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Mar 29 2012

Review: Marquette Backcountry skis

When the concept of the Marquette Backcountry ski was first explained it sounded like a great idea. Kudos to the marketing department for truth in advertising. The sticker adorning the ski says these planks are 30% snowshoe, 70% ski. After having ski toured with them I concur one hundred percent with that assessment.

Everything you might want in a waxless ski except metal edges. Fat, rockered, budget conscious.


One of the unique things about the Marquette Backcountry ski is how it is constructed. Unlike most skis, this is an injection molded hunk of recycled plastic that is shaped like a ski. It is wide enough to be considered a super-fat, even obese ski with a waist width of 130mm. That makes the Marquettes super stable.

The coarse pattern on the base allows for decent uphill grip and not too much speed going down.

They have loads of rocker in the tip, with a substantial amount of rise to the shovel which makes them excellent for breaking trail in fresh, deep snow. Underneath, they are peppered with a coarse pattern of pads as thick as a quarter for traction in the track, or a modest climbing angle up to 10° in warm snow, maybe 12°.

If you’re a skier, however, you will be unimpressed. A friend took ‘em out and said “they’re dogs on the way down and they’re dogs on the way up.”

To which I might add, “but they’re great for taking a walk with the dogs.”

They don’t have metal edges for holding a turn on hard snow, they’re too short to develop much flex in a turn and their uniform plastic material doesn’t add much glide to your stride, at least compared to p-tex.

On the climb, the waxless pattern works well, but most waxless skis can out climb them. They are great for taking a stroll in the woods in the snow, but if you’re a skier, a pair of low-fat or mid-fat waxless metal edged skis will be more to your liking.

Simple and effective for a walkabout in the snow, especially deep snow.

The question isn’t so much, are these a good product? I think they are, just not for skiers. They seem like they’re for novice winter hikers who realize that snow shoes are just instruments for plodding through the snow, not necessarily fun. Skis would be better, but many slowshoers are not ready for skinny cross country sticks so the Marquette Backcountry ski could be the perfect tool to bridge the gap between slowshoes and skis. The question in my mind is, since 90% of skiers will reject them, will even 10% of snowshoers consider them? That’s a question that can only be answered by a bottomless advertising budget and the hypnotic magic of video.

If you have a winter cabin in the mountains these would be great to have hanging around for the visiting relative who doesn’t ski and needs to cure a case of cabin fever in the midst of a storm. Be sure to get the universal binding for them. Or mount ‘em with 3-pins for yourself when taking the dog for a walk and it’s too deep to bother trenching through the fresh with a pair of anorexic skinny skis.

Marquette Backcountry Ski
Price: $189
Dimensions: 150mm • 130mm • 140mm X 140cm
Weight: 4½ lbs./ski

© 2012
 

  • mrgooddave

    If you are interested in such a ‘ski’, take a look at these boards from Altai Skis. http://www.altaiskis.com/blog/products/the-hok/
    Maybe you should give them a go Dostie? You probably know Nils Larsen and I hope you have seen his video on the skiers of the Altai. I bet this skishoe from Altai climbs and descends better- Nils is not a snowshoer, the base has an integral kicker skin and it has a palownia core with veneer top sheet at almost the same price.

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    Am definitely aware of the Hok – just haven’t actually tested a pair yet though I am confident they will work well for what they are designed to do.

  • rhcastorh3@gmail.com

    I have a couple pairs of fun “Boreal 130′s” from L.L.Bean mounted with 3-pin or lite cable (best) [Rottefella 412's] These 130cm, x 120/100/115 no-wax patterened skis are a surprising joy to ski! Similar to (and built by) Rossignol’s “BC 125′s” except without excessive camber and stiffer flex for responsive quick slalom turns in practically the width of a hiking trail! Pin line @ about 28″ from tail on these 51-1/2″ long skis. The klunky “any boot binding” that are available for these “sliding snowshoes” do not perform as well, tho useable, I’d bet the ski is more than bargained for for many snowshoers who aren’t ready to actually ski! The inserts for the Berwin bindings are compatible with NNNBC or need new screw hole or insert for Heavy Duty 3-pin pattern front mount hole (further foward). I have tried the built in kicker skin type from L.L.Bean/ Karhu…..not great for turns and skin eventually wears/pulls out. No wax pattern is very functional and skis great tho more limited for climbing (so I have custom skins!)