Dynafit Denali Ski — Review 2

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 9, 2014      

Shop for Dynafit Denali Ski here.

Yours truly on Dynafit Denali a few days ago. Click all images to enlarge.

Yours truly on Dynafit Denali skis a few days ago. Click all images to enlarge.

I just returned home from three days of Colorado ankle-deep springtime bliss. Nearly any board would have worked for much of the skiing. It was that perfect. But sometimes a special ski, like a special woman, makes even the best things in life better. My wife is the woman, and for the time being Denali is the ski. (I’ve been through many more skis than I have wives, happy to say, and hope to continue the trend.)

Testing, testing, radio check, camera on, beacon check, boots buckled, testing, testing.

Testing, testing, radio check, camera on, beacon check, boots buckled, testing, testing.

What is it about gliding down a mountainside, water crystals stabbing your face and your tribe hooting what are essentially chimpanzee feeding sounds, is so special? Perhaps I already answered that question. If not, I think it’s about flow, and velocity. If you’ve mastered skiing to some degree, not necessarily world-class standards, but at least you can do loose, relaxed, fast and smooth, the feeling seems to lock into your limbic as a primordial dance. I’m thinking perhaps your lizard brain senses you’re moving fast enough to catch anything edible, and that is good.

Thing is, you’ve got to have the right tools on your feet to make the limbic limbo happen.

Consider the Dynafit Cho Oyu. These lively, edge-happy yet powder friendly skis are possibly one of the best touring boards ever produced. Possibly. Yet their >< 88 mm waist still doesn't give you that platform feeling we've come to crave for skiing North American soft snow conditions. Up or down. Truly, even the most trad European ski tourer -- that guy making one turn for every sixteen inches of elevation drop -- will find that somewhat wider skis offer countless benefits. If for no other reason than easier trail breaking -- or more importantly, how amazingly effective some width and a bit of rocker can be on difficult snow. Thus, take equal parts Cho Oyu and Huscaran, include a weight-aware core along with careful manufacturing. Name the new guy after one of the most powerful mountains in the world. Result: Denali. Weight, currently 4th lightest on our weight/surface chart and at 98 mm waist still the 6th lightest on our weight/length chart!

Denali mounted up and ready for limbic limbo.

Denali mounted up and ready for limbic limbo.

Denali skis on the feet.

Denali skis on the feet.

But can she ski? Expecting one plank to clone the performance of another model is like trying to have twins 2 years apart. Not gonna happen. But wait, skis are not babies, so perhaps…? I’m here to tell you that yes, Denali skis. They’ll easily be included in our Ultimate Quiver this year, and are most certainly a go-to in my personal stash. Results of now extensive testing:

Powder: While I enjoy playing with the 36 mm (radius 16/11/15, 88 mm waist) sidecut of the Choodie, they don’t slarve or open up that well. In a word, they’re indeed trad. Denali struts 33 mm sidecut (radius 22/21, 97mm waist)). I can easily feel the difference. Denali is more relaxing, more fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a zillion beautiful powder days on the Choodies, but I do have them both available and I’d grab the Denali if pow is on the program. Downside? Dark graphics that create icing events.

Breakable crust: From the 2014 Dynafit press event in Switzerland to the forests of Colorado, I’ve skied breakable on both Choodie and Denali this season. If you’re a traditionalist and can keep the ski carving, Cho Oyu will master the breakable; they’ll feel nervous and a bit demanding, but they’ll do it. Denali does it better, due to increased support and relaxed profile.

Hard snow: Choodie is a lively ride on piste or frozen corn. You’ll find yourself grinning as you attempt to imitate the carve fanatics on their specialized rigs. Denali does fine as well, does tilt & carve, but is not going to inspire you to channel your inner Austrian in the wedlin sense of things. Steep “white ice” corn snow is another matter. I tend to grab the Cho Oyu for corn tours just because it’s a bit lighter weight, but in testing I prefered how the Denali feels on steep hard snow, again because the relaxed profile isn’t trying to turn when you don’t want it to.

In denser loose snow, width is almost always key.

In denser loose snow, width is almost always key. With their 97 mm waist, Denali yields what I feel is a good compromise between being too wide and too skinny. As we've done before, we'll call this sort of ski the '100 mm' class.

Slush and muck: Width always rules. Denali has a longer sweet spot that helps when you get a bit “off” in your body position (e.g., RIDE ‘EM COWBOY!). Slightly extended but not “twin tip” tail is supportive when you need to back-lever out of a situation where a tail tip would result in a wash out.

Ego booster for sure.

Skis that perform like this are an ego booster for sure. Reality check, the name 'Denali' reminds me of the times a mountain has most humbled me.

In summary, Dynafit has come up with two skis that are leaders in the weight/performance arena. Both Cho Oyu and Denali have similar construction. Moderate amount of tip rocker in both skis makes them feel “current” but still turn on the traditional side of the equation. While it won’t perform like a wider, massively rockered boat, Denali will delight the modern human powered pow seeker (moderate width, super low weight = uphill like a ski lift). Cho Oyu is a bit more the traditionalist but still one of the most appealing planks out there for the committed ski tourer. Both skis could wreck your marriage if you’re not careful, and even casual relationships can suffer if time with a ski is picked over that of a human. You have been warned.

Denali tip rocker profile, on this pair of 176 the rocker extends about 39 centimeters.

Denali tip rocker profile, on this pair of 176 the rocker extends about 39 centimeters.

From the Dynafit catalog. This is probably an approximation of how Denali is constructed, but it gives an idea of the sophistication involved in this type of ski.

From the Dynafit catalog. This is probably an approximation of how Denali is constructed, but it gives an idea of the sophistication involved in this type of ski.

See our previous Dynafit Denali first-look review.

Shop for Dynafit Denali Ski here.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


107 Responses to “Dynafit Denali Ski — Review 2”

  1. Joe RIsi April 9th, 2014 11:05 am

    The pictures speak a thousand words. Canon SL1 I presume?

    Congrats on saving your bride and picking the fatter skis.

    These skis maybe the “one” for 14′-15′

  2. bvl April 9th, 2014 12:03 pm

    How much rocker do they have in the tips? How does this compare with similar skis in this category like the carbon converts, LS Nano, etc.

