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Cap vs. Sandwich

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I know this has been discussed before but I was just checking over my No Ka Ois as they need to go into the shop for a quick tune and I realized that 3 out of my 5 skis are capped (NKO, King Salmon, Spatula). The other two are sandwich, neither of which I have skied yet (Titan 9, Lib Tech Mt. Baker, though I have demoed the 2006 T9 before).

Not sure what this means, but I did find the King Salmon to be superior to the Mantra (I retired the Volkls in favor of the AKs) and both the AKs ski really solid for 180cm skis (they ski long and in many cases act very similar to my previous slalom skis).

Just found that a curious thing (or maybe i'm just bored on a Friday night, which is a travesty in and of itself).

So out of curiosity, what are the advantages/disadvantages or strengths/weaknesses of cap and sandwich?
post #2 of 22
"Cap" itself is a largely meaningless and aesthetic distinction. You could take sandwich race skis and lay a thin cap over them with little change in performance...several manufacturers have done this at various points in time. At least two of the three you refer to as capped are sandwich skis.

If you ask what is different about foam core capped skis, generalizations are weak but lower cost might be a reasonable one. A basic cap foam ski is cheaper to make than a basic sandwich ski...though perhaps not if you are making a very small number of units. You can do more or less anything with cap skis. Modern multi-axis machining allows manufacturers to build beautifully sculpted molds. You can carefully control the characteristics of the ski that way while still keeping construction simple/highly automated. The sandwich ski maker has to make their layups and laminations more complex for the same effect, laying bits of reinforcement and strips of metal here and there in a manual process prone to quality issues.

The French and Atomic seem to specialize in making very high quality capped foam skis. Some of them are undoubtedly just as expensive to build as good sandwich skis. While I don't necessarily prefer the way those skis ski, I do think they are loads more interesting from a design standpoint.
post #3 of 22
Thats a really good way of looking at it.
post #4 of 22
Just to add to Garrett's excellent comments...

There are many examples of hybrid Cap and Sandwich construction.

The Fischer RX series includes laminates and a vertical sidewall, and a cap overlay is added, a sandwich-within-a-cap ski that performs very well and is very durable. These skis are also produced on highly automated line.

Both Dynastar & Rossignol have used cap construction that includes vertical sidewall in the midsection of the ski for high levels of grip. These skis have the smooth feel of a cap ski while providing 95% of the grip of a sandwich ski.

Sandwich with vertical sidewalls skis offer high levels of grip, the vertical sidewall applied pressure to the edge very effectively. Cap skis are easier to smear and also provides a level of forgiveness that most skiers find useful.

Cap skis require substantial investment in set-ups but are produced with lower unit costs. Cap skis tend to be produced with high levels of uniform quality. Sandwich skis can be produced with lower tooling and set-up costs, but require greater unitary costs due to higher labor input. Sandwich skis tend to vary in quality and are are tested and matched to produce a pair with similar characteristics.

Hybrid construction skis are produced like cap skis but provide a added level of performance.

Below are examples of each;
Sandwich: Fischer WC SC, Blizzard Sigma GS, Head Monster 82, Dynastar Legend XXL
Cap: Fischer Scenio S500, Salomon AK Rocket
Hybrid: Dynastar Contact 11, 8000, Fischer RX8

Cheers,

Michael
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
right on.

i'm sure you're referring to the AK's as being sandwich with cap cover--they list them as being a sandwich ski on their site, but when you look at them they appear to be capped...so that's just more cosmetic, kinda like when Hilary Duff got those big ole white caps put on her small teeth, eh?

post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by barrettscv View Post
Cap skis are easier to smear and also provides a level of forgiveness that most skiers find useful.
Comparing SL11 with Völkl Rebellion?
post #7 of 22
I run all sandwich/wood core now. I wont even look at skis that dont have these qualities. My main reasoning is that sandwich are more durable and are much easier to replace bent edges than a cap ski.
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl R View Post
Comparing SL11 with Völkl Rebellion?
Just a general comment. Over the last 2 years I've have 3 Fischers with about the same dims, One is pure Cap (Scenio S500 118-68-100mm) a second was pure Sandwich (Worldcup RC 112-66-97mm) and the third is Hybred (RX8 115-66-98).

