Light, Not Lame: As construction advances, skis drop weight and keep the fun factor

Tester Marla Bailey plows through the light stuff at Powder Mountain, Utah. [Photo] Matt Kiedaisch

Lose the weight, keep the performance—it’s an intention that brands have long been striving for. And while finding the pinnacle of ounces saved to oomph retained may be as Sisyphean as skinning in plug boots and Alpine Trekkers, many testers say skis are finally hitting the right performance-to-weight mark.

“The lighter, touring-focused skis are getting better every year,” says Eric Tiffany, who chose Voilé’s Hyper V8 (6.3 lbs. at 112 mm underfoot) among his favorite skis. “I’ve given lots of above-average to high scores on skis that I haven’t liked in the past, because I tend to shop in the husky section.”

Black Diamond’s touring-focused Helio line exemplifies this progress. While these five skis are each built upon barely-there balsa cores with ultralight carbon-fiber layers, they rely on a handful of stability-adding elements more commonly found in sturdier freeride skis—namely full-length, vertical sidewalls, which traditionally increase edging power when compared to cap construction, and layers of rubber, incorporated to dampen harsh energy vibrations common in carbon skis.

“The lightest skis keep skiing better and better,” says Lance Riek, of Bozeman, Mont., whose favorite skis included Movement’s Alp Tracks 106 LTD (5.8 lbs. at 106 mm underfoot) and Voilé’s Hyper Charger (6.1 lbs. at 106 mm underfoot). “The manufacturers are refining how to make the materials—core, carbon, sidewalls—work together with the design—shape, camber, rocker—so light skis can handle a wide range of conditions.” —TC


$795 – | SIZES (cm): 165, 171, 176, 181, 186, 193 | DIMENSIONS (mm): 141/112/123 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 6.3 lbs. (176)



$1,000 – | SIZES (cm): 177, 185 | DIMENSIONS (mm): 138/106/126 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 5.8 lbs. (177)



$795 – | SIZES (cm): 154, 164, 171, 178, 185 | DIMENSIONS (mm): 140/106/124 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 6.1 lbs. (178) | TESTED LENGTH: 164

Grab your copy of the 2019 Gear Guide here.


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