Praxis Backcountry: first impressions

It’s been a long time coming, but yesterday I finally got to ride the amazing Praxis Backcountry.

Before I talk about the skis, I should note that this isn’t in any way a proper review. Because I wasn’t sure if my knee was up to handling a ski that size, I took it over to Seymour for the day and spent most of the time on groomers (albeit with a ton of rather wet new snow on top.) I plan on posting a full review of the BCs after I’ve had a chance to take them out touring and ride the gamut of conditions, which may not be until next season.

I skied the Shoguns in the morning – another knee test that went well – then switched to the BCs in the afternoon. The first thing that struck me when I clicked into them was how impressively light they were for their size. Lighter by far than the Shoguns; possibly even lighter than the Silencers, though it’s hard to make a direct comparison when I don’t have the numbers to hand and there’s such a size difference. I knew that Praxis had focused on keeping the weight down for touring, but even so I was blown away that such a big, powerful feeling ski could weigh so little – especially with the relatively burly Marker Baron bindings.

I tried the ski out on a few different runs, including a couple of blue cruisers, an ungroomed black, and even a little rather soggy powder. The first thing that struck me was that the ski has quite a bit more tail than I’m used to. I couldn’t decide whether this was down to the extra length, the relative stiffness of the back portion of the ski, or a combination of the two – I’ll probably get a better sense of this as I ski it more, and attack more varied conditions.

The second thing that struck me was the smoothness of the ride. The snow was pretty horrible – choppy, wet crud – but that big rockered tip just flew over everything in its path. The few stashes of fresh snow that I found weren’t deep enough for a proper assessment, but I definitely had a sense that these boats are pretty much unsinkable. Seymour isn’t big enough to really open up and let the ski run, so although I got a great feeling for how it handles poor conditions I don’t have any impression of its performance at speed.

The standout for me was that this ski doesn’t feel like anything I’ve ridden before. I was expecting to find some parallels with the Shoguns or the Doughboys, but the size coupled with the light weight and the tip rocker created an entirely different experience. I don’t think these would be quite as much fun on the groomers as the Shoguns, but I can already see them becoming my powder day ski of choice for Whistler as well as my go-to for touring.

I was stoked that my knee was able to handle such a big ski – the biggest I’ve ever ridden – even though it definitely put my new ACL through the toughest test it’s had yet. I’m sorely tempted to take it out and try it in the kind of conditions it was built for, but underneath I do know that it’s too soon for the knee. Nonetheless, I can’t wait to explore some of the potential that I know I wasn’t able to tap yesterday. This ski is powerful; I could feel it wanting bigger runs, steeper slopes, and deeper snow.

Overall, I would say that yesterday’s very limited test gave me a lot of confidence that this ski will be everything I thought it would – and then some. The only very slight negative is that I don’t think the beautiful topsheet will last too long, as it already has three noticeable chips (two next to the sidewall, one on the tail) from yesterday’s outing. But really, although I love the way the ski looks, what I care about is not the appearance but the way it feels to ride. And for that, the Backcountry is already a clear winner.

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