Freeride touring skis used to be mostly out of the WildSnow purview. We saved this for the bigger publications that were willing to call any width and any weight a “touring” ski as long as the marketing magic mentioned it in the description. As even these “burly” skis got lighter and our appetites for deeper and fuller quivers grew, we began pushing the ski testing boundaries beyond the strict weight to surface area paradigm created by Lou so many years ago.
What makes a ski for freeride touring? A ski’s lust for powder and more progressive shape is a good start. Once downhill style and performance trump concerns over uphill sensibilities and efficiency, skis start sliding towards freeride. Hucking cliffs and drone footage are not required, but a little imagination towards dreaming about them helps with the transition. We kept these brief with our favorite women’s and men’s models combined into one post and saved the honorable mentions for other steazier authors.
Atomic Backland 107
It took an embarrassingly long time for the Backland 107 to cross the Wildsnow tester’s radar. At 1550 grams, it seemed this would be another ski that alpine-oriented Atomic just ripped the guts out to make it a “touring” model. We were pleasantly surprised that the Atomic Backland 107 sacrificed little performance to many of its heavier compatriots, offering impressive float, edge control, and energy. With its full sidewall, carbon backbone, and Ultra Power Woodcore, the Backland 107 responds to hard and fast skiing across many different conditions. Whether you’re looking for a dedicated backcountry setup or hybrid setup, the Backland 107 can do both.
How it Skis
The Backland 107 owes its power and energy to its Karuba and poplar wood core and its long effective edge, allowing our testers to ski aggressively in a wide range of conditions. On less than blower powder days, the full sidewall gives this ski dampening akin to a much heavier plank. When it is deep, the HRZN Tech tips help the ski plane on the surface, and although lightweight it has just enough mass to plow through crud when you hit variable snow.
The shape of the 107 offers a perfect balance of rocker and camber so you get great performance in a wide spectrum of conditions. In deep snow and at high speeds, this ski really shines, allowing you to push your skiing with control and confidence. We found this for sale many places on the web with prices lower than $700, giving it a great bang for your buck.
The ski needs extra speed to initiate turns and then some resolve to stay in charge, making it specifically geared toward the more experienced “free tourer”.
Weight (g): 1550 (182)
Lengths (cm): 175, 182, 189
Dimensions (mm): 137 – 107 – 124 (182), Radius (m): 18.5
Construction: Karuba/Poplar core, Carbon Stringers, Fiberglass Laminate
Shop for the Backland 107
Line Vision 108
The Line Vision 108 embodies the true freeride spirit: the ability to style a wide range of turns at variable speeds. The Vision 108’s versatility comes from its unique core construction that combines two types of wood with very different characteristics. Maple dampens the landings off of drops, and paulownia offers a poppy spring when hopping around backcountry features. The real magic trick with the Vision 108 is all of the above characteristics at a weight that is acceptably light at ~1600grams and a shape that is conducive to different size turns (multiple radii built into the sidecut).
How it Skis
The THC laminate (Aramid/carbon/fiberglass) grants solid torsional rigidity at a light weight, important at both speed and in variable snow. A five point shape that tapers closer to the center prevents the ski from hooking and also increases plasticity when making different size turns. With a generous rocker profile that works in sync with its shape, the Vision 108’s waist width is all you need even on the deepest days. It’s at home navigating weird snow conditions like crud or in a beautiful backcountry meadow making easy-styling squiggles. Overall, this is a confidence inspiring design for all skiers in all regions.
The core layup is a clever combination of materials and follows through on the promise of an easy to control ski that doesn’t add weight for performance.
Not too heavy, but also not extremely light. It would be interesting to see a “lite” construction version of this ski to cater to long days.
Weight (g): 1605
Lengths (cm): 175, 183, 189
Dimensions (mm): 128 – 108 – 142 (183), Radius (m):19.5
Construction: Semi-Cap Sidewall, Paulownia/maple core w. Aramid, carbon, fiberglass
Shop for the Line Vision 108
Moment Deathwish Tour
Maybe it’s due to the fact that 2020-2021 was a particularly sensitive year in the backcountry, or maybe it’s that this really is the worst-named ski for 21-22, but it took us a while to warm up to the Deathwish. After we did we begrudgingly took to it and declared this ski worth its mention among freeride touring planks. Moment’s Deathwish Tour has tank-like durability, with beefy bases and hardened edges that left us scratching our heads after seeing what rocks didn’t do after a high-speed impact. Moment’s triple-camber is a major selling point on the downhill, but also has benefits on the uphill. Excellent grip and edge hold help with side-hill skinning on sketchy traverses and kick turns. Weighing 1660g, the Deathwish Tour shows that you can still get uphill fairly easily on a 112mm waisted ski.
