Marquette Backcountry Ski offers easy winter access


Marquette Backcountry Ski mounted with 3-pin binding

Part ski, part snowshoe, the Marquette Backcountry Ski is intentionally more basic—and less expensive—than other backcountry skis on the market.

The Marquette, a short, wide ski, with no camber, is made to be durable, simple, and, at $189 a pair, inexpensive.

Most importantly, it's made to get more people outside and exploring the mountains and hills beyond their backdoors, says David Ollila, company founder.

With that mission of access, the Marquette Backcountry Ski is easy to maintain.

It's waxless, with scales on the bottom for climbing. Threaded inserts let you mount common bindings without a drill: standard three-pin bindings, NNN, SNS, and Brewins.

For the most control and skiability, arquette Backcountry recommends using a two- or three-buckle telemark boot with basic or cable telemark binding.

Made of polypropylene, glass, silicone, and brass, it's 100 percent recyclable at the end of its life.

"You can really beat the hell out of them and nothing will happen," said Jamie Storrs for Marquette Backcountry.

And you don't need to worry about banging them up during rock season. "You can use a blowtorch to get rid of gouges," said Storrs, who says they're a good ski season extender.


Marquette Backcountry Ski with prototype soft boot binding.

That durability and price comes at a weight though: 9 pounds per pair.

Ollila knows a short, wide, 4.5-pound ski isn't for everyone.

Indeed, Storrs described the ski as  "a faster snowshoe or a slower ski."

"I get frustrated by the weight question," said Ollila. But, he counters, "it's a 189 dollar ski that will take you anywhere."

Not only is Ollila working to get more people outside in winter affordably, he's "trying to reinvent American manufacturing."

Earlier this month, Ollila spoke at a White House conference on “Insourcing American Jobs.” And at the Outdoor Retailer trade show last week, Marquette Backcountry was showing a live stream of its Michigan factory where all the skis are made.

Fun facts: It takes about two minutes to make a pair and the process generates no waste.

For next winter, Marquette Backcountry will broaden the ski's usability by offering a soft boot binding for snowshoers, hunters, and others who want comfort, but don't need as much control on the downhill.

Marquette Backcountry Ski

  • Weight: 9 lb/pr
  • Width: 150/130/140 cm

  • Length: 140 cm
  • Area: about 5 sq ft

  • MSRP: $189 (ski only), $189 (soft boot binding only), $378 (ski and binding)

David Ollila, owner and founder of Marquette Backcountry Ski, discussed his company's products and "insourcing" initiative with us at Outdoor Retailer:

marquette-backcountry.com


Filed under: Gear News, Outdoor Retailer

Comments

whomeworry
102 reviewer rep
2,276 forum posts
January 22, 2012 at 7:24 p.m. (EST)

Hmmm...

This is either a ski designed by snowshoers or a snowshoe designed by skiers.  While this sounds like it has some of the advantages of both skis and snowshoes, I venture to say it doesn't have the best attributes of either transportation mode; meanwhile it does seem to retain the major down sides of both modes.  And nine pounds?! That’s more than my full on tele skis. My guess these boats are best suited for spring corn snow, but I wouldn't want them on hard pack where camber and edging are important virtues, or in fresh snow where flotation requires a bigger foot print than the MBS offers.  The fact they use a textured base makes them less capable of ascending inclines than snow shoes or skis equipped with skins.  The super short length and lack of camber means you really can't carve a decent turn or build any speed on the downhill.  Sorry but I am at a loss to identify the demographic this serves.

Ed

phraber
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61 forum posts
January 22, 2012 at 11:09 p.m. (EST)

Lemme check to see how much my beater skis and snowshoes weigh together... Any guesses?

BigRed
REVIEW CORPS
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664 forum posts
January 23, 2012 at 6:28 a.m. (EST)

+1, Ed. Neither beast nor fowl. Basement fodder. THis kind of thing seems to show up every couple of years and then very quickly get forgotten.

whomeworry
102 reviewer rep
2,276 forum posts
January 23, 2012 at 11:38 a.m. (EST)

phraber said:

Lemme check to see how much my beater skis and snowshoes weigh together... Any guesses?

Who carries both on a trip?

Ed 

Erich
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
708 reviewer rep
867 forum posts
January 23, 2012 at 4:31 p.m. (EST)

"Who carries both on a trip?

Ed" 

I admit that in the past, on some winter climbs, BOTH were necessary. Twenty miles of logging road, then a steep ascent through dense forest, made the choice easy.

