Voile Vector — WildSnow Quiver Arrow of the Week


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

We reviewed the Voile Vector already, but figured it deserved its own “Ultimate Quiver” posting. After all, we wouldn’t want these worthy contenders to be left out of the mix!

Voile Vector backcountry ski review.

A bit on the narrow side of the equation, Vector still has modern geometry. According to our extensive testing last spring, they're fun in powder but still hold on the hardpack. Due to their construction and dimensions they're quite light in weight, so a good option for a true ski mountaineering plank.

Voile Vector rocker and tip rise is plentiful.

Voile Vector rocker and tip rise is plentiful.

Triaxial carbon wood core construction, 121/96/110
Length 180 cm, 55.5 ounces, 1570 grams

Shop for Voile Vector

Comments

42 Responses to “Voile Vector — WildSnow Quiver Arrow of the Week”

  1. Mark W November 25th, 2011 10:29 am

    Amazingly light, but with rocker and the design features we expect for 2012–not to mention made in America. Pretty cool.

  2. Mark W November 25th, 2011 10:45 am

    Tested some great skis at Loveland last week, but no Voiles were present. I guess the skis I tested that were most similar (though somewhat different) would have been either the BD Justice or the Dynafit Stoke. What I’m discerning from skiing the newest skis is that rocker designs, coupled with multi-faceted sidecuts, handle hard conditions much better than some earlier iterations (like with the Justice). I’m guessing the Vectors are no different. Other skis I skied are: BD Verdict, K2 Coomback, and Dynafit Broad Peak. They are all amazing skis with widely divergent applications in mind. The Sidestash was a high-speed bulldozer that was the stiffest of the lot and rode like speed was the order of the day. Fantastic ski, would be unreal in soft snow. The Verdict was similar. Loved the new sidewall/metal sandwich construction. Super versatile. The Coomback felt similar but lighter, likely a quiver-of-one for the backcountry afficionado. The Broad Peak was unbelievably light, super quick, and super skinny: a long-touring wonder. Perhaps one of the coolest aspects of the ski demo was the bindings offered. There were Marker F12s and Griffons, Dynafit Verticals, and even the cool Plum Guides. Rumor has it Glen Plake uses ‘em. Anyway, they looked and worked quite slickly. The whole ski demo was a great success–even if it was a crazy whirlwind of a day.

  3. harpo November 25th, 2011 11:05 am

    Lou, would I be a 170 or a 180 in a Vector? I am 5’10″, 185 so that would point me toward the 180. But I will only be using these in spring and summer conditions making short turns in the backcountry, so I am wondering if I can go 170 to save weight? Or would the short 170 length combined with the rocker compromise my fore/aft stability too much? In anything deep I and soft I will be on my DPS w112s. Thanks.

  4. James November 25th, 2011 6:49 pm

    I’ve been skiing the 180 Voile Vector BC and after handing them around to a few friends of a variety of skills and ability levels it is clear that you should not hesitate to go long with these skis. I’ve been loving the Vector BC as a Dynafit Spring Mountaineering tool, long low elevation cascade approaches are perfect without skins on the BC. Skiing the fun stuff is no different with the pattern base once the snow gets soft of the pitch gets steep. Awesome tool!

  5. Harpo November 26th, 2011 6:15 pm

    I got a chance to ski tom’s 170 vectors today. Groomers and some beat up, crusty, firm off piste. They did fine on the groomers but it was hard to balance fore/aft in the beat up snow. I will go with the 180.

  6. Lou November 27th, 2011 8:19 am

    Over the past few years I’ve experimented quite a bit with how short I can ski with lots of rocker, tip rise, and tail rise. The need to use a longer ski is usually pretty obvious, especially in the case of a ski with a twintip style tail such as the Vector. So, Harpo, yeah, I’m confirming your take. Lou

  7. brian h November 27th, 2011 8:45 am

    So does a heavier person help dampen a light weight skis “chatter” potential on hardpack/crust ? Does a lot of rocker plus light weight make for extra vibration on that type of surface?

  8. Lou November 27th, 2011 8:55 am

    Brian, it’s not so simple. Too many different factors interact. A heavier person will find a given ski to perform differently than if a lighter person is on it, but whether that involves less vibration of the ski would depend on the model of ski, and so forth.

  9. Randonnee November 27th, 2011 3:16 pm

    Heavy guy opinion on ski chatter: technique, not light ski weight, results in deflection or ski chatter of a given ski, at least until one skis harder than the ski is capable eg design for shape, flex, stiffness, and torsional characteristics.. A heavy guy overpowers a ski sooner than a less heavy person, but conversely bends and turns a ski with less input if using proper technique. When a ski is overpowered then one can cause chatter and deflection. Torsional rigidity and flex characteristics play into deflection and chatter. The tune of your edges will play into deflection and chatter. The leverage or ‘power’ of your boot is as well a factor.

