During my recent visit to Outdoor Retailer show I had a chance to touch, flex and discover new skimo racing and ski mountaineering skis that will be coming out in the fall of 2016.
My overall observation was that now most manufacturers, instead of just few, will have a light line of skis. And I do mean light, and I do mean a line of skis. This means that going forward, whether you will want a light pair of 80mm skis, or 90mm, or even wider, then you will have more choice than ever before.
» For current lightest skimo skis see our comparisons chart.
La Sportiva and Ski Trab skis
The most interesting finding while browsing the La Sportiva booth, and apart from the new Stratos Hi-Cube ski boots, was that starting next season Ski Trab is partnering with La Sportiva to bring their skimo racing and light touring models to North America.
Below you can see that they will be La Sportiva branded Ski Trab skis. On the left, it’s the Maestro LS (940g at 171cm, width 75mm) suitable for lots of spring ski mountaineering, and on the right, are the racing models Gara Aero LS for men and women (715g at 164cm, and 685g at 157cm).
Here are some wider skis from La Sportiva, from left – Maximo LS men and women models (1310g at 178cm width 90mm, and 1205g at 164cm width 92mm) that are intended for fun, light and fast ski touring. Then in contrast on the right you can see the new Vapor Float powder machines weighing only 1400g at 178cm while measuring 117mm in waist!
Just like with the new great looking Travers Carbon ski boot, Fischer is disrupting the market with some light touring skis as well.
The photo below shows their full ski touring and skimo racing line. The first two from left are Hannibal 100 and Hannibal 94 (1500g at 180cm width 100mm, 1250g at 177cm width 94mm) for ski touring in powder and soft snow. Then I want to highlight the Transalp 80, in green and fifth from left, as highly suitable for any type of ski mountaineering whether that be steep faces, couloirs, or just enjoying corn in the spring, weighing only 950g at 163cm in width 80mm! The Ranger line is freeride oriented – wider, fun but still pretty light given the widths.
For ski mountaineering racing, Fischer is pushing the weight limits with their two models (photo below):
- The VerticAlp (in black on the right) is a pure vertical race specialist – 580g in 161cm – and it features a substantial camber to mimic classic xc skis for improved kick, and almost no side-cut (82-64-72) to ensure the skis doesn’t glide sideways on any terrain. This is a great design given that modern vertical races are hosted mostly on groomed runs and roads.
- The AlpAttack (in black on the left) is a super light skimo racing skis – 650g at 161cm – with what appears to be a stiff torsional construction, thus, it should ski well at high speed and in hard/icy conditions. The 99mm at the tip, in contrast with 65mm waist and 81mm tail, should make the ski float well in powder and crusty snow.
Black Diamond skis
While Black Diamond has been producing some light skis already, their new full Helio line is screaming ski mountaineering in all conditions. On top of that, Black Diamond has moved production of its skis from China to Austria which should result in greater durability than before.
All Helio models feature carbon reinforcements, ABS sidewalls and ultra-light balsa flax wood core. All skis feel very light yet strongly built, and are shaped and rockered exactly for the type of snow or skiing their widths predetermines them.
- 116 model weighs 1550g in 176cm at 143-116-126 and features generous tip and tail rocker.
- 105 model weighs 1450g in 175cm at 132-105-119 with slightly smaller rocker at both ends than the 116 model.
- 95 model weighs 1250g in 173cm at 123-95-113 and slightly shorter rockers than 105.
- 88 model is shaped a bit differently than any of the above. It seems to be built for spring, steep and hard snow ski mountaineering. Weighing 1200g in 168cm at 121-88-111 the ski feels torsionally stiff and has just enough rocker to make it a well rounded tool.
After liberating the world from heavy and clunky bindings in late 80s, Dynafit is now also known for its light skis in all kinds of widths and shapes. However, in last 2-3 seasons, the brand is poking into ever more into the freeride skiing. Here are couple of upcoming models from the photo below:
- Third pair from left, the new Dhaulagiri, named after 8000m peak, appears to be suited for a variety of conditions but will mostly likely excel most in softer snow – weighing 1400g in 177cm with a side-cut of 130.5-99-114.
- The purple Sphinx (1670g in 170cm at 124-96-114) is a woman-specific model while the green/yellow Meteorite (1820g in 177cm at 126-97-116) is for heavier or more aggressive skiers. Both versions should be suitable for higher speeds given their bigger mass.
- The Chugach (1950g in 181cm at 107mm width) and Hokkaido (2100g in 182cm at 117mm width) models are big mountain skis and more traditional shape than other recent Dynafit models.
In skimo racing department, Dynafit is now using their flex tip technology and new side shaping (like in the above Denali and Dhaulagiri models) with different colours for let and right skis:
- DNA model, the two skis on the left, is Dynafit’s lightest weighing 690g in 161cm with a side-cut of 99-65-80.
- PDG model, two skis in the middle, is a heavier version of the DNAs with the same side-cut and length but at 790g. Usually, also about half the price of the DNA.
Salomon S-Lab Minim ski
With long tradition in ski edges, boots and bindings manufacturing, Salomon has only started to build their own full skis in around 1990.
I went to the Salomon ski booth to mostly check out their new light S-Lab Minim ski mountaineering ski as it was developed in collaboration with Kilian Jornet, who previously skied Atomics for a long time.
The Minim ski will weigh 720g in 160cm and is slightly wider than all other skimo racing skis – with a side-cut of 97-68.5-83 it is 3-4mm wider in the waist. It features Karuba woodcore and CFX Superfiber reinforcement.
Like Fischer, Atomic is an Austrian manufacturer and has been building skis for decades. Although they have couple of touring and freeride models I was mostly insterested in checking out their Backland Ultimate line (on the right side below) as they are the brand’s most suitable for light and fast ski mountaineering:
- Backland UL 85 weighs only 1050g at 163cm with a 85mm waist
- Backland UL 78 comes in 980g at 163cm with a 78mm waist
- and Atomic’s skimo racing skis, the Backland UL 65, weighs only 680g at 162cm with waist of 65mm and a reshaped tip
Hagan and Voile skis
While Hagan has been manufacturing skimo racing skis for long time Voile entered the market only two years ago. However, both brands have a couple of lightweight models in various widths. I didn’t get any specifications for the below skis but both brands have improved their existing models and should not definitely not be overlooked when buying a new quiver next season.
Voile is a Salt Lake City manufacturer with reputation for well built yet lighter weight skis. Their skimo race skis have substantial rocker and can been clearly picked out in this photo.