WildSnow Ultimate Ski Quiver 2012/2013 — Pink Head Scarves and Davenport Legs

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 31, 2012      

Okay guys and gals, it is time. Time for us to bring our Ultimate ski review up to the top again for your autumn fantasies, or perhaps even some shopping. We truly enjoyed doing our own style of ski review last winter. We hope you’ll get some good use out of it.

The joie de vivre is truly the pleasure of having to ski each pair of sticks to come up with a verdict of which ski is the best for each skier, terrain, fitness, and so on.  It was a fun long winter without a doubt.

Most of the skis in one place at one time, but not all (plus one extra we didn't include below). We constantly have them out for testing or have returned to owner. The joie de vivre of this project is truly the pleasure of having to ski each pair of sticks to come up with a verdict of which ski is the best for each skier, terrain, fitness, and so on. It was a fun long winter without a doubt, though our lack of snow here in the western U.S. delayed our progress substantially.

Never to be outdone by the original 11 pairs of the Ultimate Quiver Lou presented last winter in his jealousy inducing teaser, we’ve got a few more in our final stack. The way this works is every ski below is good, but each one has its niche in the quiver. Some are perhaps better for pure spring touring. Others are powder busting machines or sidecountry units, still others might be more appropriate when your vertical is assisted by machinery, and so forth.

Lou on our Trab Volare testers confronting a bit of steep in the Alps.

Lou on our Trab Volare testers confronting a bit of steep in the Alps.

Our bias is obvious: For the most part we reviewed skis that have what we feel are excellent performance to weight ratios — for human powered backcountry skiing. Though popular in some circles, we did not include extremes such as skimo race skis and gigantic support planks for TGR stardom, as the bulk of human powered backcountry skiers are on a sweet spot represented by the skis below. As are we (sweet, that is.)

We made a stab at ratings — 5 stars is best. Ratings can be bogus. They depend on how a ski is tuned, what boot/binding combo is used, who is skiing on it, length tested and more. Thus, don’t take our nitpicking little stars too seriously and know that certain fixed factors influence the ratings. For example, wider skis tend to work better in soft snow, so they tend to get more stars in that rating category. Again, note that we like every one of these skis and the ratings are simply intended to help you pick what is closest to your style. Also, we reserve the right to slightly adjust our ratings based on continued experience with these skis, as well as feedback from other users. The skis are listed in alphabetical order.

Skads of good skis are on the market beyond what we picked here, so please keep that in mind. This stuff is what caught our fancy and was available for testing without us trying to become a ski magazine with ten editors, a beer sponsorship and a shipping department. More, we didn’t obsess on reviewing the latest stuff, we just reviewed what we wanted. Result, some skis are super available, now. Others, such as the Voile Vector, sold out (because they are “ultimate”) and may still not be available.

And yes, we provide as many shopping links as we could find. So thanks for enjoying the review, doing any shopping you feel like (which helps support our work here) — and of course your comments!

Black Diamond Element Shop for BD Element
Length tested: 175 cm, Sidecut: 141/115/123, Radius: 23m, Weight per ski: 68.9 oz, 1952 g.
Soft snow: *****
Hard snow: ***..
Weight/Performance: *…

Black Diamond Element

Black Diamond Element

Element is an aggressively rockered alpine ski, said to be women’s version of BD Amperage. While most backcountry skiers don’t make a habit of hauling around skis this heavy (and perhaps not even this wide), Element is nonetheless something to consider if you want a wider plank with superb performance, and you perhaps even like the feel of having a bit more weight in the ski. We included this plank in our quiver as a sort of an “outer limits” choice, or a ‘sidecountry’ rig.

Lou: “I skied both Amperage and Element on a powder snowcat day when these skis were first released. I found the Element more likeable and thus chose it for the quiver as I knew it would be good for me, and probably for Lisa. It’s also quite nice on the hardpack.”

Lisa: “These skis were a revelation for me. I finally learned what riding the ski is all about, as I did easy smear turns all the way down the mountain. They’re too heavy for the big ski tours Lou and I frequently do, but nice to have something in the quiver that’s more at home on the resort hill. For a go-to ski I’d probably ski them one step shorter — on the other hand, it was fine to let those long sticks take me down the hill.”

Bob Perlmutter: “Last season I skied the BD Element as well as the Amperage. Put another way, girl ski vs. boy ski with the same dimensions. My memory of the Element brings to mind the Cyndi Lauper tune “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. In which case I wanna be a girl too because boy I sure was having fun and felt right in my element in the soft stuff on the BD Element. Effortless, easy and playful. My first thought was what a great mid winter touring ski this would make if you’re willing to haul a bit of weight.”

This plank works so well we’d consider hauling it around for all types of soft snow. Since Element is an alpine ski it does have some hard snow chops, but don’t expect major trenching or edge grip as that’s not the style intended. Adding to the weight, the tail and tip areas of the Element have deep indentations in the surface skin that catch snow and ice, resulting in the ski sometimes becoming impracticably heavy for most mortals.

Shop for BD Element

Black Diamond Justice (newer carbon version) Shop for BD Jusice
Length tested: 175 cm, Sidecut: 138/111/123, Radius: 31m, Weight per ski: 63.3 oz, 1794 g
Soft snow: *****
Hard snow: ****.
Weight/Performance: *****

Black Diamond Carbon Justice 2012-2013

Black Diamond Justice carbon 2012-2013

With the addition of carbon, the lastest Justice (2012/13 version is unchanged from 2011/12) is lighter than previous versions and better all-around. With moderate tip rocker and a small amount of tail rocker, this plank yields good bite and carve on piste, while being excellent in soft natural-snow conditions.

Lou: “This was my go-to ski during our Colorado early winter facet snow weirdness when we were literally skiing inches above the ground with three feet of depth hoar washing up around our knees and hips. They worked. I enjoyed them on hardpack as well.”

In sum, excellent, and if you’re looking for a one-ski quiver, definitely consider. Yeah, this is a short review, that’s because this ski is simple, effective, and worthy. One of the best deals out there in view of street prices. Period.

For those on a budget, the Black Diamond Justice is an excellent pick — for a bit more weight and a lot less money.

Shop for BD Justice.

Dynafit Huascaran Dynafit skis on sale here.
Length tested: 186 cm, Sidecut: 135/114/124, Radius: 35/20/30m*, Weight per ski: 66.6 oz, 1888 g
Soft snow: *****
Hard snow: *….
Weight/Performance: ****.

Dyanfit's newest and fattest offering the Huascaran.  Named after an Incan chief and the highest point in Peru at 22,205ft located in the Cordillera Blanca.

Dyanfit's newest and fattest offering, the Huascaran, named after an Incan chief and the highest mountain in Peru at 22,205ft.

Compared to the Dynafit Stoke, the Huscaran is a better ski. It fills the Stoke niche of providing width with less mass, but is so much more. Huscaran takes the Stoke concept of lightweight construction with width, but adds tip rocker and a bit of tail rise along with more girth (Stoke is 106 under foot, Huscaran at 114). This while retaining the Stoke concept of a straighter cut.

Lou: “Yes, Huscaran is what I’d call a modern ski, yet has that added feature of being fairly straight in sidecut rather than curvy. This makes the ski somewhat more predictable in situations such as breakable crust, and quite a solid ride in powder yet still with the desired surfy playful characteristics you get from rocker and width. Only downside is on hardpack you won’t feel that easy tilt and turn that more sidecut gives you. In fact, when I tested the 186 it took me a few tries to figure out how to initiate a turn on something moderately steep while not skiing at mach ten. Of course, at mach ten turn initiation is never a problem (though the sonic booms get distracting), so perhaps I disqualified myself as a tester. What is more, a 186 is probably too long a gun compared to what I always ski on, which could have had something to do with me flailing around with it. In any case, that’s my take.”

Lou used the Huascarans

Lou used the Huascaran on Independence Pass this past spring.

Joe: “Fast, you like fast? I mean like Steve Mcqueen “Bullet” fast? On the few occasions when the snow stability cooperated I was able to “slither” at 100% total yard sale speed down several couloirs with no problem and confidence in the 186 length (other then the ability to turn). I received an email from a fellow compatriot to ride these babies hard and fast. Truthfully I never liked how the Stokes 10/11′ & 11/12′ felt on the down and was a little cautious to open these skis up (speed wise) considering these would technically be a replacement for them. That being said don’t try to ski these skis at any slow speed with any DIN less than 10. On several occasions in-bounds I was able to torque out of the ski (easy to do with a 114mm sidecut on hardpack) with a ramped binding due to a demo heel setup. They did feel surprisingly light on the uphill with a Palownia core making for a quite a snappy disposition when the conditions called for it. The overall construction of the ski with bright green, see-through graphics, and lowered mounting points felt absolutely sublime. The upcoming winter, which will hopefully yield better, ehmm deeper conditions, these skis would become a definite horse that I could name “I’ll have another.”

Without a doubt I expect this super-lightweight 110mm+ waisted ski segment to grow as ultra stiff tech binding compatible boots get lighter and lighter. Nice to see the boys from Dynafit are among the first to answer that call.”

Also known as the “Land Fish” due to their distinctive graphics, we doubt Huscaran would be considered a quiver of one by most skiers. On the other hand, it’s a cool ski to have in the quiver as we doubt many other options will give you this much ski for so little weight. We’ve seen a few of these in Europe mounted with skimo race bindings. Cool.


*Dynafit claims their triple radius provides better hard snow performance by virtue of the 20 meter radius under the foot area. In our experience this could very well be true and compensate somewhat for the relaxed sidecut.

Dynafit Manaslu (both men’s and women’s tested) Dynafit Manaslu on sale here.
Men’s length tested:178 cm, Sidecut: 122/95/108, Radius: 31m, Weight per ski: 50.5 oz, 1432 g
Soft snow: *****
Hard snow: ***..
Weight/Performance: *****

Women’s length tested:161 cm, Sidecut: 109/74/96, Weight per ski: 41.1 oz, 1164 g
Soft snow: *****
Hard snow: ****.
Weight/Performance: *****

Dynafit Manaslu powder skis.

