As a dedicated gear junkie, after being given the opportunity to review a new piece of equipment, my reaction is limited to one of three possible responses:
“I wouldn’t turn it down if someone handed it to me for free.”
“I’m intrigued. I’ll buy it, give it a shot for a while, and see how it goes.”
“MUST. HAVE. IT.” Wipes drool from chin, raises limit on credit card.
(You’ll notice that response #4 is not included; actually giving the gear back. That wouldn’t make me much of a junkie, would it?)
This winter and spring, I’ve been fortunate to do a fair amount of backcountry ski reviews for Wildsnow. Yet none of the test planks engendered the third, and obviously most enthusiastic, response. That all changed when Lou handed me a pair of 2013-14 V8 by Salt Lake City’s own Voile.
Voile will add the V8 to its stable of current planks, which includes the Vector, Charger and Buster; a collection which has quickly built an avid following among the human-powered skiing crowd for its industry-leading combination of low weight and powder performance. Also forthcoming from Voile is the WSP – an entry-level ski-mountaineering race ski. But let’s be honest: we don’t drool over skinny race skis; rather, our Pavlovian response is reserved for big powder boards.
And that is what we’re getting in the V8: a 110mm-underfoot soft snow dream in the 176 length, to be exact. Word is the ski will also be offered in 165, 186 and 195 lengths, with the waist growing along that range from 107mm to 119mm.
At first glance, the V8 may look identical to Voile’s enormously popular Charger, but there are some subtle differences that make for a very different ride.
For starters, while the 176 V8 sports the same size waist as the 171 Charger, the V8’s tip is 140mm wide compared to 134mm for the Charger. The V8 has noticeably more sidecut and a shorter turning radius, making for a more playful ski and better carving on spring corn.
In addition, Voile removed one layer of carbon from the Charger construction when putting together the V8. While this may make for a slightly less lively feel to the ski, it leaves the V8 at less than 1800 grams in the 176, resulting in the smooth, light uphill performance that has become the hallmark of the Voile line. Indeed, according to our weight spreadsheet the V8 176 scores a weight vs surface area score of 76, which is just above the carbon fiber feathers. V8 gets a 9.24 on our weight vs length chart (which doesn’t consider width). That’s average to below average even compared to narrower skis. In other words, you get some bang for your buck when you consider the weight and width of the V8.
So how does the V8 ski? First, a confession: I wanted to love the V8, for no reason other than it’s beautiful to look at. The rockered tip, the tapered tail, the clean, surf-inspired topsheet — the V8 simply begs to be held, admired, and yes, skied.
And it delivers. Without naming names, I’ve been on over a dozen backcountry skis this season, and the V8 was the first that I simply had to have. I put it through its paces – on frozen hardpack, sun-baked mashed potatoes, day-old chunder, and in two feet of pristine, blower powder. The V8 never disappointed.
Obviously, a ski with these dimensions is designed to float, and that is certainly what the V8 does best, smearing high-speed turns in bottomless snow just as well as your trusty front-side Rossi S7. This is not a coincidence, as the S7 is the ski the V8 is admittedly patterned after.
When things turn a little less ideal, the V8 becomes a bit of an engineering marvel. Like Dynafit bindings, the V8 gives you the feeling that it’s both lighter and stronger than the competition, refusing to get kicked around by heavy or refrozen snow despite its paltry weight.
If you’re looking for a complaint, like most skis with a light weight and rockered shovel the V8 is prone to a bit of tip chatter when skiing the front-side at high speeds. Also, here at WildSnow we prefer skis with less tail rise (so they jab in snow more easily as anchors, and weigh a bit less per unit surface area). We also like tip and tail rescue holes. But truthfully, that’s all I’ve got. The V8 won me over, and I can happily pay the ski the ultimate compliment a dedicated gear junkie can offer. Next season I will own a pair of a pair of shiny new Voile V8s. Credit card limit be danged — and if Lou doesn’t include these in the Ultimate Quiver I’ll eat my boot liners.
(Guest blogger Tony Nitti is a CPA specializing in tax planning. He lives in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado with his wife and two children. When he’s not skiing or skimo racing, he has fun writing about tax policy at Forbes.com, so he’s uniquely prepared for battering at the hands of extremely passionate commenters and talk show hosts such as he-who-shall-not-be-named.)