Voile Vector – Ski Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Shop for Voile skis here.

This spring season in Colorado was big. At first it did not seem like winter wanted to end. The snow would not stop falling. But once the snow did stop, the ski mountaineering lines looked amazing. There were even places that had never been skied that not only looked doable, but fun.

Vectors on our new route on Capitol Peak, Colorado, a few weeks ago.

Vectors on our new route on Capitol Peak, Colorado, a few weeks ago. Click to enlarge.

With such a season, all I needed was a pair of skis. Lucky for me I got to test the 2011/12 Voile Vectors that those Utah denizens of the deep sent over for the incredibly involved WildSnow vetting and evaluation program.

Voile Vectors, Plank Route, Capitol Peak North Face.

Voile Vectors, Plank Route, Capitol Peak North Face.

When I first got to take a look at the Vectors I was a little skeptical. My main beef was that I was holding the longest length, 180 cm. Normally this would be fine for me, being 6 feet and 155 pounds soaking wet. I come from a racing background however, and usually use a longer ski especially when it has both a tip and tail rise. Well, as they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover, so I took ‘em out.

Testing the Voile skis, backcountry skiing in Colorado.

Testing Voile skis, ski mountaineering in Colorado this spring. Chargers in this photo, Vector photos coming. We extensively tested three Voile models. Vector, Charger, Drifter.

My first day on the Vectors was an overnight trip up to the Tagert Hut near Aspen. Getting to the hut is a little bit of a slog without a sled, but I was not worried in the least. Weighing in at a mere 7 lbs/pair and with a Dynafit TLT Vertical ST binding to keep the weight savings going, I was able to motor up to the hut with minimal effort.

At the Tagert we were blessed with perfect powder conditions. The Vectors lead me happily through the pow harvest that was had. With the 121/96/110 dimensions and the tip and tail rise, skiing the powder was effortless.

But when is skiing perfect powder on low angle terrain not effortless? The Vectors would need to show me more before I was sold, and they would have their chance over the next month: Ski mountaineering season.

My first true test of the Vectors came on Mt. Sopris while skiing the Laundry Chutes. Thanks to the lightness of the skis, strapping them to my pack was not the grimace inducing chore that it can be if your skis are the size of snow cat tracks, as many of today’s planks seem to be.

Voile Vectors in the Laundry Chutes, Mount Sopris, Colorado.

Voile Vectors in the Laundry Chutes, Mount Sopris, Colorado. Click to enlarge.

Thus, having the Vectors on my rucksack while booting up the chute, and then the mixed alpine climb to exit the chute, was no problem. Then came the ski. The entrance ramp into the chute that we skied is very steep, but again I was blessed with near perfect snow. Making turns down the entrance ramp and into the chute was effortless once more. Then on the apron at the bottom I decided to give them a little test and opened it up into fast GS sized turns. I was pleasantly surprised. A ski that I was afraid was going to be too short was holding its own at speed.

There was only one more test that the Vectors need to pass to be Anton approved. The dreaded steep hard-pack. I had the perfect place in mind.

Up until June I had the almost unbelievable joy of skiing powder no matter where I went on the Vectors. From the Tagert Hut, to the Laundry Chutes, to Mt. Shasta in California. This changed when I ventured up Capitol Peak in the Elk Mountains between Aspen and Crested Butte.

On my fourth attempt this season I finally made it to the summit of Capitol on June 6th. I clicked in and made my way out onto the south face. Steep, very exposed, and rock hard. Oh man. I made a jump turn, and the skis held. I made another. Again they held. Then a long traverse over to the East face with some sidestepping to get around some rocks. That wasn’t too bad.

We made our way over to a notch on the ridge where we were wanted to drop into Capitol’s north face and into uncharted territory. Being north facing, the snow was quite firm. It was also not that consistent. I dropped in. Needless to say I was a bit nervous skiing steep firm snow above a 300 foot cliff. The Vectors made things much easier however. They felt solid. Once I had time to think (e.g., when I got to the bottom of the extremely long and scary rappel that completed our route), I was sold. The Vectors had done it all, and made it all fun.