Dynafit Manaslu powder and crud skis delight self propelled backcountry skiers, 2011/2012 model continues what is now a classic.

Long a standard for harvesting soft snow under the power of human fuel, Manaslu (men’s) was recently improved with carbon fiber for better hard snow edgehold, as well as more aggressive (forward) binding positions dictated by the factory installed screw inserts. In general, we’ve found the new full-forward binding position to be too aggro, but the rearward position is quite nice for most people.

Lou: “I’m still partial to Manaslu as a human powered powder harvesting machine, but other similar width/wight skis with rocker tend to hold my interest as well. The improvement in hard-snow performance of the later model is welcome, as the original Manaslu was significantly lacking in that department.”

Overall, we’ve used and reviewed the Manaslu so extensively that we feel no need to repeat all that here. We like it and recommend it. Big thing, this is probably the lightest ski in our quiver (hard to say exactly, as weight is also a function of chosen length), and it’s still got some length and width! Super. Check our reviews over the years, this has become a classic.

Lisa on Manaslu women's, this spring in Colorado.

Lisa on Manaslu women's, this past spring in Colorado.

The women’s Manaslu is similar to the current men’s version and is said to be somewhat the same ski as the first generation Manaslu. It is slightly lighter in weight then the men’s version and graced with high-key white graphics. Lisa’s 161 cm testers weigh 41.1 ounces (1164 grams) each, which means they’re the lightest ski in this review and only two ounces heavier (each) than her Goode Carbon 95s. We’d recommend that women shopping for Manaslu skis test both the men’s and women’s version. We suspect the men’s is better on hard snow, and might not be as silky in the soft as it is indeed beefed up from the older model. The men’s version weighs more and doesn’t have the nice graphics. Your choice, girls.

Lisa: “I haven’t had a chance yet to ski the Manaslu in powder, but they’ve been fantastic in variable conditions this spring. I appreciate their light weight on long approaches or when carrying them on a pack. This airy ski performs like a much beefier model. They cut through frozen suncrust with acceptable edgehold, and glide through softer snow like spreading butter on toast. With its beautiful graphics, this elegant ski is a fun, stable ride.”

Dynafit Manaslu on sale here.

G3 Zen Oxide G3 skis on sale here.
Length tested: 178 cm, Sidecut: 131/105/123, Radius: 27m, Weight per ski: 63.9 oz, 1810 g
Soft snow: ****.
Hard snow: ****.
Weight/Performance: ***

Joe applies Radical binding action to the Zen Oxide.

Joe applies Radical binding action to the Zen Oxide.

We can easily state that the Zen Oxide is one of those skis that is at home on the piste as in powder. That doesn’t mean you’ll be World Cup slalom racing on these planks, nor surfing like you’re on a true wide-body. But need to travel with one ski, or, gods forbid, own only one ski? If so, consider these guys.

Joe: “I got out on these skis in so many conditions; rock hard ice, blower pow, wind blown crust, moguls, untouched corduroy (I live within spitting distance of a resort and taught skiing all winter) and any other snow condition, you name it, these skis saw it. They were reliable as anything (though I did have to do some tuning work to get them skiing the way I like). I chose to take this ski out versus something fatter, skinnier, or longer because they just worked. Plain and simple. Sidecut and dimensions that weren’t bloated or unnecessary plus an overall predictable stiffness in and out of turns. On those days where conditions where variable (most of our Colorado season) I knew that I could trust these Cadillacs to deliver me down with the utmost predictability. My sole complaint is that the tips have a tendency to enable skins to slide off due to their thickness (with a G3 supplied skin). After hearing what Lee (read it here) had to say about next year’s version, I concur that these fit the bill for a do-it-all ski regardless of snow conditions.”

Joe finds his Zen. The oxide part might have to wait here at  nearly 13,000 feet in Colorado.

Joe finds his Zen. The oxide part might have to wait here at nearly 13,000 feet in Colorado.

Louie: “I didn’t get to test these much, just some uphilling at the resort during the early season, but was impressed by the hardpack edgehold compared to our admittedly soft snow biased quiver. That said, they also work fine in the pow.”

Perhaps skis such as these obviate the quiver concept? Only if someone stole your whole quiver and you needed one ski to replace it. But then, those kinds of things do happen.

G3 skis on sale here.

K2 Gotback K2 skis on sale here.
Length tested: 160 cm, Sidecut: 135/102/121, Radius: 18m, Weight per ski: 59.6 oz, 1690 g
Soft snow: *****
Hard snow: ***..
Weight/Performance: ***..

K2 Gotback, well used by Lisa.

K2 Gotback, well used by Lisa.

At first we left these out of the quiver, as Lisa reviewed K2 Gotback a while ago and they’re kind of old news. But we realized the error of our ways. Here at WildSnow HQ the K2 Gotback is the go-to plank for Lisa, as well as so many other women we know that we’ve lost count. This ski is not particularly light in weight, but it rides so well in so many conditions, you’re willing to haul a few extra ounces up the hill. Essentially the Gotback is the famed K2 Coomback, perhaps with some slightly different flex characteristics and of course different graphics.

Lisa on her K2 Gotbacks, Otztal ski traverse, Austria.

Lisa on her K2 Gotbacks, Otztal ski traverse, Austria.

Due to this ski being quite heavy we couldn’t with any integrity give it a high performance/weight ratio, but again, hauling the extra ounces could be worth it.

Speaking of Coomback, that’s still one of Louie Dawson’s favorite skis, which deserves mention. He’s not around to include his favorites in the quiver, so Coomback didn’t make it in — but honorable mention.

K2 skis on sale here.

K2 Wayback K2 skis on sale here.
Length tested: 174 cm, Sidecut: 124/88/108, Radius: 22m, Weight per ski: 54.1 oz, 1534 g
Soft snow: ****.
Hard snow: ***..
Weight/Performance: *****

k2 Wayback backcountry skis yield superb weight to performance ratio.

K2 Wayback backcountry skis yield superb weight to performance ratio.

K2 Wayback is a standard in human powered skiing. Plenty of rocker, not too much weight. Just the right width to float you but not haul six tons of slush on top. We’d give these a 5-star for soft snow performance, except something wider has to keep that exaltation. Hardpack ride is acceptable, and they’re quite forgiving in conditions such as breakable crust.

Lou: “Let’s just say my 167 Waybacks are an amazingly efficient tool, yet because of the rocker they’re simply too short on the descent. I took the 167s to Denali so I could be ultra efficient and keep up with the young guys. The skis did the job on the up, but were too demanding on the downhills due to the short length. If I had to make the choice again, I would have brought the 174s combined with the lightest climbing skin and binding combo possible to compensate (a common setup you see in Europe with all sorts of larger skis). Funny thing is, I distinctly remember Mike Hattrup at K2 questioning if I really wanted the 167s. One should listen to their betters. (To be fair to myself, I still use the shorter Waybacks for things such as European ski traverses as the lack of weight and length is a joy — and of course if you’re a shorter person and not too heavy, the 167 may be perfect for you. The problem on Denali was I was trying to use them while adding a 50 lb pack to my body weight. That was a bit much.)

Lou on Hocharn, Austrian Alps, with Waybacks

Lou on Hocharn, Austrian Alps, with 174 Waybacks in their natural arc.

At any rate, the 174 centimeter version of Wayback is the perfect plank for my height and weight. They ride nicely through breakable crust, are too easy in powder, and acceptable on hardpack. In my view, a perfect all-around tool for human powered backcountry skiing. I’m not the only person who feels this way — I saw quite a few pair of Waybacks at the huts this winter in Europe. Paired with a glidy mohair skin, this is one of my main setups. ”

K2 skis on sale here.

Kastle TX 87 Shop for Kastle skis here.
Length tested: 177 cm, Sidecut: 122/87/110, Radius: 20.5m, Weight per ski: 53.2 oz, 1508 g
Soft snow: **…
Hard snow: ****.
Weight/Performance: ***..

Kastle 87 backcountry ski.

Kastle TX87 backcountry ski, winner of the 2011/12 Alpin Magazine ski test, is in that mid-fat width that's just about perfect for ski mountaineering.

Has the skiing feel (and somewhat the look, due to how the graphics play with your eye) of a more traditional European ski touring stick combined with modern dimensions. Lots of camber. No rocker. Edge grip like a wolf chewing a moose leg. Definitely a quiver ski, not a quiver of one.

Lou: “An excellent skier of the old school, tighter Euro turn discipline would love these. When thinking of this ski I have visions of a sun bleached pink scarf tied as a headband, Scott boots, cabin in Chamonix, and I’m on the first descent of the North Face of the Tour Ronde. But they’ve also been used by Davenport for skiing on Everest so they fit the modern mold as well. Or was he sporting a pink headscarf? I’ll have to check his FB.

Yeah, though still wider than the hippy sticks of yesteryear, the TX87 could be said to be less than average width for a modern ski (e.g., K2 Wayback is also on the narrow side, and is 88 at the waist). More, the extra camber and lack of rocker cause a traditional feel to dominate this ski’s ride. I’d keep these in the quiver for fun, mostly as something enjoyable for fitness uphilling on the hardpack. Reasonable weight is a plus.

Check out our translation of the Alpin Magazine ski tests.

Shop for Kastle skis here.

Kastle Chris Davenport FX94 Shop for Kastle skis here.
Length tested: 176 cm, Sidecut: 128/94/117, Radius 20m, Weight per ski: 67.9 oz, 1926 g
Soft snow: ****.
Hard snow: *****
Weight/Performance: **…

Kastle Chris Davenport skis

Kastle, Chris Davenport model holds up to any force you can deliver.

As you can imagine, these rocket rides take no prisoners. If you want something that gives back everything you put into it, powder, crud or hardpan, look no farther. Roll ’em over on the piste and grab gobs of gravity. Slay powder. Your choice. Downsides? Heavy, a bit aggressive for mellow touring (no rocker, stiff), expensive. But if you’re an excellent skier who eschews rocker, likes metal in a ski, and wants something that supports your skills and fitness, look no farther.

One other thing: We do like to have a few sidecountry skis in the quiver — planks we’d use for a day that included resort laps combined with backcountry adventure. Kastle Davenport would be our choice if we wanted a full-on core resort rig that could play in the BC as well.

