Skiing in the mountains is probably one of the best ways a person can spend their vacations and holidays. It is a professional sport that requires that the skier be fit and able. Ski mountaineering involves climbing up a mountain and then descending the slope with the best ski for mountaineering.
The first thing that a ski mountaineer does is ascend a hill or slope with the proper pieces of equipment. The person can either climb up wearing their mountaineering skis with accompanying skins, or they can climb up with boots and other implements, depending on the steepness and terrain of the slope. Once the climber reaches the summit or their launch point, they ski down their line with all of the equipment they went up with.
There are many excellent options for mountaineering skis in the market today. The needs of a ski mountaineer will differ from a person who simply wants to ski downhill. There are specific pieces of equipment that every ski mountaineer requires for their journey uphill.
The good news is that anyone can get a basic idea about mountaineering skis and also the best products available. This article shall discuss the two best mountaineering skis in detail and also make some basic comparisons with other skis.
What Differentiates Mountaineering and Downhill Skis?
Since ski mountaineering involves trekking up a mountain or slope first, weight is a significant factor in purchasing a mountaineering ski.
The ski mountaineer will need skins to attach to the bottom of their skis so that they can trek uphill with their skis attached to their feet. These skins usually consist of a furry side and a sticky side. The fur can allow the ski to grab on to the snow. The sticky side sticks on the bottom of the ski. To get an idea about the best ski skins available in the market right now, check out our Skin Skin Buying Guide.
Some other pieces of equipment that ski mountaineers will need are boot and bindings. Just make sure that the bindings will allow the heel to move freely without any restriction in movement. To save more energy and muscle effort, AT bindings come with heel risers. What this does is that it enables a person to climb uphill without needing to lower their heels fully.
There are usually eight types of skis, and two of them are ideal for ski mountaineering. These two are All-Mountain skis and Big Mountain skis. The need and preference of a ski type do, however, largely depend on the terrain of the slope or hill, and the other types may also fit well under certain conditions.
Big Mountain skis are usually longer and wider than other types of skis. This reason why is that a wide waist can keep the skier above powdered snow and stay stable even while gliding over untouched snow. Big Mountain skis are the ideal choice for expert skiers who like to go aggressive while descending, and speed is what they desire.
On the other hand, All-Mountain skis can go on any type of snow and perform well in any kind of terrain. They have wider waists, and many come with a rockered or raised tip and tail. Skiers can use them on powdered snow and cruds alike. However, the jack-of-all-trades approach might not suit everyone’s style very well.
Popular Mountaineering Ski Brands
In most industries, there are certain brands that excel over others. It is the same case with mountaineering skis. Here are the most popular and trustworthy mountaineering ski brands:
The Best Mountaineering Skis
There is a difference between the best mountaineering ski for men and the best mountaineering ski for women. It has nothing to do with the skills of either gender. However, there are certain differences in skis for men and women, as the size and shape of the genders may differ from each other. This fact is the reason why sellers make sure that their skis tend to these differences and are designed accordingly.
It is essential to check whether the skis in question are for men or women to get the best performance out of the pair. After all, these skis do not come cheap, and buying the wrong ones will be a waste of time and money. As a result, this article has chosen the best ski for men and the best ski for women, respectively.
Best Mountaineering Ski for Men – Volkl M5 Mantra Ski review
Out of the several products available, the one which has stood out as the best mountaineering ski for men is the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis. It is one of the fans’ favorites and passes all tests with flying colors. Before getting into the benefits and drawbacks of this pair of skis, it will help to get to know what makes the best mountaineering ski for men.
If taming both ice and powder is what readers are looking for, the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis is the one product that will satisfy all those desires. To make it more lightweight than any of its predecessors and compete with other products, the manufacturers have rearranged the metal layers within the frame. This feature makes it more responsive to a skier’s commands and makes their turns more energetic and lively.
As for increased performance, the Volkl has included a wood core along with the titanal frame to help out. There is also an ice offtop sheet on this ski. What these three features do is improve both handling and control. On top of this, it reduces fatigue and adds a playful and cheerful feel to the skis.
Sometimes people come across deep pockets of untouched snow, which may cause problems to unknowing skiers. These are more commonly known as powder stashes. A person can find these snow pockets near trees. When a skier hits them unknowingly, the powder can hit the skier’s face and compromise their vision. In extreme cases, it may even cause bodily injuries. The waist of the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis measures 96mm. Hitting surprise powder stashes is not a problem because this ski can handle them effortlessly.
