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  1. #1
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    Backcountry skis length?

    I am a pretty good skier, ski about 100 days a year, in France for the last 6 years.

    At least half the days in the backcountry, mostly couloirs. 40-50 degrees steep, fairly narrow.

    Then of course, another 2000 ft apron plus some sort of face skiing to get back.

    Snow pack is Maritime, a couple of days of powder a week.

    I'm 5 ft 7, weigh 165 lbs plus clothes and 20 lbs backpack.

    In the resort i ski the 184 metal katanas, bc the vwerks katanas, 184.

    Love them for the down, not so much for uphill switchbacks, especially when steep and firm.

    What do you guys think of going to a 177 vwerks katana for the backcountry?

    Or even the 171?

    In France at least all or most steep skiers are on skis just under their height.

    Thank you

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  2. #2
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    the issue with the 177 as a solution is that the real difference isn't all that big from your current setup imho. The 177 measure in at 177 or some such, while the 184 is more like 182 no?, so not a huge difference when everything is said and done. Sure, the 177 is probably a bit softer too, though I am not sure if softer is what you want when skiing couloirs.

    What I dislike about touring with the KVWs in 177 is that mount point is just too far back, even at +2 (roughly -12). So you end up with a lot of / too much ski in front of you, and short and rather stiff tails behind you that are not very torsionally complying. The wider shovels are also a bit of a hassle when skinning up steep traverses too, though that is probably dependent on what you are used to.

    KVWs in 177 works well in going downhill in soft snow, but is just too much work / unbalanced in moist snow, variable, refrozen snow imho - so they just end up being too much work at the part of the run where you are the most tired. Or that is my experience. As such I ended up much prefering BMT109 as an allround touring ski - both from a mount point perspective (-10) and from a compliance perspective. Like, both are good skis, but I think BMT109s is one of the best skis ever made for its segment.

    Mantra VWs could be an option as well, though their relatively softer foreski could be a bit of a liability in steep, harder conditions or in challenging variable. It is more of a narrower soft snow specialist imho.

    I am not much of a couloir skier, so can't speak from much experience - but I thought the norm was something much narrower, like Black Crows Solis? Wouldn't it in say 173 be just what you are after?
    Last edited by kid-kapow; 07-22-2021 at 12:38 PM.

  3. #3
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    I've tried going significantly shorter than my resort skis for a backcountry couloir focused ski, and it has never worked out. For me the way I have to adjust my balance point throws me off too much. But, I have many friends that do go shorter, and don't have an issue, so I think it just depends on the skier.

    FWIW my resort skis range from 182-189 and my backcountry skis range from 182-187. The only ski under 180 that I've liked was a pair of old 179 Bros. I'm taller but lighter than you. I've skied metal Katanas but never tried the V-Werks so can't compare those specific skis.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post
    What do you guys think of going to a 177 vwerks katana for the backcountry? Or even the 171? In France at least all or most steep skiers are on skis just under their height.
    Yes and yes. I'm just slightly bigger than you and my touring quiver ranges from 164 (strictly spring and summer) to 180 (winter), but I use a 171 a lot as well. My lift-served quiver is 177-188, with most of the days spent on something in the 186-188 range. In France it seems there are two types of steep skiers, the first group on full alpine gear and longer skis and the second on silly light rando gear. Both seem to do OK; sometimes they are the same people with longer or shorter approaches.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregL View Post
    Yes and yes. I'm just slightly bigger than you and my touring quiver ranges from 164 (strictly spring and summer) to 180 (winter), but I use a 171 a lot as well. My lift-served quiver is 177-188, with most of the days spent on something in the 186-188 range. In France it seems there are two types of steep skiers, the first group on full alpine gear and longer skis and the second on silly light rando gear. Both seem to do OK; sometimes they are the same people with longer or shorter approaches.
    Sorry for the thread drift, but Greg this makes me wonder what you think about for the PNW? I'm trying to nail down a consistent two-ski backcountry quiver for this winter. One in the 105-110 width for midwinter and something for spring or longer days. On the spring rig I'm torn between 170 and 177 (actual 168 and 175) on a K2 Wayback 96. My brain wants to go 170 for the weight savings and convenience of the smaller side, but I can't help but feel like the 177 will be more versatile for those in-between days when you might get any sort of conditions.

  6. #6
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    I understand the 177 katana is as stiff as the 184.

    I like that the 177 has a narrower tip than the 184. Not that i ever felt the 184 tip was too wide.