Lou: “It’s probably fantasy for me to keep these in the quiver. At least for myself, anyhow, as two of my legs equal one of Chris Davenport’s. On the other hand, they’re fun to loan the young squires and then take pictures of the results. And dreaming is okay, right?”

Joe:’They feel like an older powder ski,’ was the first thing out of my mouth. I’m talking about the days before rocker when you thought you needed a stiff straight ski for fast aggressive slaying. They have the weight and feel of your dampest alpine ski. There is very little to no early rise in the ski, something I wish there had been. I have to mention the price because for a ski to cost this much I would hope to get a signed poster or something of the guy whose name adorns this black beauty.

Lo and behold, when used for a few fitness sessions I ran into the guy whose name was on the ski. Davenport himself on Kastle’s slightly fatter version in the 105 width. I took note of his skiing style, hip placement, and aggressiveness as he entered a steep crud and rock strewn slope. He bent the skis like a samurai sword similar to his days in Alaska with constant speeds increasing as he blasted out of sight. Then he stopped, handed me a signed poster, and blasted off again. My life at that moment was complete.

I felt the same about the ski with maybe my skiing more akin to Karate Kid’s ability level in his early years. The skis wanted to run and with a stiffer boot these would certainly perform for Mr. Miyagi no problem.”

Note that Kastle will be offering wider rockered versions of their backcountry skis for winter of 2012/13. We’d recommend a look at those if you’re considering Kastle and want something rockeristic.

Shop for Kastle skis here.

La Sportiva Hi5 La Sportiva skis on sale here.
Length tested: 177 cm, Sidecut: 135/105/125, Radius: 17m, Weight per ski: 62 oz, 1758 g
Soft snow: *****
Hard snow: **…
Weight/Performance: *****

La Sportiva Hi5

La Sportiva Hi5 backcountry skis, good weight performance ratio.

Joe: “The ‘Gators,’ as I like to call them due to their unique green diamond shaped tips, were an awesome definition of what it means to be an all encompassing deep-snow backcountry ski. I’ve skied them over the past two winters and still am not disappointed. In a package that includes precut Pomoca skins, easy attachment points forward and rearward, extreme lightweight, high levels of durability make for a very well rounded soft-snow ski. They are predictably surfy and playful on several occasions on the down with plenty of rocker abound. The sidecut offering in the 177 and their longer 185 did the work when asked to lay down some GS turns. Hi5 has a true featherweight feel on the uphills leaving me grinning ear to ear on multiple touring lap sessions. (Although the uphill feel could have been further aided due to our setup being pre-supplied with La Sportiva’s proprietary race binding). I would be happy to see this ski under my feet whenever the snow covers the toes of my boots, or higher.

We reviewed the Sportiva Hi5 some time ago. They’re a big, rockeristic surfy ski yielding an excellent weight/performance ratio. Though Lou found them to sometimes be a bit floppy when in variable conditions, he still says they’re a go-to. One of our top recommends for human powered powder skiing.

La Sportiva skis on sale here.

Trab Volare Trab skis on sale here.
Length tested: 171 cm, Sidecut: 129/99/116, Radius: 24.2m, Weight per ski: 52.1 oz, 1478 g
Soft snow: ****.
Hard snow: ***..
Weight/Performance: *****

Trab Volare skis, 2011/12

Trab Volare skis, 2011/12, terrific power-to-weight ratio. Click to enlarge.

It is genetically impossible for Trab to make a bad ski. Average, perhaps; groaner, never. What’s cool about Volare is it gives you that wider waisted plank without the rocker nearly everyone else includes. Why is that cool? Mainly, we like to downsize our ski length for true mountaineering. Downsizing rockered skis is difficult. Go too short and it feels like you’re on snowlerblades. Thus, we opted for a 171 in our test Volares. Previous review that includes back story on name.

Lou: “I’ll admit I did notice these skis were a bit more demanding than the longer, rockered rides I’ve also been on this winter. I skied the Volare about 30 days including many turns in variable Euro snow conditions, so my take is extensive. They’ve got good hardpack grip, engaging the turn in a more traditional way than a rockered ski, but still, they’re not a trenching tool. In soft snow I found them to be fun, bouncy and active — though the length I was on caused me to revert to tighter “euro style” turns. Yeah, I was in Europe when that happened so no one laughed. But my thighs got tired. Be it known that Bob Perlumutter tried to steal these from me, and they were my choice for Europe during two of my three trips over there this winter. Whatever details we get into below please keep those two factoids in mind.”

Bob Perlmutter: “I’ve now skied the Volare on corn as well as powder. Indeed it a very good all round ski. Reasonable weight for a plank in the 99-100 mm width which makes it very efficient on the uphill. Lively and responsive yet still damp and predictable on the downhill. Surprisingly stable for such a light ski. Also has a somewhat unique ability to maintain ski/snow contact or stay glued to the snow even with some good pop or energy coming out of the turn.”

“The Volare is a modern take on the traditional Euro AT ski. High tech materials, impeccable craftsmanship and a wide footprint without the rocker bell and whistle. The Volare reacts best to a more traditional narrower Euro stance and tighter Euro turns. It is responsive and energetic but each turns requires some patience as it likes some roundness to the turn radius. I also found that the preferred stance is right in the middle of the ski as too much tip pressure early in the turn causes the ski to overreact or overturn. Once I dialed in the sweet spot all was good. Despite the lack of rocker the Volare was right at home in the soft crud, tracking through cut-up powder with ease without any tip deflection.”

“All in all the Volare does everything well though not any one particular aspect famously. For some reason as I skied the Volare I kept having flashbacks to the late 70’s and 80’s with Degree 7 one-piece suits and pink head scarves as I danced down the mountain. Apparently Lou has some of the same visions, which probably has something to do with how long we’ve both been around.”

Bob Perlmutter on the Volare, moderately hard springtime snow.

Bob Perlmutter on the Volare, moderately hard springtime snow.

One more thing from the WildSnow editors: We should mention the proprietary skin attachment of the Volare. At the tip, the skin terminates in a tiny rod shaped deal, which you slide under the plastic ski tip protector. At the tail, a small cam-latch is inserted up through the Trab ski swallowtail, then snapped down. The attachment is good and solid, but for the life of us we couldn’t figure out how to easily strip skins with skis still on. Perhaps some of you have ideas on how to make the Volare skin attachment do your bidding? If so, please comment. At this point, we feel this system is overly complicated.

Trab skis on sale here.

Volkl Nunataq Volkl Nunatag on sale here.
Length tested: 178 cm, Sidecut: 139/107/123, Radius: 27.4, Weight per ski: 63 oz, 1786 g
Soft snow: *****
Hard snow: ***..
Weight/Performance: *****

Volkl Nunataq review 2011 2012

Anton Sponar riding Nonataq in Chile last summer.

Ooh la la, we like these. Width, rocker, lightweight. One of the best human-powered soft snow machines we tested. Not too shabby on the hardpack either. Downside is with full rocker (all the way from boot position, to front and rear) you need to ski these long. That means extra weight and awkwardness on the backpack or in exiguous situations. Our complete review gives total beta, in brief:

Volkl appears to have kept their ear very close to the snowpack and simply built what most freeride backcountry skiers want. Start with a 107 waist, use a weight-optimized wood core, bring the rocker all the way to the boot area, don’t bother with a turned up tail, have good skiers test them before going to market. If you like wider planks for backcountry skiing, keep this guy at the top of your short list. Only downside is you will notice the width and total rocker when you’re on piste, but you’ll survive till you get to the powder, crude, mank, trapcrust, chowder, butter, corn and slop these skis eat like a bear dining on your cooler contents.

Note that proprietary skins can be purchased for the Nunataq. These use the ski tip hole for attachment, with a buckle hook over the tail. As with most of these arrangements we’re not impressed and would prefer something along the lines of what Dynafit does with their skin attachment system. On the other hand, if you want to shop and go, the Volkl skins function. Advantage of skin systems such as that of Nunataq is given proper adjustment and a skin notch in the tail (which Nunataq does not have), they stay on when other types of skin systems get shaky (e.g., systems such as Dynafit can do funny things when you ski downhill with skins on, due to the skin shifting backwards, and without tail notch the tail fix can easily be knocked off the ski to the side).

Overall, Nunataq is an awesome combo of width, rocker and design that should make just about anyone happy.

Volkl Nunatag on sale here.

Voile Vector Shop for Voile skis here.
Length tested: 180 cm, Sidecut: 121/96/110, Radius: 23m, Weight per ski: 55.5 oz, 1570 g
Soft snow: ****.
Hard snow: ***..
Weight/Performance: *****

Voile Vector backcountry ski review.

Modern geometry in a midfat.

It is no wonder that Voile sold out their whole stock of skis this year. When you offer something with the price/weight/performance ratio of the Vector (street price can be around $400), you deserve to sell through your planks like a funnel cake vendor handing out calories at a rodeo. Vectors have that perfect width for ski mountaineering. Wide, but not too fatty (unlike some of the cake consumers I saw at the last aggie event we attended). Requisite rocker along with average and adequate edge hold complete the recipe.

According to our reviewer, Anton Sponar, on a new route on Capitol Peak, Colorado: “I dropped in. Needless to say I was a bit nervous skiing steep firm snow above a 300 foot cliff. The Vectors made things much easier however. They felt solid. Once I had time to think (e.g., when I got to the bottom of the extremely long and scary rappel that completed our route), I was sold. The Vectors had done it all, and made it all fun.” More here.

Anton mentions in his review that he experienced one of the drawbacks of a rockered ski with a somewhat turned up tail, that being the feeling you lack enough tail for support when you throw your balance back from center. Some of you may be familiar with that feeling — or you might like having enough tail rise to throw moderate tricks now and then. In either case, be advised. Overall, another highly recommended ski in the quiver — and another that could be a quiver of one if so desired.

As far as shopping goes, these skis are hard to find. Look for them here.


