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Voile Vector BC review

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

180 cm long, 121-96-110 tip-waist-tail; 6 lbs 14 oz; waxless pattern, mounted with Dynafit Speed Radicals; skied with Dynafit TLT5 boot w/o tongue or booster strap; 1st day today.

 

I'm on ski patrol a large non-profit ski trails system with 4 huts, 50 miles of trail, and 20 miles groomed (basic grooming with snow cats or snowmobiles, not set ski tracks).  Snow conditions are maritime and quite variable; grooming is variable too--all by amateur volunteers; the trail is open to skiers, snowshoers, and hikers, the latter two are supposed to keep to the edge of the groomed and do so in the presence of ski patrol.  So patrolling can be on very nice groomed snow, very frozen snowshoe, skis, and boot tracks, or in untouched snow ranging from a foot or more of nice powder to mush to breakable crust.  

 

Skiers on the system use anything from skate skis to track skis to telemark gear to heavyweight AT gear with frame bindings to Alpine gear and snowboards backpacked/snowshoed in.  I have used Madshus Voss and Epoch, Fischer Outtabounds, Salomon X-bound 88s, Karhu Guides, and in very icy conditions Volkl Snowwolfs with AT bindings and Dynafit 7-Summits with Dynafit bindings.  The karhu Guides were my favorites--never needed skins (the other waxless skis did), turned well, and handled the rougher snow o.k.   But they were long 190+ and not so good in downhill in deep snows.  So based on the recommendation of a fellow patroller I bought the Voile Vector BC.

 

Today the trails were well groomed and a storm was coming in that was going to drench them in rain so I thought I better give these skis a test.  the freshly groomed snow had a thin ice crust on top at the lower elevation; at higher elevation new wet snow of 1 inch was also crusty.

 

RESULTS

 

1.  The skis climbed very well; I didn't need skins on even some of the very steep hills or even off the groomed.

2.  Despite the width and the long waxless pattern a reasonable kick-and-glide was possible even uphill.

3.  The waxless pattern made for slow skiing downhill on very gentle slopes, a little buzzing on more moderate slopes, but was not noticeable on the steep slopes.

4.  The skis turned easily into short radius turns on steep downhills on narrow cat tracks and were pretty stable doing figure 11s at speed.

5. With Dynafit binding free pivot and the lightweight boots the weight of the skis wasn't even noticeable.

 

I've found lightweight AT boots and bindings to be far superior over NNN, NNN-BC, 3-pin, and 3-pin cable set ups except the NNNs are better on professionally groomed trails with set skin tracks and mild-moderate terrain.  Even moderately steep downhills on groomed trails can be skied without locking the heels and in problem snow or for high speed skiing the locked heels give a signficant advantage.

 

Off-piste the snow was lousy today with a trap crust so I'll have to wait to try these in some off-trail turns off the ridges and in the glades.

post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 

Its been a week since I tweaked my knee in breakable crust, which crust rapidly turned to Cascade Concrete as did the avalanche crowns and avy debris from the major avalanche cycle we had.  But we got 1 inch of new last night so time to try out the knee and the Vector BCs on a bc/xc tour.  Everything under the 1 inch of new was hard frozen including postholes from booters, snowshoe track, etc.  The tip rocker and width of the skis made them inconsequential.  But the snow was runneled, humped, and rarely flat.  The wide skis tended to slip sideways easily if attention wasn't paid to keeping weight on the ball of the foot and heel.  Climbing was fine; kick-and-glide nice; and downhill glide on the low angles, slow. I'm looking forward to using these skis on low angle exporation tours.

 

 

post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Carey View Post
 

- Today the trails were well groomed and a storm was coming in that was going to drench them in rain so I thought I better give these skis a test.  the freshly groomed snow had a thin ice crust on top at the lower elevation; at higher elevation new wet snow of 1 inch was also crusty. - 

 

- RESULTS

 

1.  The skis climbed very well; I didn't need skins on even some of the very steep hills or even off the groomed.

2.  Despite the width and the long waxless pattern a reasonable kick-and-glide was possible even uphill. -

 

 - I've found lightweight AT boots and bindings to be far superior over NNN, NNN-BC, 3-pin, and 3-pin cable set ups except the NNNs are better on professionally groomed trails with set skin tracks and mild-moderate terrain.  Even moderately steep downhills on groomed trails can be skied without locking the heels and in problem snow or for high speed skiing the locked heels give a signficant advantage. - 

 

 

I have been interested in a more downhill capable ski then my Rossignol BC-65's and Fischer S-Bound 78's which are BC-NNN set-ups. I've never been happy with the BC-NNN boot few available choices and fit issues. Usually to wide and no heel hold down or they pinch inward on the metatarsals, press down on the base of my big toe nail, fold in on my ankles. I also find the BC NNN manual bindings tend to ice up and become difficult to clamp in. 

