Best Telemark Skis

Best Telemark Skis in 2020 (REVIEW GUIDE)

What are the best telemark skis when it comes to backcountry and inbounds performance? For me, the Icelantic Natural 111 (or 101) is an excellent choice as a ski that tours well with its lightweight and innovative design.

It floats in powder with its 111 mm-wide waist, and has a sustainably sourced featherweight balsam core that gives the ski excellent edge grip in nearly all conditions.

Last update on 2020-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Finding the right telemark skis depends on many factors: skier type and ability, usage, and of course, price point. However, for most telemark skiers, getting into the backcountry is as important as staying inside the resort.

Therefore, a good all-around ski should be lightweight enough for extended touring, wide enough for sufficient float in powder, and stiff enough to hold an edge for frontside ski laps on groomers or when you encounter some hard pack or ice when the soft stuff runs out.

Although many skiers now keep two or three skis handy for various conditions or types of outings, all the following skis should keep most telemark skiers happy wherever they venture. All have similar widths underfoot, are lightweight for backcountry use, and are similarly priced.

Reviews of the Best Telemark Skis

1. Icelantic Natural 111 Ski

Icelantic Natural 111 Ski

The newly added Natural 111 ski combines the best of the Natural 101 with a 10 mm wider waist for those deep powder days without sacrificing edge hold or weight. 

Coming in at just under 8 pounds for the pair, the Natural 111 has a slight camber, a 31 mm tip rocker, and a slight tail rocker to keep the ski fairly flat for efficient touring. 

However, the shape allows for quick, efficient turns in steeps and bumps, as well as smooth turns on the groomers. With a relatively stiff flex, the ski also does its job on ice and hard pack.

Additionally, Icelantic is known for its durability, design, and, of course, its beautiful, artist-inspired graphics. 

Having skied Icelantic skis for several years, I can confirm that the top sheets and bases are incredibly strong and built to be skied for more than a few seasons.

With the Natural 111, Icelantic has put some innovative thought into the ski. The light-colored top sheet keeps ice from building up on the ski, and the tail has been tailored for easy skin attachment. 

Finally, the Natural 111 is a beautiful ski with Icelantic’s resident PARR providing the artwork for the graphics.

Pros:

  • 111 mm waist for deep powder float
  • Lightweight, sustainable core for great edge hold and responsiveness
  • Dual rocker for quick turns but flat enough for efficient touring

 Cons:

  • Slightly heavier than other backcountry options
  • Better in powder and soft snow than hard pack or ice

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2. Atomic Backland 107 Ski

Atomic Backland 107 Ski

The Backland series from Atomic has won a legion of fans in both the Alpine Tour (AT) and the telemark world, and for a good reason. Essentially, the Atomic Backland 107 replaces the very popular Backland FR 109 from previous years with one notable improvement: reduction in weight. 

At just over 7 pounds, the Backland 107 is a very efficient touring ski. With a somewhat soft flex and a powder rocker profile, the ski performs best in powder or softer snow conditions. 

Or, if you are a lighter skier or do not drive your skis as hard, the ski will work well in all conditions as it has a full sidewall and carbon backbone that helps the ski keep its edge. 

For others, however, the ski may be a bit too soft for hard pack or icy conditions and, therefore, may not be the best choice for resort skiing.

Regardless, the Backland 107 is a great choice for those who spend a lot of time in the backcountry but do occasionally find themselves inbounds in good conditions.

Pros:

  • Lightweight for excellent touring
  • Soft flex for excellent float in powder or soft snow conditions

Cons:

  • May be too soft for heavier or stronger skiers
  • Most suitable for backcountry use only

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3. Voile Hypercharger Touring Ski

Voile Hypercharger Touring Ski

As a dedicated backcountry company, Voile continues to produce high-quality gear for both AT and telemark skiers. However, despite this dedication to hiking for turns, the new Hypercharger ski is an incredibly versatile ski that most skiers will find as responsive and comfortable inbounds as out. 

With a super soft and light but strong Paulownia core combined with a carbon fiber wrap, the Hypercharger is an incredibly light (just over 6 pounds per pair) and snappy ski. 