    Smooth carving results from matched skis and boots, the proper ski for hard or soft snow, proper edge tuning, but first and foremost- technique.

  10. brian h November 27th, 2011 8:09 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, Lou and Rando. I guess for my height, I’m not a big person and I’m sure my technique can be improved. I’m looking at skis that have width and rocker (maybe more tip only?) and that cut back on the weight. But I think I’m more seeking responsiveness than a real need for less touring weight.

  11. Brian November 28th, 2011 6:54 am

    So, 2 thumbs up for this ski as a powder ski? Are the tip and tail really soft?

  12. Lou November 28th, 2011 8:28 am

    I’d call the total ski to be on the softer side, but I don’t flex out the tip or tail as being noticeably “soft” in comparison to other skis here at HQ next to my desk.

  13. Brian November 28th, 2011 6:11 pm

    I’m sold. thanks Lou!

  14. Mike November 30th, 2011 10:10 am

    Hi Lou,

    Do you think this ski is designed for aggresive skiing? Could it be used at a resort in all conditions? Or is it just made to be a lightweight touring ski to cover a lot of ground? I live in Nelson BC and am looking for a light set up that can still rip the steeps at Whitewater.

    Also my skins are cut for 90mm skis, would they still do fine on these 96mm Vectors? I would get the 180 ski.

    Thanks!!!

  15. Lou November 30th, 2011 10:28 am

    Mike, I’m not a big fan of forcing lighter weight backcountry skis to be resort skis for other than moderat use, so my answer would be, please don’t ask that question (grin).

    I would want wider skins myself, but it depends on type of skin tracks and your style.

    Lou

  16. Lou December 1st, 2011 7:17 am

    VECTOR TESTING Sadly, we have ideal ski testing conditions here right now. Uphilling at closed resort, 4,000 vert on Vector yesterday. Ice and man-made stripe of death, along with wind blasted breakable crust on upper reaches. I’ll admit, I was wondering if I still knew how to ski after flailing my way down. Anton, where is he when I need him (grin)?

    But yeah, same conclusion as Anton in his review
    http://www.wildsnow.com/5377/voile-vector-ski-review/

    These are really good skis. If you don’t mind rocking something fairly narrow, I’d put them in the top tier of modern planks for human powered vert. Especially in terms of weight vs performance, and multi-condition versatility.

    As for how they tour? Yeah, any rockered or tip rise ski can take some getting used to as to skin grip, especially on rough packed trails or traversing. But I’ve tested rockered skis extensively now, and don’t feel this is any sort of deal breaker. You get used to it, and anyone doing extensive skinning in weird or icy conditions should be bringing along ski crampons anyway.

  17. Rich December 2nd, 2011 8:27 am

    Did you get a chance to test the BC model? I was thinking that ski would be a great option for the Gore Range and knocking out long approaches to steep couloirs. What maximum slope angle do you think the fish scales would be able to climb?

  18. Lou December 2nd, 2011 8:58 am

    Frankly, I’m not interested. Perhaps someone can chime in?

  19. stephen December 2nd, 2011 10:21 pm

    ^ This has been discussed/argued at great length elsewhere.

    IME, fishscales, in suitable conditions – not dry powder or ice – will climb acceptably (when good technique is used) up to about the gradient where one would use the lower of the Dynafit heel elevator heights. It is most unlikely they will climb anything steeper without lots of switchbacking. If the snow or the skier’s technique is not suitable the angle that can be climbed comfortably will be less. Note: I have not skied the Vector BC, but these observations have applied to a number of other skis used over many years.

    Basically, if you want to climb anything steep you will need skins, whether you have fishscales or not.

  20. Ole January 9th, 2012 5:51 pm

    Are skins compatible with the Vector BC fish scale bases? Wouldn’t the gaps between the scales reduce the holding power of the glue on the skins. What wax product should be used o;n the fish scales to prevent icing?

  21. stephen January 9th, 2012 6:35 pm

    In practice, skins stick fine to pattern bases, whether positive or negative. In very wet snow I suppose they *might* let go a little earlier, but I’ve never noticed any difference. (If the snow is all that wet then skins aren’t going to stick well to a flat base either.)

    There are a few choices to prevent the scales icing:
    1. Hot wax whole ski and brush scales before the wax hardens
    2. Crayon on any glide wax (even sunscreen often works in an emergency)
    3. Use paste wax

    Basically, I’ve never found any extra problems with using skins on a pattern base than with a smoth base, but YMMV.

