DPS Spoon for Powder Ski Touring — Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 24, 2015      

DPS Spoons are becoming legendary backcountry powder skis. They had a huge media buildup in their development, and they’ve gone through quite a few iterations. They’re designed as “the ultimate deep snow ski.” The Spoons have got the eponymous spoon shape at the tip and tail, as well as a super wide, reverse-reverse shape. Even with their massive size, they utilize carbon fiber for somewhat reasonable weight. They are one of the few ultra-fat skis that are light enough to skin with if you’re in shape and get your legs used to it (catalog weight 2250 grams, 79 ounces per ski, which seems spot on).

The specs on the Spoons are impressive. They come in any length you want — as long as it’s 190cm. Dimensions are 158/148/151 — huge. The tip rocker length is 63 cm, and the tail rocker length is 44 cm. That only leaves 83 cm of the ski flat on the snow.

Having a great time ripping down an Alaskan face on the Spoons this last spring. These things excel in powder, especially at high speeds.

Having a great time ripping down an Alaskan face on the Spoons this last spring. These things excel in powder, especially at high speeds. Photo by Zach Winters, check out his other awesome photos here.

Although last winter (2014-2015) in the PNW left something to be desired when it came to backcountry skiing pow, I still managed to find some deep stuff. I took it upon my shoulders to find shoulder level pow for a worthy test (someone’s got to do it). I originally got the skis when I was planning on going to Japan for the first time. I ended up taking them, as well as the more versatile DPS Wailer 112. Although we didn’t quite find days upon days of epically deep pow in the Orient, we still got a bit, as well as copious amounts of silky boot-top fluff. After that, I used the Spoons a few times in Washington. I even decided to take them on our Alaska basecamp ski touring trip this spring.

Not many skis are so fat that you can hide behind them.

Not many skis are so fat that you can hide behind them.

The G3 Ion bindings lost in the carbon sea of the Spoons.

The G3 Ion bindings lost in the carbon sea of the Spoons.

In Japan, the enormous Spoons almost fit in. Most of the other skiers we saw had something similarly gigantic. Even still, they were some of the biggest sticks around. We had a great variety of conditions on our trip, everything from ice to deep pow. Good testing.

Of course the Spoons’ performance in deep pow is incredible. They’re surfier and floatier than anything else I’ve skied. The gigantic surface area and rocker make it easy to ride the skis with your weight centered, even in deep snow. It’s awesome to jump and slash through the pow on these things. Some say that super fat skis make powder skiing less fun, making you ski on top of the powder rather than in it. However, from my experience I’d have to disagree. Yes, they do make you ride on top when you are riding straight down the fall line, but every turn they really show their strengths. You have a much greater freedom in what style you turn; either traditionally, slarvy-slashy, or you can put some energy into it and push down into the snow, getting a massive face-shot. The fact that the skis almost always pop back up to the surface like a beach ball in a pool makes them incredibly easy to ski, and enables you to ski in ways you can’t on skinnier skis.

You might say: “of course they are awesome in pow, what about all those other pesky snow conditions?” You might think Spoons are about as versatile as a 65 mm rando stick. Of course these DPS monsters are incredibly powder specific, more so than most other skis. However, they handle hard snow better than one might expect. The best non-pow testing I did was on icy snow during night skiing in Niseko. Skittering around at high speed on a dark, icy resort that hadn’t seen snow in an uncharacteristically long time was a pretty good evaluation. While the Spoon certainly wasn’t ideal, they were surprisingly functional… I survived. I’d even say they were pretty fun. Of course I had to adjust my skiing style a bit; any sharp turns had to be triggered well in advance, and drifted rather than carved.

Although toned down from previous versions of the ski, the convex "spoon" shape is still obvious. Photo courtesy of DPS.

Although toned down from previous versions of the ski, the convex “spoon” shape is still obvious. Photo courtesy of DPS.

The tip and tail rocker of the Spoons. Photo courtesy DPS.

The tip and tail rocker of the Spoons. Photo courtesy DPS.