How it skis:
Be ready to hold on. A long turn radius (25m in a 184cm length) and a stout Ash/Paulownia core gives you the option to literally paint a straight line down the hill. With a 112 waist width, the Deathwish’s habitat consists of big mountain terrain and bottomless snow. The triple-camber design ices the cake of a construction that argues “best in test” for feeling secure when putting the ski on edge.
A stable platform for aggressive skiers and those who weigh over 200 pounds and have trouble finding a ski that doesn’t fold. Ash is a great choice to throw in a big mountain core as the Deathwish’s dense and damp feel absorbs vibration and prevents chatter.
Tight trees and quick turns aren’t this ski’s forte. While it is within the competitive weight range for its class, it likes long turns and opening it up.
Weight (g): 1660 (179cm)
Lengths (cm): 174, 179, 184, 190cm
Dimensions (mm): 138 – 112 – 129 (all lengths), Radius (m): 23 (179)
Construction: Extruded ABS sidewall, paulownia/ash core, carbon
Shop for the Moment Deathwish
Black Crows Corvus Freebird
The Corvus Freebird is not the lightest among this bunch, but maybe that’s a good thing? We’re still on the fence. Black Crows has long stood by its performance over featherweight philosophy and that carries through to the latest version of this fan favorite. (Fun fact: the non-freebird Corvus was Black Crows first ever Freeride ski.) The updated Corvus Freebird features a longer effective edge, early rise tail, and a less pronounced tip rocker than previous iterations, lending to more powerful and aggressive skiing.
How it skis
With great weight comes great performance, or at least that’s the theory. The Corvus‘s mass offers a literal edge when encountering chunky, heavy or crusty snow. The torsional rigidity and hard edges are solid and grip tight on steep, slippery surfaces. The 21-meter turn radius bounds into arcing turns and maintains stability at high speeds in variable snow conditions. Oh, and for powder skiing, the 107mm waist does well to keep you on top.
Hard-charging, unfailing stability in a wide range of snow conditions.
These things are heavy! We’ve even heard them called ‘light’ resort skis. That said, they could be the versatile quiver member useful on piste and off.
Weight (g): 1950 (183)
Lengths (cm): 176, 183, 188, 193
Dimensions (mm): 140 – 107 – 119 (183), Radius (m): 21
Construction: Semi Cap, 120cm Double Titanal Plates, Poplar core
Shop for the Black Crows Corvus Freebird
Movement Alp Tracks 106 LTD
At 1275g for a 106mm underfoot ski, the AlpTracks wins the prize for the lightest ski at that width. A soft snow specialist, the ski utilizes a Karuba wood core, ‘micro’ sidewall (cap construction with full sidewall under foot), a carbon laminate and rubber infused fiberglass in the tips to help absorb vibrations. It’s made to go the long distance, especially in soft snow.
How it skis
Movement calls the 106 a Free Touring ski, though we’d put the emphasis on the tour. Its free skiing performance is most reliable in soft, deep snow where the primarily carbon construction lends to floating and surfing, with playful turns and agility. Unsurprisingly, chunkier and icy conditions aren’t the ski’s happy place, and lead to skittering. Stronger skiers who can really command this ski will have the best chance of enjoying variable snow.
The ultralight construction is ideal for tourers who want to go deep in the mountains in search of soft, consistent snow.
They like to skid more than carve on hardpack. Also, pricy! All that carbon doesn’t come cheap…
Weight (g): 1275 (177)
Lengths (cm): 177, 185
Dimensions (mm): 138 – 106 – 126 (177), Radius (m): 20
Construction: Micro Sidewall, Karuba Wood Core, Full Carbon Laminate
Shop for the Movement Alptracks 106
Women’s Freeride Touring Skis
Line Pandora 110
It would be easy to overlook the Pandora 110 as just a wider version of the 94 and 104 that round out Line’s female-specific All-Mountain lineup of skis. But the widest member of the Pandora line shares almost nothing with its narrower family members. Borrowing the Paulownia/Maple core and THC laminate from the men’s Vision lineup, the Pandora 110 is a bonafide freeride touring ski designed specifically for female skiers looking to earn their cliff drops and overhead pow turns.