Well, that’s it for this year’s Ultimate Quiver. Doing the project this season was a bit of a challenge due to the lack of Colorado snow, but between our various testers we rode the planks enough for a good take. As was our goal, we gave each ski what we feel is a much more extensive vetting than is normal for ski “reviews.” We’ll probably do a similar project next year, only with fewer skis and an earlier publication date (assuming we have a normal winter). Please remember that this is a “quiver,” and thus only skis we’d select if we could keep a preferred selection in our get-ready room at WildSnow HQ.

Yes, other good skis exist. Some may be your favorites and you don’t see them here. Oh the pain, oh the angst! If so, our comments section below is available for your evangelical pleasure. And speaking of comments, feel free to ask us questions about the different skis, and discuss.

Our main testers: Lou you know who, Lisa WildSnow Girl, Joe the WildSnow Production Assistant, Anton the Aspen ski instructor and owner of Ski Arpa in Chile, Louie WildSnow progeny, and Bob Perlmutter manager and guide for Aspen Mountain Powder Tours (by way of qualifications Bob has more than 4,000 ski days under his feet, with around 1,500 of those being powder days, including the two powder days he had as a kid when skiing in Michigan. If it wasn’t for his pink head scarf and double pole plants, we’d hand the quiver to him and just walk away, but one has to be discerning when it comes to ski testers… Also thanks for the feedback from other folks, too numerous to mention.

On high hazard days, we tested skis on mountains managed by Aspen Snowmass Ski Company. Thanks to them for comp tickets.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


120 Responses to “WildSnow Ultimate Ski Quiver 2012/2013 — Pink Head Scarves and Davenport Legs”

  1. Rob Mullins May 23rd, 2012 2:00 pm

    Ultimate quiver for me: Manaslu and Seven Summits! I still contend that an 80mm down to 70mm waist ski is superior for climbing and skinning on hard snow. The 80mm waist Seven Summit is truly a do-everything ski. Manaslu is the ‘do soft-snow great and other ok’ ski. And both are light. Nice to see my other ski, Stoke, got mentioned- good for going fast(er). But I like to tour the Manaslu more than the Stoke.

    Dynafit Speedskins cut to the ski and with the rubber-tip attachment are as well, great! harscheisen for both- nice system on Dynafit for attachment of ski crampons.

  2. Lou May 23rd, 2012 2:41 pm

    Hi Rob, thanks for the comment! I’d agree that the narrower waist is quite a bit better for skinning on hard snow. I’ve been skinning on wide boys quite a bit and they do torque on the ankles pretty badly at times. Seven Summits is incredibly popular in Europe, and they’re indeed a good ski. And yeah, we love the Dynafit skin attachment system — I’ve started to apply it to other brands/models as well by cutting slot in ski tip. Lou

  3. Frank K May 23rd, 2012 2:50 pm

    What’s with the weight/performance category? Surely you’re not saying that they’re one and the same.

  4. Lou May 23rd, 2012 2:56 pm

    He he, I knew you’d pipe in on that one! It’s weight vs performance. In other words, the lighter the ski is and still does some stuff well, the higher the weight/performance score. For example, the Element is a solid performer, but it’s heavy as all getout so it has a lower weight/performance rating. Obviously, it’s a fairly subjective rating. The idea is to give all you guys some idea of what skis might be good if weight is important to you. Lou

  5. Lou May 23rd, 2012 3:03 pm

    We can also act as ski consultants (grin). For you Frank, how about a Davenport, or the G3? And the Huascaran for your AK slayer?

  6. Frank K May 23rd, 2012 3:52 pm

    Darn, my disdain for the cult of lightweight skis made me predictable. Oh well.

    The Kastles (in at least a 104) are on my radar, nice and damp by all accounts, but I would be somewhat surprised if I liked the others you mention.

  7. Lou May 23rd, 2012 4:02 pm

    Frank, you’re just going to have to become more culturally diverse (grin). But yeah, this review is oriented to those of us who really like the lighter weight side of all our gear. Yet seriously, it’s worth noting that nearly all skis across the industry are lighter than they used to be per square centimeter of base area years ago, it’s a process that seems to continue on and on, proving that less mass doesn’t necessarily make a ski perform more poorly. But I do agree that many skis, including many in our review, do compromise between weight and performance. That’s why we have the weight/performance rating.

    Wish you could get out on the Volkl, would love your weight lover’s perspective on that one (grin).


  8. Frank K May 23rd, 2012 4:32 pm

    Anytime Lou (grin back at ya)

  9. john May 23rd, 2012 4:35 pm

    What about DPS?!?! Sorry had to say it, the review didn’t seem complete with out that being thrown in.

  10. Mike B May 23rd, 2012 5:41 pm

    @Frank it sounds like you would dig the FX104s. I’d say they will give back what you put in, which is a quality that I never found a lighter ski would deliver.

  11. Lou May 23rd, 2012 6:21 pm

    John, I won’t go into any details but it didn’t work out for us to get testers. They send Bob a pair that he mounted with alpine bindings for work, and liked, but we needed to use everything under human power so that didn’t help. What we reviewed is what we reviewed, lots of other good skis out there, DPS and more. Perhaps next year we’ll include DPS. Lou

  12. AndyC May 23rd, 2012 6:40 pm

    My quiver:

    195 karhu guide with speed radicals: forest roads, nordic ski patrol.
    184 Volkl Snowwolfs with Vertical STs (I prefer these to my 178 7 Summits for firm snow).
    187 Manaslu with Vertical STs as my go to ski.
    182 Stoke (haven’t skied it yet, just like the graphics, the hype, the price I paid and wanted to try a 100+ mm in the bc) with Radical STs.

    I use the TLT5 Mountain (but also have a Zzero 3 PB, Zzero 4 PU, and Zzeus).

    My lift-served quiver is a 2011 191 Volkl Mantra and 2012 188 Rossignol S7 with alpine bindings, but skied with the Zzeus. I might add my 7 Summits with Comforts and my Zzero 4 to my lift-served quiver for the days I ski with my granddaughter.

    Note: I am 65 yr, a balanced/finesse skier, 225 lbs, skiing (in injury free years) 100+ days in the bc and 12-25 lift served.

  13. Lou May 23rd, 2012 6:41 pm

    Nice Andy, thanks for sharing. Lou

  14. Shoveler May 23rd, 2012 6:51 pm

    This review is amazing. I’ve never read any ski review that had this level of detail and information about each ski. My only suggestion is you might have added something about the construction of each ski. Thanks for all your work on this, no wonder it took so long.

  15. David B May 23rd, 2012 7:09 pm

    I’m with John,

    I thought you were putting in a DPS review. Understand why based on your reply to John.

    I hope you get a chance to review for next year. I am really keen to see what you think of them. I have been researching DPS with a view to purchasing as a modern upgrade to my Trabs aka rocker etc. They really do appear to be crafting something special at DPS and taking things in an exciting direction.

  16. Lou May 23rd, 2012 7:22 pm

    I’m not sure where I ever mislead you guys on that, but if so, apologies. As for DPS, from everything I’ve heard they’re good skis and I’m sure we’ll enjoy testing them, but I doubt they are changing the world of skiing as we know it. There is just so much good stuff out there, it’s amazing. I ski with good skiers for month after month, and they do fine without DPS… at least physically, spiritually they are in constant crises. Lou

  17. Lou May 23rd, 2012 7:23 pm

    By the way, if you guys could focus on what is IN the review rather than what is not, you might find it a bit more useful!

  18. john May 23rd, 2012 7:23 pm

    Ah hell I was just poking fun. Besides I already have a pair of Wailers so why do I need a review? Thanks for doing the review, its neat to read about a ton of skis I’ve never tried.

  19. Lou May 23rd, 2012 7:39 pm

    John, no big deal, I expected to hear from some evangelicals just as soon as I published! I mean, not having DPS in there is like reviewing the Bible and leaving out Jesus, right?

  20. john May 23rd, 2012 7:58 pm

    Yeah I was surprised no one beat me to it.

  21. Bar Barrique May 23rd, 2012 10:11 pm

    Good stuff; I think that your reviews are very useful for comparison purposes, even if someone was looking at another similar ski.
    One thing that comes to mind when reading reviews; I am a lighter weight skier (usually about 145 lbs.) , so while I am loving light weight skis, they may not work as well for heavier skiers.

  22. Rob May 23rd, 2012 11:54 pm

    Lou – it took me the best part of a year to explain to my wife my I needed at least 3 pairs of skis in my quiver (on-piste skis, powder-day skis, and touring skis)…..now I need to convince her I need multiple pairs within each category! Any tips on that? 🙂

  23. Christian May 24th, 2012 1:49 am

    My quiver this year has been the Movmrnt Bond (comming in an even lighter version next year) and Kastle fx104.
    I’ve made a little review of the bond here:
    (Great ski, but could be a little more burly/have more floation in semi-breakable crust)
    The FX104 is charger ski that I have mounted with marker tours and ski with Tecnica Bogadicios. It is not lively, too straight cut for in-bound (IMHO)….but it provides a sense of security that I really like. It is not as easy as a rockered ski…but I feel that the predictabillity the non-rockerd tip gives is really good when skiing fast in mixed conditions. The dampening in refrozen crud is best in class.
    http://youtu.be/2sqTD1-FY1w (I’m skiing the fx104 with a chest mount, the other skier is using the stoke . (Video is from a company trip I was on…and logo is only locally relevant…and not ski-related (sorry))
    …and here is the a video from the same mountain, but using the bond – this is when I found the Bond’s weak spot (I was breaking through the crust):

    I might buy a more powder oriented ski next year, but a Vulcan boot might come first – it is just as important to have a boot quiver as a ski quiver. (Already have tlt5 and bogadicious)

  24. Forest May 24th, 2012 4:09 am

    Thanks for all the great reviews, Lou. Now, if Voile would only straighten out those tails and add a notch. I am SO happy that I “need” some new skis this year!

    Lisa – still looking like a hero on those Manaslus!

  25. Scott Davenport May 24th, 2012 9:30 am

    Light for the uphill Goode Wasatch @ 2.6 lb. Slight rocker for the down hill. Totally in love with the ski. Semi aggressive skier and age holds me back a bit.