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  7. #7
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    you gota bend that ski to make it turn so one size down from what you ski at the hill will be a little easier to handle for the BC IME

    but I wouldn't want to go down a bunch
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  8. #8
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    I am sure that you are aware, but 177 is the shortest length for KVWs. Also, the shovels are 2mm narrower, so a mm a side - something I doubt you'd noticed. Not that the latter is an issue if you already like touring with KVWs of course

    I actually considered re-mounting my pair at +4, but in the end decided to move on from them instead of trying to make them something they are not. My take on KVWS is that it is a good ski that could have been great if it was designed around a more centered mount point (and that is coming from a directional skier).

    For reference, I toured the same zone two days running, day one KVWs 177s + Tecton, day two ON3P Wrenegade 114 179s + Shifts (mount point -8.5ish, quite a bit heavier than KVWs). I found the latter setup to be far less work in the lower zone, and not as in that the heavier setup smashed through stuff, but that it was easier to flick around and felt more balanced. Wren114s aren't known for the prowess at doing small turns in between tight trees, so the difference caught me a bit by surprise. Anyway, your experience might be different and all that - you already have them and like them, so far be it for me to insist that you must experience them the same way that I do

    Have you skied BC Corvus pr chance? Both the regular (-8) and the Freebird (-9) versions in 176 should measure in at something like 174 straight pull, so it could be a pretty stable, yet still somewhat nimble BC ski due to their shorter length if you want a shorter ski. I have not skied on either, but they seem like a prime contender if you want a ski that is somewhat similar to KVWs, just a bit narrower and with a slightly more modern/centered mount point.

    You could also check out the Down Skis thread - I think they have a few skis that people are very satisfied with with the use you lay out, though I do not know if they are making skis this year or not.

  9. #9
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    Yeah, i thought i saw the katanas in 171 in a website, but you're right 177 is the shortest.

    I like my 184s on the down, is just that switchbacks are challenging in 35-40 degree terrain, because of the length. To the point that i would rather boot up, while my wife, on 170 vwerks mantras skins without problems.

    My skiing is couloirs, and i don't see a problem with the katanas, including short turns.

    I have to concentrate to slide the ski around if i ski something narrow, 2-3 meters, so maybe that's what you meant.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejongiest View Post
    Sorry for the thread drift, but Greg this makes me wonder what you think about for the PNW? I'm trying to nail down a consistent two-ski backcountry quiver for this winter. One in the 105-110 width for midwinter and something for spring or longer days. On the spring rig I'm torn between 170 and 177 (actual 168 and 175) on a K2 Wayback 96. My brain wants to go 170 for the weight savings and convenience of the smaller side, but I can't help but feel like the 177 will be more versatile for those in-between days when you might get any sort of conditions.
    Hey, J, you know there's no right answer to this question. On two inches of perfect, not sticky corn, the 170 will be fine and save you some energy. In more variable snow, suncups, slow pollen-laden patches, etc. you will appreciate the 177.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post
    My skiing is couloirs, and i don't see a problem with the katanas, including short turns.

    I have to concentrate to slide the ski around if i ski something narrow, 2-3 meters, so maybe that's what you meant.
    do not get me wrong, I think KVWs in 177 are an absolute blast in soft snow and on groomers. They slay both of those conditions with aplomb. I just dislike their balance point as the terrain slackens out, the snow become moister/more variable and one need to do more billy goating. So in steep conditions I find them to do well regardless of conditions, or at least I've never had any issues with them when I have run them in steeper terrain. I also think they are a bit of a chore going up due to the mount point not being conducive for good form, though my shit form is probably to blame there - not the skis.

    I dunno, if you know that you love the 184s but want a bit more nimbleness then 177s seem like an obvious choice. I do find it easier to do kickturns with skis that have a slightly more centered mount point, but that could just be me and my poor as shit technique
    Last edited by kid-kapow; 07-26-2021 at 08:52 AM.

  12. #12
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    Moment just dropped a ski that could be right up your ally - Commander Tour. 1855gr/182 lenght touring ski with two sheets of metal and full edges/bases, so light enough to go up, but hella capable and powerful on the down. 21.5m turn radius for the 182 length, probably around 180cm straight pull.

    They are one of the more interesting big line touring skis to have been released in a long while imho, very, very curious how they ski. Not featherweight no, but plenty light enough with Raider12s or Vipecs imho.

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