March 3, 2014. Flash, new contenders in the lightweight game are in WildSnow evaluation. Both La Sportiva Nano and Black Diamond Convert now have limited retail availability. I’ve added them to our weight charts (see below).
Check out La Sportiva Vapor Nano as our new Weight/Surface leader. I have to admit I was amazed when I picked these planks up. Crazy lack of mass. The 180cm I evaluated weighs 1,180 grams, placing easily in our “One Kilo Class” with a score of 59/60 (we tried to add a score chart, see bottom of post). I’m looking forward to the next step shorter, which no doubt will come in close to one kilo per ski.
We’ve also got the Black Diamond Carbon Convert here at WildSnow HQ, which at 1472 grams for their 180 cm gets an excellent 8th place in our Weight/Surface calculations.
Either of these skis is most definitely something to look at if you want to enter the new world of touring with no weight on your feet — even with wider planks. We’ll get out and ski both these, for now, you know the weights. Also important: both skis have white tops which will incur less icing in situations common to powder harvesting. The Converts still have the indentations in the top that’ll collect a bit of snow or ice, but they’re said to increase performance while reducing weight. Fair enough.
Update February 2014! Added a few skis, fixed charts so they (hopefully) display for most folks. We’ll soon be adding more of the new skis. Those of you contributing data, remember we build these charts using actual measurement of the ski including measuring width, “unrolled” length, and averaged weight of both skis weighed on a tested scale. If you would like to contribute data, please contact us with contact link above and we’ll consider it. What is more, please remember that skis with similar positions on the charts are virtually the same in terms of weight — the intent of these charts is to place skis into weight “classes” so you know what you’re getting when you shop.
This is definitely the “gear geek” side of WildSnow.com (thankyou verymuch). But knowing this stuff helps us enjoy ski touring as less weight on the feet simply feels good. We spend quite a bit of time on this project using real-world measurements of skis we have here in the workshop. Spreadsheet formula is fairly simple and subject to slight revisions, which I’ll make sure get updated in this chart. I did a lot of experimenting with different formulas and most arrived at the same spread of weights for the comparison of the different skis, so as I refined it was really just splitting hairs. Guest blogger Jonathan got started on this a while back, but we needed to do it where I had more skis in hand and the current ones for our Ultimate Quiver, so better we do another version. Much rounding and some estimation is involved, so don’t look at this as an exact way of comparing several similar skis. For example, the Goode and the Dynafit Cho Oyu we evaluated are only one score point different, which means they are virtually the same.
First chart is ski weight vs surface area score, the stat that skiers focused as much on downhill as the uphill should focus on. Below that you’ll find length vs weight which for the total weight fanatic is perhaps the more important stat. Click on and slowly mouse over the bars for a score number.
Second chart takes length vs weight and sorts with lightest at the top. This is the chart you’d used to pick what is simply the lightest ski, regardless of width.
If we get around to it, you’ll see a third chart that lists the skis by their actual weights, regardless of length or width.
Bear in mind that some brands of skis have unpredictable variations in weight/surface as well as length/weight when lengths of the same models are compared. We assume this is because sometimes a shorter ski can be built quite light as it undergoes less leverage and generally supports lighter skiers, but by the same token the shorter skis could be overbuilt if laid up and the same as a longer ski, and thus appear heavier per unit surface or length.
Again, skis within a few points of each other are virtually the same, so be careful if you tend to obsess.
We used unrolled “deployed” lengths (rounded for display, measured to several millimeter accuracy for the spreadsheet), but the lengths shown on the chart bars are the manufacturer’s stated model ‘length.’ Sometimes the two measurements are the same, sometimes they’re slightly different. All chart data is subject to revision (as are our formulas) as we verify retail ski weights, correct typos, and so forth. So if you’re tempted to try and reverse engineer what we’re doing with this, I’d suggest that would be a waste of time.
In terms of shopping for the best weight/price/performance ratio, we’re thinking the sweet spot on the chart is the score 71 to 80 range. The lighter skis are tempting but expensive, and the heavier ones may be unsuitable for folks doing much hiking, though perhaps more to the liking of aggressive skiers or those needing a plank that works well as a lift-served resort board with crossover to the BC.
(Depending on what Google is fooling around with, you may or may not be able to get hover-over pop ups from the charts, showing scores. Toe help with that we published a list of scores at the end of the post. The score list does not update automatically when we update the charts, so it may be out of date.)
We used to not concern ourselves as much with ski weight, but things have changed in the ski manufacturing world. More skis are now available that trim ounces but still might ski well. So our ski reviews as well as our Ultimate Quiver projects (coming up with a handful of what we feel are the best ski touring skis) will more strongly consider weights of the skis, thus we had to quantify our take as an antidote to the marketing drugs those PR guys slip into our espressos.
Due to small ongoing revisions we’re not sharing our formula, but it is pretty simple. We basically just split the ski into two trapezoids based on an average of where the ski waist is located. The area of the traps is then made into a score based on ratio of weight and surface area. We compensate a bit for an average tip and tail shape, measure things fairly accurately with skis in hand (no catalog or magazine data, but occasional data from trusted sources), and let the spreadsheet do the calcs. Again, bear in mind that due to our estimating and averaging (as well as the fact that the same ski model will frequently vary a few grams in weight from one to the next), skis within a few score points of each other (next to each other on the charts) are essentially the same score — thus, don’t obsess. Below shows the scores, since the charts above won’t display a hover-over tool-tip like they used to.