Best Women's Backcountry Touring Skis 2024 - 2025
RIDE AND TESTED: WOMEN'S TOURING SKISWhat are the best backcountry skis for women for 2024 - 2025? Which touring skis work best for uphill and downhill, powder and piste? What ski to choose for backcountry and resort if you want a one-quiver ski?
BUZZ LIGHT GEAR
It's when you click into the touring bindings of an old pair of All Mountain skis and start ascending in the backcountry, that you realise just how much more effort is needed going uphill on heavier skis.
It was four years ago that our weight debate started at STYLE ALTITUDE and Backcountry Editor, Ken actually put our touring set-ups on the scales for comparisons. Ever since then we have vied with each other to find the lightest skis for uphill that also perform in powder and on piste.
Meanwhile, ski manufacturers have stepped up (excuse the pun) to the challenge of losing weight for climbing, shaving grams off skis with lighter constructions, the buzz being all about creating the lightest backcountry touring skis that maintain performance downhill in most conditions.
ONE QUIVER SKIS
So, yes, it is now possible to have a one-quiver ski that is backcountry specific, as in made for going uphill as well as down. You don't have to sacrifice the freeride element as in surfing powder with the lighter touring skis, because many have decent tip rocker and wider waists.
Plus they have better edging so for the days you're with friends in resort, a hardpack piste no longer makes your teeth chatter.
THE SKI TEST
Every year, the STYLE ALTITUDE crew, along with the major UK snowsports retailers and press, have the choice of over 600 skis to try, that are going to be available for the following winter from the main brands at the SIGB Ski Test, held in the French ski resort of La Clusaz.
Like many, our time to test is limited. We had two days at the end of January, so it was a quick pitstop at the test centre (image above) after each 1200m descent over 5.2k from the top of the Col de Balme to change onto another pair.
While Backcountry Editor, Ken was (ironically) testing Best Carving Skis (and striving to top Carv's La Clusaz leaderboard) and our Tech & Touring Editor, Gav was assessing the revamped All Mountains, I decided to contentrate on women's backcountry skis.
Not every brand at the Ski Test had backcountry skis with touring bindings - or had lengths under 175cms for women. I'm 167cms tall and had to ride both 160cms and 172cms (which obviously ride shorter when there is plenty of rocker), but such a range of lengths is not ideal for comparisons.
And let's just be clear, there is no such thing as a bad ski from the big brands. Just how good a ski is for you, though, depends on your skiing style, experience and, of course, the snow conditions. And how good it is for ski touring depends on its weight uphill and performance down.
For the first backcountry skis that I rode, we had plenty of untracked powder, so naturally I loved them. The next day, for our earliest run, there was absolutely no vis and a bit of a steep descent from the top, so I was more impressed by my new integrated SCOTT Blend Plus helmet than by my skis - the new cylindrical lens, which attach magnetically to the helmet, feature Amplifier Technology, which really enhances contrast and clarity.
WOMEN'S SPECIFIC SKIS - OR NOT?
So do you head for the women's rack when choosing your next winter's backcountry touring skis? Nope. Call it unisex or, nowadays, gender fluid, but now many brands have decided not to differentiate between men's and women's skis.
The specs are the same for both, so just go to the backcountry touring section and choose the right length for you.
If you're an advocate for skis-for-women, as in believing that female anatomy, weight and skiing styles demand woman-specific skis, then stick with the brands such as Nordica, who have blazed the trail for women's skis (and also have prettier topsheets).
But in most cases, these days, ski manufacturers have decided to shrink it and, only ocassionally, pink it. However, there is one major topsheet colour trend for winter 2025 and that's a his or hers cool mint green.
SETTING THE BAR
I've been ski touring for over 10 years mostly in the Haute Alpes, the location for STYLE ALTITUDE'S HQ where we have masses of touring options from mellow south-facing slopes for spring tours (above) to northerly steeps for powder (including La Grave). I have also been touring in the backcountry in Norway, Japan and Colorado.
From bitter experience I have deduced what doesn't work for me (Tecton bindings that don't release below DIN 6 resulting in pulled calf muscle), skis too heavy (knackered after 750m vert) and skins that are too narrow (icy ascent nightmare). And I now know what does the best job ski-wise as in my DPS Pagoda Tour 106s, which set my bar for judging other touring skis.
So 106s? I know many women are reticent about going wide with their skis but my advice is, if you want to ski powder off piste then it's a game-changer. And these days, most All Mountain skis between 96 and 106 widths are perfectly easy to ski on the piste, as well.
And if you want to enjoy the uphill, then go light.
