Norway Ski Test — Volkl VTA88 & Kingpin Binding

Post by blogger | May 19, 2015      

Also see: Our 2016 review of Volkl VTA88.

Volkl VTA 88 decorated with Kingpins.

Volkl VTA 88 decorated with Kingpins. I like the overall look, and I like the white topskins (though my opnion about ski color might be getting more nuanced, see below.)

In truth, I’m uncomfortable starting a multi-day trip on skis I’ve never skied — doing so is like hauling untasted mystery food to high camp on Denali. Sometimes you can get the second best surprise of your life, otherwise… What caused me to renege on such personal life rules is I realized while we were embarking on a big ski tour, we’d be hitting mostly mellow terrain, lots of low angle, time off for photography stops…and it would probably be wise for me to ski on gear from the folks who are helping me out with the trip. Fair enough. I don’t think I’ve ever skied on a pair of Volkl planks that were less than excellent, so full speed ahead.

Myself on the Volkl & Marker Kingpin rig, near Oppdal Norway.

Myself on the Volkl VTA88 & Marker Kingpin rig, near Oppdal Norway.

Due to weather and snow cover, our trip in the Jotunheimen morphed into something different than the hippy pow-fest Stian had sold me on (he and the pro skier photo models ended up doing all sorts of terrain). But my personal version of the trip was still fairly mellow what with being able to pick my way down a few easier lines, as well as feeling no pressure to ski for the camera (which is pretty much impossible for me anyway on a pair of short, thin touring boards.)

In any case, the Volkl VTA88 is being promoted as another “one kilo class” light touring ski. My testers were a 170 cm, decorated with Marker’s take-the-world-by-storm freeride tech binding: Kingpin. To date I’ve used this rig for the Jotunheimen trip as well as four other days, several being big tours that truly worked the gear.

Let’s begin with the Kingpin. Other than being a bit heavy for the style of skiing I normally practice, they performed flawlessly. I never had a brake accidentally deploy in touring mode (something I’ve heard of but never experienced), no accidental releases at low release settings, toe pins did not loosen. Once or twice I wanted a way to switch to touring mode without removing a ski (which perhaps can be done with a few awkward moves, but not for me.) So, enough about Kingpin. They work. On to the skis.

The VTA88 LITE is exactly that, light. I have not verified exact weight of this particular pair, but no doubt the 170 cm length weighs near 1,000 grams each.

LITE is the carbon version branding. A non-carbon model is offered as well that weighs about 200 grams more. Also see our first coverage of these at Ski touring gear at ISPO 2015.

Dimensions of the 170 are 127-88-106 for what has become in my opinion the “euro” touring width. I’m not sure where I stand on that. I enjoy narrower planks when the snow is good, but find a wider ski is notably easier to handle in variable conditions or junk snow. Uphill on 88s with slick mohair skins and light bindings, however, is definitely fun and perhaps worth a bit more work on the down.

VTA88 tip rocker is definitely there.

VTA88 tip rocker is definitely there.

VTA is rockered at the tip but not at the tail. I found myself initiating my turns with assistance from the front rocker, but instead of a relaxed tilt and curve I found myself wanting to apply more power to the tails to finish the turn comfortably. I got used to this, but the feeling was definitely different (the stability of the Kingpin heel probably helped). This whole process was magnified in breakable crust, but not that big a deal in hero powder. Indeed, in soft consistent snow I loved the snappy energy and quickness of this carbon skinny stick, so no issues there.

Main scientific finding (just joking) was that a ski this lively, non-damped and has a speed limit. At least in my Atomic Backland boots with no tongue, I was most certainly “educated” by the VTA88 for exceeding lawful numbers on hard snow: the resultant chattering could have caused a binding pre-release or lost edgeset. Solution, a quicker edge-to-edge style (at slower speed) eliminated the skittering vibration, another factor showing these are most definitely a touring ski in the European sense.

Yes, I like white or light colored skis. In my experience they ice up less on top when used in cold loose snow conditions. Thus, I can’t complain about the VTA88 coloration. That said, they would perhaps shed snow better with a glossy finish instead of mat, but that’s just a guess.

