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Author Topic: Choosing skiis...  (Read 6548 times)

Offline Tomek

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Choosing skiis...
« on: December 14, 2007, 11:23:28 am »
What to look for in a general x-country skis? I would like pick up a set for myself (new or used) for general x-country skiing and short travel in the woods. Is there something specific to look for? Or will any properly sized skiis do? how about boots??

thanx

Offline lost_patrol

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2007, 07:23:18 pm »
There is a bit of basic information here:
http://www.mec.ca/Main/content_text.jsp?FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302881832&CONTENT%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198674018167&bmUID=1197676368755

If most of your travel will be in the bush rather than on packed trails, I'm afraid you'll have to turn back the calendar and buy your skis about twenty years ago.  The general touring skis that were so versatile (typically 60mm tip, 50mm waist, 55mm tail, double cambered) may be hard to find.

Of the nearly three dozen models shown in MEC's "backcountry" and "recreational classic" listings, I spotted only one or two that looked like they might do the job.

The market seems to have split.  It's not hard to find skis that would be good on groomed trails but hopeless in the bush, or skis that are designed for backcountry use but are too wide and too soft for packed trails, but there doesn't seem to be much in between.

I should mention that I haven't skied much the last few years (too many weekends spent doing other things like snowshoeing and dogsledding    ;D   ), so my knowledge is past its best-before date. Perhaps someone with more recent experience could post some advice for you.
 

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Offline bryanhansel

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2007, 10:07:02 pm »
What to look for in a general x-country skis? I would like pick up a set for myself (new or used) for general x-country skiing and short travel in the woods. Is there something specific to look for? Or will any properly sized skiis do? how about boots??

If you're going to use them in and out of tracks, you'll need to have them narrow enough for the tracks, but they'll still need to be wide enough for off trail use. The model I have is a Karhu Escape, which is 60-55-56. I just picked these up and have used them for around 30k. So far they seem pretty fast and very friendly. Lots of control. The size recommended for me at 190 pounds was 190cm, so they're a bit shorter than I'm used to, and that's a part of the fun. Metal edges can also be handy.

The binding system that I bought into a couple of years ago is the NNN BC bindings. I'm not that aggressive, so I bought the automatic version. Alpina makes some sweet BC boots, but I have Rossi and can't justify the upgrade. Just make sure that boots you get feel good and are supportive, especially if you expect to go off trail alot.

Offline HOOP

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2008, 05:54:02 pm »
As a matter of fact, I am writing up as I type this, a full chapter on back country skiing for our main website (which will be up and active soon - we're writing the final content and putting the final touches on it).

I hope it will be a go-to complete source of info for the winter trekker on back country skis, boots, bindings, poles and skins. 

For the interim Tomek, my answer is no, not any skis, boots or bindings will do.  What’s good for a groomed track will fail miserably in the deep snow off trail.  Nowadays they are grooming tracks that are so narrow that wider back country skis won't fit inside.   Track skis will sink like a stone in deep snow, and collapse sideways turning your ankle. The common marketplace is heavily skewed to supplying the downhill Telemark and Alpine Touring/Randonee market, with skis that do that downhill stuff great, but which are heavy slugs for making distance using kick and glide technique  on the flats.   The market has split into specialized niche skis, some of which don't kick and glide at all since they have no effective wax pocket and are made to bend backwards like wet noodles to initiate tight downhill turns.  Its tough to find the flatland and rolling terrain back country ski equipment, but that’s what I will be writing about.

Anyways, I am getting ahead of myself - I have to finish the chapter, so stay tuned - the main site will be launching soon.


My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Wintertrekker

"I firmly believe that far from hurting the planet, the growing knowledge of Bushcraft is helping our natural world. When we employ bushcraft skills, it may seem as though we are consuming natural resources.  But of course, the more we learn about the trees, the plants, the animals around us, the more we respect them. The more we respect them, the more we cherish them, the more we nurture and take care of them. That is the underlying principle of Bushcraft.

Offline Ted

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2008, 11:56:10 am »
A 2cent reply based on limited experience.

