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Our picks for the best touring skis of 2021 for those who like to roam the whole mountain.

the best touring skis of 2020 21 web

Scott Superguide 95

Men's best touring ski

Scott Superguide 95 skis.jpg

The Scott Superguide 95 scored highly in last season’s tests, and this years’ model is unchanged apart from updated graphics. Designed as a do-it-all backcountry ski, the Superguide range is very similar to the lighter Speedguides, but with the beef to keep up with a more freeride-oriented skier. After the surprise of how light the ski is for its dimensions, it completely out-skis expectations, being both lively and solid for its weight. The straight sidecut is not such a bad thing on the uphill, but it does mean it’s not great edge-to-edge – until you open it up, that is! At speed  it will swing beneath your feet while giving the feedback of a much more precision-focussed ski. 

  • Best for: Skiers who split their time between skin, powder and piste.
  • Verdict: One of the most versatile touring skis out there - a true quiver-of-one. 
  • Overall rating: 10/10
  • RRP: £525



K2 Talkback 96

Women's best touring ski

K2 Talkback 96 skis.jpg

The Talkback 96 is the widest model in K2’s touring focussed range and is the female equivalent of the popular Wayback. K2 have gone back to the drawing board, utilising Ti-spyne technology to make a significant reduction in weight possible, but the titanial laminate still works to increase dampening, stability and edge hold. These features are great for enjoying uphill approaches on longer tours, but without compromising on downhill performance. Attributes like all-terrain rocker in the tips and tail with camber underfoot makes for great control in variable snow, while offering enough width to be able to manage all conditions.

  • Best for: Established skiers looking to explore it all.
  • Verdict: The K2 Talkback is an all-round impressive ski that makes for effortless uphill approaches. 
  • Overall rating: 8/10
  • RRP: £525 




Salomon MTN Explore 95

Salomon MTN 95 skis.jpg

The MTN 95 from Salomon is billed as a freeride touring ski, which is always an optimistic claim – can a lightweight climbing ski really perform like a freeride plank? At 1450 grams they are not quite the lightest touring skis on the market, but they’re certainly in that ballpark, meaning a genuine comparison to an out-and-out freeride ski would be a little unfair. In the chopped up crud of our Scottish test centre the ski struggled a little in terms of having the stiffness to power through, but it is certainly agile enough to pick a careful line. It is not super-stable on an edge, but again, being nimble covers for that shortcoming to a large extent as it is more capable of making forced turns. 

  • Best for: Great for gram counters and uphill enthusiasts.
  • Verdict: For when weight is a priority, but you don’t want to compromise on the downhill.
  • Overall rating: 8/10
  • RRP: £540



Faction Agent 3.0

Faction Agent 3.0 skis.jpg

The Agent 3.0 is a descent focussed touring ski meaning all the fun hasn’t been rinsed out chasing lightness. Stable at high speeds they suffer at lower speeds, typical of a touring ski. They aren’t particularly lively or playful but hold an edge on long radius turns and are relatively smooth through chopped up crud.

These skis are agile enough to ski gulleys with confidence and despite decent downhill ability, they climb okay, although on longer tours you will start to feel the burn due to the relatively high weight. If you’re skiing firm snow you may be surprised by their ability where the dampness, stiff flex and weight really comes into play.

  • Best for: Descent focussed ski tourers and freeriders.
  • Verdict: Great for what they’re designed for, touring with an emphasis on descents.
  • Overall rating: 8/10
  • RRP: £600





Black Crows Navis Freebird

Black Crows Navis Freebird skis.jpg

The Black Crows Navis Freebird is aimed at off-piste skiers looking for the liberation of backcountry touring but without the weight of a typical freeride ski. The genius of the Navis Freebird is in shedding that weight while keeping the playful construction and flex – if not quite the power. The pop and ability to launch off hits is fantastic, and to feel so much potential energy crackling beneath your feet in a lightweight touring ski is exciting. This ski would score similarly highly even if it were tested in the freeride category, and given that some skis in the touring category don’t tend to inspire downhill confidence, this is quite a feat.

  • Best for: A versatile ski for a versatile skier.
  • Verdict: The newest incarnation of Black Crows’ Navis Freebird is simply superb. 
  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • RRP: £635



K2 WayBack 96

K2 WayBack 96 skis.jpg

For a brand known for fun and freeride, the WayBack range from K2 is surprisingly weight-conscious. Coming in at 1397 grams in the 177cm length, the WayBack 96 is lighter than some models aimed at lycra-clad Skimo racers. So far, so uphill friendly. But the mid-fat dimensions are great for descents too, making this ideal for ski tourers who enjoy both. With a fairly straight sidecut this is well designed for stability on the steeps - it gives you more contact with the snow when weighing up your next jump turn in a sketchy couloir, say. The sidecut is also conducive to long radius freeride turns. Skin clips, naturally, complete the backcountry-ready package.

  • Best for: Adventure skiers who like both ups and downs.
  • Verdict: Light for a ski that’s so wide, and so good on the descents.  Agile too, which is a big plus.
  • Overall rating: 8/10
  • RRP: £775