With a 106 mm waist and a mild rocker and camber, the ski is a great all-around choice. 

However, the only minor drawback is the ski’s ability to float in powder and cut through crud. Compared to other skis, the Hypercharger takes a little more effort in these types of conditions. 

But, you cannot deny that Voile has made a sound ski here that many people, particularly skiers who ski in areas with wetter or harder packed snow, will appreciate.

Pros:

  • Incredibly light but responsive
  • Great all-around ski

Cons:

  • Performance in powder or crud is adequate but not stellar

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4. La Sportiva Vapor Float Ski

La Sportiva Vapor Float Ski

The fattest but lightest ski on this list, La Sportiva has accomplished something here: a true backcountry powder ski.

Weighing barely over 6 pounds, the Vapor Float ski does not sacrifice on performance due to its newly developed carbon fiber construction that keeps the ski from twisting.

Thus, the Vapor Float might be one of the best powder skis for backcountry on the market, and anyone living in a heavy snow area may want to consider it for both frontside and backcountry skiing. 

However, for areas where snow is more variable, the Vapor Float might not work for stronger skiers inside the resort or on harder snowpack. Still, it is a great ski that deserves a special place for its design and construction.

Pros:

  • Lightest ski on the list, but also the widest underfoot at 117 mm
  • Effortless carving in powder or deep snow

Cons:

  • Not as capable inbounds or under variable snow conditions
  • Heavier or stronger skiers may want something slightly burlier

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How to Choose the Best Telemark Ski – Buyer’s Guide

Gone are the days when ski companies made telemark specific skis.  With today’s telemark boots and bindings, the ability to drive stiff, alpine skis is not only possible but sometimes preferred (depending on your level of skiing). 

However, the recent interest in AT and backcountry access has shifted ski manufacturing into two basic categories: resort skiing or backcountry skiing.

Telemark has always been rooted in backcountry access. Therefore, with many skis companies offering backcountry specific skis that are lighter and softer flexing with a less aggressive camber, most telemark skiers will find a backcountry ski to their liking for both on-piste and off-piste access. All the skis reviewed here are backcountry specific skis.

One All-around Ski or Multiple Skis (a Quiver)?

Depending on a willingness to invest in the sport, many skiers today recognize that one ski does not perform well enough in all conditions. Therefore, one consideration when buying a ski is whether or not you will rely on only one ski for all of your runs or buy more.

For the former, buying one ski means looking for something that will perform well both in softer and harder snow conditions. Skis considered “mid-fat” typically fit this profile (100 mm-109 mm underfoot) and should provide most skiers with a reasonable amount of flexibility to ski both lift-access and backcountry-access snow. 

Of course, buying and mounting multiple skis gives you even more flexibility. A narrower ski (100 mm and under) provides better carving and weight savings, but will be harder to push through deep snow when a storm passes through.

A fat powder ski (110 mm and up underfoot) allows you to float effortlessly in the deepest conditions but is more difficult to hold an edge on hard pack or icy snow.

Ski Length

Choosing the length of a telemark ski is similar to choosing an alpine ski.  Although multiple factors will go into choosing the length of the ski (such as rocker, camber, and sidecut), a good rule of thumb is to choose a ski length between the top of your head your chin. 

More advanced skiers will typically want a longer ski, while newer skiers will want to take advantage of a shorter ski for easier turns. That said, if you are new to the sport, also consider your advancement in the sport. One of the best ways to figure out your preferred length in a ski is to demo the ski first, if possible.

My Choice for the Best Telemark Skis

Once again, the Icelantic Natural 111 is my top pick for the best telemark ski.

Although relatively new, Icelantic has been making great alpine skis since 2005. Icelantic’s Natural series marks their attempt to break into the backcountry market with light, all-around skis that perform well in a variety of conditions. 

The Natural 111 is a slightly wider “mid-fat” ski that provides great performance on all parts of the mountain and has the added benefit of maintaining a weight that allows for efficient touring. 

Although many telemark skiers may continue to opt for more than one ski, the Natural 111 may be a ski that can truly be the only one you use this winter.

Top Rated Telemark Skis

Last update on 2020-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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