Hagan X-Ultra — Quiver Arrow of the Week

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 8, 2011      

The West Coast quiver construction enjoys a brief respite today while the Hagan X-Ultra checks in from New England, even though this ski will eventually see about half its time on assorted Pacific Northwest volcanoes in the late spring and early summer.

Hagan X-Ultra

Hagan X-Ultra: skinny yet curvy

Hagan is well-known in Europe for its tight focus on touring skis. Hagan has also enjoyed some visibility in Canada over the years as the skis are directly imported by 300-pound gorilla retailing co-op MEC. But Hagan skis have until recently been relatively obscure in the United States.

Hagan’s profile here becomming more prominent as a result of the efforts of distributor Michael Hagen (yes, a near namesake) as well as the skis themselves stepping it up a notch for this season. The X-Race that was previously a sort of budget rando racer is now essentially tied with pretty much everyone else at just barely over three pounds per pair, yet is still priced far less than the competition. At the other end of the spectrum, the Daemon takes Hagan waist widths into the 90s for the first time, and more in this range is coming for the following season.

Hagan also continues to offer some very short lengths for women and youngsters, down to 150cm in the X-Race and as short as 140cm in other models. And for something new entirely, Hagan is in its second season of plate-style AT bindings with matching ski crampons, and recently announced a universal fixed/non-pivoting ski crampon too. Climbing skins are also available (sourced from Contour), specific to the different Hagan ski models. (The X-Race and X-Ultra skins look especially sleek, with a very low-profile plush section at the front and a ball-like device to grasp for releasing on top of the ski.)

The X-Ultra is Hagan’s revamped entry in the skinny ski mountaineering category. With a spec weight of 2kg for the 163cm length and curvy 111-71-101 dimensions, it clocks in with a very strong ratio for surface area to weight. The tail of course has a skin notch (which can be easily widened if you have a wider-than-average tail hook or clamp), and the tip also has a race-style notch for bungee-style attachments (whether from Hagan or of the do-it-yourself variety). And as expected, this ski genre is all about traditional tip geometry, so no early rise, rocker, etc.

Moment of Truth

Moment of Truth: A 2000g spec ski that weighs in at ... 2000g!

I’ll report back later on throughout the season once I actually get these on snow (especially variable conditions), as well build up the courage to mount the La Sportiva RT bindings. My expectations for skis in this size class are strong edge hold, quick turn initiation, and just enough float for when conditions aren’t as consolidated as anticipated in late spring and early summer.

Until then, for U.S. readers, Hagan retailers are pretty rare. The U.S. distributor does have an on-line store, although he doesn’t keep much in stock. If you are interested in a particular ski for the following season, one approach is to contact Michael Hagen and he’ll add you to his pre-season order. Michael is also an accomplished rando racer and fitness guru, so he really knows his ski gear for any q’s you might have.

(WildSnow guest blogger Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts, where he is a member of the Northfield Mountain and Thunderbolt / Mt Greylock ski patrols. Formerly an NCAA alpine race coach, he has broken free from his prior dependence on mechanized ascension to become far more enamored of self-propelled forms of skiing. He is an AIARE-qualified instructor, NSP avalanche instructor, and contributor to the American Avalanche Association’s The Avalanche Review. When he is not searching out elusive freshies in Southern New England or promoting the NE Rando Race Series, he works as a financial economics consultant.)


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22 Responses to “Hagan X-Ultra — Quiver Arrow of the Week”

  1. Tim December 8th, 2011 10:54 am

    Any thoughts on the Dragon vs X Ultra? I’d like to get a ski that I can use for long tours(4 days carrying all my gear and food) which would be pretty mellow terrain when I’m loaded, but getting back into steeper, more technical terrain to play once we make camp.
    Also for technical ski mountaineering.
    I’d hope to use the skis for winter and spring touring, looking for good edgehold on hard windslab like you might find on mt washington and fun for spring couliors.

    I’ve been looking at the dynafit broad peak, trab duo sintesi, trab tour rando and the above two skis.