The spoon! Easily the most unique feature of the Spoons is the convex eating utensil shaping of the base at the tip and the tail. With each version of the ski, since the first prototypes were shown a few years ago, the spoon shaping has gradually diminished until the current form. The skis have only a bit of spoon in the tip and tail. The center of the ski is fairly traditional, with tiny sidecut and a flat base.

All that said, I’m not 100% convinced the spoon shaping does anything. Could it be a gimmick? The skis are of course awesome in powder, and have an incredible amount of maneuverability and slarvability. However, I wonder if the same ski only without the spoon would be noticeably different. Nothing a grinder and saw won’t take care of — where is the WildSnow test center when I really need it (just kidding)?

An interesting side note is that I saw several ski companies in Japan that utilized spoon shaping in their skis. In North America I’ve only seen a few companies besides DPS that have ventured into the realm of convex bases (i.e., Garywayne). In Japan we saw convex skis all over the place.

Slashing with the spoons in some awesome Japanese powder. This picture shows the convex tip area of the spoons interacting with the snow. Maybe they do something?

Slashing with the spoons in awesome Japanese powder. This picture shows the convex tip area of the spoons interacting with the snow. Maybe they do something?

Another question I hear is how are Spoons for skinning? They are actually fairly light for their size, but I’d still call them heavy for human powered ski touring, with large surface area. Even on a well used skin track I found that I had to expend energy breaking a little trail to make the skin track wider. As for the substantial rocker and “spoon” effect, that didn’t seem to affect the skinning grip much. I didn’t have a pair of skins that came close to fitting the Spoons, so I simply cut some down the middle to make a makeshift pair of split skins. Although I have some friends who do that to use one pair of skins over many pairs of skis, I’ve never tried it. It worked surprisingly well. The DIY splits stayed stuck to the skis most of the time, although they fell off occasionally after many laps in cold powder. The major issue I found was folding them in the wind. I’d recommend splitting as a good way to get a pair of skins for fat skis that aren’t going to be used for gigantic days. Wider skis are ideal since even with the split skins, there is still plenty of grip area.

The Spoons are awesome skis, and live up to the considerable hype. They are a sports car; not ideal for everyday conditions, but they sure are fun to drive! For a powder specific backcountry ski, especially one that will be used for occasional skinning, they are hard to beat.

If you feel like taking the plunge and getting a pair, and supporting our site partners, you can shop them from Cripple Creek here.



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Comments

18 Responses to “DPS Spoon for Powder Ski Touring — Review”

  1. Jeremy C August 24th, 2015 1:50 pm

    I love my Spoons, and in any sort of powder they are a ridiculous amount of fun, which is only to be expected with more surface area than most snowboards. As you mention they are more versatile than you might expect, and can get you down most things except refrozen cut up crud/moguls etc.

    In deep powder is where they excel at what I call telepathic throw yourself at the scenery skiing, you think about it, and the skis go there, and the skis just catch you when you land, and you can turn in any fashion you like.

    I measure my tip rocker at about 80 cm, tail rocker at 70 cm, leaving about 40 cm completely flat on the snow. This makes them carve quite well, after a fashion, and they can certainly run at high speed providing you throw them into turns.

    As you point out, in any sort of track in the snow, you are almost certainly on the widest skis, so steering tales more concentration, to avoid riding in and out of the track. Long traverses at speed can also be a bit of a challenge, as the tail rocker tends to grab.

    I have Beasts on mine, but even so they still weigh significantly less than the first set of skis I toured on with Marker Baron’s.

  2. Woody Dixon August 24th, 2015 4:02 pm

    Louie,

    Have you skied any other massively fat/super rockered/RR skis? EG Praxis Powderboard, Protest, or DPS Lotus 138?

    Curious how much more magic the Spoon is by comparison.

  3. Louie III August 24th, 2015 4:39 pm

    Woody – I’ve skied the Lotus 138. I’ve also demoed the BD Gigawatt (although as with most demos, there wasn’t much pow to be had. Admittedly I don’t have a ton of experience on massive, reverse/reverse skis. Hopefully this winter we’ll have the snow to change that!

  4. XXX_er August 24th, 2015 6:18 pm

    “” I’ m not 100% convinced the spoon shaping does anything “”

    Often thot the same thing cuz on my lotus 120’s in blower pow most of the tip where the spoon would be is completely out of the snow so how could a beveled edge do anything?

