in Wildsnow HQ, it is hard to believe how far this brand has come. From the early experiments in carbon fiber layups, the company has pushed the levels of complex ski manufacturing to its latest innovation: the Pagoda Tour 100. These versatile touring boards utilize new materials like aerospace-grade foam to take the weight out of the ski, without limiting performance. The foam is interspersed with ash and paulownia, sandwiched between prepreg carbon fiber with a polyethylene base and textured topsheet, all tied together with a pour-in sidewall around the entire ski. The RP shape provides rocker in the tips to keep you afloat while the short effective edge makes the 100 RP extremely maneuverable in tight situations. The result: an excellent combination of weight, hardpack performance, and powder float in the all mountain category.
How it Skis
Weighing in at 1375g for the 171 length, the Pagoda Tour 100 easily glides up skins tracks. We found the generous rocker tips allowed the skis to suft in soft snow, almost causing us to forget that we were only on the little brother of the infamous Wailer 112. Their ability to blast through variable conditions with ease makes them a favorite even on the less than anticipated days of earning turns. Most impressive about these skis is the durability. Our testers might not have been aiming for rocks but they certainly hit them. The world-cup bases took some damage, though never at the expense of the integrity of the sidewall or edges.
The RP shape allows the 100mm waist to glide atop deep snow like a much wider ski and plow through crud effortlessly. Caters to all sizes of skiers with lengths ranging from 153cm to 184cm. The carbon layup does not lose its pop over time. This combined with the hard bases and edges means you will have a ski that will last years of skiing.
The RP shape and construction will leave you wanting more edge control if you spend a lot of time resort touring on hardpack.
Weight (g): 1375 (171)
Lengths (cm): 153cm, 163cm, 171cm, 179cm, 184cm
Dimensions (mm): 124 – 100 – 112 (171), Radius (m): 15
Construction: Carbon laminate with a combination of ash and paulownia woods, and purpose-built aerospace grade foam.
Black Diamond Helio Carbon 95
The Black Diamond Helio Carbon 95 is an improvement on its predecessor Helio line. The upgraded ski features an engineered paulownia wood core (trading out the balsa falx core of yore), a bidirectional carbon weave, and ‘elastometric’ core damping materials, and a full perimeter ABS sidewall. The modern 15% rockered tip, 75% camber and 10% semi-rockered tail allow for surf and slash soft snow skiing but the damping features keep the edges quiet and smooth in variable conditions.
How it skis
During the dynamic early days of an Alaska winter, tester Alex Lee found himself repeatedly reaching for the Helio, regardless of recent snowfall. He found the Helio Carbons drive better in variable snow and have lost the chatter that plagues many carbon skis, gen 1 Helio included. They are small and nimble enough for technical skiing or long tours, big enough for soft-snow on that favorite shoulder lap. In general, the new construction gives the Helio Carbon a more stable ride, smooth ‘carvier’ turn, and playful edge.
Tours well for the weight. Soaks up chunder without chatter but surfs in soft snow. Holds edges in icier, more challenging conditions.
The turning radius feels longer (it isn’t), and engaging the turn feels a bit less ‘snappy’ then the older model did -– it may be that the new core trades a springy turn initiation for its improved stability, or that a stiffer wood just means a longer effective edge. This isn’t necessarily a con, but bigger skiers may like this ski more than smaller skiers. Read the full review here.
Weight (g): 1400 (176)
Lengths (cm): 162, 169, 176, 183
Dimensions (mm): 113 – 95 – 124 (176) Radius (m): 19 (176)
Construction: Full sidewall sandwich construction with paulownia wood core, pre-preg carbon
Kastle TX 93
Lost in a metric conversion to “Merican” the TX93 slides under the unspoken cutoff of 95 mm at the waist. Although slightly skinnier than others in its class the TX93 more than makes up for it with a fantastic amount of versatility for a wide variety of conditions. In fact, this was the go to board for most Wildsnow testers on hardpack days. As we’ve come to expect from many of the brands with strong race heritages, the TX line brings a level of carving competence that exceeds expectations for such a light package. Combining materials like paulownia and carbon typically found in touring skis with triaxial fiberglass and sidewalls underfoot usually only found in heavier resort skis, the Kastle TX93 adds weight where you need it and removes it where you don’t.
