Voile Factory Tour — American Made Ski Touring


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 23, 2017      

Voile makes all their skis in Salt Lake City, Utah. They’ve got a quick, flexible and economical process resulting in excellent planks that honor current trends in ski touring. For example, their V6 model is all time super with what in our opinion is just the right amount of rocker and width for “Western North American” ski touring. Fun to visit their factory. Check it out.

Let's lead off with an art shot of the famed V6 mold, magic.

Let’s lead off with an art shot of the famed V6 mold, magic. Reminds me of a Pharaoh’s sarcophagus.

They've got a small retail operation fronting the factory in Utah.

Voile factory retail operation fronts their plant in Utah. A modest understatement.

They make quite a few skis in this well organized shop.

They make quite a few skis in this well organized shop.

Cores are milled from various wood types, including aspen. They're thinking of using some lighter weight cores to stay with current trends, but doing so ups cost significantly so they're being careful not to upset their industry leading cost-performance ratio.

Cores are milled from various wood types, including aspen. They’re thinking of using some lighter weight cores to stay with current trends, but doing so ups cost significantly so they’re being careful not to upset their industry leading cost-performance ratio.

Another use for gloves, protect cores.

It’s said that a good skier might feel their skis as an extension of their feet. Another use for gloves, protect cores. Or, could this be a new tip and tail shape design?

Fibers for the build.

Checking out fiber for the build.

Fiberglas with black carbon woven into the mix. Nice stuff.

Fiberglas with black carbon woven into the mix. Nice stuff.

Working with the steel edges is a major part of ski building. Hand bending the curves is one way, or build customized small-scale machinery.

Working with the steel edges is a major part of ski building. Hand bending the curves is one way, or build customized small-scale machinery.

Edge processor.

Edge processor.

The bend.

The bend.

Getting ready to assemble.

Getting ready to assemble.

The layup in lower part of mold, with the edges and other components inserted, resin being troweled in.

The layup in lower part of mold, with the edges and other components inserted, resin being troweled in.

Small scale industrial chemistry.

Small scale industrial chemistry, resembles our kitchen when we’re making Christmas eggnog.

Prepping the edges.

Prepping the edges.

Did we say that getting the edges right is a big deal?

Did we say that getting the edges right is a big deal? They’re carefully hand fitted into the mold.

Final part of layup.

Final part of layup.

Into the press.

Into the sarcophagus, heat and pressure. Takes much less than 2,000 years for the process to complete, thanks to modern technology.

Here is what comes out.

Here is what comes out.

They have quite a bit of work to do, separating the skis and cleaning off the flash, then tuning so they're retail ready.

They have quite a bit of work to do, separating the skis and cleaning off the flash, then tuning so they’re retail ready.

Finishing is done on grinders and belt sanders of the type you'll find in many ski shops.

Finishing is done on grinders and belt sanders of the type you’ll find in many ski shops.

Shovels are made here as well, stamped on this press.

Shovels are made here as well, stamped on this tyrannosaurus scale press.

Shovel blades.

Shovel blades save lives.

Shovel shafts.

Shovel shafts.

And, remember those famous Voile straps? Buckles.

And, remember those famous Voile straps? Buckles.

Telemark, still alive and well at Voile!

Telemark, which existed since the days of the Pharaohs, is still alive and well at Voile! These classic three-pin clasps are made right there in Salt Lake.



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Comments

23 Responses to “Voile Factory Tour — American Made Ski Touring”

  1. See May 23rd, 2017 9:57 am

    Very cool. What are the molds made of? They look like metal but appear to be essentially flat during lay up before they are placed in the press. Do you know how the eggnog maker achieves the right resin/hardener mix?

  2. Matt Kinney May 23rd, 2017 10:20 am

    Not sure about that telemark binding, but Voile makes another that works good called the Switchback that seems to sell and is well built. They’ve been around since Obama.

    Always interesting to see how skis are made. Thanks…

  3. Bill B May 23rd, 2017 12:53 pm

    I very much admire Voile.
    Their contributions to back country skiing has been enormous.
    Great products from great ideas.
    I am also thankful of a state such as Utah that allows
    them to do their magic.

  4. Doug May 23rd, 2017 9:05 pm

    Superchargers are one of the all time great skis, quiver of one.

  5. Bard May 23rd, 2017 9:34 pm

    Cool to see inside the factory, thanks Lou! I still ski on a pair of 2011 or so Chargers that I love. Voile has been rather innovative, from 3 pin bindings to shovels to splitboards. And of course the ubiquitous Voile straps:) Also, their skis are like half the price of DPS.

  6. Nate Porter May 24th, 2017 7:06 am

    Thanks for the factory tour. Voile products are a great combo of quality, value, and they work well. Great company!

  7. Jim Milstein May 24th, 2017 7:20 am

    Okay, interesting report, but questions remain: How do they pronounce Voile? And why are you guys all bundled up indoors in May?

