Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Ski Review: Åsnes Storetind

Ski Review: Åsnes Storetind


  • Width/sidecut profile: 103-68-93mm
  • Length: 172cm, 180cm, 188cm (I own the 188cm)
  • Weight: 2.25kg per pair (180cm)
  • Base: 
    • sintered and waxable
    • Skin-Lock/X-Skin insert
  • Edges: full-length, wrap-around steel
  • Camber/rocker profile: 
    • Rockered tip
    • Low single camber (“Alpine” camber)
    • Very slightly rockered tail
    • Considerable Nordic-rockered tip
    • Slightly Nordic-rockered tail
  • Flex:
    • Stiff and uniform flex throughout length
    • Torsionally rigid
  • Measurements from tail (188cm model):
    • Balance point (BP): 92.5cm
    • Narrowest point of sidecut (NPS): 83.8cm
    • Boot-Center (BC) mark: 83.8cm
    • Chord-Center (CC): 93cm
  • Manufacturer’s recommended mounting point: pins on BP
  • Current binding: Voile 3-Pin Hardwire
  • Current boots: 
    • Scarpa T4
    • Alico Ski March
  • Performance summary:
    • Stiff, rigid and powerful edge-holding downhill ski- this ski wants to charge and carve.
    • Superb stability, flotation and early-tip rise- especially considering its narrow waist.
    • Fantastic and effortless turn initiation- the tip rocker shortens effective edge and moves binding point forwards on effective edge.
    • Fantastic full-length stability and support when cross-country (XC) skiing and climbing in deep snow- especially considering its narrow waist.
    • Excellent XC kick and glide (K&G) performance on deep soft snow:
      • On deep snow this ski feels completely balanced like a Classic XC ski.
      • In deep snow this ski tracks reasonably well- considering the sidecut.
      • On soft snow there is enough camber and stiffness to offer a decent XC kick.
    • Poor XC performance on dense consolidated snow:
      • Too little camber to offer an effective XC kick on dense consolidated snow- feels somewhat “dead”.
      • The rockered tip makes this ski feel somewhat unbalanced when XC skiing on dense consolidated snow- the rockered tip moves binding point forwards on the gliding surface of this ski.
      • This ski will not track straight when XC skiing on dense/consolidated snow- too much sidecut, too little camber, no track groove.
      • BUT- still better XC performance on dense/consolidated than very soft-flexing XCD skis (e.g. Eon/Epoch/Annum).

Experiences to Date:

The Åsnes Storetind (Norwegian: Storetind = “big peak”) is a midwidth backcountry Nordic touring ski- with a design and performance focus towards Nordic downhill skiing.  With the Storetind, Åsnes has capitalized on all of the Alpine ski tech development of the last 20 years- and designed a truly modern Nordic touring ski for mountainous terrain.
The Storetind has been recently redesigned and replaced with the Falketind 68 (“falcon peak”).  The only significant change in the FT68- according to Åsnes- is the addition of the tip notch for attaching climbing skins.  (With the bushwhacking that I do here in the Northwoods, I greatly appreciate the durability of the full-wrap steel edge.) 
Åsnes describes the Storetind as a hybrid between a “fjellski” and a “toppturski”.  (“Fjellski” translating to a traditional backcountry cross-country (BC-XC/XCD) ski; “toppturski” translating to Alpine touring ski.)  In other words, the Storetind is intended to be a hybrid of sorts between a BC-XC ski and a BC-downhill ski.  Hybrid “XCD” skis have been around for decades- the most notable being Karhu/Madshus’ XCD series and Fischer’s S-Bound series.  
Most hybrid “XCD” skis have approached this design from the XC end of the spectrum- adding some downhill characteristics to essentially XC skis.  With the Storetind, Åsnes has approached the “XCD” thing from the downhill end of the spectrum- capitalizing on the last 20 years of Alpine ski innovation.
How many big-mountain skis are there out there that are designed from a purely Nordic perspective?  Don’t know how many- but, I am certain that the Storetind is designed for a Nordic binding and a Nordic skier.  The Storetind does have boot-center (BC) mark on it, and can certainly be mounted and skied with an Alpine binding and boot.  BUT- the design of this downhill-oriented ski is clearly intended for a Nordic binding and boot!
Åsnes’ Nordic mounting instructions are pins on balance point (BP).  BP is traditionally a Nordic XC mounting point- for Classic K&G XC skiing.  What comes next is pure engineering brilliance- following these mounting instructions puts my ball-of-foot (BOF) precisely on the narrowest point of the Storetind’s sidecut (NPS).  With pins on BP- the Storetind feels like a Classic XC ski when XC skiing.  BOF on the NPS makes this ski perfectly balanced when making telemark turns on dense/consolidated snow- this ski feels quick and turny on dense snow/consolidated snow.  When making turns in deep soft snow, the stiff rockered tip adds early-tip-rise and supportive flotation- also making it feel like the mounting point has been moved back!  Brilliant- and oh, so much fun!
As far as the XC part of this hybrid- the Storetind offers very good XC K&G performance on deep soft snow.  The Storetind is stiff and supportive throughout its entire length- offering surprising XC performance for such a narrow-waisted ski- even in very deep snow.
To be quite honest I have always been a bit underwhelmed by the downhill performance of all of the hybrid XCD skis I have owned and/or tested (e.g. Karhu/Madshus Eon, Epoch. Annum; Fischer 78, 88, 98, 112).  To date any of these that I have tried have offered only moderate downhill performance- and- here’s the real kick in the ass- often these skis have lost considerable XC performance in order to make them easier to turn!!!  (And the ones that do offer some Classic XC K&G performance are often a real challenge to turn!)
The Storetind- for me- hits the “hybrid” XCD mark with a bullseye.  The Storetind offers superb downhill performance- with more than acceptable XC performance on backcountry snow. 
I have mounted the Voile 3-pin Hardwire binding on this ski.  I am very impressed and pleased with this binding- it offers a perfect balance of XC and downhill performance for this ski and the terrain that I locally ski here in the NB hills: rolling, hilly terrain, with 350m hardwood ridges and steeply cut river and stream valleys/ravines.  In 3-pin mode I can utilize the full XC capabilities of this ski and cover significant distances to access truly sweet remote lines.  When I truly want to charge on challenging forested terrain, the hardwires are much appreciated!
The Storetind is 68mm underfoot.  In today’s age of “go phat or go home”- 68mm is a meagre dimension indeed.  I must admit to being very pleased with the stability and flotation of this ski in deep fresh snow.  The Storetind has an extremely supportive flex- I can feel the entire length of this ski supporting my weight.  All of that tip rocker produces highly effective early-tip rise- these ski rise up and plane very effectively at downhill speeds.  Obviously these are not “powder” skis by modern standards- and if I had endless deep dry “champagne” powder to ski in, they would not be wide enough.  But on the deep moisture-rich fresh snow of the Northeast- this ski offers very effective flotation.  AND- WHOA- that narrow 68mm waist, coupled with ample sidecut and torsional rigidity allows this ski to hold a wicked edge on dense icy snow!  
I have been using my T4 boot almost exclusively with this ski.  (I have tested them with my leather Ski March boot, but I am having fit issues with this boot and therefore am not using them much.  (I need to spend some time and focus breaking them in and customizing the fit.))  I can completely overpower and drive this ski with the T4- it is a perfect match.  And the T4 with a 3-pin binding gives truly pretty decent XC K&G performance.  This is a perfect balance for when I have to ski significant distance on my touring for turns.  (This ski is incredibly light- and therefore, could be used with a XC boot and binding.  But, it is a rigid and powerful ski- I personally need a Telemark boot-binding to take full advantage of this ski.)
The combination of hard grip wax and the integrated Skin-Lock/X-Skin kicker skins is ideal for my local terrain, snow and winter temperatures.  I am ironing in Swix Polar to the entire base, applying kick wax to the “kick zone”.  (I say “kick zone” but this ski really does not have a wax pocket like a double cambered ski.)  I am using Swix Green and Blue as my kick waxes.  I have not found any negative effects of applying the kicker skins over the harder kick waxes.  I drop kick wax and switch to the kicker skin when the snow requires a softer wax/klister.  
When the snow is very cold I am getting excellent climbing performance out of just grip-kick wax alone- certainly more grip than waxless scales.  If I need more climbing traction the kicker skins are just the ticket!
I am thrilled with Åsnes’ Skin-Lock kicker skins (now redesigned as the X-Skin).  I am using the kicker skin for both extra climbing traction and for when the snow requires a soft wax/klister.  The kicker skins allow me get away without needing soft kick wax/klister and/or waxless scales.
My favourite Skin-Lock for this ski- by far- is the 60mm Mohair.
I have been testing this ski back-to-back with my 162cm Kom.  Here are some comparisons:
  • The Kom- despite being wider- allows for much tighter, smeary turns.
  • The Storetind is faster and more powerful- it wants to charge and carve.
  • The Storetind holds a better edge.
  • Flotation seems to be about the same between the two skis.
  • The Storetind is a MUCH more efficient XC K&G ski.