How it Skis
The notoriously dry and tragically dangerous winter of 20-21 meant we took the resort more often than planned to test all mountain touring skis. Stoke has a way of waning when you are pulling skins next to a chair lift pole. That was until our hips were brushing the snow with the TX underfoot. Kastle’s directional shape and ample sidecut allow the TX 93 to excel in quick tight turns. Tons of grip and energy from the tail rewards skiers who can really tip a ski over, and catapults the skier through the apex of the turn and into the next. The stiff torsional flex provides plenty of grip in firmer conditions, but makes releasing or sliding the tails of the ski a bit laborsome for less experienced skiers. The generous amount of sidecut produces shovels wider than most skis in this waist-width category, but the wider tips provide more float in softer conditions.
Extremely competent small-radius carver, energetic edge-to-edge, more float that the waist-width suggests. Vastly improved durability that was the biggest holdup of the older TX97 model.
On the ski mountaineering side, less grip in very steep firm terrain due to the sidecut. On the beginner side it can be a bit demanding for less experienced skiers.
Weight (g): 1275 (170)
Lengths (cm): 162, 170, 178 186
Dimensions (mm): 115 – 93 – 129, Radius (m): 15 (170)
Construction: paulownia and carbon-fiberglass wound core, semi-cap sidewall, Hollowtech tips
Blizzard Zero G 95
If you’re looking for a ski partner to head to far off ski zones with unknown conditions the Blizzard Zero G has you covered. While a ski’s flex can be subjective, our testers all agreed this was one of most explosive all-mountain skis we attached to our boots. The Zero G 95 is light on the legs and your hip flexors will thank you on long days with multiple laps. Blizzard’s design team softened up the tip and tail slightly to improve multi-use performance from previous models, yet retained its exemplary precision while tip-toeing down steep gullies.
How it Skis
The Zero G 95 likes to stay in high mph’s, engaging easier when moving at faster speeds. It has a long turn radius (19m) and loves big jazzy turns when the imaginary cameras are rolling. However, when the stakes are high, the ski has the diplomacy to convert firm snow to a friend, as it executes tight jump turns with confidence-instilling underfoot stiffness. At 95mm underfoot, you’ll compromise float on the deepest days, but, that’s what bigger skis are for.
Likes: Great for ducking into the resort for the low key days, but responsive and confidence building in no fall terrain.
Gripes: The stiffness makes it a bit unruly for slower speed skiing. Its traditional camber and limited rocker has a ceiling for the deepest days.
Weight (g): 1250 (178)
Lengths (cm): 157, 164, 171, 178, 185
Dimensions (mm): 111 – 95 – 127 (178cm), Radius (m): 23
Construction: Sidewall Sandwich construction, Ultralight Paulownia Wood Core, Carbon Drive 2.0 3D uni-directional Carbon
Moment Commander Tour
The Moment Commander Tour wants to be unique. Utilizing two sheets of titanal and Moment’s lightweight touring core, this ski is aimed at skiers looking for a flat-tailed, traditional ski with no speed limit. The vast majority of touring skis, even those based on resort skis that use metal lay-ups, forgo the use of titanal in favor of carbon because of the vast weight penalty associated with using a material so closely associated with downhill ski racing. But the tradeoff is that carbon simply can’t dampen a ski as well as titanal. Moment seems to have struck a solid middle ground with the Commander’s 1750g/ski (176cm) weight in producing a ski that is just light enough to earn the title of “touring ski”. If you’re the type of skier who swears by your Volkl Mantra or Blizzard Bonafide inbounds, this is the ski for you to explore the backcountry.