During our Jotunheimen touring Stian and I spent at least 18 hours discussing ski top coloration (really, what other issues are there in life?). His take seems to be that what works best is condition dependent, and that pale/white is NOT the end-all-be-all. I’d tend to somewhat agree, with the qualifier that breaking trail in deep cold powder can be strenuous, and if a light colored ski is best in those conditions to prevent ice, then wider skis designed for powder laps should probably have the pale coloration. On the other hand, a black ski such as Volkl BMT is a plank you will enjoy in just about any conditions — in some of such situations it probably ices _less_ than a white ski (due to heating by the sun). So while I’ve indeed beat the drum about white skis, perhaps I should recant my fanatical position? Readers?

Other items: Note that just as the now famous Volkl BMT skis have the H shaped binding mount reinforcement, so do these. Result, only reliable binding mounts on the VTA will be wider footprint bindings. You can get away with fudging this a bit on the BMT due to it being an overall beefier ski, but I would not recommend trying to cheat the VTA (that pertains to user installed inserts as well). That’s sad, because this one kilo ski begs to be run with a brakeless ultralight grabber.

Kingpin heel adapter on Atomic Backland ski boot.

Kingpin heel adapter on Atomic Backland ski boot.

(One other thing about the ‘Pins: I did have to install heel adapters on my Atomic Backland boots. These worked flawlessly as well, even without the side screws. Nonetheless I don’t like the idea of modifying boots for what’s supposed to be a retail “stock” configuration of boot and binding. With that in mind, as the Kingpin is overkill anyway for a boot such as Backland, a better pairing would be Kingpin with a beefier boot having a DIN heel shape not requiring the adapter.)

I can STILL say I’ve never skied on a pair of Volkl skis that were less than excellent. Yes, VTA88 is a lightweight touring ski with a speed limit. Pair with mohair skins, it is a perfect ski for thousands of classic routes worldwide and I’d imagine will be quite popular once it goes to retail. Kingpin? Like I said, flawless.

Kingpin ski touring binding coverage.

Volkl VTA 88 decorated with Kingpins.

Volkl VTA 88 decorated with Kingpins.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


55 Responses to “Norway Ski Test — Volkl VTA88 & Kingpin Binding”

  1. Michael May 19th, 2015 11:42 am

    Although I certainly have less experience than his blogness, I tend to agree about the ski color being less important in regards to collecting snow on the topsheet.

    IME it’s more related to the conditions than anything. Sticky snow is sticky snow and will collect on pretty much anything. Blower cold smoke won’t stick to much.

    I think the topsheet finish is important as well, perhaps more than the color. I can distinctly remember a sunny, hot pow day this past February in Idaho. Everyone was collecting snow regardless of ski color. We had a good representation of colors – light tan, black, white, yellow. But my 2014 DPS skis with the new textured topsheets collected noticeably less.

    I also own some BMTs and have haven’t noticed any more snow collecting on my skis than my partners’. In fact the convex profile helps quite a bit in shedding snow. I also recall a sticky snow day this winter when my BMTs seemed to have less snow than my buddy’s carbon converts. The convex cutouts probably don’t help in this regard.

    Lastly, I’ve found that rubbing some Zardoz Notwax on the topsheet helps shed snow. It doesn’t last more than a day or two, but it takes 10 seconds to apply.

    So I guess in summary IME it’s conditions dependent more than anything. Ski profile and topsheet texture/slipperyness (is that a word?) might be as important as color.

    I certainly wouldn’t let a ski’s color be my reason for not buying a ski.

  2. Michael May 19th, 2015 11:43 am

    That should read concave cutouts when describing the BD carbon convert…

  3. Lou Dawson 2 May 19th, 2015 11:59 am

    Michael, thanks for chiming in, the only thing I’d really differ with is your lack of capitalization on “his blogness,” LOL ‘best, Lou

  4. Dave C. May 19th, 2015 12:49 pm

    Your Blogness,

    Last month, I spent a week skiing at Selkirk Lodge (!!). I had a pair of Praxis BC skis with a custom all-white top sheet. It was interesting to watch snow buildup compared to other skis. Two of our guides had all-black G3 Carbon skis. I noticed no difference in snow-build up across a wide range of temps, from 15 to 45 degrees F. The big issue is it’s really hard to find a white ski if it comes off in powder!

    Oh, and six of fifteen people used DPS 112s 🙂

  5. Bruno Schull May 19th, 2015 2:39 pm

    Dear His Blogness,

    I have a ski question but first…

    On these pages I have learned the difference between a Phillips head and a Pozidrive tool, and that a step drill is what you need to drill holes in plastic. Thank you. Now, I may be wrong, but I think that you mean non-damped ski in your post. Sorry to be the grammar police, but my understanding is that “damping” is what happens when a ski absorbs energy, and dampening is what happens when your sweat moistens your base layer. I read about dampened skis, or suspension bicycles with good dampening qualities all the time, and it drives me crazy. Then again, as I said, I may be wrong. I once thought I knew the difference is usage between effect and affect, and learned I was mistaken. So, if I’m wrong, my apologies.