I am truly impressed.

Gareth Davies
Stanley, NB
April 25th (and still skiing!), 2018

Thursday, January 12, 2017

REVIEW: Asnes Skin-Lock vs. Fischer Easy-Skin

Asnes Skin-Lock vs. Fischer Easy-Skin

So- two brilliantly designed and well-made integrated kicker skins that are only compatible with the respective skis- Asnes Skin-Lock and Fischer Easy-Skin.  I currently have the following setups:
  • 210cm Asnes Combat Nato: 35mm nylon Skin-Lock; 60mm mohair Skin-Lock
  • 210cm Fischer E-99 Tour; 205cm Fischer E-109 Tour: 35mm Easy Skin; 50mm Easy-Skin


There are sometimes some inherent disadvantages to being an “inventor”.  No matter how brilliant the idea- everyone else gets to test your idea and then capitalise on simplifying, improving and lower the manufacturing cost of their own version.

Fischer seems to have done this with the Easy-Skin.  It is a less complicated technology than the Skin-Lock- and, I would bet it is less expensive to manufacture.  The Easy-Skin is appropriately named- it truly is “easy”, simple technology.  The Easy-Skin has a plastic tab fastened to the tip of the skin that slides completely through the ski, and clips into a locking cleat on top of the ski deck.  It reminds me of a locking cleat on a sailboat- simple, functional and effective.  The transition between the skin and the base is seamless and angled, causing very little friction.  This must be the most friction-less removable kicker skin on the market.  

The Easy-Skin is a mohair-nylon composite and is available in fewer widths than the Skin-Lock (smart- less costly to produce…).

The Easy-Skin is not without its potential problems though…First of all this is a SYSTEM, as it is integrated into the ski and therefore effects its construction.  Unlike the Asnes line- the Easy-Skin was added after the fact- and I SERIOUSLY hope that Fischer has considered the effect of cutting a very large hole RIGHT THROUGH THE SKI- in a section that receives a lot of pressure and tension- the very tip of the kick zone…That hole through the ski actually makes me feel queasy- especially through skis with “xtralite” wood-air cores…I have no idea how durable the Easy-Skin skis are- they have not been proven yet.  I also see the skin wearing considerably at the intersection of the skin and the base- where it slides through the slot.  This section of the skin is bound to wear- specifically where the skin bends to go through the slot.

Attaching and removing the Easy-Skin is truly very easy- it takes seconds- I love it.  The Easy-Skins come with a reusable wide plastic sheet for storing the skins- and you can easily slide one skin on, while the other is still attached to the opposite side of the plastic storage sheet.

Current conclusion?  Love the performance of the Easy-Skin.  A bit anxious about the whole system- concerned about the durability of the ski and the skin…Not sure if I’m ready to risk my life on an expedition with an Easy-Skin ski.


Well, the folks at Asnes are clearly full of brilliant, inventive, innovative ideas- while remaining steeped in tradition.  Their Nordic ski technology is beautiful mix of tradition and innovation.

The Skin-Lock system is a well thought-out and well-made technology.  The skins are out-sourced and made by a skin specialist in Switzerland.  The skin is attached to a metal clip/cleat that clips into the base of the ski.  The ski has two tiny little slits cut into it to attach the Skin-Lock.  And- unlike the Easy-Skin system- not only are the slots tiny, they are longitudinally oriented (i.e. parallel with the length of the ski).  The whole design of the Skin-Lock system seems much more to be engineered into the fundamental construction of the ski.  My projection is that the Skin-Lock system will prove to be more durable than the Easy-Skin.

The Skin-Locks are available in an almost multitude of widths- each available in both mohair and nylon.  Perfect for the ridiculously performance-obsessed (YES- I have a disorder).  But the cost of manufacturing and inventory must be nuts.

The Skin-Lock is very easy to attach- even quicker than the Easy-Skin.  It is not as easy to remove and store however.  They need to be folded back on themselves to protect the adhesive base- and then pulled apart to mount them.  Not a big deal- same as any other conventional skin- but, not as “easy” and quick as the Easy-Skin.

My mind keeps telling me that the metal attachment cleat should cause friction and reduce glide, but- in actual practice I fail to notice it in any “measurable” way.  This is likely partly due to the effective, wax pocket of my 210cm Combat Natos.  That metal cleat might be more noticeable with a softer-flexing and/or single-cambered ski.