  22. Tim February 4th, 2012 9:34 am

    Lou, anyone…
    Just wondering if you might be reviewing the rossi bc 125, similar to the vector bc, but billed as a nordic board so i’m having trouble finding out if its very skiable. If anyone out there has tried this ski lemme know. I’m looking into something like this for longer approaches but not wanting a noodle for shred time.
    Thanks

  23. Lou February 4th, 2012 10:11 am

    Nope, no plans for that.

  24. stephen February 4th, 2012 10:13 pm

    The BC125 has had positive comments at the telemarktips forum, but note that there is a limited range of sizes available; it might be worth your while to look there. If you want long skis it will not suit.

  25. M.Ar February 28th, 2012 6:36 am

    I’m interested in the vectors. Any opinions about skinning with tail rise? I’ve heard anywhere that grip is better with flat tails, but I could be wrong. Any Info?
    Thanks!

  26. Gentle Sasquatch February 28th, 2012 6:59 am

    I feel no noticeable uphill grip differences when skinning with Vectors vs Hi5′s or Dynafit Guides. I feel better forward glide with some skis but that is a function of the skin itself.

  27. Dave DePo March 2nd, 2013 4:31 pm

    Hi Lou,
    I own a pair of bd kilowatts 174′s. I want more of a mountaineering ski and will demo the vectors tomorrow. How different is the vector from the kilowatt? I have fritschi diamir freerides on the bd’s and am considering Dynafit radical st and Dynafit One boots. I want to do a western hut link up next winter but am a north eastern based skier with eyes on Katahdin and western or bc ski tours. You are the man by the way as if u did not know ! Ski on!!
    Tx in advance.
    Dave

  28. Dave DePodwin April 4th, 2013 7:42 pm

    Hi Lou,
    Would love your input on…
    I own a pair of BD kilowatts 174?s. I want more of a mountaineering ski and thinking of narrower waisted Dynastar Cham 87′s or Voile Vectors. How different are these from the kilowatt? I have fritschi diamir freerides on the BD’s and am considering Dynafit Radical ST’s and Dynafit One boots as have demo’d both and love them. I want to do a western hut link up next winter but am a north eastern based skier with eyes on Mt. Katahdin with a long slog in and western or bc ski tours. You are the man by the way as if u did not know ! Ski on!!
    Tx in advance.
    Dave D.

  29. Lou Dawson April 4th, 2013 8:31 pm

    Hey Dave, thanks for the kind words. Last time I skied Kilowatt it was a WAY different ski than something like a Kastle 87 (which I’ve skied on quite a bit, and love.)

    Put those Dynafit One boots on a Kastle 87 with tech bindings, and you’ll feel like you can rail the hard pack and bounce through the crud and powder. They are quite the beautiful ski.

    I’ve not skied the Cham 87, I’ve gotten good reports on it AND it won Alpin magazine review. That is huge. It’s become kind of a cult ski but probably deserves it. Since Alpin gave the Kastle honors for being an “all around” winner. I’m pretty sure the Kastle is lighter.

    Not sure we’ll be testing the Dynastars, the company was not very helpful. But that’s the way it goes with real ski tests, since we keep the ski for a while and do lots of testing, not all companies have the resources to loan us skis for more than a few hours as they can do with magazine reviews.

    Kastle 87 scores 86 on our surface vs weight indexing, which is same as skis such as La Sportiva Lo5 and is above average in weight, though still light enough for efficient touring since our sale is biased to the lightweight end of ski weights. Where it’s good in weight is in the weight vs length index where it scores an 8.5 which is the same as a K2 Wayback and a bit better than Lo5. Overall weight of a 177 Kastle 87 is 1504 grams, which again is a good “average” weight spec for a backcountry ski. In other words, with Kastle 87 you get excellent downhill performance with reasonable weight. While Dynastar has made it tough for us by not supplying some evaluation skis, I did gather some weight info and as far as I can tell the Cham 87 is heavier than the Kastle. Alpin review indicates this as well. Worst thing about Kastle is the black color, which ices quite easily.

