Voile Charger — Ski Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Voile sent us some skis to run around on this spring and we did just that. The Charger model is an aptly named board as that is exactly what they like to do. While these Arabian stallions aren’t big and heavy enough to plow through resort crud like some of the larger horses out there, they still do a sufficient job. (Note, this is the same and well reviewed Charger ski that was available last season, but with new graphics.)

On Pyramid Peak, climbing up the Northeast Ridge before skiing the 4,300 foot Landry Line.

My test 2011/2012 Chargers came saddled with Dynafits, always welcome. Straight to the backcountry I galloped. (Editor’s note: Okay, enough of the horse metaphor from the editor, sorry about that Jordan, too many bratwurst in Leavenworth caused brain damage.)

After several days in Aspen’s surrounding lands of the wildsnow it became rather apparent that these skis were a pretty good all around backcountry ride. With dimensions for my ’11-’12 191 cm version sitting at 140-114-128, a big YES was voiced. Uh huh, just looking at the Chargers got me excited to see what they could do.

And when I picked them up, surprise surprise. For such a big ski, they really don’t weigh in at much. At 8 lbs 12 oz Chargers are not as light as some of the ounce fanatic setups out there, but in my view they float better on the deep days, and even hold an edge a bit better for someone as big as me.

Perfect Powder conditions on the Landry Line. I swear the Chargers are on my feet somewhere in there. Pyramid was proof enough to me that these skis are built and ready for just about anything, as that mountain throws nearly every condition at you imaginable.

The 191 version Charger comes with 39 cm of tip rocker and 16.5 cm of tail rise. Though this is more on the slight side of things compared to the monster bananas guys are running at the resorts or using when they get a heli lift, charging through pow conditions is still effortless and good old fashioned fun on the Charger. The rocker allows for super easy pivot turns and even easier jump turns. On hard snow the ski ends up skiing like a shorter 180 or so ski, making it seem effortless to get the beasts around, though once you get up to sonic speed levels you might find yourself wanting a few more centimeters.

The Charger top sheet is designed with a good choice of mostly white coloring; this means there are few times when you are carrying an extra 10 pounds of snow on top of your skis. Amazing a ski company would actually address this very real need, as most appear to ignore the icing issue in favor of graphics that look good at the trade shows.

After skiing the Chargers a couple of times on the front side I was ready to take them somewhere a bit more serious. The East Face of Castle Peak (14er outside of Aspen) was a thought? Powder conditions to boot? The Voiles were going to enjoy this, and so was I.

Skiing the end of the long East Face of Castle. We had perfect sloughy powder conditions for the descent and I'm not sure who enjoyed it more; me or my Chargers?

We spent a good “hard” day up on the Maroon Bells (yes, another 14,000 footer near here) that was rather suitable for testing this plank’s performance on hard pack. While not proving the quickness and extreme edgehold of a slalom ski, the Chargers met the scrappy challenge just fine.

Climbing up the Y Chutes on Maroon Peak.

The Voiles made it to the top with us: Myself, Ari Adler, and Matt Kamper, with Anton Sponar behind the lens. I don't think I noticed the weight on my back, the length was probably a different story, but that's why they make them in different sizes I suppose.

The Voiles on my feet in the Southwest Couloir. We broke the rules of climb what you ski.

The Voiles on my feet after traversing into the upper Snowmass Creek valley and climbing the west side of North Maroon peak to this north facing couloir. Point here with so many pictures of the same day is that these skis are light enough to go for a REALLY long day on.

Getting into it on a couloir in the Elks. We had variable conditions here, but I still had lots of fun Charging.

To pull it all together, I have to say that the Chargers are a good all-around ski that loves the pow, but can handle the rest of the tricks mother nature likes to throw our way. If you’re shopping, check ‘em out for next season. Now, if it would just start snowing again around here…

Look for them this coming season over at backcountry.com, and remember you can always get details or shop at the Voile website.

Comments

21 Responses to “Voile Charger — Ski Review”

  1. J November 6th, 2011 8:29 am

    No offense guys, I think you always provide great information for us all. However, starting a review with how the manufacturer is a great supporter of your site does not leave me with the feeling I’m going to get the most objective review.

    Your relationship with the manufacturer needs to be left behind when you go to review ANYTHING.

  2. Lou November 6th, 2011 3:41 pm

    J, what happened with that is coincidentally we had the review ready within days of when they decided to advertise. Instead of playing games, delaying it a few days or whatever, I decided to just be honest and celebratory. Sorry if that gave the wrong impression. I guess it’s like a magazine that publishes advertising within a few pages of a review for the same product. Doesn’t give a good impression, but they’ve only got so many pages to work with, and sometimes it just makes the wrong impression.