Vectors in Soutwest Couloir, South Maroon Peak, Colorado.

Vectors on Anton's feet in Southwest Couloir, South Maroon Peak, Colorado. Click to enlarge.

In summary, I found Voile Vectors to be a terrific ski mountaineering or backcountry ski. They have perfect dimensions that balance width with weight and quickness, and the tip and tail rise definitely make the funky stuff easier. The only drawback that I could find to this ski was that when I made a turn from the backseat (yeah, happens to the best of us) the ski seemed to shoot out in front of me. I think this is because with the tail rise and length of 180cm, not much tail was behind my boots. Easy to get used to (stay out of the backseat!) so minor detail. WilldSnow thumbs up for the Voile Vector, another in the grand crop of skis for next season that’ll make ski lifts obsolete.

Vectors still attached to feet and doing well. East Face of Castle Peak, Colorado.

Vectors still attached to feet and doing well. East Face of Castle Peak, Colorado. Click to enlarge.

(Guest blogger Anton Sponar spends winters enjoying the skiing ambiance of the Aspen area, while summers are taken up with slave labor doing snowcat powder guiding at Ski Arpa in Chile. If Anton didn’t ski every month of the year, skiing would cease to exist as we know it.)

Shop for Voile skis here.

Comments

49 Responses to “Voile Vector – Ski Review”

  1. mt surf June 24th, 2011 9:14 pm

    Not a single note on the scaled version. Lame.

  2. Mark June 24th, 2011 9:44 pm

    Glad to hear a review of the Vector. I had been wondering about it. Sounds like a decent ski mountaineering tool.

  3. Shredgar June 25th, 2011 1:14 am

    Thanks for the review.

    Confirms what I’d heard.

    Tried to buy the Vectors last year but they sold out.

    Locally made & locally played.

  4. bobby June 25th, 2011 5:27 am

    I rode the Drifter’s all season, similar take, except too wide for hardpack. Love them.

  5. Lou June 25th, 2011 8:31 am

    And the price is right. Really great to be working with Voile along with our other light/wide ski makers. The trend is strong, and suddenly has really taken off. Shoot, you might even see me on something really fat, so long as I can figure out how to keep 10 lbs of ice from sticking to the top while breaking trail (hint, a ski that isn’t black.)

  6. Lou June 25th, 2011 9:57 am

    I was laughing the whole time I was getting this review ready for publishing. Quite a bit different than three sentences in a magazine about how the ski did at a ski resort between beer stops, eh folks? Thanks Anton, and thanks Jordan for the photos!

  7. Justin June 25th, 2011 10:26 am

    Are we going to be getting a Charger review as well?

  8. Lou June 25th, 2011 10:29 am

    Justin, please check back here 10 times a day and you’ll probably catch it (grin). Lou

  9. Matt Kinney June 25th, 2011 1:51 pm

    Good review…most skis boot well. :-)

    How’d they tour? I know my BD Drifts had issues with the rocker tip while touring. On steep uphill traverses, the ski tips are a bit too floppy and don’t really want to hold a slope as well as a “regular” ski. My tips would slide off the slope, thus the lack of edging while side-hilling was noticeable at times. This means you have to slap the edge into the snow a bit more which requires more energy, more GU, etc. Just an observation after a full season on a rockered touring ski.

    Good thing about rocker is the really nice grip with “straight up hill” skinning as the tip flexes up and applies more skin to the snow as the ski base presses down and against the slope and nice arc. Stiffer, cambered skis seem to work against this principal.

    Enjoy Chile

  10. tOM June 26th, 2011 10:45 am

    My Vectors are just about the only ski I take out backcountry anymore. They do everything I enjoy well. They reward aggressive skiing and allow me to ski consevatively when I drop into something over my head. They will punish a backseat driver as noted. One other note; I do not like firm snow with texture and IME, neither do the vectors. Granted, I’m on 170′s and they’re only about 6lbs., but at any speed above survival skiing on textured firm I get bounced, bucked and skidded into the fear for life zone. On smooth firm I feel they carve nicely and I can roll them over to shave ice with total control, add texture and it’s a whole different game. Chances are if you are sick enough to enjoy hard textured snow at speed, you have a ski in your quiver for that.