    On to my ski question. I have noticed a few skis coming out with a rockered tip and a flat tail, like the Volkl ski above, or something like the Dynastar Cham series, or the new carbon Mythics, which look really light. What about flat tails? How do they compare to rockered tails? Do flat tails offer bed edge hold climbing in hard snow? What about stability on the way down? Does it make the skin attachment easier? Is it for plunging the skis to make an anchor? I ask because I’ve heard some people say that they will only tour on skis with a flat tails, while others have no problem with fully rockered skis. And some compaies, such as Dynastar, appear to be going to great lengths to make flat tails ski more like rockered tails, such as narrowing the profile toward the rear. Why not just add some light tail rocker? OK, thanks again.

  6. Jim Milstein May 19th, 2015 3:23 pm

    I agree with Bruno on damp vs dampen usage.

    From my experiments in changing the color of skis to see how much it affects their top sheet icing, I’ve settled on “not much, if at all”. I think the physical characteristics of top sheets are likely much more important. What we want is ice not to stick at any skiing temperature. That’s a physical characteristic.

    As to the proper form of reference/address on this forum, I would go with His/Your Holy and Majestic Blogness. Keep it simple.

  7. Bob Perlmutter May 19th, 2015 8:55 pm

    Bruno, funny you should mention the new Carbon Mythic as a test pair just arrived today. I plan to get out on them tomorrow. While the cat’s away(Lou and Lisa) the mice(me) will play. It is one of many skis I am testing in their absence. More to come.

  8. Bar Barrique May 19th, 2015 8:56 pm

    ” His take seems to be that what works best is condition dependent”
    I agree, however; if it is “condition dependent” why would you not make the top sheet in the most “advantageous” colour or finish?
    Realistically; why not do some serious research on the subject, and, then use the results as a marketing tool?

  9. Lou Dawson 2 May 19th, 2015 11:23 pm

    Bruno and Jim, thanks for the help on the word use, I’ll check and edit if needed.

    Bar, both Stian and I agree that some real research/testing should be done. On the other hand, in typical cold smoke conditions of places like Colorado and interior Canada, I’ve tried different ski colors for years and found that white is best for non-icing in those conditions. What happens with a dark ski is obvious, they heat from the sun, then when they get cold snow on top they cool back off and the snow sticks. The glitch in all this is that’s just one set of conditions. Like I alluded to above, there is a whole different scene where the ski is better off being warmed up by the sun and shedding snow because it’s warm. Then, as all of us have experienced, there are conditions where nothing works, even the Ptex ski bases ice up.

    One other thing, I’ve not seen anything better for snow shedding in terms of substance and texture than simply using a slick plastic, perhaps with a user applied treatment. The textures in my opinion are a gimmick. Lou

  10. Lou Dawson 2 May 19th, 2015 11:29 pm

    Bruno, re the rockered tails, like any part of ski geometry they can’t be taken as a stand-alone issue. All things work together. In my own experience, a ski with much rocker in the tail is sometimes skied differently than a ski with a flat tail, in that the rockered tail tends to not support you when you get into an aggressively back weighted/levered position. Instead, in the fully rockered ski (Volkl BMT is a good example) you tend to want to stay centered on the ski and just enjoy the sensation. As for skins, I don’t experience any real difference. In general, at this stage of my life I prefer the heavily rockered ski, at both tip and tail. But that’s still not always ideal, on steep ice for example. Lou

  11. Lou Dawson 2 May 19th, 2015 11:40 pm

    Bruno, “damped” is better in my opinion just because it’s shorter, but dampened is actually ok as well, see definition 2 below. Typical English language stuff, the word is defined by its context as much as anything.

    past tense: dampened; past participle: dampened
    make slightly wet.
    “the fine rain dampened her face”
    synonyms: moisten, damp, wet, dew, water, irrigate, humidify; More
    antonyms: dry, drench
    make less strong or intense.
    “nothing could dampen her enthusiasm”
    synonyms: lessen, decrease, diminish, reduce, lower, moderate, damp, damp down, put a damper on, throw cold water on, calm, cool, chill, dull, blunt, tone down, deaden, temper, discourage; More

  12. Dirk May 20th, 2015 12:35 am

    Hi Lou,

    good to hear you have enjoyed some good skitouring in Jotunheimen. Interesting read regarding tht VTA light. I think I will still with my BMT94 though as it offers fantastic performance on the way down, while beeing reasonably light on the way up.