  5. Lou Dawson 2 August 24th, 2015 6:24 pm

    Time for a sermon.

  6. Woody Dixon August 24th, 2015 6:34 pm

    I think the main point of the spoon is to get media types wound up and frothing at the mouth over how haute couture DPS is.

    It seemed to do the job. I highly doubt the original spoon prototypes (that actually had enough spoonage to make a difference) were ever intended to be released commercially. Too dangerous on anything but pure powder under the foot of an expert skier. But from a marketing perspective it was pretty brilliant I think. As XXX’er has observed, DPS skis are so buoyant and rockered that the spooned bits rarely make contact with the snow. But damn does it sound cool to think your skis have “surf inspired hull technology”.

    Thus my question to Louie – does the spoonage itself make a noticeable difference vs a well engineered but flat base pure powder ski?

  7. XXX_er August 24th, 2015 6:48 pm

    DPS is not considered bro enough anymore, they priced themselves into the category of doctor/dentist ski

  8. ty August 24th, 2015 7:14 pm

    i sure do see a lot of ski bums with this brand for being a doctor ski….seems like a good design, whether or not the spoon feature does anything ( my guess is that it most certainly does). i rock a similar pair about half the winter, but my aim is often mini golfing. pillows and consistent tree pow. cool looking boards

  9. Louie III August 24th, 2015 7:29 pm

    Yep, I’m not sure whether or not the spoon does anything. Without having the same (or very similar) ski on hand to switch between on a good pow day, it’s very hard to say. If there is an effect, it’s fairly subtle.

    That being said, i’d love to try some of the “original” prototype Spoons, or some of the other skis out there with more radical convex bases.

  10. swissiphic August 24th, 2015 9:23 pm

    Triple X’er; never tried the DPS spoons but have custom ‘spooned’ the rockered section of my first gen. K2 Darkside fatties and could definitely feel the difference in some specific coastal snow conditions. Turns were just a bit more smeary and forgiving from the tip in punchy moist settled snow, windslab, upside down snow and some breakable rain crusts. Initially, I skied with one ski with flat base/detuned edge and the other with the extreme base bevel worked in about 1cm from the edge..maybe a coupla degrees or so. Went from tip to contact point. There was a subtle, but noticeable difference in feel. I would hesitate to ‘spoon’ further, as one noticeable feel drawback was every so often the tip engagement would feel more ‘washy’ than the non spooned ski…but, pros outweighed the cons, so they both got the same body file love and I’m skiing happily ever after.

  11. Werner Koch August 25th, 2015 3:07 am

    Hi Louie, regarding split skis check out how the contour hybrid free skins work: https://youtu.be/yBIHQvsvddE
    Seem to be easier to handle than other split models out there….
    Could be a great solution for those super fat models, too.
    Werner

  12. Marc August 25th, 2015 2:39 pm

    No… not Dentist skis! Dentist are trophy lion killers! 😉 All joking aside, DPS skis have not gone up in price much since their conception in 2004. Carbon is not cheap! But it is durable. I’ve had a couple pairs of Lotus 120s – pre spoon edition and spooned addition. The spoon effect is subtle, but noticeable, especially when you get them sideways in soft snow. To use a cliched term, the spooned 120s “buttered” quite nicely when slarving deep, soft snow. The end result? I slarved more! I have not skied the Spoon ski, but have skied the non-spooned Lotus 138. As previous posters mentioned, you look and the ski goes; they have a huge platform and really demand a center stance. I would imagine the Spoon ski adds a third dimension to soft snow, especially when rolled up on edge at speed. Is it necessary? I think it depends on what kind of turns you like to make. In that sense, fat skis are not necessary – it is possible to ski powder in your 65mm random race skis!

  13. Louie III August 25th, 2015 8:48 pm

    Swissific, cool to hear about the “spooning” of the darkside and that it made a noticeable difference. Did you grind through the base and the edge? I’ve got those same skis, maybe I’ll have to try that.

