After joining the Canadian Zag team for the 20/21 season, I requested a pair of uBac 95 skis as I was looking for something lightweight and could “do it all” in the backcountry. I currently have about 40 days on these skis, and they ended up being an excellent and fun choice for almost any backcountry situation.
A “Guides Ski“
If you check out the uBac 95 on the Zag website, the first line says, “Approved by the Guides of Chamonix…” and I knew within my first few days why. I would describe this as a classic “guides ski”. The ski performs best with short radius turns, like what you see heli-guides getting everyone to do to farm the max amount of last night’s dump. If that is your style, these are a brilliant choice. Skiing tighter trees with this ski is sick. I’m a pretty fast tree/bush skier, but when I used these, I could move even faster due to the ski’s responsive nature and turn radius. The uBac 95 can also handle more aggressive, big turns at speed, and I preferred this style when dealing with weak breakable crusts or big open powder slopes.
I got the uBac 95 in a 178cm length, which came in at around 1360g per ski. For a 95 underfoot, at that length, the weight is hard to beat (and usually, when doing so, the difference is minimal). I matched this ski with a Plum Oazo binding (200g) which I found to be an excellent match. Of course, with a lighter ski, there are some drawbacks. For example, at the resort, I found it challenging to charge nasty crud, but of course, this is meant to be a backcountry ski, so it didn’t matter to me and shouldn’t matter to anyone buying it for the ski’s intended use.
Excels In Powder
These skis float exceptionally well for a 95 underfoot. If I did a blind test, I would guess they were in the 105 range. In all honesty, I don’t know why this is the case. The tip rocker isn’t huge, the camber isn’t flat, and the tip/tail widths aren’t that different from most similar skis. So ya, I’m not sure. Some Zag secret formula, I guess?
Zag talks about their “5-point shape” and “multi-radius shape” a fair bit online and how it increases manoeuvrability/handling while making the ski playful and easy to turn – these points are dead on. This isn’t some BS marketing. The uBac 95 goes where you want it and is highly predictable, all while being a blast to ski on. When skiing less than-ideal snow, like steep wind-blasted garbage, I was confident in my ability to get the ski where it was needed.
You will probably notice this ski doesn’t have a super stiff flex, which in the current climate seems to be a negative, but they got the flex perfect for the style it was meant for. If this ski were stiffer, it wouldn’t be as fun as it is. And it would fall into the “dead” feeling zone if it were softer. So before you write it off in the shop after flexing it remember that stiffer isn’t always better when a ski has been correctly engineered like this one has.
The Zagreen Program
Zag uses recycled, bio-resin and locally sourced materials in the uBac 95, and they are finding more ways to lower their environmental impact. At this point of the global ecological collapse, I would go with the one with less overall impact if I had to pick between two similar skis. It may be a small part of the larger picture, but every inch of that fight will matter going forward.
Sometimes after mentioning recycled edges, people question durability. I can assure you that these skis are just as tough as any others I have (ab)used.
The Right Ski For You?
If you are looking for a lightweight, fun backcountry ski that can be used in a wide range of snow conditions, you should check out the Zag uBac 95. Regardless if you find powder or corn, you will find the responsiveness and playful nature to be a blast while still having the energy for that last uphill lap due to the light weight. Upper intermediate to advanced skiers should find the design to their liking and if you are a guide looking to farm heli-slopes, look no further.
For more information on the Zag uBac 95 check out: Touring ski ZAG ubac 95 – ZAG skis
For more information on the Zagreen program check out: ZAGreen – ecofriendly approach – ZAG skis