The width also helps in providing stability to the groomer. Beyond that, the tip and tail rocker of the skis makes it easy to control and maneuver while going downhill at high speed. It also helps in controlling and stabilizing on uneven and hard-to-anticipate terrain.
Speed is another aspect that the best skis for mountaineering must nail. The high-quality P-Tex 2100 sintered base allows for exceptional sliding and gliding abilities. With this addition, the skier can achieve maximum speed while descending the slopes and have fun with the send.
There are four options when it comes to length. These are 170 cm, 177 cm, and 184 cm. We recommend 177 cm for most ski mountaineering. As for the dimensions, it is 134 cm x 96 cm x 117 cm. The Mantra M5 has a raised tail and sandwiched construction.
When it comes to the turn radius of this ski, for the 170 cm option, it has a 17.9 m radius. For the 177 cm and the 184 cm, the turn radii are 19.8 m and 21.2 m, respectively.
It is also easy to apply wax on these skis thanks to the absorbent sintered bases. This will help in going faster and harder when skiing downhill. For added durability, the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis come with full-length sidewalls. These help the skier to transmit energy, strength, and power from the legs to the entire length of the mountaineering skis.
These skis are ideal for downhill skiing, and the bindings do not come along with the skis. The price of the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis is around $549, which may change in the future but should not differ much.
When it comes to controlling the ski in different types of terrain and snow, the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis score very high. Especially managing in the cruds where many skis fail, this mountaineering ski will excel and handle uneven snow consisting of both powder and ice.
Pros of the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis
Now, the reasons why Volkl M5 Mantra Skis took first place for the best mountaineering ski are as follows:
- Fast and stable
Even at high speeds, these mountaineering skis for men do not wobble or lose control. Thanks to their Titanal Frame Technology, they can reach maximum velocity and still remain stable. There will not be any drastic changes with the smoothness either.
- Easy carving
The Volkl M5 Mantra Skis gives the skier many opportunities to make exciting turns. Carving down the slopes at low speed is also much more comfortable than with previous models.
- Terrain control
Gliding through cruds, powder, ice, and combinations may be difficult with most skis. Still, it is not so with these. Controlling the movement of the equipment without much effort is quite easy.
- Worth the price
As everyone can see, the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis is not cheap. It comes at a price that many people may deem to be too high. But it is not so. For the quality, performance, and control that this product provides, buyers can be happy that they are getting it for a very reasonable price.
Cons of the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis
There is one point to keep in mind about this product that can be a drawback or disadvantage. The thing about this ski is that it is suitable only for intermediate and expert skiers. Beginners at the sport may find it slightly challenging because of its high-speed ability. For people who do not like the thrill and rush that going down a slope at very high speeds gives, this might not be the best choice. Of course, ski mountaineering should also not be attempted by amateurs or even enthusiastic intermediates. You should wait until you have achieved a high level of skill before you attempt to go off-piste.
Final thoughts on the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis
The fact that the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis beats all its competitors is a sure reason why people who are actually serious about ski mountaineering should buy it. These skis are lightweight but durable. They are sure to give the users a thrilling time at the snow-clad slopes.
Best Mountaineering Ski for Women – Salomon QST Lux 92 Review
When it comes to the best mountaineering ski for women, getting one that can do everything is the way to go. One that can go fast, master slides through powder, nail turns, and dominate any line is the QST Lux 92. Salomon has never disappointed with any of their products, and they definitely lived up to their name with the QST Lux 92.
To make sure that the skier can control the skiing gear on any part of the mountain, the Lux’s tip and tail both have smooth rockers.
When it comes to the shape of the ski, it has a blunt nose profile. Instead of the plastic, they use cork dampifier in the tips of the skis on the tips to ensure more power and maneuverability at the same time. Additionally, this material enables a higher level of vibration absorption at a much lighter weight.
The full Sandwich Sidewalls run from the tip to the tail to increase edge gripping abilities, precision, and balance. With full-length vertical sidewalls, skiers can count on optimized power as well. For the recommended brake width, it should be equal to or 15 mm wider than the width of the ski waist at most.
The QST Lux 92 comes in four sizes, with the smallest at 153 cm. Next comes 161 cm and 169 cm. The biggest size that a person can get is 177cm. They all have the same waist width of 92 mm. The turning radii of the four different sizes are 15, 16, 17, and 18m, respectively. Although it has the widest turning radius, we most recommend the 177 cm Lux for ski mountaineering.
