Welcome to another installment of Editor’s Review from FREESKIER. Each week our editorial staff provides in-depth, honest reviews about the gear they’re testing on a weekly basis. Our goal? To point you towards the best brands and products on Earth so you can trust your equipment whole-heartedly and have as much fun in the mountains as possible. Read up on the DPS Wailer Alchemist 112 and Dynafit Rotation 10, below, then visit us again tomorrow for more awesome gear coverage.
I’ve had the opportunity to test the new DPS Wailer Alchemist 112 skis on four separate occasions—two of which paired the skis with the soon-to-be-released Dynafit Rotation 10 bindings. First let’s talk about the skis.
The Alchemist series, which will be available to purchase in the fall, is meant to relieve the common problems that arise from carbon-fiber skis: chattering of the skis at high speed in variable conditions (i.e. non-powder snow) that yields a bumpy, bone-jarring ride. DPS utilized what it calls, “vibration-tuned, aerospace grade carbon,” in the construction. In quasi-laymen’s terms, a mid-weight aspen wood core is sandwiched between two layers of pure prepreg carbon fiber laminate with undisclosed dampening materials that have been sniffed out from the far reaches of the Earth (probably) by the engineers at DPS. The result is a ski that has heightened dampening properties and provides a smooth ride
in not-so-soft conditions.
My first outing on the Wailer Alchemist 112—featuring the same shape as the much-loved 112-mm-waisted Wailer and only differentiated by the Alchemist insides—took place on fairly firm conditions at the SIA On-Snow Demo at Copper Mountain, in late-January. Based on DPS’ intentions for the Alchemist skis, these were pretty ideal conditions for a thorough examination of the Wailer Alchemist 112’s hard-snow prowess. While the 112-mm waist width was a bit excessive given the snow quality, the best word to describe the ski is “smooth.” So smooth, in fact, it was like surfing along the imaginary, cartoon musical notes emanating from Kenny G’s saxophone. The ski was also playful without losing any effectiveness on-edge.
The next time I found myself clicked into the Wailer Alchemist 112s was during the FREESKIER Ski Test in Snowbird, Utah. It was Wednesday—the third day of the test—and the 14-plus inches of snow that had fallen two days prior had evolved into chop and chunder. I vividly recall following Todd Ligare and Marcus Caston down the Get Serious Chutes with the Wailer Alchemist 112s. Luckily for me, the skis inspired confidence down ski-length nooks and crannies, around tight trees and over Volkswagen-sized moguls. I highly appreciated how easy they were to pivot, as quick-decision making was key on that particular run.
In April, I took another pair of Wailer Alchemists on a tour on Berthoud Pass, mounted with the Dynafit Rotation 10 bindings. The approach to the “Tea Cup” zone was about 1.5 miles long and featured 900 feet of elevation gain. On the ascent, I found the skis to be lightweight for their size and didn’t find that I was over-exerting myself on the hike. Conditions on the downhill consisted of glorious corn-snow. The snow was soft and creamy, and the aforementioned surfy nature of the skis was welcomed on every turn.
My last jaunt out on the Wailers happened this past weekend, again on Berthoud Pass. A late start led to pretty deteriorated and sloppy conditions both on the ascent and descent. Instead of corn we were met with mashed potatoes that were eager to grip and grab at us through each turn. Despite the conditions, I found the ski still performed adequately, again finding the easy pivots particularly beneficial when navigating sticky snow.
As for the bindings, which I used on the last two outings, I loved them, bottom line. The Rotation 10 is brand new for Dynafit, and is 50 grams lighter than the popular Radical 2.0. What I found most beneficial and interesting was Dynafit’s new “hub centering toe piece.” A special notch is implemented to hold the toe unit straight after stepping in. This does two things: The first, is that because your toe is centered, your heel is also aligned with the heel piece making for easy step in. The second being that the excenter unit (the toe lever that switches between ski and tour mode) is easier to engage because it is always centered in the notch during step-in.
As for the descents, I never ejected, thus not being able to evaluate the release capabilities. However, over the years I have grown increasingly confident of Dynafit’s bindings with regards to downhill performance. The Rotation 10 does, however, have a cool distinction in that it’s the only binding with elastic travel in the toe and a TUV certification. It also provides 10 mm of rearward travel in the heel unit to absorb energy during each turn and potential stomp.
Whatever your current set-up, spring touring season is in full effect across the western United States. Remember to have fun and be safe out there, people, and keep these products in mind if you’re looking to upgrade your set-up for next season.