Quiver Pick of the Week — Volkl Nunataq Ski Review

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 3, 2013      

Volkl Nunataq - not a WildSnow dog though the rider might require a leash. New graphics for 2013/14 but this award winning plank remains the same inside.

The perfect ski job? Bob Perlmutter may have it. As co-manager of Aspen Mountain Powder Tours, he has been taking clients snowcat skiing on the back of Ajax for the past 30 years. 10,000+ vert on work days, 35 years of AT skiing with Lou, and various other ski adventures around the world makes Bob a valued contributor for the WildSnow Ultimate Quiver review. Two years ago, he skied the Volkl Nunataq in a 178 cm. Other WildSnow reviewers loved the ski. He didn’t. He said the 178 felt like a clunky GS ski with little playfulness, and had to ski them fast, 30 mph or more, before they felt responsive. Perhaps they were too long since he is 130 pounds, 5’8″ tall, and generally prefers a slightly shorter ski.

This year, Volkl sent us the Nunataq in 170 cm. Just as a tailored pair of jeans can make you look better than Beyoncé, the right length can turn a ski from clunker to cruiser. Would the 170s impress Bob? I handed them over and here’s his take.

“I skied them for five days of guiding snow cat powder skiing with a run down late afternoon groomers on Aspen Mountain to top off the day. The experience was exactly opposite of my previous time on the 178’s. To my surprise, I found the 170 Volkl Nunataq to be perfectly sublime, smooth as silk yet surprisingly responsive. Despite what I thought would be too short, 170 cm provided adequate surface area to float pow yet offered energetic life and responsiveness, not too damp or too dead despite the smoothness.

The real test came when a group of young, sponsored free ride athletes showed up to book the cat. Bachelor party alpine style…I knew it would be a day of non stop, hard-charging hubris. Not quite ready to trust the Nunataqs, I spent the morning on my favorite full carbon construction powder planks. In the afternoon I switched over to the Nunataqs. To my delight, they easily kept pace with the exuberant lads. When it came time to put the pedal to the metal, they didn’t let me down. Age, cunning, and the right equipment still holds it’s own with youthful exuberance less the big air.

In the shorter 170 cm length, the Nunataqs were much more maneuverable than the 178s I skied previously. Nor did they require mach schnell speeds to get them going. That said, I still found the optimum turning radius to be rounder with a medium to longer radius turn shape. The Nunataq doesn’t offer the lightning quick edge to edge responsiveness of narrower skis or full carbon construction skis, but the preferred turn shape is not one lacking responsiveness.

The Nunataq is fully rockered tip to tail. It took a few turns on a late afternoon groomer down Ajax to figure out how to carve and not wash out. But once I dialed in the stance, I was impressed with how well they tracked for a shorter length. Being fully rockered they required a higher edge angle but once tipped over on edge they engage quite well, carving beautiful arcs. Also, the skis had no issues with deflection in chopped snow. When I farmed an acre of sun crust, they sliced through it like powder.”

Volkl Nunataq 170 cm, 139/107/123, 1618 grams or 57 ounces per ski. Below average WildSnow surface vs weight score.

Mounting position notes: Bob skied at neutral position as marked on the 170s. The indicated mount position for our 2012/13 178s seemed a bit rearward mounted. Lou skied them that way as well as mounting 1 cm forward, which he liked better. The newer 178 Nunataq with the updated graphics has a changed mount position and mounting on factory mark is where you want to be. True to form with our extensive testing of Ultimate Quiver skis, we’ve frequently been trying different mount positions. Doing so sometimes results in too much workshop time, but has been worth it time after time.

Shopping notes: The graphics will change for 2013/14 but the award-winning Nunataq is the same ski no matter which model year. We’ve seen these on sale at brick-and-mortar shops so if you can’t find any online do some phone calls. Nunataq was overall winner of this season’s Alpin Magazine ski tests, which is significant. During testing this year we’ve found our selected ski lengths to be as important as ever, as is the boot mount position. Perhaps things have always been that way and we’re just more sensitive for some reason. Whatever the case, if you are Bob’s size be sure to consider the 170 length. If you’re larger, Lou and other testers concur that the 178 length is their favorite and a go-to winner. Overall, no doubt whatsoever that Volkl Nunataq will again be in our Ultimate Quiver.

Shop for Volkl Nunataq at REI

Check Backcountry.com and see if they’ve got any.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


100 Responses to “Quiver Pick of the Week — Volkl Nunataq Ski Review”

  1. joe merriman April 3rd, 2013 10:44 am

    Bob: I noticedyou said your favorite powder ski is a carbon fiber board. Just what make/model/length is the board?

    Thanks, Joe

  2. John April 3rd, 2013 11:07 am

    Neat to see the benefits of going shorter. I totally drank the Koolaid and have been skiing a 190cm 112mm underfoot ski all winter. I’m real excited to get my new to me pair of 174cm Atomic Kailias mounted for some spring skiing. I’m ready for easier kick turns.

  3. Dave April 3rd, 2013 12:09 pm

    I bought a pair of Nunataqs after reading the Alpin Magazine review at this site. I won’t presume to argue with Mr. Permutter re. what length ski is right for him, but I went long (186) and I’m glad I did. At 6 ft and 195 lb (without gear), the longer ski is just right for big mountain powder skiing in Alaska. When I want something faster edge to edge or am skiing firm snow I’ll grab my Manaslus. Thanks for posting all these great gear reviews, Lou!

