Lighten the Load: Fours Skis To Go Farther, Faster

While staying afloat in winter’s deep snow requires a wide and sometimes heavy ride, spring—and summer—turns bring about a different list of requirements. For longer tours and steeper objectives that are more attainable in warmer weather, consider a ski that will work with—not against—you to go the distance. That means trading out powder-specific attributes for smaller, more agile waist widths, less rocker for greater confidence and bite on firm snow and overall lighter construction. Here are four options to get you there.

Scott Speedguide 95

This new, wider addition to Scott’s touring-focused Speedguide line for 2019 offers the same substantial sidecut and carbon stringers as its smaller sibling—measuring 80 mm underfoot—for enhanced all-mountain applicability. “Performed best in steep terrain,” said one Montanan at our 2019 Gear Test Week, impressed with the 95’s ability to weave through trees. While a meager weight firmly plants the 95 in the uphill-oriented category, its modest girth led that same tester to praise its proficiency in powder. That weight—and stiffness derived from carbon stringers—left others on their heels in choppy conditions. “Lost its mojo when snow was skied through,” one said. $750, 128/95/117, 5.4 lbs. (173),

Black Diamond Equipment Helio 88

“This would be my ski of choice for long approaches and tight couloirs,” said one tester, impressed with the Helio 88’s hard-snow performance. The 88 sports camber underfoot and moderate rocker at the tip and tail, designed for enhanced agility, and this year Black Diamond included layers of rubber in the layup to help moderate vibration—“The rubber-layer dampening showed its merit on the firm. Minimal chatter, particularly for such a light ski,” raved one weight-conscious tester. “Surprisingly not super chattery,” added another. “Fun at speed and easy to control in refrozen crud.” $830, 121/88/111, 5.2 lbs. (168),

Black Crows Camox Freebird

“A light, stable, reliable ski,” one tester summarized after riding the Camox Freebird at our 2019 Gear Test Week. “Excellent all-around touring ski,” echoed another. To optimize their previous Camox with enhanced touring capabilities, Black Crows swapped the paulownia/poplar blend for a new, all-paulownia core, now laminated with carbon fiber and glass, cutting 400 grams per pair in the process. And the all-around reliability that caught tester attention? It could be a result of reduced rocker in the tip and tail, designed for increased edge contact. A revamped tail that’s wider and stiffer helped, too, said another, who dreamt of testing the Camox on “long tours and technical descents.” $720, 133/96/114, 6.1 lbs. (178.2),

Fischer TransAlp Carbon 90

The TransAlp lives up to its tour-oriented name, thanks to Fischer’s focus on high stability and low weight. Carbon stringers complement a paulownia core, adding stiffness to the construction without tacking on weight. “Stiff and snappy when conditions were right,” said one tester who preferred railing this ski on hard snow. “Best for spring touring—could make a good Shasta ski,” one West Coast skier said. Even with its carbon reinforcements, the TransAlp’s overall lightness was no match for more serious chunder, some testers found. Per one, they “lacked performance in the heavier crud.” $700, 123/87/106, 5.2 lbs. (162),

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