The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023

·3 min read

Ski_Mag and Yahoo may earn affiliate commissions on some items promoted through links in the article below. This article originally appeared on Ski Mag

Whether you're looking for a dedicated backcountry ski that strikes the perfect balance between weight and performance, a lightweight ski to charge up the biggest peaks, or a slackcountry ski that will pull double-duty at the resort and beyond the ropes, you'll find something right up your alley on this list of the best backcountry skis of 2023.

If you're in it for the downhill, peruse the skis that are a little wider underfoot and weigh closer to 2,000g per ski. Trying to set a Fastest Known Time on your dawn and dusk patrols? Then you're looking for something light and narrow underfoot. Whatever adventure you're in the market for, you can't go wrong with any of these unisex backcountry skis designed to maximize fun on the ups and the downs.

Looking for the best women’s backcountry skis? You’ll find those here

How We Test

Testing backcountry skis is tricky, because every skier is looking for something different in a backcountry setup. Of course, you want a backcountry ski to be lighter than the skis you charge on at the resort. But the total weight you're lugging up the skin track depends on your binding, boot, and ski combination; plus, not every skier cares about having an ultralight backcountry ski, especially if downhill performance is compromised by the lightweight construction. For this reason, we primarily considered downhill performance when testing and reviewing this year's crop of backcountry skis.

Backcountry skis to test at SKI Test
Testers Jordan Garrett (left) and Lily Krass (right) run through the 2023 backcountry ski lineup at SKI’s 2023 gear test. (Photo: Ray J Gadd)

To be entered into SKI's gear test, each backcountry ski had to weigh in under 2,000g per ski and be mounted with a tech or hybrid binding. A crew of 15 testers then put these skis to test at Sun Valley and in the Colorado backcountry to assess how well they performed across seven skills categories--Versatility, Crud Performance, Responsiveness, Quickness, Stability at Speed, Flotation, and Forgiveness.

Go deep: Learn more about SKI's testing process

Testers, a mix of advanced and expert skiers with extensive backcountry skiing experience, rated each ski in each skill department on a 1-10 scale (10 being the highest). The 13 unisex backcountry skis reviewed below are those that rose to the top of the pile after impressing testers with their performance across all seven scoring categories.

Meet the Testers

Skiers testing backcountry skis in the glades
Testers Jordan Garrett (left) and Lily Krass (right) take some backcountry skis into the glades of Sun Valley. (Photo: Ray J. Gadd)

Lily Krass

Age: 36 | Height: 5'8'' | Weight: 110 lbs

Krass is a freelance ski journalist based in Jackson, Wyoming with work featured in SKI, Powder Magazine, Freeskier, Teton Gravity Research, and Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal. She spends winters backcountry skiing in Grand Teton National Park and riding lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with the occasional trip to the Alps (for the food, obviously).

Luke Larsen

Age: 39 | Height: 5'10'' | Weight: 190 lbs

Larsen owns and operates Salt Lake City's Lifthouse ski shop with his brother, Zac Larsen. Larsen practically grew up in the shop, a family-owned business, and spent his free time chasing gates on the Snowbird Ski Team. He has been gear tester for SKI for more than a decade.

Keri Bascetta

Age: 38 | Height: 5’7″ | Weight: 140 lbs

SKI’s former photo director Keri Bascetta has spent her whole life on skis, and almost as long behind the lens shooting skiers and ski gear for SKI. She lives in Denver, Colo., and splits her ski days between Colorado’s Winter Park, Loveland Ski Area, and the backcountry.

Reviews: The Best Backcountry Skis of 2023

For exclusive access to all of our fitness, gear, adventure, and travel stories, plus discounts on trips, events, and gear, sign up for Outside+ today.