Three words: no speed limit. Testers gave the Panterra a double thumbs-up for its solid blend of comfort and power in a three-piece shell construction. The tight- wrapping cuff and stout external tongue transmit movement efficiently. With its ample width and a roomy fit over the top of the foot, it‘s a haven for thick-footed guys seeking high performance. Holmquist: “Light, responsive, consistent.“
The Viper 120 does everything well, but with its classic design and looks, it‘s easy to overlook. Testers say it‘s a top medium- width boot. It fits well without tight or sloppy spots. With its spoiler removed, it‘s one of the better big-guy/big-calf options. And it‘s a good value for bigger, stronger skiers; many testers gave it high stiffness scores. Wiksten: “Wasn‘t the only one who found it as stiff as a lot of the 130s.“
This year‘s Hawx is a different bird, with changes that helped it fly higher on the results sheet. There‘s more room at the toe and over the midfoot. The shell features Memory Fit heat-moldability. The signature flex zones have been relocated to the sole, allowing subtler pressure control without loss of lateral and torsional stability. Testers said the edge power was plenty solid. Brian Elling: “I‘m stealing this boot.“
Redster Pro 130
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The latest Redster shakes off its struggle with bipolar fit. It‘s more even-keeled- nicely snug in the heel and ankle, just roomy enough at the forefoot. It also sports a more robustly padded liner, as well as new heat-moldable shell technology. Thankfully, it retains its edge-to-edge agility and solid command when railing at speed. Gleason: “It‘s built to attack, with fine-tuned carving ability.“
The Volkl Three is the newest (and fattest) model in the Volkl collection of fat powder skis. Its drastic tip and tail taper (the widest parts of the ski are moved closer to the binding), and full rocker shape are built to offer a looser, smearier ride in deep snow. And at 135 mm, it's the fattest ski Volkl makes. No metal is used, in order to keep it relatively light and lively for a ski this wide.
It's part of the Big Mountain Freeskiing collection, which includes all of Volkl's fattest skis, from the Two, which is essentially a narrower (124 mm) version of the Three, down to the venerable Gotama, which, at 107 mm underfoot, will offer a measure of hard-snow versatility. All offer the integrity of full wood cores and sturdy vertical sidewalls. Some incorporate two sheets of metal for a traditionally powerful performance, while some are carbon-reinforced so as to be lighter weight. All are sold flat (no binding). All are fully rockered tip to tail, with no camber underfoot, for maximum float and surfiness in deep snow.
Here's what testers say:
"It's a great AK ski for expert skiers. Just open it up in powder fields. Forget skiing it on groomers or iceâ
Here's Volkl's most successful ski in the men's test, and no wonder. Testers loved how good it made them look. Yes, it's a metal-reinforced carver at heart, and it loves to be tipped up high and pressured into deep arcs of all sizes. But what the team admired most was its balance of skills. There's just enough width to venture into off-piste crud, to make the most of boot-high powder days, or to set a strong edge on spring-soft corduroy without trenching too deeply. You don't have to drive it at top speed to have fun, and its quickness is almost unmatched in the category. Britt: "A great hangover ski: so easy, no thought required."
At 115 mm underfoot and with gradual rocker through- out, the all-new one W wins in Flotation-no surprise there. But it's far too well bred for new-school smear- ing. It's damp, stable, power- ful, and...hot pink. Perfect for a take-no-prisoners charger, we think. (Matching war paint sold separately.) Those who can handle it will find the confidence to push the limits of gravity and velocity. "A crud-busting, powder-slaying, hard-charging stick," said Galena Gleason.
The name's the same-and almost 10 years old-but this year's Mantra further evolves. It's a modest two mm wider. More important, it adopts the full-length rocker other Volkl fatties favor, with tip taper thrown in for a looser feel. It's not as buoyant as others in the category, but testers loved its utility-knife versatil- ity, admiring especially its hardpack and crud game. Larsen: "Friendlier than past Mantras; still stout enough to charge."