Apr 09 2012

Review: Voile Vector BC – One ski to farm it all?

The fat ski trend has penetrated the new millenial genre of XCD skis and it is no surprise that Voile is pushing the envelope of what is acceptable. For those stuck in the XCD is Nordic is skinny paradigm, Voile’s Vector BC is here to smash that vision to smithereens. In case you hadn’t noticed, fat waxless metal edged skis are one of the hottest ski categories of the day.

It turns, it glides, it strides and climbs. It's a cross-country, no a downhill, NO! - it's a Vector BC.

The reason is simple – it’s that old fashioned feature called versatility. Versatility can mean compromise, but it can also mean performance when you don’t have to waste time switching tools and modes. That’s what Voile’s Vector BC does in spades.

Updated graphics of the Vector BC for the Twelve-13 season.

Name the function, and in the waxless metal edged world, the Vector BC probably outshines any other ski. With a solid 90mm waist width, and a waxless pocket that extends well outside the kick zone with a downhill, not a Nordic, camber the Vector BC climbs steeper than the Madshus Annum or Fischer S-Bound 112.

Even in difficult, breakable crust conditions I managed to skim a few turns in…
…without breaking through.

It turns easier too, not only because it is wider and therefore floats better, but also because of an early rise tip, making it shorter for faster turning. It is lighter than the regular Vector so it won’t handle crud as well its downhill brother, but it will handle mank better than other XCD skis.

That early rise tip is even more useful when breaking trail. In deep snow the tip floated to the surface on every step, while other skis, even skis as wide as 112mm at the shovel didn’t rise to the surface as easily as the Vector BC did. Keep in mind, you won’t notice this ability with a 3-pin binding, but you will with a free-pivoting binding like a Switchback or a Dynafit.

There's a lot of patterned surface area on the Vector BC allowing 15° ascent angle in many conditions.

That is a less obvious feature of the Vector BC. It is wide enough that it’s a good all round backcountry ski for farming turns, and thus a contender for the rando minded using light, touring efficient boots and tech-fiddle toes. Not only is it wide, but the profile is the same as the Voile’s Vector so you might even want to use ‘em with skins for a sustained, steep uphill. However, with a pair of Vector BC’s tours you may not need skins, especially when you have a long, low angle approach that can be flashed by not having to deal with skins; use the waxless pattern to cover that flat ground with more glide and just enough grip.

The blend of grip, glide, deep snow flotation and turning functionality make the Vector BC a game changing form of XCD ski where the downhill achieves new levels of performance, and the waxless pattern is so large it can climb a 15° track reliably in textured snow, 20° if it is warm. That means you can either leave the skins behind and save weight, or leave them in your pack to save time by eliminating transitions. It helps to know how to set a good low angle track, but in case you don’t know, just use the Vector BC’s without skins and they will school you – and how.

It is true they are a bit heavier than narrower fish-scaled versions, but not much. For a long distance cross-country tour these are too big, but for a short cruise in the local woods and hills, or a full day farming turns, they’re perfect.

Vector BC sizes and dimensions.

Depending on what your fave form of sliding is, Voile’s Vector BC is one of the few skis that spans a broad enough range of usefulness to qualify as a backcountry quiver of one. The more time you spend mixing it up with kick ‘n’ glide tours, or casual strolls in the woods and foothills, to earning turns, the more appropriate the Vector BC is.

Vector BC
Price: $550
Weight (160cm): 5 lbs., 7 oz. (2.58 kg)/pair ⋄ (170cm): 6 lbs., 5 oz. (2.9 kg)/pair
Weight (180cm): 6 lbs., 9 oz. (3.1 kg)/pair

© 2012

Related Posts
Vector BC review
Fischer S-Bound 112 review
Voile’s Charger BC

  • hammer_vn

    I’ve had fun using a few different fish scale skis the last few years. They are a joy to use on long, rolling, spring traverses (e.g., icecap travel) and certainly have a place in some people’s quivers.

    However, one problem with them that never seems to get mentioned in reviews is that they are somewhat incompatible when skiing with other people using skins. If you are using fishscale skis you either leave your friends behind when they are putting skins on – or you wait. If you stay with your friends with skins and then the terrain/snow gets to a point where you decide to put skins – then they have to leave you behind or wait for you as you put your skins on. If you stay using fish scales – then you will often need to put in your own, lower-angle skin track than if you used skins.

    You will still have the easy travel, light, low-friction advantages – but I’ve found that you won’t end up with ‘transition-time’ advantages that you may have expected!

  • DrDanger

    “Game Changer” absolutely. Plenty of width to handle the powder, especially given it’s early tip rocker, which also allows you to do more than just survive the inevitable breakable crust. Lighter weight makes it easy to snap your turns around. The fish scale allowed me to go up blue slope type inclines much faster, and transition times where nothing. Opened up new terrain that I wouldn’t have considered as they involved long slogs of low angle before the serious up began. Only downside is that they are obviously slower on the run outs however since these will be almost exclusively used in the BC, not really a downside. Actually some times it can be a good thing when you are going down those really narrow “low angle black diamond” slopes to get back out.

  • https://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie


    Interesting observation. No doubt you are correct. Whenever I have used waxless metal edged skis on a tour I make sure I pick partners who are also using them, or a tour where it is “obvious” to all that those are the tool of choice.

    Mixed groups always have longer transition times in my experience – most often when splitboarders and skiers are on the same tour. Being able to transition faster simply means I have extra time to hydrate, snack, or relax…but it won’t save time overall on the tour.