  4. Jeff Parker April 3rd, 2013 12:27 pm

    Thanks guys! I’m glad I read this. I had just bought a pair of the 178’s (I’m 5’11” 155lbs) a week before I compound fractured my Tib/Fib at the end of February in bicycle accident. Needless to say, I won’t be using them until next year and have not mounted them.

    So to clarify, next years factory mount postion is 1 cm farther forward on the 178?

    Thanks Bob and Lou!

  5. Lou Dawson April 3rd, 2013 12:41 pm

    Something like that, just mount them on the factory mark if they have next year’s graphics. That’s what I did and they’re fine.

    Sorry to hear about your leg. Healing ok?


  6. Lou Dawson April 3rd, 2013 12:55 pm

    Dave, are they worth the Alpin top award? We’re really liking them.

  7. Jeff Parker April 3rd, 2013 1:14 pm

    Thanks Lou, leg has 30 cm of titanium running down the middle, but should be good to go in a few months.

    The skis I bought have last years graphics, so I’m just wondering what the exact difference is between the mounting points on the new graphics vs the old, if anyone can do a side by side comparison of the 178.
    I know it’s not an exact science, but I tend to trust the manufacturers recommendations on mounting, especially on the newer skis with all the different variations in rocker, side cut etc. I guess I can always just wait until the new ones show up in the shops next year and measure them myself.
    I’ve made a few mistakes in the past going with my own mounting calculations and really don’t want to drill my pretty new skis twice.
    The worst part is there’s still 100 inches of snow on the ground and I cant use them!


  8. Dave April 3rd, 2013 1:20 pm

    Lou, it’s hard for me to say if they deserve the top award, having a relatively few days on them and not having tried most of the other skis in the test. But I can say I like them. Very floaty when they need to be, the right amount of rocker for a backcountry powder ski (meaning they didn’t overdo it), and surprising solid for being so light. Volkl is always top notch, in my opinion, and its great to see them offering lightweight versions of their proven standards (in this case, the Gotama).

  9. Lou Dawson April 3rd, 2013 1:27 pm

    Dave, an honest take, thanks. Regarding ski evaluations it’s indeed important to have some basis for comparison. ‘best, Lou

  10. Lou Dawson April 3rd, 2013 1:29 pm

    Jeff, they might not be _exactly_ the same ski. If you’ve got the older ones just mount 1 cm forward and you’ll be happy. The ski has a huge sweet-spot so getting it down to the millimeter is not necessary. Lou

  11. Jeff Parker April 3rd, 2013 1:42 pm

    Cool. Thanks Lou!


  12. Sam April 3rd, 2013 2:28 pm

    I have been skiing the 186 Nunataq for two seasons now as my main touring ski. I love this ski and feel that while it really shines in powder it does everything well. It may be a bit less competent on groomers than the Nanuq but just barely and for a ski that can rail turns all over the mountain it is surprisingly light. It feels slightly less solid or meaty than a traditional Volkl but is the closest thing I’ve found to that beautiful blend of power, stability, edge hold and damp, hard-charging ski awesomeness that is anywhere near this light.

  13. David B April 3rd, 2013 2:31 pm

    …my favorite full carbon construction powder planks. Ha Ha such restraint.

    Mine too Bob. I have skied the Nunataq and they were nice but I’ll be staying with my favorite full carbon construction powder planks.

  14. stevenjo April 3rd, 2013 2:42 pm

    Thanks for the review and always informative quiver updates. Any chance the BD Convert will be reviewed down the road? That, the Nunataq and G3 Zenoxide C3 are my top three contenders for next years quiver addition.

  15. Lisa April 3rd, 2013 2:52 pm

    Bob is a real quiver boy so I don’t think he has a “favorite ski,” but I know he does prefer a certain one for his full carbon arrow. That may change since he’s testing other skis for us. Stay tuned.

  16. Lou Dawson April 3rd, 2013 3:16 pm

    To put it more clearly, Bob should have written “my favorite full carbon ski for the last few hours,” (grin)

  17. TimZ April 3rd, 2013 3:26 pm

    I’m also interested in a head to head with the G3 Zenoxide(c3), BD Convert, Dyanfit Grand Teton and Sportiva Hi5

    I’ve skied the Hi5 and like it, but considering the others for next year.

  18. john nobil April 3rd, 2013 5:00 pm

    great to hear a ski review website finally mention the importance of mounting location! is this a another wildsnow first? Ideal mounting location can vary greatly from ski to ski depending on length, surface area, rocker, intended use, etc. The bottom line is every skier should experiment with positioning just for the fun factor alone. For resort I recc throwing on a set of marker griffin demos and moving the toe and heel in one cm increments (or of course just demo a ski with these bindings). The best part is these bindings are not heavy or stacked on a ridiculous riser plate, so you get a consistent feel for the ski. Question: what about the significant disadvantages of a fully rockered ski on the skin up? Doesn’t camber really give a nice boost on packed roads, and better edge grip tip to tail while sidehilling? Could Bob’s favorable comments regarding sun crust outweigh all that?

  19. David B April 3rd, 2013 7:19 pm

    Of interest, Volkl have had their test pilots testing carbon fibre skis in secret locations in Europe for the past 4 years and they can’t get it right. They keep breaking. Howeve,r I believe they have a carbon fibre ski coming out for the 13/14 season, so perhaps they got it right or they are going to do what BD has done and add a bit of carbon fibre into a traditional ski and call it “full” carbon fibre ski.

