2022 EDITORS’ CHOICE – TOURING SKIS

Ski touring Gear of the Year

THESE VERITABLE VEHICLES WILL GET YOU TO PEAK PLACES – AND BACK AGAIN WITH A WHOPPING SMILE ON YOUR FACE

Black Diamond Cirque 84

£550

Lengths: 157, 164, 171, 178

Radius: 19.5m @ 171

Dimensions: 115-84-104 @ 171

Weight per ski: 1030g @ 171

The Black Diamond Cirque 84 is a classic lightweight mountaineering ski designed for long approaches, speedy ascents and technical descents in the high alpine.

With a full-length engineered paulownia wood core, pre-preg carbon fibre lay-up, versatile 84mm width and ‘all-conditions’ tip rise, it’s ideal for experienced ski mountaineers looking for an ultra-light ski built to deliver a smooth, damp and balanced downhill experience.

Iain’s skied them in just about every condition imaginable and taken them down some of the gnarliest lines Scotland has to offer.

He says: “having spent 20+ days touring on the Cirque 84s, they have rapidly become my go-to pair for all Scottish missions. Light enough for long approaches on skins, or steep bootpacks and even mixed climbs with skis on my back, they’re also stable enough that I could confidently ski on steep terrain above serious exposure. If you’re looking for a one-ski quiver, the Cirque 84 paired with a lightweight pin bindings is your answer.” Also in 78.

blackdiamondequipment.com

Scott Superguide 95

£525

Lengths: 162, 170, 178, 184

Radius: 21m @ 178

Dimensions: 130, 95, 115 @ 178

Weight per ski: 1440g @ 178

Last year the Superguide Freetour walked away with the honours at FL, but this year the props go to the workhorse in the range, the Scott Superguide 95.

Scott have always made dependable solid touring skis to take you on your most epic of journeys, be it conquering the Haute Route or Arctic adventures in Norway, and the Superguide 95 is arguably their best yet.

Back with an updated and slicker topsheet this winter, at 1440g it is a smooth operator on the ups, munching metres of ascent with ease. The skins are both a joy to fit and use with their integrated tip clips – no knocking tip bails off on tricky transitions here.

            Like its bigger brother, the Freetour, the 95 uses a paulownia wood core with beech stringers to keep things lively underfoot with zero degree carbon stringers to keep the ski solid and stable when the going gets tough on variable mixed terrain.

This makes it feel much more planted when it comes to the descent. With more freeride DNA than flappy touring feels, despite its low weight, it’s punchy in the shovel and can be driven hard.

A balanced flex through the length of the ski gives a smooth ride and the elliptical shape adds grunt to the torsion of the ski, which means edge grip on steeper/harder ground is very reassuring. The ultimate versatile touring ski.

scott-sports.com

Blizzard Zero G 94 Approach

£550

Lengths: 157, 164, 171, 178, 185

Radius: 18m @ 171

Dimensions: 128-94-111.5

Weight per ski: 1300g

The new Zero G Approach collection from Blizzard features two new skis – the Zero G Approach 84 and our pick of the pair, the Zero G Approach 94.

More accessible and affordable than the original, the new Zero G Approach 94 also comes in at £80 less than the undiluted version, making it ideal for those looking to get a foothold in the backcountry.

A lighter construction and softer flex makes for a more approachable, playful ride, yet it still carries a solid 95mm underfoot to cope with the full range of backcountry conditions.

By reducing the amount of carbon fibre, the Approach 94 immediately becomes less stiff and the slightly tighter radius also makes it easier to control in narrow chutes and tricky snow.

Ideal for newbie tourers, lighter skiers and basically anyone who prefers a lively, easy-to-ski kinda ride, the new Approach series is a very clever addition to the all-conquering Zero G family.

blizzard-tecnica.com

Dynafit Radical 88 Ski Set

£950

Lengths: 158, 166, 174, 182

Radius: 20.5m @ 174

Dimensions: 121-88-110

Weight per ski: 1300g @ 174

Pairing touring skis with the right bindings and skins can be a right old faff. And an expensive one at that. I

f you’re keen to spend less time on your computer researching kit and more time actually skiing, then Dynafit’s new ‘Unpack and Ski’ Radical Ski Set may be the stroke of genius you seek.

The Set is made up of Dynafit’s new Radical 88 ski, Radical binding and Pomoca skins. Compatibility and quality guaranteed.

The new Radical 88 is an all-round, ‘classic’ touring ski with a versatile 88mm waist, lightweight poplar core with carbon speed stringers, long turning radius, and full ABS sidewalls.

