We knew from the first turn that the Kastle FX95 HP skis are very special. In the end, we had to award them a new Top Pick for Stability. None of our testers had experienced this kind of dampness and support before. This attribute makes them a powerful tool all over the mountain, in all kinds of snow. We love their versatility. We also think it's pretty cool that Kastle doesn't make men's skis or women's skis, they make skis. We can appreciate a company that doesn't cater to the shrink it and pink it doctrine, and who just makes great quality skis for anyone who can afford them. (They're not cheap!) 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.
Kastle FX95 HP Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Unparalleled stability at speed, crud-buster, lends you strength
Cons: Very pricey, prefers faster straighter lines
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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.
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.
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 or the Head Great Joys, at 18m, it prefers higher speeds and bigger turns. If you're newer to the delights of carving, both the Rossis and the Heads 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the Elan Ripstick or the Rossignol Soul 7 HD W both 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 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 beauty of these skis is their versatility and their stability. While their greatest strengths do seem to be brought out by strong, fast skiers, they also provide a solid all-terrain ski for someone looking to grow into them. The FX95 HP loves to take its rider all over the mountain, in all types of snow, and offers incredible steadiness all the way.
With an MSRP of $1,200, before bindings, 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 definitely 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.
Other Versions and Accessories
The FX95 (without the HP) is missing the double layers of titanal, which might just be what puts the "High Performance" in the FX95 HP. We didn't test this ski, so we can't say for sure if it's stability is compromised by this variance, but we would recommend not risking it and just forking out the relatively small amount of extra dough for the HP.
— Renee McCormack and Hilary Roache