    All the best, tOM

  11. Anton June 29th, 2011 8:20 am

    mt surf – I usually pay no attention to the top sheets but now that you mention it, the scaled version is pretty cool. I noticed that the skis almost never had snow buidup on them. I always thought this was due to thier color (white) but the scales could have helped as well.

    Matt – I noticed that the sidehilling was brutal with tip rise also, but only when it ws very firm. It is the same with my other skis that have a tip rise too. Going strait up is the way to go as long as that is possible.

  12. Willis August 13th, 2011 6:24 am

    I used the BD Drift last year but ready to return to a narrower ski mainly because I have a torn menicus and want something with rocker and rise in the tail. My concern is the lenght because I am 6’2″ at 200 lbs with my pack and ski just seems short especially with the rocker. I used a Praxis backcountry ski in a 180 several years ago and it was ike ski feet. I ski backcountry in the Wasatch so I am not worried about a lot of varied conditions. I used the Garnont boot this year along with Dynafit bindings and plan the same this year. I want to stay with the light weight with the tip and tail rocker or rise. Anyone have any other suggestions? Thanks

  13. Lou August 13th, 2011 6:34 am

    Willis, I don’t understand why narrower ski is necessary… whatever the model, if your skis are feeling too short by all means go to the max length for that model, at your height and weight you might as well. Since you’re there in Wasatch I’d look at Voile and BD, as you can probably come up with some demos to go try. Lou

  14. Willis August 13th, 2011 6:48 am

    Well, I liked the Drift but the tail hooking put a lot of pressure on my knee. If BD had raised the tail on the Drift I would be completely satisfied. My issue is less stress on my knee since I was told by the surgeon he thought an operation was not necessary. Since all I do is hike out from the Canyons, I was looking for lighter. The length on the Drift is great, I just don’t like hooking. The weight of the ski is what really drives my knee nuts, I usually make around 10 runs a day. I thought about maybe the Justice now the third ski in the Efficient Series.

  15. Lou August 13th, 2011 7:02 am

    Demo the Dynafit Manaslu as well, and yes, the Justice. If weight of what’s on your feet is bothering your knee I’d consider going to a super light boot such as TLT5 especially as you’re in the Wasatch and have all that great snow most of the time. The slight bit of metatarsal bend in the TLT5 might help your knee, as it ever so slightly reduces the articulation of you knee as you stride. I’ve got a meniscus that was chopped quite a few years ago and bothers me on occasion, and have noticed that if I don’t hyper-extend knee so much during strides it does much better. Mostly, I’m careful about using enough heel lift, but the metatarsal bend does help a tiny tiny bit. I still feel like I’d rather just save the weight and run a boot such as Dynafit Evo or now Scarpa Alien without metatarsal bend, but since I’ve got it I might as well try to see where it helps me, however small that amount might be. If you do change to that sort of boot, run a shim under the ball of the foot that it can sit on in downhill mode, so you get less flex.

  16. Willis August 13th, 2011 7:42 am

    I used the orange version of the Garmont Masterlite and was really disappointed in the boot. I commented in your column. I am going to get the Dyanfit this year. I have thought about the Manaslu. I know there were problems last year with holes and I heard has been worked out. Thanks for the comments.

  17. Lou August 13th, 2011 8:38 am

    Don’t worry about the Manaslu inserts, they’re easy to deal with. Just make sure whoever works with them knows what they’re doing, or if you do it yourself study up on it first. Lou

  18. Willis August 13th, 2011 9:19 am

    I buy all my ski gear there or at Telemarkdown and have my done at the BD store in Salt Lake. I only mention about the inserts because of what the shop techs told last year but they said Dynafit was fixing the problem. I don’t do any work on my skis except to tune and keep them waxed after each use.Thanks for your input.

