Based on BD’s much-lauded carbon Helio series, the new Route series comes in a fiberglass and poplar wood core construction that adds nearly a pound of weight—but reduces the price by more than $200. The 95 is a steady all-rounder, and testers loved its easy, predictable handling and quickness. It planed nicely in up to a foot of powder, and held its ground in mixed conditions at moderate speeds, making it an excellent choice for spring tours. Learn more about the Black Diamond Route 95 here.
Dimensions: 125-95-114; Lengths: 163, 173, 183; Weight: 3lbs 1oz (183)
Returning unchanged for 2018, the carbon-infused Zero G 108 remains a test favorite for its power and agility—especially given its very tourable weight. Testers found it could make turns of any shape, but preferred longer arcs and higher speeds. With just enough rocker tip and tail, soft snow performance was solid, but what set the Zero G apart was its handling of mixed conditions and hardpack: “steady and damp,” one tester commented. More info about the Blizzard Zero G 108 here.
D: 136-108-122; L: 171, 178, 185, 192; W: 3lbs 10oz (178)
With a five-point shape more often found on fat powder-specific skis, the Wailer 99 provides deep snow surfability in spades, along with incredibly low weight, predictable edge hold on all but the firmest surfaces—and with a huge fun factor. Testers were wowed by the feathery Tour1 carbon construction, which makes the 99 one of the lightest skis available by size. But the 99 isn’t for rock-hard snow— chatter is a factor, as with any carbon ski. Find more info about the DPS Wailer 99 Tour1 here.
D: 125-99-111; L: 168, 176, 184; W: 3lbs 3oz (178)
As a backcountry daily driver, the Wailer 106 Tour1 is tough to beat. It’s ultra-light for touring efficiency, girthy and rockered enough for all but the deepest pow days, can hold an edge on everything but pure ice, and provides enough “fun factor” to be more than just a reliable mountain tool. Testers found that the 106 does get tossed around a bit in difficult, mixed conditions, but overall the 106 was a crowd favorite every day. More info on the DPS Wailer 106 Tour1 here.
D: 133-106-122; L: 168, 178, 185; W: 3lbs 3oz (178)
In its sophomore year, the FINDr 102 returns as one of the most versatile all-around backcountry skis on the market this season. Carbon construction keeps weight to a minimum, while excellent all-mountain dimensions serve up a solid, reliable ride. Rockered tips provide float, while flat tails give the 102 ski-mountaineering utility (a big plus for some testers). Bonus points: It’s an excellent value for a carbon ski of this caliber. More info about the G3 FINDr 102 here.
D: 133-102-120; L: 174, 179, 184, 189; W: 3lbs 4oz (174)
Carbon does a great job at shaving weight, but it isn’t cheap. G3’s latest removes carbon from the equation, instead opting for a glass layup between lightweight poplar and Paulownia and titanal aluminum. The result is a ski that’s wallet-friendly—and still light enough for climbing. The carbonless construction—paired with PU sidewalls for shock absorption—also makes the women’s Elle damper and more confidence-inspiring on the downhill. More info on the G3 ROAMr 100 Elle here.
D: 135-100-120; L: 167, 172; W: 3lbs 12oz (172)
The 112’s robust surface area surfs great in deep snow—no surprise. But the poplar and Paulownia wood core, four layers of carbon, and two sheets of Titanal provide resolve on hard snow. PU sidewalls aid dampness and durability. Testers also appreciated snow-shedding top sheets—great on sticky spring days. This wasn’t the lightest ski in our corral, but also wasn’t the heaviest. It could be a quiver-of-one contender for BC and inbounds use. More info about the G3 SENDr 112 here.
D: 139-112-127; L: 174, 181, 188, 195; W: 3lbs 12oz (181)
The stoutest offering in Kästle’s TX line, the TX98 is a solid all-purpose backcountry workhorse. Designed to be playful in softer conditions and in tight terrain but still hold an edge on hard surfaces, the TX98 features a semi-cap sidewall construction and Karuba wood core that aid stability at speed, with low camber underfoot for immediate turn response. What’s it all mean for you? The 98 can hard-charge as easily as it hop-turns, just like you. More info about the Kästle TX 98 here.
The QST brings the meat and the heat. It likes to go fast, but can make any turn, anywhere, in any conditions without hesitation. It was the favorite ski of our resident ex-racer, but also got props across the board for its snow feel, stability, and energy. Of course, all that stability comes at a price: there’s more ski here to haul uphill, to the tune of a pound or more. But as an inbounds/backcountry do-it-all crusher, the QST is a fun, rewarding ride. More info about the Salomon QST 106 here.
D: 140-106-126; L: 167, 174, 181, 188; W: 4lbs 3oz (181)
In deep powder and set-up spring snow, Voile’s new Ultra Vector proved a dependable partner. Splitting the difference between the original Vector and the popular Supercharger, the Ultra retains an aspen wood core, with softened flex and more sidecut. The Ultra happily initiated turns of virtually any size, held back only by a speed limit on the upper end of what testers considered normal. Available in sizes from 154-184cm, it’s a strong unisex option. More info about the Voile Ultra Vector here.
D: 130-96-114; L: 154, 164, 171, 177, 184; W: 3lb 6oz (177)