    You wrote that you skied it with the Atomic Backland and I am wondering if you could share some of the experiences you’ve had with that boot when driving skis like the VTA light or some heavier skies like the BMT94. How do they compare to e.g. a TLT5 performance?

  13. Bruno Schull May 20th, 2015 12:38 am

    Thanks Lou, for the ski info, and the English lesson. I can now feel less superior every time I read about something being damped or dampened–the words actually are interchangeable on some contexts. Great! As a wonderful professor of English I had in college once said, “The fact that you know how to correct an error, means that you understood the writer/speaker’s intention in the first place.” Language, ultimately, is about communication, and if everybody understands each other, fine. All the best, Bruno.

  14. Wookie May 20th, 2015 6:20 am

    a ski like this with only beef bindings…..its a non-starter for me.

  15. Lou Dawson 2 May 20th, 2015 6:34 am

    ION will go on there quite nicely, and one has to wonder if Marker has a lightweight touring version of binding in the works… Lou

  16. swissiphic May 20th, 2015 10:09 am

    25 years of ski touring experience in northwest b.c.

    Ski topsheet color: really haven’t noticed a substantial difference in light vs. dark. Wonder if the more intense solar effect of colorado midwinter has more of an effect than northwestern b.c. for altering the factors that comprise snow adhesion to topsheet in specific conditions? Up in this neck of the woods on sunny days, stormy days or in between days, there simply just seems to be icing/snow buildup conditions in a band of temps around zero degrees C. I also suspect topsheet material is a factor in this…glossy vs. matte for example…and all the b.s. dimples and features do nothing to help in the matter. Also, over time, I have noticed a scuffed, scratched and beat up topsheet will accelerate snow buildup…probably addressed by rubbing some wax on topsheet, which i’ve tried with limited success in certain conditions.

    Thinking it through, I think technology could come to the rescue…
    1. inflatable plastic bladder like an abs bag that busts up the snow and sheds it. Fill it with helium and reduce the weight of the ski. teeheehee 😛 💡

    rockered vs. non rockered tail: Comparing two similar length skis, the rockered tails offer less support and result in ‘wheelie’ episodes while charging deep steep lines and pillow/cliff hucks in my experience. In conditions where there is a base to the pow I haven’t found too much of an issue…comparing armada JJ 185 (heavily rockered tip and tail) and the Armada Kufo for example. Interestingly, one would assume the tail rockered ski would ‘release’ and smear a turn much more dramatically easier than a flat tail…in my experience this is also conditions dependent. When the snow is soft, dry, right side up and buttery, almost any ski will release easily under direction of an expert ‘driver’. The rockered tail does feel more playfull for jibbing on features…however, in many coastal snow scenerios such as more punchy moist slabby snow and mank, I found that the rocker does nothing to make the turn feel substantially different.

    A nice round medium flex with a slightly forgiving but supportive tail with a slight turn up at the very end, for me, is the game winner for versatility and joy of use. I don’t know what magic sauce the ski designers use for the ‘right’ feeling tail though…getting that ‘just right’ combo of longitudinal and torsional flex to work with the sidecut and tail turn up…there’s some voodoo in ski design for sure.

    Binding mounting on the Volkls: if it’s really an issue, why don’t you experiment with some home made mounting plates Lou and give us a report? I’m sure a guy could get away with a very thin/light drilled out alu plate combo to mount to the requisite pattern and drill some short screws into it?

    I experimented with some home made kitchen cutting board plastic mounting plates this spring and was astounded by the success. The intention was to predrill a bunch of fore/aft dynafit binding position settings for a pair of skis I wasn’t dialed on the mounting point on….I had a lot of prior success using double sided carpet tape for other ski related projects earlier in the winter and using this medium…i simply taped the mounting plates to the ski. Sterilized both mating surfaces. Two layers of tape, heated slightly with a hair drier, clamped them overnight and skied in WARM SPRING CONDITIONS for five outings of up to 4500 vertical feet per day. I stayed close to our local ski hill in case of catastrophic failure…easy to hike out if necessary. The plates not only remained attached but required quite a bit of heat to warm up the bond to allow careful prying off the topsheet when experiment was complete.