  19. Lou August 13th, 2011 11:05 am

    Willis, sounds good. ‘best, Lou

  20. hans August 27th, 2011 12:33 am

    how did it skin? I’m curious about the 96 waist on a steep skin track.

  21. Phil August 27th, 2011 2:31 pm

    Anton, Lou,

    I need to replace my 185 Kilowatt, I’m thinking of either the coomback or the vector. I’m a little worried about 180 max length on the vector, is that enough for me. I’m 5’11, 195lbs, I ski a little bit of everything, Wasatch, Cascades, British Columbia, in-bound and touring, so I like something that handles everything quite well, including steep couloir on hard snow, and the Kilowatt did just that for a few seasons. I a willing to sacrifice superfloat on deep days for a good edge holding. What would you recommend?

  22. Adam August 30th, 2011 1:53 pm

    @ phil

    I’ve been looking for a good all around ski for skiing out west I ski the Wasatch exclusively fyi… I’ve narrowed my search to:

    Voile Charger 181 8.125lbs
    Tip/tail rocker, reviewed on wildsnow.com, I demoed them at Alta and a short tour, it was a great ski and a good value, made in the USA, I’m going to buy these I’m like 90% sure today : )

    2012 BD Justice 185 8.375lbs
    Tip/tail “rise” looks similar to voiles tails nothing to crazy, a little bigger then voile charger ski they seem stiffer then the charger it’s very tempting to go with these but with no reviews you’ll be the guinea pig… made in asia

    Want to spend a lot of money? Check these out I ruled them out because I’m cheap but these are a good choice if you’re a hard charger and want a ski that use use in the resort and BC….they are more resort orientated skis that are lighter and can tour then a tour specific ski.

    DPS RP112 184
    Lots of tip/tail rocker, pure version is light 3.9

    PM Gear Lhasa POW(186) 4.3lbs per ski
    Tip rocker, flat tail, carbon/fiber mix, very expensive

  23. d September 5th, 2011 4:40 am

    [Quote] mt surf – I usually pay no attention to the top sheets but now that you mention it, the scaled version is pretty cool. I noticed that the skis almost never had snow buidup on them. I always thought this was due to thier color (white) but the scales could have helped as well. [/quote]

    mt surf was talking about the waxless fishscale textured bases, not the top sheet. Any comment on them, if used at all?

  24. Lou September 5th, 2011 6:32 am

    White makes a HUGE difference in snow and ice buildup.

  25. d September 5th, 2011 4:56 pm

    Hi Lou, yes it does. However the [surly] question being asked originally by mt surf was regarding the fish-scaled patterned _bases_, and if they had been tested. The Vector BC model with a fish-scale graphic on the white topsheet

    Anton’s reply mentioned the topsheet having a scale graphic, which kind of confused the issue.

    Has anyone out there skied the Vector BC with patterned bases (and incidentally, a fish-scale graphics printed on the topsheet). This version of the Vector http://www.backcountrymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=650&Itemid=54

  26. winterfiend November 21st, 2011 11:26 pm

    I echo the question from d… How does the vector bc ski? Has anyone used a ski like this ( wider, rocker, and fish scales) before? how well do skins stick to the bases? If this ski skis downhill well, i would think it would be the ski mountaineering/expedition king. I want to mount Dynafit bindings on these and use my Maestrales. What’d think?

  27. Katryn November 24th, 2011 11:45 am

    What size would you recommend on the vectors for a female, 5’7″, 150 pounds telemark skier? I’m guessing 170… Thanks.

  28. Lou November 24th, 2011 5:47 pm

    Katryn, that’s probably a good question, due to that long rise tip you’re going to be working with less ski on hard pack…. how aggressive is your skiing, and what kind of conditions?

    I’ll confess that I haven’t telemark skied in years (other than goofing around now and then) so once you clarify above I’ll bet someone else can offer better advice than me.