  3. John D April 9th, 2014 1:39 pm

    What binding is that? (Sorry if that’s a silly question. I assume it’s a dynafit given the ski, but I don’t recognize it / the red parts).

  4. Lou Dawson April 9th, 2014 6:15 pm

    Custom, baby! This is WildSnowDotCom, where everything shall be modified!

  5. Lou Dawson April 9th, 2014 6:27 pm

    BVL, I’ll add a rocker photo. Should have done it, thanks for the reminder!

  6. Jim Knight April 9th, 2014 11:45 pm

    (More sauce for the Gander) You might want to test the new G3 Carbon Synapse series. 109/101/93 mm widths. Just saying’…

  7. lou dawson April 10th, 2014 6:06 am

    We have them here

  8. GeorgeT April 10th, 2014 8:27 am

    How about a comparison of Denali, Synapse, Vapor Nano and Carbon Convert since you have been on all 4 and all have similar dimensions and low weight?

  9. Lou Dawson April 10th, 2014 5:04 pm

    BVL, see a few construction photos I added to bottom of post. The 176 Denali has about 39 cm of tip rocker, about the same as a 180 cm Carbon Convert. Lou

  10. Erik Erikson April 10th, 2014 10:18 pm

    Lou or anyone else: Any experiences if the Cho / Denali – construction also works that well on the similar build Nanga Parbat? Not that I myself would like to go back to such skinny skis, but in Europe the 80 mm class (Nanga) is still not considered to be narrow and the Nanga Parbat could probably be a good choice for spring ski-alpinsim, when the amount of carrying the ski on the pack, scrambling and so on gets higher and there is not much powder anymore.

  11. Dave Borchers April 13th, 2014 1:08 pm

    Thanks for the review. If you skinned 70% and lift skied 30% how would you choose between the Dynafit Denali and the DPS Wailer 99 pure3 (cost aside)?
    Thanks, Dave

  12. Lou Dawson April 13th, 2014 5:51 pm

    I’d stand and stare at my quiver until Obewanskinobee whispered in my ear, then I’d choose the one he suggested. Lou

  13. GeorgeT April 13th, 2014 10:44 pm

    Obewaniskenobee (aka Lou ) our ears are less sensitive compared to your “feel-the-force feet”. Our quivers are lacking and our Padawan suck the ski dollars from our wallets. What say you about the new skis?

  14. Lou Dawson April 14th, 2014 6:33 am

    Well, in all seriousness I’d need a lot more data to make a recommendation, as neither ski is what I’d pick as a resort ski unless the “resort” is off piste at Hokkaido or Chamonix, and even then I’d want to know where on the resort Dave was skiing. Also, Denali has only been out in the wild a short time so we have no long-term durability take. Perhaps most importantly, those are two super different skis, apples and oranges for sure. So, I’m happy to discuss both skis…

  15. Silas Wild April 19th, 2014 11:08 pm

    GeorgeT wrote: “How about a comparison of Denali, Synapse, Vapor Nano and Carbon Convert since you have been on all 4 and all have similar dimensions and low weight?”

    I have skied the Denali, Synapse, and Vapor Nano with TLT5P boots in Colorado powder and packed powder. As a 170lb senior skier on Medicare, rarely exceeding 35mph, I found the Denali to be more forgiving of less than perfect technique and to have better edge hold than the others. The Vapor Nano skis pretty darn well for such an amazingly light 103mm width ski.

  16. Silas Wild May 23rd, 2014 5:07 pm

    Had the good fortune to demo the Dynafit Denali on 1″ corn and 3″ sloppy snow the past two days. The skis are a joy, as Lou says they inspire flow and are forgiving. In what backcountry conditions would another ski be better?

  17. Silas Wild June 1st, 2014 5:59 pm

    I got to test the Denalis for three more days, similar to last week, except one day with frozen corn. They hold an edge very well! (non-working URL deleted)

  18. Mic August 18th, 2014 2:36 am

    This ski sounds like it defies physics! For a mid-90s ski I was expecting to settle on something around 1.6-1.7kg to get decent performance on hard and icy (This is my comparator in trying to find something ‘polyvalent’ , as the French say). Are Dynafit being disingenuous in their catalog (below) when they put it one step closer to Freeride than the Manaslu, or is it just branding towards that more hip market?

    i.e. for its absurd weight in which weight division does the Denali really compete? I know you hate making the comparisons below (and have already done so in places) but I’m going to summarise for my own neurotic brain.

    I would take the weight penalty of the Cham HM 97-HM [178] but some put it as high as 1.8kg and Obiwan says no…
    Black Crows Camox Freebird [177] is just under 1.7kg but there are few detailed reviews as to how it handles hard snow.
    Black Diamond Revert 2013 is available at a great price nearby but sounds from reviews both heavy AND flappy.
    La Sportiva Lo5 might be the Goldilocks wrt to price and performance.
    K2 Wayback seems like a workhorse in the Wildsnow archives, so the new 96 could do the trick. Although at 1.55kg [177] is one now really giving up a good a good sidewall and strong edge?
    Wailer 99 ticks all the boxes on paper but the price is slightly sickening.

    And the Denali is not far behind in terms of $$$.
    Is one paying just to lose touring weight or, actually getting the edge of something around 1.6kg?
    Does the rigidity of carbon improve some aspects of performance m or if weight were no issue, would you always opt for a more damp pure wood job?

    Unfortunately where I live there is little opportunity to even look at most of these, let alone try them out, so I rely on your generosity of time and blogging for advice. Thanks Lou and extended family.

  19. Mic August 18th, 2014 6:18 am

    ok i admit that was another thinly veiled what-do-I-buy post thinly veiled as academic critique. For the record I am 178cm-65kg and though I rail hard on piste I put in turns if Ive had to earn them. Just dont know how stiff a plank I need for .
    steeps and deeps

  20. Lou Dawson 2 August 18th, 2014 6:46 am

    Mic, your hypothetical of asking what a good ski would be of weight was not an issue is like asking what would a good truck be if you had an unlimited fuel budget. It’s perhaps worthy of a chat at a bar over a few glasses of whisky, but not something I care to try and tackle much in writing.

