Since Karhu released its waxless Guide ski (now the Madshus Annum) more than five years ago, the concept of an all-mountain backcountry ski with a waxless base pattern has gained some serious traction among backcountry and backyard skiers worldwide. Gone are the days when a waxless ski was primarily for kick and glide nordic skiing, and limited to a slender under-foot width of 78mm – to ensure that nordic skis could fit within a groomed classic track. The latest waxless skis have now been skied off the highest flanks of Pakistan’s K2, in our farming neighbor’s pastures, and everywhere in between.
For several years, Utah-based Voile – makers of top-shelf backcountry skiing and split-boarding gear – has been responding to skier demand for a more versatile backcountry ski option. Upon the release of their Vector BC (the waxless version of the popular Vector ski) a few years back, it was clear that high-performance skis with a waxless base (“fishscale” base pattern) were catching on. Whether slogging into a remote location on gently rolling or nearly flat terrain, or just heading out for a mellow laps in a quiet backcountry or backyard stash, the waxless base offers sufficient and convenient traction when climbing skins would complicate matters or be overkill. In more aggressive terrain, you can always throw the skins on, and the Vector BC skis is an excellent lightweight, all-mountain ski for the descent. While the waxless base does reduce glide on warm/sticky snow or firm/hardpack snow, most noticeably in lower-angle terrain where every bit of glide counts, it is most at home in powder and well-developed corn snow, fortunately.
So what about the Charger BC? While the Vector BC is really a semi-fat backcountry ski with a more traditional downhill-oriented sidecut and camber, the Charger BC (which is simply a waxless version of their Charger ski) throws a rockered, tapered tip and some more tail rise into the mix, as well as a powder-loving 114mm+ of ski width under foot. This makes it truly the first ski of its kind – a ski that is as much fun charging steep and deep powder stashes as it is surfing sunset turns on a low angle hillside close to home. And the Charger’s camber and sidecut enables easy edging when the snow firms up under foot.
No doubt, in the context of dedicated, soft/variable-snow loving, backcountry skis, the Charger BC is one of our top choices for a one-ski quiver. When mounted with a telemark binding (if you will be skinning with them, too, we highly recommend Voile’s Switchback) and skied with a lighter-weight tele-boot (like the Scarpa T4), they are unbeatable with respect to enjoying mellow kick-and-glide laps out the back door, a long tour in rolling terrain, or while enjoying a beautiful sunset in the pasture. Or mount them up with some Dynafit Beast AT bindings, slog into a remote Adirondack slide path, and let them rip.
Ski you out there.
- Brian and Emily
Voile Charger BC – voile.com – $595
171 cm -134-11-123 mm – 7 lbs., 3 oz. (3.26 kg)
181 cm -137-112-126 mm – 8 lbs., 2 oz. (3.69 kg)
191 cm -140-114-128 mm – 8 lbs., 12 oz. (3.97 kg)
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