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  • Quadzilla100

    Nice writeup and I guess it needs to be updated a little as Voile now has a Waxless Charger in the lineup and haven’t really seen a report on these yet. I have the Vector BC’s and I have a year on them so far and really like them alot. As a matter of fact, my BC goal this year is to see how far I can take them ability wise compare to my primary BC rigs. I do ski alot with others who are not on fishscales and am never held back on the decents compared especially if it is typical BC snow. I do skin them alot and with others who are skins only so I usually just put skins on when they do so there is no waiting around but in a lot of places where there is a runout coming back, I can usually just smoke them and be gone when they arrive at the TH. So, I guess there is a few downsides like a tad slower and a tad more catchy on less than good snow but they are great sloggers on mixed and soft snow. They climb great too better than other fishscales but also climb great with skins especially with Voile X2 bindings as those have a huge climbing lift and the rockered tip just lifts over the snow and hardly ever plows thru. A game changer? compare to old school XCD fishscales and even the newer ones with a nordic camber you bet!

  • Dostie

    Ja, good idea on adding a reference to the BC Charger. You can find the write up on that ski under Gear>Skis>Waxless.  But I’ll also add it in as a related post since you mentioned it. ;)

  • Quadzilla

    Thanks for the link, would be nice if someone would chime in who has a pair and throws down a evaluation. For me, I am pretty big at 6’2″ and 190# and could easially ride a Charger BC but I would think a ski this big would need more beefy boots than the T2 Ecos I use with the Vector BC and not convinced that waxless is a way to go for me with AT rig on it. I think once you start adding power and weight then the ski become a uphill and downhill rig where regular ski works just fine as the fishscales come less into play.  

  • rhcastorh3@gmail.com

    I can’t agree more with praise for these skis! Glide fantastic on powder and super responsive yet climb better than Rossi BC125′s(which also ski pretty great) The pattern is a nice touch for exploration and manuvering efficiently while farming for turns and can reduce wasted energy while skiing varied terrain and save the skinning for the steeper parts of your tour! Hope Voile’USA will go ahead and include shorter lengths in the Charger BC line! I feel I’m on the money with Switchback pin line @ 34″ from tail on my VectorBC 160cm (62-1/2″ O.L.) I am 5′ 9″, 140 lbs.

  • EarlS

    Can you comment on the flex pattern of the Vector BC ? It is often said that a soft round flex pattern is best for tele. Your review of the Fischer S-Bound 112 indicates that their significant camber, plus the “Nordic rocker”, may require some attention to detail in turns. All of my BC skis, ranging from Madshus Glittertinds through Epochs, Annums, and K2 World Piste, have a soft round flex pattern. I can do a poor imitation of the Steve Barnet telelite tele turns “in the snow” with my Glittertinds, and a competent version of resort tele turns “on the snow” with the wider skis and plastic boots (rootbeer T3 and T2 Eco). On the narrow and medium width skis I use NNNBC and a variety of turns including Nordic step turns, kick turns, stem turns, stem-tele hybrids, and pure tele turns, depending on the snow, slope, and density of trees. I have Karhu GTs which I do not like because the camber makes the tips dive in deep snow, where they can usually find a branch to slide under, resulting in sudden stops and annoying face plants. Although the Glittertinds turn “in the snow”, the tips ride up due to the soft flex, so face plants are not a problem. I have never used a ski with rocker. Does rocker supersede the need for a soft uniform flex pattern ?

  • Dostie

    Flex pattern of the Vector BC is classic tele – medium stiff and round. The rockered tip does make the ski act short, but also prevents it from diving in deep snow. Naturally it is awesome when breaking trail too.

  • EarlS

    Are the Vectors appreciably stiffer than your Annums ?
    In Colorado we have light, dry, powder snow in the woods all winter long. My Annums bend easily in this soft snow, facilitating tele turns. Nevertheless, I occasionally wish for a bit more width to improve side slipping on steeper slopes and skidding parallel turns where there less room to maneuver between trees. However, I would not want to sacrifice the easy flex of my Annums to gain the wider platform that facilitates side slip.

    Can you estimate how the Vectors would compare with Annums in dry, fluffy powder ?

  • rongon

    I have a question about these Vector BCs vs. simply carrying a pair of kicker skins in my pack. I ski a lot in the Adirondacks and Catskills, which means there’s always plenty of out-and-out cross country skiing involved with getting any turns on a tour. I might ski for over 3 miles of up-and-down, rolling terrain that would be perfect for a lightweight nordic setup (either with kick wax or fish scale based skis), but then the last 3 miles is at a steady uphill rate of about 1000 feet up per mile (which requires full-length climbing skins). So my question is this — Would I do just as well using regular alpine skis (smooth based) with kicker skins for the approach, then switch those out to full-length skins for the steeper parts of the climb? Then on the down, off come the skins and into the pack they go, and out come the kicker skins, tucked into my jacket for when (if) needed?

    Or is that simply too much slower and less efficient than having the fish scale base always there, ready when you need it?

    Last question — Will the metal plate and strap at the front of a kicker skin last if used for 6 miles of rolling terrain, a couple dozen times a season? Or do those parts get so shredded with use that the kicker only lasts for 40 or so outings?

    I currently have a pair of Madshus Annum that I find are just so-so on the down. It would be fun to have a much better performing, wider ski with fish scales, but I wonder if it’s really that much better than simply buying a pair of kicker skins for my favorite downhill skis…

  • Dostie

    It’s easier to get a better turning ski with a waxless pattern with a full sized set of skins. As my friend Quad says, use the pattern for the low angle and rolling terrain stuff, then pull out the skins for longer, sustainted climbs. The wider waxless skis definitely ski better than the narrower ones. Fischer has a new, wider S-Bound coming too.

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