    Other than to say that we are all about human powered skiing here at WildSnow.com. Weight is thus important. All, and I mean ALL gear we haul uphill is a compromise between weight and performance. A thicker heavier jacket might be warmer, bigger boots might be easier going downhill, heavier underwear might last an extra year before the elastic in the waist band wore out. More water and food in the backpack might be nice. A bigger repair kit could bring more peace of mind. And on and on.

    While the causality of skis being heavier and thus skiing better is often over stated and frequently a myth, on the other hand it does get to a point with ski design for ski touring that performance indeed gets compromised for weight savings.

    But the rub is that might happen with ANY ski, even big alpine skis. For example, perhaps an engineer figures out that a granite core makes a ski that has amazing properties of stability and turns without any more effort than a twitch of your pinkie toe. Do they use the stone core? No, it’s too heavy. In other words, even full-on alpine skis are made in ways that produce acceptable weight, despite the fact that thousands of choices exist in terms of material they could be made from. They are a compromise of design factors and materials — just as a touring ski is.

    So, my points as to my verbose rant above? Every ski is a compromise between design factors. DPS, Dynafit, Dynastar, K2 — everything. Just because a ski is significantly on the lighter side, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a significant compromise. In other words, Denali is noisy on hardpan and is not a ski you’d want to use for straight lining in a TGR movie, but it skis quite well and is in the “one kilo” class of planks where we feel the current sweet-spot is for the best human powered uphilling kit.

    Did I make any sense?


  21. Fernando Pereira August 31st, 2014 7:13 pm

    I’ve not been paying much attention to skiing since April as I work on recovering from a season-ending injury, so I’ve missed a lot from Wildsnow. However, bumping into this through a link from the South America series, I want to alert “civilian” readers to a different take on Dynafit’s Denali and Cho Oyu. I’m sure they work beautifully for a ski demigod like Lou, but I found both really hard to manage in difficult windboard/sastrugi/refrozen/crust conditions last March in Chamonix. The deep sidecut on the Denali was especially hard to handle at lower speeds in difficult snow. In contrast, the Dynastar Cham HM 87 was a total delight in the exactly same conditions, to the point that I bought a pair for spring touring. So, if you are not quite up to demigod status, you might want to do a bit of comparison shopping before you plunge for more Dynafit gear.

  22. Lou Dawson 2 August 31st, 2014 8:40 pm

    Fernando, thanks for the complement but I’m not at the demigod level in my skiing anymore, even if I was ok at one time. Not that I’m a hacker, but combination of years and injury have taken their toll. What I’d offer on the skis is that most certainly there are other options, and perhaps some skis take more getting used to, and some are just plain bad. I’d put the Denali and Cho in the ‘get used to’ class, which is common for super light skis. Lou

  23. Mic September 1st, 2014 12:52 am

    I totally deserved that rant, Lou! Thanks anyway for explaining yourself so patiently. You’re right of course that we each choose which sacrifices we are prepared to make. (I’m probably not after as ambitious high altitude objectives as you would be for example). I still think Dynafit is dressing it up as if there is no sacrifice i.e. they suggest it is more of a ‘freetour’ ski than the Manaslu, whereas I suspect you would consider it more a skimo tool. In any case, they have got my attention!

  24. David September 16th, 2014 10:04 am

    Synapse ski review anyone??

    Silas Wild wrote: “I have skied the Denali, Synapse, and Vapor Nano ” and went on to comment on just two of them…….

  25. Thomas White September 26th, 2014 10:52 pm

    I’ve been looking to get a versatile 95-100mm lightweight touring ski for next season. I’ve been considering the new Wayback 96 & Wailer 99 Lou’s enthusiasm for the Denali has me thinking this might be the one I want to try. Plus with the money I save over the Wailer I can buy an airbag!

    I’m not sure about sizing. Part one of the review suggests forehead height. I’m 5’10” (178cm) and weigh in at 155lbs (70 kg). I have to admit that my forehead has gotten progressively higher in the past decades and now reaches all the way to the top of my head.

    Any help with sizing the Denali? How big is Lou Sr. with his 176cm choice?

  26. Location Ski September 29th, 2014 6:32 am

    I just love doing powder snow skiing. For enjoying powder snow skiing one of my favorite place is France during winter season. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience of skiing.

  27. Lou Dawson 2 September 29th, 2014 7:42 am

    Thomas, Wailer and Denali ski quite differently. Wailer is more forgiving in snow conditions such as crust, weighs more, Denali is a super weight/performance ratio and better on hardpack. Both are fun in powder, though feel quite different. I use one or the other, depending on situation. As for length, unless you really need a shorter ski for carrying on backpack and such I’d stick with something around forehead height. I’m 178 centimeters tall, and the 176 seems to work well. I sometimes enjoy the downhill on something even longer, but don’t like hauling it around the switchbacks etc. Lou

  28. Thomas White September 29th, 2014 9:41 am


    Thanks for the reply and your vitals. It sounds like we’re about the same size (178cm x 70kg) so the 176 Denali would probably fit me well too.

    The dog that didn’t bark in your reply was the Wayback 96. I’ll take that ski off my list and narrow my field to the Wailer 99 and Denali.

    I’m moving from a quiver of three-Backup, ’11/12 Coomback*, Wailer 112RP–to a quiver of two. (*the Coomback with Marker Tour bindings is my volunteer Patrol work ski). The Coomback will get replaced when the new Kingpin binding is widely available with a ski like the Nanataq or new lighter Coomback.

    So for this next season or two I’ll be using my LS Spectre boots with either the Wailer 99 or Denali in Colorado Rockies, Chilean Andes, Austrian Alps. Mostly day tours with about 25% overnights. Both the Wailer 99 and the Denali appear to have many positives but the biggest negative probably belongs to the Wailer 99. It’s a great turner–of stomachs–because of the price.

    Do Dynafit owners find the Speedskins to be a compelling purchase over a brand neutral pair of skins like the G3 or BD?

  29. Lou Dawson 2 September 29th, 2014 9:46 am

    Wayback 96 is a good ski as well. More like the Wailer than the Denali. I’d keep it on your list, perhaps shop by price.

