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AT Gear Research


Diva in Training
Looking for advice on skis for an AT setup, after having purchased an entirely new resort set up 2 seasons ago (of course) - Yumi's, 161 length. I like to think that they did their job of re-igniting my fire for skiing, and therefore entirely justifies the $$$, particularly since for the 10+ years prior to them I was on an old (almost straight) pair of Atomic's - 149 in length (yikes).

For context, I am 5'6, 140 lbs, mid-30's, athletic but moderately out of shape. I have always been more of a... brute force skier than a finesse skier, for lack of a better way to describe it. I learned to ski by chasing my older brother down the mountain, and have never had official lessons - although it's on the list this spring if I can get the time/dog-sitter/snow. Overall, I would rate myself as intermediate - I can get down blacks anywhere I have skied so far (Sugarbush, MRG, Loon, Wildcat, Sunday River, Sugarloaf) - but generally prefer blues and single diamonds, in part to avoid ruining the trails for others because I know I'm not that good, and also because I enjoy short, playful turns over hard charging and carving at speed. I definitely feel more confident on the Yumi's than I did on the Atomics, especially on groomers and making large, sweeping turns, but still don't love speed.

That said, I enjoy glades and being out in the woods (winter hiker, cross country skier here), so I want to improve my tree-skiing skills. I have considered swapping my bindings and using the Yumi's for touring to get started, but I haven't loved them in glades yet. This might be a lack of skill, but overall, we haven't clicked in those conditions, and I like the idea of a dedicated resort, dedicated AT setup, so I've been searching.

I demo'd the DPS Uschi 94's from NEM and LOVED them, but wowzers are they pricey, and of course it was a beautiful day of powder, vs. the anticipated crud/ice/crust I generally plan to be in. I'm struggling to compare weight, vs. ski, vs 9,000 reviews that are usually done out west...

Thoughts between/in addition to:
- Elan Ripstick 94
- Rossy Spicey 7
- Nordica Santa Ana 93
- Head Kore 99W
- Faction Dictator 2.0 (super affordable, but I don't know much about them)
- Back Crow Captis Birdie (also super affordable, but I don't know enough about them)
- Salomon QST Lumen or Lux?

Any advice or suggestions from others who have touring set-ups in the ME/NH area would be greatly appreciated!
Check out the Black Diamond Helios. They are super light and on Sierra Trading Post for a song. I just bought some and am just waiting for them to be mounted!
Few things to think about and ask yourself:
What are your goals for this ski? Will it be a dedicated touring ski? Or more of a 50-50 resort/backcountry setup? Longer 5-8 hour tours? Multi-day? Shorter 1-4 hour hikes?

If you plan on long days skinning, and less actual skiing, a super lightweight setup has a lot of benefits. If you're doing shorter days, and a decent amount of resort time, you can sacrifice a bit of the uphill capabilities for a better downhill experience.

You have a pretty solid list of skis for a 50-50 setup, or something for mostly shorter day hikes, but could definitely handle longer days if the opportunity arises.

My advice would be to try to demo as many as possible. Get the skis that are the most versatile and that you feel the most comfortable on. They might not be the "best" at anything, but they'll do everything well.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@elemmac knows what she is talking about!

In terms of what you may enjoy in a new ski - did you demo the DPS Uschi 94 in the Alchemist or Foundation construction?

The Yumi seems like it would be fun in glades and bumps unless the snow is too deep where some width would help. If you don’t care for it, learning why may be important as with your specs (5’6”/140), the 161 should be super maneuverable in tight spots.

If you are looking at alpine skis that would also make great touring skis the Elan Ripstick 94 and the Head Kore (93 instead of the 99?) are lightweight and easy to ski. I have the Ripstick 94 and would love to put a hybrid binding on them someday. I have demoed the Kore 93. They both have carbon construction and a fairly flat tail, but a surfy tip. The Santa Ana 93 has the upturned tail (more like the Yumi) but may be heavier than the other two...would have to check weights.

Sierra Trading Post has amazing deals on sooooo many skis (many touring specific), but I haven’t been on them in order to recommend!


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I have skied the QST 99 and it was a super fun ski that wanted to be driven and really rewarded pushing the tips. It’s definitely a bit heavier than my DPS (alchemist) in the same width. The DPS ski a bit better in a more neutral stance.
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Diva in Training
Wow thanks for the replies ladies!

@elemmac - this will be a dedicated touring ski (aside from some resort laps to get comfortable/practice on them) since I plan to keep the Yumi's as well. That said, I don't plan to be doing any crazy long days where I would need to go super-light.

I don't have much to compare against, but I thought the Uschi's with Dynafit Radical bindings were very light and had no concerns with a 6-hour climb on them - but I'm guessing those are on the "light" side of setups.

(@lisamamot I demo's the Alchemists construction. Aside from weight, do the foundations ski significantly differently?)

I will definitely keep trying to pin-point my insecurities on the Yumi's - I'm certain it's my lack of technique, not the ski's - so hopefully I can grow further into them as I improve *and* whatever I learn will transition to another pair of skis. I was thinking perhaps it is the adjustment to a tail rocker (my old skis were flat-flat-flat!) - I've found the Yumi's to be much more "slippery" behind me, especially when doing super-fancy things like skidding to a stop (hockey stop?) But then I loved the Uschi's, which looked similar in the tail.. so I'm not sure. It may still be that - the conditions when I was on the Uschi's didn't require much "smoodging" so it isn't a great comparison point. I believe the flat tail on the Ripsticks was appealing to me thought as a result.