The Combat Nato has a milled area where the Skin-Lock cleat is attached to the base- in order to reduce friction.  Not sure if the other Asnes skis have this…

Current conclusion?  Equally thrilled with the performance of the Skin-Lock system.  The engineering of the entire ski, skin, and skin attachment at least appear to be potentially more durable than the Easy-Skin.  And- the Skin-Lock system has already proven itself to be expedition worthy.

REVIEW: Åsnes Combat NATO- the Fjell Ski

2015 Åsnes Combat NATO
A true XCD ski from the point of view of balance.  This ski truly does offer both cross-country and moderate down-hill performance.  It also climbs reasonably well for a double-cambered ski.
Fast, smooth, light and responsive.
Truly awesome flex pattern: enough stiffness and camber for efficient xcountry travel; wonderful round flex for downhill turns; low camber facilitates efficient climbing.
Beautiful broad, raised, elongated tip carves its way through snow- a trail-breaking machine.
The integrated Skin-Lock kicker skins both increase traction and extend skiing onto most any snow condition.
The very best distance-oriented, backcountry Nordic touring ski I have ever tried- PERIOD.
Is it the best at any one thing- well of course not.  BUT- it is the most versatile BC Nordic touring ski I have ever tested.  It is the best because it is good enough at everything that it just makes me smile- ALL THE TIME!!
Åsnes knows what they are doing man.


  • Excellent backcountry Nordic touring ski.  This ski defines the concept of the “Fjellski”.  A finely tuned flex pattern to offer true XC performance and moderate downhill performance.
  • Wide enough to offer reasonable flotation in deep snow- especially if you get 'em long enough.
  • Wide enough to offer significant sidecut- for those with wide-open alpine bowls (or fields/ open forest) to arc through.
  • Stiff enough to perform reasonably well on dense/hard snow.
  • Finely tuned for soft snow.
  • Truly magnificent trail-breaking kick-ass tip.  This ski may not float as much as a super fat Nordic ski- but man does it plow its way through deep snow.  THE choice if you are breaking track through deep snow with an army (or a family) following behind!  Almost leaves a groomed track behind it.
  • The integrated kicker skin- “Skin-Lock”- is wicked.  Extra traction man.  Difficult snow?  Who cares.
  • High-quality, waxable sintered base.
  • A true Nordic touring ski for the backcountry- and with a flex pattern to handle some serious terrain.
  • The modest dimensions make this ski manageable with light-duty BC boots/bindings on all but the most extreme terrain.

The model I have was bought on clearance this past spring- it is a 2015-2016 model.  As far as I know the 2016-2017 model has not been updated.
The Combat Nato is a highly versatile, high-performance backcountry Nordic touring ski.  Cambered and stiff enough to offer true XC kick and glide performance; soft enough and flexible enough to climb and turn.
The Fjellski.


I am 5’10” and weigh 185lbs.  I am skiing on the 210cm.
Here are the specs:
  • Lengths to 210cm.
  • Sidecut profile: 84-62-72mm.
  • Camber profile: low relatively soft initial camber; low profile, stiff second camber.
  • Flex pattern: the best way to describe this is balanced and stable .  Stiff enough to offer a low-profile wax pocket, and some moderate Nordic kick; yet still offering a smooth, round reverse-flex- obviously the mid-section is stiffer than the tip/tail.  
  • Broad, elongated, raised tip- moderately flexible below the raised tip.  Flat- no rocker- at all.
  • Flat tail.
  • Full length, wrap-around, metal edge.
  • High-quality, sintered base.
  • Integrated “Skin-Lock” kicker skin.

This is a double-cambered ski- despite how low and soft the initial camber is.  The second camber is low-profile and stiff.  This flex pattern underfoot meets the criteria of what some define as “camber-and-a-half”.  The flex pattern, from tip to tail, is finely tuned for skiing on soft, fresh snow.  This ski feels remarkably stable throughout its entire length.


What is the Combat Nato ski?
This ski was developed for the Norwegian military- and I assume it is being produced for other NATO member countries- hence the “Nato” moniker  (SPECIAL ALERT: keep your eyes open for Army surplus sales of this ski- this is a MAJOR step up in performance over the old “Nato Planks”).  The civilian version of this ski is the Ingstad.  There are a number of upgrades to this ski that are not on the Ingstad:
  1. A titanium-enforced binding plate.
  2. Riveted hole in the tip for sledge (i.e. “helpersledge”) construction.
  3. Hole for fixation of a customized “Skin-Lock” kicker skin in the tail.
  4. Milled area at the attachment point of the Skin-Lock to produce less glide friction.

