Each season here at the office, we look forward to a host of new and innovative backcountry ski gear. I can always guage the local ski fever by the number of people hitting me up for ski gear advice, and the talk is rampant at the moment as the first turns of the year are now a reality for many.
To help fuel the fire, here is a peak at the Off-Piste office quiver for the season and some beta on each ski. From left to right: Altai Hok, Dynafit Manaslu, Prior Husume XTC, Voile Charger, DPS Wailer 112, Dynafit Huascaran, Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt.
BD Carbon Megawatt – 147/120/126 – The modern, surfy dimensions and generous tip and tail rocker of the venerable Megawatt meet Black Diamond’s lightweight Free Tour construction in the Carbon Megawatt. The result is a big radius powder hog that weighs in at an impressive four pounds per ski (178cm).The overall feel of the Carbon Megawatt is smooth with a bias for big radius arcs – quintessential big platform fun without the weight penalty. The Carbon Megawatt combines the buttery ride of big ski with the responsive feel of lightweight construction.
DPS Wailer 112RP – 141/112/128 – The Wailer 112 is right up there with the Voile Charger and the Dynafit Huascaran vying for the lightest weight rockered powder ski award. It maintains its own lively and stable personality while laying down sweeping turns and agile maneuverability. It weighs in at an impressive 3 lb 8 oz (178cm) per ski. The Wailer 112 is remarkably responsive to variety of styles – from quick turns in the trees to big surfy smears in the alpine – quintessesntial new school powder fun.
Dynafit Huascaran – 134/112/123 – The Huascaran takes Dynafit’s light is right mantra to modern rocker shape. They weigh in at 3 lb 12 oz each (177cm) and have a great combination of stability and playfulness for such a light ski. It serves up a smooth ride and maximum flotation but somewhat less surfy than say the Wailer.
Voile Charger – 137/112/126 – We’ve had the Charger in our quiver for a full season plus and its reputation as a lightweight and playful touring ski is well earned. The ski is agile, responsive to a variety of ski styles and floats with the best. To quote last year’s review “the Charger makes you feel like you can do no wrong”.
Prior Husume (XTC construction) 2011 model – 137/109/124 – Crafted in Whistler BC, the Husume is one of those unique skis that does it all with a stable and fun personality. Our ski is a 2011 model. The 2013 model adds a few mm throughout the skis width. Modest tip and tail rocker give it a playful ride, while it still offers an impressive degree of groomer ripping performance. It’s an ideal blend of smear-friendly soft snow performance and a more traditional round arc ripper.
Dynafit Manaslu – 122/95/108 – Few skis have hung tight in our quiver like the Manaslu. It’s not the biggest stick on the block, or the burliest. But it serves up remarkably consistent results in the backcountry. The dimensions, tip rocker, and performance of the Manaslu have defined a category, all-mountain touring. The Manaslu can handle it all. From spring ski mountaineering to knee-deep blower, the ski rises to the occasion.
Altai Hok – 124/110/122 – The Hok is quite different from the rest of the quiver. It’s only 145cm long and features an integrated climbing skin on the base. It’s part nordic ski and part adventure tool. The concept was inspired by the skiers and ski shapes found in Central Asia’s Altai Mountain region. Ours is mounted with a three-pin binding and makes an idylic tool when the object of the day to is to explore. Touring on the Hok (especially with a single wooden tyak) has its own unique feel and pace. They are light and foster a great go-anywhere attitude. The Hok fills a niche more like a nordic ski, but with the bonus versatility of a wide platform for deep snow travel and great climbing ability.