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Backcountry Ski Width

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hey Hey all!


This is going to be my first season back country touring in the Rocky Mountains/ Colorado. I had a few questions in regards to selecting a ski width. I saw a forum which focused more on length, so if I missed another thread, please point me in the right direction!


Little about myself. I'm 5'8, 165-170lbs. Ski everything in the resorts no problem, extreme terrain to grubbing groomers, so I'm really open to all sorts of skis. I currently ride Line SFB's as my daily ski (love em), and the K2 Side Seth's for those tasty powder days.


With jumping into back country touring this upcoming season, and understanding that 90% is up hill, I have a feeling something around the width of my bacon's is ideal, making it not too taxing to climb, but still perform in all conditions (106-108mm underfoot, can't remember the exact measurements). Correct me if I'm wrong on my mentality behind this.


Any help would be greatly appreciated, and thanks!



post #2 of 9
I bc ski on the vwerks katana and it's great in all conditions, 112
post #3 of 9

Just looking at width it is a matter of where you want to make compromises.  In terms of the up a wider ski will do better if you are setting the skin track in deeper snow as you will have greater float.  As an aside moderate early rise is nice in a BC ski, but full rocker blows chunks on the skin track IMHO.


Narrower skis are lighter relative to wider skis and the skins also are lighter.  Another negative to a wider ski on the up is the skin takes more work (greater resistance) relative to a narrower one.


Andrew McLean recommends a 95 width ski for the Wasatch for what it is worth.  


Last 4 years I have used a 98 waist ski as my primary ski and a 114 for the last 2 as my powder skis.  Even if it was a powder day, if I was going with folks who had a greater fitness level than me I took the 98 skis.  This coming winter I will ski a 108 as my powder ski.

post #4 of 9

I have only backcountry skied about 30 days in the past three seasons. I have three pairs of skis that I have used - 188 K2 Coomba's (105mm) full camber, !95 Armada AK JJ's (120mm) rocker/camber/rocker and 190 Fat-ypus A-Lotta's (140mm) early rise rocker then camber with flat tails, all with Salomon Guardian Alpine Touring bindings. I'm an athletic, fairly fit 6'7", 240 lb, ski pretty much everything skier. By far, my favourite skis for skiing powder are the Fatypus. They have great float and I also like the way the flat tails provide more float and support in the backseat, should you go there, purposefully or otherwise. Despite their size they are very nimble and hold a great edge on ice. They are the most versatile of the three. Given that I go backcountry to ski powder they are the skis I take (I'm not worried about a little more work on the way up, I'm worried about a lot more fun on the way down). The flat tails are also advantageous for skinning. They are also relatively light. They are also unreal crud busters.

If I were you I would go to the website, checkout the Mack 5 FT (flat tail), the D'Riddum FT and the M5 FT. Since you are not quite my size you may find the D'Riddum FT (which come with an optional beefed up stiffness) 118 underfoot, 15 m radius, to be to your liking. The bonus here is Fat-ypus is selling 2016 skis for $390. The M5's are 106 underfoot. I haven't skied on these skis but, if they are anything like my A'Lottas you can't go wrong. The funny thing is I bought the A-Lotta's purely for their width because I wanted them for the season ending pond skimming contest. Well a funny thing happened on the way to the pond - I tried them on snow and loved them, in all conditions but the iciest of ice. 

You can checkout the pond skimming at, and

I have no affiliation with Fat-pus but I will be buying more of their skis for sure.

post #5 of 9

Second the Vwerks Katana... I generally shy away from a ski that wide for touring (sticking with 90-105 generally), but the Vwerks K is really a great ski. 

post #6 of 9
A few thoughts... Wider skis weigh more because of the larger area where snow accumulates on top as well as the weight (skins absorb water) and drag from wider skins. This accumulation of snow occurs in all soft snow conditions, not just powder days. The weight difference ends being more than you might think.

Also consider the width of set tracks in your area. Usually if you are following a set track, then if your skis are a lot wider than the track, it can be easier to just set your own track. So look at what your buddies and neighbors are touring on.

I think length is also just as important. Make sure you have a short enough tail that you can easily kick turn and rip your skins off without I clipping your skis, especially important if you are doing many short laps.

Full rocker skis suck for skinning.

I usually tour on my dps 112rp in mid winter. but I am kind of fat 215lbs.
post #7 of 9

If I could only have one touring setup for everything, it would likely be something around 105mm and around 8lbs. Something like a Praxis Backcountry or Blizzard Zero G 108. 

post #8 of 9

Buy a ski for what you will actually be doing and not your dream skiing. Dragging heavy fatties with heavy skins around 100% of the time when they will actually only be giving you an advantage less than 10% of the skiing time is not a great strategy when your partners are leaving you behind on every climb.  How many vertical will you ski on a normal bc day?  Are you a "one and done" skier, or are you doing multiple laps?  If so, are they long or short climbs?  Some people regularly do 5,000 vert days, while others do 1,500.  Big skis are wonderful on the downhill in deep snow (and so are narrower ones), but you will be climbing over 90% of the time.  Everyone I know who got into bc skiing ended up getting lighter equipment before very long.  You can get away with heavier gear if you are doing short climbs and not much vert, but if you spend a day hacking around in the mountains light maneuverable skis are the ticket.  Dragging an extra pound or more on each foot uphill for hours takes its toll, so check out the weight on skis, bindings and skins.  The scale does not lie and gravity never sleeps.


I'm 6'5", 215 lbs, and ski on some 188 carbon 6 lb. 105 waisted skis. Some of my buddies are on slightly wider skis (up to 112), but they have all spent money on expensive ones to keep the weight down.  Vwerks, DPS, 3G, Black Diamond all make some good wider choices, but there are lots of others.  You can get away with a narrower ski for deep snow if it has a wide tip.  Just be careful of going too wimpy because the bc almost always involves the good, bad and the ugly snow conditions (sometimes on the same run), so get something with enough beef to handle funky snow. The "right" skis for you is an individual thing, and there will be some days they are definitely not "right," but that's part of the deal, so take some time and do your homework before buying.  The important thing is to get out there and start enjoying the bc.

post #9 of 9

My current skis are 93 waist, also have some 105.  I like light and maneuverable, but I am doing most of my touring in the tighter terrain of the northeast.

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