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 first, followed by the FX95 HP we tested previously.
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 mightn't 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 Kastles are in a league of their own and worth the cost if you're looking for solidity and constancy in a ski.
We absolutely loved this incredibly stable and versatile 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. One tester claimed that these babies are so brawny she felt like she could make a hop-turn to a hockey-stop into Corbet's and stomp it. (We'll believe that when we see it!)
The FX95 HPs can hold onto a turn like a Ferrari in a Grand Prix, never slipping, always consistently reliable. In fact, they are an ideal teaching tool, because the only time they release even a modicum of chatter is if we don't ski them well. If we trust them 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 Kastles cruised like a Concord.
The consistent stability we felt on the Kastles brought us so much happiness!
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 Kastles offer. Even if you're only skiing groomed snow at lower speeds, their edge grip and lack of chatter is second to none. Anywhere, anytime, the FX95 HP holds and comforts you.
Born in Austria to a ski racing family, the Kastle FX 95 HP was created to tip and rip.
The Kastles are carving machines, 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 Kastle's 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 the Rossignol Soul 7 HDs, it prefers higher speeds and bigger turns. If you're newer to the delights of carving, the Rossis make it a little easier to lay down tracks.
One tester said that she had never before felt so confident that a ski would hold the edge. She felt the Kastle would never let her down. While they are exceptional in that they can carve clean tracks at any speed, the FX95's definitely love to go fast, and its when you're carving them at the highest speeds that they truly perform to their potential.
The Kastles just plow powder out of their path.
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 skis floated on top of the powder, and more like they just plowed the powder out of their way! There seems to be enough tip rocker to keep them from diving underneath too far, and the tips lead the way for these powerful skis to bulldoze a path for their rider.
The Hollowtech tips stay on top of the deeper snow
As in other types of snow, the Kastle provided a smooth and consistent ride in the deeper snow. Due to their manner of pushing the snow, rather than drifting atop it, they may take a stronger and more powerful skier to drive them through powder. For a more traditional approach to powder skiing, especially for someone new to the genre, look into the Rossignol Soul 7 HD W or the Elan Ripstick 94 W.
Classic crud-busters: Nothing can throw the Kastles off balance.
Our testers were fairly certain that these puppies would rally in chopped up snow, and the Kastles didn't let us down. With their 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.
Jess jumping for joy over the quality of these skis!
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!
While they might not love to get airborne as much as some, we had a blast going fast and feeling confident that these skis always had our back.
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 the Elan Ripstick or the Rossignol Soul 7 HD W both provide an easier brand of entertainment.
The Kastles like to pretend that bumps don't exist, and when you're skiing on them you can believe it too!
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 the Kastle was a great bump ski, it was 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 Kastles were 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, they weren't quite as quick and nimble as you might like. For an agile bump and tree ski, look to the Elan Ripstick or the Icelantic Oracle 88.
The Kastles love going fast and feel secure at the highest speeds, but you don't have to be careening down the mountain to enjoy the strength and security they afford.
The FX95 HP is the priciest ski 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. These skis are a cut above, and the price reflects it.
For anyone who wants a truly all-mountain ski that will never let you down, look no further than the FX95 HP.