The Best Skis of 2013 – Demoing Next Year’s K2, Black Diamond, Volkl, Moment, Salomon and Dynastar

2013 is going to be another big year for skis – as we found out first hand at the annual demo day at Alpine Meadows last week. Testers Dave, Pam, Lis, Kevin and Greyson got on some of the better looking prospects for 2013 from K2 Skis, Black Diamond, Volkl, Moment Skis, Salomon and Dynastar.

Sure, the hardpack snow wasn’t the best for our focus on powder skis and backcountry skis, but as they say – any ski is fun in super hero snow; the true test is when the conditions are less than ideal.

Kevin and Lis ready to drop in to Alpine Bowl.

A definite standout, skied by both Kevin and Greyson, was the K2 SideSeth. Next year’s Seth Morrison pro model takes the lessons Seth has learned in Chamonix, France. It loses the twin tip, reduces tail rocker, and gets a little stiffer for variable snow conditions. And despite being a powder-oriented 118 mm under foot with a ton of tip rocker, the changes paid off.

“AMAZING ski. Holds an edge like the Sidestash, even with a bit more rocker up front, and a tiny bit in the tail. I can’t really feel the extra 10mm underfoot. Super stable and racy in these conditions. Likes to go fast. I LOVE the Sidestashes, and I’d trade them in for these in a second!” Kevin said.

Here’s a video introduction of the SideSeth from Outdoor Retailer:

K2 said they’ve lightened the SideSeth up compared to this year’s Obsethed for more backcountry hiking, but it still isn’t the lightest – and the rockered tails don’t necessarily lend themselves to ski mountaineering (not that you were going to do that with a 118 mm waisted ski anyway, were you?)

The Black Diamond Ember.

Lis’s favorite for the day was the Black Diamond Ember, an all-round backcountry ski at 95 mm under foot and the women’s specific version of the Black Diamond Warrant.

“The Black Diamond Ember skis were by far my favorite pair of the day. They were great on firm snow. They felt solid, responsive and powerful, without overpowering me. I felt super strong and confident on these,” Lis said.

And while testing those and other skis, Lis was wearing Black Diamond Swift backcountry ski boots.

“These were the perfect boots for a day of demo-ing skis since I had to walk a lot back to the demo tents. They were lightweight, supportive, yet had a great forward range in walk mode so I could navigate all the stairs and asphalt walking I had to do to try out so many different skis. The Boa lacing system is a bonus making a tight fit easy to crank out,” Lis said.

Lis shredding the K2 Gotbacks

Another interesting model from BD for next year is the Black Diamond Revert, which takes the rockered and tapered tip and tail of a larger powder ski and brings it down to a 95-mm waist all-mountain ski, which Greyson tried out at the demo.

“This was the lightest ski I tried, and while their soft flex wasn’t ideal for the tough conditions, they were secure and damp as long as you backed off of full speed,” Greyson said. “I can see this being a great all-around backcountry ski next winter – perfect for soft to variable snow.”

Greyson’s favorite ski for the day was the Volkl Nunataq, a 107-mm-under-foot-fully-rockered backcountry adaptation of the popular Volkl Gotama. The way the rockered profile and sidecut worked together made this ski a blast to carve in the hardpack, and will definitely give it float in the powder beyond what its width would suggest.

“I’ve never skied something that was both so light, quick and playful while still feeling sure-footed and stable at speed. Granted – you shouldn’t be maching down a groomer on any backcountry ski – but this one gives up very little over its in-bounds equivalent while shaving significant weight,” Greyson said.

Lis also tried out the Volkl Kink from the same manufacturer, another do-it-all ski.

“These were my second favorite pair of the day, and my favorite pair if I had to judge on looks alone. The Kinks have solid graphics in muted green and pops of neon to give them an edge. In the firm conditions, they were a bit more jumpy than the Ember, but overall a great ski, with a great tune,” Lis said.

Kevin got on the Salomon 118 next, another fat ski designed to handle a multitude of conditions.

“Better suited for powder but skied the groomers quite well. Fairly stable. A moderately rockered tail, significant camber, and a large rockered tip. Fun, considering the conditions, I can see how they’d be really fun and playful if there was even a couple inches of fresh on the ground,” Kevin wrote.

Salomon Guardian Binding and Quest Boot.

Matching the Salomon skis, Kevin was also riding the Salomon Guardian Touring Binding and the Salomon Quest Touring Boots.

“Rated at 120 flex, the super-stiff uppers made these super-responsive and powerful, even though they’re a 3 buckle/powerstrap design. The Contra-Grip rubber felt great for hiking,” Kevin said. “The Guardian was awesome! The torsional rigidity of these bindings is very noticeable, and the coolest feature is the ability to just step back into ski mode from tour mode.”

Also in the Salomon line, TMS owner Dave tried out the wild-shaped Salomon BBR.

“What a fun, new shaped ski this was to try. I was skeptical at first, but like most Salomon products, this did not disappoint. It held an edge on the hard groomers really well and busted through what little crud there was with no effort. It was a little floppy when I got going really fast on the groomer, but that’s not what its meant for, so no worries there,” Dave said.

Dynastar Cham

Dave also tried out the Dynastar Cham, a ski with significant tip splay.

“Wow, this was the surprise ski of the day and the demo for me. With the major upturned tip, traditional camber under foot and then flat tail, this ski ripped! The Cham 107 that I skied has 2 strips of metal in them and wow did they want to go fast and hard. They held an edge excellently, plowed through the crud, ripped the groomers and wanted more. They were super heavy though. I am waiting to try the Cham High Mountain Series which has the same shape, just no metal. So, it will be interesting to see how they hold up. We probably won’t carry the Cham 107, but the High Mountain 107 could be a great ski that you will see on our wall next season!” Dave said.

We also tested a handful of Moment Skis, including the Bibby Pro, Belafonte, PB&J, Bella, Sierra and Hot Mess. We’d like to put some more time on these skis in softer snow conditions, so check back here down the road. Pam said the Sierra’s were quick and responsive in the bumps, and Lis liked the Hot Mess.

“The Hot Messes were a fun pair, quick on the turn and good for the hard conditions,” Lis said.




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