DPS Wailer 106 and Zelda — A Quiet Show of Strength


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 6, 2016      
DPS Wailer 106 avoids politics at all costs.

DPS Wailer 106 avoids politics at all costs. See below.

The elves at DPS have been busy. Most notable is the new Wailer 106 which comes in three different constructions, Pure3, Tour1 and Foundation. Pure3 and Tour1 are the most applicable to Wildsnow readers. The new Foundation series replaces the Hybrid series and will be available in many different models next fall.

Turns out people just like taking pictures of Wailer 106 "blue kittens."

Turns out people just like taking pictures of Wailer 106 “blue kittens.” This is Bob’s take. Up in the Elk Mountains near Aspen. Click all images to enlarge.

Tour1 106 178cm: I have these mounted with a G3 ION and skied them with both my Dynafit TLT6 Performance and Atomic Waymaker Tour 110. My first turns were during a huge storm cycle that slammed Colorado in late January and early February. At one point we received 3 feet in 3 days (yeah, we know, Mount Baker gets that in an afternoon — but beggars can’t be choosers).

Day 1 was guiding cat skiing with a full guide pack leading a group of capable locals. In other words, the Tour1 106 had to put up or shut up. Perfect ski review situation.

 

After my first run on the 106, I racked my trusty Wailer 112’s for the rest of the day. Not to say that the 112’s are retired by any means but the 106 proved to be light, very smooth and supple, responsive, nimble and fun. They had a surprising amount of float considering the depth of the snow and the moderate waist dimension.

After the storm snow had settled out, I toured with the 106 in some of our steeper cat terrain. I was able to drive the 106 from the tip which resulted in a dynamic and energetic turn. There was a good pop at the end of the turn which propelled me into the next turn. The more I let them run, the better they responded. I also found the 106 to be a good blend of directional and loose, as desired.

DPS Wailer 106 in Tour1 construction.

DPS Wailer 106 in Tour1 construction. Lou thought they looked good in his pickup truck. Is this what they call a “lifestyle shot?”

Lastly, I did a day of uphill fitness at a local resort while my daughter was in ski school. The weight of the 106 is respectable and I suspect anything less would compromise the downhill performance. I rode corduroy on the way down and with a high enough edge angle was able to arc turns with some effort. I found some crud towards the bottom and the 106 smoothed it right out with no deflection. As a general comment, my experience on the Tour1 skis regardless of model tells me they belong in the backcountry and really aren’t intended for the ski area. Short of perfect corduroy they do not have the torsion to stand up to the rigors of a ski area. As long as they stay in their element they are great and that’s OK because there is always the…

Zelda Pure 168cm: these babies have power to burn and I love it. My one day on them began with a tour out the Highlands Ridge beyond the top of Highlands Bowl, just outside of Aspen. This is big terrain that starts above timberline dropping 3000′-4000′ down large historic avi paths. Initially the snow had a paper thin wind texture that the Zelda slapped into submission. That quickly became pure powder that the Zelda gobbled up. Despite powering in and out of each turn, the Zelda is also damp and smooth. My inclination was to drive the tips hard into each turn because they respond beautifully to an aggressive style. That said, I quickly realized due to the shorter length I needed to stand a little more upright and over the middle of the ski. Once there, Zelda snaked, slithered and slingshot out of each turn at will. I couldn’t believe how fast I was skiing on a 168cm ski.

As soon as I got back to town I ran up the gondola on Aspen Mountain for a few resort laps on the Zeldas. I hit cruisers, bumps, etc. They track well, held firm on hard snow, great stability and very responsive. Very quick relative to their width. In the bumps I noticed getting bucked now and then and thought it would be great if they were just a touch softer. In a subsequent conversation with DPS, they said a bit of softening was their intention for the final production version. Great minds ski alike. All in all, a great one ski quiver. Perfect ski to mount a Kingpin on as one could go anywhere and do anything with that setup.

Later in my full schedule as an official WildSnow ski tester, I got a chance to ski the Wailer 106 Pure3 178cm in the softer flex. It was just a few short laps on Aspen Mountain but better than nothing. While not giving up anything in the torsion, the new flex brings this ski down to Earth for us mere mortals. It still held firm, tracked well, had plenty of power but now does not require having just come off of the World Cup to tame them. The softer flex performed better across the full spectrum of conditions and abilities (bear in mind I’m not heavy, so your mileage could vary if you’re of a more commodious build and need the support of a stiffer ski).

