Jack of all grades

Marquette Backcountry Ski

Sports and Outdoors : Sports By Photo by Marquette

Admittedly, it’s been a pretty wimpy winter everywhere from Colorado to the Alps, causing renewed grumblings about global warming from skiers, both Alpine and Nordic. Getting out on the boards anywhere but in the high country has required either the nimbleness to dodge the bald patches of dirt and grass or a pair of rock skis that you don’t care about trashing. But anyone who owns a pair of the innovative new Marquette Backcountry Skis has been ripping over hill and dale on the meagerest of slush since Thanksgiving.

Marquette Backcountry Skis, as their name suggests, hail from that remote outdoor Mecca in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a region that measures its snowfalls in feet rather than inches. While not truly mountainous, the UP has its share of ups and downs, in addition to hundreds of miles of backcountry trails, the perfect breeding ground for a truly hybrid pair of skis. These skis are neither cross-country, downhill, nor randonée but fall somewhere in between, with a healthy splash of snowshoe thrown in.

The skis, made right there in Marquette, are built of heavy ABS plastic, a full 130 mm wide at their waist. Their decks are set up to accept a variety of boot bindings, from three-pin touring to SNS to NNN to randonée. What you choose will depend on your terrain and type of skiing. The bottoms of these fat boards have a contact patch of fish scale texture, which work like waxless cross-country skis on the flats and provide grip on all but the steepest grades.

While a ski this versatile can’t hope to outperform a dedicated cross-country or downhill ski, it is a perfect companion for mixed conditions terrain when you just want to go mess around in the woods. The Marquette Backcountry Ski is also great for shoulder season skiing, when there’s not enough base to get out your good skis or in the spring when muddy patches plague the slopes and you can duck off-piste for some good old fashioned tromping about. Or for a wimpy winter.

Buy Now: $189