One thing most of us can agree on is you don’t want to make too much of a sacrifice in the performance of your go-to ski. It needs to be solid enough to handle a lot of vertical in-bounds, yet not be a tank for a full day in the backcountry. It has to be solid on firm snow, yet float in soft too. That doesn’t mean that there is one ski that can do it all either, but for common conditions, you can at least narrow the field to one or two skis that excel at either end of the spectrum and then simply take advantage of those characteristics. Some skill will still be required.
While having lightweight skis is great on long tours, lightweight skis can be easily over powered in manky backcountry snow, and especially with in-bounds bashed up crud. For simple day tours, and certainly for quick jaunts out-o-bounds weight can be your friend. It boils down to balancing priorities, and when you aren’t going long or deep, downhill performance always carries that decision.
Dynastar’s Legend 94 is a case in point. It isn’t the lightest ski out there, but it has some very desireable qualities when it comes to being used as a backcountry ski. For starters there is the matter of size 7mdash; it is possible to have too much of a good thing. When it comes to phat, moderation is the rule when you’re planning to carry it uphill. With a middle of the road 94mm waist it is narrow enough to hold on icy snow, yet wide enough to provide a good baseline for flotation and not so big that it requires super phat skins either.
Bouyancy is further enhanced with an early, but slow rising tip that opens wide to a healthy 132 mm span. The rise on the shovel is slow enough that it doesn’t make the ski short on firm snow, but it can still dig in when you lay it over. That early rise is great for breaking trail too, which helps overcome the equally healthy weight of 12½ pounds for a pair at 174cm.
The Legend 94 comes with enough muscle on its 132-94-118 mm frame to hold on hard snows at moderate speeds, but more significantly, it chews through re-frozen crud. You can thank the 3D wood core, two layers of titanal and vertical sidewalls for that performance. The natural turn radius is medium, though it snaps out short turns rather easily on windboard. Where it can fall apart is at true GS speeds on hardpack. For the average fast skier, these are plenty solid enough and compared to most weight conscious, backcountry specific skis the Legend 94 rips on hard snow by comparison. Besides, the race in the backcountry isn’t usually on the descent, but on the skin up.
Make no mistake, you won’t win any medals in a rando race with these, but you can make their weight easier to bear by simply going with a Dynafit or other tech binding. Losing 2 pounds per foot on a binding makes adding it back in with the ski easier to bear on the skin up, and for short tours why not when the skiing performance is so good. It may not be a quiver of one, but one you’ll use a lot on both sides of the boundary.
Weight/pr: 12 lbs., 8 oz. (5.67 kg)
Dimensions: 132-94-118 (R=18m)
Lengths avail.: 165, 172, 178, 184, 189 cm.