    And we on the web should probably be held to a higher standard than the magazines, since we have a lot of advantages over them.

    At any rate, I do try to maintain a “Chinese Wall” between our advertising side and our review side, even though the two frequently get to the point where I’m even dealing with the same people.

    What it comes down to is ethics. Am I going to do a good review that’s useful for our readers? Or “fake” it under influence of advertisers? Reviews the same days a a new advertiser, or not, the only thing any reader has to go on is our reputation here. If we blow it, you all go away, and that’s that. So, I might still end up with a review the same day a new advertiser goes up, but then, that happening won’t be all that common, and since it gave a bad impression, I’ll be even less inclined to do so.

    Moreover, really no need anymore for that intro paragraph, so I’ll probably edit it out.

    Thanks, Lou

  3. ty November 8th, 2011 12:49 am

    I have skied my 2012 chargers a few times this season and they really do eat up the wind affected powder, as advertised. they ski powder nearly as well as my atomic atlas/duke skis!…it seems like a lot of thought was put into the construction, and having a ski that can tour big, but still make marginal snow really fun to ski will only encourage me to ski more….

  4. Quinn November 15th, 2011 8:45 pm

    Hey there –

    I’m fresh into the world of AT, and am considering lots of options on my first set-up. I’ve recently got myself some Dynafit TLT 12s and a pair of Maestrales.

    I’ve been looking at these, the Coombacks and Waybacks, the Manaslu, and the Stoke. On any, I’d like to get to get up some Colorado peaks, do some non-descent oriented touring, and likely spend some days in the resort slackcountry. I guess my question is: which of the skis that I listed would be best for windblown icy, or corny conditions in the high alpine? That’s when I’ll be most critical. I’m not concerned about the float on any of them; this will also be my first Rockered ski, and I’ve always been able to figure out a way to stay on top of the pow with a ~100mm ski. Will these or the Dynafit options be sufficient enough to hold a stable edge in the icy stuff, or is the heavier Coomback better suited? Would I feel silly sloggin’ those Coombacks up 14ers, or will my young legs not notice a difference? Anything’s lighter than what I’ve been carrying around…

    I’m 6’0″, and 160+ pounds. Any length recommendations? I usually ski long ones, but realize a touring one should run shorter.

  5. Lou November 16th, 2011 6:38 am

    Quinn, none of those skis are particularly known for their hard pack edge hold, but non are a disaster either. In you list, the Coomback is probably the one with the most hard pack performance. Wayback and Manaslu will also hold an edge (latest Manaslu has a bit more edge hold due to some additional carbon). Stoke is a cool ski, but I wouldn’t call it a hardpack ski. As always, if you’re using lightweight bindings and boots, my advice for larger/stronger/younger guys is don’t obsess on the weight of the skis, just use what works. That said, If you discover you like doing mega days, then you’ll want a specialized ski for that, such as a shorter Wayback. Any active ski mountaineer should have more than one pair of skis, if they seek optimal performance for different types of trips. You can do it with a quiver of one, but if you do, don’t be expecting a rig that’ll work perfect for everything.

  6. Tyler Beck December 12th, 2011 10:28 am

    Hey Lou,
    Would you mind giving me the Pros and Cons of going with a shorter length in the Charger?

    If this is my daily driver Backcountry ski where all my turns will be human powered and I need it to be fun in the powder and decent in the crap, what would be the advantages of going longer or shorter. I can handle the 181 but the 171 should still be okay for my weight. Thanks.

  7. Lou December 12th, 2011 10:49 am

    Tyler, a rockered ski simply needs some length to function for modern style skiing (not making a million turns). Also, rockered skis seem to float differently, and when run short they can sort of punch down into the snow because the tip and tail decamber (turn up) so much. Contrary to myth, a shorter ski is not necessarily easier to turn than one a bit longer…. main advantages to shorter skis in my view are mainly that they’re lighter, and much more convenient for carrying on a backpack, storing in vehicles, that sort of thing. They’re also easier to kick turn, and do work nicer in very tight situations such as narrow couloirs and rock passages.

  8. Tyler Beck December 14th, 2011 10:14 am

    Thanks!

  9. Mark December 14th, 2011 10:33 am

    I still like turning.

  10. Brad Morris December 29th, 2011 4:55 am

    Hi Lou,
    Im 5’10 170, I ski 80+ days a season and I like to ski fast. I am planning on mounting this ski with dukes (that are currently on some 190cm double helex) and using it as my primary soft snow ski. Eventualy iwould like to mount with dynafits and use it as a touring only option but for the time being I’m wondering how this ski will handle skiing hard, on area, through bumps and crud, as I have heard it can get deflected in variable snow and I’m curious if this is true in 191cm? I am also wondering if you think this would ski shorter and perhaps more playful than my current libertys due to the tip rocker?