    The big boys are all chasing DPS, Goode and Trab.

    Hey Lou, caught me off guard with the change of the Anti-spam question.

  20. Lou Dawson April 3rd, 2013 8:44 pm

    David, sorry about the question change. Had to do it. Nice and perplexing for someone in Mumbai making 5 cents a blog comment.

  21. Landon April 3rd, 2013 8:57 pm


    Any comment on the touring performance of these skis (being that they are fully rockered)? Does something with rockered tip and tail but camber underfoot climb a hard packed skin track significantly better?


  22. Bill H April 3rd, 2013 9:06 pm

    @ Landon, the rocker on the Nunataqs is volkl’s ‘ELP’ (extended low profile) the ski’s rocker is very subtle, they look almost flat underfoot compared to something else with a lot of rocker like Rossi S7 and similar designs. The majority of the Nunataq is on the skin track when you are walking, lots more traction on firmer tracker than the more exaggerated ski designs

  23. Landon April 3rd, 2013 9:12 pm

    @ Bill H, thank you! Though you’ve made my next ski decisions for next year more difficult as these are still very much in play. Good problems. 🙂

  24. john nobil April 3rd, 2013 9:13 pm

    would love to see a video of a “test pilot” breaking a carbon ski. catastrophic!?*

  25. See April 3rd, 2013 9:20 pm

    So the Nunataq makes “beautiful arcs” on groomers… I’m wondering, is camber becoming obsolete for most purposes? Is the rockered tip and tail with camber underfoot design just a transitional form that will disappear once skiers and manufacturers adapt to the new technology? I guess what I’m really asking (not having had the opportunity to find out for myself) is, do camberless skis have enough pop for satisfactory performance when conditions are steep, firm, narrow?

  26. Bar Barrique April 3rd, 2013 9:30 pm

    Thanks for reviewing the 170 cm ski. I am probably going to buy something like this for next season, and, I have been leaning towards a 170 cm as I spend a lot of time tree skiing in the BC, so I was concerned that 178’s would not be agile enough.

  27. Bob Perlmutter April 3rd, 2013 9:55 pm

    Hi All, here I go in response to all of your comments. Joe, I can not tell a lie. My favorite(thinly veiled) carbon fiber ski is the DPS Wailer 112cm Pure 178cm. John, yes, maneuverable applies to both the up and the down. Dave, please rest assured that if somehow at age 55 I defy medical science and go through a sudden growth spurt, adding 4″ in height and 65 lbs, I promise to ski a longer length. That said, in a perfect world I would prefer the Nunataq in a 172-174cm length. Also, I couldn’t agree more with your later comments as well as Sam’s about the surprising versatility of Nunataq. Jeff, I’m sorry to hear about the injury but where is there still 100″ on the ground? John, the full rocker on the Nunataq is very subtle and doesn’t seem to hinder it’s uphill performance though a good question. Glad you caught the side comment about the powder like sensation even in sun crust. Alas, man can not live on bread, water and Volkl alone. BD and Ski Trab to come soon. Thanks for all the comments.

  28. Bob Perlmutter April 3rd, 2013 10:04 pm

    Hi See, you have asked the million dollar question. My goal is to answer that question through diligence, perseverance, hard work and a lot of skiing on lots of different skis. I hope to have an answer soon.

  29. Jeff Parker April 3rd, 2013 10:09 pm

    Thanks for the info Bob,
    101 inches of fine Cascade concrete at the bottom of Mt Hood Meadows today (5,380 ft). Actually a little thin for this time of year.

  30. Ben April 4th, 2013 12:44 am

    Volkl launched the all carbon Katana at ISPO where it picked up an award. Full depth in centre under binding but very slim towards tip and tail, check it out,may be an interesting avenue as it looks to be avery light construction.

  31. Tim K April 4th, 2013 5:27 am

    Interesting on mounting position on these ski’s (nanutags)… I switched from a set of dynafit Mercury with a BSL of 306 to a set of Garmont Radiums with a BSL of 315… loved the way the ski went with the old boots… felt like a new to the snow beginner with the new boots…. couldn’t finish a turn, felt in the back seat…. hated them….

    so I guess a remount is in order…. does Dynafit make a demo plate for thier bindings? or is there a multi position “plate” on the market …

    BTW.. absolutely loved the Volkl’s with the old boots… can’t wait to get that feeling back

  32. Lou Dawson April 4th, 2013 6:46 am

    Once a sweet spot is found for boot position, not a bad idea to keep using it, but you never know for sure till you try. Another set of holes a centimeter away from the old ones won’t hurt anything. As the operator of what should be called the “swiss cheese factory,” take my word for it. Lou

  33. Tim K April 4th, 2013 7:17 am

    Guess I should read your work shop entry and start buying tools instead of relying on a shop…. It’s really not that hard to mount , ect…. .. (or at least thats what I’ve read….LOL)

  34. Lou Dawson April 4th, 2013 7:46 am

    With practice, mounting tech bindings is about as hard as swapping your spare wheel on your car. But it does require a minimum of the correct tools and hand skills. The paper template method takes quite a bit more time than having a mechanical jig, but it’s just as accurate. I probably do 40 mounts and re-mounts a year or so, shops do hundreds, but a guy doing just several a year could get pretty good at it if they practice now and then on some dumpster skis. Tricks like heating screws before removal, and using new condition pozi screwdriver bits, are key. Lou

  35. Tim K April 4th, 2013 8:15 am

    Have you tried these? http://www.dynafit.com/product/bindings/front-back-adjustment-plate Looks like a interesting solution for fiddling

  36. Lou Dawson April 4th, 2013 8:39 am

    Tim, no, haven’t used those. If we were mounting all our own demos I’d consider putting those on every ski to help with testing and evaluation…

  37. Brian April 4th, 2013 10:51 am

    How do you heat the srews for removal?