  29. Cameron Millard November 25th, 2011 9:49 am

    I got a pair of Chargers last winter in the 191 flavor (I’m 5’9”, 150 lbs, aggressive skier). I am now a huge fan of Voile skis after a disappointing experience on some too-short Insanes. Good review of the Vectors, btw – I think they would be a perfect quiver of one for my wife.

    Chargers are sweet though. Crazy good in the powder, and I find that with some good technique they can handle hardpack well. I did get into a scary situation in Utah last year when I dropped into a chute expecting powder, but found an exposed rain crust. I almost lost it on the Chargers, and realized that they are pretty specific to soft snow.

    Here in Colorado, though, the faceted snow pack demands flotation and that is where the Chargers really shine. My previous favorite ski was the Kilowatt, and I like how the Chargers respond to input in a different, but also powerful and lively way.

  30. Katryn November 25th, 2011 12:05 pm

    My earlier question was what size vectors would be suitable for a 5’7″, 150 lb female tele skier. I would say I am pushing towards aggressive, I don’t always drop the knee and mix in some parallel turns and I spend 50-50 split time in bounds and backcountry including multiday tours. As a once devoted knuckle dragger, I connect with the form of telemarking over parallel skiing, so don’t judge me! How many tele skiers does it take to screw in a light bulb………..

  31. tOM November 25th, 2011 5:17 pm

    Katryn, I’m not skiing either of my Voiles tele yet, (I will put inserts in so I can tele this year on them though). I’m fairly aggressive, about 5’9″ or 10″ and about 150lbs. and ski the Vectors in a 170 for mostly tours, ski mountaineering, and occassionally at the resort. I also ski Voile Drifters in a 182 for really deep days both resort & backcountry. It took a little getting used to the short running length of the 170′s and I was initially using Scarpa F3 boots,(soft). I would guess you’d be happy on the 170′s. The 160′s would most likely be too short for you IMHO. If you like lots of speed and don’t mind the extra wieght and length you could most likely ski the 180 just fine,(I base this on my time on the Drfter 182′s, they flex fine under my wieght).

    FWIW: Other skis in my quiver:atomic kongurs 177, atomic kailas 175, skilogik ullr’s chariots 178, silvretta fr800′s 175.

    All the best, tOM

  32. harpo November 26th, 2011 10:09 am

    Can anyone esle speak to how the Vectors tour? A couple of people said the rockered tips don’t handle icy steep traverses well. Can someone explain this? If the ski holds an edge on the way down, I would think it would hold an edge on the way up? Granted I haven’t done much skinning with skis with much rocker.

  33. Frank November 30th, 2011 7:36 pm

    Definitely love any info on the Vector BC….

  34. Michael Pike February 4th, 2012 10:28 am

    Frank or anyone else looking at waxless mid-fats,
    I haven’t skied the Vector BC, but have skied the Rossi BC 125′s.
    Three main drawbacks to waxless skis are: slowness, especially on wet low angle down tracks, lack of grip on powdery uptracks, and some squirrlyness on low angle ice ( depending on how much the nowax base protrudes. The waxless bases are extruded rather than sintered usually as its hard to mold the sintered plastic.The extruded bases don’t hold wax well.
    I do love them for rolling terrain, where you don’t have to keep switching from skin to ski. They climb great in California wet snow and are fast compared to having skins on.
    I’ve done several multiday Sierra Crest spring tours on them and found they held good on icy 40* passes with 4-6″ of slush on top, carrying a 50 lb pack.
    I’d buy the Vector BC’s in a heartbeat if I didn’t already have my Rossi’s.
    Mike

  35. Michael Pike February 4th, 2012 11:35 pm

    Some good Vector BC reviews at telemarktips.com

  36. jamie November 21st, 2012 4:43 pm

    I am also thinking of the vectors as a one ski backcountry quiver. I have normally skied the rosignol S7′s in a 168 since they have rocker and camber. What would be suggested for me as an intermediate female, 5’4″ and about 120lbs?the 160 or 170?