    I found it hard to believe that the dynafit toe piece plates didn’t lever off or twist during tour mode in sometimes hard icy sidehilling.

    Might not be a game changer for binding mounting but good to know that this works if a guy is stuck at a backcountry hut or long traverse with a toe or heel piece ripped off the topsheet and needs an emergency repair IF no other options exist.

    Just my 20 canadian cents. (sense?)

    Guidsnow Schnelskier

  17. Lou Dawson 2 May 20th, 2015 11:48 am

    Swiss, thanks, that should be a blog post. Lou

  18. db May 20th, 2015 12:48 pm

    Quoting Michael:
    “I think the topsheet finish is important as well, perhaps more than the color.–snip– But my 2014 DPS skis with the new textured topsheets collected noticeably less. ”

    I agree. I can’t explain the physics (which is mildly annoying given my academic background) but the textured surface of my DPS Wailer 112’s shed snow better than any other ski I’ve ever owned. OK, yes, I am a bit of a DPS fanboi but the effect is truly noticeable and consistent over the past two years I’ve used the ski.

  19. Kristian May 21st, 2015 8:25 am

    Lieber Völkl,

    Bitte fertigen pass VTA88 und VTA105. Und bitte verkaufen beide zusammen zu einem reduzierten Preis Paar. Danke, dass Sie von Ihren Freunden glücklich.


  20. Aaron May 21st, 2015 1:43 pm

    What is this heal adapter and how does it compare to the Beast heal adapter? I was told by a Marker rep that I could not use the Beast adapter in the Kingpin.

  21. Lou Dawson 2 May 22nd, 2015 12:39 am

    Aaron, the heel adapter for Kingpin is used on boots with a non-standard heel shape. The adapter extends the “shelf” formed by the heel indent. It is only necessary on boots such as Atomic Backland and Dynafit TLT 5/6. It and the Beast adapter are quite different, though a similar concept in that they both change the shape of the boot heel to work with a given binding. I don’t have a Beast adapter here (we are still traveling), but the Marker rep is probably correct about it not working with Kingpin.

    While I’m not a big fan of this explosion in non-compatible boot and binding combinations, we’re stuck with it for the foreseeable future. Upside is we get lots of options and some pretty nice boots, as well as freeride touring bindings for you guys that like to have a binding you can do World Cup superG with.


  22. IanB May 22nd, 2015 3:08 pm

    Lou – I’ m looking for a ski for touring in Europe. How does the VTA 88 compare to the La Sportiva GT 2.0 you skied earlier in the year?

    Thanks for the site, as a newcomer to touring it’s both informative and inspiring, Ian.

  23. Lou Dawson 2 May 23rd, 2015 4:02 am

    I’d say in terms of performance they’re both equal, with the GT being a bit less nervous but the VTA being more lively. Not really an apples to apples type of pairing for comparo. Also, while I’ve skied the VTA quite a bit now I’ve not been on the GT much, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. Lou

  24. IanB May 23rd, 2015 11:05 am

    Lou – thanks for responding your comments are useful and understand the caveat.

    Do you or anyone else have any 90ish width skis they would suggest I consider alongside the Volkl for european touring (mixed conditions with the hope of powder!)

    Cheers, Ian.

  25. Lou Dawson 2 May 23rd, 2015 11:21 am

    Ian, all K2 touring skis have a sweet feel, I see a lot of them in play in the Alps. In the Dynafit line my Cho Oyu skis are still in the running, a bit of sidecut and a bit “turny” but they are super versatile and fun once you get used to how quick they are. Good ski if you prefer that type of feel, because a lot of the other skis are getting away from that what with rocker and less sidecut. There are many other choices as well, one thing to remember is that any popular modern ski in the width you want will usually ski quite well. Boots are probably where the biggest differences are… IMHO anyway. Lou

  26. Daniel May 24th, 2015 4:16 am

    Ian, you want to find out which weight class you are really aiming for.
    I’d only got for 1000-1200gr. skis if there’s a super light binding in the equation as well. and if you’re using light, highly walkable boots already or soon.

    think setup consistency.

    also consider whether you need weight relief to keep up or enjoy touring more, or maybe you gain an advantage that is rendered useless because your touring mates won’t keep up?

  27. IanB May 24th, 2015 12:43 pm

    Daniel/Lou – thanks for the feedback. Gives me some useful ideas to think about.