How it skis
As a directional freeride ski, the Pandora 110 rewards a more centered skiing style. A softer flex pattern, especially in the tip and tail, as well as ample rocker tip and tail makes tail releasability and varying turns shapes extremely intuitive. The unusual dampening strategy that relies on three complementary materials (carbon, fiberglass, and aramid) works surprisingly well in variable conditions, adding some versatility to the ski. But the 110 waist width puts this ski firmly in the dedicated soft-snow category, especially for smaller skiers that simply don’t need so much surface area to float in those less than epic 1-3 inch storms we so often see in Colorado.
Lightweight for a pow ski, surprisingly damp for such a soft flex pattern, transitions well from long sweeping turns in wide open snowfields to tight snappy turns in technical terrain.
Waist width limits the utility for smaller skiers in variable conditions, soft tip and tail might feel a bit unsettling for skiers with more traditional forward-driven skiing style
Weight (g): 1500 (170)
Lengths (cm): 162, 170, 178
Dimensions (mm): 144 – 110 – 130, Radius (m): 16.5
Construction: Capwall, Aramid/carbon/fiberglass laminate, Paulownia/maple core
Shop for the Line Pandora 110
Moment Bella Tour
The Moment Bella has long been a favorite for harder charging women looking to ski deep snow on piste and off. The Bella Tour, released in 21/22 is a lighter, touring version of that ski, with a few tweaks to make it more uphill friendly without giving up too much performance. It features the same 108mm waist and rockered tip and tail with underfoot camber. The aspen/pine core of old has been replaced with paulownia and ash, along with carbon. This makes for a poppy, energetic ski for deep snow skiing.
How it skis
The rockered tip and tail lend to excellent float but the ski stays surprisingly nimble despite the chubby (ahem) waist. Testers found the skis maneuverable in tight trees and more demanding scenarios. The full ABS sidewall helps to soak up chatter in chunkier snow and hold a line at high speeds.
Moment lightened the ski for touring but held onto rockwell edges and used a carbon base for durability.
Weight (g): 1530 (172)
Lengths (cm): 162, 172, 179
Dimensions (mm): 127 – 108 – 134 (172), Radius (m): 19 (172)
Construction: ABS Sidewall Sandwich, Paulownia/ash core
Shop for the Moment Bella Tour
G3 SLAYr Swift 114
At 114mm underfoot, the G3 SLAYr 114 Swift is undoubtedly a freeride specific backcountry ski, but certainly not a heavyweight. Weighing in at ~1500g for the 172cm length, it features flat camber, early tip rise and early tail release, and is built with polyurethane sidewalls and two tips-to-tail layers of titanal aluminum for both dampness and power. The ski is full carbon fiber construction which helps create a strong, light and torsionally stable ski. The main construction of the ski is Balsa wood core with 45 degree wood grain (the balsa is sawn with the wood grain at a 45 degree then laminated in opposing fashion to retain strength) creating a stiffer flex pattern from lightweight material, meant for playful skiing while still maintaining stability at higher speeds.
How it skis
The ski obviously shines in powder — it’s wide, it’s light, it’s playful — but also showed up surprisingly well in less optimal conditions. Testers found it absent of the chatter anticipated with such a wide but light plank, with solid edge grip and damping in icy and hard conditions. The ski bounded into and out of long, fast turns in soft snow, but wasn’t unmanageable to reign in for tighter trees. Julia Dubinina (full review here) also found the SLAYr easier to ski than some other light, wide planks which rely on strong skiing to fully engage the ski.
More beginner friendly that non-swift Slayr (full review here), owing to the Swift construction for lighter weight skiers. Oh, and magnets to keep the skis together.
No matter how light or skiable it is, the SLAYr Swift 114 is a whole lot of surface area to be pushing around on long ski tours.
Weight (g): 1500g (172)
Lengths (cm): 172, 178
Dimensions (mm): 143 – 114 – 128, Radius (m): 20.5 (172)
Construction: Carbon hybrid construction
Shop for the G3 SLAYr Swift 114
While most of the WildSnow backcountry skiing blog posts are best attributed to a single author, some work well as done by the group.