I have 2 pair of cambered X-country track skis and boots that are perfect for tracks and hardpack but useless anywhere else.
I have a pair of Fischer 109s with a pair of leather telemark boots that have done me very very well in the bush as I like portages, lakes and old logging roads. They have good ankle support and insulated. With knee-high gaiters I can even take on powder.  Generally I use a full-length wax but have skins as a backup for real icy conditions and up steep hills (and when lazy).

I had a 160pound friend try his track skis following me one trip. We had to turn around as his set tracks just couldn't cut it. We left the skis in the truck and reverted to snowshoes which, of course, cut our projected distances by 2/3.

In short, different skis for different jobs. I'm looking around for another pair of 'float' skis but haven't found anything yet I like. At 220pounds, finding a good back country ski can be a challenge.

cheers Ted
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Offline Tomek

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2008, 12:48:33 pm »
What I would like the skiis be able to do it to carry my 200Lbs-6.3" frame + lets say 20Lbs pack. Behind me there will be a sled with rest of gear. I am not looking to do much of x-country trails at all... I do enough running playing sports :)

Is the article ready yet?? Also what would a be a good place in GTA to go and look at some?

Offline Trailpatrol

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2008, 11:57:28 am »
The best "backcountry" skis in the whole wide world are the ones they don't make any more, the Trak Bushwacker II, the Karhu Catamont and the Karhu 10th Mountain Tour (2nd, wider version) (I am not counting the current crop of tele skis as "backcountry" in the same sense that we are talking about.) You can sometimes find them on e-Bay. I have both Bushwackers and 1st version (narrower/longer) 10th Mountain Tours. I don't know what I'll do when/if they give out, because they don't make anything like them any more.

Ski safe,
Hans
"My country isn't a country, it is winter" - Gilles Vigneault

Offline whitemtskier

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2008, 12:24:01 pm »
http://www.backcountry.com/store/KAH0061/Karhu-XCD-10th-Mountain-Ski.html

My hubby had a pair of Karhu XCDs a long time ago ..they were quite a bit narrower. At the same time I was using a pair of Fischer E-99's.

The skis just got used up..

Now I have a pairof Karhu Catamounts and my husband has wide skis too...He cannot ski on a standard narrow ski  due to an ankle turning in...he winds up skiing on the edge.

Most of our skiing is on ungroomed trails, no trails, or snowmobile trails. The edges are a real plus.  There is a good deal of vertical and a good deal of immovable trees too.  The shorter wider are a little easier to change direction with..metal edges are needed too..its not always powder.

Admittedly we use waxless...we used to use waxable skis..but the local conditions in the mountains are so changeable waxless is just easier and we are willing to give up performance.

We dont much use skins anymore..havent seen if there are skins for wider skis..We can make the ones we have work, but they are not optimal.


For fluffy snow I love an old pair of Rossi 49s that were a backcountry model from the seventies..still in good shape.  Waxable, no edges.  Narrower than the puddle stompers we have now.. I use them on the lake after a new snow.

I retrofitted an old pair Elan RC 5s for teleskiing at lift serviced slopes.   Heavy..but not as heavy as a randonnee ski..(not into that at all at my old age)

Offline northernbc

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2008, 06:07:45 pm »
if you are interested in different skins rei in the states sell almost every size

Offline Tomd

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2008, 06:40:53 pm »
I've got Black Diamond Glide-Lite skins with the blue and white "cow" color scheme and no tail piece. My skis are 88-60-78 Atomic Rainiers with scales.  I bought 70mm skins off eBay brand new and they work just fine for this width ski.

There are skins made for very wide tele skis, including really fat skis. BD makes skins up to 120mm and kicker skins up to 80mm. Voile and G3 make skins up to 130mm.

Offline JeffOYB

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2009, 06:35:36 pm »
Hi!

This is a neat forum to find. I liked reading the article at the homepage about BC ski selection.

I promote XC a lot myself, and snowshoes, too---at my http://OutYourBackDoor.com website and other places, like http://upnorth.ning.com.

I'm Michigan based but I'm into winter culture worldwide.

There aren't hardly any true "winter love" Net resources out there. This looks like a great one!

