Ski selection is a personal choice, although finances often dictate which skis we end up with! A wide range of skis is available, many tailored for specific purposes, and this presents a dilemma for anyone trying to buy the best for their needs. Stronger materials used for ski manufacture today allow for stronger and stiffer skis, enabling pack carrying on shorter skis which are more manoeuvrable. Most off-trail skiers prefer a ski which is wider and stiffer than would normally be used on a packed trail. Metal or non-metal edges are a personal choice, heavily influenced by the type of touring you intend doing. Pattern-based, metal-edged skis are generally the best compromise for most ski touring locations in Australia, but may be too heavy, wide and/or stiff for good performance on prepared trails. Experienced skiers may want a more specific matching of skis for a particular destination and skiing needs, and they usually have several pairs of skis for different uses.
Trial and error as well as pestering ski shop staff and ski friends are the best ways to obtain the information you need prior to buying skis. Many ski shops have on-snow trial days, and hiring skis can provide a cheap introduction to the more common ski types. There is also a variety of secondhand sales, usually run by cross-country skiing organisations.