    I like the Speed skins from Dynafit best of any skin, in the European glue version instead of the North American glue. Problem is it’s really tough to be sure to get the European glue as they don’t seem to have a different SKU for each glue version. Not sure how to do that, frankly. If you go with G3 get the High Traction skins unless you pretty much always do moderate skin track angles. As for BD skins, they’re always a viable option.


  30. Thomas White September 29th, 2014 9:54 am


    If I put the Wayback 96 back into consideration then I may have to add the La Sportiva Lo5 back too. My short list is moving in the wrong direction!

    I’ll have to wait for your 14/15 Quiver post and all the comments to make a decision. Get typing man.

    As for price I always pay early season MSRP to help support my local ski shops 😉

  31. Lou Dawson 2 September 29th, 2014 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the push. I’m working on Ultimate Quiver. It’s pretty simple this year, you can probably guess most of the skis that we’ll pick. Biased to human power… Lou

  32. gareth roberts October 1st, 2014 3:30 pm

    Howdy Lou!
    Looking for a backcountry quiver of 1 and it is between the Dynafit Denali and the La Sportiva Nano.
    If you had to choose between them???
    Crested Buttian, mostly ski backcountry here and in Canada.

  33. Lou Dawson 2 October 1st, 2014 3:36 pm

    Hard choice, give us weight, age, skiing style, boot/binding choice and what seasons you ski in. We’ll start there.

  34. Thomas White October 1st, 2014 9:57 pm

    Shopping on price I’ve decided to nix the Wailer 99. The Wayback 96 and Denali are both in my budget though the I’ve found the Wayback is a bit less.

    I’m leaning Denali but putting out a final call for suggestions or comparisons between the Denali and Wayback 96 before pulling the trigger. My data:
    5’10” 155lbs
    52 yo
    Smooth, precise and technically strong skiing style (not particularly aggressive)
    LS Spectre boot
    TLT Speed Radical binding

    I like skiing precise technical lines at reasonable speeds in all seasons.

  35. Lou Dawson 2 October 2nd, 2014 5:04 am

    Thomas, big difference is the Wayback is going to have the “feel” of a K2 fiberglass triaxial woven ski. Denali feels like a carbon ski with a lot of sidecut. K2 also has more rocker. Denali is going to be lighter, but I’d say in terms of performance both skis will ski fine depending on style. Skis are so personal, and how they perform has so much to do with the rider, it’s tough to make final distinctions. Another thing I’d offer is that the Wayback is closer in how it skis to the Wailer 99 than the Denali. Lou

  36. Thomas White October 2nd, 2014 7:46 am


    It’s so difficult to describe how a ski feels–but it’s very helpful to try. Of course demo days are great but it’s hard to get on all the skis and usually a demo day only offers a limited slice of the many conditions in which you’ll use a ski during a long relationship.

    Since I’ve skied the K2 Backup & Coomback and the Wailer RP112 I can make a good guess at how the Wayback 96 or Wailer 99 will ski. I’d describe that feeling as unflappable and steady, inspiring confidence. A ski that handles pretty much everything in a smooth way. It occasionally thrills you but never lets you down. As a car that would be my Subaru Outback. As a date it’s my spouse.

    The Denali is a bit more of a mystery, like the attractive stranger with obvious charms who may be concealing some uncomfortable surprises too. I expect the Denali will have some more exciting moments, quick and lively but maybe also some startling bits. I imagine driving a Miyata on a rutted dirt road.

    Scott’s review of the Wayback 96 opens the question of sizing the Wayback shorter.
    Like you I’m 5’10” and 155-160lbs. What size would you ski in the Wayback? 170 or 177? With the extra rocker I’m guessing the 177 would fit me best.

    We all spend lots more time climbing than descending so the Wayback’s extra rocker may help with breaking trail and the reduced sidecut may make it more stable in the skin-track. The light color graphics may also help to offset the weight difference since the Denali may be carrying a greater load of ice.

  37. Lou Dawson 2 October 2nd, 2014 8:09 am

    Thomas, I’d suggest your Wayback size would be 177. I’ve tried to go the shorter route with them (on Denali in 2010) and they really didn’t ski all that well, though they were light and easy to carry on my pack. Lou

  38. Fernando Pereira October 2nd, 2014 11:18 pm

    Thomas, I’ve Wailer 112RPs and I’ve demoed the Denali in Cham last March. Your assessment is just right. I’ve never driven a Miata on a rutted dirt road, but I guess that’s the same feeling I had skiing the Denali on rutted wind crust around la Mer de Glace. The deep sidecut made the Denalis very hooky unless I really pushed them, which wasn’t that easy for me at the lower speeds advisable on a crevassed glacier. On the other hand, they can carve beautifully if pushed on somewhat less challenging snow. I’ve never skied the Wailers on quite those conditions, but I’ve used them to descend from wind-blasted summits on my way to powder, and on deeply rutted exit luge runs. It’s not their natural habitat, but they were easier to manage than the Denalis. It’s easier to smear turns on them, so they turn on a dime even if not fully loaded, while the Denalis grab tip and tail because of the deep sidecut. I couldn’t really click with the Denalis but then I’m likely a worse skier than you, from your self-description.

  39. Chris November 3rd, 2014 7:56 pm

    Hey Lou!
    I am 150 pounds, 6 feet, and an east coast skier. I ski Mount Washington alot and gullies and such. Lots of tight turns as well as some technical lines. Typical east coast snow, rough. Have speed radicals and tlt6. What size ski for me? I am thinking 184? 176 is crazy right?
    Also looking into the Synapse 101 and the Vapor Nano. Little comparison vs. the denali?
    Wildsnow rules!

  40. Shawn November 3rd, 2014 8:33 pm

    Hey Chris. Synapse falls “right in zee middle” at 180. Just opened mine up today. Box had skis, ions and skins and felt like there were only skis in the box. Super sexy ski and even sexier binding. I do wish however that the ski wasn’t black. Hope the topsheet sheds snow well. Can’t give any input for how they ski…yet. Got them for east coast skiing as well. I’m shorter but think 180 is a perfect east coast length.

