March 2016. Flash, new contenders in the lightweight game are in WildSnow evaluation. Big news is Volkl VTA88 Lite for 2016/2017 is only 1132 grams for a 180cm but skis amazingly well downhill, near the top of our chart!
This is definitely the “gear geek” side of WildSnow.com (thankyou verymuch). But knowing this stuff helps us enjoy ski touring as less weight on the feet simply feels good. We spend quite a bit of time on this project using real-world measurements of skis we have here in the workshop. Spreadsheet formula is fairly simple and subject to slight revisions, which I’ll make sure get updated in this chart. I did a lot of experimenting with different formulas and most arrived at the same spread of weights for the comparison of the different skis, so as I refined it was really just splitting hairs. Guest blogger Jonathan got started on this a while back, but we needed to do it where I had more skis in hand and the current ones for our Ultimate Quiver, so better we do another version. Much rounding and some estimation is involved, so don’t look at this as an exact way of comparing several similar skis. For example, the Goode and the Dynafit Cho Oyu we evaluated are only one score-point different, which means they are virtually the same.
First chart is ski weight vs surface area score, the stat that skiers focused as much on downhill as the uphill should focus on. Below that you’ll find length vs weight which for the total weight fanatic is perhaps the more important stat. Click on and slowly mouse over the bars for a score number.
Second chart takes length vs weight and sorts with lightest at the top. This is the chart you’d used to pick what is simply the lightest ski, regardless of width.
If we get around to it, you’ll see a third chart that lists the skis by their actual weights, regardless of length or width.
Bear in mind that some brands of skis have unpredictable variations in weight/surface as well as length/weight when lengths of the same models are compared. We assume this is because sometimes a shorter ski can be built quite light as it undergoes less leverage and generally supports lighter skiers, but by the same token the shorter skis could be overbuilt if laid up and the same as a longer ski, and thus appear heavier per unit surface or length.
Again, skis within a few points of each other are virtually the same, so be careful if you tend to obsess.
We used unrolled “deployed” lengths (rounded for display, measured to several millimeter accuracy for the spreadsheet), but the lengths shown on the chart bars are the manufacturer’s stated model ‘length.’ Sometimes the two measurements are the same, sometimes they’re slightly different. All chart data is subject to revision (as are our formulas) as we verify retail ski weights, correct typos, and so forth. So if you’re tempted to try and reverse engineer what we’re doing with this, I’d suggest that would be a waste of time.
In terms of shopping for the best weight/price/performance ratio, we’re thinking the sweet spot on the chart is the score 71 to 80 range. The lighter skis are tempting but expensive, and the heavier ones may be unsuitable for folks doing much hiking, though perhaps more to the liking of aggressive skiers or those needing a plank that works well as a lift-served resort board with crossover to the BC.
Due to the nightmarish way Google keeps changing things behind our back, the following charts used to have live updates from our source spreadsheets and be visible to anyone. But not anymore. Now we have to process and upload simple images. More work for us, but should convey the same info you used to get from our former charts. Only thing is we added a few steps to our workflow in that we have to publish new images each time we update. Oh well, nobody said it was easy — or did Google say that? Liars.
Due to small ongoing revisions we’re not sharing our formula for figuring weight vs surface, but it is pretty simple. We basically just split the ski into two trapezoids based on an average of where the ski waist is located. The area of the traps is then made into a score based on ratio of weight and surface area. We compensate a bit for an average tip and tail shape, measure things fairly accurately with skis in hand (no catalog or magazine data, but occasional data from trusted sources), and let the spreadsheet do the calcs. Again, bear in mind that due to our estimating and averaging (as well as the fact that the same ski model will frequently vary a few grams in weight from one to the next), skis within a few score points of each other (next to each other on the charts) are essentially the same score — thus, don’t obsess.
For example, the top 5 or 6 skis on the chart are all amazing in terms of their weight, though remember this is surface/weight so the actual lightest weight skis in terms of length/weight are somewhat different.
Those of you contributing data, remember we build these charts using actual measurement of the ski including measuring width, “unrolled” length, and averaged weight of both skis weighed on a tested scale. If you would like to contribute data, please contact us with contact link above and we’ll consider it. All, please remember that skis with similar positions on the charts are virtually the same in terms of weight — the intent of these charts is to place skis into weight “classes” so you know what you’re getting when you shop. To that end, keep in mind that ski weight may vary quite a bit in a manufacturing run, so skis that are close together on the chart can trade places depending on which ones we weigh. Thus, again, don’t consider a ski to be significantly heavier than another unless it’s in an obviously different class on the bar chart, based on length of bars. The skis also have a score, but we’ve had trouble getting the Google charts to display that. We’ll keep trying.