  38. Lou Dawson April 4th, 2013 12:50 pm

    Oh ye who doesn’t ready _every_ blog comment (grin). I used to use a soldering iron but a helpful reader commented just a few days ago suggesting that you chuck a 1/8 inch or so drill bit backwards in your drill, then simply press the rotating bit inside the screw head to heat it up. Works so well… feel the screws when they come out to figure out a standard time for each screw. They should be hot to the touch, but not causing a 911 call. Lou

  39. Pete April 4th, 2013 1:12 pm

    I’ve been on Nunataqs this season and last and agree with all the good things said (186cm, 6’3″, 170lbs.) Bought them as a backcountry rig but ended up using them almost all the time in the resort too. Best quiver-of-one ski I’ve tried.

    I mounted dynafits on the center mark and, yes, I wouldn’t mind being 1cm or more forward. The big sweet spot and lots of time on them mean it doesn’t bother me anymore but at first it seemed there was a lot of ski in front of my foot.

    Unlike other rocker skis, these do not ski short – no twin tip, traditional curve to the tip – the effective edge is long. I really like the almost-flat rocker profile. Not particularly poppy for short turns on steep hard snow but very good to great on everything else.

  40. Chrissie Paris April 8th, 2013 4:58 pm

    Hello fellow skiers!

    I am currently writing my final dissertation on Backcountry skis, as a Product Design student (in England) on the cusp of graduating.

    I’ve been a skier now for almost 20 years, and I was hoping to call upon the ski community for a little help- I have a 5 minute questionnaire designed to collect market research on your favourite skis.

    It would be so so helpful if you could spare 5 minutes of your time, and simply tell me what gear you’re using at the moment- the more answers I get, the better I can represent the current market:


    And please, if you know anyone else who has a passion for backcountry skiing, please pass it on!

    Thanks so much!

  41. Paul April 11th, 2013 11:42 am

    I mounted 186 Nunataqs with Rotafella NTN FreeRide tele bindings, this setup rocks. Easy turning, holds well at speed, I’ve skied them at Whistler and Revelstoke. My favorite powder ski is the Lotus 120; however the Nunataqs are a very close second. I’m 6-1, 215…

  42. Matt April 15th, 2013 10:24 am

    Just like Bob, I’m skiing both the Nunataq (178s – I’m 5′ 8″, 160lbs) and the DPS Wailer 112 (190cm). Unless it’s over a foot deep, I’m going to choose the Volkls. To respond to other comments, I mounted my 12/13s to factory center, and I love ’em. As Lou can attest when he has seen me making half the turns down the same face he just skied, I don’t mind the longer tip at higher speeds… As for skinning, I find the rocker on the DPS to take away from skinning capability from time to time, but the Volkls are spot-on with Dynafit ST (extra plug for the Pomoco Guide Pro 70/30 skins, which I am just in love with). Full-rocker on the Nunataq is perfect, even on the early-morning frozen crust. And I have no problem carving these things like a race ski on groomers. As another poster said, I intended for these to be my touring ski, but end up skiing them more than 50% of the time on lift-served terrain as well.

    I would go as far as to say that the Nunataq is the best ski I’ve ever skied. And that’s a tall order. If I had to have just one ski (oh, the blasphemy!), this would be it.

    Thanks, Lou, for always providing a great forum for us to share experiences!

  43. skier April 25th, 2013 4:03 pm

    Just picked up a pair of Nunataqs It was hard to decide on the length, but living in New England, and skiing tight woods, I went for the 178. I am 6′ 190 lbs.

    Thanks for the note on the mount; I will be 1cm forward of the mark on these season 12-13 skis. Still torn between mounting them AT with Dynafits or tele with the new NTN Freedoms. I am a little worried about a tele binding ripping out of the ski.

  44. Tim K April 25th, 2013 4:11 pm

    I remounted mine, from the factory center, to a cm forward (dynafit bindings) .. completely different ski (I also canted the bindings for a leg issue I have) COMPLETELY different ski.. and one I’m much happier with.. on the east coast…

  45. skier April 25th, 2013 4:35 pm

    Thanks Tim K .
    So 1cm forward it will be. What length are you on?

  46. Erik Erikson April 26th, 2013 12:55 am

    Hi guys,
    Does a different mounting of only 1 cm really make a difference one can feel?? I have no experience reffering to that, always mounted my skies to the factory center.
    Now I have to stand one cm more forward (on my wayback and a really old skinny Kästle) due to a shoe-change. Will I really fell that? Would appreciate it if you would let me know your thoughts about that

  47. Tim K April 26th, 2013 6:04 am

    Skier, I’m on the 178(?)…

    Erik, I could feel the difference, but I also added cant’s to flaten the ski…. I’ve got a junk knee with a deteriorating joint , and i was bow legged to start with….

