Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

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hogantheepic
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Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by hogantheepic » Tue Sep 01, 2020 8:14 pm

Hey guys,

I'm looking to start researching what the best gear would be, both brand-wise and ski-type, for skiing the 14ers (and doing other ski mountaineering as well, like skiing narrower couloirs and such in the future). I've been skiing for 7 seasons now and have one season of backcountry under my belt, but I haven't ever really researched different products out there before and have no clue what I don't even know.

I do know that pin/tech bindings are the best option (aka the lightest option) and I'm looking to purchase pin bindings with compatible boots, as well as a brand new set of skis. While it might be slightly too early before the ski season is starting and discounts and such start coming out, I just need a little beta, if you will, on what to start looking into. Where should I be looking? What are your favorite ski brands? Just splash all the info you can about buying an awesome backcountry/ski mountaineering setup at me!

Thank you all!
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by 9patrickmurphy » Tue Sep 01, 2020 8:39 pm

I just got my first AT setup, and here was my buying experience: walk into a store (or many stores), explain that I want a backcountry setup and explain that I want to ski the big mountains, ask what they would recommend, get asked by the staff what I'm looking for, explain again exactly what I want, and then repeat. Skis are such a huge personal preference thing that you can't go wrong with anything you buy and you absolutely can go wrong with anything you buy. I ended up going with the lightest-weight setup I felt like spending the money for (G3 Findr 86 172cm, G3 Zephyr, Scarpa Aliens) since I mostly see myself spring skiing, the Aliens fit my foot quite well, and I'm already a very light person so a really light setup works well for me.

I've only ever owned pre-owned skis that I ski until they absolutely fall apart because that's what I could afford, but when looking at buying a brand new setup, it's just so daunting because there's so much out there and so much comes down to feel and preference. The few times I've been abe to demo skis, I finally started to understand just how different very little things in the build, shape, and tradition of the ski's construction can create a radically different feel and skiing experience.

If you're not looking to cheap out on a good new AT setup, I would recommend waiting until the season is in full swing and demoing some skis from one or several ski shops before buying. It'll give you a better feel for what you want, and you'll know what you're getting into. I didn't go this route since it was already late season, and I knew I just wanted the lightest thing possible. This isn't what everyone wants, and you need to find what works for you.

Hope this helps. I am an absolute n00b to the world of actually good ski gear, but I hope my perrspective is beneficial in the case that you're in a similar situation that I was in.
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by hogantheepic » Tue Sep 01, 2020 8:46 pm

9patrickmurphy wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 8:39 pm

If you're not looking to cheap out on a good new AT setup, I would recommend waiting until the season is in full swing and demoing some skis from one or several ski shops before buying. It'll give you a better feel for what you want, and you'll know what you're getting into. I didn't go this route since it was already late season, and I knew I just wanted the lightest thing possible. This isn't what everyone wants, and you need to find what works for you.
Yah, this is something that I've considered doing. This is an interesting and probably the best strategy for what I'm trying to do. Thank you!

Still want to start simply researching the market, though, just so that I know what's out there, and will start looking into your setup that you bought.
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by cottonmountaineering » Tue Sep 01, 2020 8:51 pm

big topic, BC skiers seem to be really picky about their setups so im sure you'll see a lot of different setups here

bindings: I would pick a tech binding, there has been a lot of innovation here in the past few years
dynafit - a lot of the newer dynafit bindings have rotating toe plates, which adds some safety and prevents pre-release, im a big fan of these. There are lightweight pin tech options from dynafit and other brands, I would stay away from these as the weight savings is not worth a potential injury IMO.
salomon shift/fritschi vipecs/marker kingpin are hybrid BC/Downhill bindings which add a bit of release safety at the cost of weight and complication/reliability/price
frame bindings - good for budget setups, heavy

skis - generally 105mm +- 10mm is a good fit for colorado, 95 would be spring skiing, 105 would be an all arounder, 115 for powder. My favorite BC ski is the Salomon QST 106, however there are a lot of similar skis that would work just as well. IMO skiing 13ers/14ers you need a forgiving ski with a little bit of weight to get through chop, tip rocker is helpful for sastrugi/bumps. A lot of "ski mountaineering" skis are carbon which are great when conditions are perfect, I would rather have a slightly heavier ski though.

skins - get the skins with the most grip if you are mountaineering, these are probably black diamond ascension

boots - personal preference/foot fit, i have had good luck with scarpas
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by cottonmountaineering » Tue Sep 01, 2020 8:54 pm

Powder7 in Golden is a good place to shop if you prefer a brick and mortar store
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by pvnisher » Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:08 pm

Ski: I have K2 Pinnacle 105, love them. Salomon QST 106 would be my other choice for a good all-rounder. I'd buy either of those again.

Binding: I have Tectons, they're ok. If I had to do it again I'd get Shifts.

Boots: Get something that fits as comfortably as you can get without having to do custom footbeds, punchouts, etc. Most will have moldable liners. My Scarpa Maeastrale2 fit great, without heat molding, but the buckles and how everything lays together is a little fiddly. Probably wouldn't buy again, but I'm not sure what I would use otherwise.