 

Can you tell me more about the kick and glide of that big waxless base telle ski paired with the low-tech Dynafit pin bindings compared to a NNN-BC with something like a Fischer S-bound 78 and also a S-bound 88 and S-bound 98?

 

Have been considering going to a salomon x-adv 6 boot for the narrower heel pocket, but it is a floppy boot and i don't know that they won't cause other fit issues. Also not thrilled about switching to Salomons binding, especially if the boot doesn't work out. Without going to a heave Scott Excursion type boot the 75mm duckbills look to me to be more of the same as the NNN-BC boots, just stiffer sole/ski coupling.

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

The best kick-and-glide I have ever had was with Madshus Voss skis with NNN bindings and a soft Fischer boot on perfectly groomed snow.  Next was with NNN-BC with stouter boots (a buckle) on perfectly groomed snow.  Next would be leather boot (Asolo Snowfield) or Scarpa T-3 (now T-4) with 3 pin bindings on perfectly groomed snow (I've used Karhu XCD GT, Catamounts, Pinnacles, Salomon X-Adv 88, and Fischer Outtabounds--the last being my favorite but lacking in climbing ability).  But for the last 2 setups the boots were not as comfortable as my Dynafit TLT5s.  Today my wife was torn between using her old Merrel Ultra leather duckbill boots and her old Scarpa coca-cola brown T-3s (2 buckles) on her Fischer waxless Rebounds with 3-pins or using her TLT5s with her Dynafit Manaslu skis (90 mm waist) and tech bindings because the latter boots are so much more comfortable and the Dynafit Vertical bindings require no effort to stride (whereas with 3 pins you have to flex the boot toe and the boot cuff too) and the TLT5 boots have basically no resistance in the cuff for a 60 degree flex.  But the Manaslus would require skins (the Fischers only require skins on steeper pitches).  So to me the ultimate kick-and-glide experience is with XC skis, NNN (or NNN-BC) bindings, and soft synthetic boot--but that is only on nicely groomed snow.  The AT setup gives less k&g but works on all snows. I've used tech with both the Karhu Guide (Madshus annum, 76-mm waist IIRC) and with the Voile vector BC.  The Vector allows me to ski a shorter ski (180 vs 195 cm) with a rockered tip.  The rockered tips helps going over rough/irregular patches.  The wide waist with flotation.  And the short length with quick turns.  The Guide was great on the groomed but not so good downhill in the deep.

post #5 of 13

OK, i often thought about a light AT boot/binding waxless (bc-xc) ski setup, good to know it's working well for you. Any issues with premature wear of binding pins or corresponding boot toe fitting?

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

I don't think wear is an issue; I use a silicon lube to get ice from building up in the boot fitting and that means I clean them regularly; If some one was somewhere where one got a lot of sand in the boot fitting (say walking in a dirt parking lot or on a dirt path to the snow, then mayber with abrasion the fitting might get worn.  I've got well over 100 days on my TLT5s--that is hours of walking/day with no noticeable were on the fittings; the plastic and sole of course show they have been used; I've had to replace the liners.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Since I had only 1 opportunity to use these on XC ski patrol because of no snow, I decided it would be fun to take them into the alpine paired with my new Dynafit Mercury boots.  I used skins for the climb up on top new powder on top of melt-freeze crust over powder on top of more melt-freeze crust over powder ... lol.  Climbed about 2,000 vertical feet then skied down on slopes of a variety of angles, but all less than 30 degrees.  The skis performed reasonably well, a little light in the rockered tip for some of the crud.  Skied slower than a nicely waxed ski, but the waxless pattern did not sound noisy or fell vibrating.  Definitely a moderate turn ski but I was able to negotiate tight places in the trees fine.  On the way back up to the parking lot, I didn't use skins; they gripped fine on the snow recenty torn up by a sno cat beginning the road plowing for the spring.  Because it is a wide ski with tip rocker, it does not track well in the lump, bumpy, crusty snow unless it is paired with a decent track track or ski track.  A great ski, I think for exploring and touring for turns in moderate terrain; in steeper terrain it is probably fine but the waxless pattern is more of a hindrance than a  help there.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Finally got another opportunity to try the Vector BC: breakable crust & mush in the Alpine so we did a low elevation tour on the Westside Road in Mt. Rainier NP one mile from my house.  The  road begins at 2000 ft asl and  we skied to 2800 ft asl in 3 miles thru unlogged forest, some even old growth.  December storms left 6-13 inces on the road (closed in winter) and an easy dozen of fallen trees 2-3 feet in diameter and 200 feet long.   the snow ranged from light crust to wet snow to compact snow on snowhoe tracks in the middle of the road to frozen XC ski tracks on the sides.   Also tracks of deer, Cascade red fox, snowshoe hare, and cougar.  These skis, bindings, and TLT 6 boots (unbuckled at top, no power strap or accessory tongue) climbed perfectly and permitted a decent up hill kick and glide.  Someone in m family paid a trick on me and ratched the heel piece to the rear so far it the heel pins wouldn't even touch my boot.  I had a tool to fix it but decide to ski down 2-pin (my wife was on Fischer Rebounds with 3-pin bindings and Merrell Ultra leather boots).  No probem.  Great kick-and-glide on the way down and on steeper sections eaily parallel turns and a few hockey stops.  No problems tihe snowshoe, boot, an ski track and refreezing crust on snow as dark approached.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Bought my wife a pair and went on Ski Patrol for the Mount Tahoma Trails association:

 

 

They climb and glide well on groomed, groomed covered with 2 inches of new, and slopes 15-20 degrees (possibly more).

 

Showing off her 160 cm Voile Vecotr BCs

 

Heading up thru snow covered red alder trees.

 

Up some ungroomed roads with a deep snowshoe trench in the middle and ski, boot, and snowshoe tracks on the side; going down and making turns in the crud was no problem.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

So the weather forecast was for rain in the afternoon so we decided to do a quick 3-hr tour in Mt. Rainier NP on roads and thru the bush but no groomed trails; snow  was heavy, wet powder, crusty  in places.  We went to Reflection Lakes, a popular destination (4 mile RT).  The tour begins on a narrow winding packed trail that goes up and down and then quite steeply up; we brought skins but didn't need them.  We could kick and glide easily our the road to circumnavigate the lakes.  On return the skis skied as well down thru the heavy snow & treess as my alpine skis would have.  Road:

Plummer Peak in the distance.

Looking down the Nisqually River drainage: Eagle Peak left, TumTum center, Mt. Wow R.

No reflection from Reflection Lakes today.

Lunch overlooking Louise Lake.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

I've continued to use these ski on backcountry ski patrol and have been so pleased I bought a pair for my wife!  His & hers Voile Vector BC:

 

The peak of today's ski patrol on the South District of the Mt. Tahoma Trails Asscociation:

 

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

Took my Vector BCs for an extended bc tour yesterday; early morning icy crust as expected so I used skins to ski up the steep ridge in the trees with lots of deformed snow, needles and lichen on top of snow, deep and broad tree wells, and generally uneven conditions--no sense dealing with any slippage.  Once up on the ridge and encountering glades, I found the weak spot of these skis.  Icy to melting icy crust above relatively firm snow on steep sidehills meant that without skins these skis had a tendency to slip downhill, whereas a somewhat skinnier waxless ski would sink deeper into the snow and hold a traverse better.  In the sun (and it was HOT) the wide waist kept the skis from sinking more than 6 inches in the rapidly softening snow. But, of course, hitting shady patches maintaining a hard icy crust,  without skins the waxless bases didn't grip as well as one would like.  But otherwise onward and upward and nice turns on crust, corn, and crud on the way down followed by an XC kick and glide out for a mile or so on fairly rough suncupped snow with the track occasionly interrupeted by avalanches and rock fall.  All in all, I think would have preferred my Cho Oyus and kept the skins on; then skied a steeper, tighter, more challenging way down.

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

A new season. Used the Vector BCs once on a shallow snow day--not much to evaluate.  On 29 Nov & 1 December I used my Voile V8s in the new, deep snow--great powder skis!  But on 2 December we decided to go for a tour becuz the forecast was for clouds and snow--that means no to little visibility in our area.  So my wife and I took our Vector BCs.  Unexpectedly we had a clearing of the low clouds so we headed uphill  in 8 inches of new over 12 inches of new from the day before over 2 feet of new in the last week!  Pole penetration with a little pressure was 2-3 feet!  When we hit the ridge the wind was blowin' and it was snowin' so heavily we could go no further.  But the Vector BCs were stellar in the powder--long swooping turns, short-very quick turns in the trees; the rockered tips rising up in the powder nicely.  IMHO perhaps the best 1-ski bc quiver possible.  The waxless pattern works well in a variety of snow conditions; we used skins for the steep uphill in light powder.  Turning is great on everything from ice to powder.  Heading down the Paradise Valley Road following snowshoe track with just the waxless pattern.

 

 

Breaking trail in deep snow, very steep in places, using skins.

 

 

My wife hucking a drop back down to the road; I just caught the landing.

 

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