  2. Jonathan Shefftz December 8th, 2011 12:56 pm

    I don’t have any particular knowledge of the Dragon, other than the specs, but all of those models you list are very similar skis in terms of dimensions (especially at the waist, with a range of 71 to 74) and weight (ranging from just light to the insanely light X-Ultra).
    For spring touring and really “chalky” winter snow, that’s my preferred waist width. But for that trickier wind slab when you’re in edge-hold mode one minute and gimme-some-float the next, I prefer a wider ski, like this:
    Here’s Hagan’s entry in that size category:
    But it’s all about trade-offs, on a long tour, a skinnier certainly still has its advantages (even if sometimes you’ll long for more float).

  3. Joe December 8th, 2011 1:06 pm

    Hagans are great skis. They are at the cheaper end of the spectrum in Canada. That sometimes gets confused when it comes to quality. But once you’ve used them any quality concern vanishes. I really loved a Hagen ski I had from the older mid-lite touring series. Saw a friend on some Daemons the other day and he was loving them. The brand may not be known as the most hip but Jonathon’s right – for their niche, the skis rip.

  4. Tim December 8th, 2011 2:44 pm

    I’ve got a pair of Karhu Spire BCs(waist 84, a bit heavier it seems than the Corvus) that I use for general BC touring now, but want something skinnier for better edge hold, less weight and longer tours.

  5. scottyb December 9th, 2011 4:25 am

    I had a set of the Atomic superlights which were in fact made by Hagan. Loved them for my BC tele/AT hybird setup. Still have them even though they do not get much love anymore.

  6. Adam December 9th, 2011 8:22 am

    Gear weights – I assume 2kg is the weight for a pair? It gets a little confusing when you guys mention weights and don’t always define what you are weighing (pair of boots, single boot, etc)

  7. Jonathan Shefftz December 9th, 2011 8:34 am

    Yes, per pair (in 163cm).
    And with La Sportiva RT bindings (with the little extra heel elevator, but w/o the fore-aft adjustment plate), only 5 lb 4.1 ounces once mounted.

  8. Lou December 9th, 2011 8:36 am

    Adam, sorry about that, we do try to always use terms such as “per ski” but forget sometimes. Though Jonathan departed from it and that’s fine so long as he’s clear, convention on WildSnow is to provide weight per ski, and per boot, and per single binding.

  9. Jeff December 9th, 2011 4:25 pm

    Jonathan – thanks for giving the skinny skis some love. If you can get your hands on a few pairs I would love to see a quiver comparison with the skis mentioned above like the broad peak. Perhaps even slightly wider spring skis like the K2 Backup or the Baltoro. I’m itching for a good volcano ski option.

  10. Jonathan Shefftz December 9th, 2011 5:00 pm

    Jeff, great to hear from some other skinny skis fans out there!
    I’ll have a comparo later this month with the Duo Sint Aero:
    … swapping skis in between each skin lap.
    Slightly wider skis:
    … still skin fine on the firm in my experience, but have a big advantage in tricky winter windslab and lower-elevation summer glop. But they also mean more weight, plus wider & heavier skins, and even heavier ski crampons. (I’ve been using the Dynafit Speed 82 on my skinny skis — super small yet still effective.)
    Overall though, for spring & summer volcanoes, it’s definitely sub 80mm in the waist for me.

  11. Oxygen December 11th, 2011 10:45 pm

    Used to have a pair of the Atomic by Hagan. Loved them for my BC tele/AT hybird setup. Still have them, but do not get them out of the shed as much as I should.

  12. Mark W December 12th, 2011 11:46 am

    Yet another fast and light option that makes me wanna go away from the fatties. Stinks to be me, as I like ’em all: fat, thin, light, heavy.

  13. John December 12th, 2011 12:46 pm

    I raced the Random X in a 175 this past weekend. They did surprisingly well in breakable crust, and they are super light. I have used the Logic X for 3 seasons now on 3 continents in a 184, which are great for long approaches and spring condittions.

    But, my favorite ski for fun and performance, after 3 seasons, is the Kastle FX94.