Other tip: BINDING INSERTS! These have changed my life. I drilled out and put binding inserts into each of my skis. Now any ski can use any binding. I can move my Tectons to whatever ski I want and poof, it's a touring setup. My other bindings are Wardens (so I can use my AT boots with alpine binding), and I can mount my Wardens on any ski. If I want a new setup, I can just buy the skis and not have to buy any more bindings. Total game changer. I can tour with my old Screams if I want, or Armada 115s, with the same bindings. And when I'm doing a resort day, I just mount my Wardens onto whatever ski I want for the day and avoid any of the risks associated with using AT bindings.
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by CO_Wolfe » Wed Sep 02, 2020 12:45 am

Check out blisterreview.com, they are my go-to for winter gear reviews, with in-depth comparisons and lengthy write-ups. I've had good luck with Dynafit Beast bindings. but they are on the heavy/cumbersome side.
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by a forest » Wed Sep 02, 2020 12:57 am

Spend the time/money finding a good boot. A ski boot that hurts your foot is pointless. Again, spend TIME finding the right boot.
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by 9patrickmurphy » Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:03 am

daver wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 12:57 am
Spend the time/money finding a good boot. A ski boot that hurts your foot is pointless. Again, spend TIME finding the right boot.
Oh, yeah, this. I feel like this doesn't need to be said but get your boots first and spend a lot of time finding the perfect one. Skis matter, but a boot will make or break everything. Talk to boot fitters about what you want, too. My resort tele boots are 26.5, but I upsized to 28 for my AT boots (both Scarpa) thanks to advice from my bootfitter. If you're ski mountaineering, you'll be spending 90-95% of your day going up, so that boot better be comfortable. It sacrifices performance on the way down (the theme with my setup) but it is really all about the up, at least for me.
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by spoony » Wed Sep 02, 2020 1:11 pm

I will echo others that boots are most important.

Regarding boots, find a pair that fits and that works for you. In my experience, the 50-50 alpine-BC boots with four buckles that are essentially detuned alpine boots are overkill for most touring and mountaineering, but the superlight rando-racing-ish boots do not ski very well on the way down (and they have super thin liners that are cold). I ski the resort in pair of boots that have a walk feature, but I would never tour in them. Conversely, I have a pair of light Atomics that I use for climbing and I would never take those to the resort. I err on the lighter side of the boot spectrum for climbing, but you may find the heavier side is more comfortable. Also, make sure the boots you buy will work with crampons...not all will fit them well. Try on lots of pairs and ski in them if possible.

Re bindings, I am still a tech binding guy. The Shift-type bindings are cool and they offer better release safety than tech bindings, bar none. I would use those if I was planning to resort ski on the same set up that I was using to ski peaks, but I like the simplicity and lower weight of tech bindings when I am skiing in the BC. I have had good luck with multiple pairs of Dynafit bindings. Whatever you end up with, you should learn how it works in case you need to make repairs when you're far from home.

Re skis, I have a pair of lightweight carbon skis and they climb great and ski well on corn snow or in perfect powder conditions. But they are a little chatter-y on icy spring snow and sastrugi/wind crust compared to my heavier and wider skis. A narrow-ish (90mm waist) stiff ski with strong edge hold and little or no tip/tail rocker is going to serve you better if you have good technique and will only use to ski for the steepest, iciest, gnarliest lines. But if you plan on using the ski for peaks and general BC cruising in soft winter snow, a wider (100-105mm under foot) ski with some light tip/tail rocker will be more fun all around. Lots of tip/tail rocker can make short turns easier (the skis "hook" less when you make turns) but you give up on edge hold and precision.
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by hogantheepic » Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:02 pm

pvnisher wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:08 pm

Other tip: BINDING INSERTS! These have changed my life. I drilled out and put binding inserts into each of my skis. Now any ski can use any binding. I can move my Tectons to whatever ski I want and poof, it's a touring setup. My other bindings are Wardens (so I can use my AT boots with alpine binding), and I can mount my Wardens on any ski. If I want a new setup, I can just buy the skis and not have to buy any more bindings. Total game changer. I can tour with my old Screams if I want, or Armada 115s, with the same bindings. And when I'm doing a resort day, I just mount my Wardens onto whatever ski I want for the day and avoid any of the risks associated with using AT bindings.
Wow I don't think I've heard of these before! Super neat! Thank you for the suggestions :thumbup: :horns:
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Re: Best New Backcountry Ski Setup for 2020-21 Season?!?

Post by Don Eberl » Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:25 pm

hogantheepic wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:02 pm
pvnisher wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:08 pm

Other tip: BINDING INSERTS! These have changed my life. I drilled out and put binding inserts into each of my skis. Now any ski can use any binding. I can move my Tectons to whatever ski I want and poof, it's a touring setup. My other bindings are Wardens (so I can use my AT boots with alpine binding), and I can mount my Wardens on any ski. If I want a new setup, I can just buy the skis and not have to buy any more bindings. Total game changer. I can tour with my old Screams if I want, or Armada 115s, with the same bindings. And when I'm doing a resort day, I just mount my Wardens onto whatever ski I want for the day and avoid any of the risks associated with using AT bindings.
Wow I don't think I've heard of these before! Super neat! Thank you for the suggestions :thumbup: :horns:
Trouble with these is that I believe they may void the warranty on your skis.
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