CHOOSING TOURING SKIS
You can tell a lot from just looking at a touring ski, noting its profile, feeling it's weight and by checking its stats. There's plenty of info from the brands online including all the manufacturing blurb to explain why it is a good ski. Personally, I glaze over when it comes to its karuba/poplar/paulownia/carbon/titanal/fibreglass/whatever sandwiching and reinforcement constructions.
All I want to know is that it's lightweight and skis most terrain.
- Lighter skis (under 1500g per ski) are going to be less effort going uphill (so long as you keep the bindings light as well)
- Slightly shorter ones will be easier for kickturns on the way up and tight trees coming down
- Longer ones are better for stability and freeride turns
- Tip rocker will lift the ski and make turning easier in soft snow
- Wider width skis will float on the pow.
But what you don't know from just handling a touring ski, is how it is going to ride on the piste. Or crud? If you want that Holy Grail of a one quiver ski that you can take to a resort, off piste or tour in the backcountry, then you don't want it to be so light that it chatters on the hardpack, too stiff for short turns on a narrow trail and a general pain in the arse on a slidey piste slope.
And, boy, did we have some slidely piste slopes at La Clusaz for the Ski Test.
Following rain below 2000m on the first night at the end of January, the Ski Test centre was like an ice rink but there was good powder higher up. In fact, during two days of testing we had boot deep powder, chopped up pow, crud, icy hardpack piste and, on the last afternoon, soft spring snow.
So a good test for the testers!
BUYING WOMEN'S SKIS
If you're looking for a women's touring ski then these are the ones that I have actually tested either this winter or at the last Ski Test and would recommend based on research and reviews, for next season. Obviously check them out online and, if you can, try before you buy by hiring or test riding from a ski shop.
Once you've decided what you want, a decent pair of freeride touring skis is going to cost around £750 and that's before bindings and skins.
But as some of the top backcountry skis are unchanged for next winter 2025 - or merely tweaked - you could pick up a great bargain if you search the ski sales at the end of winter 24.
BLIZZARD ZERO G 95
The Zero G 95 was the ski of choice for legendary ski mountaineer, Hilaree Nelson (may she rest in peace) to conquer her epic first descent of the world’s highest, biggest line—the Lhotse Couloir on 27,940-foot Lhotse peak in Nepal’s Himalayas with her husband.
They were my first skis of the day at the SIGB Ski Test, 2024. And, wow, did I love them. However, I would have loved riding wooden sticks that morning because it had snowed up the hill overnight leaving boot-high untracked powder off piste. But the Zero Gs were also an easy ride on the icy hardpack further down on the piste where the overnight rain had frozen, so a big hurrah for that.
The test skis were 164cms, so slightly too short for my liking - I would go longer and, for a one quiver, wider. Note that the 105s were Best Overall Backcountry Ski according to Switchback Travel.
PS. Blizzard have revamped the Black Pearls for 2025 with more rocker in tip and tail. They are also lighter. You could put tech bindings on the 94s if you want them as an All Mountain ski to go uphill but at 1700g for 164cms, it'll be much heavier than a Blizzard Zero G ski, weighing in at 1260g..
ARMADA LOCATOR 104
With their freeride and freestyle heritage, you'd expect Armada to know how to make a fun ski for the backcountry- and they do. I grabbed the wider Locator 104s for a second descent in the powder before it got chopped up and enjoyed the easy float as well as good edging on the piste, proving that wider skis can work for both.
Fore body rocker and extra tip taper combine to create the optimised float in the soft stuff. Positive camber under foot with no tail rocker ensures edge hold so these skis stay on rails when carving.
As Armada say: 'When you need one ski with a soft snow focus that can do it all with predictable performance, the Locator 104 is ready.'
Weighing in at 1375g, it fits the brief for lightweight ascent without sacrificing downhill performance, a winning combination and a highly recommended touring ski for women.
VOLKL RISE BEYOND 96
Best for Fast and Light Missions according to Ski Mag's Best Women's Backcountry Skis 2024, as tested by their team in the Tetons. Meanwhile, I only had one long descent in La Clusaz but it was enough to know that these skis will tick all the boxes.
They powered through the chopped up powder in the afternoon so I have no doubt that the Volkl Rise Beyond 96s will rise to most touring missions. Described as a 'powder touring ski' it has tip rocker and a 3D radius sidecut to enhance downhill performance. A hybrid, multi-layered wood core in combination with a carbon tip shovel creates a great performance ski that is super light.
The 170cms that I tested are a featherweight 1,262g per ski.