  26. Jane May 24th, 2012 10:24 am

    Thanks for including a few women specific skis. I own a ski shop and we definately see an increase in women interested in back country and side country gear, especially the light weight skis for touring. The BD Starlet has been a good seller, and my personal choice but I do more side country than back country.

    Great information! Thanks for the detailed reviews.

  27. Nick May 24th, 2012 11:12 am

    Just a tiny nit-pick. The category of grading performance vs weight would be more intuitive and semantically correct if it was renamed “performance/weight” ratio, i.e. higher the ratio, the more stars. 🙂

    This comment is dual-purpose; it flags this as something I am following updates on.

  28. Lisa May 24th, 2012 11:27 am

    Forest – it pays to ski with a good photographer! Must admit, those Manaslus are becoming my favorites.

  29. Bob Perlmutter May 24th, 2012 11:56 am

    Jane, my wife has a pair of Starlet that she has used cat skiing, occaisional powder days at the area and for fitness uphilling at the areas. She likes it quite a bit and found it to perform across a much wider range of conditions than anticipated. Scott, I spent most of last spring and the first part of this season on the Goode Wasatch and couldn’t agree more. Personally I wish there was a bit more tip rocker for better soft snow performance but still a very good and very light ski. DPS lovers, while not included in the ultimate quiver, I did provide some glowing comments on the Wailer 112 earlier in the year on Wildsnow.
    In Lou’s defense, not every company is as willing, capable or interested in providing equipment for review as we all might like. While it’s not possible to test every ski, it’s not even possible to test every ski we would like to test. Here’s to trying because someone has to do it.

  30. harpo May 24th, 2012 5:34 pm

    Christian, thanks for that info on the Bond. I am very interested in the use of tip and tail rocker in that narrow a ski. I currently own a pair of Movement Logic X-Series and am wondering if it is worth upgrading to the Bond X series that is coming out next year. The Bond is I think 4mm narrower than the Logic in the waist. I will mostly be using these skis in consolidated conditions of late spring and summer but am wondering wether the fatter Logic or the rockered Bond will handle more variable conditions better? Anyone have any opinions?

  31. Maciej May 24th, 2012 7:14 pm

    Since I’m (back) in school, I don’t have the funds for a quiver, but I place performance FAR above weight in my considerations. As a result, I’m on a set of 4FRNT EHP’s, which work well everywhere and rip in the soft stuff. Even with Dynafits though, they’re not light skis.

    I’ve skied Wailer 112RP Pures with the same bindings (Vertical FT12’s) and they ski with the same dampness, edge-hold, and power of my far heavier EHP’s and weigh several pounds less. I found the DPS’s light enough that my BD Factor boots were overkill, even skiing steeps. Alas, replacing all of the fiberglass in a ski with carbon fiber is awesome, but also awesomely expensive.

    I hope you get to test a pair Lou, and I hope when I’m done with school I’ll be able to put a pair in the budget for myself.

  32. Sofia - WinterStays May 24th, 2012 7:45 pm

    Thanks for all the detailed reviews, the Volkl Nunataq seems like something I’d be keen to try out.

  33. Spiros May 25th, 2012 1:49 am

    since i live in Euro my quiver for the previous years was a atomic descender and i was more than happy. A friend left at my garage a pair of seven summits superlight. I skied them more than i expected in fact this became my go to ski as i found it a very adaptive and forgiving ski. This year reading all the comments here in wildsnow i took a end of season deal on a coomback, which unfortunaly due to a knee injury hadn’t skied it yet but concerning these i am reading here i wiil like it.
    So for next year i was thinking to add since selling the atomic the Manaslu but reading the ultimate quiver above it was added also the K2 Wayback since had liked ir so much….
    ouffff i am in a big dillema now but a good one!!

  34. Christian May 25th, 2012 6:01 am

    Harpo, I anot sure I can answer your question, but I went from Dynafit Mustagh Ata SL (187) to the Movement Bond (177). The floatation on bonds are not as good as on the Mustagh Atas, but the bond pumps a lot better…. I could probably ski faster with the mustagh ata in heavy snow, or crusty conditions due to the lack of sidecut……but…..the Bond feels like a better ski, and is way more fun. A longer bond might have given me more floatation and stabillity. All in all I am happy with my switch. The main difference, and the reason why I changed, is that I am able to use modern SL technique on the bonds, while I often ended up with more 80’/90′ style skiing on the Mustaghs. I went down in size because I like short turns. I am happy with the switch. It would have been nice to try the x-bonds…..

  35. Bryon May 25th, 2012 12:34 pm

    I see you have a Salomon Rocker2 115 in your quiver pic. No review???

  36. Lou May 25th, 2012 12:36 pm

    Nope, no review. We felt it was too much of an outlier in terms of how big and heavy it is. The one in the photo is more of a sidecountry rig. Good ski, works fine. Lou

  37. harpo May 25th, 2012 12:50 pm

    Thanks Christian. What do you mean by “pumps”?

  38. Sam F May 25th, 2012 1:44 pm

    I dont think putting dynafits on these really wide skis wise. high angle carves on a 110plus ski is going to torque your bindings way more than say 90-100mm skis.

    Thats my experiance anyway, not ripping on dynafits but they do have unique strengths AND weaknesses

  39. John May 25th, 2012 2:39 pm

    I regurarly ski DPS 190cm Lotus 120s with FT 12s. Drop small cliffs and lots of pillow lines. No prob. Plus it is a great deep pow touring ski.

  40. Lou May 25th, 2012 3:52 pm

    Lots of mythology about binding “widths.” See this post:


    Seat of pants engineering says that a wider binding foot is better, but I’m not so sure after thinking it through, as the leverage works both ways. Instead, the width of the _screw_ pattern is probably what’s important — if there is even a need to worry about that. And if you examine bindings you might find that the screw patterns of different models are not all that different in width.

    Me, I know a bunch of big guys who ski tech bindings on wide skis. I’ve never seen a binding rip out where that could have been caused by leverage in a turn. I’ve received a few emails about this, but have never been able to ascertain if the binding was mounted properly in the first place.

    Marketing and design people are well aware of all this mythology. Soon you’ll see tens of thousands of wider and thus heavier tech bindings introduced to replace the six that ripped out last year because the installer didn’t use epoxy and over-torqued the screws. Groan.

  41. snowbot May 25th, 2012 5:08 pm

    Since Lou asked for feedback about the skis in the quiver, I’ll give a big thumbs up for the Vectors. I skied them a few times this winter in deeper, softer snow on longer tours, and then chose them as my quiver of one for a week of late-season skiing at Thompson Pass (early May) when conditions were firm (not icy) and variable. They have sufficient flotation, They skin and ski like much lighter, narrower skis, and I can’t see the need for buying anything smaller for ski mountaineering. Beautifully balanced swing weight for short swings and hop turns, very round turns, stable at speed esp in deeper snow, skin on hard snow well, handle variable snow well. That said, there were times on steeper, chunky and variable snow I wanted a bigger platform and more mass. Something in the 105 waist – and there are some great suggestions here. Thanks.
    Vector 180 w radical/ vertical frankenbindings, Maestrale boots, 180#, balance/ finesse skier.

  42. Andy May 25th, 2012 7:12 pm

    Thought I’d put in a word for the Hi5’s. I ski them in 178 and love them dearly, super fun in pow. I’d maybe go a notch higher on their hardpack ability, as I ended up skiing them a bunch frontside while helping my girlfriend learn to ski, and I found them pretty fun in that capacity, too… my Mustagh Ata SLs in 178 are a little nicer on hardpack since they’re narrower and have longer running length, but the Hi5s are fine, too, IMO. That said, I’ve never bought a dedicated front side or slack country setup, so maybe my perspective would be skewed by having experience with dedicated alpine downhill planks. TLT-5P boots in 26.5, 165lbs, 5’9″, 45 days a year.

  43. Sam F May 26th, 2012 11:05 am


    Im not really taking about binding failure so much as pre-release at the toe. Youve demonstrated this on one of your videos. And i believe that this sort of pre-release is going to be more likely on a wider ski in hard snow. My regular dynafits skis are 98mm underfoot and not light, i almost never lock the toes and i dont want to.

    i have had them on 120mm skis, and i ended up haveing to lock the toes often. I know everyone locks the toes these days, but im not willing to risk my limbs so i can ski powder boards with dynafits.

    Lets be honest the Dynafits that were driveing 78
    mm skis 15yrs ago arent that much different than the latest and greatest these days. other than now they say 12.

  44. Christian May 26th, 2012 11:21 am

    Harpo, by “pumps” I mean a kind of skiing where you are not floating constantly, as you would on a super-wide ski, but the ski is at the surface when initiating the turn. I.e.you push yourself out of the snow to get on top. The ski seeks the surface, but does not have the support to keep you there. “Old-school”/”euro-style” powder skiing might be a different way of saying the same…except the stance isn’t as narrow anymore…. A ski with a lot of feedback helps in this.

    From 1″ in the video below, I do some “pumping” with the FX104 – but the chestcam does not really do it justice, and the fx104 is more a “power ski” than a “pumping ski”:
    The guy in the video below (from 27sek) might be a better example :

  45. Lou May 26th, 2012 2:05 pm

    Sam, ok, clear. I’m not sure it’s proven anywhere that wider skis would make the “toe opening to the side” accidental release any more likely. I actually believe it’s more a function of snow type and the size of the boot and skier, but I’ll concede that a heavier ski probably contributes, so if the wider ski is heavier, then yeah, perhaps… but know that the Vertical FT 12 with wide brakes comes with stronger springs in toe, and the Power Towers could also help prevent this (depending on how close the boot toe plastic is to the Power Towers. From what I’ve seen, it’s a trend in all tech bindings to have a stronger spring in the toe. Downside is you make that spring too strong, and it might cause the toe socket and pin to wear quickly. Remember you basically can’t change anything in a system like this without multiple consequences. Lou

  46. Sue May 26th, 2012 4:08 pm

    I love my k2 Gotbacks. Now I’ll have to try the Element and the Manaslu. Thanks for the review and your website. I love it!

  47. Lisa May 26th, 2012 5:50 pm

    Sue, great to hear from another backcountry girl. You’ll have fun on those skis. Thanks for chiming in.