  14. Hank August 26th, 2015 10:15 am

    Hey guys I have a pair of spooned 138’s that are unmounted and I can’t commit to which binding to put on them? First I was thinking of speed radicals for ultimate lightweight and skiing BC snow, which I would probably end up taking them BC skiing nearly everyday. Then I realized this would be such a fun ski for resort powder, Silverton days, cat skiing… maybe even taking them to AK one day and had my mind set on Beast 14’s… or maybe I should just split the difference and put on some Radical FT12’s? Or I could quiver kill them for the speed radicals and the Beast 14’s for the ultimate versatility? Looks like the ones you were testing had tiny bindings, any thoughts from those with more experience on the best bindings for these Purple Powder Slayers???

  15. Hank August 26th, 2015 10:20 am

    Heard the Lotus 138’s are badass on most kinds of snow you will find in the BC and like I said I usually bring my biggest skis when skiing BC snow, but I am also planning on picking up the new Tour1 RP112’s and at 3lbs per ski it would be hard not to take them out most days which would put the 138’s more into the resort, cat skiing, DEEP BC days category where the Beast 14’s would make more sense… but I also love the lighter dynafits and don’t have any problems skiing them 50/50 Resort and BC skiing. Gotta love the first world DPS quiver problems!!! Thanks for your input!

  16. Louie Dawson August 26th, 2015 1:27 pm

    Hey all, I added a photo I found from Japan that shows the spooned tip area of the ski in full contact with the pow. Also, it’s a cool photo!

    Hank- As far as bindings. I had the G3 Ion LTs, which I think are a great choice. They’re light, but also have greater toe retention than standard Tech Bindings. I hammered them at high speed on the Spoons on icy resort snow and bumps, and never pre-released. I was impressed. That being said, I’m a fairly light guy (150lbs), and even when I’m skiing fast I don’t usually pre-release from tech bindings.

    I’d say for strictly powder skiing the binding choice shouldn’t matter too much. However, if you get on any hard snow, the wide platform of the 138’s will put an enormous amount of leverage on the toe piece of the binding. Speed Radicals, Beast 14s, and Radical FT 12s all have similar toe retention, so I’d say just go with the lightest one. However, heel retention is where the beast 14 differs. If you’re planning on skiing bumps, or landing big airs, where you might break the heel of a lighter binding, or pop out, i’d go with the Beasts.

    Quiver killers would be a great option for the 138’s. If you’re doing much non-powder skiing or resort or other mechanized skiing, tech bindings probably aren’t ideal for a big ski like the 138’s. It’d be great to swap a burly alpine binding and a tech binding on them.

  17. swissiphic September 4th, 2015 6:26 pm

    Louie III: sorry for the delayed response. You asked: “Swissific, cool to hear about the “spooning” of the darkside and that it made a noticeable difference. Did you grind through the base and the edge? I’ve got those same skis, maybe I’ll have to try that.”

    I used a cross hatch pattern bastard file with a 2mm plastic home made file spacer thingy duct taped onto it to create an angle. Simply did aggressive hand filing from tip to contact point. I also contoured the base edge around the entire tip freehand and eyeballing. Used a felt marker to paint the area to be filed and after that was filed down, eyeballed it a bit further. After filing, the base was quite scored and hairy so it was scraped smooth using a metal scraper.

    Putting a straight edge to the base it really doesn’t look like much material was removed actually, just a hint of daylight when sighting it.

    To experiment without consequence I had fun taping on 1 or 2mm plastic template material, cutting out the profile of the ski, double sided carpet tape it onto the base, and do the same ‘spooning’ to it to give ‘er a test ski before permanently altering the actual skis…this way you can try any angle you want based on thickness of plastic…it’s super fun to experiment…without consequence.

    As for the actual ski mod, I figured if I didn’t like the ski feel after the extreme base edge bevel, a p-tex gun and j.b. weld or fiberglass could giveth what the file tooketh away? …don’t really need the rocker metal edges in conditions I bust the big bad boys out in.

  18. Marchetti March 10th, 2016 11:46 pm

    Hello, i have the 138 bought in 2016. I love also the older version, more playfull.

    Does the 150 really different.

    A Dynafit bendings do the job as a marker ?





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