    Cheers, Ian.

  28. Wookie May 28th, 2015 4:21 am

    Ian –

    your question is one of the main reasons for the existence of blogs like this. Its a loaded question and one everyone will debate with you.

    1) pick skis you like. This is totally subjective – but you should like anything you’re going to spend that much money on

    2) since you’re asking for 90ish skis – chances are, you’re looking to go lighter….a consistent set-up, as has been noted, is a good idea

    3) a great pair of boots is much more important than skis – IMO, the TLT 6 (and boots that compete with it) are the sweet spot of ski touring. They will handle 80% of the touring public’s need and are quite a bit stiffer than some might imagine.

    4) for performance, get a ski a bit wider – for easier climbing, get a lighter one. These days, it is almost possible to have both – but it will cost you.

    5) 90ish is considered a powder ski by some euros. One of my all-time faves in this catagory is the response X by movement – at something like 88mm underfoot. Even better IMO, is the next size down, the Bond x at something like 84 or 82mm. Major difference: the response is wider, but also rockered. The bond is less so – and favors hard snow springtime stuff and anyone who skis in a forward style. (sometimes called old-school or euro) both ski well in powder – but are euro-wiggle all the way. (which is totally underrated btw)

  29. IanB May 31st, 2015 1:24 pm

    Wookie – thanks for your comments – have been looking at Movement skis, look good.

    Cheers, Ian.

  30. IanB August 2nd, 2015 2:41 am

    Guys – been considering options, boots will be dictated by my very wide feet and calves, will take advice from my local boot-fitter.

    Lou re: the Cho Oyu’s sound like they would really suit my style – I’m 80 kgs (176 lb) and 173 cms tall, what length would you suggest?

    All – Thanks for all your advice,


  31. Lou Dawson 2 August 2nd, 2015 6:22 am

    Ian, for classic touring I’d go with Cho that’s your body height or just under, for higher speed more aggresive go with just over head height. Easy rule of thumb nearly always works. Can you get out and demo the skis this early winter before you buy? Lou

  32. IanB August 2nd, 2015 2:50 pm

    Thanks Lou, looks like the 174 ( I suspected the 166 would be to short). Hopeful I maybe able to demo, but heard so many positive comments I’ll go for it even if not.

    Cheers, Ian.

  33. MarkB November 5th, 2015 10:22 pm

    Has it been confirmed that the dynafit super lite 2.0 binders do not fit within the H mounting zone? Thanks.

  34. Dimitri November 14th, 2015 11:29 am

    Hi MarkB,
    Im considering this myself. Only the rear 2 points on the heel are an issue. they are 29mm centre to centre while the “H” reinforcement plate distance is 26.2mm.
    By my measurements that means that 2 screws on the heel will not be completely within the reinforcement area while the front 2 and all the toe are all OK.

    If this would pose an issue or not… Someone want to jump in?

  35. Lou Dawson 2 November 14th, 2015 11:36 am

    Mark, I would say no, I checked and all but the Superlite rear/forward pair of screws fall on the edge of the zone.

    Dimitri, I’ve got the binding sitting here on top of the paper H pattern and the front screws all fall on the edge of the reinforcement, pretty much bisecting the edge. Thus I’d say they are NOT in the reinforcement.

  36. Dimitri November 14th, 2015 12:49 pm

    Hi Lou, Ive gotten a little confused, admittedly i didn’t check the toe because i assumed it would be the same as Radical I i remembered that the radical was OK on the BMT etc.

    Front screws? of the toe unit?

    “I checked and all but the Superlite rear/forward pair” can you explain this in toe, heel: front/rear set terms. apologies im pretty simple 😀

    seems like a shame, i wonder why they have taken this approach? I have the BMT 94 with plum guide mounted and it is perfect for medium days (tested in and around West Jotunheimen). I mounted them myself and can attest to the extra torque needed in the fixation under the plate.

    many thanks.