    Really really happy with the ski’s now… of course I haven’t had them on ice in the current mounting/cant configuration… but the stuff I was skiing at tuckermans ravine was much “easier” with the changes than before ….

    BTW, I’m adding B&D shifter plates to all my ski’s, to play with front/back position and to allow me to swap dynafits between skiis as well as loan them out to guys with different BSL’s….. Bill @ B&D is a pleasure to work with…. and his stuff rocks


  48. skier April 27th, 2013 3:31 pm

    thanks Tim K. You might see me on the Nunataq at Tucks soon..So I guess they’re ok on hard snow?

    Today I was on my Tonics, set up for AT with Dynafits..last few days of lift served at Jay Peak.

  49. Tim K April 29th, 2013 4:23 pm

    I was very happy with them on “packed Powder” (ice) I’m probably done for the season… birddog trials have started…..maybe I’ll see you there or Vt next season.

  50. Mark September 2nd, 2013 8:45 am

    I was hoping the fine folk here could verify a question for me. I recently purchased the Nunataq 186 (2012 version). It is my understanding I should mount +1cm from the factory mark. Could someone verify the mark is 80cm from the tail (straight pull)?
    I am worried the mark is too far back (mis-marked). Sorry, I have been burned too many times by mis-marked skis.
    Thank you……………………..thank you very much.

  51. Lou Dawson September 2nd, 2013 9:05 am

    Mark, I’m away from WildSnow HQ at the moment, may be able to verify when I return .

  52. Jeff September 2nd, 2013 12:18 pm

    Same question as Mark. I have the 2012 Nunataq 178 and I’m assuming the factory mark is the “I” (looks like the capital letter I ) just ahead of the length (178 in my case) on the sidewall.

  53. Mark September 2nd, 2013 1:16 pm

    Jeff, Yes, the I is the mark for mounting, but on my 186’s the I seems really far back, especially comparing to my 185 Carbon Justices. I know different skis, but they are not even close. The I might be correct on my skis, I just want to be sure.

  54. Jeff September 2nd, 2013 1:33 pm

    Thanks for the clarification Mark.

  55. Lou September 2nd, 2013 4:50 pm

    Here are the 2013/14 graphics Nunataqs we have here at HQ: This would be where I’d mount any Nunataq, whatever the vintage.

    Nunataq 178 cm, correct mount mark is 77 cm from tail, 30 5/16 inches.

    Nanataq 170, 73.5 cm from tail.

    Sorry, don’t have any of the really long ones. But Mark, if your skis have the old graphics mount 1 cm forward of the mark.

    There was no “incorrect” marking. In fact, for a couch ride the old measurement works, but the 1 cm forward feels more centered and nimble. I’ve skied the 178 quite a bit with both mounting positions.


  56. Lou September 2nd, 2013 4:54 pm

    Also, warning, no way you can get much of anything from comparing a nearly 100% rockered ski with a blunt tip (Nunataq) to other brands/models with entirely different geometry. Sure, comparing mount positions brings up questions, but what if the Carbon Justice was actually mounted too far forward? Lou

  57. Mark September 2nd, 2013 8:04 pm

    Lou Rocks!
    Thanks for all your help. I will mount at +1, can’t wait to try these sticks out. May the snow gods be with us all this winter.

  58. Jeff September 2nd, 2013 8:09 pm

    Thanks a ton Lou!

  59. Lou Dawson September 3rd, 2013 7:13 am

    Mark, it’s one of the classic skis of the age… but still, everyone’s taste is different so let us know your opinion once you ride the Nunataq. What bindings and boots will you be steering those planks with? Lou

  60. Mark September 3rd, 2013 10:29 am

    Lou, Based on information from this site 🙂 Scarpa Maestrale RS and Vertical FTs.
    I have a half season on the boots, awesome boots so far. Question: I assumed since I was coming from 185 Carbon Justices, the 186 Nunas were the correct size for me. But after reading some comments, I am wondering if 178 would have been better? I am 6-1 175lbs, Tahoe bc, the older (48) I get the faster I was. 🙂
    Thanks again, Mark

  61. Lou Dawson September 3rd, 2013 10:41 am

    Mark, the answer is not an absolute. Either of the sizes will work for you. Depends on your style of going downhill. Faster bigger turns, stick with the 186. More of a trad ski mountaineering style and skiing slower, the 178 is nice. Don’t obsess, either will work. FWIW, I’m 5 foot 11 inches and around 160 lbs, tend to like shorter lighter skis, and the 178 is quite liked. Personally, I’d never even try the longer version, no interest. Lou

  62. Jeff October 21st, 2013 5:31 pm

    And now to thoroughly beat a dead horse. I went and measured a new pair of 2013/14 178 Nunataq’s. I measured the mounting mark at 772mm from the tail. My 12/13’s with the old graphics measured at 768mm using the same tape measure, so only a 4 mm difference.

    On an unrelated note, make sure your printer doesn’t default to “Fit to Page” when printing the Dynafit mounting template. Mine was close enough that when I hastily checked the scale, it looked good. Later when I laid the bindings over the template, I noticed they were 1-2 mm off. Luckily hadn’t got the drill out yet. Measure three times…

  63. Joe January 7th, 2014 11:49 pm

    Anyone try the Volkl skins? Specs say its a 65% mohair / 35% nylon mix… which seems out of the norm for a mixed skin.

