How to Buy Touring Skis

The long-term enjoyment of your touring skis is dependent upon having a ski that flexes properly for both grip and glide. We combine the proper flex with a ski width to match the terrain and your skiing expectations.


Ski Width Determines Stability/Speed and Suitable Terrain

First, we will select a ski width that best accommodates the skier’s ability level and the trails and terrain they expect to ski. Beginning skiers who have no previous experience and are not yet comfortable on skis may want to adjust to a slightly wider ski.


Light Touring vs. Touring vs. Backcountry Skis

To keep it simple we call skis that can be effectively skied with NNN or SNS bindings and boots, light touring skis.These skis lack metal edges and are 60mm or narrower in width. BC (backcountry) skis, with or without metal edges, are too heavy for light touring gear. They need BC boots and bindings for torsional control over the heavier ski. Backcountry gear is used for deep snow and rough frozen terrain..


Ski Flex Testing Determines Grip and Glide

Next, for both wax-able and wax-less skis we flex test at the skier’s half weight to determine the grip zone on a wax-able ski, and the glide on a wax-less ski.

Wax-less ski flex testing: Use a digital flex-tester to determine the characteristics of a wax-less ski.

Wax-able touring ski flex: For wax-able skis we will use the skier’s half-weight to map out a grip zone which helps us determine if the ski is too stiff or soft. We also will mark the bridge (gap) with different feeler gauges to determine how many layers of wax need to used on certain portions of the ski.

The red lines are meant to represent the layers of wax needed on certain portions of the grip zone. The blue line is a gap between the bottom of the ski and the testing surface at the skier’s full weight. This area is called residual camber, and it needs to marked and addressed with additional wax for effective kick.


Wax-less Touring Ski Flex Testing

With wax-less skis, we look at the bridge at half-weight to see how much of the pattern is off the surface for effective glide. We have found that the most important characteristic for most skiers is to have the ski compress fully at the skier’s full weight. This characteristic allows for effective grip on uphills and a more relaxed kick in variable terrain. At full weight if there is residual camber on a wax-less ski, the grip/kick will be difficult on uphills and we will look for a softer ski. Different ski models have various designs and/or wax-less patterns.

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