  48. Richard May 26th, 2012 7:30 pm

    How are we ever going to know if Jesus was indeed resurrected and we are forgiven our sins if you didn’t explore the church of DPS?

  49. Dan May 27th, 2012 10:39 pm

    I’m with Jane, great to see more women-specific rigs reviewed. I have two daughters coming up and they always smile wider when it’s a woman in the photo.

    I’ve been raving about the Hi5 to anyone who will listen since December, “surfy” is a perfect word. They’re playful and predictable, and can rip a can on any short cut. I would rate them very high on hard snow/neve, I had no reason to question edge grip even in situations that resulted in downclimbs.

    Hi5 188, TLT5, RT (awesome), 6’3″, 190#, Chugach 26 days.

  50. Pablo Nogue May 28th, 2012 5:23 am
  51. sam May 29th, 2012 9:04 am

    Nice, Lou. I think my favorite part is the classic Perl double-pole-plant.

  52. BCskier May 31st, 2012 4:09 pm

    Thanks for the reviews Lou. Now just waiting for your take on the Gecko skins. Lisa seemed to like them, what about you?

  53. phil June 6th, 2012 3:26 pm

    So the legend of the ultimate quiver is true. and the best part is I don’t own any of these but now I have an excuse to buy more skis.

    I have a couple of questions/thoughts about volkl’s hollow core. I’ve got some volkl nanuq’s that where mounted with radicals which I’ve removed and added quiver killers. both the screws and quiverkillers had gone into the hollow core meaning less of the tread was in the ski. I’m not to worried as the inserts have a higher pullout strenght but I’d be interested if the hollow core reduces strength with screw mount.

    In the full review there was a question about durability, from what I could measure the hollow core goes right to the base which is 3mm so there are a series of strips the lenght of the ski that are only 3mm which I’m guessing won’t be as strong? and harder to repair if you go right through the base?

    I’m not a paid up member of the cult of DPS but I am curious about the hype. Whats the chance next winter you could let is know how they compare to say the nunataq and/or justice just to get a non fanboy opinion

  54. LePistoir June 21st, 2012 2:00 am

    The quiver for 2013:

    PM Gear Lhasa Pow 191 w/ Radical FT
    -(almost-)everyday backcountry touring
    With carbon in layup, GS sidecut and rockered tip plus semi-pintail, these are a directional ski for all kinds of three-dimensional snow. Only downside is swingweight for jump turns in tight couloirs.

    Goode Carbon 84 w/ Vertical ST
    -spring corn and couloirs and ski-mountaineering
    lightweight is great and skis even spring porn just fine.

    Volkl Bridge (2011) w/ Tour F12
    Inbounds ski that can handle pow days under a foot. Can also be used in sidecountry or loaned to friends who need a touring setup yet lack tech-compatible boots.

    ???????? w/ Radicat FT
    For having fun on all-pow, all-day kind of tours.
    120mm+ waist, tip/tail rocker, wants to surf, slarve, spin and slash.
    Not sure yet but looking at Noridica Radict, Atomic Bent Chetler, Moment Ghost Chant, Fat-ypus Rocker, 4FRNT CRJ, or G3 Highball.

    I thought that would cover it until I saw all the niches that the Wildsnow quiver covers!

  55. Lou June 21st, 2012 7:19 am

    Hey Pist, you have to have one ski we reviewed or you’ll get blocked from reading here (grin). But seriously, what you’re showing is just how many terrific planks are out there. Our quiver is just that, ours. Fun to share but not the end-all. Next year we’ll probably have a few less pair, and try to vary the brands a bit more by only having one ski per brand, but that might be difficult since some brands have skis we just like, and end up using several models. This especially true since we will always be 100% biased to human power and thus biased to the exceptionally lightweight models that some brands simply don’t bother with.

  56. Lou Dawson August 24th, 2012 9:49 am

    I’ve been doing some updating to the Ultimate Quiver ski review. Small edits, better shopping links, etc. Enjoy.

  57. Felix August 29th, 2012 2:41 pm

    Hey, all thumbs up for your great, great effort!
    Well at the moment I’m struggling between the K2 Wayback and the Dynafit Manaslu, which one of these two would you consider superior in powder snow and which one on hardpack, even icy slopes?? It’s such a difficult decision!!
    Thanks a lot!
    Cheers, Felix

  58. Lou Dawson August 31st, 2012 7:21 am

    Felix! Wayback is a bit better on hardpack, they’re both fun in pow though a huge difference is that Wayback is rockered and Manaslu is not. For me it’s a toss up and I ski both, since they’re both in my quiver (grin). In fact, this winter I’m trying a women’s version Manaslu as I want to see how the lighter color graphics do with ice formation on top of ski. When I travel and don’t know what conditions I’ll encounter, I generally bring Wayback. For pure pow laps, either one but I do enjoy the Manaslu.

  59. Rob August 31st, 2012 8:07 am

    Any thoughts on the new Dynastar Cham High Mountain series?

  60. Lou Dawson August 31st, 2012 8:18 am

    Rob, they look interesting. When we can ski them for more than a few hours (grin), perhaps they’ll make the cut. Or perhaps not. Skis are so good now that year-to-year improvements are minimal. That’s why in our review we’ll continue to mix up various vintages. Lou

  61. Mark Donohoe August 31st, 2012 10:15 am

    Lou, I picked up a set of Nunataqs. I am about 5’6″+ 155lbs/, I got the 170’s. I am currently skiing 172 Karhu BC’s, in the past have skiied 180cm skis. You mention that these ski’s should be skiied long. Did I screw up and get them too short? Hope not as they look really sweet. I ski in the sierras mostly about 50/50 between lifts and backcountry. Always do at least day tours in the spring.


  62. Zeb August 31st, 2012 11:55 am

    Lou–your link to the BD Justice leads to last year’s model, not the one you discuss.

  63. Amy August 31st, 2012 12:04 pm

    Thanks for the review. I again appreciate women views on skis. Another women backcountry ski I love is the Atomic Century. I have two season under my belt with them and just love how light and well they perform on powder days here in the Wallowas. They also fly through the crud. They are my go to ski!

  64. Jonathan August 31st, 2012 2:58 pm

    Lou, it would be great if you could update this info into the ski weights spread sheet, it would be awesome, as it seems to be getting forgotten about. And I use it all the time.

  65. RDE August 31st, 2012 4:57 pm

    Still waiting for somebody that I respect (like you guys) to review the Ski Logic -(-Bomb Squad in particular). They are so damn beautiful I’d buy them even if they were only slightly above mid-pack in performance.

    Skis are truly amazing in the fact that nearly identical dimensions can produce such startlingly different results. In my race quiver I have Fischer World Cup 188 Gs’s, and World Cup Heads in the same length. All that piezo electric stuff in the Heads actually works, and the difference in the way they ski is mind blowing.

  66. John September 1st, 2012 4:10 pm

    Having owned the FX94 since April of 2010 and skied them 100+ days on 3 Continents, they are still my favorite for steeps. I still prefer a full camber laminate ski.
    The 2 skis I like for long tours are the Trab Volare and the TX97.
    The Trab Volare is very light and versatile for touring but cannot be pushed as hard and fast as the FX94. I skied these 30+ days in Washington and Canada.
    I spent some time this summer on my TX97s and they perform well as an all condition touring ski, without the tip chatter some other early rise skis have. From hard pack to powder this is a very predictable ski. Another ski you have to dial it back a notch from the FX94.
    The pair I have mounted but have not yet used is the 2012 Volkl Nanuq.

  67. alan swart September 1st, 2012 7:52 pm

    Ok, I searched wallets and didn’t find my answer. I see various suggestions to bring your wallet, wallet friendly, empty your wallet, etc. I hand make sail cloth wallets (high tech kevlar) Super thin and compact and moisture and water proof. I am interested in starting a Kickstarter campaign late this year or early next year. How does one get reviewed or mentioned on Wild Snow?
    Thank you for your time.
    Alan Swart

  68. Lou Dawson September 2nd, 2012 3:59 pm

    Everyone, we were up at WildSnow FHQ for the last three days processing firewood. Apologies for the comments that got held in moderation. Back on it. Lou

  69. John Sanders September 2nd, 2012 4:42 pm

    Thanks for the review. At the narrower end of the spectrum has anyone seen or used the Trab Maestro? How might it compare to the Random-X? Where might you be able to buy either in the USA?

  70. David B September 2nd, 2012 6:56 pm

    David B and Lou,

    Apologies Lou, but David B did bring up the DPS debate.
    I skied Trab Stelvio Freeride XL for human powered back country skiing and loved them. The carbon fibre was a revelation for me. Light, strong and held an edge like I couldn’t believe for such a light ski. However I felt like I was missing something due to the tradition dynamics of the ski, so based on an early Wildsnow post about DPS I went searching for them.
    Ater skiing the Wailer 99 and 112 in both Pure and Hybrid constructions I was blown away and haven’t strapped on the Trabs since. The DPS just powered through anything without fault and when I did find some piste they were still enjoyable. I’ve skied them in chest deep powder in Japan through to bullet proof in NZ and they can be summed up in one word “fun”. So David B, do yourself a favour and get on a pair, you will not regret it.
    Thanks to Wildsnow, I have been converted to DPS, so Lou you must take responsibility as it was here that I first discovered DPS.
    I am now the Australia & New Zealand DPS rep. That’s how much I love them.
    Keep up the good work Lou.

  71. David B September 2nd, 2012 6:59 pm

    Ok that was just a bit of fun.

    But it is true and I did the research, I took my own advice and I didn’t regret it.

    Cheers Lou.

  72. Lou Dawson September 3rd, 2012 6:19 am

    David, I’m glad to hear the chatter here led you to some skis you like. That’s indeed the point of the exercise! I’ve got no doubts that for a lot of people, DPS are a fantastic choice in skis. One thing occurs to me: Much of this stuff has to do with your style of skiing. In review above we do allude to that. For example, read the Trab Volare review. Myself, I can adjust to what style is appropriate for the ski, though I do have my preference in a sort of cross between old and new, when I make looser turns, but don’t ski as fast as total freeride style. A longer rockered ski lends its self to that style, for sure, especially the rocker.