  41. andrew November 3rd, 2014 10:33 pm

    Lou (or anyone else) – where would you recommend to mount the Denalis? (speed superlite binding FWIW). thanks

  42. Lou Dawson 2 November 4th, 2014 5:16 am

    Hi Chris, thanks for visiting! Truly, either length will work for you. In a sense you are between sizes. If you tend to ski faster consider the longer, but the 176/180 is an overall good length for ski touring if you want something efficient. In terms of hold on ice, the length difference isn’t as critical as the ski model, amount of rocker, etc. Synapse is probably a better ski for Mount Washington, but Denali does have edge bite. Vapor Nano is a powder ski. Lou

  43. Lou Dawson 2 November 4th, 2014 5:17 am

    Andrew, on the factory mark worked for me. Lou

  44. Chris F December 24th, 2014 2:25 pm

    Hi Lou, do you know if the dynafit 100mm crampon will fit the 176 denali ski (98mm waist)? I know that may seem like an odd question but I seem to remember that my 92mm dynafit crampons only had a clearance of somewhere around 88mm. Any insight helpful. thanks and Merry Christmas. Chris F.

  45. glenn brady December 26th, 2014 11:13 pm

    Hi Lou.I’m 46,175 lb and want an addition to my quiver for ski touring and back country powder specific skiing. I tour on a 173 grand Teton..like it but…want something that will float better on big powder days..my head is spinning with all the options.. I don’t like twin tips and I like the custom fitted skins..can u recomend 2 skis I evaluate ¿

  46. Lou Dawson 2 December 27th, 2014 5:26 am

    Carbon Megawatt? DPS Wailer 112? Need we mention any others?

  47. glenn brady December 27th, 2014 3:23 pm

    I like the megawatt. .am.also considering the g3 empire 127..anyone ever skied the empire? I’m not liking the dark color

  48. Lou Dawson 2 December 27th, 2014 8:24 pm

    Have to say that after many days of testing skis already this winter, black is truly a bad color for tip surface of wide skis. Looks cool in the ski shop. Lou

  49. glenn brady December 27th, 2014 9:41 pm

    Thanks..looks like megawatt or dps..can’t decide between 175 or 185..i like short snappy skis but..don’t want something too similar to teton 173. May try demos in silverthorne. Thx

  50. Fernando Pereira December 27th, 2014 9:49 pm

    @glenn brady: I have 178cm Wailer 112 RP Pure. With the tip and tail rise the running edge is shorter than on anything I’ve skied before, but they hold edge well when needed, they turn on a dime, have a big sweet spot and a delightful rebound in powder.

  51. Andrew December 29th, 2014 5:45 pm

    Chris F – I asked the same question over at skimo.co and someone assured me that the 100mm dynafit ski crampons DID fit a 184cm Denali (99 underfoot) so should definitely fit your 176cm at 98mm underfoot. Cheers

  52. Chris F December 29th, 2014 10:55 pm

    Thank you Andrew. Appreciate the reply.

  53. Landon T January 12th, 2015 12:50 pm

    Hi WildSnow,

    Gear question: I recently had some Speed Radicals mounted to a new pair of Cho Oyu skis (incredibly light combo! 🙂 ). I took them to a local ski shop that I had had some positive experience with in the past hoping they would do the best job of mounting the bindings. I picked them up but made the mistake of not checking the bases of the skis before I left the shop. I checked them when I got home and noticed that there were some bumps on the ski bases where the binding mounting screws are. They aren’t huge bumps, but I can feel them with my hand and you can see them if you hold the ski so that the base reflects light. Not all of the screws have bumps which makes me worry that the ski shop drilled too deeply into the ski for some of them.

    Can anyone tell me if I should be alarmed about this? Did the ski shop make an error by drilling too deeply into the skis or are the screws too long which could cause them to cause deformations on the ski base? Should I confront the ski shop about this?

    Thank you to anyone who can offer some tips.

  54. Lou Dawson 2 January 12th, 2015 1:41 pm

    Landon, did they leave the crampon mounts off?

  55. Landon T January 12th, 2015 1:48 pm

    Lou Dawson 2, no, the crampon attachments were mounted as normal. And some of the bumps are on the heel units while some are under the toe units.

  56. XXX_er February 20th, 2015 10:05 am

    Landon I wonder if they got the toe and heel screws mixed up becuz the toe screws are longer than the heel screws??

    I Mounted up a set of Denalis and took them out on corduroy groomers cuz thats the conditions right now, AND they make nice slalom turns definatley not a noodle. I’m driving them with Mercury’s so I got lots of power and they are incredibly fast edge to edge … fun ski

  57. Lou Dawson 2 February 20th, 2015 10:16 am

    Xer, that is a very real possibility. Lots of Choodies get mounted with Dynafits and this is the first time I’ve heard of screw bumps happening from a stock mounting job. Lou

  58. XXX_er February 20th, 2015 11:06 am

    I would check or have it checked Landon because if the longer toe screws were used in the heel they would cause the bumps but it also means the shorter heel screws were used in the toe piece and those screws will NOT be as long as they should be … it could result in toe piece pullout ??

    It would be easy to pull screws swap them
    and a good hot waxing will likely make those bumps go down

  59. Landon T February 23rd, 2015 10:24 am

    Thanks for the input Lou and XXX_er. The story has a happy ending. I took them back to the shop and they repaired them to ‘as new’ condition. I suspect they removed the screws to clear out any debris that may have been left in the holes and re-screwed them, then performed a light base grind. The skis look brand new so I’m not concerned about long term performance or durability. As for those Scarpa F1 Evo’s I bought to go with this ultralight setup……..

  60. Lou Dawson 2 February 23rd, 2015 10:59 am

    Sounds bueno Landon, I’d sure like to know how it happened in the first place… but you’ll probably be ok. Lou

  61. Tom F March 2nd, 2015 11:57 am

    CAREFUL CONSIDERATION PRIOR TO PURCHASING. I purchased the Dynafit Denali, skied it 5 times, and blew out the sidewall in two separate spots on two different runs in the same day. I would typically chock this up as being rough on my gear, but I have two ski partners, who purchased the Dynafit Cho Oyu and the Dynafit Nanga Parbat, similar side wall construction, and also blew out the side walls within the past few weeks. In addition, I am aware of another person, who broke the tail of the Denali ski. Based on his explanation, he went into the “back seat” during a run, and at the bottom of the run, the tail failed, broke off. The ski is on display at White Pine Touring in PC, with a quote, “I was just skiing along”. My experience, I know four people who own this newer Dynafit construction ski, and all of us have compromised skis. We all have been touring for many years, and have not had a ski fail so easily in the past. Although, I like the way the Dynafit ski lineup skies, I would highly recommend exploring other options due to my personal experience with the design/construction reliability of this ski line.