    Wondering how those would perform in the Roaring Fork Valley? Otherwise, suggestions on a skin/skin mix for this ski?

  64. Lou Dawson January 8th, 2014 1:23 am

    Joe, we’ve had some of those in play for quite some time. Pretty sure they’re just Coltex or Pomoca, but ours had glue that was incredibly sticky when applied to itself, making the use of skin gloves or release plastic strips mandatory. When I used them they seemed to have adequate climb as well as glide, and the current user seems to be having no trouble with grip/glide performance. Lou

  65. Mike H. January 8th, 2014 3:20 pm

    Hi Lou and Bob,

    Thanks for all your input on skis and gear. Your knowledge is invaluable. Lou, I’m interested in the Nunataq (2014 model). I’m 6’2″, 172lb. I know I’m probably right on the cusp of two sizes, but are you still of the opinion that the Nunataq skis its stated length? Can’t decide between 178cm and 186cm. Anyone else been in this dilemma who has input is welcome, thanks.

  66. Dave January 8th, 2014 6:47 pm

    I am 6’0″, 195 lb, went with 186 cm and glad I did. I think it depends on how and what you ski. The 186s are stable at speed and on steeps, and they float in the deep. They likely don’t turn as fast as the shorter boards. Nice ski!

  67. Ryan January 10th, 2014 7:13 am

    I’m 5’8 135 lbs and generally find mustache/all mountain rockered skis like the Icelantic Keeper (178) and the tip rocker Seeker (180) to ski short, often to a fault. I’m looking to get a lighter weight setup that can handle the east coast dust on crust, be a solid mountaineering ski with a bit more meat underfoot than a traditional skinny plank, and still be really fun in the soft stuff. I demoed the 99 wailer in a 184 and it felt spot on for length, but is well outside of the price range I was hoping to spend as well as looking for a tad more girth. How stable does this feel in chop at high speed? Do you think it would handle drops well? I’m really searching out something with Zealot stability, but light…its a steep order I know. As I age I’m starting to finally feel the limitations of the dukes/guardians on the 10+ mile days.

  68. Gary January 10th, 2014 11:20 am

    Lou, I found a pair of the Nunataq 170cm with the old graphics. Do you recommend mount them forward? How much?

  69. Mike H. January 10th, 2014 7:07 pm


    Thanks for your input. I just purchased the 186cm, due next week. Once set up with my Dynafit bindings, I’ll let you know how they feel.

  70. Billy Balz January 17th, 2014 4:23 pm

    Is the midsole mounting mark on the nunataq the vertical dashed line on the sidewall? This would put midsole 103cm back from the tip on a 178cm ski… There is no mark on top sheet and only other sidewall marks are length and a serial number. Thanks for any help.

  71. Billy Balz January 17th, 2014 5:53 pm

    Oops, answered my own question…found Lou’s October post…bad search technique before in my haste to get ’em mounted and dry for 6″ of fresh tomorrow….that’s how desperate it is in Maine right now. Saved again by wildsnow….thanks Lou

  72. Mark March 17th, 2014 10:49 am

    After a season on the 186 Nunas, my impressions. Initially, I did not like them, they ski different because of the full rocker. But after getting used to the way they ski, Wow these skis rock. For me and my ski style (used to be a charger, but slower finesse these days), the Nunas are the mythical one ski quiver. They are obviously very good in powder and variable conditions (backcountry), but what really surprised me is how well they ski the resort and groomers. At the resort, I find myself liking the Nunas over my resort dedicated skis (Salomon Q98). The only negative I have observed is the Nunas are weak in moguls (but I hate moguls). Recent skis I have owned and compare to: 4frnt CRJ, Black Diamond Justice carbon, Rossi Sick Bird, and Salomon Q98. I highly recommend the Nunas.

  73. Lou Dawson March 17th, 2014 10:51 am

    Thanks Mark, super feedback!

  74. Tom July 10th, 2014 4:10 am

    Wondering if anyone can give me a comparison between the Nunataq and the 2015 coomback- I’m stuck between the two for a general “do it all” touring ski with the ability to do a bit of resort skiing. Also not sure whether to go 170 or 178

    I like to ski pretty fast, & have been skiing for 30 years or so. I have a lightweight 88cm waisted ski setup for big trips, so this would be my day touring/everyday ski with a focus on deeper snow. I’m 145 lb, 5’10, & love my 2008 salomon Czars, which have finally started to die (not a conventional touring choice I know, but a really fun ski)

  75. Mike H. July 21st, 2014 9:29 am

    Hi Tom. I’ve been on the Nunataq 186 for a year and a half, including a Canada powder trip. I can echo Mark’s comments above. I bought the Nuna’s based upon reviews online and a short demo trial at Loveland ski area in Colorado. I came from K2 Backlash 174cm for backcountry (work okay in the area, especially with Fritschi bindings), and Nordica Enforcers 178cm in area (awesome do-everything ski, but when they wear out, I’ll probably replace with Nordica Hell and Back – same ski, just lighter). BTW, this is all fixed heel, not sure from your post whether you want a fixed or free-heel solution.

    I’m 6’2″, 170lb. I briefly tried the BD Justice in a 175cm length – but too soft, hard to figure out fore and aft in deep powder. BD rep assured me I would be happier with a 185cm.

