We knew from the first turn that the Kastle FX95 HP is a very special ski, and awarded it a Top Pick for Stability. None of our testers had experienced this kind of dampness and support before. This attribute makes this model a powerful tool all over the mountain, with the versatility to perform in all kinds of snow. And while the best of what these skis have to offer reveals itself at higher speeds and larger turn shapes, it doesn't require an aggressive skier to handle them. The FX95 HP has something for everybody, no matter your ability level or terrain preference.
New Version Available
Kastle released this ski in a designated women's version called the FX 96 W. Read info about the updated model below.
Our Analysis and Test Results
Brand New FX 96 W vs. FX95 HP
Kastle released a women's specific version of this Top Pick Award winner. The new FX 96 W features a fiberglass core and Hollowtech 3.0 tips, designed to keep vibrations down. There is also slightly more rocker on this updated ski. Compare the two versions below; the FX 96 W is shown on the left, followed by the FX95 HP we previously tested on the right.
Since we haven't tested out the updated ski for ourselves just yet, the review to follow only pertains to the FX95 HP.
Hands-On Review of the FX95 HP
We were unsure of what to expect from this wildly expensive ski. We often saw strong skiers on them, and sometimes skiers whom you might not expect to spend that kind of money on two sliding boards (like our ski patrol buddies). It turns out that those skiers had already learned what we quickly did too — the Kastle is in a league of its own and worth the cost if you're looking for solidity and constancy in a ski.
Stability at Speed
We have never, EVER felt anything like the stability that these skis provide in an all-mountain ski. Our testers all had to redefine what this metric even means thanks to these incredible charging machines. Hence, the Kastle won our Top Pick for Stability award. Some testers said they had felt stability and dampness of this caliber in a proper GS race ski, but never on something as wide and versatile as the FX95 HP.
The FX95 HP can hold onto a turn like a Ferrari in a Grand Prix, never slipping, always consistently reliable. In fact, this is an ideal teaching tool, because the only time there was even a modicum of chatter is if we don't ski very well. If we trust the skis and continue to shape our turn (rather than stagnating and stalling out), then they provided all the support we could hope for and more. We found so many snow conditions where other skis would get skittery and bounce around — where the Kastle cruised like a Concord.
Kastle uses Hollowtech to remove unnecessary layers and weight from the front of the ski, thereby dampening the tips and magically avoiding the dreaded tip-flap of nearly all rockered-tip skis. The HP in the name refers to their High Performance technologies, which in this case is a double titanal layer that offers unparalleled strength and consistency. Our testers have never felt so confident at such high speeds on an all-mountain ski.
The best part about this ski's supportiveness is that it is unconditional. You don't have to be an all-mountain ripper to feel the security that the Kastle offers. Even if you're only skiing groomed snow at lower speeds, the edge grip and lack of chatter is second to none. Anywhere, anytime, the FX95 HP holds and comforts you.
The Kastle FX95 HP is a carving machine, and we found that we could set an edge and arc a turn at low or high speeds, which is a credit to the ski's construction. The progressive dual rocker and slightly lower camber profile allow the ski to transition quickly and fluidly from turn to turn. We found it very easy to get the ski on edge, and effortless to move from one edge to another. With a slightly larger turn radius than some in our test, it prefers higher speeds and bigger turns. If you're newer to the delights of carving, it might be a little much to handle, and there are other skis in our review which will ease you more gently into this movement pattern.
One tester said that she had never before felt so confident that a ski would hold its edge. She felt the Kastle would never let her down. While it can carve clean tracks at any speed, the FX95 definitely loves to go fast, and it's when you're carving at the highest speeds that it truly performs to its potential.
We were so obsessed with this ski's performance in other areas that we got a little nervous about whether it would be successful in powder as well. It doesn't have the huge rockered tips or large waist width traditionally associated with a master flotation device, so we weren't sure how it would fare.
The FX95 HP did not disappoint us in the fresh snow, but it did surprise us by attacking it in a completely new way. It felt less like the ski floated on top of the powder, and more like it just plowed the powder out of the way! There seems to be enough tip rocker to keep the skis from diving underneath too far, and the tips lead the way for the powerful skis to bulldoze a path for the rider.
As in other types of snow, the Kastle provided a smooth and consistent ride in the deeper snow. Due to the manner of pushing the snow, rather than drifting atop it, it may take a stronger and more powerful skier to drive these skis through powder. For a more traditional approach to powder skiing, especially for someone new to the genre, getting something with a fatter waist and more tip rocker might be preferable.
Our testers were fairly certain that this ski would rally in chopped-up snow we weren't disappointed. With its stiffer flex and performance engineering, the FX95 HP blasts through rough terrain like a steam engine on steroids. It doesn't matter what kind of messy chunky muddle you put in front of these skis, they slice and dice it, so it seems gourmet.
The same unrelenting stability we discovered in other terrain persists in this realm as well. The Kastle certainly doesn't get thrown off balance by a little cruddy snow (or a lot of it!). Tough as nails, the FX95 HP will power through anything.
Once again performing well but in a non-traditional sense, the FX95 HP is not conventionally fun. It isn't very light and doesn't love to get off the snow, and it doesn't have a ton of rebound (except at very high speeds where the skis are able to bend a lot), but the stability it provides made our testers positively giddy!
When we realized how fast we could go and still feel safe, we had a fabulously fun time on these skis. There is definitely something to be said for security, and having it allows you to try new exciting things.
If you are a ripper, and you like to ski fast and aggressively, this ski will absolutely provide you with really fun elasticity — popping you from one turn to the next. If you'd rather not have to work so hard for your fun, or aren't comfortable skiing very fast, then there are other skis out there that provide an easier brand of entertainment.
The Kastle FX 95 HP doesn't love to make a short-radius turn, and it can't be described as pivoty, but it still eats bumps for breakfast. This ski crushes the bumps — literally. It just massacres them. It wasn't so much that we felt that it's a great bump ski, it is more so that this ski just destroys anything in its path, so a mogul field is suddenly flattened by them.
This tactic worked in the bumps, but occasionally our testers felt that this philosophy of get-out-of-my-way was a tad cumbersome in the trees, where the obstacles are a little more durable than a pile of snow. As long as you had a clear line, and could see it, then the Kastle was happy to cruise you down a relatively straight path to tree-skiing happiness. However, if things got tighter, or you wanted to reign in the speed, it wasn't quite as quick and nimble as you might like.
The FX95 HP is one of the priciest skis we've ever tested, and the most expensive most of us have ever touched! As one tester said with seriousness though, you can't put a price on love, and these skis are totally worth it. Austrian quality construction with a racing influence doesn't come cheap, but it probably shouldn't. This model is a cut above, and the price reflects it.
For anyone who wants a truly all-mountain ski with exceptional stability at most speeds and through most snow conditions, look no further than the Kastle FX95 HP.
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