Best Backcountry (Touring) Skis For 2022-2023 | Lightweight Ski Touring Skis For The Up

There's a huge variety of ski touring and backcountry skis out there. We get our heads around the best of them

Backcountry and ski touring skis are the first thing that will influence your ability to ski in certain conditions while out in fresh, untracked snow, beyond your (obviously flawless) technique, of course. To the uninitiated, there’s a confusing amount of shapes and constructions on the market; each of which give the ski certain characteristics to suit specific snow conditions.

While the right pair of backcountry skis have the potential to inspire confidence over the entire mountain, the wrong pair have the power to strike fear into the hearts of those unable to take full control of them. It’s therefore vital that we make the right decision on our choice of backcountry skis, based on things like ability, end goals, and build.

Not only do ski touring skis need to be damp, responsive and stiff in order to ski well, they also need to remain lightweight for when you’re earning your turns. Recent developments in ski technology has meant that we’re now seeing some incredibly high-performance skis that barely tip the scales. 

Although many of the skis in this roundup have been classified as backcountry, many of them aren’t out and out skis solely designed for ski touring. You could, for example, still happily slap an alpine downhill binding on many of the more traditionally built skis and they’d still perform just a regular ski. If you do want to experience the huge variety of terrain and endless amounts of fun offered by ski touring however (and why wouldn’t you, it’s the best), you’ll need to mount a ski touring binding on these things.

How To Choose A Pair Of Backcountry Skis

Ski Widths Explained
How To Choose The Right Ski Length
Ski Shapes Explained
Ski Camber and Rocker Explained


Lay a pair of skis flat on a surface and you’ll most likely see the ski rise up from said surface. The rise, most prominent from the waist, is something we call camber. This rise means that when the ski is weighted, it will have an even distribution of weight throughout the whole length of the ski rather than exclusively at its midpoint. If you’re looking for skis with a lot of bite in firm snow, then look for skis with a liberal use of camber underfoot. 


Rocker is traditionally used in the tips and tails to promote float in fresh snow. By rising the tips and tails of the ski up off the snow, it means that the tips don’t have a tendency to ‘tip-dive’ into fresh snow even when the skier is weighting the tips. Rocker also shortens the contact length of the edges, making the skis easier to turn in fresh, whereas a ski without rocker might just sink / plough through the fresh snow. 

Fully ‘rockered’ skis will have minimal contact points on the snow, as the tips and tails are heavily raised above the surface. This makes for an extremely manoeuvrable ski at the cost of bite on firm snow, due to a lack of edge contact through the length of the ski. 

Camber/Rocker Mix

It’s common to see Rocker-Camber-Rocker blends in ski design these days. Take a look out for our ski profile shots found within each ski review to see how much camber and rocker the ski in question carries. 

“If you do want to experience the huge variety of terrain and endless amounts of fun… you’ll need to mount a touring-specific binding on these things”


Usually presented in the format of ‘126 / 100 / 108’ (numbers will vary) this figure shows the width of the tips (first number), waist (second number), and tail (third number). When combined, the sidecut also gives the radius of the ski in question. 

This radius is the distance the ski would travel to make a turn, if you were to put it on edge and follow the shape that the sidecut creates. For example, the set of numbers above represent a radius of 25 metres for 180cm ski. 


Waist widths are important for backcountry skiing as the more surface area you’re carrying underfoot, the more chance you have of floating through fresh snow. On the flip side, smaller waist widths have more bite on firm snow as power from your boot can be directly driven to the edges of the skis.

The waist width of a ski will give you a very rough understanding of what the ski is most suited towards. In modern skis, widths of 90 – 110mm are great for all mountain riding (depending on your style) whereas widths of 110mm + become a little more focused towards powder riding.


The Best Backcountry (Touring) Skis

Scott Pure Mission 98 Ti

Sidecut (mm): 133 / 98 / 199 (177 cm)
Radius: 19m (177 cm)
Weight (per ski): 1,850g
Price: £580

Why we chose the Scott Pure Mission 98 Ti: Lightweight, zippy, powerful


Coming in at a weight of 1,860 grams per ski and rocking an extremely powerful build (the same titanal power that’s packed into Jeremie Heitz’s Pure 109Ti pro model), the Scott Pure Mission 98Ti is an extremely capable ski that seriously impressed our test team last season.