  37. Lou Dawson 2 November 14th, 2015 1:10 pm

    We’ve all wondered, and wondered, about why the H pattern was done. You can go to high level conspiracy theories, or just guess they were trying to make the ski lighter. In any case, I go with the popular opinion that it’s a real pain to have to fool around so much with mounting bindings on some of the best skis out there. Lou

  38. Ivan Tomasic December 12th, 2015 5:03 pm

    Hi Lou!
    Sorry to touch on this again, but I would really like to be able to pair the kingpin with the atomic backlands, but am really hesitant. You seem to be the only one I’ve been able to get in touch with to have ever done this. Atomic says don’t do it, and kingpin says they have no adapter for the backland. If you don’t mind me asking, which adapter did you use, and how much do you trust it? Also I know you didn’t put the side screws in (I assume to not permanently alter your boots), but could you have if you wanted to? Can the side screws in the adapter you used be screwed into the atomic backlands, or will the not fit for some reason? Any potential for the adapter to tear out?
    -many thanks

  39. Lou Dawson 2 December 12th, 2015 5:20 pm

    Hi Ivan, I did it because I had to (the trials of ski journalism) but yeah I would not recommend it. Frankly, it seems silly. But then… I used the adapter provided by Marker, and I trusted it just fine as it simply makes the boot a little longer at the rear. Far as I recall the side screws would go. As for tear out potential I have no idea, other than to say it’s held by three small screws… Lou

  40. David Brophy December 14th, 2015 1:11 am

    I read somewhere these skis came with skins included in the price… Can’t put my finder on it now… Is there any truth to this?

  41. David Brophy December 14th, 2015 1:11 am

    finder? finger.

  42. dan January 14th, 2016 3:35 am

    thanks for the review!
    I have two questions:
    You tested the VTA88 Light; these are 200g/ski lighter than the VTA88 regular (non-carbon). How big an impact will these 400g in total have on climbing ease, all other things being equal (in my case Marker Kingpin and La Sportiva Sideral boots)? I’m thinking longer days, 4-5 hours of climbing, up to 1500m gain, for shorter climbs i’m not worried.
    Any idea how the light and non-light versions compare in skiing? I did ski the non-carbon one and liked it a lot in pretty much all conditions I tried it (no deep pow) – will I like the light version as well?

  43. dan March 9th, 2016 8:10 am

    well, I answered my own question by buying these skis. I do like them almost as much as the non-carbon ones. and the difference in weight going up makes me love them even more. I find I can have fun in almost any snow with these, the exceptions being deep powder or hard ice – the do keep an edge on ice surprisingly well though, but indeed this is not a speed ski.
    I had an incident with the kingpin binding – I broke a heel piece. I would say this was as much my fault as anything. I was collecting snow on the skins so I kept stomping to get the snow off, oblivious to the fact that the heel raisers were engaged, so I was effectively hitting them as hard as I could… one of the heel pieces broke in two. Basically the part that has the two rollers and holds the heel down broke off from the main body. I called marker Austria (this happened in Stubai) and they advised me to go to their local dealer, which happens to be also my favourite shop in the valley. The manager there called the Marker rep in front of me, took a photo of the broken binding and 3 days later it was replaced at zero cost. Impressive customer support I would say.
    However, I’m considering replacing the kingpins with something lighter for a longer your I plan in spring. They’re about 500g per foot heavier than lightest versions of dynafits or G3 that could work on this ski, I think that’s quite significant for 6 days of touring with 1000+ daily gains…boots

  44. Lou Dawson 2 March 9th, 2016 8:24 am

    Indeed Dan, I think the only reason to buy the heavier version would be to save some money, but with the way retailing goes you never know which ski you could really get at the lesser price… I agree that a ski that weighs little more than a kilo should have a binding on it that does it justice. Me, I can get away with anything down to a race binding so I use as light a binding as I have laying around for a ski like this. I’m a fan of Kingpin, but it’s overkill for this ski in my opinion. On the other hand if you use this ski for mountaineering, know thy binding is the commandment — don’t be fooling around experimenting with stuff your life depends on… Lou

  45. Lou Dawson 2 March 9th, 2016 8:27 am

    Dan, more. I’ve done some real powder skiing on the VTA88 LITE over last few days, and enjoyed it totally. But it was supportive powder with a base. I’m confident that while these skis would be adequate and even fun in super deep, most of us would prefer something in the 100 mm waist family or thicker for “modern” style skiing. Overall, would I travel with this ski as a quiver of one? Yes. Lou

  46. dan March 9th, 2016 3:40 pm

    not that much money really. I got the LITE for 60EUR more than the non-LITE version…

  47. matt April 6th, 2016 9:43 pm

    Hi Lou! I love your blog btw!

    My question is, so which lightweight bindings in your opinion would do this ski justice?

    It seems the Dynafit Superlight 2.0 won’t work safely. Bummer. Any other recommendations?

    The G3 LT12 is the best I can come up with but still much heavier then the Superlight 2.0.

