For years now my number one go to ski has been the Karhu Guide. But the bases are getting nicked and scratched so it ices up too easy. On tap to replace it is Fischer’s fattest S-Bound ski, the 112.
My friend Mick always needles me about my heavy striding gear, but he also noticed that for short jaunts I had no problem keeping up with him. So the difference in weight doesn’t always matter, but I’m the first to admit, and he noticed this too, that on a long day the weight does take its toll. For short tours though, you just get to expend a little more energy, and it’s barely noticeable.
Two years ago I replaced the pins with a Switchback and went with T2s just ‘cuz they fit better than Excursions. Mostly I used ‘em to take the dog for a walk, so they get used like a classic cross-country ski more than shredders. If all that sounds heavy for a striding ski you’re thinking inside the anorexic nordic box.
Now it’s not rocket science to know that fatter skis turn better than skinny nordic rigs. Then consider what you want when your backyard has some pitch and you realize you may want some extra width for stability and turns, and metal edges for firm snow and speed. So yes, they are heavier, but worth it.
For those who don’t know how to turn, think of them as fat skis that are easy to balance on, or snowshoes that aren’t slow shoes. In fact, for that, the fatter the better.
Which is another thing few realize. With a fatter ski you might think they create more drag, but actually, and especially when you’re breaking trail they make it easier because they aren’t constantly “submarining” in the snow. Plus they have better grip thanks to more waxless surface area. Breaking trail is why I recommend a Switchback over pins for the binding, so you have a free pivot to let the tips rise to the top. Or SNS-XA or NNN and some beefy boots (see Barnett’s treatise on TeleLite).As much as I love the Guide for these capabilities, the Guide is about to get replaced. Fischer’s S-Bound 112 is a good contender. It uses a progressive pattern whose scales are shallow at the beginning and end, but deeper in the kick zone. So far it grips really well where I would expect it to, in textured snow – either fresh or refrozen – and in warm, mushy snow. As with other waxless patterns, skins do a much better job on icy surfaces, but if you slow down you can get enough purchase to at least hold position with a small incline. In warm snow they climb well up to 12°, 15° with technique, and are good to 10° in cold textured snow. Like the rest of the S-Bound series, the 112′s have a fair amount of camber. This definitely helps improve the glide, as does the negative pattern, but camber is always a potential problem with turns. If you step forward into a tele turn, prepare to kiss the ground. If you can step back to initiate a turn the tendency for the tip to ricochet as you weight it is reduced enough that they turn pretty darn smooth – it was a pleasant surprise when the S-bound 112s turned as told, right from the get go. Perhaps there is something to Fischer’s concept of Nordic rocker, whereby the shovel and tail lift up as you compress the camber with your weight. As I just said, it was a surprise to see these skis respond so well in spite of the camber. Kudos to Fischer for keeping the camber, but not letting it ruin the run back down.
That’s the reason a ski like the S-Bound 112 is so attractive. It works in so many situations. Taking Pepper for a walk. Getting a run in with lunch away from the desk. Or even taking it up a 1000′ hill. Shoot, with skins added you can pretty much go wherever you want. I’ve skied far steeper with far less before and the only negative I can see with the S-Bounds is they wouldn’t be good on steeps because you can’t afford mistakes there and the camber would surely cause one. But for everything from the neighborhood park, to snow-clad foothills these sticks rock. S-Bound – ski bound, where you set the boundaries.
Review: Fischer BCX875