  62. Aaron March 2nd, 2015 4:35 pm

    I know someone who broke a Denali in half this winter after a head plant into a snowbank first run on the skis…the ski was warranted but doubts have crept in about how far they are pushing lightening….

  63. Lou Dawson 2 March 2nd, 2015 5:18 pm

    No one ever claimed that all skis are the same strength. There are minimums and most legit ski makers do test for breakage forces and play around with how close to the edge they can get. Reality is if you ski hard and aggressive, you might need a stronger and heavier ski. Just because a plank has steel edges and ptex on the bottom doesn’t mean it’s as strong as the other one. Anyone breaking skis should be very careful of their expectations if they choose lightweight gear. Same thing about bindings.

    I’ve never seen a ski with a sticker that said “guaranteed to survive head plants.” Frankly, if I do a head plant and come out uninjured I really don’t give a rip what happens to my skis.

    It’s entirely possible that if a person does a headplant and breaks a ski, they could have broken their leg or worse if the ski didn’t break.

    Now, before you guys jump on me, it’s true that anything can be defective. But in the case of Denali I’ve not seen any prevalence of breakage that could indicate a manufacturing defect. Nonetheless, I’m paying attention.


  64. See March 2nd, 2015 6:47 pm

    For what it’s worth, in the bike biz the phrase “just riding along” (or “jra”) is sometimes used with an implied wink.

    It will be interesting to see how ski construction evolves given the rapid growth in the touring market.

  65. Dave B March 8th, 2015 6:57 pm

    Hi Lou,
    I purchased the Denail this season and have really enjoyed it. I sometimes feel like I have to really work to initiate the turn. I’m sure this is the skis’ fault! Would moving my binding forward a cm help with this?
    Thanks, Dave

  66. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2015 9:12 pm

    Hi Dave, it wouldn’t hurt to try, but first be sure the ski bases are totally flat. Some skis are coming from the factory with some of the base low or high, which can really confuse you when you’re trying to figure out what’s going on. With the amount of sidecut the Denali has, turn initiation shouldn’t be a big deal. Lou

  67. Dave B March 8th, 2015 9:29 pm

    Thanks Lou. As you said with the sidecut, I expected them to be a little quicker edge to edge. I’m sure it’s operator error!

  68. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2015 9:48 pm

    Are you used to wider skis? They’re not as quick edge to edge.

  69. Matt March 9th, 2015 11:52 am

    Hey Lou,

    Ever get a chance to review the Carbon Synapses? Trying to decide between them and the Denali but there still isn’t much info out there. Thanks

  70. boneyard March 30th, 2015 2:58 pm

    I have 20 or 30 days on the Denalis now and am loving them.

    – Their lack of mass is awesome on the up. It really makes a huge difference when combined with other light parts, like TLT6 boots, Speed Superlight bindings and the pre-cut Dynafit/Pomoca skins.

    – Solid edge hold combined with light weight and quickness makes them great for billy goating around on icy and/or steep stuff.

    – Fun and playful in powder. They seem extra floaty for their modest dimensions.

    – I tried both the 184 & the 193. For me the 184 preferred shorter turns and lower speed, particularly on hard snow. I stuck with the 193, as it still makes nice controlled short turns, but also likes to be opened up more in a bigger faster style.

    – The tips are hook-y in difficult conditions like breakable crust. Aggressive de-tuning of the tips and tails helps with this. People used to more modern shapes with lots of rocker and less sidecut may find this to be a demanding ski at times.

    – Durability is a bit limited. The bases and edges are thin. I put a core shot in one ski on it’s third turn. I have seen one break after being mercilessly hammered through big icy bumps. I realize, as a big 210 lb fool, I will have to back off on the Testosterone a bit and ski these with care to make them last. Totally worth that small sacrifice in my opinion.

    Thank you Dynafit!

  71. Lou Dawson 2 March 30th, 2015 4:15 pm

    Boneyard, they’re good skis. They’re specialized skis. Both Denali and Cho benefit from agro detunning. I actually use a rotary grinder and radius the edges all the way down to where the tip rocker ends when ski is tilted and edged on bench. One reason Denali did not go in Ultimate Quiver is that it was much more specialized than we first thought it was. Now all you guys know that… (grin). But it is indeed a quiver ski. Lou

  72. AlexJ April 9th, 2015 11:05 am

    FYI – my friend snapped his Dynafit Denali ski last week on a routine set of powder turns on Mt Patterson in Banff. The ski broke right in front of the binding where the metal internal support ends. Made for a long snowplow out as fortunately the ski base held the ski together.

  73. Lou Dawson 2 April 9th, 2015 7:56 pm

    Thanks for letting us know, Alex. Like I said above, this is a very specialized ski, designed when weight savings trumps everything. Some folks say it’s too weak, but others seem to be doing well with it. Probably a matter of style. Mine, for example, have not had any problems. But I’ve also heard of other breakage, usually caused by bump skiing at resorts, which this ski is unsuitable for. Lou

  74. See April 10th, 2015 12:24 am

    Wood core, carbon/glass layup, abs sidewalls… anyone have any theories about what aspect of the construction might be less than ideal?

  75. See April 10th, 2015 8:10 pm

    Well, I’ve got a theory— for really light skis, cap construction is stronger.

  76. See April 10th, 2015 8:34 pm

    …and the the transition form the underfoot construction to the tip/tail construction is a stress raiser.

  77. Jim September 13th, 2015 5:56 pm

    Is it possible to just spray paint the tops white to avoid the blacksnowmelt problem?

  78. Lou Dawson 2 September 13th, 2015 7:04 pm

    Jim, if you really knew your paint you probably could do it, but most skis have a plastic top that’s a very poor or nearly impossible bonding surface.