    During an early Nov.. demo trial at Loveland on blue runs, with a rare bit of open, hard ice, I was surprised how well the Nunataqs (next size down, 178cm?) worked and carved, even with the full rocker. I wasn’t a Volkl fan, but these things worked really well on the groomed conditions (no real moguls at the time to try out).

    Based upon those two experiences, and, like you, wanting more under the foot, I went with the Nunataq 186cm. FYI, it’s the biggest ski in my quiver right now. I tend to choose the shorter lengths, and I’ve found out what happens when I go too short. I find the Nunataq, despite full rocker, is indeed a hybrid. In area, the edge lays down nicely – there isn’t a big tip or tail section flopping around across groomed sections or catwalks.

    In the backcountry, especially in powder, WOW! They rock! They become a do everything ski. Come across some glazed or crusty stuff at the saddle or first 100 feet off a peak? Drop in and drive, you will carve across the ice (not as well as a dedicated area ski), push through the crust (not as well as a ski that weighs 2.5lbs more per pair), and deal with mank well enough to make the eventual powder (the majority of the run, hopefully – lol) well worth it.

    I found it definitely can have a “surly?” Volkl kind of feel (I’ve used earlier Mantras), but in this case I think that helps with dealing with rough snow.

    Cons – as I stated earlier, the pure lack of weight (I think the 186cm runs at just over 8lbs per pair – great for going uphill) may require good skiing on the part of the user (lol), as opposed to “I’m just going to sit back and cruise this bowl regardless of the conditions I find”. ALSO, as I stated earlier, I typically have a penchant to ski short. I find the Nunas “ski” at their rated length (probably because of the hybrid rocker). Don’t expect the longer length to “feel” short. I don’t think it will. In hind sight, I would love to be able to have the next size down (17xx cm?) and compare. It’s hard to tell how “floppy” a full rocker ski will feel in the long run. The Nunas are NOT floppy in the tip or tail, in my opinion. And with this longer length, skiing trees has become a bit more difficult, but that could be me and a “longer than I’m used to” ski.

    One more note – these skis, as long as they are, are more likely to skid and drift a turn when I need to rather than refuse to release. That helps in tight spaces. I believe other reviewers have mentioned that.

    Hope all my rambling helps. Mike H.

  76. Lou Dawson July 21st, 2014 9:43 am

    Nice Mike, thanks! Lou

  77. phil August 13th, 2014 1:50 pm

    I’ve just mounted latest model Nunataqs on the line at 77cm from the back as Lou recommended. it feels a long way bag has anyone tried 1cm forward of the new mounting point?

  78. Lou Dawson 2 August 13th, 2014 3:54 pm

    Phil, carpe skium.

  79. Billy Balz August 13th, 2014 6:27 pm

    I own the 178 nunataqs with speed radicals and tlt6p setup. I skied them early February 2014 in utah during an epic 5 day 54″ powder dump. Also was on my bibby pros and Lange RX 130 setup. No comparison for charging hard, especially in powder on bumpy terrain..the alpine setup ruled. I find balance tougher to master with the nunataq setup, but I suspect ramp angle may have something to do with the balance issue…. May try to shim the speed toe this year.

  80. phil August 27th, 2014 1:56 pm

    Hi Lou

    I took you ‘carpe skium’ as don’t over think it and just go skiing. I’ve just go back from a trip with the Nunataqs six days of skiing on all snow types. I’m just struggling to find the sweet spot. I really enjoy skiing Gotamas but I’m not in love with that Nunataq. I’m not ready to give up on them so I’m going to try moving the mounts forward. So my question: Is 1 cm enough to make a difference on how a ski will feel?

  81. Lou Dawson August 27th, 2014 4:15 pm

    Phil, in my opinion a centimeter can be felt, any less is just a way of moving binding so you won’t overlap holes if changing model/brand. Sorry to hear of your trouble with those skis, can you borrow a demo before you swiss cheese? Lou

  82. phil September 3rd, 2014 3:59 am

    so I moved the binding 1 cm forward. I’ve only had one day of variable spring snow but the ski feels better and more balanced.

  83. Norqski October 5th, 2014 9:03 pm

    What does the tail flex feel like on the Nunataq? My favorite tourers right now are some old Karhu BC 100s; they have a very soft tail but are pretty long in the tooth. I got some Manaslus to take over my BC work but I just haven’t fallen for them (bad joke there). I think part of it is being used to a soft tail. I understand the Nunataq full rocker is a different flex concept than the BCs or ‘slus but I’m just wondering what they feel like. Nobody has any in stock yet so I haven’t been able to flex them in person. Thanks for all the great work Lou!

  84. Rob November 5th, 2014 12:48 pm

    Hi Lou and others. I recently discovered wildsnow.com and find it very informative. Thanks for sharing all your knowhow.
    I am looking for a new touring setup moving up from Volkl Amaruq and was thinking about the Volkl Nanuq after reading the Alpin review. I like to do long tours like Haute Route in the Alps. Nunataq seemed to wide for that sort of use, but after reading your reviews they must be really something! I don’t find many posts on Nanuq. Is that because you don’t like them? Can you tell me how they compare to the Nunataq’s? I would really like some thougts on this because the reduced width and non rockered tail seem better suited for my needs on the Nanuq’s.
    Thank you!