It all adds up to a balanced, dependable, user-friendly package that’s been designed and combined to deal with the demands of a wide range of conditions. A real solid all-rounder.

dynafit.com

Atomic Backland 98 W

£500

Lengths: 156, 164, 172

Radius: 14.6m @ 164

Dimensions: 127.5-98-118

Weight per ski: 1120g @ 164

Weighing in at just 1120g per ski with a solid all-round 98mm underfoot, the Atomic Backland 98 W may well offer the solution to that eternal backcountry quest – aka a ski that goes up as well as it descends. With lightweight performance and genuine skiability at a cracking price, the Backland 98 W certainly has all the cred we look for in a do-it-all touring partner.

            Sophie skied the Backland 98 W in a 164cm this winter in Scotland and had a total riot. “So natural and easy to ski from the get-go, this ski requires next to no breaking in period. Swoopy, fun, and so easy to handle, it climbs like a beast, laps up the powder and charges through the crud. Despite the gnarly Scottish weather on the day of testing, I had a smile on my face all day long – it just makes skiing so much fun!”

            The combination of the ultralight wood core, carbon backbone and powder rocker means it climbs easily and responds swiftly and powerfully to the full spectrum of conditions when it’s time to descend. The 98mm platform inspires confidence in all but the steepest and iciest terrain, and the powder rocker facilitates float in the fresh and charge over the chop.

Looking for something wider? The freetouring Backland 107 W is a lightweight, bouncy, easy-driving ski that’s happy to play all day long. Cool new graphic this season too.

atomic.com

Faction Agent 2.0X

£599

Lengths: 155, 163, 171

Radius: 15m @163

Dimensions: 127-96-117

Weight per ski: 1410g

Forget pretty in pink, this ski is perfect in pink!

At 96mm underfoot, the Faction Agent 2.0X is a super-versatile, all-conditions, mid-flex touring rig that’s light enough to rock the ascent and rip up anything in its path on the descent.

Gear ed Soph spent over two weeks out on it last winter in Scotland and is now a fully signed up convert to the Agent club. “What can I say? I absolutely love this ski! I skied it in surfy spring corn, boot-top fresh, tight icy gullies and it quite simply bossed the lot,” says Soph. “Easy to pivot, floaty in the powder, light on the climb and super reassuring in harder conditions thanks to the stiffer tail that completes turns with precision, I was happy to take these skis out for short easy days, longer expeditions and steep sessions knowing that the Agent 2.0X would have my back wherever and whenever.”

The proverbial freeride-slash-touring quiver of one then? Soph thinks so…

factionskis.com

Scott Superguide 95 W

£525

Lengths: 160, 168

Radius: 20m @ 168

Dimensions: 128-94-113

Weight per ski: 1370g @ 168

Filling that understandably popular ‘do everything, ski everything’ 95mm underfoot gap, the Scott Superguide 95 W is every bit as good as we’d hoped.

            Stiff enough to stand up at higher speeds yet supple and forgiving through short turns, our female test team were unanimous in their praise for the Superguide 95 W at the Scottish Ski Test.

            “It’s super easy to wield and rebounded energetically without feeling like it might fold in half in firm conditions,” said Amy. “It has a freeride feel that gives you confidence to push on the downhill. It ate up the lumps and bumps and hopped over the heather like a happy haggis.”

            When it’s time to start earning those turns, the Superguide 95 W has got mountain goat-ascending capabilities thanks to its low weight and easy skin fixation system. It’s feathery as a fluffed up duck but still super durable and strong thanks to the addition of beech wood stringers to reinforce the paulownia wood core.

            If you’re looking for a well-balanced women’s-specific touring ski for hut-to-hut Alpine tours, summit-to-sea spring Nordic adventures, day hits in Scotland and everything in between, the Superguide 95 W will have your back. A genuine backcountry quiver-of-one contender. Also available in 88.

scott-sports.com

Dynafit Blacklight 88 W

£620

Lengths: 151, 158, 166, 172

Radius: 17m @ 166

Dimensions: 122-87-110 

Weight per ski: 1060g @ 166

Gather round gram counters – this one’s for you! The brand new Dynafit Blacklight 88 W is a high-end touring ski for dedicated summit seekers.

Weighing in at just over 1kg per ski, it’s the lightest ski in our line-up, which clearly reveals its fast and light intent. Softer and lighter than the unisex version, the female-specific 88 W offers an altogether more playful and maneuverable backcountry ride.

Speediness comes courtesy of a technical construction that features an mega-light paulownia wood core, uni-directional carbon layers for increased stability, and full ABS sidewalls for max power transfer.

Each length comes with a different rocker construction and turning radius to ensure proportional performance and the bases are finished with a special racing grind for maximo rapidity.

If you like your turns on the ski mountaineering side of the spectrum, it’s time to ignite those afterburners with the Blacklight 88 W this winter.

dynafit.com

GRAB A COPY OF THE GEAR GUIDE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THESE BOOTS AND ALL THE OTHER STONKY NEW SKI GEAR FOR WINTER 2022!