2011 Backcountry Ski Testing

We have begun our annual ski testing for our 2011 ski review. March has proven (once again) to offer some of the finest skiing of the season around here, and we have been running skis through the ringer up at Mt. Hood.

Our testing focuses on touring minded skis. In addition to the usual suspects, there are several new players this season with skis constructed to cater to the touring market. Kastle, Volkl, La Sportiva, Faction and Movement all have new skis for 2011 that are touted as light construction.

Also new into our testing mix is Hagan, a long standing European ski brand that has a new North American distributor. Hagan has several skis in the mid 70’s-80mm waist category, but they also have a new ski called the Daemon that measures in with a 93mm waist. The Daemon has proven to be a versatile ski in our testing and it is light at 6 lb 10 oz. 

Other standouts in the line-up thus far include the new G3 Saint and Zen Oxide, both of which use light construction and new early rise shape.  The new G3 Saint is modest at 93mm underfoot, but one tester described the Saint as one of the nicest telemark skis he has been on in years.

Faction has two new boards with light construction: the Agent 90 and the Agent 100. Although not as light as a Dynafit or similar, the skis are lighter than lastyear’s Faction boards and have many of the same excellent on snow qualities – lively and confident. Both skis also have nice modest rocker in the tips.

The new Volkl Nunataq is also garnering a lot of praise. The new light construction backcountry ski from Volkl has its roots in the Volk Gotama, but it weighs in at 7 lb 12 oz per pair – not bad for a ski that measure 139-107-123.

We have been able to ski the new Dynafit Manaslu, too. We have been huge advocates of the original Manaslu. The new ski features new core construction designed to stiffen the ski up. The new ski is definitely stiffer throughout. The resultt has been that bigger skiers (175+) have found it more responsive to their needs, while smaller skiers (150 and below) have been less pleased with the new construction.

We still have loads of telemark and alpine touring skis to test and will follow up with more deatils as we get out and ski in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here is a short slideshow from behind the scenes of our testing – all taken with various i-phone cameras.