By Marc Peruzzi | Photo Clay Ellis
We cringe when we see decent skiers skittering around on resort-made white ice in lightweight backcountry gear. Lacking metal or other reinforcements, the skis don’t penetrate hardpack in a carved turn. And the boots are too soft laterally (and often too wide and comfy) to drive them anyway. But the biggest culprit is the standard-fare, ultra-minimalist tech binding. Counterintuitively, the mousetrap-like front of the tech binding actually secures the toe of the boot quite well, but when you power up the shovel and try to settle into the turn, lateral slop in the heelpiece lets the ski flatten out on the snow. The result? You lose edge pressure and windshield wiper your turns.
But we get it, we’re backcountry skiers, too. That lightweight gear works fine—great even—when you’re skiing backcountry powder and corn. And on ski mountaineering terrain you’re generally eeking out survival turns, not sending World Cup arcs. Buying two complete rigs—alpine and alpine touring—is a tall ask. But rampant R&D from the traditional alpine companies is changing that paradigm.
Mountain has never endorsed a setup that’s been billed to work well inbounds and out, but that changes now. If you resort ski 75 percent of the time and your backcountry skiing consists of short tours, occasional hut trips, and lift accessed backcountry with short egresses, you’ll be happy with this versatile rig.
The Ski: Völkl V-Werks BMT 109
We’ll review the brand new BMT 109 in depth in our Deep Winter issue backcountry ski test, but we’re featuring it here, too, for its best in class edge penetration. A wood core backed by Völkl’s 3D Ridge Carbon lets this 1,730 gram (in the 186cm) ski carve hard-as-rock snow like a racer. Naturally, you pay dearly for it. Dimensions: 134/109/119
The Binding: Marker Kingpin 13
Marker released its Kingpin a few seasons back, but the performance and safety benefits escaped some folks. Here, the low-tech toe piece allows for resistance-free touring, but the traditional alpine style heelpiece pushes down on the boot for resort worthy power transfer. It’s also ISO certified, or DIN in shop-speak. 1,460 grams with brakes.
The Boot: Tecnica Cochise Pro 130
We debated whether to feature the brand new Cochise 130, shown here, or Tecnica’s more touring inspired Zero G Guide Pro (also new). At 1,545 grams, the latter is lightweight enough for a purist. But the slightly heavier Cochise can pilot any resort ski and it still offers a Mobility Cuff with a free 42-degree range of motion. (See full review.) Weight: 4 lbs, 8 oz.
The Pole: Leki Aergonlite 2V
We’re longtime fans of Leki’s Vertical Trigger system which lets you stay connected to the pole without a traditional strap. But when we toured with their adjustable length version, hand pressure on top of the grip released the trigger. In the adjustable Aergonlite 2V, a new design allows for multiple hand positions inbounds or out.
From the Early Winter 2016 issue.