2017 Backcountry Skis
Finally, a third installment previewing 2017 backcountry skis!
The weather patterns shifted this week to yield a glimpse of fall. There’s nothing quite like the first dust of snow in the mountains to turn your thoughts toward ski season. The big picture for 2017 backcountry skis is lighter weights, modest widths and impressive performance through a range of conditions. Basically, skis keep getting lighter and more capable. Along with the design and material innovations that are driving light weights and all-conditions performance comes a growing quiver of options between 95 mm and 110 mm underfoot. There are still plenty of big, fun powder boards, but there seems to be a growing interest in other waist widths.
This preview round takes a look at the Voile Super Charger, Dynafit Dhaulagiri, K2 Coomba 104 and La Sportiva Vapor Float.
Voile has captured the backcountry market the past few seasons with their popular V6 and V8 models. We’ve sung the praises of both skis and they still measure up nicely to the competition. Voile, however, likes designing skis and their latest offering, the Voile Super Charger (140-106-124, 178 cm), builds off of the older Charger platform to create a ski that may appear on paper to pretty darn close to the V8, but on snow it has its own distinct personality. It’s a little narrower (104-108 depending on length) and offers a more subtle rocker profile that results in a longer running surface and more traditional tail than found on the V8. It uses the same proven core materials, so it’s light. It’s a ski for those who like a little more traditional finish but who still like to make a variety of turns in a range of conditions. The Super Charger is also available in a women’s version.
Dynafit shook up their traditionally lightweight, uphill-minded offerings in 2016 with the launch of the Chugach and Hokkaido models. These are big, burly skis by comparison to the brand’s historical light-is-right offerings. Both skis remain in the line for 2017 with no big surprises. And Dynafit adds a new model to the category, the 126 – 97 – 116 Meteorite / Sphinx (women’s edition). Like its siblings, the Meteorite is damp and heavy by many backcountry standards and, like the Chugach, it comes to life at speed. The real surprise in the Dynafit line came from the Dhaulagiri (129 – 98 – 113). Essentially a revamped version of the Denali, which we found less than inspiring, the Dhaulagiri is what the Denali was not. It’s fun to ski! It holds the same dimensions as its predecessor but with the new name/look comes a more forgiving feel and all-conditions versatility. The Dhaulagiri is reminiscent of the Manaslu from several seasons back.
La Sportiva has been setting the bar for super-light skis that perform in range of conditions for several seasons. It started with the Vapor Nano (129-103-120), grew to the Vapor Svelte (123-96-113) and now they have introduced the Vapor Float (140-117-128, 178 cm). The Float features the same carbon nanotube construction as the Nano and Svelte, and, at 117mm underfoot, it offers unmatched surface-to-weight ratio. In other words, this thing light and fat! To say the obvious, the Float breaks trail and skins up hill like no other. It’s a powder board designed to match lightweight boots. This is a lively ski that floats with ease and responds to the subtlest moves you have to offer.
K2’s 2017 offering is light on change, instead they stick with tried and true faves including the Coomba 104 and 114 plus the Wayback 96 and 88 as well as the women’s counterpart — the Talkback 96 and 88. It’s refreshing to see such a modest line up versus the need to fill every gap. The Pinnacle series (Fulluvit for women), officially part of K2’s freeride line, also deserve some attention. Our fave is the Pinnacle 95. It’s got a great mix of quick, damp and go-fast feel to it — but it’s decidedly alpine in its heft. For those in search of the elusive do-it-all front country and backcountry board, the Coomba 104 (136-104-122) still deserves solid consideration. It’s not the lightest or liveliest but it’s predictable and fun through most anything but the hardest snow. The best part is that K2 brought back the original Coomba graphic. We liked that original Coomba – pre-rocker shape — and we still have a soft spot for the graphic. If mid 90’s is more your size, the Wayback 96 hits a sweet spot for all-conditions backcountry versatility.
Look for deals on backcountry skis at backcountry.com, evo or omc
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