There are so many different options available in backcountry equipment today, it's hard to know what's up. That’s why it’s best to try out a number of skis and find the setup for the conditions and terrain you love.
We decided to seize the last hurrah for great powder in Vermont, and went in search of an unnamed lake deep inside the Green Mountain National Forrest. We bushwacked for eight hours, climbing a total of 1,834 feet as we watched the snow change from a foot of crust to three feet of buttery, fluffy powder.
Our testers brought four pairs of skis of different widths and sidecuts from both Fischer and Madshus. After trading them around, we agreed on two favorites. Our choice of skis was mostly dictated by the topography of this length of the Appalachians, and it made us think about the bigger cultural and equipment differences between eastern and western adventures.
In the Green Mountains, the topography changes constantly; Our 1,000-plus-foot drop was broken up by small dips and hills that we had to climb. Fumbling repeatedly with skins would have been too taxing, so we opted for nordic-inspired skis that had built-in grip patterns for uphill traction and gliding on flats. Like all backcountry skis meant for downhill, the models we picked also had metal edges and a relatively fat base for floating in deep powder.
Backcountry skiing in Vermont is more about exploring the woods than catching a single long run down a mountain. Those conditions demand a lighter ski than what you'd use in Colorado. Our picks do a good job of hitting the sweet spot of East Coast powder.