ELAN RIPSTICK 94 and ELAN RIPSTICK TOUR 94
The Elan Ripstick 94s, the lightest freeride skis out there, with a notch in the tail for skins, are a popular choice for women in the backcountry. Last year, they came in at No 2 position for On The Snow and No 3 for Outdoor Gear Guide top women's All Mountain skis. And, on a recent ski touring forum when I asked women for their recommendations for a backcountry ski, Elan Ripstick 94 was one of the favourites.
At last year's Ski Test, I rode the 162cm Ripstick 94s, which had great skiability with freeride performance. The 168cm weighs 1500g, so not the lightest but certainly one of the best choices for an All Mountain one quiver ski to take touring into the backcountry.
However, there is now the Ripstick Tour range, which Elan brought to the market when they saw the popularity of touring on their freeride skis. The Ripstick Tour skis are about 20 percent lighter and use Carbon Bridge Technology but with one carbon rod rather than two in the construction, maximising both weight reduction and stability with an asymmetric, separate left and right ski design.
They weigh in at 1330g for the 164cms and get great reviews for both uphill and downhill performance. Personally, I'd go wider for my one quiver backcountry touring ski and choose the Ripstick Tour 104s in 166cms, tested from the ground up by Elan ambassador and freeskiing pioneer, Glen Plake.
FACTION AGENT 2X
Winning the 2024 accolade of Best Women's Backcountry Ski for Soft Snow from Skimag.com, who tested them in the Tectons, and coming in at No 4 on Powder7.com's Best Women's Backcountry Skis, the Agent 2X is such a great ski that Faction haven't changed a thing for 2025 and so it will, no doubt, be floating onto the top women's touring ski lists for 2025, too.
As I would expect from Faction with their park pedigree, they are a fun ride. I tested the women's Agent 2X, last year. It is 96mm for the 163cm ski so good for float as well as stability down the piste.
The modern tip helps rise above the snow and easily initiates the turn, a stiffer tail supports a strong finish, the downhill performance is solid, reliably handling variable snow and terrain. These touring skis weigh 1420g for 171cm length ski, so a good lightweight choice for the uphill.
SCOTT PURE TOUR 90
I tested these skis in their launch year when they were ISPO award winners 2023. The Pure Tour has a shorter radius, longer rocker and new tip shape, designed 'to be used every day' It's light enough for touring and shaped for freeride, a one ski quiver option, versatile for all the conditions, and one of a new generation of skis that is constructed as sustainably as possible, using flax fibre for smooth flex, and poplar for the pop.
The Pure Tour 90 is aimed at smaller and lighter skiers so obviously including women, coming in shorter lengths of 153,160 and 168cm. The Pure Tour 100 is wider under foot and comes in longer lengths of 170,178 and 186cm.
I'd go for the Pure Tour 100 at 170cms but I only had the choice of the Pure Tour 90 which is actually 93mm width for the women's 160cm (increasing waist in proportion with the length) so it's not too fat to fit in your mountain guide's ski tracks but wide enough to give float downhill in the pow. (NB. I would have chosen the 168cm for my height, which have 96mm waist, but they weren't on the rack).
And, yep, they are light. The 160s are a featherweight 1340g per ski, the 168s are a decent 1410g. And the lightness doesn't affect piste performance. With its shorter radius, longer rocker and new tip shape, it's aim is for versatility.
On the midday piste, they were an easy ride so I have absolutely no doubt that they'll do the rest of the job as in skiing down in powder or spring snow.
I particularly like the simple muted unsexist topsheets throughout the men's and women's lines, vibing with the natural 'pure' sustainable ski trend.
So an excellent choice for the woman ski tourer who wants that one quiver ski.
DPS PAGODA TOUR 106
I couldn't write about women's touring skis without giving a shout out to my Pagoda Tour 106s, length 171cms, recently acclaimed as the Best High End Backcountry Ski by Switchback Travel. And, yes, they are pretty pricey if you're buying at retail.
Since they were launched and when I bought them three years ago, DPS have updated the Pagoda Tour's construction resulting in what they say 'is undoubtedly the most capable touring ski we’ve ever designed'.
It is their only powder-specific touring shape that boasts C2 shaping, utilising a longer turn radius to improve the ski’s ability to attack the fall line in steeper terrain
Although I have other skis that are narrower for the piste and wider for powder, I ride my DPS Pagoda Tour 106s everywhere, anytime for powder, piste, backcountry, resort. They have great downhill performance in powder and spring snow and, also crucially, ice, crud and crust. They weigh 1470g, so with Xenic 10 bindings, each ski is nearly a kilo less than my former touring ski set up.
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