The Cap ski performed very well, was happiest on soft snow I would skid more readily than carve. The Sandwich ski also perform very well, was not happy skidding on firm snow (they tend to chatter), but could hold an edge regardless of speed or g-forces. The Hybrid was happy to carve or skid and was much "friendlier" to use than the other two.

Cheers,

Michael
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by barrettscv View Post
Just a general comment. Over the last 2 years I've have 3 Fischers with about the same dims, One is pure Cap (Scenio S500 118-68-100mm) a second was pure Sandwich (Worldcup RC 112-66-97mm) and the third is Hybred (RX8 115-66-98).

The Cap ski performed very well, was happiest on soft snow I would skid more readily than carve. The Sandwich ski also perform very well, was not happy skidding on firm snow (they tend to chatter), but could hold an edge regardless of speed or g-forces. The Hybrid was happy to carve or skid and was much "friendlier" to use than the other two.

Cheers,

Michael
I have the Fischer Sceneo 500, Fischer RC4 WC RC and the Fischer RX-9 which is very similar in construction to the RX-8.

I pretty much agree with your observations. I would say that Sceneo 500 is really not quite a true cap ski in the traditional Salomon sense, for example. The Sceneo 500 "cap" only exists at the center portion of the ski. In front and to the rear of the binding area there is only metal, carbon fiber, glue and topskin, no sidewalls and no cap extending down to the edges like the RX series, for example. The center core of the Sceneo 500 ski is wood, but the wood core doesn't extend close to the full length of the ski. It is the most unusual lay up that I've seen from Fischer. The Sceneo 500 is a fun ski that doubles as a carver and an all-mountain ski (despite it's narrow waist by todays standards at 68mm) and is a great crud buster.

The Fischer Sceneo 500 was (still is) a great ski but never came close to enjoying the success of the RX series that followed it. On hard snow it really only wants to carve. It definitely does not like to skid or feather turns. It' has a beefier feel than the RX series (which to me feels lighter and snappier) but is not quite as versatile on groomers, IMHO. If anyone sees a 400 or 500 series Sceneo laying around a shop gathering dust, I'd highly recommend snapping it up. It's still a high performance, fun ski in a lot of different conditions.


I share Garret's views that he posted above, though I do agree with BushwackerinPA' that skis with sidewall construction have a real advantage when edges need replacement or a sidewall is blown. For cap skis this kind of damage is often a death sentence. Fortunately, blown edges or sidewalls (or capwalls) are not a common frontside occurrence.
post #10 of 22
I think cap or not cap says nothing about the ability to hold an edge or being easy or not to skid. I've tested a lot of Atomic skis a bunch of years ago and many of them were cap construction. I have also 2 pair of Atomic racing department skis left (SG and DH).
I can (anyone can) with a set of files and whetstones make a decent pair of piste skis, either easy or not easy to skid. Just plane them with no hanging edge sharpen them all the way and they stick in the turn. Hang them a few degrees and dull the edges front and rear and voilá, skids easily.
Of course the flex curve, the ski's torsional stiffness etc plays in but for a cap ski and a wooden torsion box ski with similar caracteristics the above holds very true.
The main difference imo is how lively/snappy it feels plus how much dampening the skis provide. In my view a wooden laminate is usually snappier and a little less damped when the snow/ice is harsh. A metal layer can do good.
A cap ski in my opinion is often more calm, maybe some would say lifeless. (Personally I don't care as long as it holds the edge.) Some of the Atomics I skied seemed to have core material with dampening characteristic and I guess that the core could be chosen more freely when it wasn't part of the load bearing structure.

It's quite easy to imagine how different the cap-skis can feel, by just thinking about how the angle of a folded paper changes it's longitudinal stiffnes.
post #11 of 22
Somehow in the last couple of years the term "Sandwich" replaced "Vertical Sidewall" and there is some confusion caused by this.

I would argue that "Sandwich" is a core lay-up, and "Vertical Sidewall" is a construction method, they aren't interchangeable terms. So a ski could be a capped sandwich construction ski, or a torsion box vertical sidewall ski, or an injected foam vertical sidewall ski...or a structural cap or a cosmetic cap.

A sandwich core has layers of material like a cake (the layers could be visible or covered with frosting, it's still a cake), these layers sheer against one another as a ski flexes causing a slight damping effect. GS skis are usually sandwich construction. Torsion box skis have a complete wrap (generally fiberglass) around the core material which stores energy which is returned as rebound, this often produces a livelier ski. Old school SL skis (starting with the venerable Dynamic VR17) were almost always a torsion box ski. Modern cap skis are in a sense structurally torsion box skis in many ways.