I agree that while unique, I'm not sure who is going to buy them. And the price is really not that low. Careful shopping at end of season sales gets you a real ski for not much more, and a lot less weight. I applaud the use of material that can be recycled, however, they still use plastics. A wood core would be lighter. They sound like they are made using similar technology to poly canoes, which is why they are probably so heavy.

whomeworry
102 reviewer rep
2,276 forum posts
January 23, 2012 at 6:56 p.m. (EST)

Erich said:

I admit that in the past, on some winter climbs, BOTH were necessary...

I guess I have been fortunate in my decades of trekking I have always been able to plot a route where either snowshoe or ski would get the job done, making both a unnecessary redundancy.  For example, Aspen can be a challenge when on skis, but I have always found either a viable trail through, or a means to circumnavigate Aspen stands altogether.  I may have not have made the fastest time possible, but being able to leave one of these transportation modes behind is a very significant weight saving.

Ed

Erich
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January 24, 2012 at 1:14 a.m. (EST)

Ed, it sounds like you had the advantage of more open country. On the wet side of the Cascades, as you probably know, approaches can be quite long and second and third growth timber quite dense. Skis are so much faster on a logging road, but trying to slog up through densely forested slopes they can be a PITA. It is nice to do routes on the east side or further south where there is a chance of some open slopes and the timber is much less dense.

Tom D
MODERATOR
38 reviewer rep
1,756 forum posts
January 24, 2012 at 10:02 p.m. (EST)

This idea has been around for a while. I thought about buying a pair of what are often called "approach skis", but bought the skis you see in my picture instead-metal edge Atomic Rainier waxless BC skis with Voile bindings, the release kit and skins. Fischer and Karhu make similar skis. I got mine brand new from STP for $60 including shipping a few years ago (bindings, etc. extra). Granted that deal was unusual, but cheap BC skis are around at the end of every season.

I'm no great skier and in fact sold mine last winter, but if I buy another pair of BC skis, something like I had will be what I would look for.

From what I know, a ski this wide takes a big boot to turn, so no wonder he recommends a big tele boot. This is overkill for anything I'd be doing, for certain.

JasonLooseArrow
0 reviewer rep
40 forum posts
January 31, 2012 at 3:12 a.m. (EST)

Coming from mostly snowshoeing, I could see how this might be a possible introduction to BC skis? I don't live in the mountains anymore, but even I did, I don't think I'd want to hump around this weight. Like Tom said above, I think I'd just move into BC skis for some weight and cash.

whomeworry
102 reviewer rep
2,276 forum posts
February 1, 2012 at 5:07 a.m. (EST)

Erich said:

Ed, it sounds like you had the advantage of more open country. On the wet side of the Cascades, as you probably know, approaches can be quite long and second and third growth timber quite dense. Skis are so much faster on a logging road, but trying to slog up through densely forested slopes they can be a PITA. It is nice to do routes on the east side or further south where there is a chance of some open slopes and the timber is much less dense.

 My ski and snow shoe experiences have been the all over the Sierras, Front Range Rockies, various Alaskian ranges, Peruvian Andies, wilderness proximal the Whistler, the major cone volcanoes of the PNW and the Olympic Range.  Other places too but memory fails me.  But I do not brag, I know you have logged more time in the wilderness than me.  It goes without saying I have encountered aspen stands, fern and assorted thicket impassible by any means.  I rarely care to bushwack flora one can't walk through without enormous effort - I don't carry a machette - but otherwise I have always found a way to bypass these obsticles and get to Point B without too much effort.  In any case I never felt "big foot" style skis would be worthwhile, was satified with using full size skis or snow shoes, and never considered carrying both on the same trip.  JMO

Ed

Erich
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February 2, 2012 at 1:08 p.m. (EST)

Ed, my experience carrying both, was not common, because, as you say, there are often ways to avoid that. Going in to Royal Basin in the Olympics one winter, we would have been days slogging up the road on snow shoes, whereas skis made it a day. But the snow shoes came in handy once we started to ascend steep forested slopes, so the skis got ditched. Every route is unique and dependent on the goals and conditions at the time.

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
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February 6, 2012 at 11:54 a.m. (EST)

We have the opportunity to test the Marquettes. If an existing community member who has experience writing gear reviews is interested they should let me know asap (while there's snow on the ground).

You'd need to be an experienced backcountry skier/traveler, have your own tele boots and bindings etc, have suitable conditions to test in, and have written a number of helpful reviews on the site already.

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