  85. Travis November 12th, 2014 1:44 pm

    I concur with Rob. I too am looking at the Nanuqs—to replace my lo5s. I ski a lot of side country, resort, and am branching out to the backcountry as I garner avy skills. Looking for a solid all mountain ski that can handle most of the conditions I encounter in the PNW. Any info on the Nanuqs would be appreciated.

  86. See November 12th, 2014 7:20 pm

    I seriously considered getting some Nanuqs last spring. I went so far as to buy a pair, but returned them because 1) although the serial numbers matched, they weren’t even close to the same weight, and 2) the construction looked similar to the T-rocks I had back in the day that gave me fiberglass splinters every time I had to handle them (skinning/de-skinning).

    I’m not saying the Nanuqs aren’t great skis, I obviously don’t know. But I’ve wondered for a long time if my experience with the T-rocks (an obscure and not great ski, imo) was anomalous, or if a lot of skis with a certain construction shed fiberglass splinters.

  87. phil November 13th, 2014 1:18 am

    Rob & Travis. I’ve owned both I sold the nanuqs and brought the nunatauq’s. nanuq lighter better edge hold in firm. nunatauq way more fun in softer snow.. I would guess nunaq for longer more variable tours and Nunataq for PNW.

  88. Rob November 23rd, 2014 11:29 am

    Travis, See and Phil,
    Thanks for your comments!
    I was sure hoping that some of the Wildsnow staff would chip in with their expert opinions to shed some light on the Nanuq’s qualities compared to Nunataq. Pity.

    Phil must be right, what is/are pnw?

    See, I own Amaruq’s built by Volkl, containing fiberglass and yes the topsheet is vulnerable around the edges, but I have never cut myself.

  89. Travis November 23rd, 2014 3:29 pm

    I bought the Nanuqs—great deal on eBay unmounted. I will update after some use. Now to decide on bindings, anybody used the Diamir Vipec? I will use them in resort too and the added safety features are appealing. PNW refers to my home: the Pacific Northwest.

  90. See November 23rd, 2014 7:27 pm

    I used the T-rocks mostly for spring tours when I was wearing very light glove liners (with holes) or just going bare-handed. I didn’t get cut, just invisible glass splinters. Not a big deal, but given the plethora of good skis that don’t do this, I would just as soon go with one of them.

    Out of curiosity, I did a search for opinions about the T-rock (that I called “not great”) and found a Wildsnow post about how they were used to ski Everest. Further evidence that ski reviews are definitely subjective. For what it’s worth, i was skiing them tele and they were mounted with Dynafits for Everest. Of course, one probably wouldn’t be going bare-handed on Everest.

  91. Mark February 25th, 2015 11:46 am

    Wondering if I am the only one that thinks these skis (Nunataq) are “magic”?

    I have two seasons on the Nunataqs. I have thrown almost everything at them and they make skiing more fun and enjoyable. Makes me wonder if ELP rocker is the future of ski designs?


  92. Herb Jones February 28th, 2015 1:21 pm

    To anyone having handling issues with the Nunataqs.

    Check the flatness of the bottoms! Mine skied awfully until I checked and found them extremely concave and had the bottoms flattened. Night and day!
    They don’t need to be perfect everywhere on the bottom but, about a 1″ minimum from each edge works well. The shop guys I trust tell me this is a common problem with most brands. Buyer beware and take a flat bar with you when picking out your next pair.

  93. Billy Balz February 28th, 2015 7:19 pm

    I might need to try that solution. I’m on nunataq 178 with the 3.2 shim toe on the FT 12 dynafits. I love them in powder but don’t love the feel in hardpack. Not sure if it’s full rocker that I don’t like or maybe the bottoms.

  94. JC November 12th, 2015 7:57 pm

    I love these skis so much that I just reread the review and all 93 comments. “Nothing worries the Nunataq”.

  95. Kristian December 24th, 2017 10:27 am


    Anybody who can compere Nunataq vs. Volkl BMT 98,108 or 100eight.

    Is Nunataq still a possible competitor in 50/50 backcountry/frontside category or
    has the new skis outdated it ?

  96. Kristian December 24th, 2017 10:39 am

    Well.., maybe better compare Nunataq to Volkl BMT 109 or 100eight…:-)

  97. Matus December 24th, 2017 3:46 pm

    I switched from 186cm Nunataqs to Atomic Backland 102 @188cm this season. And..
    I love the playfulness of Atomics. They do ski better in slower speeds and still cand perform well in higher speeds. The float seems to be the same. The full rocker of Nunataqs apparently was not for me;)

  98. Kristian December 25th, 2017 9:12 am

    Ok. Nice that you found a ski that you like. Would you rate the nunataq as stiffer and more demanding then the backland 102 ? Need more speed to come alive..?
    Normally I like fullrocker skis if they dont overdo it.

  99. VT skier December 26th, 2017 6:51 pm

    I have Nunataqs mounted AT and a pair of the 100Eights mounted NTN tele.
    I find the 100Eight feels a bit “dead” to me. A nice , light floaty ski on powder, but not a carving ski like the Nunataqs. On firmer , windblown snow, they wander more than I like.
    Nunataqs, are a great, all round ski for resort, and sidecountry outings. Light enough for a short day tour and in powder snow float really well.. Mine have Radical 2.0 bindings.
    My Nunataqs are 178 cm, 100Eights are 181 cm.

  100. Kristianb January 2nd, 2018 12:05 pm

    Ok. Thank you for comment. That was what I wanted to hear. Will try them out.

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