The Best Backcountry Skis of 2014

Rossignol Soul 7 Skis

BEST FOR: Having more fun.

THE TEST: Rossignol’s honeycombed tip and tail shed mass where it’s vital—away from your body. As a result, it’s effortless to throw the Soul 7 sideways in the trees or whenever you need to scrub speed. The new construction also allowed Rossi to scale back the rocker, reducing tip and tail flutter—so they charge, swerve, smear, and even rail groomers with ease. 136/106/126; 8.1 lbs.

THE VERDICT: The DPS might be more agile in powder, but the Soul 7 outshines it in almost every other condition.

VERSATILITY: 5

POWER: 4

Voile V8 Skis

voile v8 skis skis winter buyers guide' 2014 backcountry skis backcountry
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: Western powder skiers.

THE TEST: With its thick (115 millimeters) waist and hybrid rocker tip, the V8 floated testers through open snowfields with maximum stability and buoyancy. The tapered tail releases turns easily for slithering through trees or snapping down throaty couloirs. Camber underfoot holds edges in most conditions, although boilerplate might raise your heart rate. 146/115/126; 7.8 lbs.

THE VERDICT: More like a supercharged V6.

VERSATILITY: 4

POWER: 3.5

Faction Candide 3.0 Skis

faction faction candide 3.0 candide 3.0 candide 3.0 skis skis winter buyers guide 2014 backcountry big mountain
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: Aggressive riders.

THE TEST: Freeskiing film star Candide Thovex’s signature skis just work—everywhere. Thanks to the 3.0’s balsaflex core, it’s light enough to push uphill all day. Flat camber underfoot and big-mountain dimensions make for a stable platform with virtually no speed limit, but pronounced tip and tail rocker mean the 3.0 can manage virtually any turn shape. 142/112/132; 8.2 lbs.

THE VERDICT: Fast and furious.

VERSATILITY: 4.5

POWER: 4.5

Moment Exit World Skis

moment exit world skis backcountry big mountain winter buyers guide 2014 skis
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: Sidecountry missions.

THE TEST: Moment’s first purpose-built backcountry boards come out of the same mold as the popular Bibby Pros but weigh a half-pound less, thanks to the paulownia and pine core. And Moment tapered its trademark square tips, which makes attaching skins easier. Add in plenty of tip and tail rocker and this ski is “down-right extraterrestrial,” said one tester. 142/115/132; 8.5 lbs.

THE VERDICT: More playful, but not as stable, as the Candide above.

VERSATILITY: 3.5

POWER: 4

Atomic Charter Skis

atomic atomic charter charter skis skis backcountry touring winter buyers guide 2014
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: Long tours.

THE TEST: On paper, the 100-millimeter-waisted Charter has an early-rise tip for flotation, a flat tail for stability, and a light-weight karuba core. Testers found it performed to spec on the hill, calling it solid, even, and reliable. At 8.1 pounds, it was a bit heavy for long tours, but when it came to fun the Charter blew away expectations. “A ski that can smear with the best fully rockered boards,” one tester said. 130.5/100/122.5; 8.1 lbs.

THE VERDICT: If you like the feel of rocker-free tails, check out the Charter.

VERSATILITY: 4

POWER: 4.5

Black Diamond Convert Skis

backcountry black diamond convert skis skis winter buyers guide 2014
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: Touring far and high.

THE TEST: With just the right amount of girth (105 millimeters) and moderate rocker at the tip and tail, the Convert floats through most conditions. Testers called it a “lively,” “playful” ski that likes to be on edge but can smear when necessary. Metal tabs on the tail make for a secure connection between ski and skin. 133/105/117; 7.3 lb.

THE VERDICT: For snapping turns in trees it’s tough to beat, but it doesn’t have the heft to push through crud.

VERSATILITY: 3.5

POWER: 3

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