“Browsing the link that Jonathan mentioned (http://www.skintrack.com/skis-comparison/) suggests that plenty of folks are racing with skis not too different than that (other than weight and fish scales). The Rainiers are 88-60-78, and there are plenty of skis in that range on that website. In other words, pairing the Rainiers with Randonee boots would work well. Of course, they might not have as much float as you want, or be as easy to turn as you want, but they will certainly cruise and carve. As you mention, you could easily go with skinnier or straighter skis as long as you can mount the bindings.”
– Yes, as much as I love my various wider skis, something in the mid 60s or so (i.e., rando race / SkiMo width) is really all you need for practical efficient travel, regardless of conditions. Anything wider than that is for more fun on the down, not for faster and/or more efficient travel overall. (Sure all sorts of unconsolidated snow conditions are really unpleasant on narrower skis, but any time losses on such descent are more than offset by gains on the rest of the tour.)
– This also highlights the misleading nature of the various examples, which pair heavier wider skis with AT gear. Sure, that’s typical of what’s out there in common use, but BPL articles on, say, tents, don’t take the same approach (e.g., using WalMart-weight gear for selected categories). The only common element of an AT setup is the ability to lock the heel for the descent, and that’s as light as about nine ounces for bindings (per pair), with boots that weigh less than either SNS-BC or NNN-BC that offer only a small fraction of the control.
– Even worse is the telemark example, which uses lighter skis than the AT example, despite if anything AT boots & bindings allowing for a lighter ski, not a heavier ski. (As for highlighting a ski from a company that went out of business over nine years ago, well...)
- Also, the “Standard AT Example” is not standard at all but rather is based around a hybrid/sidecountry binding that is instant obsolescence for anyone interested in getting into backcountry skiing, even the touring-for-turns type.
“The Grand Traverse would be a better example for debate if it wasn't won, always, by the same ~dozen CB/Gunny locals who have the course absolutely dialed.”
– The fastest racers there now use SkiMo / AT race gear. Before everyone used nordic backcountry gear. They switched because SkiMo gear became better (as well as more widely available in the U.S.) while nordic backcountry gear has stagnated. Why does the same people winning it have any relevance, especially when nordic backcountry gear used to win the race? (This is kind of akin to if the only choices for trail running races were heavy hiking boots versus pavement running shoes, but the pavement running shoes - once adopted - always won the trail running races.)