  14. richard December 12th, 2011 2:15 pm

    Hagan is a rock solid ski. You don’t see them much here but super common in Europe

  15. Michael Hagen December 15th, 2011 11:31 am

    Tim, Ref. the X-Ultra versus the Dragon, ultimately you have to make the decision of what best fits your needs based on the type of skiing you do and the pre-dominate conditions, but I can provide this input:

    The X-Ultra certainly prioritizes the up. While it is quite stiff given its very light weight, it is not as torsionally stiff as the Dragon. You can feel the difference when you compare the torsion by hand. And in crud and crust, the Dragon has an advantage even if torsion were the same, simply because of its mass. That said, I predominantly use the X-Ultra because I prioritize the up and find the X-Ultras just fine on the descents. Heck, I’m normally on the X-Races, so the X-Ultras feel like surf boards.

    We know that the Dragon is a very durable and proven ski for years. The X-Ultra has been on snow now for two seasons of testing and development before going into production, also without any negative feedback in terms of durability. A long term experience compared to the Dragon is not yet known.

    The Dragon is what we call a Tour All Mountain ski. So it is a very versatile ski with a wide range of use. The X-Ultra is a light-weight mountaineering ski for long and challenging tours. So it’s usage radius is not as wide.  It’s focus is addressed to tourers looking for a very light weight ski whose performance is nonetheless well balanced. A comparison of these models is fairly difficult because of the different target groups they are made for. If your tours tend to be long and fast, I’d go with the X-Ultra. If you encounter a lot of crud and crust, the Dragons. If both, hmm….

    Michael Hagen – Hagan Ski USA

  16. Tim December 15th, 2011 1:38 pm

    Thanks Michael for the comments!

  17. Daniel December 24th, 2011 11:54 am

    Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge has a bunch of the Hagan skis in the store, as well as just about the best selection of tech type bindings, rando race, touring, or backcountry skis. Very knowledgeable staff also.

  18. Jonathan Shefftz January 6th, 2012 6:30 am

    I finally got the X-Ultra setup out on snow. I’ve been alternating between my full-on race setup and my older lightweight ski mountaineering setup (TLT5 + very well-used Trab Duo Sint Aero with Speed toes and Plum 135 heels). Summit temps were 0F with about half an inch or so of recent snowmaking on top of a really brutal rain crust. (Two rain-refreeze cycles had occurred within the last few days! When I deviating in a few places from skinning up open trails onto some short and somewhat steep closed segments, I really wished I had my ski crampons — had a few very nervous moments, even though I was skinning underneath a high-speed quad…)
    Overall, and especially the laterally stiff TLT5 cf and the rigid La Sportiva RT bindings (with very low heel > toe delta, as I like it), I felt more like I was on a decent alpine downhill slalom race setup than something so light for efficient backcountry travel.
    The only uncertainty is how they’ll do for the occasionally encountered unconsolidated snow. The tail is surprising wide, so I hope it’s not too hooky.

  19. Chris March 9th, 2012 7:23 am

    Any thoughts on putting light tele bindings (Voile Hardwires) on a pair of X-Ultras and using them with very light tele boots for resort yoyo skiing? (I’m a skater wanting to spend some time telemarking in resort areas, and have a pathologic hatred of heavy gear).

    There’s some concern that the X-Ultras might not like the torsional stress of tele skiing and that the super light construction may facilitate the bindings being torn from the skis…

    Any thoughts?? 🙂

  20. Jo C. October 31st, 2012 1:30 am

    These hagan skis sound great…..but are they made in china/Asia? Still a great deal but I wonder how/why dynafit, trab, etc. charge so much more.??

  21. Michael Finger December 8th, 2012 7:19 pm

    Jo C.,
    They appear to be made in the Ukraine

  22. George S March 7th, 2013 1:01 am

    How do the X-Ultras perform in comparison to the Dynafit Seven Summits?

    I’m thinking of replacing my Seven Summits (used for longer and slower tours) plus my Dynafit Race Performance skis (used for races – but not podium placements there) with the X-Ultras, so I have one ski for everything.
    My only concern is the narrower waist of the Ultra (tip and tail are almost identical to Seven Summits)

    any thoughts on that?

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