Mar 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm #1270946
Companion forum thread to:Mar 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm #1713049
Very interesting report Mr. Dixon! The thought of waxless skis with better glide and the same or better grip is a very nice one. Hope the technology pans out and filters down to the fatter skis you discussed.Mar 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm #1713483
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Thanks for this update on waxless tech. It apppears the Atomic "skin plates" pose the most promise for backcountry skis.
More aggressive skin plates could be carried for steeper climbs. Much better than the present heavy, cumbersome and 'spensive skins, of which I presently have two pair.Mar 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm #1713616
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Oh Bother! We had just bought new BC skis.
For those who may not know: that's what we in Australia call cross-country touring. We have a lot of suitable country, although the snow is slowly dying as everything warms up.
CheersMar 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm #1714101
Wow! That's fantastic. What a great report.
20-40 F is a good working temperature range for Zero
That covers about 90% of the skiing I do. The Pacific Northwest is famous for slushy snow. Having skis that not only do well in these conditions, but are geared towards it, would be very nice indeed. Of course, then I would have to get two pairs of all of my skis. :)
The Fischer S-Bound skis are actually a line of Fischer skis that range from fairly skinny to decent sidecut (although pretty wimpy by today's standards). Some of these have metal edges, while some do not. I'm not surprised that the Silent Spider is a popular ski. I believe it replaces the Inbound Crown, which is a great compromise ski. It is light (no metal edges) but has decent sidecut (10 mm difference) with enough flotation to make your own tracks. It is a great ski for logging roads or backcountry touring if the snow is good and the terrain isn't too steep.
I would love to hear more about ultralight skiing. This is an inevitable compromise, of course. The lightest gear is the skinniest, and is meant for groomed tracks (by racers at that). It can be used in the backcountry, but only if the snow is really good and the terrain is really mellow or the skier is really, really skilled. On the other hand, I would love to hear reviews of skis that carve well despite their really low weight. With a really lightweight ski, you can pair it with lightweight boots, so that the overall weight is really low. Being light on my feet is one of the main reasons I switched from alpine skiing a long time ago.Mar 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm #1714178
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
"Thanks for this update on waxless tech. It apppears the Atomic "skin plates" pose the most promise for backcountry skis.
More aggressive skin plates could be carried for steeper climbs. Much better than the present heavy, cumbersome and 'spensive skins, of which I presently have two pair."
If you have extra climbing skins, slit one in half top to bottom. You end up with
a nice light skin good for steep climbs with skating gear or adding to waxless when you
need extra grip. Very light and compact.Mar 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm #1714361
@mountainwalkerLocale: SF Bay Area & New England
David that is a brilliant idea!Mar 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm #1714373
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
I somehow missed this article amongst the Cuben HH and Ahren chit-chats. Thanks for the write-up, Alan. I would be keen on trying some of these systems with a tele set-up, as they become available. It has been several years since I worked in a b/c ski shop, so I don't keep up on this stuff as well as I used to. This is a pleasant surprise to see this report here on BPL!Mar 25, 2011 at 9:55 am #1714568
> This is a pleasant surprise to see this report here on BPL!
> Wow! That's fantastic. What a great report.
> I would love to hear more about ultralight skiing.
Thanks for your vote of interest in BPL covering Lightweight and UL Backcountry Skiing. There is a possibility that we will address this topic in more depth this fall.
-AlanMar 26, 2011 at 1:15 am #1714963
@dools009Locale: Pacific Northwest
Thanks for a great update. Add another enthusiastic vote to see more UL ski articles by BPL.
BrendanApr 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm #1721124
Thanks much for the informative article! This may just convince me to get back inot the skiing game.Apr 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm #1721127
Ultralight backcountry ski gear has already been covered at various blogs for the last few years by various rando racers.
Here's a quick taste of it:
This gear is lighter than my nordic backcountry setup (Fischer Rebound + SNS-BC + Salomon Raid), yet I can ski true steep mountaineering terrain with it.
The most telling evidence of this gear's efficiency is that it now dominates what was previously considered to be a nordic backcountry race:
http://www.elkmountaintraverse.org/Apr 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm #1721163
There is no question that rando race gear is at the cutting edge, especially w/r/t weight (and boot tech). What is less obvious to me is the extent to which it applies well to a definition of backcountry skiing that goes beyond the up-down focus of skiing mountains into the realm of rolling and flatish yet untracked terrain.
First, the desirability of some sort of waxless base is for me axiomatic outside a fairly narrow range of geography and conditions. Race skis, or any ski influenced by race tech, lack this.
Second, I'm not at all convinced that Dynafit is superior to 3 pin and system bindings for rolling terrain. Some degree of forward resistance seems here a good thing (though Luc Mehl will disagree with me).
Third, race gear is stupid expensive, such that only the wealthy, sponsored, or fanatical can afford it.
I look forward to rando race technology, and a general realization that huge gear is not always the answer, to continue to cross-pollinate other realms of ski gear.Apr 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm #1721172
Also wanted to add my thanks for a well done article. I really hope to see more ski articles like this one and Luc's in the future.Apr 7, 2011 at 4:31 am #1721286
Certainly some backcountry ski terrain is too rugged for nordic race gear (whether waxable or patterned base) yet somehow not quite well suited for rando race gear, such that the most efficient choice would be some mix-and-match setup from the two worlds. Well, maybe not so certainly, especially given the lessons learned from the EMGT.
But anyway, although the oft-cited military source for the 5:1 (or 6.4:1?) ratio seems to be apocryphal, saving weight on your feet (whether walking or skiing) is far more important than the equivalent off your back, yet whenever discussion here turns to ski gear, BackpackingLight.com becomes BackpackingCheap.com. And besides, unless you wanted the very latest and greatest, rando race is quite affordable.
For example, for less than $200 you can buy a pair used F1 boots and modify them into what was a state-of-the-art setup only a few years ago:
And the Dynafit Low Tech Lite econo race binding has been on sale for $360:
(Note though that the pictured heel unit is incorrect.)Apr 7, 2011 at 9:20 am #1721386
It's always been BPC for me! I refuse to spend more than 200 bucks on a shelter (for instance).
Reading about all the skin failures during the Elk doesn't exactly sell me on race skis and mohair being a solution for rolling terrain.Apr 7, 2011 at 10:29 am #1721432
Those teams spent that many hours breaking trail that many miles in the dark, with that many transitions, and the worst that happened is that they had to go to their backup skins — sure sounds more like proof of gear reliability to me.Apr 7, 2011 at 10:51 am #1721444
Very interesting indeed. I've just returned from a week-long trip at the very north of the Scandinavian peninsula. Having used my ancient Fisher Crowns I am in the right mood for looking at new solutions.
One thing worries me about the Atomic Skintec though: In my neck of the woods, winter wilderness travel often entails skiing on rivers and lakes. I know it is similar in wild areas in many parts of the world. Something you are bound to run into sooner or later is overflow, water sitting on top of the ice but covered/insulated by snow. Bringing your skis out of this slush in cold weather will immediately freeze the water into ice that has to be, sometimes painstakingly, scraped off. I wonder if it would be possible to ever get ice like that off the Skintec without access to a warm house or a fire?Apr 10, 2011 at 10:44 am #1722721
@mikeclowLocale: Rocky Mountain West
Great article. I'm glad to hear the manufacturers are working on improvements to fishscales. A fat, turny waxless BC ski with good grip and still good glide sounds like Nirvana!
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