    My intended use will be primarily spring corn harvesting on PNW volcanoes. Big climb, like Hood, Shasta, etc…being fairly conservative on the descents.


  48. David Brophy April 6th, 2016 11:56 pm

    I have the VTA88 Lite with the Superlight 2.0 and it works perfectly fine.

  49. Lou Dawson 2 April 7th, 2016 7:35 am

    Matt, if you use the Dynafit Superlite 2 with spring grind mod and B&D anti rotate it makes a nice binding. ION LT is indeed quite a bit heavier and might be inappropriate for such a light setup, but man it works well and is proving to be durable. Latest Dynafit Speed Radical is also a good option, just make sure it has all the current upgrades. Other brands, I’d look at Plum Race 170 for example, or if you’re in Europe the ATK stuff is super nice. Me, I like bindings with full adjustable release but the “U spring” bindings are tempting as they’re always lighter. Some of those, however, don’t have adjustable side release so be careful what you get into.

    Looks like and both have some nice Plum bindings on sale. Time for a bit of shopping?

  50. matt April 21st, 2016 12:30 am

    Thanks Lou,

    I ended up going with the G3 LT12 and am happy with it! Only one spring corn tour so far but I love these boards!

    I saw your review on the 16-17. Any other changes othe then graphics? Looks like they narrowed the H pattern?

  51. David August 13th, 2016 6:14 pm

    Great thread- Lou- you mentioned light bindings with the side release, and suggested looking at the Plum and ATK. range as a match for the VTA – any specific thoughts on binding models they would be good matches, considering the rather tricky H mounting area? Thanks

  52. Lou Dawson 2 August 14th, 2016 7:04 am

    Hi David, I think we discussed somewhere on a blog post here at WildSnow that the H pattern of the VTA is not a problem for various tech binding screw patterns. I have classic TLTs mounted on mine and the screws (other than the redundant 5th screw centered at the toe) are within the pattern at both toe and heel. The only thing you need to avoid is binding heels with three hole patterns and anything patterns narrower than the classic Dynafit pattern. Nearly all bindings are at least as wide as the classic Dynafit.

    I’ll look around for the other post.

    Here is one where H pattern is mentioned

    And it’s detailed more in this post:


  53. GOB November 17th, 2017 3:58 pm

    Hi Lou – I’ve heard some conflicting reports of the backland compatibility with the kingpin, even with using the metal adapter.
    I know, not the most sensical of pairings – but when that is the one binding you have to use for now, so it goes.
    Do you know anything further about this? Thanks.

  54. Lou Dawson 2 November 18th, 2017 7:57 am

    Hi GOB, I used the Kingpins combined with Atomic Backland for many days of skiing in Norway, never had and problems and the bench test seemed to go ok. I just checked out the combo again with gear I have around here at HQ, it appears the adapter is mandatory but otherwise the combo works. If I used it again, however, I’d do another bench test.

    Regarding this unfortunately endless stuff about incompatible touring boot/binding combos, one thing I’d suggest is that when you hear of something, try your best to get the protagonist to explain exactly what “incompatibility” they’re talking about. Examples: Binding rear lever hitting boot walk-ski mechanism? Boot not releasing upwards? Boot has too much friction or binding in side release? Boot sole contacting or has minimal clearance above binding under forefoot? Boot seems to be locked into binding when release checking? And so on…

  55. GOB November 18th, 2017 9:32 am

    Thanks, Lou. I haven’t heard a clear answer, but I imagine they are saying that there is not enough material in the backland heel where the adapter screws in to get a solid connection, and the forces from the binding heel will be great enough to cause damage to the boot and make the boot come out of the binding.
    Marker so far seems to be saying the boot works with the adapter, but I’ve heard that atomic may not approve it.

Anti-Spam Quiz:

While you can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box above, you must leave a brief comment to do so, which records your email and requires you to use our anti-spam challange. If you don't like leaving substantive comments that's fine, just leave a simple comment that says something like "thanks, subscribed" with a made-up name. Check the comment subscription checkbox BEFORE you submit. NOTE: BY SUBSCRIBING TO COMMENTS YOU GIVE US PERMISSION TO STORE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS INDEFINITLY. YOU MAY REQUEST REMOVAL AND WE WILL REMOVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WITHIN 72 HOURS. To request removal of personal information, please contact us using the comment link in our site menu.
If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.

:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.

  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed


  • Blogroll & Links

  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version