How it Skis
The Commander Tour can be a bit of a handful for those that don’t fall into the Advanced to Expert skier ranks. Camber underfoot and a traditional flat tail helps the ski “finish” GS style turns, but may feel cumbersome to some as all that grip in the tail requires a heavy-handed yet precise touch to release the tails in tighter situations. The Commander’s 1750g/ski (176cm) weight can be a limiting factor on the uphill, as this weight is at the very top end for what we would recommend in a touring ski. The titanal layup provides unrivaled dampening in chopped up or variable conditions, but the stiff flex brutalizes soft snow and limits the Commander’s utility on a pow day. Overall, this ski provides a level of confidence at high speeds rarely seen in a touring ski, but probably isn’t the best tool for mellow powder laps in the trees.
Incredibly damp, unknown speed limit, extremely competent carver.
Heavy (!), limited soft snow performance, low speed maneuvers require lots of effort.
Weight (g): 1750 (176)
Lengths (cm): 176, 182, 188
Dimensions (mm): 122 – 104 – 136 (176), Radius (m): 20 (176)
Construction: Paulownia/Beech core, carbon, triaxial fiberglass, titanal
Black Crows Navis Freebird
The Black Crows Navis Freebird ski is arguably the most versatile ski in the Freebird lineup. The 102mm waist width paired, early rise rocker tips, and lightweight touring construction make the Navis an extremely capable all-mountain ski that feels right at home on early morning resort laps as well as deep powder days. These planks provide a great balance of dampness, playfulness, and stability whether you’re charging steep runs at high speeds or navigating tight trees at slower speeds.
Weight (g): 1675 (179 cm)
Lengths (cm): 169.4, 179.4, 185.4
Dimensions (mm): 133 – 102 – 118 mm (179 cm), Radius (m): 19
Construction: carbon and glass fiber, wood; semi-cap, paulownia/poplar core
Atomic Backland 100
No matter who we handed the Backland 100 to over the course of a season, it resulted a great day out. At only 1380 grams the ski is light enough to be efficient, but burly enough to handle bad snow that is so frequently discovered despite our best intentions. Because the most aggressive skiers enjoyed this while the newbies still felt confident, this is a great model for growing with you as you start pushing the “boundaries” of the backcountry. Read the full review here.
Weight (g): 1400 (180)
Lengths (cm): 164, 172, 180, 188
Dimensions (mm): 120 – 100 – 129.5 (180), Radius (m): 19.2
Construction: Sidewall Sandwich, Beech and Poplar Wood Core, Carbon Backbone
Dynafit Free 97
Ok, you got us, we still have to get out on these boards. This ski is more on the ‘watch list’ than an ‘honorable mention’, but after our carefully planned Beast 98 review was canceled, we decided to throw it on here. The Free 97 is a slightly updated version of the Beast with extra rocker and a shorter radius. Dynafit, surprised us by playing in the space of sturdier poplar wood core skis with a shape with a little more progressive flare. If they ski similar or even a little better than the Beast 98, this ski will be sure to make the list next season.
Weight (g): 1450 (177)
Lengths (cm): 170, 177, 184
Dimensions (mm): 135 – 97 – 116 (177), Radius (m): 18
Construction: Carbon-Glass Fiber, ABS Sidewall, Ash/Poplar core
At 106mm wide, this ski is on the upper width of All Mountain, but for bigger powerful skiers this has been a faithful option for years. When combined with its traditional camber underfoot, the healthy amount of rocker increases your float in soft snow and your ability to pivot the ski quickly to scrub speed. The Supercharger’s aspen core is increasingly hard to come by in a touring ski as good old fashioned wood is replaced by more “space age” materials, but gives a consistency of flex that is hard to replicate.
Weight (g): 1630 (178)
Lengths (cm): 171, 178, 184
Dimensions (mm): 140, 106, 124 (178), Radius (m): 19.5
Construction: Carbon fiber laminate, fiberglass, wood; capped; aspen core
While most of the WildSnow backcountry skiing blog posts are best attributed to a single author, some work well as done by the group.