Personally I think that the belief that sidewalls are stronger than caps is false. I've seen some REALLY fragile sidewall skis and I've seen some damn tough caps...and vice versa. As always there are a lot of factors that go into how skis behave.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
Somehow in the last couple of years the term "Sandwich" replaced "Vertical Sidewall" and there is some confusion caused by this.

I would argue that "Sandwich" is a core lay-up, and "Vertical Sidewall" is a construction method, they aren't interchangeable terms. So a ski could be a capped sandwich construction ski, or a torsion box vertical sidewall ski, or an injected foam vertical sidewall ski...or a structural cap or a cosmetic cap.

A sandwich core has layers of material like a cake (the layers could be visible or covered with frosting, it's still a cake), these layers sheer against one another as a ski flexes causing a slight damping effect. GS skis are usually sandwich construction. Torsion box skis have a complete wrap (generally fiberglass) around the core material which stores energy which is returned as rebound, this often produces a livelier ski. Old school SL skis (starting with the venerable Dynamic VR17) were almost always a torsion box ski. Modern cap skis are in a sense structurally torsion box skis in many ways.

Personally I think that the belief that sidewalls are stronger than caps is false. I've seen some REALLY fragile sidewall skis and I've seen some damn tough caps...and vice versa. As always there are a lot of factors that go into how skis behave.
I think that you are right that there are a number of different constructions that at their best can be very good and at there worst, pretty bad. I do think that edge and side damage with traditional sidewall skis are easier to repair.
post #13 of 22
Ski powder on the goomers ..... who cares ... no issue.

Ski ice ... go straight sidewall or hang it up.

Deep powder ... no comment since we don't get much ... my last over boot powder day in the untracked as on a pair of P-40 GS (caps) ... and they did fine.
post #14 of 22
The last (and only) cap ski I've ever had that I really liked were a pair of Salomon Superforce 9's. Other than those, it's been vertical sidewall t-box or sammich all the way.
post #15 of 22
Sandwitch, sidewalls and wood core. For me that is all I will ski.
post #16 of 22
I ski both cap and sandwich and don't care which I use. The biggest problem with cap skis is the molds take a huge amount of money to design & set up for production leading companies to pump out numerous models with the same dimensions and to hold onto mediocre models longer than they should. Since sandwich skis are less costly and faster to set up for production many of the most innovative skis are from smaller ski companies using sandwich construction.
post #17 of 22
Volant made some of the origianl true cap skis, where the steel cap was the main structure, but after several bankruptcies they ended up with a cheaper to produce cheater version where the metal cap had synthetic sidewalls and the skis just didn't perform the same.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post
Volant made some of the origianl true cap skis
I think if you search patents you'll find this isn't true.
post #19 of 22
Maybe not "original", but I believe it's one of the first real caps accepted by the mass market.
post #20 of 22
I've owned several sets of K2's and several vertical sidewall rossy race skis. Skiing out east there is no comparison in my opinion the vertical sidewall wins hands down all the other skis i tested that were cap construction felt flimsy under foot with exception of some atomics which were really good
post #21 of 22
Many posters seem to think that the construction and materials used in a the ski is pretty important. I would say that they are pretty much focusing on minutiae and ignoring the big picture. The performance depends at least as much on the driver and how and where it is used as the ski its self and that the properties of a ski are much more than the sum of their parts and construction techniques. If I were going to point out the 3 most important attributes of a ski that affect performance I would say they are shape (length, width, sidecut) flex, and tune. I don't think that much can be generalized about a finished ski's properties (performance or durability wise) based on core material or construction. The real answer to cap vs. sandwich is it depends... on a lot of other stuff. People who say I will only even look at something with X, Y and Z are probably missing out.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post
I don't think that much can be generalized about a finished ski's properties (performance or durability wise) based on core material or construction.
I agree with you that the driver is more important than anything else, but there is actually quite a bit you can generalize based on construction. Can you generalize "better" performance or durability? No. But you can generalize feel and sound, which most skiers perceive as very important, regardless of the reality. So are these generalizations that valuable? Probably not in reality, but they are sure as heck perceived to be important by many.
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