The Salomon QST Lux 92 is the best ski for mountaineering for women when it comes to big mountain and powder skis. It is an excellent choice for all mountain and telemark skis too.
Inside the Lux 92 is a Full Poplar Wood core, offering enhanced performance as well as above-average vibration absorption. Sandwiching the wood core between two layers of patented carbon has the ability to offer smoothness and stability in many different types of terrain. It responds very well to the skier’s movements and ensures easy controllability.
Beyond the core and carbon, there is a titanium insert running the length of the ski, for optimal power and improved edging, especially in hard snow.
The terrain is not always even in every part of a mountain. Sometimes, there can be more powder, sometimes more ice. What makes a ski dominate these surfaces is the raised tips and tail rockers. The Lux 92 has an early rise tip and tail, which enables it to navigate smoothly through any terrain while sliding downhill.
Furthermore, the medium waist allows it to float better on soft snows. It is very versatile and handles any type of snow with ease. The Lux 92 is quite light compared to other mountaineering skis and it steers very well.
The type of snow that this ski will perform best on is more on powder snow than groomed. However, it performs exceptionally well on both kinds, which this article will discuss further later in the advantages. The price of the Lux 92 is around $549 US dollars in the market as of March 2020.
Some skis have a design or build that will suit beginners and experts alike. On the other hand, some skis tend more to the needs of advanced users. The Salomon QST Lux 92 is one such mountaineering ski that is ideal for experts and advanced users. If the interested buyer is only beginning to ski, it will be better to go for another ski.
Pros of the Salomon QST Lux 92
There are many advantages that the best mountaineering ski for women has in store. The benefits and pros of this ski are as follows:
- Extremely lightweight
This fantastic ski uses incredibly lightweight materials. Despite this, the materials Salomon used were of the highest quality and in terms of performance and durability. There was a reduction in the use of plastic, which further decreased the overall weight of the Lux. As everyone knows, a light ski is best for ski mountaineering. Skiers will be pleasantly surprised by how light this ski is after holding it for themselves.
- Fast and speedy
The fact that the QST Lux 92 is very light might spark some doubts and concerns about its speed. However, skiers can set those worries aside because it does not disappoint when it comes to speed. As a matter of fact, it remains very stable even at the high speeds that it achieves.
This ski performs much better when it comes to speed if compared with other lightweight skis. It is excellent at arousing feelings of confidence on the steep slopes.
- Effortless turning
The Lux has a medium waist, which people might think will hamper its carving and turning abilities. However, thanks to its extremely light weight, the ski can carve snow and turn quickly if needed.
- Fluid floating
There is no ski in the market at the moment that can beat the Salomon QST Lux 92 when it comes to sliding and gliding over powdered snow. The waist of this ski along with the early rise rockered tip and tail allow it to float over powdered snow effortlessly. Even on cruds, the Lux does an excellent job of staying in control and stabilizing the descent.
Taking all the benefits, quality, brand, features, and abilities into consideration, Lux 92 has a reasonable price. It will suit people who are serious about skiing and do not mind spending a little more to get the best.
Cons of the Salomon QST Lux 92
The waist width of this ski is not wide. This fact might put it at a disadvantage against wider skis when it comes to traversing powder, regardless of how light it is. It is not the ideal choice of mountaineering ski for beginners and amateur skiers. When it comes to forgiveness of the ski, it is less forgiving than some other models and products in the market. Although not as demanding as some other skis on the market, it is not for beginners.
Final thoughts on the Lux 92
If a lightweight and high-performance mountaineering ski is what a person is looking for, the Salomon QST Lux 92 is more than equipped for the job. It leisurely floats even on the deepest powdered snow. On cruds where there is a mixture of both powdered snow and ice, this ski performs surprisingly well too.
Ski mountaineering is a fun sport that allows skiers to enjoy two things at the same time. A person exerts themselves hiking up a hill, and their efforts award them with a thrilling and somewhat cathartic descent on the same skis.
What type of skis for mountaineering? It is best to go for big mountain skis or all-mountain skis. Lightweight and wider waists will be better than other options. Out of the many options available in the market, two best mountaineering skis are the Volkl M5 Mantra Skis for men and the Salomon QST Lux 92 for women. Happy skiing!