As with most of the skis that sit in the Pure freeride lineup, a powerful Titanal layer sits at the heart of the Pure Mission 98 Ti. This layer has been specifically shaped and tuned to provide power exactly where it’s needed – and that’s mainly underfoot – while reducing weight where it’s not.

Who Is The Scott Pure Mission 98 Ti For?

Attach a hybrid ski touring binding, such as the Salomon Shift, paired with a midweight freeride touring boot and you’re left with a setup that can comfortably take on a range of conditions across the whole mountain.

Selected for the Mpora Ski 100. Check out our full Scott Pure Mission 98Ti Review here

Armada Locator 104

Sidecut (mm): 131 / 104 / 123 (176 cm)
Radius: 20m (176 cm)
Weight (per ski): 1,425g (176 cm)

Why we chose the Armada Locator 104: Lightweight, powerful, manoeuvrable


2022 seems to be the year of freeski-specific touring skis. K2 had a crack with the Dispatch range, Blizzard unveiled the Hustle, and now the all-new Locator series for Armada is the freeskiing companies’ take on this competitive category.

Stepping in to replace the old Trace and Tracer series, the Locator range has been designed to combine best in class downhill performance with some impressively light weights. You’ve got a selection of 88, 96, 104 and 112 mm models.

Who Is The Armada Locator 104 For?

We never thought we’d see it from freeskiing leaders Armada, but they’ve gone and fully stepped into lightweight ski mountaineering territory with the Locator series of skis (particularly the 96 and 88).

If you value a lightweight pair of skis for fast ascent, yet still want to retain good levels of downhill performance and versatility for mixed snow conditions, then you certainly can’t go wrong with the Locator 104. They left us constantly questioning whether we really had a pair of sub-1,500 gram skis on our feet.

Selected for the Mpora Ski 100. Check out our full Armada Locator 104 Review here

Atomic Backland 107

Sidecut (mm): 137 / 107 / 124 (182 cm)
Radius: 18.5m (182 cm)
Weight (per ski): 1,550g (182 cm)


Coming in at a weight of 1,550 grams and carrying a waist width of 107 mm, the Atomic Backland 107 strikes a phenomenal surface area to weight ratio. But, is this at the expense of power and stability? Well, given these skis are the choice of freeride legends Sage Cayyabriga-Alosa and Nick McNutt, we’d bet not.

The Atomic Backland 107 is one of the highest performing touring-specific freeride skis on the market right now. While the Line Vision 108 offers an extremely playful ride at a similar weight point, the Backland 107 provides a powerful ski for those who prefer to keep things directional.

Selected for the Ski 100. Check out our full Atomic Backland 107 Review here

Black Crows Mentis Freebird

Sidecut (mm): 111 / 80 / 101 (178 cm)
Radius: 19m (178 cm)
Weight (per ski): 1,075g
Price: £690

Why we chose the Black Crows Mentis Freebird: Lightweight, smooth, confident


Black Crows, broadly speaking, have tended to shy away from producing light-as-a-feather ski mountaineering skis. Yes, they’ve produced some impressively light skis – with incredibly high performance – but, it’s fair to say, lycra isn’t really their forte. The Mentis Freebird is the brand’s take on the ski mountaineering ski category and, we’re glad to report, it’s got all the Black Crows magic built into it.

Coming in at a shockingly low weight of 1,057 grams per ski, it’s the lightest ski in the Crow’s lineup of backcountry-specific skis. Combine this low weight with a sporty flex and efficient skin clips on the tips and tails, and you’ve got yourself a pair of planks that’ve been designed to get you to the tops in a speedy and effortless style. What’s more, you’ve got yourself a pair of skis that won’t perform like soggy cardboard on the downhill.

Selected for the Ski 100. Check out our full Black Crows Mentis Freebird Review here

Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104

Sidecut (mm): 131 / 104 / 118 (172 cm)
Radius: 21m (172 cm)
Weight (per ski): 1,450g
Price: £700

Why we chose the Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104: Lightweight, smooth, versatile


The Helio range of backcountry skis from Black Diamond have quickly become a mainstay in BD’s backcountry-specific ski offering. By combining a highly-tuned prepreg carbon fibre laminate with a full-perimeter ABS sidewall, the brand has created a ski that impressed our testers with its nice balance of low weight and smooth handling.

​​Who Is The Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104 For?

As has been the trend for many modern touring skis, the Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104 brings a high level of performance at a low weight. If you’re after a surfier, looser, ski than many of the more traditional ski touring skis then the Helio range is definitely worth checking out.