Thank you all for your thoughts and advice! I'm happy to start a new thread for this - but anyone have rec's for lessons with someone who is good at "problem solving" years of bad behavior and survivalist ski technique? :smile:
@elemmac - this will be a dedicated touring ski (aside from some resort laps to get comfortable/practice on them) since I plan to keep the Yumi's as well. That said, I don't plan to be doing any crazy long days where I would need to go super-light.

I don't have much to compare against, but I thought the Uschi's with Dynafit Radical bindings were very light and had no concerns with a 6-hour climb on them - but I'm guessing those are on the "light" side of setups.
That sounds like a great setup for your needs. I don’t have much experience on pin bindings, so can’t provide tons of input in the Radicals, but they’re definitely pretty popular and known to ski well. They’re heavier than many tech bindings, but if you’re not trying to shave grams, i wouldn’t worry about it too much. You can always upgrade when you start figuring out what you like/dislike and East characteristics you value the most.

I’m running the Kingpin 10s, which are heavier, but I really enjoy their downhill performance. I don’t do any long tours...mostly shorter sub-6 hour. So downhill performance is what I value most, but there’s only so much uphill efficiency I want to give up.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
(@lisamamot I demo's the Alchemists construction. Aside from weight, do the foundations ski significantly differently?)
I have not skied either, but was trying to determine what you may have connected with in the Uschi 94 and what other skis may give you a similar feel. The Alchemist construction you enjoyed is lighter and livelier - here is a snip from the DPS’ website:
The Foundation choice will feel damper, smoother, and more forgiving than the Alchemist, yet also less reactive and energetic.

Good information when comparing to other skis!
Since you have the Santa Ana 93 on the demo list, I’d also add the Blizzard Sheeva 9. They have done absolute wonders for my technique deficiencies and confidence in bumps and trees. Still a work in progress, but leaps and bounds from where I was just at the beginning of last season. Since that is one of the areas you want to improve on from the Yumis, I think they’d be worth a demo as they are easy to find to try. There’s a ladies day coming up in March at Sunapee where they’ll have some of the skis on your list available for demo. I went last year and it was a great day, planning to check it out again this year and I think a handful of other divas will be as well.

I took an old pair of skis I wasn’t using much of anymore, my Rossignol S3Ws and mounted them with a “light” frame binding (Marker F10) and then bought a new pair of hybrid boots. I’ve skied everything to try it out and I’m happy so far. Been too tempting to ride the lift to actually go skinning yet this season, but I love having everything worked out now for whenever I do want to or if there were big crowds, wind holds, etc. Good luck with getting your setup together!
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Diva in Training
I really like my Fritschi Vipec bindings - I like having a break, they are pretty light, and I can adjust the rise and ski/walk mode with my ski pole in a flash. They seem safe for a beginner like me, and I've been hard on them with no complaints.


Diva in Training
I have the wailer in both alchemist and foundation. It’s like having two completely different skis.
Alchemist: bouncy, reactive, playful, less input needed, bendy, fun in deep snow, crud, ice.
Foundation: more like a ship: put in some effort and set the course, it will stay on course, no matter what you hit. Everything seems to happen a touch slower.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I ordered the Elan Ripstick 94 and assuming it arrives on time and I can get it mounted, I am doing a tour on 3/13. I demo'ed the 102 (94 not avail to demo) on piste and loved how it skied and it's definitely light enough for touring. I'll let you know how it goes!


Diva in Training
I have both the Yumi's in length 161 and the Captis Birdies in length 164, both set up for resort skiing. I have very similar size stats to you and a similar skiing ability (like black diamonds, like to play on all parts of the mountain, feel intimidated by double blacks). Overall, I am really enjoying my Captis Birdies more than my Yumis. They are new to me this season and I have been out on them about 7 days so far. They are much easier and more fun to turn, to quickly change up turn sizes, and to play in crud and bumps. I have not found much of a downside. A little worse on ice, but otherwise hold an edge well on groomers. Also, I seem to ski faster on my Captis Birdies without any effort (this makes my husband very happy).

Good luck making a decision!


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The Uschi's are 1500g for a 171, with the Captis Birdie, Pandora 94, Ripstick 94, and Lux 92 would punch in at about the same weight.

For your 6 hour climb, do you know how much vert you covered? I could see the heavier options, like the Santa Ana and the Dictator (they would add ~1 and 2 lbs to your setup, respectively), and on top the extra weight, heavier skis generally benefit from being matched with heavier boots and bindings. (What boots did you use to demo?) Also, the newest (2019-2020) Lumen gained a lot of weight last year (~1800 grams @174), so I'd look for the older models if that one piques your interest.

And I'd also toss out the Salomon MTN series as an option. The guys at Blister rave about the 95 and I got the chance to ski the 88s and they did notttt feel like a 5.25lb ski (1190g per ski in a 169). Not twitchy at all and really well grounded. I don't need a ski that light, but I also wouldn't mind it making tours easier...


Diva in Training
Don't overlook the Blizzard Zero G line- incredibly light but they ski great. I've been happy with the 95 as a daily driver in the backcountry, and ripping groomers on in-bounds dawn patrols.

Only issue I've had with the ski is it get a little tip-divey in heavy, deep snow, but the tails are stiff enough that I could get in the backseat and cruise. On breakable crust, deep but light powder, heavy but shallow powder, icy steeps, etc etc, they are stable and easy to turn. And so, so light on the ups!

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