Top 5 – The Best Backcountry Skis of 2020

Backcountry Skiing Gear Guide – The Best Skis of 2020

Choosing a backcountry ski is a time consuming and difficult task. It presents a conflict of interest: weight vs. performance. But you shouldn’t have to compromise. Backcountry skis should be light for the uphill without making too many concessions on downhill performance in the process of shaving grams. Here is a guide to buying your next backcountry set up. Below are what we consider the top 5 backcountry skis of this season. And don’t forget, you can find all of these skis in our shop, Tahoe Mountain Sports.

Blizzard Zero G 95

Price: $699.95

Weight: 1250 g (178 cm)

Dimensions: 127 / 95 / 111 mm (185 cm)

Profile: Rocker Camber Rocker

The Blizzard Zero G 95 is a timeless favorite of ours. It skis well in a variety of conditions and is the lightest on this list. At under 6 lbs per pair, you’ll float up the skintrack with these on your feet. It’s designed with the uphill in mind and if you pair it with a light binding like G3’s Zed, you’ll be unstoppable.

The 95 mm waist makes this an extremely versatile ski that can handle soft and firm conditions. With camber underfoot, it charges in firm conditions and maintains a strong edge hold. It excels in firmer conditions, making it one of our favorites for springtime corn skiing.

If you’re new to backcountry skiing, this ski is a great option. It’s light on the uphill and responsive on the downhill. It’s can make quick, tight turns giving you confidence in unfamiliar terrain.

The Bottom Line: If you are looking to cut down on weight, pick up this ski. We are impressed by its balance between weight and performance. It’s ideal for someone who’s looking for a lightweight backcountry performer.

Blizzard Zero G 108

Price: $799.95

Weight: 1650 g (178 cm)

Dimensions: 134 / 105 / 122 mm (188 cm)

Profile: Rocker Camber Rocker

Lightweight and powerful, just like it’s little brother the Zero G 95, the Zero G 105 is a great choice for those looking for a hard charging backcountry ski. It’s quick, nimble, and will hold an edge when you need it. This ski wants to be taken on committing lines, it’s aggressive and demands that you ski it. It’s stable and predictable at speed and in variable conditions (chop, breakable crust, etc.)

The 105 mm waist is incredibly versatile and can be used as an everyday ski. The extra width underfoot gives you more float, especially on deep powder days. The traditional camber profile of this ski gives the ski power and precision. Once engaged, this ski offers a strong edge hold. With this ski, Blizzard has created a lightweight tool that doesn’t sacrifice performance for weight.

The Bottom Line: This is a great option for advanced backcountry enthusiasts who are looking for a confidence inspiring, aggressive ski. It will excel in powder but can handle many different conditions. It’s a ski that wants to go steep and fast.

Black Crows Navis Freebird

Price: $829.95

Weight: 1675 g (179 cm)

Dimensions: 133 / 102 / 118 (179 cm)

Profile: Rockered tip, camber, early rise tail

This ski is all you need for a one ski quiver. At 102 mm underfoot, it has a versatile waist that can hold an edge in firm conditions or float on deep powder days. It’s a playful and responsive ski that likes to pop in and out of turns. You can certainly use the Navis Freebird as a daily driver at the resort and in the backcountry, it does well in and out of bounds. You never really know what to expect in the backcountry but you can feel confident that these skis can handle it all – steep stuff, hippy pow, chop, icy firm days, you name it.

At 1675 g, it’s just a touch heavier than the Zero G 108 but still in the category of lightweight touring skis. Pair it with the Fritschi Tecton as a one ski quiver or the G3 Zed to fly uphill.

The Bottom Line: This is a great one ski quiver for those looking for a light setup that they can ski in all conditions in bounds and out of bounds.

K2 Wayback 106

Price: $699.95

Weight: 1552 g (179 cm)

Dimensions: 136 / 106 / 122 mm

Profile: Rocker Camber Rocker

This updated Wayback brings some serious competition to the lineup. It’s a light, versatile tool that can handle a wide range of conditions in the backcountry. The early, gradual rise in the tip provides excellent float while the low rise tail helps with easy turn initiation in deeper snow. It’s 106 mm waist can do it all – take on powder and chop, excel in spring, cornlike conditions, and make quick, powerful turns in couloirs and steep terrain.

The updates to this year’s Wayback 106 help the ski strike a great balance between uphill and downhill performance. A paulownia wood core lightens this ski up and gives it a playful pop. Carbon fiber stringers add stiffness and a titanal spine adds dampness and stabilitity. This new construction makes the Wayback quick on the skintrack and fun on the ski down.

The Bottom Line: This ski is an excellent mid winter touring ski for those who like a wider, high performance everyday ski.

G3 Seekr Elle Women’s

Weight: 1310 g (162 cm)

Price: $799.95

Dimensions: 132 / 100 / 120 mm

Profile: Rocker Camber Rocker

Here is our top pick for a women specific backcountry ski. The G3 Seekr Elle is fun and playful and excels at the uphill. It’s ultralight, weighing in at 1310g, which makes it a great pick for long days on the skintrack. Soft powder is where this ski shines thanks to early rise in the tip and tail and a nice, big shovel. The shape and 100 mm waist will help you float effortlessly on deep powder days.

Even though this is considered an ultralight ski, it’s also designed to perform well on the downhill in a variety of conditions. It’s constructed with a polyurathane sidewall which adds dampening qualities and absorbs energy. There is 2 mm of camber underfoot to help maintain stability at speed.

The Bottom Line: This ski is playful, powerful, and ultralight. It’s a great all mountain backcountry ski for lady shredders who want something that can handle a little bit of everything. It excels in soft conditions so make sure to bring it out on the next pow day.

Choosing the Right Size

The general rule of thumb for ski sizing is to choose a ski that measures anywhere from your chin to the top of your head. There are many reasons to size up or down from there – weight, skier ability, rocker profile, etc.

If you are new to backcountry skiing, we recommend sizing your backcountry ski slightly shorter than your alpine ski. A shorter ski will be more responsive and make quicker turns. This helps keep you safe as you adjust to different terrain (tight trees, obstacles, etc) in the backcountry.

In Store Perks

Have you heard about our package deals? If you’re going to purchase a new setup – skis, boots, and bindings – we have a great deal for you. We’ll give you 15% OFF everything! We will also mount your skis and heat mold your boots for free!

If you’re still not sure which ski is the one for you, why don’t you try some out? All of the skis in the list above are available to demo, so come on by to take them out for the day.

We also rent snowshoes and a variety of backcountry gear. Check out our selection of backcountry gear for rent using the link below and let us help you get geared up for next adventures!

Check out our Backcountry Gear Rentals

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Tahoe Mountain Sports will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  Affiliate commissions help fund the content for this blog.

Siobhan works at Tahoe Mountain Sports and currently manages TMS blog content. She loves everything about living in the mountains, from snowy winter days on skis to the hot, dusty trails of the Sierra's in the summer. Favorite activities include skiing, trail running and backpacking.

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