This ski is designed to be a highly versatile BC Nordic ski- for covering distance in deep snow and hilly to mountainous terrain.

This ski is classified as a “Fjellski”- meaning a Nordic touring ski designed for hilly/mountainous terrain- in other words, a ski designed to offer xcountry performance on fresh snow, with moderate climbing and turning performance.  Although, fundamentally this meets the definition of xcountry-downhill (XCD), this ski has much more XC DNA in it than modern hybrid XCD skis.  From a modern North American perspective, this ski would be classified as a backcountry xcountry (BC-XC) ski.

A ski like this precisely fits the balance between cross-country and down-hill skiing.  And perhaps most importantly in this day and age- this ski does not sacrifice XC performance in order for them to be “easy-turning”.

I have recently rigorously tested two other current skis that are similar to the Combat Nato in terms of performance: the Madshus Eon, and the Fischer E-109.  The Eon is very balanced like the Combat Nato- though it has a much softer flex pattern.  The E-109 is more finely tuned towards XC skiing.


Cross-Country Skiing

I can easily control the camber of this 210cm ski- this is no high-performance XC ski- at least not from a groomed track perspective.  But there is significant tension and resistance within that low-profile camber.  Even on dense/hard snow, this ski offers pretty decent XC kick and glide performance.  On soft, fresh snow these skis become “high-performance”.  The flex pattern of the entire ski, but specifically underfoot, is perfectly designed to offer excellent kick and glide performance on fresh snow.  But, it is not just that low-profile second camber- I feel supported by the entire length of this ski when I am XC skiing on fresh snow.  That resistance and stability allows this ski to get away with a low-profile camber.  This ski has a flat tail that helps this ski track like a XC ski should.


Well- this is not a “powder” ski- heck it is only 62mm at the waist.  But- that being said- at 210cm, the flex pattern is soft enough, yet supportive enough, that I get reasonable flotation in truly deep snow.  And once the snow settles and stabilizes, this ski truly cruises through deep, soft fresh snow.  This ski has a lot of sidecut- with only 62mm at the waist.  I understand the physics of all of that sidecut facilitating “easy-turning”.  But- I believe it comes with a significant cost- loss of effective flotation.  I believe this ski would be better with a wider waist- say 68-70mm.

Trail Breaking

This ski has no rocker in the tip.  What it does have is a kick-ass broad, raised, elongated tip that absolutely excels at breaking trail.  It is the best trail-breaking Nordic touring ski that I have ever tested (with the old Åsnes Combat USGI a close second).  And- I am not entirely convinced that a rockered tip would be a great help to a ski with these modest dimensions- at least when XC skiing .  The tip of this ski is flexible but very stable- this allows it to carve its way through the snow, with that fat, raised tip plowing the snow to the side.  Compared to a similar ski with Nordic Rocker (e.g. Fischer E-109)- the rockered tip floats higher in the snow- but the ski is not wide enough to follow suit- plus the wimpy low-profile tip of a ski like the E-109 doesn’t plow its way through anything.  Recently, we had a big dump of very cold snow- followed by sustained high winds.  The wind consolidated and condensed the upper foot of snow- but not enough for me to ski on top of it- the skis were still breaking through and making a track.  That condensed snow was difficult to break trail through but the stable, kick-ass tip of the Combat Nato carved a perfect clean track through that snow.  The rockered tip of the E-109 floated on top of that condensed snow- leaving me trying to break trail with the kick zone of the ski- YUCK.  Although I truly appreciate rockered tips when making downhill turns- I am becoming convinced that perhaps it is a bad idea for a relatively narrow ski designed to offer long-distance XC performance.  I don’t think that the Combat Nato would break trail as efficiently if its tip was rockered.


