Nov 05 2012

First Look: Voile’s Charger BC

Ever since the Kahru Guide was introduced the lingering question has been how fat is too fat for a waxless metal edged ski? Voile has decided to find out by pushing the boundaries with the Charger BC and a waist width of 110mm, not a hair less.

How wide is too wide for a waxless metal edged ski? Charger BC says 114 mm. What say you?

Charger BC comes in three sizes, with varying profiles to deliver a ski with a large turn radius. The shortest is 171cm long with a 110mm waist and a radius of almost 22 meters. The 181 model is a few millimeters wider, and longer in the turn, with the 191cm version a full 114mm at the waist with a 25 meter turn radius.

Voile already pushed the envelope of what constitutes too much waxless pattern on a metal edged ski with their Vector BC. It rocks in a lot of conditions, and the waxless zone only increases its adaptability and functionality. Viewed as a Nordic racing ski it has mediocre glide, but from a backcountry skinning perspective, it is in a completely different league.

Lest you misunderstand, these skis violate the Nordic mindset with their width, and an Alpine skiers with the waxless pattern. But when you need qualities from both, it becomes an excellent fit for a lot of backcountry conditions. It doesn’t make sense to use with a heavy plate AT binding, but it sure does with a boot that can drive a ski that wide with either a three-pin binding, a frictionless pivot like one of Voile’s Switchback brothers or a two-pin tech trap. ;)

If you’ve ever skied any distance in the backcountry you have yearned for a waxless base for at least one short leg of the journey, probably more. Skins definitely have their place, but sometimes a base that allows some serious glide with just a enough grip for shallow angled inclines would be really nice.

At the opposite end of the grip spectrum, the pattern inevitably robs the Charger of speed in warm snow, and in firm abrasive snow. You can definitely feel your speed drop with the turn, but not so much in cold powder.

A friend picked up a pair today and simply can’t imagine a more versatile ski. It’s phat enough to qualify as a modern day phat ski, so it floats beautifully in pow and crud. So what if the scales slow you down a bit? The sensation of flotation in powder comes from the snow, not from being launched at speed on the Hannenkham.

The rocker profile for Charger BC.

Though I haven’t made any turns on a pair yet myself a few things stand out. First, Voile maintains their rockered tip and tail. The early rise tip is an clear winner in the breaking trail department, and may or may not float your boat on the descent. It rises fairly rapidly, so it shortens the ski and shifts the effective center of its edges rearward on firm snow. You may want to experiment with binding location, especially telemarkers.

The width of the Charger BC seems to lend itself more to Dynafit bindings than tele, but whichever way you turn, you’ll enjoy the fatness of Charger in most conditions. Just don’t forget a paste wax to keep the pattern from glopping up in sticky snow, ‘cuz it can.

Charger BC
MSRP: $595
Dimensions: 171 cm • 134-11-123 mm • r=21.7 m • 7 lbs., 3 oz. (3.26 kg)
181 cm • 137-112-126 mm • r=23 m • 8 lbs., 2 oz. (3.69 kg)
191 cm • 140-114-128 mm • r=25.4 m • 8 lbs., 12 oz. (3.97 kg)

© 2012

  • teletilyouresmelly

    so is this meant to be used with skins for steeper ascents and be a quiver of one, or is it for meadow skipping only?

  • http://ern.reeders.net.au/blog/ Ern Reeders

    With wet snow paste wax is a good idea on any pattern base ski. Improves the glide noticeably.

    It’s interesting to see yet wider PB skis coming onto the market.

    I moved from 69mm waist last season (Fischer Boundless) to 78mm this (Guides/Annums). Took some time to adjust – this is Australia where deep powder is rare and terrain for the av. tourer is rolling. But wider in general was better. Also had an hour on Fischer S-bound 112s and liked them a lot. Slower glide than Guides but quicker turn initiation; light but quite capable on firm snow on-piste.

    I hate skins but appreciate that they have their place in the kit. I take kickers for the PB skis when it’s icy or steeper tracks are warranted. And full-length for climbing out of steep runs or for no-fall zones.

  • Dostie

    With a 110mm wide waist I don’t think these are for meadow skipping. It’s for earning turns where some of the journey would be too slow on skins, but kicker wax, or a waxless pattern, would be nice to have and the pattern won’t affect the turns much. Lots of tours like that here in Tahoe. Know there’s a lot of approaches in Colorado that could benefit from a waxless pattern until the real slope is underfoot.

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  • rhcastorh3@gmail.com

    Sounds good, love my VectorBC 160cm w/ switchbacks mtd. @ about 34″ from tail being (pin line) about 4-1/8″ ahead of perceived center of working contact points of ski to place ball of foot on sweet spot (I’m 5’9″, 140 lbs., sz. 10/28 boot). Please help me convince Voile’USA to include shorter length Charger’s in the BC line! (I also love my Charger 154cm!) [pin @ about 32-1/4" from tail]

  • Stephen Reddel

    Gday Ern – without breaking any non-commercial requirements can you let us know what exactly is a paste wax. Also skiing in Oz (rossi S7s with skins and marker barons) and some of the rolling approaches deserve a pattern base. Cheers Stephen

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