I really didn’t think I needed another pair of skis, but apparently N saw a hole in my not-insubstantial quiver late last year. One that could be filled with a pair of Praxis Backcountry skis. While I was skeptical at first, I realized that not only did they fill an admittedly small hole in my quiver, they are now replacing some of my other skis.
Praxis is a freeride oriented ski company based here at Lake Tahoe, one that builds their skis in house. While most of what they focus on are powder and freeride skis, the Backcountry model is designed for people who want to earn their turns efficiently, but not necessarily compromise the descent.
Coming in at a little over 7 lbs in the 170 length, the Praxis Backcountry ski is a lightweight ski that doesn’t sacrifice weight for performance. Its dimensions (131/106/121), camber underfoot, and rockered tip and tail combine to create a versatile ski design for a wide range of snow conditions. I took the Backcountry with me on a recent ski trip to Canada, and found it skied well on a variety of conditions. But I’m jumping ahead.
This particular model has been around for a few years, but apparently there were some significant changes made this year. The skis have carbon fiber in the construction, which helps reduce the weight. Carbon fiber had been an option in the past, but this year it was included in the Backcountry by default. This allowed Praxis to include maple hardwood around the edge of the ski core. If you think of a tennis racket, where the torsional stiffness comes from the ‘frame’ of maple around the edge and tip / tail areas, that’s what the Backcountry looks like inside. For the tech nerds out there, this core design is enabled by the CNC milling machine at the Praxis factory, and makes it a bit different than the typical ski.
While weight tends to correlate to stiffness, these lightweight skis are also stiffer than any other backcountry ski I’ve owned. See the tennis racket analogy above. This is not a bad thing, and was particularly useful when at the ski resorts. I found no chatter at higher speeds, even on firmer snow conditions. It had great edge control on the groomers, and the front rise plus turn radius meant that short turns and bumps, while not my preferred ski style and terrain, were doable.
In the backcountry, these skis really excelled. They climbed easily, and even with the tip rise, my skin tails stayed on. Certainly they ski well in blower pow, but they really shine in variable (read: backcountry) snow conditions. I really noticed the feeling of not being as spent after a longer climb, which translated into me enjoying the descents much more.
That said, there were some growing pains. They were hooky at first, and I had a hell of a time on groomed snow, which I found out later was because they were edge high. But after N, aka the Ski Valet™, spent time detuning the edges in the rocker zone, and put a slight base bevel on the edges underfoot, the issues went away.
Praxis builds its skis in three stiffnesses – medium, medium/stiff and stiff. According to the Ski Valet, my Backcountry’s were medium, which was the standard stiffness for that model. Custom stiffness options are available at no extra charge, which is awesome.
Unlike other skis I’ve been on that are designed for the backcountry, the Praxis is a versatile ski that can hold its own both within resort boundaries and outside them. It was an ideal ski for our recent ski safari.
More importantly, it’s a ski that’s fun to ski on, which, to my mind, is the whole point.