I saw the "quiver" of 4 skis compared in your article. I like ski quivers!  : )

I didn't see any full-length skis, though. [UPDATE: I now notice that they're full-length for the writer's height. So...cool!]

I tested out a few mid-length skis last year and they were all BAD. I was hoping that there was some breakthru that I just hadn't experienced. But, offhand, it does seem like you need that length to get a quality amount of glide, kick and float.

The caveat is for those situations where those factors aren't the most important. The places where I see nowax being good is, as mentioned, in mountain terrain where snow change a lot and tends to be heavy anyway. Maybe nowax is also good where you have mostly steep uphill and steep downhill conditions: a big nowax pattern can let you basically "skin" up a hill and the friction of it is no problem when you're already plummeting on the downhills. I see mid-lengths being good, as well, in mountain areas with narrow trails where there's a premium on technical ski handling. And metal edges are good anytime there's hills and ice.

But that still leaves most all the skiers and most all the terrain. Most folks are mellow and they ski in mellow areas and live in same. Probably the biggest number live in the Midwest and in mellow NE areas.

Anyway, I find that a Fischer Country Wax type of ski works great for me in a wide variety of conditions. It's good in tracks and on trails and it floats quite well also. I can do turns with it. Sadly, I bought a set of those skis and they're too soft---they're torsionally wimpy, too---and so they crash me---they wash out in all downhills and they're unstable. Astounding. [UPDATE: I mean they're soft in the TAILS ---that's the part that crashes me, I think] I find that the early 1990's Fischer Airtek touring skis were, in contrast, darn amazing. Very light, very strong, very stable, lively. Super! [Not the "Fibre" models, though. I found a pair of nice old late-80's Airtek nowaxers near the end of the season and, darn, they're nice! Maybe still a bit soft in the overall camber but twice as nice as the Fibres and today's Country...at least the set that I have. Anyone know if Fischer makes a variety of flexes for skier weight in their full-length touring Country ski? Like they do for race skis? Maybe if I could squeeze and caliper several pairs I could find a set that would be good for me. How to measure tail torsion, though? Sheesh.]

Thinking of big folks, if one is both heavy and tall (like many more are today than 50 years ago) the 215-220 was the ski to have. But they're hardly made anymore. Hen's teeth.

But shorter, lighter folks hardly have it better for a true tour ski.

It seems like the BC folks have it much better.

Like the other poster said, there's track and there's BC but not much between. But I say that 90% of skiers ARE BETWEEN! No wonder the US market is in the tank. Well, it SEEMS like it is. There's hardly anywhere to buy skis in our town now when 20 years ago there were maybe 4 good places. So it seems down to me. Even the big boxes no longer stock XC. They usually stock snowshoes instead. Oh, it hurts. We don't get much deep snow around here so shoes aren't what you want. But when we do get deep snow the modern shoe isn't what you want. I suppose the modern shoe is nice on the soft trails we get a few weeks of the season.

Speaking of snowshoes, I'm a big fan of the Conovers' book. Great winter culture there!

Well, I hope I missed some good mid-lengths in my testing. I'm game to try again. I won't write em all off. I heard that Bob Woodie liked the Rossi Evo plus a few others. I thought I tested a few that he liked and thought they STUNK. As I said, he's from the land of Sierra Cement and what works for him is terrible for us.

Hey, last week I posted 3 YouTubes on snowshoes---featuring the Bushwackers!---plus 2 YouTubes on "key tips for getting the most fun out of XC." Check em out and say what you think, if you like!

Over'n'out!

--Jeff Potter
OutYourBackDoor.com
« Last Edit: March 27, 2009, 01:28:43 pm by JeffOYB »

Offline JeffOYB

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Re: Choosing skiis...
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2009, 01:30:55 pm »
I went on an end of season spring sunny BC ski outing for a few hours and a few miles. We did a couple dozen tele turn runs, too. It was cute because each of us four skiers were using totally different skis and we all had a great time! They were all nowax but they ranged from light-touring to full-on tele (with a grip section). Our boots were from light to massive. We all had a blast!