  8. Nate C May 24th, 2017 10:14 am

    Jim,

    VO-lay. “So what’s up with our Eurotrash, pseudo-Franco-phile name? We’re not even sure ourselves, but what we do know is that for 35 years the name Voilé (vò-lay) has been synonymous with backcountry winter adventure. Rather than the Alps, we are located minutes away from the best snow on earth: the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.”

  9. Jim Milstein May 24th, 2017 10:25 am

    So, Nate, why not spell it Volay? Spelling it Voile and pronouncing it volay doesn’t make sense in any language that I know of and certainly not in French or even faux-French –– pseudo-French to you.

    You are almost right about your snow, except that Wolf Creek Pass is obviously better. I’m located minutes away, and that reminds me . . . .

  10. Charlie Hagedorn May 24th, 2017 11:29 am

    Jim, as I understand it, Voile’s founder’s name is Wally. Voile was a way to make the name sound exotic and alpine, as much of the innovation in touring gear was European at the time of the company’s founding.

    Nate C. was copy-pasting from:
    http://www.voile.com/about-voile.html

  11. Blair May 24th, 2017 1:25 pm

    I love it. Wally decides to call the skiis Voile, sounds like an insider’s riff on Euro style and saucy marketing to me . For the twenty first century, may I suggest a transformative set of boards the would be called…Voile Wallys.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 May 24th, 2017 1:54 pm

    Indeed, those of you who don’t understand the name Voile, receive the deeper knowledge. Voile is actually a pun on the Francophile leanings of many early ski mountaineers and indeed has roots in “Wally” — or something along those lines, anyway. The story is buried in one of our blog posts, I’ll try to dig it up.

    France? Austria is actually where it’s at. Wally and his friends pulled off one of the greater jokes in the history of ski industry branding. Not sure what it would have ended up in if they’d chosen German as the base language, would have been equally as interesting.

    http://www.voile.com/about-voile.html

    Lou

  13. Jim Milstein May 24th, 2017 4:37 pm

    Well, if it was meant to be a joke, that helps. Too bad I wasn’t there to counsel Wally (I was busy at the time). He could have done better.

    Latin is pretty much irrelevant to skiing, which is too bad in this case since “Vale”, pronounced wallay (stress on the 1st syllable), means “be strong” or “hello” or “goodbye”. It also resembles the name of an overpriced ski resort. Any suggestions from German or Norwegian or Finnish or some obscure Altaic tongue like Kazakh?

    We can do this.

  14. Patrick May 24th, 2017 4:51 pm

    Going back to the Reagan era. Voile: great innovations, construction, quality control, and customer service.
    My first Voile product was the plastic plate that you put under a tele-toe binding. Voile plates ensured that my heel would always land on the centre of the skinny ski. Long a lift skier, the plates made it possible for me to morph into back-country tele with my soft Alpha trail boots. At the time, it seemed that linking smooth BC tele turns was about 90% technique and 10% gear technology.

  15. Lou Dawson 2 May 24th, 2017 5:10 pm

    I broke out Google translate and couldn’t come up with anything Germanic, which is my inclination (smile). Lou

  16. Jim Milstein May 24th, 2017 5:20 pm

    Voilé means, I think, veiled in French. Hmmm, another veiled reference to Vail. Nobody knew this would be so deep!

  17. See May 24th, 2017 11:36 pm

    Veil is also a kind of cloth used in composite material construction, although it doesn’t look like Voile is using it in their skis. And (reminiscing), I used Voile tele release plates back in the day, and their Carbon Surf skis. Those were actually pretty innovative products, and they both served me well.

  18. Jim Milstein May 25th, 2017 7:24 am

    I too used the Voilé telemark release plates long ago, and I thought they were horrible because dense snow under the forefoot could cause them to release upward at the toe when bringing a heel down –– most disconcerting! And, of course, dangerous.

  19. See May 25th, 2017 9:08 am

    I eventually moved on to Rottefella TRP’s, and then 7TM’s. But I don’t remember having any problems with the Voile’s (I was using the model that was just the release mechanism to which you screwed whatever binding you chose). I had way more prerelease issues when I switched over to tech bindings.

  20. Bean May 25th, 2017 1:06 pm

    Lou is right with the “Wally,” reference… The story I heard was that Wally was trying to think of a Euro sounding name and while out on a tour one day, his partner, likely Charlie Butler, was yelling “Waaaaallllllaaaaaayyyy” from a good distance and Wally heard “Voile.” Boom Boom!

  21. Eric steig May 26th, 2017 7:22 pm

    Don’t y’all know that Voile is French for “made in America”?

  22. Lou Dawson 2 May 27th, 2017 4:54 am

    Eric, thanks, Google Translate is clearly flawed. Lou

  23. Eric B May 30th, 2017 3:59 am

    Sort of like “Häagen-Dazs” being founded in New Jersey. Though these skis are sweeter than ice cream 🙂





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