Kick wax, klister, integrated kicker skin- lots of options here.  Kick wax?  Well what can I say- kick wax is like magic- it grips and it glides.  As I ski mostly through the North woods- full of forest debris- I won’t be using much klister on these skis.  The integrated “Skin-Lock” kicker skins are well designed, well made and perform very well.  I have a 35mm nylon Skin-Lock and a 60mm mohair Skin-Lock that I am currently using with this ski.  I bought the 35mm in nylon because I was thinking that I might end up using it in icy, abrasive conditions.  As it turns out the 35mm skin does not seem to offer enough traction on icy, refrozen snow- but, excellent traction on warm wet snow (I wish I had bought the mohair 35mm).  The 60mm Skin-Lock is serious traction for this ski with a 62mm waist- I am glad I got the mohair 60mm, as it offer better glide.  I am using the Skin-Lock regularly in the following conditions:
  1. Climbing
  2. Icy, refrozen snow
  3. Warm, wet snow
  4. Pulling a heavy load (typically a pulk-load of kids at the moment)
The Skin-Lock takes seconds to install and extends my traction greatly.  The other application I am exploring with the Skin-Lock is XC trail breaking in VERY deep, soft snow.  Over the last 15 years I have used the Karhu Guide/Madshus Annum for very deep soft snow.  However, I am finding that if I get enough traction, the 210cm Combat Nato breaks trail even better than the Guide- and it lays down a better track for that army (or family) following behind.  On the flats- the 35mm Skin-Lock is enough in very deep snow- but, if I have to climb anything significant I find I need the 60mm.  I was out on a 20km hilly tour last week in 40cm of fresh, cold, dry powder snow.  I used both the 35mm and the 60mm Skin-Locks.

Åsnes makes a customized 45mm nylon Skin-Lock for the Combat Nato- with some mechanism to attach the skin’s tail through the small hole in the ski’s tail.  I haven’t tried it- YET.

The flex pattern of this ski offers superb classic kick and glide performance on fresh, soft snow.
The camber is low enough, and easy enough to squash that these skis climb very well- at least very well for a double-cambered ski.

Down-hill Skiing

This is not a downhill ski.  However, these skis are more than manageable on moderate slopes- even with light-duty boots and bindings.  This ski has such a wonderful round smooth flex- they just feel great when equally weighted, and you have the room to let them come around in a wide-arcing turn.  They feel at their best on fresh, soft snow.  I have had them out on a couple of steep open fields where I could just ride the telemark arc- wonderful feeling.  The camber is reasonable to control on these skis and when put on edge on hardpack- this ski has good edge hold.  When put on edge on hardpack you can carve an aggressive- but wide radius- turn with this ski.  Obviously, reducing the sidecut of this ski would increase the physical turning radius.  But- I don’t see the strength of this ski is to make tight-radius downhill turns.  Fortunately, these skis are light- I can make tight-radius striding/step/jump turns with relative ease on moderate slopes.  Obviously, a rockered tip would improve turn initiation with this ski- but I feel it would lose too much of its XC trail-breaking performance as a trade-off.  This is not a downhill ski, but it sure is a lot of fun on the downhill.  Most importantly it offers enough down-hill performance that it won’t stop your desire to efficiently travel distance in hilly and mountainous terrain.


Åsnes Nordic ski technology is such a beautiful blend of new technology, steeped in tradition.  Every detail of this ski has been thought out, tested and finely tuned.  The Combat Nato is a dream ski for anyone wanting to do distance-oriented tours in hilly/mountainous terrain- and especially on soft, fresh snow.  The Combat Nato is a XCD ski that does not compromise cross-country performance in order to maximize climbing and down-hill easy turning.  It is light, flexible, supportive and snappy.  The full-length support of this ski, plus the broad, raised tip, make this ski a trail-breaking machine- both for yourself, and the army following in your perfectly laid track.  And- even at 210cm long- they are wonderful on the downhill.  The modest dimensions make these skis quite manageable with even light-duty boots and bindings.
There is a rumour on the street that this ski is being redesigned.  There is talk of a rockered and tapered tip...I sincerely hope not.  If so- I am very thankful that I picked up my Combat Nato before it loses it kick-ass XC trail-breaking performance.
Would I change anything?  I hate to sound like a broken record…but, I would reduce the sidecut and give this ski 68-70mm at the waist.  I would gladly take a wider turning radius in order to have more float and traction in the backcountry.  BUT- I am not going to complain!
This is the Fjellski- and I love it.
Gareth Davies
January 2017
Stanley, NB

Monday, December 19, 2016


2015 Fischer E-99 Tour Xtralite Easy-Skin
High-performance grip and glide.
Very light, responsive and manoeuvrable.
Finely-tuned flex for efficient xcountry skiing on highly variable snow.


