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Fischer Hannibal 96 Review

Versatile, all around skis for human-powered skiing in all conditions, especially when those conditions lean in the firm direction
fischer hannibal 96 backcountry skis review
Credit: Fischer
Price:  $850 List
Manufacturer:   Fischer
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 1, 2022
63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 15
  • Weight - 25% 6.0
  • Firm Snow - 20% 8.0
  • Powder - 20% 6.0
  • Crud and Poor Snow - 20% 6.0
  • Stability at Speed - 15% 5.0

Our Verdict

We have enjoyed iterations of the Fischer Hannibal 96 for seven seasons now. All the slight variants have been stable, predictable performers in a variety of "typical" human-powered ski situations. We've taken them off the top of Denali and skied the mellowest powder runs with a baby strapped to a tester's chest. They're most at home in mid-winter couloirs and spring bowls — exactly where the vast majority of backcountry skiers focus their efforts. The balance of varied downhill performance and reasonable uphill weight is right in the sweet spot for most people. However, they aren't the hardest charging downhill skis, and the narrow profile limits your options in the deepest of conditions.
REASONS TO BUY
Light
Snappy
Versatile
REASONS TO AVOID
Narrow for deepest snow
Slight wobble at speed
Editor's Note: Our conclusions on the Hannibal 96 are based on using some version of this ski since 2015. Most recently, we tested the latest version through a long and varied Teton and Alaska season.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Light, snappy, versatileStable, damp, versatile, floaty, balancedStable, damp, predictableAll-around performance, damp, inexpensive, available, sweet-spot weightFast, smooth, reliable, versatile
Cons Narrow for deepest snow, slight wobble at speedModerately heavy, not optimal firm snow performanceMid-weight, no real stand out performanceSoft and dampHeavy
Bottom Line Versatile, all around skis for human-powered skiing in all conditions, especially when those conditions lean in the firm directionThis is our favorite ski for modern, all-around backcountry skiing, bringing traditional reliability, modern dimensions, and performance balanceGood skis for good skiers in all kinds of conditions; the definition of all around backcountry skisInexpensive, proven all-around performance that's suitable for a wide variety of backcountry skiers and ski conditionsHeavy, big skis for hard-charging performance beneath a wide range of skiers in all backcountry ski scenarios
Rating Categories Fischer Hannibal 96 Blizzard Zero G 105 Black Crows Camox F... K2 Wayback 106 Elan Ripstick 106
Weight (25%)
6.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
2.0
Firm Snow (20%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Powder (20%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Crud and Poor Snow (20%)
6.0
8.5
8.0
7.0
9.0
Stability at Speed (15%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Fischer Hannibal 96 Blizzard Zero G 105 Black Crows Camox F... K2 Wayback 106 Elan Ripstick 106
Weight Per Pair 5.6 lbs 6.7 lbs 6.7 lbs 6.9 lbs 8.2 lbs
Weight Per Ski 1277g, 1273g
average: 1275g
1515g, 1510g
average: 1513g
1510g, 1509g
average: 1510g
1518g, 1557g
average: 1537g
1863g, 1852g
average: 1858g
Weight Per Pair 2550g 3025g 3024g 3075g 3715g
Weight Per Surface Area Ratio, g/cm^2 0.69 0.72 0.71 0.71 0.86
Measured Length 175cm 178cm 182cm 179cm 177cm
Manufacturer Length 176cm 180cm 183cm 179cm 180cm
Available Lengths (cm) 162, 169, 176, 183 164, 172, 180, 188 157.1, 164.3, 172.1, 178.4, 183.4 172, 179, 186 167, 174, 181, 188
Claimed Dimensions (mm) 127/96/114 133/105/118 130/97/115 136/106/124 143/106/120
Measured Dimensions (mm) 126/95/112 133/104/118 137/97/117 135/107/123 143/105/119
Construction Type Half-cap Sandwich Sandwich Sandwich Cap Hybrid Sandwich
Core Material Paulownia Paulownia Paulownia, poplar Paulownia Tubelite
Waist Width 96mm 105mm 97mm 107mm 106mm
Radius 21m 23m 18m 22m 19.5m
Rocker/Camber Tip rocker, camber underfoot Tip and tail rocker Tip rocker, camber underfoot Tip rocker, slight camber underfoot Tip and tail rocker, camber underfoot

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Fischer Hannibal 96 is a versatile "quiver of one" ski for people living along the North American coasts. It is also very suitable for those going on extended travels or expeditions to serious ski mountaineering destinations.

Performance Comparison


fischer hannibal 96 backcountry skis review - fischer hannibal 96 skis (and tested dynastar m-tour 99, lying on...
Fischer Hannibal 96 skis (and tested Dynastar M-Tour 99, lying on the ground) at 17,000 feet on Denali.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Weight


The North American ski market, in recent history, has emphasized mass and width, resulting in a selection of products that is generally wider and heavier than we deem necessary. At OutdoorGearLab, we are thankful to see narrower and lighter skis making a comeback. This Hannibal is a classic all-conditions touring ski with contemporary materials and a nod to modern dimensions. Fischer gets the skis so light by keeping them narrow and thin, somewhat compromising durability and ski performance. They integrate just enough carbon fiber to stiffen the ride and then bring proper alpine ski technology to the overall package.

fischer hannibal 96 backcountry skis review - navigating denali's "16 ridge" and testing the hannibal. there is...
Navigating Denali's "16 Ridge" and testing the Hannibal. There is remarkably little skiing on an expedition like Denali. You want light skis for the uphill. On the other hand, when you do ski it can be quite serious.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Backcountry skiing is becoming a big business. Historically, alpine ski manufacturers made backcountry skis that skied well but were heavy, while the touring brands made skis that were light but didn't descend well. This Fischer model marks a departure from that norm, joining truly innovative lightweight construction with downhill pedigree. We'll say it again: the weight of the Hannibal 96 is perfect. On our calibrated scale, the pair of tested 176cm Hannibal 96 weighs 2550 grams. That's 5.6 lbs for the pair, or 1275 grams per ski.

