I sat out last “downhill” ski season due to double knee surgery, but was getting out quite a bit on my classic xc skis. As I began to venture farther afield and off trail, I began to think something with more float would be nice. Then I saw the Voile Vector BC — a 96 waist full sized alpine ski but with fish scale traction bases. They seemed the perfect option for dinking around on rolling hills. I managed to procure a test pair at the end of the season, only getting a single day before the mountain bike beckoned.
Fast forward to this season: my knees are working like well oiled machinery and it’s game on. I’ve got about a dozen days on the Vectors, including a few early season days of doing exactly what I had intended them for — exploring gentle terrain with no real ‘skiing’ objective. They were perfect for this. The scales allowed me to efficiently cruise along up and down mellow grades through the woods. The perfect ski to ‘go for a walk.’
I’m a telemarker primarily, but have switched to the darkside nearly full time because of a little thing called the tech binding, after flirting with them on and off for the last decade. I’m 6 feet 155 lbs, and while I raced in my youth and ski fairly aggressively, I tend to enjoy shorter skis (175-180 range). The 180 length of the Vectors were about perfect. They ski shorter due to the tip rocker but have lots of float.
I mounted the Vectors with older Dynafit TLT bindings and skied them with Dynafit One PX boots. The beauty of this setup is that all that’s needed to go from ski mode to tour mode is a quick ‘Van Halen’ Dynafit move and then unbuckling of the top boot buckle (which simultaneously puts the boots into walk mode). No skins to mess with. You can literally do this while still in motion as you turn into the uptrack. Quick weapons of mass low angled powder field farming destruction!
I realized that these might be the perfect hut trip ski as many huts involve a long, low angled slog to get there. So in December I brought them along to the Friends Hut. I managed to get all the way to Tagert/Green Wilson (the bulk of the mileage) on just the scales. But further on the hills steepened and the skins came out of the pack. It was a bit of a shock to suddenly have the extra weight and friction of the skins to push forward after the free feeling of the scales.
The terrain around the Friends Hut is high alpine and was naturally scoured by winds. The Vectors handled icy windpack and chattery sastrugi surprisingly well given their lack of heft, and the tip rocker made breakable crust no trouble at all.
On the way out the long snowmobile road back to Ashcroft, the fish scales showed their flaw. While I had cruised along effortlessly on the way up without the friction and weight of skins to fight against; I was now fighting the friction of the scales on the way down. Everyone with flat bases was able to coast or skate all the way back to the car while I was still kicking and gliding — the same motion I’d been doing on the way up! I arrived at the car having spent much more energy than everyone else.
Since then, I’ve taken the Vectors on a few more outings, including a descent of Treasure Mountain and a day of powder and bumps at the ski resort. The Vectors are a solid, snappy ski, which I don’t need to go into further detail as Anton’s review nails it solidly. But the BC version I tried with the scales was noticeably slower on the downhills. Definitely not a good ski for the area, but I guess that goes without saying; you’ll be kicking and gliding on all the cat tracks.
Bottom line? If you like to putz around low angled terrain (perhaps for high danger days like we had in mid January this year in central Colorado) or have objectives with long rolling approaches (keyword: rolling), Vector BC could be a specialist ski in the quiver. We have many low angle approaches here, but not many rolling ones. While you grin from ear to ear on the way up those types of trails, you’ll curse the scales on the way back unless you encounter some uphills that make the scales useful. Yes, climbing skins were invented for a reason — you can remove them and fly. Traction patterned ski bases are always there, for better or worse.
Voile Vector BC
6lbs 12.2 oz / 3067g per pair 180 cm (verified with digital scale)
Nick Thompson brings an incredible amount of skiing and mountaineering experience to WildSnow.com. Nick grew up climbing and skiing in the mecca of Telluride. He has a super attitude and incredible drive, making Nick one of those people who is terrific to be in the mountains with.