In summary, the DPS 106 represents a new tip shape and profile from any previous DPS skis. Regardless of construction, the tip of the 106 engages and pulls the ski into the turn better and easier than any other skis from DPS. The other common thread in all the 106’s is this is the most damp feel I have experienced in any of their carbon constructions. This dampness, without any loss of power and response, makes for a very supple and fluid feel which has an uncanny knack for keeping the ski glued to the snow. If I were a politician running for office, I would call this a quiet show of strength. I think I’ll skip politics and just keep to skiing. It’s way more fun.

Weighty Thoughts

According to Lou’s bench work this winter the Tour 1 series is very light, while the Pure3 construction also results in a ski of below average weight but not as impressive as a few years ago. You can get a good idea of where the DPS skis are in the spectrum by spending some time on the WildSnow ski weight chart. These skis will be added to the chart as time permits.

The DPS Wailer 106 Tour1 in 178 cm weigh 1351 grams per ski.

Dps Wailer 99 Tour1 in 168 weighs 1199 grams per ski. Interestingly this “eleven hundred gram” target seems to occur quite often in lighter touring skis. That’s probably a result of current materials engineering being taken to the limit in terms of cost and performance. In a few years, that target will perhaps truly be “one kilo.”

Bear in mind the Zelda I tested was NOT in Tour1 construction but rather in Pure3, it is 130/106/120 with an 18 meter radius and weighs 1,689 grams for the 168 cm flavor. That’s a bit on the heavy side by today’s standards for a touring ski, it would be noticeably lighter in Tour1 construction but most certainly ski differently.

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Comments

28 Responses to “DPS Wailer 106 and Zelda — A Quiet Show of Strength”

  1. Roger April 6th, 2016 12:32 pm

    Great review, how would you compare these to the Black Diamond Helios 105?

  2. Roger April 6th, 2016 12:34 pm

    to be more specific, how would the Wailer 106 Tour1 compare to the BD Helios 105. Thanks!

  3. See April 6th, 2016 8:23 pm

    The tip shape on these skis is not what I associate with DPS. They look kind of normal to me— the wide point is near the tip. What’s up with the long tip taper on skis like the Wailer?

  4. Bob Perlmutter April 6th, 2016 11:39 pm

    Hi All, since I wrote this review some weeks ago, I have skied the Tour1 106 a number of additional times both touring and guiding cat skiing. The word that keeps coming to mind every time I ski them is “smooth”. There is plenty of energy and feedback but it is very silky and supple. They promote a very graceful sense and style of skiing which is something I always aspire to. The more I ski them the more I like them. I find the 106 has 90% of the powder performance of the 112 in a more versatile package.

    The Helio 105 is a burlier ski. It is stiffer both torsionally and tip to tail, particularly in the tail. The Helio holds better and tracks better on firmer snow and has a higher top end speed. It is more powerful but requires more aggressive skiing. It sits some where on the spectrum between the Pure 106 and the Tour 106. The Helio is closer to the one ski quiver that the Pure 106 offers but does not ski powder like the Tour 106. What’s a person to do?

    As an aside, today I skied a new offering for next year from DPS, the Tour1 87. A real departure from the Wailer Tour series skis. More to come.

  5. Lou Dawson 2 April 7th, 2016 5:59 am

    Thanks Bob!

    See, in my opinion the now classic Wailer profile is meant for a totally “new” (actually not so new anymore) type of skiing involving riding the ski centered and fast, not initiating turns from any sort of tip engagement. In case of Wailer this is specifically more for soft snow that the ski can sink into, not piste. Yet the Wailer profile has what I think was an unintended consequence of making a ski that is very forgiving on piste, super easy to ski. (Though it sometimes looks pretty funny to see a guy skiing 50 mph on rock hard piste with his tips and tails floating in the air, trying to turn but just sliding around sideways, which I’ll admit is a form of turning, but…)

    Indeed, Wailer 106 departs somewhat from that. Indeed, I find that calling all these skis a “Wailer” is disingenuous, or of that’s too strong a word, than at least unwise on the part of DPS. It just confuses the issue.

