2012/13 ski gear review
Plenty of skiing yet to done this spring (once it stops raining), but my gear focus is already on the fall hunting season, so it’s a good time to discuss what worked and what didn’t.
I skied the above four skis this winter. 200cm waxable Fischer E99s (60/50/55), 176cm BD Currents (more here), 150cm Trak Bushwackers (85/80/83). and 169cm Fischer Outbound Crowns (70/60/65).
I’m content with my AT rig, that being the above skis, Plum race bindings, LaSportiva Sideral boots, and BD Mohair skins. I haven’t skied enough AT stuff to really review any of this in a substantive way, so I’ll just say that the boots fit my feet well enough, the skis are stable but turn quickly, have good edgehold, and enough rocker to manage weird snow as well as powder. The race bindings are elegant and functional, I’ve not wanted more heel elevation and appreciate the set and forget mentality of one level. I do worry about the non-adjustable release, but thus far this hasn’t been as issue. If I were to add a second pair of AT skis to the quiver I could either go fatter for powder, or narrower and lighter for speed. I’m sick of sinking money into skiing, as even with substantial discounts on everything this rig is nauseatingly expensive. One competent tech rig was a good investment, but for me one is enough. If I were to do this over I’d buy exactly the same stuff.
In an ideal world I could make do with two nordic skis quite well. During deep winter I really enjoyed the waxable long and skinny skis. They were fast and well suited to trips in more open terrain and in a deep snowpack. An ideal second pair would be shorter, fatter, and with aggressive scales; something halfway between the Bushwackers and the Outbounds. These skis would work well for spring trips with bare spots and half-melted out nastiness, by having more float, being easy to turn, and easy to carry. If I were to buy today I’d get a 200cm pair of waxable Madshus Glittertinds (softer than the current E99 and thus more turnable), and a 165cm pair of Madshus Annums. I’d mount both with Voile Mountaineers, the Glitts with pin line on balance point and the Annums with the pine line 1.5cm forward of the balance point. This forward mount puts your weight more in the middle of the ski and keeps the tail from diving in powder or rotten snow.
Boots are a more difficult question. I’m optimistic about the new BCX12s I haven’t been able to ski yet, but if I was buying new I’d probably get some Scarpa leathers.
Skins for nordic skis don’t get used all that often, but when you need them you need them and they should always be in the pack. A pair of 50mm kicker skins would work fine for both pairs.
A pair of stout, stiff, adjustable poles is very nice to have. I used a frankenpair cobbles together from two different uppers and some BD carbon probe lowers. The 16mm OD lowers are stiff enough for skating, burly, and provide an emergency probe with no weight penalty. Unfortunately the current version only goes to 140cm, which is not long enough for nordic skiing unless you’re quite short. A fixed length pair of nordic poles, with a second grip made from bike handlebar tape wrapped at touring height, is a good option, but the non-adjustable length can be ponderous to pack and transport.
Right now is a good time to buy new ski gear, if you have the discipline to buy ahead. The used market for good AT stuff is very competitive, and unless you get lucky at a swap solid bargins are hard to find. Buying new at the end of the season is a more reliable strategy. Rugged nordic gear can be found quite cheap if you’re fortunate enough to have good swap and used stores nearby. The three nordic skis above were purchased for 45 dollars total. Inspect used stuff well before buying and remount the bindings after, but I really appreciate being able to ski dirt, hit rocks, and do skis-on stream crossings without feeling bad for my gear. Proper nordic BC touring is hard on skis.