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vagabond

2014 Nordica Vagabond Review

Looking to next year’s skis, we’re seeing a lot of growth in the 100-110 waisted all mountain ski category. One of the shop favorites so far is the Nordica Vagabond, a 107 mm underfoot ski that got Jim and Phil re-thinking ski widths for next year.

Editor’s Note: The Nordica Vagabond Blem is now only $299! Click Here.

vagacapo

Over the last few years, skis around 98 mm underfoot have been our favorite “quiver of one” skis for Tahoe and other western ski areas where you might split your time between groomers and off-piste.

Philpug getting after it on the Nordica Vagabond

Skis over 100 mm had been more powder or big mountain biased, like the perennial favorite, the Volkl Gotama or the excellent Blizzard Cochise.

But the Nordica Vagabond is a solid daily driver ski contender for western skiers, thanks to its surprising on-piste performance that doesn’t give anything up in the powder or crud.

With no metal and an I-Core stringer to reduce weight, this ski definitely registers on the light and lively side of the scale vs. heavy and damp powerful skis out there, but it’s no wimp. One of our testers, normally leery of skis with no metal, said the Vagabond had surprising pop out of each turn, saying “for a metal-less ski, it has a surprisingly confident ride.”

Railing big GS style turns on firm snow, the large cambered section hooked up and dug trenches surprisingly well for a ski this wide. An on-paper 25 meter turning radius would suggest it wouldn’t do so well with quick turns, but here’s where light and lively come back in to play, along with the tip rocker and a slight rise and taper in the tail. Quick to initiate into a turn and quick to release out – it did well with just about anything at the WWSRA demo day at Alpine Meadows on Firm Snow.

In a foot-plus of fresh powder, one tester spent the day at Sugar Bowl seeking out untracked stashes and bashing through crud back to the lift, even doing a little out-of-bounds hiking with the Nordica Vagabond. The tip rocker kept the ski planing so well the tester didn’t miss fatter powder skis, and the relatively straight sidecut didn’t feel hooky in chopped up snow. Overall the ski seemed to attain the difficult-to-find balance between stability and fun.

Overall, our testers were amazed at both how versatile and how nimble the Nordica Vagabond is. It successfully walks the fine line between stiffness, width, weight and shape that makes it a great choice for skiers who like the feel of a wider ski off-piste but don’t want to give up much on firm snow groomer days.

It’s also a strong contender for a backcountry ski, thanks to those characteristics – through on some Dynafits and go deep into the mountains, or throw on some Marker Dukes/Barons/Tours and ski it in-bounds and out.

Nordica Vagabond Stats:
Dimensions: 137-107-125
Turning Radius: 25 M

More info:
Here’s a discussion on the Vagabond over at EpicSki: http://www.epicski.com/t/119311/review-2014-nordica-vagabond

blizzard-bonafide

Blizzard Bonafide Review: An All Mountain Ski Gold Standard

Here in Tahoe, the Start Haus tends to recommend 98 mm underfoot skis as the best all-around all-mountain skis for local conditions.

2015-blizzard-bonafide

There are a lot of good skis in this category, but the one that both Sierra Jim and Phil Pug have held as the gold standard in the category recently has been the versatile Blizzard Bonafide.

It’s won numerous magazine awards, sold out last year before January at the Start Haus, and this year, Blizzard is sold out nation-wide, so once they’re gone, they’re gone. We’ve got them in stock, but they’re going fast. Click here.

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2014 Stockli Stormrider 107 Review

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere in our 2014 ski reviews, the 100 to 110 mm wide segment of skis is going to be big next year. We’ve already reviewed the Nordica Vagabond and the Rossignol Soul 7.

But one of the skis in this class we’re most excited about comes from a brand we haven’t carried in the past – the Stockli Stormrider 107. The top pick for many of our testers in this group, the Stockli SR 107 is a departure for Stockli, and an impressive ski for soft-snow oriented all mountain skiers.

“All I wrote on my testing card was ‘wow!’” said Kenzie, one of our expert testers who participated in Powder Magazine’s Powder Week at Jackson Hole.

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2014 Rossignol Soul 7 Review

2014 introduces a lot of 100-something mm underfoot all mountain skis, and one that’s getting a lot of attention is the Rossignol Soul 7.

Landing somewhere between the 2013 Rossignol S3 and S7, the Soul 7 is 106 mm underfoot with a 17 mm turning radius and a little less rocker in the tip, and substantially less rocker in the tail.

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2014 Volkl V-Werks Katana Review

One of the most unique skis that’s got everybody at the Start Haus excited for next year is the Volkl V-Werks Katana, a cutting edge evolution of the popular Volkl Katana big mountain ski.

V-Werks skis from Volkl typically blend high tech materials like carbon fiber and titanium to get the best performance and the lowest weight possible for a ski.

In the case of the V-Werks Katana, Volkl created an innovative structure with a wood core sculpted into a Carbon Fiber frame, resulting in what looks like a rail extending down the length of the ski, leaving the sides of the ski super thin.

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2014 Ski Reviews from the Start Haus

Between Outdoor Retailer, SIA, WWRSA at Alpine Meadows and Mammoth Mountain, our ski testers have been hard at work figuring out what goes on the ski wall for next year.

It’s been mostly firm snow across the west, but we tested everything from skinny carving skis to fat powder skis, and a few favorites have started to surface. This isn’t a comprehensive list, just the skis that have already started catching our attention.

Just a few of the Start Haus crew out testing at Alpine Meadows.

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Dynafit Mercury Review – The Backcountry Ski Boot to Beat

Each year our staff, including America’s Best Bootfitters instructor and Start Haus owner Jim Schaffner tests dozens, if not hundreds of ski boots. This year, we’re lucky to be working with Craig Dostie, the backcountry skiing guru who founded earnyourturns.com, who is an expert on backcountry ski boots.

While we skied and liked a handful of what we’d call sidecountry ski boots that ski really well and have a walk mode for hiking, we only picked two dedicated backcountry ski boots that really deserve to spend their lives out of bounds: The Dynafit TLT 5 Performance, which has been around for a year and is the weapon of choice for ultralight altitude seekers, and the Dynafit Mercury, a new boot this year, that we think strikes the best balance between hike-ability, ski-ability and weight of any backcountry ski boot to-date.

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