    But what’s done is done. I skied Wailer 106 (178 cm) yesterday a bit and it really is a good soft-snow touring ski. Light and very fun to ski. I found myself doing a more relaxed style than on some of my other test skis, actually having fun slarving and playing around with seeing what the ski could do. It doesn’t hook up into a carve the way some of our other skis do, that’s for sure. I did find it smooth and damp, but I was not compelled to use the tip to initiate turns. Some of that could be that I mounted with toe shimmed bindings and boots without aggressive forward lean.

    Would I travel with this as a quiver of one for worldwide ski touring? No, it’s too big for my taste and I like something that’s a bit more hardpan friendly. Would I recommend it as one of the best, wider soft snow touring skis currently out there? Yes. Would I recommend it as a “Colorado winter” type touring ski? Yes

  6. Michael April 7th, 2016 1:53 pm

    Thanks for the review.

    Any thoughts on sizing? Bob P. I believe you’re on the lighter side, right? How did the 178s feel?

    I’m 5’10” 175-180 lbs and looking for a super light ski to be mounted with speed superlights for winter touring/pow. Something around this waist width – 105.

    Will the 178 fold under my weight?

  7. See April 7th, 2016 7:31 pm

    Are the 106/Zeldas camber underfoot or full rocker? I’m guessing the latter. Walk softly…

  8. Bob Perlmutter April 7th, 2016 10:49 pm

    Michael, you are correct as I come in at a whopping 130lbs. In a perfect world I would prefer the Tour 106 in a 173-175cm length. The extra 3-5cm from my perfect world to the 178cm size leaves some wiggle room for your beefier build. Unless you are a very aggressive skier, I think the 178cm will work well for you. The Tour1 106 certainly fits the bill as a mid winter touring powder seeker.

    See, the 106 in all it’s iterations is not a full rocker. It is rockered tip and tail with camber underfoot. As Lou indicated, despite the Wailer name, the rocker on the 106 is less pronounced than the venerable 99 and 112.

  9. See April 8th, 2016 8:40 am

    Thanks Bob. Given the stellar reviews of the full rocker Volkl BMT’s, I was wondering if gradual rocker over the length of the ski (versus rockered tips and tails with camber underfoot) might be the best of both worlds— “lively” skis that both slarve and carve. Given that the BMT’s and the new Pure/Tour Wailers are over $1K per pair (and I mostly can’t be bothered with demoing) I look to Wildsnow for insight. So, I guess the laws of physics have not been repealed. I’m sticking with tip rocker, moderate camber underfoot, and flattish tails for touring versatility.

  10. VT skier April 8th, 2016 9:07 am

    I was in St Anton two weeks ago, and Sporthaus Jenewein had the DPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 for sale. Very nice light ski, flex wasn’t too soft. If I didn’t have a pair of Wailer 112s already (which didn’t get skied much this year), the 106 Tour 1 might have been a better choice.

    Interesting how these ski shops in St Anton are selling next years skis now.

  11. Lou Dawson 2 April 8th, 2016 9:31 am

    VT, the trend seems to be less and less sticking with “model years” and releasing skis in the fall. I’d say in a few more years it’s going to be all over the map. Perhaps the next phase of DPS is we will review and rave like a bunch of mouth breathing gear blogger journalist-sheep, then you’ll pre-order a year in advance, like Tesla (grin)? Lou

  12. Pete Anzalone April 9th, 2016 7:54 am

    Perl, great, well written review. Fun to read too.

  13. TB April 9th, 2016 5:13 pm

    What’s up in that first photo?

  14. Marc April 14th, 2016 10:41 am

    Bob and LD2 and anyone else that has skied the ski… where did you mount?
    -0-
    +1
    ???

  15. Bob Perlmutter April 14th, 2016 12:02 pm

    I mounted at the mid sole mark. I might try +1 at some point and will report back if I do so.

  16. Lou Dawson 2 April 14th, 2016 2:52 pm

    I skied on -0- and liked it.