  37. Lou Dawson November 21st, 2012 6:16 pm

    Jamie, I’d still go for the 170 if I were you, due to the tail being so turned up as to make the ski effectively shorter than stated length, in terms of usable surface… On the other hand, if your intermediate rating trends towards beginner, a shorter ski can be wise as it’s easier to do basic manuvers on. Lou

  38. Jamie November 22nd, 2012 10:38 am

    Thank you so much Lou. I highly value your work and opinions. I am also considering going for the 171 chargers then. Reviews seem to say they handle other types of snow better than the vectors. Although it is advertised as an advanced men’s ski, what are your thoughts on myself with the previously mentioned characteristics handling them? In regards to your earlier statement, I would rate myself intermediate trending towards expert.

  39. a.m. December 9th, 2012 4:19 pm

    Jamie, as another female who has spent significant time puzzling between getting skis that are definitely too short (160) but still feeling that the 170s would be too long, let me tell you that 170 with rocker will ski far shorter.

    I found in helpful to visual just how little difference there is in 10 cm (3.93 inches). I.e. not enough to really make you not be able to turn them even in a ‘scary’ situation. Then take a deep breath, and take the plunge! My ultra rockered powder skis are a 178, and ski so short I have no problem turning ‘em around. Good luck!

  40. Daniel January 10th, 2013 2:07 pm

    just a quick contribution

    i have a pair of 170 vector bc skis, the fishscale version. mounted with speed radicals and usually skied with scarpa F1 boots. the setup skies beautifully on most any type of backcountry snow and even on groomers. great turn initiation, nice surfy float in pow (enough for me 180 naked in mor than a foot of fresh). the scaled only noticably slow me down on flattish groomers. not a bg backcountry concern. the vectors bcs tour and climb awesome. i assume the normal version is as good or better. recently made me smile in packed pow on high altitude, freshies in the glades and even in steep icy moguls in verbier. most fun ski i have had so far.

  41. Tony Jewell November 21st, 2013 4:07 pm

    Any thoughts on mounting options for AT on the Vectors? You you generally go with mid boot on the mark on the ski?

  42. Daniel November 22nd, 2013 3:55 am

    On the line. Would maybe go back a notch next time.

  43. Ryan Stefani April 7th, 2014 6:46 pm

    Howdy folks looking for info on the Voile Vectors. For a small few of the skiers out there, I have a huge “yeah but” for the Vectors.

    Here’s the bottom line: if you over extend your tele turn and you are on NTN Freedoms, you stand a good chance of ripping the front mounting screw out of your ski.

    Now for some details. First off, I love the Vectors. Light (amazingly light), not too fat, nice forgiving soft tail for my terrible tele ability.

    That being said, starting with Quiver Killers, I’ve managed to pull the front, single mounting point out 3 times with NTN Freedoms. There are four factors that seem to contribute to this: 1.) I ski with bad form (really low), 2.) the NTN Freedoms have a single screw up near where the cable wraps around the binding at the front, 3.) the skis are made from very soft wood, and 4.) I broke all of these during either a crusty-bump face plant or during a going-fast-in-heavy-snow-late-in-a-powder-day face plant. All of these added together surely spells failure, but I skied for between 3 and 4 years on the “old” BD O1s (known for ripping out) and only had one failure after 3-4 years on a several year-old used Rossi Sickbird (soft ski again). My bad form contributes 100%, but there is something to be said for a single mounting point failure over and over on a ski.

    In hindsight, I’m going to try and CAD me up a multi-screw hole mount for that from piece and see if I can get a nice spring time Mary Jane day in on the most recent Vectors still in the back of the truck…

  44. Lou Dawson April 8th, 2014 7:11 am

    Sheesh, what is this, revenge of the telemarkers!?

    Face it you guys, some skis just are not going to have the correct screw reinforcement area for telemark bindings. I’m not sure how to figure out which are and which are not, but we can all read between the lines.