  • Excellent backcountry xcountry ski: double-cambered with a moderately-stiff flex pattern.  Excellent Nordic kick and glide off the groomed track.  This is first and foremost a xcountry ski- the strengths of this ski require using an appropriate xcountry length.
  • Relatively stiff double-camber makes climbing steep terrain challenging without climbing skins.  Extending kick wax forward and/or using the Easy-Skin takes this ski up much steeper slopes than the waxless-scaled E-99 Crown.
  • Camber-flex pattern makes for highly efficient xcountry skiing in the backcountry.  This ski is FAST!
  • Significant, relatively stiff second camber requires focused “kick” in fresh, soft snow.
  • Flex pattern is finely tuned for efficient backcountry-xcountry skiing on variable terrain and snow.
  • Probably best suited to gentle to moderate terrain- due to second camber being difficult to control when climbing and turning.
  • Downhill performance is challenging due to stiff second camber.
  • Would break trail more effectively with a broader, raised-elongated tip- FOR SURE.

The model I have was bought on clearance this past summer- it is a 2015-2016 model.  As far as I know the 2016 model has not been updated.

The E-99 is a versatile, high-performance, distance-oriented backcountry-xcountry (BC-XC) ski.  It is double-cambered for kick and glide efficiency, but it has a flex pattern designed for the backcountry.  

The stiff double camber makes for an exciting ride down-hill!  On the other hand they are so wonderfully light and snappy that I find I can navigate all kinds of weird downhill complexes of step turns, parallel turns, and step/jump telemarks.  They stride through turns beautifully.  That being said- they are nowhere near as easy to squash as a softer ski like the E-109.  In short- the E-109 is a better down-hill ski than the E-99 because of its flex pattern.

FAST- speed baby.


I am 5’10” and weigh 185lbs.  I am skiing on the 210cm.
Here are the specs:
  • Lengths to 210cm.
  • Sidecut profile: 66-54-61mm.
  • Camber profile: significant, and moderately stiff initial camber; moderate and very stiff second camber.
  • Flex pattern: stiff ski- period.
  • Low profile tip- relatively soft- compared to the rest of the profile- and flexible.
  • Flat stiff tail.
  • Full length, but not wrap-around, metal edge.
  • High-quality, sintered base.
  • Integrated “Easy-Skin” kicker skin.


What is the E-99?

Although I am aware that many a Fennoscandian skier would describe the E-99 as a “fjellski” or XCD ski- from a North American perspective, the E-99 is a backcountry CROSS-COUNTRY ski.  It is clearly designed to travel long distances in the wilderness and mountains.

Fischer originally designed the E-99 to be the “best Nordic backcountry ski in the world”.  Did they meet that mark?  I have a fairly wide range of BC Nordic skis to choose from in my quiver- from narrow, stiff, double-cambered, to wide, soft and single-cambered.  This winter I have already skied on the full range of temperatures and snow conditions that I would typically get in an entire season (e.g.  It was -35C on Friday morning, and +5C on Saturday afternoon!).  Despite the E-99 having very limited downhill control- the E-99 Tour may well become my most used ski on a day-to-day basis.  (I don’t typically take in much serious vertical unless I have at least a few hours to ski.  My typical daily BC tour is a 5km or 10km loop on relatively gentle terrain).


As I already mentioned- this xcountry ski is fast- really fast.  That stiff flex and double camber produces true classic kick and glide performance.  As a backcountry ski, the flex pattern offers brilliant kick and glide performance- even on soft fresh snow.  It does require a focused Nordic “kick’ in order to offer effective traction- but appropriate application of kick wax quickly resolves any issues..  For those skiers with little experience with xcountry skiing on double-cambered skis, this may- at first- produce a frustrating slip and slide experience.  If these skis are the appropriate cross-country length, they will have an effective, pronounced wax/traction pocket underfoot- you will need to fully weight the ski to compress the camber and get some grip.  Double-cambered skis require transferring all of your weight from one ski to the other.  If I have kick wax right, but I need a little more grip- extending the kick wax forward does the trick!

Easy Skin.  This integrated skin works very well.  Due to the double-camber- the 50mm skin works best on this ski.  Kick wax is so effective, that I will likely only use the Easy-Skin in the following conditions:
  • Difficult and/or highly variable snow conditions.
  • Climbing “steep” slopes.  I am a bit unsure about this…If I had to climb anything truly steep with this ski- I would probably want full-length skin.  HOWEVER- if I had to do a lot of steep climbing, I wouldn’t choose this stiff, double-cambered ski in the first place!  The 50mm Easy-Skin does offer some extra climbing grip- especially on difficult snow.
  • Pulling/Carrying weight.  Kick wax definitely offers better kick and glide performance- but, when pulling or carrying a heavy load- the extra grip of the Easy-Skin is much needed.

