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Marquette Backcountry Ski offers easy winter access

by Alicia MacLeay
January 22, 2012

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: