Gear Review: Karhu XCD Guide Backcountry Touring Ski

Ideal for turning and climbing on rugged backcountry day trips.
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Ideal for turning and climbing on rugged backcountry day trips.

These fat, waxless skis are ideal for rugged backcountry day tours that are equal parts climbing and turning. The fish-scale base will easily get you up slopes of about 15 to 20 degrees (for steeper climbs, bring half-length "kicker" skins or be prepared to herringbone). Full metal edges, a soft tip, and a gradual sidecut make turning easy.

The fiberglass-wrapped poplar core keeps the Guides light but stable; they shined while touring through soft snow. Our tester broke 10 miles of trail in Vermont's Bolton backcountry, carving S-turns through glades along the way. She lapped her companions who had to rip skins, and who were tired from hauling heavy boards through deep snow. Caution: Because they're so light, the Guides will be chattery on icy or cruddy descents. $390; 5 lbs. 12 oz. (175cm); 165, 175, 185, 195cm (109/78/95); karhuskico.com