The Marquette Backcountry Ski is billed as part snowshoe, part ski, “all fun” on the company’s website . It is a unique product that is difficult to directly compare to other products but given its billing, I thought it fair to compare and contrast these skis to both snowshoes and other back country skis.

I tried the skis in Washington State’s Cascades with temperature ranging from the mid 20’s to mid 30’s and snow conditions ranging from 18” of fresh “Cascade powder” to older snow – both packed and untracked.

©Lane Harmon

 

These skis are short, wide, and come in one size fits all. They are built of plastic without edges or camber. Predrilled inserts for 3-pin bindings make mounting a breeze with heal pad positions adjustable for boot size. There are a number of different binding/boot combinations noted on the manufacturer’s website but they specifically recommend a 2 or3 buckle plastic telemark boot and the 3-pin Voile HD binding, without cable, for maximum control. I decided to try them as recommended and also tried the same binding with a medium weight leather back country boot.

My first impression of the skis was that they are heavy –more so than either other back county skis I have used or snow shoes. As the terrain steepened I lost climbing grip with the skis much faster than my climbing companion did using snowshoes with a “claw” binding. This was disappointing given the large scale pattern on the base of the ski. This pattern has larger, deeper, and more widely spaced scales than more traditional Nordic skis. The overall ski weight makes side stepping or using the herring bone maneuver very tiring for any distance.

©Steve Harmon

 

©Lane Harmon

Photo shows a side by side test with snowshoes on the left, Marquette Backcountry Skis on the right. The skis broke traction where the tracks stop while the snow shoes went up with no problem.

While the heavy scale pattern on the base of the ski did little for grip going uphill, it did seem to have a larger negative impact to the ski glide. Frankly I had trouble getting these skis to slide until the hill was fairly steep. They ran best in steeper terrain with unpacked snow and very poorly on packed trail conditions with less slope.

©Lane Harmon

 Pros

  • Good grip on low slope trails with packed or untracked snow
  • Good flotation in deep snow
  • Inexpensive
  • Predrilled holes for binding mounting

Cons

  • Poor grip for climbing steeper slopes
  • Heavy scale pattern negatively impacts downhill glide
  • Skis are heavy and tiring on longer uphill climbs
  • Lack of metal edges for packed or icy conditions

I was excited to try these skis after seeing the videos on their web site but honestly did not find the “fun” factor advertised. These skis try to find a compromise slot somewhere between snowshoes and skis but fail to perform as well as either in their respective sweet spots. Overall, the Marquette Backcountry Ski seems to perform best in gradual uphill conditions and steeper unpacked downhill conditions.

 Technical Details

Manufacturer: Snapperhead Inventions, LLC

Date Available: Now

Manufacturer’s website: Marquette Backcountry

MSRP: $189

Listed Weight:  9 lbs a pair

Materials: polypropylene, glass, silicone and brass  (100% recyclable per Manufacturer)

Dimensions: 150/130/140mm. Length 140 cm

Size/ Model tested: One size fits all

Requirements: Bindings

Colors Available: Black

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