Apr 12 2011

Review: G3 Zest

As one who came late to the front rockered ski party, I’ve had just over a season on a pair of Voile Drifters, and finally came to appreciate the early tip rise in powder, crust, sastrugi, spring mank and even windbuff.  As the Drifter is truly a fat powder ski, I was curious to see how this rocker technology translated into a ski that was a bit slimmer underfoot.  Enter the G3 Zest.

Look at lil' sister. G3's Zest.

The G3 Zest could be considered the Tonic’s little sister, featuring the same the same front rocker and overall shape, albeit with smaller dimensions (132/100/123).  Of the two available lengths, I skied the shorter 166 cm version, which clocks in at 7.5 lbs/pair.

Unlike some women’s specific skis I’ve been on, the Zest is quite lively, thanks to its propriety ‘JoyRide’ technology which includes reduced camber, early tip rise and a dual density sidewall, which in laywoman’s terms means it’s easy to turn.  It’s nimble and responsive, and the early tip rise is helpful in snow conditions beyond just powder snow.  I appreciated the mild rocker when in spring snow conditions, particularly the unconsolidated slush.  It had decent edge control on firmer conditions given its dimensions, but I’m not sure how comfortable it would be on an icy, steep couloir.   The Zest’s dampness meant I could ski fast and make the big arcing turns I love without feeling any chatter, and I could still maneuver through trees (another personal favorite) and bumps (terrain I actively avoid when I’m not testing skis) without much effort.  One caveat, however, is that given that my other go-to skis — an older pair of 170 Black Diamond Verdicts and a pair of 165 Bro Model Super Stiffs — are both beefier skis, my opinion may not be the same as someone who prefers a softer, lighter and shorter ski.

Yours truly, putting the Zest to the test.

The skis were mounted with G3 bindings, which I’ve never liked, as I find them way too soft and sloppy. I tested the skis on my own Scarpa T1 boots, the unisex black and silver version.  Despite not loving the bindings, the Zest’s performance was still impressive enough for me to overlook the issues I had with the bindings.   I’ve been skiing on Cobra R8 bindings for many years now, and they’re noticeably more active.

While I didn’t have a chance to take the Zests into the backcountry, I would have liked to, as the combination of a relatively light weight, early tip rise, dampness and maneuverability would make it a terrific backcountry quiver of one.

Overall, I found the G3 Zest a lively, responsive ski that shines in a variety of snow conditions, including powder snow. It would appeal to an upper intermediate to advanced skier looking for an all-round ski, ideally someone who is on the more aggressive side.

That said, G3 only produces the Zest in two lengths – 166 and 172.  I know that not all women would find either size ideal, and while women seeking longer lengths might have luck with the Tonic, those looking for something sub-165 cm are unfortunately out of luck, at least until G3 creates a junior/child version of this ski.   Yes, the telemark audience is small, and the women’s telemark audience even smaller, but it would still be nice to see women’s specific skis available in a few more sizes.


You can find more of Jenn’s southern Tahoe views at TahoeJenn’s blog.