    One thing I did get convinced of last season by Stian is that perhaps my obsession with ski color is dependent on climate. Here in Colorado dry cold, a lighter colored ski clearly ices on the top less when breaking trail mid-winter. I’ve done plenty of testing. But in other places, other seasons, a darker top might actually heat nicely by the sun and shed ice better than something light colored.

    I still think lighter colored or white is best for a powder plank, but it’s not a huge factor.

    BTW, it’s been shown in consumer use that Denali is not a particularly strong ski, and could even be called fragile in comparison to beefier planks. Word from Dynafit is it is a “specialized” ski intended to be super light for its width. Ye have been warned.


  79. Jim Milstein September 14th, 2015 2:23 pm

    My experiment from two seasons back painting the top surface with a light plastic primer, then reflective aluminum paint, then two coats of clear lacquer showed no icing improvement in cold dry snow over the medium brown original color. I think the physical characteristics of the top surface may trump the thermal effects of color. Bob’s recent experience with the Dynastar Mythic seems to confirm this. The issue is still undecided.

    Why don’t we hear about this from the ski makers? It should be a selling point for the tourers.

  80. Al t October 3rd, 2015 8:47 pm

    Hi Lou- I never ride the lifts and only ski at the resort by climbing for exercise. I’m old and not jumping off of anything. I do get out a lot and live in central Idaho. I have spent most of my time on manaslus w zzeros. Got some tlt 6s last spring. I’m 5’10” and 170#. I really liked the old set up. Would the 176cm Denali be a good (similar) match with the tlts for skiing mostly powder and spring snow? Would I be better with a longer ski or different model? Thanks in advance for ur feedback.

  81. Fernando Pereira October 3rd, 2015 9:20 pm

    @Al: Lou will give you way better advice than mine, but for what’s worth: I’m comparable to you in height, weight (well, a tad heavier, for honesty’s sake), I’m also too old for jumps, and the biggest positive surprise I’ve had on the ski front in the last while is the even, fun, versatile performance of the Dynastar Cham HM line. I have a pair of the 87mm/178cm version that I got cheap summer 2014 after I demoed them in Chamonix, they ski stunningly on powder for such a narrow width underfoot, and they are really trustworthy in mixed spring conditions. I liked them so much that I took advantage of this summer’s sales to get a pair of the 97s, which some of my buddies where skiing on when we went to the Lyngen Alps of Norway this March. I just took a quick look and unfortunately the sales seem to be gone for the 178cm length, except for a less discounted pre-season sale of the 2015 97/178 model, which reviewers have raved about, BTW. If it’s deep powder as in BC or Hokkaido, I ski DPS Wailer 112s, and on the resort (around Tahoe) DPS Wailer 99 with alpine bindings, but for mixed mountain conditions, the Cham HM line are superb.

  82. Alan October 15th, 2015 5:38 am

    Hi, last seasonI had the opportunity to try a friend’s Dynafit Denali skis and liked them. Now I’m looking for a new pair and I’m hesitating between the Denali and the DPS Tour 1 99 mm, which looks great on paper too but I havn’t had the oportunity to try. Has anybody been able to test and compare the two?
    Thx, Alan, Switzerland

  83. Mitchellskis December 20th, 2015 8:52 am

    Chalk me up as another with abroken Denali ski. It broke yesterday on a quick tour out back of Eldora and/or on the return run down the groomers at Eldora. No crash, moguls, or other big impact. Just noticed that it was broken behind the binding once back at the car.

  84. Andre January 3rd, 2016 10:30 am

    I just bought a pair of dynafit denali, they broke in front of the metall plate insert on the first tour. Didn’t notice the damage until getting back to the car though..
    I hope this is some kind a factory flaw…frist tour on 20-30 cm of powder and i broke them in the forrest somewhere after skiing a gully, and no falls..

  85. Lou Dawson 2 January 3rd, 2016 10:33 am

    Hi Andre, I know I mentioned in several places here over past years that Denali is a specialized ski that is known to be fragile. Apologies if I didn’t make that more clear. I’ll look back through the reviews. I like them and they worked for me, but the breakage is a known issue. It is unknown if they ever did another production run making a stronger version. I’ve heard a number of reports (see above) of the skis seeming to break without any sort of abuse. Lou

  86. Andre January 3rd, 2016 10:39 am

    I read that they where fragile, but i couldnt imagine they to be this fragile.
    Last season i tested the Manaslu, and movement conqeust, but i didnt expect the denalis to brake in the forest, i didnt hit any snow walls with they,, small bumps yes, but not any walls.. 🙂 and the cho oyo didnt disapmoint me, got those as well.
    on a g3 12 lt binding. i hope that they arent “crusty” aswell,, drowe them pretty hard compared to the denalis..

  87. Lou Dawson 2 January 3rd, 2016 11:15 am

    Andre, I’ve tracked the Cho for a while and still have some in play, I’ve not seen any significant durability problems with them, only with Denali. Lou

  88. Lou Dawson 2 January 3rd, 2016 11:19 am

    Just out of curiosity, I pulled out one of the pair I’m sending back after skiing for a few seasons, propped up by the tip, then bounced on it with both feet at the binding mount point, 160 lbs. Didn’t break. I’m thinking they must have had a run of defective ones that exacerbated known frailty, but no way to tell which is which. I’d suggest them in shorter lengths for smaller folks, they’d be cool for that I think. Perhaps test at home with the bounce test. Lou

  89. Andre January 4th, 2016 5:30 am

    What did you put under your skies before bounce testing them? The Cho Oyo right?

  90. Lou Dawson 2 January 4th, 2016 6:15 am

    My cat. She ran away before I could totally complete scientific testing. I don’t understand why.

  91. Andre January 4th, 2016 6:16 am

    Funny ?

  92. Andre January 4th, 2016 6:17 am

    🙂 not a ?