Compared to an even narrower, stiffer ski.  As a comparison- I managed to test the E-89 again, before last winter was out (I have been debating between the E-89 vs. E-99 for a few years now).  The E-89 is even stiffer and faster than the E-99.  In fact- the E-89 is almost as stiff as my Atomic classic track touring skis.  The E-89 is so stiff that I think it is too stiff for soft snow.  If I had a lot of hard snow to ski on- I might consider the E-89.  But- I find the E-99 is plenty fast enough on hard snow, and it is much more stable and smooth on fresh snow- and it definitely offer better grip than the E-89 on soft snow.

Compared to the E-109.  The flex pattern of the E-109 is narrowly tuned in for soft, fresh snow.  It is much easier to compress the camber and engage the traction zone of the E-109.  HOWEVER- using grip wax on the E-99 Tour- the E-99 has every bit as much grip as the E-109.

The tip on the E-99 is low profile.  To be honest- it basically sucks when breaking trail.  The Nordic rocker does help- quite a bit.  I was actually surprised by how much these tips open up when the camber is completely compressed.  The tip is softer and more flexible than the rest of the profile. This was very noticeable- and appreciated- on hard icy snow earlier this ski season.  A broad, raised-elongated tip would be much appreciated on this ski.

The tail is flat and stiff, and tracks beautifully- just like a xcountry ski should!

Sidecut…Does this ski need sidecut?  I don’t know- doesn’t every ski need sidecut?  This ski has 12mm of sidecut…At a length of 210cm- what is the turning radius of a ski with only 12mm of sidecut?  Do you still think it needs sidecut?  I offer this- you put this ski on edge and try and carve your way through the glade- and guess what happens- YOU HIT THE TREE!

Flotation.  This is not a powder ski- of course it isn’t.  But I need to be completely honest here….I don’t find that my wider midwidth skis (e.g. E-109/Eon) offer any more effective flotation than the E-99…If the E-109 performs “better” in deep, soft snow, it is because of the flex pattern, not its width.

Downhill skiing!  To a high-performance track xcountry skier, the E-99 might actually feel wimpy and soft.  BUT- no matter what you compare the flex to- one will definitely discover that this ski is double-cambered when downhill skiing!!  The pronounced, stiff second camber on this ski makes for a bit of a wild ride down-hill- especially if one is trying to get the ski to perform like a downhill ski.  One would need a very short E-99 in order to be able to completely control its camber in a downhill turn- with both skis equally weighted.  (This short length would ruin its xcountry performance.)  However- on moderate terrain- I find even my 210cm E-99 to be a lot of fun on the downhill.  Why?  How?  These skis are incredibly light and responsive.  I find I can easily make them turn on moderate slopes, through a mix of step/stride/stem/jump turns- stride your way down the hill.  If you are comfortable transferring weight from ski to ski- these skis are great on the down-hill.  Obviously, on truly steep terrain, one needs more stability and control than this xcountry ski has to offer.  The Nordic rocker on this ski is unavailable unless the ski is completely weighted- something that is not always possible when downhill skiing on a long, stiff, double-cambered ski!


This is a finely-tuned backcountry-xcountry touring ski.

For anyone wanting to travel long distances at speed in the backcountry- the E-99 is the real deal.  It is a truly double-cambered ski, offering a very effective wax/traction pocket- true Nordic kick and glide.  However, Fischer has finely tuned the flex pattern of the E-99 for off-track snow.  With some skill and focused “kick”, the camber is easy to control on variable terrain and snow.  (This ski would feel relatively “soft” and slow on a groomed track- compared to a high-performance track ski.)

The combination and versatility of kick wax and the integrated Easy-Skin are unbeatable.

The E-99 offers- to me- an excellent balance between stability and speed for a xcountry ski in the backcountry.  If the snow you are skiing on is typically hard and dense, an even narrower ski would be faster- but, I prefer the greater stability of the E-99 for fresh snow and hilly terrain.

In my opinion, the E-99 offers as much effective flotation as wider mid-width skis like the E-109.

The E-99 breaks trail very poorly- despite the Nordic rocker.  It would GREATLY benefit from a higher profile, broad, raised tip.

If you want to- or need to- climb and ski down relatively steep terrain, a softer flexing ski is probably a better choice (e.g. E-109)- but nowhere near as fast as the E-99.

The expedition-grade dependability of the E-99 is legendary.  I have heard many reports of the current generation E-99 being less durable and prone to breakdown…I hope that Fischer resolves this critical issue.

For me- the E-99 Tour Easy-Skin has become my go-to daily, speed-oriented BC-XC ski.  Speed baby.