MTN Approach Ski Review

The MTN Approach Access Skis were developed in the backcountry of Idaho by brain child Cory Smith.  And for good reason, split boards and snow shoes have their down sides. The approach Skis claim is that you don’t have to deal with pealing sticky skins, converting board to split and split back to board.  Additionally, riding the access skis allows  you to choose any board  you want to ride.  Maybe you want to access the backcountry to hit a back hill booter, something a split board isn’t meant to do.  But does the added weight really overweight (no pun intended) the cost of shuttling up a snowboard and a pair of ski’s to the top of the mountain.

The MTN Approach skis were introduced a couple years ago at the SIA tradeshow.  We were instantly intrigued at the idea as we had been searching for similar Access type Skis as an alternative to splitboards.  The Ski’s offered the ability to fold up and be stored in a backpack while the rider descends.  It gives the rider the choice of a board to ride.

The board is very easy to change from the folded ski to the trekking ski.  There are two simple cams with a draw string to lock the cams in place.  Just take the skis out of the pack, lock the cams, strap in and your ready to go.  Disassembly is just as easy, and with the optional backpack, storage is an ease.  The backpack also comes with integrated storage for water bladder, shovel, and probe storage, as well as padded pocket for goggles.  We heard they will be improving the backpack design for next season, and we look forward to the improvements we hope to see.

Overall, the ski’s function very well. With fixed skins attached permanently to the base of the ski, you never have to worry about snow packing between the ski and the skin.  Additionally, no more peeling skins apart as with splitboarding.

We were able to test the MTN Approach in the backcountry of Utah’s Wasatch range.  And were pleasantly surprised at the ability these skis had. The skins are great, they are fixed to the bottom of the ski, so no more peeling and stickyness.  The Skins seem to be very durable and light weight.  Because they are fixed directly to the base of the ski, they don’t have a substrate like a traditional splitboard ski does for the adhesion.  The skins also seemed to be a bit shorter fibered that traditional splitboard skins.  We didn’t see any clumping of snow on the bottom of the ski, and credit the skin quality to this.  The skins held just as well as any other splitboard skin. The skins also are out of the way on the tip and tail to reduce unnecessary drag.  Additionally, the skins are recessed below the base material on the tip to reduce peeling. Notably, the skins also wrap around the hinged area to avoid delamination.

The bindings were light weight and offer easy in and out access.  They perform really well, even on a steep traverse when using you edges with a lot of weight on them.  The cams hinges are where the magic really happens.  These simple hinges with the pull of a cord release or lock in place.  They seem too small and simple to really support the weight of a rider, but we haven’t had any problems with them yet.  They do have a weight restriction on them up to 225lb total for the new System 2 set up.

There are a few downsides to the skis, we wish that the tip of the ski rose up a little higher in the front.  When breaking trail, or blazing the crust we found it a little hard to get the tip to ride on the surface.  I assume that this is due to the overall width of the folded ski needing to mirror the height of rise in the tip.  Additionally, the weight of the ski seems to be of concern.  The skis weigh in at about 4lb a piece. But your basically carrying a snowboard and a pair of small skis with you up the mountain.  Your basically looking at an additionally 8 to 10 lb when using the MTN Approach ski.  Although we have heard rumors that they will be drastically reducing the weight on upcoming models.

MTN Approach is a new company on the backcountry scene, we hope to see them succeed with many new innovations on their flagship product as well as their new and upcoming products. For the cost of the board it’s hard to decide between a traditional splitboard, splitting your own board, or buying MTN Approach Skis.  The trade offs seem to be a toss up right now with weight and mobility being traded for ease and simplicity of use.

Keep an eye on MTN Approach’s website for the latest updates and products.  As a warning, the first run of skis sold out very quickly. If you are thinking of buying a pair act quickly there are only a limited number on hand.

Got Questions about the MTN Approach ski, please leave them in the comments below and we will be sure to answer them

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