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Fischer Transalp 90 Carbon Review

Optimized for high, firm, and steep ski mountaineering, but can be pressed into softer use from time to time.
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Price:  $700 List | $419.97 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Firm snow grip, durable construction, lightweight dimensions
Cons:  Narrow for all-around modern use, demanding in tough snow
Manufacturer:   Fischer
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 10, 2020
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57
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 16
  • Weight - 25% 8
  • Stability at Speed - 15% 3
  • Firm Snow - 20% 7
  • Powder - 20% 6
  • Crud and Poor Snow - 20% 3

Our Verdict

The Fischer Transalp 90 Carbon is a steep and firm snow specialist that can be pressed into all-around backcountry ski applications. They are just big enough for powder and tough snow but really excel on the hard stuff. The low weight is the result, mainly of the dimensions. Construction is robust and will hold up for a few seasons of normal use. We wailed on them in a variety of settings (early season drought? no problem for tester skis…), and they have held up and kept performing. We had bigger options, and at least occasionally grabbed these for the deepest days in a legendary Teton January. Even in super deep, face-shot snow, we had an amazing time on the Fischer.


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Price $419.97 at Backcountry
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Pros Firm snow grip, durable construction, lightweight dimensionsLight, well-balanced downhill performanceStable, damp, predictableInexpensive, balanced downhill performance, average weightSolid all around downhill performance, compatible with excellent Dynafit SpeedSkins
Cons Narrow for all-around modern use, demanding in tough snowExpensive, ski “short”Mid-weight, no real stand out performanceSki “short”, powder skiing stability suffers at super high speedHeavier than average
Bottom Line You can use these in all conditions, but you’ll enjoy their attributes the most in firm, high, and steep terrain and tours.For all but the most specialized of circumstances or users, these are the best backcountry skis on the market.There is nothing remarkable about these skis, and that is a good thing.Well-balanced, all-around skis for the human-powered skier looking for durable and lasting value.The Beast leans decidedly in the downhill performance direction; they are heavy by comparison and for the dimensions, but they ski better than most.
Rating Categories Fischer Transalp 90 Carbon Kastle TX98 Black Crows Camox Freebird Salomon MTN Explore 95 Dynafit Beast 98
Weight (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
Stability At Speed (15%)
10
0
3
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Firm Snow (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Powder (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Crud And Poor Snow (20%)
10
0
3
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Specs Fischer Transalp... Kastle TX98 Black Crows Camox... Salomon MTN... Dynafit Beast 98
Weight Per Pair 5.7lbs 6.2 lbs 6.7 lbs 6.8lbs 6.8 lbs
Measured Length 175cm 177 cm 182 cm 177cm 183 cm
Manufacturer Length 176 cm 178 cm 183 cm 177 cm 184 cm
Available Lengths 155, 162, 169, 176, 183 cm 168, 178, 188 cm 162, 172, 178, 183 cm 169, 177, 184 cm 170, 177, 184 cm
Claimed Dimensions 125 / 89 / 108mm 128/98/117 mm 130/97/115 mm 130 / 95 / 116mm 136/98/117 mm
Measured Dimensions 124/88/109mm 122/97/116 mm 137/97/117 mm 130/95/116mm 126/97/116 mm
Weight Per Ski grams 1294g,1269g,average:1282g 1394g, 1400g, average: 1397g 1510g, 1509g, average: 1510g 1547g,1529g,average:1538g 1541g, 1553g, average: 1547g
Weight Per Pair 2563g 2794g 3024g 3076g 3094g
Weight per Surface Area Ratio, g/cm^2 0.68 0.71 0.71 0.76 0.75
Construction Type Sandwich Sandwich Cap Hybrid Semi-cap Half-cap Sandwich
Core Material Paulownia, Air Tec Karuba Wood Paulownia, poplar 3D Full Woodcore, C/FX reinforcement Ash/poplar wood
Waist Width,mm 89 98 97 95 98
Radius 19 meters 22 meters 18 meters 18 meters 21 meters
Rocker/Camber Tour rocker Low camber Tip rocker, camber underfoot Rocker, camber, rocker Double Ellipse Rocker

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Transalp 90 Carbon is Fischer's widest in their Transalp series, and this line of skis is lightweight and "European" in tone. The Transalp 90 is something you'd see on any old Austrian weekend ski tourer. Here in the US, it is a lightweight, steep-and-firm specialist. These are exactly what we would choose for an April Eastern Sierra couloir road trip or May NW volcano shredding. In these situations, you could go even narrower, but you are likely to be intimidated and turned off by such a strategy. The Transalp 90 is a spring, narrow ski for those reluctant to go truly light and narrow.

Performance Comparison


The construction isn't super light  but the narrower-than-is-trendy profile really lightens things up. Even your skins are lighter on small skis. You'll notice it and appreciate it.
The construction isn't super light, but the narrower-than-is-trendy profile really lightens things up. Even your skins are lighter on small skis. You'll notice it and appreciate it.