  93. Casey February 18th, 2016 4:53 pm

    Okay, I sadly have a durability report that is not good news. However i have a great report of the Warranty for Dynafit. I got these skis last April. Skied 2 14ers Quandary and Sneffels. Skied every month over the year in CO, essentially fell in love with the skis. December this year, first run out, broke out the edge/sidewall on both skies in 1 day of powder skiing with some hardback mixed in. Dynamite was great, with a few minor set backs they had a new pair on their way to me in about 3 weeks. Got my new skis, BC skied about 130 miles since January, in about 30 days. The top sheet states peeling off. Got it repaired and its peeling off agin. Whole top sheet is peeling off of my perfect month old skis. I was recommended after being laughed at by my repair shop to see if they will warranty my skis gain. I emailed Dynafit asking them what I should do, they tole me “lets get you on some different skis.” I can say for sure if you want to try the ultralight skis Dynafit makes, they may break but I can tell you that they send by their products and will take care of you if they break.

    Finally I’m forced to figure out what I will do, I hear those Chugach skis in 181cm are great, but they are really heavy for a guy who strictly skies BC and skies a LOT. Do you think this is a good choice?

  94. Lou 2 February 18th, 2016 6:04 pm

    Denali durability issues are known. Consider Dahlaguri or Meteorite if you want to stick with Dynafit. Pick the one that’s pretty much the same dimensions as the Denali, I recall that’s the Meteorite. Lou

  95. Casey February 18th, 2016 9:54 pm

    I looked at the metiorite but it is not available until fall 2016. I won’t be able to have them wait that long, I told them I will go with the Chugach, weight wise they are similar and I’ve herd such good things, it’s just a shame about the Danali, I did my first skimo race on them. I haven’t found any information about a Dahlaguri, what is that?

  96. Greg Louie February 19th, 2016 9:14 am

    Dhaulagiri is the more robust version of the Denali, and skis almost the same with a bit more stability and power. Dimensions and rocker profile are the similar if not the same, but they use a poplar/ash core instead of Paulownia and the price is lower. It’s a very nice ski.

  97. Lou Dawson 2 February 19th, 2016 3:11 pm

    Casey, it’s the Dhaulagiri that is same shape as Denali. We’ve got some coming here eventually… they have to go to the magazines first so they can ski them at resorts between beer stops, then we do the real testing (grin). Lou

  98. Casey February 19th, 2016 4:54 pm

    So I’m planning on doing 14ers with these skis, 8lb for these Chigach is a real price to pay but I may just buy lighter boots, I’m kind of scared to get any more light Dynafit skis, I wish they had something in the 1500-1600 gram range so I could believe they are durable enough.One thing is for sure the Chugach will feel really heavy after using the Danali skis. I welcome any further input, it would be nice if the metiorite and the Dahlaguri where out, I would have more options for this exchange. I’m thinking about getting the Solomon mountain Lab skis instead because I havenpro deal on them even though I am hooked on the Dynafit skin attachement. If anyone out there thinks the Chugach is a bad choice for skiing 14ers please tell me and give me your reasons because i am still learning here.

  99. Lou Dawson 2 March 9th, 2016 1:22 pm

    Dhaulagiri has been tested by both myself and guide Mike Arnold, review coming. Good ski, especially if you like the dimensions of the Denali. Lou

  100. Adam McCurdy March 14th, 2016 11:40 am

    I’ve also had some durability issues with the Denali’s. Last year I blew the sidewall out from one ski and broke another. Dynafit warrantied those this year catastrophically blew the sidewall out of another.

  101. Nick Cooksey March 21st, 2016 2:20 pm

    Just broke my second pair of Denali 193’s. First pair, both skis cracked after 20 days of touring right behind the heel reinforcing plate. Second pair broke in the same place after 5 days of touring. I’ll be looking for something more durable for a replacement.

  102. Lou Dawson 2 March 21st, 2016 2:30 pm
  103. Paul Pincus May 12th, 2016 5:36 am

    Comments on mounting tele bindings on the Denali – AXL (the heaviest) or the lighter G3/Voile?

  104. Lou Dawson 2 May 12th, 2016 5:50 am

    Paul, that’s a bad idea in general. Denali has now proven to be very fragile, and none of these types of skis are recommended for telemark bindings anyhow… Lou

  105. zippy the pinhead May 12th, 2016 9:09 am

    Since G3 and Voile are both manufacturers of telemark bindings, I’m pretty sure you’d be okay with either of those.

    I’ve found that the key seems to be making sure there is metal in the ski (at least underfoot) for the binding screws to bite into, due to the extra force exerted by a tele binding. YMMV.

    Happy trails….

  106. Wintersmith September 1st, 2016 2:50 am

    Thought i trow in my thoughts, having both the Cho Oyo and the Denali.

    The Cho Oyo have been skied for 3 full seasons in all condition, trough boulders and trees. Still holding up like a boss, they are just fantastic (all tho they have gotten an epoxy tipjobb).

    Denali for 2 seasons, in those 2 seasons i run trough 2 pairs and they have only been used in good conditions. Both have broken where the mount plate edges meet the wood. 1 ski broke in front after 3 trips, the other broke next season behind the plate. Both times it seemed to happen gradually as i managed to out from the mountains (with benny hill theme running in the background).

    Warning i`am not a ski builder, only abuser, so the next lines might be far off, but i have a theory of why they are breaking.

    To me it seems like the mount plate on the Denali is more or less the same as the Cho Oyo, but covers less of the ski width. Thus on the Cho Oyo a larger part of the plate rests on the outer edges of the ski made off Paulownia and Bamboo. The Denali have more of the width laying on the softer core making it easier for the plate edge to wiggle and start pressing its edge into the wood, once this starts happening its just a matter of time…

    That said, both Dynafit and my local store have been just fantastic in the way they handled this.
    New skies supplied same day the first time, no questions asked.
    When i came back with them the next season, they refunded me, no questions asked.
    Thats why this season will be Dhaulagiri season 🙂

  107. Marc May 29th, 2017 2:09 am

    As I was closing the season this past weekend one of my Dynafit Denali broke in half, right in front of the bindings. I had used them only 6 times. Really disappointing as they were a big investment… Fortunately I didn´t get injured. The metal part held the ski together so that I could carefully go down the hills. This is the end of their short life.
    I am planning to buy something more resistant. Someone mentioned here the Dhaulaghiri are more robust, but I assume construction is really similar. So I am afraid I am moving away from Dynafit.
    I am considering to buy something heavier. Looking at Zag Ubac. We’ll see. Now trying to save some money quickly.

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