  17. David April 18th, 2016 4:34 pm

    thx for the reviews guys! I am torn between the 106 tour1 and the helio 105. i’m not a super aggressive skier, weigh 170-175lbs and will be using it as a tour ski in colorado. Which ski do you feel will “help” me the most for my skiing? I am concerned the tour1 is “too light” and will get tossed around every time i hit some crust or punchy wind affected snow. thoughts? thanks in advance for your response. ps- I will be mounting with radicals.

  18. Bob Perlmutter April 18th, 2016 10:55 pm

    Hi David, I found that the Helio 105 requires and responds to more aggressive skiing. It is in part that which allows it to work not only in the backcountry but at the area as well. The Tour1 106 is a more pure touring ski that does not require as much aggressive input. I have not had any issues with the Tour1 106 getting “tossed around” or deflected in less than perfect snow. Hope this helps.

  19. Sarah June 11th, 2016 7:58 pm

    Thanks bob,
    I’ve also enjoyed reading Lisa’s comments on the Yvette and am wondering what the local opinion would be Zelda vs Yvette for North American back country? I am used to the much more variable NZ conditions and am looking for a capable, light but fatter ski for a Canadian trip next year. Any thoughts? Currently ski k2 talkback 88.

  20. Thomas N October 1st, 2016 8:08 pm

    Hi,
    On the subject of a good, lightweight all a rounder; I’ve totally loved the playfulness of my voile chargers and V8s but I’m wanting to get a slightly skinnier and lighter ski. I’m considering the dps tour 1 106, the dynafit Denali and the BD Helio 105. Im 186 cm tall, 180 lbs and a very experienced and light touch skier who’s going to check out AT on these new skis after 25 plus tears of tele marking. Any thoughts?
    Thanks.
    Thomas

  21. Lou Dawson 2 October 2nd, 2016 7:07 am

    IMHO, if you like Voile, then DPS is worth a shot. But if you’ve got chargers and V8s, why not try something trendy and go to ~100 mm with something like the DPS Wailer 99 Tour, which is one of the lightest skis ever? Mix it up. But keep an open mind when you do as once you’re used to a bigger platform is sometimes requires some spiritual adjustment to go narrower.

    Width in a modern ski is like displacement in an engine. As they say in automotive, “there is no replacement for displacement.” The same could be said of skis. On the other hand, the modern automobile with a smaller engine but amazing weight-power ratio and an optimized fuel-injected power system is amazing, as are today’s narrower skis.

    I prefer skis around 100 mm but have no problem admitting that sometimes, especially in really mucky snow conditions such as low altitude European snow that’s been rained on, width can really help. But on the other hand, so long as I’m not falling and not hurting myself, even if the 100mm planks are a little less ideal on occasion, most of the time they are a good compromise between the up and the down.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/9657/ski-weight-comparison-surface/

  22. Thomas N October 2nd, 2016 7:48 am

    Thanks for the great reply Lou. Am I right in guessing that the bd is a stiffer ski than the dos skis and that character of dos skis is just closer to voiles? Also I get your point about putting something slimmer in my collection but you did not include the98mm Denali. Why is that?

  23. Lou Dawson 2 October 2nd, 2016 7:57 am

    Re Denali, simply because if you’re liking Voile type skis the DPS is more similar in how they ski. I was trying to narrow it down for you… Lou

  24. Thomas N October 2nd, 2016 8:06 am

    Perfect. Thanks.

  25. Thomas N October 2nd, 2016 10:10 am

    One last question Lou. This will be my only at set up ski for sometime. If I really prefer at to tele I will buy more bindings and mount them on my fatter tele boards later. My skiing is about 80% multi day back country. Thoughts about the 99 vs the 105 of the DPS tour1. Thanks very much

  26. Lou Dawson 2 October 2nd, 2016 5:18 pm

    Either try something new, or stick with what you know. I’d say without giving you a Myers-Briggs test I’ll have to just stick with 50/50 one or the other (smile). Lou

  27. Thomas N October 2nd, 2016 6:44 pm

    Thank you. You are right, I’m quibbling over 6 mm and should just make up my mind! You are patient and helpful.

  28. Lou Dawson 2 October 3rd, 2016 5:48 am

    Flipping a coin would be legit. And then, remember “run what you brung…” Lou





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