    Lou

  30. Curt Pollock June 28th, 2013 3:32 pm

    Hi Lou,

    Your blog has been of considerable help to me as I re-tool my ski gear inventory, so thank you for your expertise and willingness to share it. My question concerns your decision not to review the Rossignol BC 125. I’m curious why you made that decision. After reading this review of the Voile Vector BC I am trying to decide whether or not to return my new, unmounted BC 125s to the online retailer and replace them with the Voile Vector BC, but with virtually no meaningful reviews of the BC 125 it is difficult to compare the two boards. I purchased the BC 125s for the purpose of Icecap traverses (Haines to Dry Bay, Juneau to Skagway, etc.), an activity that will combine long ski days over rolling terrain, ski approaches to mountaineering objectives, and fun, steepish descents sans heavy pack and sled. I’m curious if you have an opinion about choosing a ski for the application I have portrayed. I intend to compliment the ski with a Plum Guide binding and La Sportiva Spitfire boots. I would be eternally grateful if you weigh in on my decision process. As I am planning to return full time to Haines AK once I finish school, the primary use for this set-up will be in and around the heavily glaciated ranges just beyond the Haines city limits.

    Sincerely,

    Curt Pollock

  31. Curt Pollock June 28th, 2013 4:24 pm

    Hi Lou,

    I just realized the mistake I made on my post earlier today. Clearly, this review is of the Voile Vector NOT the Voile Vector BC. Not sure how I missed that, but I did. So here is my revised question. I have read enough of your threads to know you aren’t too keen on waxless skis. I am curious if you see a place for a waxless ski (Rossi BC 125 or Voile Vector BC) in the very particular application I referred to in my earlier post. I have a quiver of typical bc skis when the primary objective is the descent. I thought the waxless ski would be more efficient (lighter namely) for the considerable measure of rolling terrain covered during a long ski traverse, while still offering some downhill performance when the fun factor calls. I would bring skins, of course, for use when the slope angle outstrips the ski’s capacity. Any thoughts?

    Curt Pollock

  32. Lou Dawson June 28th, 2013 4:46 pm

    Curt, apologies, but while we do have some Vector BCs we find them just too inconsistent in terms of traction (it depends so much on snow surface and slope angle) that I don’t feel like a review is warranted. Frankly, I’ve never been impressed by any waxless skis. They lack glide, and again, are inconsistent. I’m a fan of instead using a set of skinny mohair skins that you get good at taking on and off. But remember, all we cover here is ski mountaineering type of ski touring, meaning steeper terrain. If your chosen terrain really is fairly low angle, then they’re worth trying.

    Perhaps the biggest detriment even on lower angle terrain is diminished glide that compromises the ability to skate efficiently.

    And so forth.

    I know people rave about the waxeless base skis. That’s fine and I don’t disagree that in the right place at the right time they could be fun.

    Main thing to remember is if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably neither. The holy grail of the no-skin ski system may be around the corner, but I don’t think it’s the pattern base.

  33. Curt Pollock June 28th, 2013 5:09 pm

    Lou,

    Thanks for weighing in. I am now seriously rethinking my waxless ski decision and may likely return them and stick to a traditional ski with “skinny” skins.

    All best,

    Curt

  34. d June 28th, 2013 8:38 pm

    Curt,

    Vectors, BC version or normal, are probably a better ski than the Rossy 125. The normal Vector is a great ski in its own right, whereas I doubt many people would ski the Rossy 125 if it did not have a patterned base.

    “…an activity that will combine long ski days over rolling terrain, ski approaches to mountaineering objectives, and fun, steepish descents sans heavy pack and sled.”

    If you encounter spring or high moisture snow on true rolling terrain, and are happy to set 15-17 degree skin tracks that weave and wander like a train track would, you’ll do fine on pattern bases. Though it takes some adaptation in technique. The are not appropriate for the first-time skinner.

    However, if no one else in your group has patten bases in that environment, then you don’t want them either, otherwise you will always be so far ahead of them on any long rising traverses or rolling terrain travel, and using less energy than them, and transitioning faster than them. In rolling terrain with spring snow you will finish the day faster and fitter. In spring, compared to skins of any description, pattern bases are just so much more efficient terms of glide on the skin tracks, and, obviously, on any flat and downhill sections. I have done about 50 days and a lot of miles on mine and am happy in my opinion.

    On the flats on an established skin track, I can use them like a skate board: casually kick with one leg, then glide for several feet on the other. I leave others in my ‘dust’. This is a technique similar to the one invented by the Finnish when skiing was invented.

    *In their element* [important emphasise], they are a very good touring tool. When they reach their limit, put skins on.

