It’s a luxury to have a ski quiver, so the search for the elusive quiver-of-one backcountry ski is always on our minds when testing skis. There are certainly skiers who will argue going wider but, generally speaking, a mid- to upper-90’s waist makes for a reasonable do-it-all ski width. Sure, you give up some flotation on super deep days, but you gain agility in firm or less deep conditions. Let’s face it, as much as we all wish we skied waist-deep blower on a routine basis, boot-top conditions are probably more the norm. And like a good ski partner of mine likes to point out; “I want to ski in the snow, not on top of it!”
We offer three skis that we believe are solid choices as quiver-of-one backcountry skis: the Voile V6 (121-98-107), the Volkl BMT 94 (122-94-112) and the K2 Wayback 96 (128-96-118). Despite having similar dimensions, these three boards offer three distinct personalities and all three are great do-it-all backcountry boards, each with its own personality.
Voile V6 – 121/98/107 – 18m turn radius (173cm):
The Voile V6 hits the sweet spot between modern playful ride and everyday utility in a light, but not too light, construction. It’s a quiver-of-one backcountry ski that balances weight, performance and price better than any ski on the market. The shape has enough rocker and taper for easy initiation and a light drifty feel while still holding predictable edge contact in carvable conditions. The V6 is a ski with do-it-all ease that meets a wide target of backcountry needs. It also happens to be the widest of the three underfoot and is our pick for a quiver-of-one with deep snow bias. It’s also well matched to modest boots. Shop for the Voile V6
Völkl BMT 94 – 122/94/112 – 22m turn radius (176cm):
The Völkl BMT (Big Mountain Touring) 94 ‘s V-Werks construction turns a lot of heads and for good reason. The stealth-bomberesque look of the all-black carbon fiber and wood core design is unique. They earned a place on our Editors’ Choice list in 2015 for their confidence-inspiring ride on carvable corn and boot-top pow. Soft snow is smooth and dreamy on these traditional feeling skis with just a hint of new school looseness to them. They favor wider arcs over quick short turns and, despite their flat camber, they ski pretty true to length. The BMT 94 is a confident ski with a stealthy demeanor that only seems to lose its cool when the snow gets difficult. In tough mixed conditions they require a healthy dose of precision to keep them behaving. Somewhat akin to highly tuned racecar, given the proper input, this ski can do anything. The BMT 94 is our pick for the quiver-of-one with the best edge and carve. shop for the Volkl BMT 94
K2 Wayback 96 – 128/96/118 – 21m turn radius (177cm): The WayBack 96 is an updated shape of a time-tested and trusted board for all-mountain touring. It delivers consistent and fun turns in all conditions. K2’s signature damp yet lively personality fits nicely with the ski’s do-it-all width profile. A relatively traditional tail gives the Wayback a smooth ride in carvable conditions, while the modest tip rocker and round flex handles soft snow like a pro. The Wayback 96 is our pick for the most balanced performance between soft snow and carvable conditions for a quiver-of-one backcountry ski. Shop for the K2 Wayback 96