Weight


The Transalp 90 weighs 5.7 lbs for the pair. We tested their "176 cm" size and measured them to be 175cm. In this size range, the skis are actually mid- to heavy-weight. You can certainly get skis with this surface area that are considerably lighter. Our proprietary (but repeatable and clearly communicated, in the How We Test Backcountry Skis article) weight-to-surface-area calculation yields .68 g/cm^2. One of our award winners, and many others in the market, equal or better this number with larger surface area. The end result is that the Transalp 90 skins like a lightweight ski because it is narrow and further reduces weight with associated light skins, but skis downhill on firm and funky snow like something bigger.

Tested Fischer Transalp 90. Pair them  like we did  with light-weight all around tech bindings. Here  the Ski Trab Vario Titan 2.0.
Tested Fischer Transalp 90. Pair them, like we did, with light-weight all around tech bindings. Here, the Ski Trab Vario Titan 2.0.

Stability at Speed


No touring skis will shred downhill with the confidence of metal-filled resort skis. You can't get around that. All our stability comparisons are calibrated against only touring skis. When we examine stability, we get into both steep terrain and very high-speed skiing. In these situations, provided the snow is reasonable in predictability, the Transalp does ok. We intentionally tested a relatively short ski. For soft snow touring, our test team prefers skis just over 180cm. For firm snow, we like shorter skis. We sized the Transalp for firm snow, at 176cm. For weight and firm snow, the shorter length is an asset. For stability, it is a liability. We can handily extrapolate that the Transalp would be even more stable in the next size up.

Firm Snow


Here this ski excels. Hand-flex tests show that the Transalp is quite rigid. On-the-snow testing, on mainly early season drought hardpack, demonstrates that the edges hold tenaciously. It is for firm snow that you select the Transalp 90. Others might do even better, but not by much. Many, many popular and trendy backcountry skis ski firm snow much more poorly than the Transalp 90. We love soft snow, but the reality of backcountry skiing is often firmer than Instagram and films suggest. Aspire to ski only powder, but realize that you'll get out a ton more often if you are open to riding the hard stuff between mega storms and seasons. For those conditions, the Transalp 90 excels.

Tip profile and camber of the Transalp 90 Carbon.
Tip profile and camber of the Transalp 90 Carbon.

Powder


You might jump up and conclude that powder performance is diametrically opposed to firm snow performance. We haven't found that to be true. We love powder skiing for many, many reasons. One of those reasons is that, once one understands the basic techniques, powder skiing is forgiving of lapses and enjoyable on all kinds of equipment. Truly excellent powder snow is enjoyable on all modern backcountry skis. In an amazing recent binge of mid-winter Teton powder conditions, our test team has gotten more human-powered untracked skiing on tester skis than some might get in a lifetime. It caused no consternation to take out the Transalp 90 on any of these perfect powder days.

The smaller and lighter construction simply means that we had more energy for more laps and more downhill skiing. Light skis are great powder skis because you can ski more powder! With good snow and centered technique, the Fischer pops up out of powder turns. In faster, shallower conditions, we could even ski in a modern, lateral, smearing fashion on these ski mountaineering specialists. Usually we expect narrower skis to demand "old school" up-un-weighting sort of technique in powder snow. This was best in the deep stuff, but when it got boot top the best skiers in our test could carve and smear with the Fischer.

The Transalp 90 isn't exactly what you think of for powder skiing  but it will do better than you might expect.
The Transalp 90 isn't exactly what you think of for powder skiing, but it will do better than you might expect.

Crud/Poor Snow


Here smaller skis suffer. There is no way around it. Girth and mass (mainly mass) help in tougher snow conditions. Tracked up snow, heavy stuff, and breakable crust demand the very best of ski and skier. The size and mass of the Transalp makes it ski better than our tiniest Top Pick winner, but not by much. As the snow conditions get tougher and tougher, everyone and every pair of skis will have to eventually revert to "survival" techniques like stem and wedge turns and big traversing lines. Where, when, and for how long that is required is a function of ski attributes and skier technique. On that continuum, the Fischer requires survival skiing sooner than most, but not as often as a specialized subset of tested skis.

Tougher snow conditions push around these narrow and light skis.
Tougher snow conditions push around these narrow and light skis.

Value


The Transalp 90 Carbon is pretty average in cost. As a slightly more specialized tool, its value is more compromised than others. Either your backcountry ski patterns lean toward the high and firm (East Coast? High Sierra? Alps? Springtime anywhere), or you will choose these skis as a complement to your other backcountry skis. If you are one of those that can "get away" with these as your only skis, the value is good. They're not prohibitively expensive, and the construction will hold up to an average amount of use and abuse.

A careful ski selection is incomplete without appropriately matching bindings and boots. Make yourself an entire light-weight  all-around set up based on the Transalp 90.
A careful ski selection is incomplete without appropriately matching bindings and boots. Make yourself an entire light-weight, all-around set up based on the Transalp 90.

Conclusion


These are the smallest and lightest skis we might recommend to anyone as their "quiver of one". If your general backcountry ski patterns lean in the firm, high, and vernal direction, the Fischer Transalp 90 is great. If you seek (and actually find) weeks and months of soft-snow powder backcountry skiing each season, go at least a little bigger than the Transalp 90.


Jediah Porter