Firm Snow Performance


While the lack of material in the Fischer cannot provide as much stiffness as the heavier choices, the narrow profile provides more than adequate edge grip. In steep, rock-hard high Alaska spring ski mountaineering, the Hannibal hung on when it mattered the most. We also did some resort riding as part of a side-country avalanche course and found that the Fischer could rail groomed run turns as if it were not a sub-6-pound touring machine.

fischer hannibal 96 backcountry skis review - fischer hannibal in tricky fresh snow over blue ice on denali's...
Fischer Hannibal in tricky fresh snow over blue ice on Denali's "Sunshine Face" route. They performed well in this very high-stakes test.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Powder Performance


All skis we used were fun in powder. Our test roster varied in waist width by a few dozen millimeters, and we have used even bigger and even smaller skis in perfect powder snow. The widespread opinion holds that wider is better for powder. True, one can go faster on wide skis in powder.

And one can make turns on lower-angled slopes with wider skis. But when it is truly excellent, all modern skis are amazing in powder snow. If the powder is perfect, we would often rather be able to bust out extra laps with lightweight, narrow skis than be worn out by lugging the big guns up those same fluffy slopes. We issued the Hannibal 96 to a tester for what proved to be a spectacular end to a gnarly recent Mountain West drought. That tester skinned up as literally two feet of snow fell throughout the day. All "common convention" might have suggested that the Hannibal 96 would be too narrow to enjoy on the downhill in such deep conditions, but that was decidedly not the case; this tester had a great time!

fischer hannibal 96 backcountry skis review - booting for time with light skis and early morning light. this...
Booting for time with light skis and early morning light. This mid-drought day the Fischer Hannibal floated the good stuff and survived the tough turns.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Crud/Poor Snow Performance


In poor snow, width, mass, and construction matter the most. Bigger, more rockered skis ride better when the going gets breakable or sloppy. To make a narrow ski perform adequately in the tough stuff is a more difficult task. We will not sugar coat it; the Hannibal did not perform as well in the chop as bigger and/or more sophisticated skis.

What the Hannibal did, though, was get us through the inevitable bad snow with style. More than with most of the skis we reviewed, we were able to ski through poor snow with low-energy parallel turns. The edges grabbed minimally, the tips stayed up and out of the crust, and the tails followed where we intended to go. We cannot say that these charge the poor snow like a bigger tool would, but we can say that they do better than mere survival.

fischer hannibal 96 backcountry skis review - the dimensions of the fischer hannibal 96 are right in the range of...
The dimensions of the Fischer Hannibal 96 are right in the range of what we consider to be optimum all-around, all conditions backcountry skis for human power in all seasons.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Stability at Speed


The feel at speed and in steep, high-energy riding with the Hannibal belies its ultralight construction. We don't know how Fischer did it, but the Hannibal allows for high-speed cruising and lands big jump turns almost as well as the much burlier products. One ski tester said about the Hannibal, without really considering the weight, "they just feel like an average alpine ski". This is high praise for an ultralight special-purpose product.

At the same weight and similar dimensions, other skis bring noticeably better stability than the Hannibal. All those that do, though, are much more expensive.

fischer hannibal 96 backcountry skis review - the fischer hannibal 96, our lead test editor, and his...
The Fischer Hannibal 96, our lead test editor, and his three-month-old daughter on top of Glory Mountain in the Tetons. We skied mellow terrain this day, but the cargo was beyond precious. Reliable firm-snow performance from the Hannibal was key.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Should You Buy the Fischer Hannibal 96?


We love the Hannibal 96. Its overall scores are eclipsed by products with even more finely tuned max performance, but few are really as versatile and forgiving, especially for beginner to intermediate backcountry skiers. Note how we use the labels "beginner to intermediate backcountry skiers". These are not the same as the labels used for skiers inside the resort. In terms of downhill ability, a beginner backcountry skier is one that has attained expert status in a resort and is therefore ready to start learning the nuances of backcountry downhill techniques. The Hannibal 96 is especially forgiving, given its low weight, for this sort of skier.

fischer hannibal 96 backcountry skis review - the tips of the fischer hannibal 96. we didn't test the proprietary...
The tips of the Fischer Hannibal 96. We didn't test the proprietary skins that would use the orange holes.
Credit: Jediah Porter

What Other Backcountry Skis Should You Consider?


If you can find them and afford them, the Editors Choice Movement Alp Tracks 100 weighs exactly the same as the Fischer Hannibal and skis slightly better in almost every way. It is a little more demanding of your technique, especially in firm snow, but it's a better downhill performer overall. The Black Crows Camox Freebird is heavier than the Fischer and, especially in poor and powder snow, will perform better than the Fischer.

Jediah Porter
 
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