  73. Lou Dawson September 3rd, 2012 9:12 am

    Jonathan, I’ll work on the ski weights chart. It does get updated still, but I’ll admit I’ve been slow. Apologies. The lack of snow last winter really threw a wrench in things, along with me doing more travel than normal. Hopefully this winter will go smoother.

  74. Lou Dawson September 3rd, 2012 9:48 am

    Zep, regarding BD Carbon Justice, as far as I can tell the shopping link above is correct, and the ski is unchanged for 2012/13. I’m checking to make sure, will know tomorrow when everyone is back at work selling skis (grin). Lou

  75. See September 3rd, 2012 11:00 am

    I’ve perused a lot of ski reviews over the years, and Wildsnow’s get my skier’s choice award. They are quick to initiate, fun and nimble. Definitely not too light weight to blast through the crud.

    I picked up some green Justices a few weeks ago. According to the video linked below (see about 50 seconds in), the new Justices are the same as last year’s, just with different graphics.


    I’ll probably mount an old set of Verticals on the new boards, but I’m curious to see what this seasons Radicals are like.

    South America trip reports are fantastic.

  76. Lou Dawson September 3rd, 2012 11:26 am

    See and all, exactly, this year’s Justice (carbon) is same ski as last year. I just heard back from the gurus.

    This is a very good ski, and street prices make it a steal. The graphics don’t matter, just make sure you’re getting the carbon version.

    Glad you’re enjoying the TR from SA! Perhaps next year it’ll be the whole WildSnow staff down there for the summer?!

    And thanks for the kudos on the review. It ended up being quite a bit of work for all of us, due to the thin winter. As mentioned in the intro, the point isn’t to review everything out there (impossible), we just accumulate a quiver by hook or by crook, and review the ultimate result. Next year’s will be different, but probably have some of the same boards. It’ll evolve from year to year. Most importantly, we’re not interested in recommending skis that we test for two days. Any ski in the quiver needs to be wrung out. With a decent winter that goal will be much easier.


  77. See September 5th, 2012 8:23 pm

    I hope my attempt at humor didn’t obscure my sincere regard for your excellent article.

    Also, interestingly (at least to me), the Dynafit website binding specifications are listing “DIN Range,” e.g. the Vertical ST has a “DIN Range” of “Oct 05.”

  78. Lou Dawson September 9th, 2012 5:58 pm

    Jonathan and all, I updated the weights chart

    It now has all the skis from the Ultimate Quiver. I also changed the chart so it’s easier to update from our back-end systems. All, please let me know if the chart doesn’t display in your browser or something like that.

    Thanks all for the feed back. It makes the to-do list pretty long, but I keep checking things off.


  79. Phil October 17th, 2012 7:44 pm

    from you reviews the Nunatuq sounds like a great ski for snow conditions here in new zealand (wind effected, heavy and sometimes wet). however as i have the slightly skinner Nanuq already I was thinking the charger might compliment the quiver better. can you give any comment on how the charger compares to the Nunataq in more challenging snow conditions.
    would the huascaran be less full on in a shorter length?

  80. Lou Dawson October 18th, 2012 6:03 am

    Phil, for difficult snow I liked the full rocker of the Nunataq, and the fact that Anton really liked the skis for a season of guiding in SA indicates just how good a ski it is. Lou

  81. john nobil October 31st, 2012 6:43 pm

    can anyone speak to the faction agent 90/100series? were they part of the testing sample? the swiss seem to have a very light ski here.
    love the weight/performance ratio of my “quiver in 2” BDJustice & Aspect, with Aspect basically a lighter more touring friendly Justice with a nice round flex for variable b.c. conditions. Yes, even the Aspect can smear when wanted. And i say, way 2 go keep the sub 8lb weight ceiling even for fat b.c. boards. Just encourages the industry to get real about performance/weight…

  82. Phil November 16th, 2012 11:45 am

    I have an old pair of these and they are a hoot to ski…yes, my Manaslu skis are wonderful, but the Shuksan keep producing the grins..

    Questions: Is the 2012 Shuksan a different design that previous years? How would you rate it in different conditions?..only use them for skins and turns.


  83. Paul Brown November 20th, 2012 3:37 pm

    Hi Lou- I’m interested in what you had to say about the K2 Waybacks. I’m currently on K2 Mt Baker Superlights in 167 and thinking about upgrading to something with rocker, like the Waybacks. I ski a longer ski at the ski area and was thinking about going with 174’s, so was interested in your comments regarding your height and weight, and the 167’s vs 174’s for that ski.
    So can I ask – what is your height and weight?

  84. Lou Dawson November 20th, 2012 4:43 pm

    5 foot 10, 150/155 lbs, and the longer ones do ski better for me, but I like the shorter ones for big trips, I have both in the quiver (grin). Was on the short ones today for some uphilling and chunder downhill at one of our yet-to-open resorts.

  85. Griff November 20th, 2012 6:23 pm

    As a comparison for the Waybacks, I’m 5’11” and 190 lbs. I’m on the 181’s and love them at that length. I was also at one of our yet-to-open resorts today (probably the same one) for some exercise and skied the one groomed, sunbaked WRD (White Ribbon of Death) that the snowmakers/groomers have managed to eek out. I really enjoyed this ski today. Of course, it was my first day out this season. 😉

    Be well…

  86. Bilman December 1st, 2012 10:22 am

    Hi, Looking for a lightweight touring ski (up, full day, down) to go with TLT5s and Speed Radicals. Waybacks and Manaslu sound very good. Questions – in Can. Rockies and Selkirks would it be better to go wider. And would it be a good idea to go shorter for this application? Very good downhill skier, 5′ 9″, not for aggressive skiing, not for resorts. I can get Manaslu 169cm (178s aren’t available). p.s. This is my first AT setup (telemarked in the past).

  87. Lou Dawson December 1st, 2012 11:36 am

    Waybacks are amazing. They just won (again) an “all around” category in the Alpin Magazine ski tests. Manaslu is a bit more specialized of a ski, not rockered but strictly for soft snow. I happen to run both of them, when doing pure powder laps I still prefer the Manaslu, but when traveling I tend to grab the Waybacks. Or, one of the other 12 or 15 skis we have on hand at the moment in the Ultimate Quiver (grin).

  88. Bilman December 1st, 2012 4:45 pm

    I was carefully reading the ultimate quiver and your comment really clarifies the difference; cross comparisons are really helpful. Looks like I can get a Wayback 174cm which I believe should be a good length me. I’ll have to wait till next year for another ski to start my quiver (hmmm – Jan is next year). Thanks.

  89. JCoates December 10th, 2012 6:21 am

    I’ve been skiing the Voile Vectors with TLT-P’s and Dynafit low-tech race bindings the last 2 seasons. I can’t say enough good things about that ski. They are a ridiculously easy to ski and I feel guilty how easy they handle crud when my buddies are squirreling around in the breakable crust. I’ve taken a few hard rock hits so far this season which would have core-shot my last skis but they seem to be really well made and so far no issues.

    I would be interested to see how the ski against the DPS Wailer 99’s, as they might be a good poor-man option for the guy who can’t afford DPS. In fact, the Vectors are even lighter than the Wailer Carbons, but about a 1/3 of the price. It’s nice to have a smaller American company putting out good skis that most of us can still afford…And no, I’m not a rep.

  90. Lou December 10th, 2012 6:57 am

    They are indeed pretty similar, though when skiing the DPS the last few days I’m feeling more back there in the tail when I finish my turns…

  91. Thomas White December 14th, 2012 10:28 am

    Crowdsourcing a quiver:

    I’m looking to expand my quiver of one with a second ski. I currently have a 174 Coomback with Speed Radical bindings. I’d like to have a ski with a brake for volunteer patrol use.

    I could either go to a bigger ski like the Justice and use that on piste or a ligher ski like the Wayback and move the Speed Radicals to that ski and put a Radical ST on the Coomback.

    I ski mostly on the Colorado Front Range, Berthoud Pass and Summit County. I do 5-7 overnights in an average year. I’m wondering if I’d get more use out of the Wayback/Coomback pair or the Coomback/Justice. I’m intrigued by the idea of how the Justice can make a funky thin snow cover–we get lots of that on the front range–into good skiing. I do hope to do some tours in the Alps in the next year or two and the Wayback would be sweet for that and overnight trips.

    Any suggestions from the crowd?

  92. Tim January 20th, 2013 7:33 am

    Lisa/Lou… womens ski question..We are on the East Coast (Boston) and ski mostly Vt/Nh/Me My G-friend and I are just setting into BC, after 30 years of lift serve stuff.. she’s a strong lift serve skier, 5’5″ , 130, put her into a set of Scarpa Gea Rs’s and her first set of Bc skis are Starlet’s with Frichie Pro’s…

    Based on how I’m not really keen on my Drifts(I’ve got a set of Backlashes and Tonics that I do like, driven by Mercurys) I wanted her to try something that would be a bit of a cross over for more of what we actually get for conditions, rather than what I think is a mostly frest powder day ski …

    she demo’d a set of K2 Talk Backs with dynafits (her first time on dynafits…she liked the weight savings over the Pros) she was pretty ok with the performance of the talks backs , but it wasn’t an extensive test… her lift serve skis are a set of Burning Luvs and a set of Lotta Luv’s (driven by lang comp 110’s) .. her previous skis were mostly Vokl’s going back to the straight , long days of Renn Tigers…

    anyhow what would you suggest that has more edge hold and pop that the starlets, probably going to insert the ski so she can use the Frichies lift serve and dynafits for touring, in a sub 160 length (she target fixates on trees when we Glade ski, so I want something she can turn …now) thats pretty light (she’s starting to love light)

    Thanks for any guidance you can supply

  93. Lou Dawson January 20th, 2013 8:06 am

    First thing is if this is a resort crossover setup, you don’t want to be worrying about saving weight with skis. Just get something that skis good in the majority of your conditions (according to Backcountry Magazine photography, that’s powder, but it sounds like you might have a more realistic view …). I’d suggest you look at K2 Backup, layers of metal are always a nice thing when you want edgehold and pop, as well as a less than plump waist. I looked at some websites and Backup doesn’t appear very available, but I didn’t look very hard. I’ll bet you can find them somewhere, perhaps for a demo.