  11. myska January 7th, 2012 11:10 am

    lou, i know you are in europe but maybe you will have time to reply?
    i am looking at these skis, upgrading from atomic freedream and kilowatts.
    i am shorter person (158cm) and am thinking chargers 161cm. these would be very different from atomics (157cm) or even kilowatts (155cm). i always prefered shorter skis but i think i have become much better and more agressive skier and also want start jumping cliffs etc. do you think this ski in 161cm would be ok for me (mounted with dynafits)?
    i mostly tour (some lift accessed BC powder), am female, 140 pounds.
    thank you lou, i truly appreciate it.
    have a good time in europe, i am heading that way next winter to skibum, woooohooooo
    life is good!

  12. Bart November 26th, 2012 7:32 am

    Anyone know how these compare to K2 Backdrop ?

  13. Tyler Doerksen December 18th, 2012 7:49 pm

    The Chargers are awesome!! This will be my 3rd season on the 191 and they never let me down. I weigh about 186 and ski very hard with Dynafit Tlt 12′s mounted to them. Voile has a killer warrenty too and I’ll always recommend their product. The new scaled base models are looking very cool, might be the next big evolution in backcountry skiing.

  14. Bernie Riehl February 20th, 2013 3:44 pm

    Hey Lou,
    I’m 5’10″, 190#’s and earn turns 60+ days a season. For boots I’m running Synergy’s. I’m looking at picking up a pair of Charger BC’s in a 191 for telemark turns on rolling Michigan pow and doing some fairly steep laps in the woods. Has anyone telied them? I haven’t seen any tele reviews. I currently ski the Karhu guides in a 195cm and the Rossi BC-125 in 175cm both mounted with Voile 3-pins. I also have a pair of Insanes that tele pow very nicely but hardly use them since our hills are too short to skin.

    I want to try a rockerd BC ski and the Charger seems like the right choice but, locals here are telling me to go Vector.

    The guy who loves every ski that are on his feet.

  15. Lou Dawson February 20th, 2013 4:20 pm

    Hi Bernie, there might be some other tele folks here who can help you, but we’re mainly an AT website so you might want to inquire other places as well. Lou

  16. Rolf-inge Nodberg,Tromsø Norway April 18th, 2013 12:25 pm

    Hi ,iam 176. Weight 68 and do tele on charger 191′with vole3 pin and rotefella chilli spings,which .the charger are extreamy nice in powder 10cm and upwards.due to the radius 25 m its not as fast turning as my coomback witch i prefer when the snow is wet like in the spring.they are very stable in high speed and thats what it prefers i think.

  17. Dennis Korte May 23rd, 2013 1:36 pm

    Lou, great writeup of this ski. I know this review is from a couple of years ago, I’m about to buy a pair and would like to know which climbing skins you use or would recommend. I am a total newbie to the BC world and am currently acquiring all the gear I need. I live in Santiago, Chile and

  18. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2013 1:41 pm

    Hi Dennis, we use all sorts of climbing skins. I’d say the best are what you can get the best deal on, in a nylon version if you’re new to the sport. G3, BD and Pomoca are probably the three top ones here in North America, but in Europe the European brands rule, something like Pomoca, Coltex, Montana?

    For the best mix if glide and durability I like the G3 Alpinist, for the best traction I like the BD Ascension, and for the most efficient and ‘glidy’ I like the Pomoca mohair/nylon mix versions. Lou

  19. Dennis Korte May 24th, 2013 2:14 pm

    Thanks Lou, for the quick and thorough response. I have been spending way too much time on this web site since I found it a week ago. Productivity at work has diminished, but I’m learning loads!

    So I’ll ask you one last “skins” question. I think I’ll get a pair of G3′s, and I see they have the Alpinist, which you said you like, and also the High Traction model. My main activity is hiking and mountain climbing, so the grind on the way up is going to be part of the fun for me – meaning I’ll go steep and down here I imagine there won’t be many well worn skin tracks, so I’ll probably be breaking trail much of the time. Would you suggest one over the other?

  20. Bernie Riehl October 13th, 2013 4:14 pm

    I just bought a pair of used Dynafit Titan TF-X boots but need a pair of alpine din sole blocks. I believe the boots come new with them and since hardly anyone uses them one would think there would be some laying around (hopefully not in the trash).

    Anyone know where I can find a pair?

    Thanks!

    Bernie

  21. Lou Dawson October 13th, 2013 5:36 pm

    Bernie, it would also be worth checking customer service.

    In North America:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/693/psa-dynafit-north-america-is-available-to-help-you/

    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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