Selected for the Ski 100. Check out our full Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104 Review here

Blizzard Zero G LT

Sidecut (mm): 108 / 80 / 94 (171 cm)
Radius: 21m (171 cm)
Weight (per ski): 1,040g
Price: £630

Why we chose the Blizzard Zero G LT: Lightweight and efficient


The Zero G range from Blizzard has quickly become a favourite for ski mountaineers and ski tourers alike. They’ve consistently featured within our buyers’ guides and, in the case of the Zero G 95, they’ve even skied from the summit of Lhotse.

Now, for the 22/23 season, Blizzard are bringing this level of lightweight performance to a pair of ski mountaineering planks with an 80 mm waist in the all-new Blizzard Zero G LT. They’re a pair of touring skis that have seen further weight reduction to create Blizzard’s answer to the sub-1,000 gram ski category.

Selected for the Ski 100. Check out our full Blizzard Zero G LT Review here

Salomon MTN 96

Sidecut (mm): 116 / 96 / 130 (182 cm)
Radius: 19m (182 cm)
Weight (per ski): 1,480g
Price: £630


The all-new MTN Carbon range from Salomon represents some best in class weight to power ratio, all while sporting a construction that’s easy (as can be) on the earth. This, the Salomon MTN 96 Carbon, is the lightest wide touring ski that Salomon has made. It comes in at a weight of 1,480 grams.

The MTN range from Salomon has been the companies’ flagship touring range for some time. Their ‘MTN Explore’ range of touring skis (which this ski replaced) combined a blend of low weight and high downhill performance for ski tourers who wanted a ski that doesn’t feel like a hyperactive pitbull on the downhill.

Who Is The Salomon MTN 96 Carbon For?

The Salmon MTN 96 comes from a strong family tree of touring skis that are more than capable on the downhill, and which are confident in a wide range of conditions and terrain. Mount these with a touring-specific binding, like the Marker Kingpin 12, and you’ll have a setup that’s lightning fast on ski tracks and an absolute joy to ski on the down.

Selected for the Ski 100. Check out our full Salomon MTN 96 Carbon Review here

Line Vision 108

Lengths (cm): 175, 183, 189
Sidecut (mm): 142 / 108 / 128
Radius: 19.5m
Rocker Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
Weight (per ski): 1,605g

Line has previously dabbled in creating a touring ski, with the Sick Day Tourist, but the Vision series is the first time the company has produced a whole lineup of touring skis. But fear not, as Line has still managed to stay true to its playful freestyle roots in the production of this ski.

The Vision 108’s are a pair of skis that many people will get on with thanks to that approachable flex rating and hybrid playful/backcountry shaping.


Selected for the Mpora Ski 100. Check out our full Line Vision 108 Review here

Kästle TX87

Lengths (cm): 150, 158, 166, 174 & 182
Sidecut (mm): 124 / 87 / 111 (174 cm)
Radius (m): 15.5 (174 cm)
Rocker Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
Weight (per ski): 1,160g

Coming in at a weight of 1,260 grams per ski, the TX87 hovers between that fine line of high performance and lightweight construction. What’s usually the case for skis in this weight class is that they’re extremely lightweight, yet frustratingly twitchy. However, the TX87s are an impressively capable pair of skis, given that lack of weight.

If you are serious about ski touring and ski mountaineering that’s money well spent in our opinion. The TX87 strikes one of the best balances between ski performance and low weight we’ve seen on a touring ski.

Selected for the Mpora Ski 100. Check out our full Kästle TX87 Review here

Black Crows Corvus Freebird

Lengths (cm): 176, 183 & 188
Sidecut (mm): 140 / 107 / 119 (183 cm)
Radius: 21m (183 cm)
Rocker Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
Weight (per ski): 1,800g

The Black Crows Corvus Freebird. There aren’t many skis more synonymous with the European ski touring scene than these fluorescent pink planks. Just spend a couple of hours on a busy Chamonix skin track and you’ll be sure to bump into someone sliding their way uphill on a pair of Corvus Freebird.

The Corvus Freebird has long been the go-to ski for riders not looking to give up an ounce of performance on the downhill. Their blend of aggressive shaping and responsive, yet lightweight, build gives a setup that’s more than capable of taking on a range of conditions in the backcountry.


Selected for the Mpora Ski 100. Check out our full Black Crows Corvus Freebird Review here

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