The West Coast quiver construction enjoys a brief respite today while the Hagan X-Ultra checks in from New England, even though this ski will eventually see about half its time on assorted Pacific Northwest volcanoes in the late spring and early summer.
Hagan is well-known in Europe for its tight focus on touring skis. Hagan has also enjoyed some visibility in Canada over the years as the skis are directly imported by 300-pound gorilla retailing co-op MEC. But Hagan skis have until recently been relatively obscure in the United States.
Hagan’s profile here becomming more prominent as a result of the efforts of distributor Michael Hagen (yes, a near namesake) as well as the skis themselves stepping it up a notch for this season. The X-Race that was previously a sort of budget rando racer is now essentially tied with pretty much everyone else at just barely over three pounds per pair, yet is still priced far less than the competition. At the other end of the spectrum, the Daemon takes Hagan waist widths into the 90s for the first time, and more in this range is coming for the following season.
Hagan also continues to offer some very short lengths for women and youngsters, down to 150cm in the X-Race and as short as 140cm in other models. And for something new entirely, Hagan is in its second season of plate-style AT bindings with matching ski crampons, and recently announced a universal fixed/non-pivoting ski crampon too. Climbing skins are also available (sourced from Contour), specific to the different Hagan ski models. (The X-Race and X-Ultra skins look especially sleek, with a very low-profile plush section at the front and a ball-like device to grasp for releasing on top of the ski.)
The X-Ultra is Hagan’s revamped entry in the skinny ski mountaineering category. With a spec weight of 2kg for the 163cm length and curvy 111-71-101 dimensions, it clocks in with a very strong ratio for surface area to weight. The tail of course has a skin notch (which can be easily widened if you have a wider-than-average tail hook or clamp), and the tip also has a race-style notch for bungee-style attachments (whether from Hagan or of the do-it-yourself variety). And as expected, this ski genre is all about traditional tip geometry, so no early rise, rocker, etc.
I’ll report back later on throughout the season once I actually get these on snow (especially variable conditions), as well build up the courage to mount the La Sportiva RT bindings. My expectations for skis in this size class are strong edge hold, quick turn initiation, and just enough float for when conditions aren’t as consolidated as anticipated in late spring and early summer.
Until then, for U.S. readers, Hagan retailers are pretty rare. The U.S. distributor does have an on-line store, although he doesn’t keep much in stock. If you are interested in a particular ski for the following season, one approach is to contact Michael Hagen and he’ll add you to his pre-season order. Michael is also an accomplished rando racer and fitness guru, so he really knows his ski gear for any q’s you might have.
(WildSnow guest blogger Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts, where he is a member of the Northfield Mountain and Thunderbolt / Mt Greylock ski patrols. Formerly an NCAA alpine race coach, he has broken free from his prior dependence on mechanized ascension to become far more enamored of self-propelled forms of skiing. He is an AIARE-qualified instructor, NSP avalanche instructor, and contributor to the American Avalanche Association’s The Avalanche Review. When he is not searching out elusive freshies in Southern New England or promoting the NE Rando Race Series, he works as a financial economics consultant.)