  35. Curt Pollock June 29th, 2013 11:39 am

    Hi D (and Lou),

    Thanks for weighing in on the waxless ski discussion. I usually sort gear decisions out pretty quickly but I must admit, this one has stumped me. I don’t really want to mount the waxless skis (bc 125 or Vector BC), only to find that they don’t perform as well as I hope, then end up stuck with a used ski that will be hard to unload. I have spoken with a number of folks about this kind of ski and gotten (big surprise) mixed reviews. Dave Williams uses old school tele skis with skins and has no interest in the waxless ski scene, and he is one of the more accomplished coast range explorers of our generation. Matt Vial, owner of and chief guide for St. Elias Alpine Guides endorses waxless skis (wider the better) as an efficient travel tool in the coast mountains of Alaska in general, and the St. Elias Range in particular. Jason, an expert climber and skier with Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, in Anchorage, also endorses waxless skis, namely the Vector BC for long traverses, and the Fischer S Bound 112 for my climbing approach rig (Silvretta 500s and Spantiks). At this point, weighing the pros and cons expressed thus far, I am leaning toward flat skis with skinny and full width skins, namely the Volkl Inuk, 170 cm length for my Silvretta/Spantik rig (tip rocker, 1375 g per ski, 120-83-106) and a Volkl Amaruq, 177 cm, for my glacier traverse rig (traditional camber, 1399 g per ski, 127-88-109). Will set the Amaruq up with Plum Guides and LaSportiva Spitfires. The Volkl skis are pretty darn cheap right now. I am 5’9″ and 170 pounds. Any feedback about my change of heart and proposed direction would be appreciated. Curt

  36. stephen June 29th, 2013 3:59 pm

    This isn’t the site where you’re likely to get many positive comments on waxless skis(!). As you’ve found, opinions are polarised – the only way to figure out if *YOU* get on with them is to try them. Sorry, there’s no way anyone can predict your feelings reliably. I have opinions about waxless skis, but have absolutely no idea what your local conditions are, so won’t comment as I’m on another continent.

    Really, you need to try something, even if you just rent it for a few days. I second the comments about mixed groups with skins versus waxless being problematic, and also the suggestion that skins *will* still be needed for steep ascents, unless you just boot up.

  37. Curt Pollock June 29th, 2013 5:03 pm

    Hi Stephen,

    I agree that the best way to sort this out is to experiment personally. That being said, the evidence that seems compelling at this point is: the predominance of flat skis with skins rendering mixed groups inevitable and problematic; problems with variability of snow conditions (waxless skis suck in cold, dry snow, or on variable crust and windslab), inconsistent traction and glide; some diminished performance on the descent; need to bring skins along anyway; etc. In light of this, I am going for a flat ski with skinny and full size skins. Once back in Haines I might play around with this specialized breed of ski, but for now, the traditional set up seems most prudent. Thank you Lou, D, and Stephen for your input. Greatly appreciated.

    Curt

  38. d June 29th, 2013 5:37 pm

    The process matters as much as the conclusion, so, you’ve made a good decision. :)

    BTW, hard cold dry snow is where patterns are least useful/enjoyable on up and down. I don’t like them.

    They are a very specific tool with almost binary limitations/benefits. I bought mine as personal research knowing they would be very hard to re-sell.

  39. Curt Pollock June 29th, 2013 5:51 pm

    Hi D,

    You certainly know that decisions such as these, as with so many in life, are acts of compromise. There is no right or wrong answer, just answers with consequences. The best part of all this is where these lovely little boards are going to take me! Thanks again for your feedback. Best, Curt

  40. stephen June 29th, 2013 5:54 pm

    Here in Oz, we get mostly wet and/or refrozen conditions, significant amounts of ice and very little powder, plus we have a lot of flattish and rolling terrain. Waxless skis are very commonly used for much BC skiing except for trips which are intended to be basically all up or down. Skin adhesion is a major problem in spring when the snow is usually very wet – when it’s not ice – and waxless skis can reduce this hassle a bit. Still, skins are necessary for steep climbs or on ice whatever base one has.

    Given that things are slightly different in Colorado and Alaska(!), what works here isn’t necessarily going to be good there, hence my reluctance to wade in. Still, when you have the “right” conditions (or wrong conditions, really) waxless skis can save a lot of aggravation. I wouldn’t take them somewhere with predominantly dry snow though.

    The main thing is to have fun,whatever gear you take! :-)

  41. Curt Pollock June 29th, 2013 6:28 pm

    Hi Stephen,

    Your comments sum it up nicely, as the local conditions really do dictate the best stick for the job, and having fun IS what this is all about. Happy skiing.

    Curt

  42. Daniel July 1st, 2013 7:06 am

    Vector BCs are really nice snow tools. I like them for touring and mellower offpiste because the scales help me to tow my snowboarding girlfriend across flat sections, make scouting lines easy because i can alwas easily climb a few meters back, and so on. They also work very well with fairly soft boots. I use F1s for the 170. Good match. And I am not even in perfetct scales terrain or snow, nor has any fellow skier anything similar.

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