    Also, I’d advise not having the ski being a “women’s” model be a factor. Just get what works.


  94. Tim January 20th, 2013 8:56 am

    thanks…appreciate it

  95. Tim January 20th, 2013 9:10 am

    Wow Lou, just read the write up… I think you nailed it.. and they are cheep (at EVO) I’m sure I can move them at the local consignment shop if she hates them for that price…. would you guess the 160length? (the other choice is 167, her starlets are 166…, i’m leaning toward the 160, for the more fun factor)

    Thanks even more…


  96. Tim January 21st, 2013 7:19 am

    Ordered up a set of the Backups… thanks… stumbled into what seems to be a deal at one of the local stores… BD Stigmas … new, unmounted in the wrappers for 150.00, in 160 … (have them on hold) tried to do a review search but can’t find anything but the BD press releases…. decent ski? as an addition to the stuff she has, or a runaway as fast as I can? … I figure I’d insert the the ski’s so I don’t have to buy xtra bindings and the #’s seem like I could swap skins between them and the Backups …


  97. Lou Dawson January 21st, 2013 7:48 am

    Tim the Stigmas are super light, we use a pair for uphilling and rando racing. I don’t really recommend them for backcountry skiing. Lou

  98. Jay January 26th, 2013 9:28 am

    anybody have any feedback on the dynastar Cham high mountain 107 ???

  99. Scott Davenport January 27th, 2013 7:20 am

    I have the Cham 97 High mountain. It is a quiver of one – full Rocker reverse radius tip with a 16 radius side cut. It is one of those skis that I had to buy because the technology is so superior to anything else that i have skied. Not that there aren’t other fine skis out there but for my skiing ability it does it all. Highly recommended.

  100. Tim K February 13th, 2013 8:50 pm

    Lou… she loves the backups…. thanks…

    BTW just skied one of the gullies at Tuckermans Ravine in NH today… you and wildsnow were the topic of conversation with my guide… Mark Synnott…. he said to say hi… and I should pay attention to what you write…. LOL

  101. Phillip March 10th, 2013 7:55 pm

    About the Cham 97 High Mountain…

    First how does it ski by length? And where does this ski fit into the AT scene, is it close to the Wayback? Is it difficult to fit skins? Looking for an all round backcountry ski to compliment my Manaslus…

  102. Lou Dawson March 10th, 2013 8:43 pm

    Hi Tim, that’s pretty funny, small world. Now he’s a ski mountaineering guide? Career number 486 for the man (grin). I should add, he’s a danged good writer and just about as good a climber (grin).

  103. Lou Dawson March 10th, 2013 8:49 pm

    Phillip, perhaps someone here can chime in about that version of the Cham. Dynastar told us the only way we’d get to test them is if we went to a demo at a resort. That’s lame, so we won’t be testing them. Ultimate quiver requires multiple testing days, in the backcountry and at the resort. Not that big a deal to us, as we have a bunch of other amazing skis we’re wringing out. Alpin liked the 87 version but said the performance of the 87 didn’t translate to the 97.


    The 87 won their narrower ski test.

  104. Phillip March 10th, 2013 9:09 pm

    Thanks Lou for info on Cham 97…that is indeed lame to only be allowed to test at a resort..the Alpin review likewise specifically comments only on the HM 97s resort performance…not much to go on with there review..they rated the 87s in the touring class.

    Hopefully someone here can fill in the blanks…

  105. Lou Dawson March 11th, 2013 5:57 am

    Phil, we’re all set with a zillion ski choices for Ultimate Quiver, and we’re emphasizing wider/lighter this year anyway, so if we can’t test a few brands it’s no big loss. There are so many TERRIFIC skis out there now, differences between the good ones are mere quibbles and sometimes only brand perception and psychology. Part of the Ultimate Quiver project is to just use what we can get, like any skier, only we can get more (grin).

  106. Tim K March 11th, 2013 8:14 am

    LOL Lou…. Marks got quite the little business going on….


    I met Mark at the recommendation of my buddy Dave Furman from Mammut NA
    I’m using Mark in the “mentor” role you mention in your education of littleski ….
    I’m learning a lot of unpleasant things can happen away from the safety of the lifts around Mt Washington

  107. Lou Dawson March 11th, 2013 8:38 am

    Mark is a good man for that!

  108. Spaltaxt September 1st, 2013 2:55 pm

    Hi, I check your blog regularly. Your humoristic style is witty, keep it

  109. Heath December 5th, 2013 10:50 pm


    Trying to decide between the 181 and 188 Coombacks.. I’m 6′ and 185 pounds and spend 90% of my time in the backcountry skiing moderately aggressive terrain in Colorado. Bindings will be Dynafit radical TLTs. My 188 Hardsides feel a tad long but that could simply be because of their longer turning radius and I was skiing shorter “snappier” boards previously.


  110. ES March 14th, 2014 3:13 pm


    Looking for some guidance on a solid women’s ski for bc in Colorado!

    Currently in my 2nd season in the backcountry, using Icelantic Oracle’s (155) with Marker Baron’s and Scarpa Gea RS boots. Maybe you just cringed thinking about skiing uphill with cinder blocks attached to your boots? Yeah… I will be keeping this setup for the resorts but it is time to upgrade!

    I already have a pair of Dynafit Speed Radicals, have narrowed down the ski to the women’s Manaslu in a 161 or the G3 Cake in either 157 or 166.

    I’m a good skier, confident, but not aggressive, still improving my technique. I don’t go particularly fast, would rather have fun being out there, making nice turns and popping in and out of trees. Any advice on one ski over the other?

  111. Lou Dawson March 14th, 2014 4:22 pm

    ES, the Manaslu is more of a specialized soft snow touring ski, Cake is more versatile, but heavier (though still in the touring weight class). If you’re just touring on the skis and only on soft snow, you’d probably be perfectly happy with Manaslu, but Cake will feel more like an alpine ski. My take, anyhow….

    I can’t believe you toured on that gigantic binding, who convinced you that was necessary, former boyfriend (grin)?


  112. NickD USA March 14th, 2014 9:52 pm

    Heath, I would definitely go 181 for the Coomback. I am 6’3”, 190 lb. and they are plenty stable and float fine in the bc. K2 run 3-4 cm longer than other brands so that 188 would be 190+ compared to other brands. They have light rocker with tip so ski fairly true to size. Longer is heavier for skiing, harder kickturns, and heavier skins. I have a few lift days as well with them and fine on hardpack within limits. Of course if you are part of the TGR hardcore….:roll:

  113. NickD USA March 14th, 2014 9:54 pm

    edit previous comment to state longer is certainly heavier for ”skinning”. Sorry.

  114. Erik Erikson March 15th, 2014 1:01 am

    Heath, I´m about 6.2, 170 pounds, have the coombacks in 188 and really love them. I feel they turn easyer than my 181 waybacks, at least in deeper snow (maybe partly because the mounting point is quite forward compared to the waybacks)
    But I have to say I ski them quite aggressiv, always doing big turns. If I had only one pair of skis I´d choose them in 181, just for the better skinning and the lighter weight.

  115. ES March 15th, 2014 11:18 am

    Lou, thanks for the response!

    This would be a setup strictly for backcountry use. Like you said, the Cake is appealing because it will ski similar to an alpine ski (what I’m accustomed to) while being lighter for touring. BUT…it’s hard to resist the Manaslu for the weight savings as well as reviews saying how fun it is. Man, I HOPE there’s soft snow every time I head out but I think that’s just wishful thinking.

    And yes, former boyfriend sold me on the gear…lightening the load this spring in more ways than one, ha ha.

  116. JonB March 26th, 2014 10:06 am

    Lou and Crew- Any review yet on the BD Carbon Convert or the glass version of that ski? Curious as to what you think of it. Enjoy the corn.

  117. Bob Perlmutter March 26th, 2014 3:53 pm

    Hi JonB, I have a brand new pair of recently arrived BD Carbon Convert w/ Vipec within arms reach as I write this note. I hope to get out on them in the next few days with a preliminary review to follow.

  118. See January 24th, 2016 7:43 pm

    I was recently mounting some Huascarans with epoxy and I noticed that some of the holes were very thirsty. I was using a syringe, and it seemed like the epoxy was either flowing into empty space or being absorbed as if by a sponge. I think these skis have some foam in the core, but I’ve mounted foam core skis and never observed this.

    Then, when tightening a screw, I stripped one of the holes. This hole wasn’t just tweaked around the threads, it was a crater. And I think I felt it fail before the screw was even half way home. (The hole was in the middle of the ski where I believe there is a very thin wood strip in the core with foam on either side.)

    I filled the stripped hole with epoxy/West 404 and I will attempt to complete the mount when it cures (and then test it, Yippee!). I’m not a shop tech, so pretty much every pair of skis is a new adventure, but these skis seemed weird.

  119. Lou 2 January 25th, 2016 12:07 am

    See, do you think the epoxy might have dissolved some of the foam or something? I doubt it, but you can test by using the drill shavings that come out of a hole, and putting them in a puddle of epoxy. More likely you did hit a place that lacked proper binding screw reinforcement. I’ve had that happen a few times lately on other brands and models. I’m thinking that some companies are trying to save a few grams by using minimal binding reinforcement plates. Lou

  120. See January 25th, 2016 9:23 am

    I’m afraid those drill shavings have gone wherever drill shavings go. I filled the stripped hole with epoxy and it stayed filled, so the foam doesn’t appear to be dissolving.

    My best guess at this point is that I cross threaded the screw (hole was tapped) and this somehow caused the plate to crack, but I don’t think I did.

    The hole is a couple cm from the edge of the metal mounting plate, the outline of which is visible on the top of the ski. This brings up another odd thing about these boards– the plates seem only to be covered by a very thin layer rather than being deeper within the structure.

    The top sheet is clear in places and the laminate looks a bit resin-starved, but I don’t have any good explanation for this issue except maybe you really need carbon to make a ski this wide so light.

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