    To add to my other post, I’m curious about another thing with telemarking: So, you’re going to do a face plant while skiing fast, with a non-release ski binding and presumably big boots? What exactly in the system is going to absorb this kind of energy? With a release binding, it usually just releases before it fails. What exactly do you guys expect to happen if your tele binding doesn’t release? Do you expect your knee to release? Your ankle? Or perhaps, the binding to depart from the ski (grin)? Perhaps the screws pulling out saved you from grievous leg injury?

  45. rockhugger April 8th, 2014 7:19 am

    Be nice Lou. Yes, we tele folk are like a voice crying in the wilderness, but we’re here.

  46. Ryan Stefani April 8th, 2014 8:52 am

    Lou:

    I’ve seen some pictures of you on floppy heeled skis before. I would have to assume you’ve had a face plant or two. :)

    Seriously though, one of the reasons I went to the NTN was because of a non-releaseable releated injury a couple of years ago. All of my incidents related to bindings have not involved any torsion, just over flexing the binding in a mostly straight line. I have no data to back this, but I think the floppy heel prevents quite a bit of forces going straight into the knee in most (of my, anyway) falls. This magic is evident when the tumbling stops, my skis are all tied up in knots.

    The “some skis may not work for tele” is why I posted this. I love my vectors. And would recommend them to anyone, but I would add my word of caution… Especially since I found them here on wildsnow!

  47. Lou Dawson April 8th, 2014 9:20 am

    Ryan, understood, sure, I’ve even done ski mountaineering on wooden nordic race skis. Usually no problem with that stuff in terms of leg injuries as it would indeed just break or twist before transferring forces. On the other hand, I distinctly remember a day we were on our wooden nordic skis with tiny leather boots, etc., and I sprained a knee ligament taking a fall in some breakable crust. Lou

  48. TC April 8th, 2014 9:43 am

    As someone who loves to AT, tele, and splitboard, I just have to say it is all good,
    All forms of skiing/boarding are fun. All have pros/cons. All have different aesthetics/sensations/challenges. Skilled riders of all techniques can shred.

    This isn’t the place to get into the design or market size issues of tele (Lou breathes a sigh of relief). But I felt I had to say that there are some good releasable modern tele systems. When I choose to telemark, I use the tts binding (using a dynafit toe). It is releasable (albeit poorly defined), free pivot, and lighter than a dynafit w a brake. Alternatively, ntns are releasable and are lighter than most frame AT bindings. On the third front, Avalanche releasability for most snowboard set ups – not so good…

    As for reliability, as Wildsnow demonstrates, no boot/binding system is perfect. Improvements can/should be made to everything. Some reliability/safety problems are real design issues (wildsnow has been great for spotlighting some of those!). But for most problems, I don’t think the flavour of modern gear matters that much. I’ve seen more broken, ripped out toes or cracked top sheet problems w AT gear than tele gear the last few years… The vast majority of the time, issues appear to link to some combination of heavy skier, super aggressive or poor technique, poor maintenance/adjustment, and a bad binding mount.

  49. Lou Dawson April 8th, 2014 10:25 am

    One thing I observed over the bell curve of the telemark boom is riders seemed to figure out how beefy the mounts needed to be, and instances of pull-out got fewer and fewer. And indeed, as tech gear got lighter and subject to more experimentation, it also had dozens of instances of defects etc. that easily equaled telemark gear in terms of lacking reliability.

    Earlier days, however, were quite the opposite. There was a period when AT gear was way more reliable than telemark. I’d agree the two are roughly equal now, if the user mounts and maintains their gear properly.

    Anecdotally, I’ve skied of course hundreds of days with hundreds of people, and have had to repair or wait for repair of many more telemark setups than AT, including my own stuff. Again, that’s gotten way different recently, but over the decades that’s been the case and informs my own POV.

    Lou

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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Backcountry skiing is a dangerous sport. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions or templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow its owners and contributors of any liability for use of said items for backcountry skiing or any other use.

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