DPS Wailer 99 Hybrid Review
Cons: Thin bases, not very versatile, too rockered to be a true all-mountain ski
Our Analysis and Test Results
This is the winner of our Top Pick Award for an all-mountain ski with a powder skiing preference. Unanimously, testers agreed that this ski thrives in soft snow and deserves special attention for that alone, but it stands out above the Armada TST, Nordica NRGy 100, and the K2 Pinnacle 95, the three other skis we consider to be best suited for soft-snow conditions.
The DPS Wailer 99 Hybrid stands out as a well constructed ski and a heck of a powder ski. The bright, plain topsheet catches your eye from across a lift line. We asked testers to share their general impressions of a ski after they spent some time on it. Most responses about the Wailer 99 were some amount of surprise about how well this ski handled conditions other than powder. Testers reported that this ski is damp and more responsive than expected for how long and wide it is. This ski likes speed and needs to be driven. We suspect that in a shorter size it would have more of the easy turning qualities of the Armada TST.
It has a Bamboo wood core ski. It utilizes two carbon stringers to help stiffen the ski. DPS uses bomber, full sidewall construction using UHMW which is very resistant to breaking due to impact. The Wailer has a big rockered tip, some camber underfoot, and rocker in the tail. The camber underfoot really saves this ski when things get firm. It is generally a pretty soft ski and without the camber these boards would feel way more squirrely.
The DPS Wailer 99 Tour is a Top Pick award winning ski in our comprehensive Backcountry Ski Review. The Tour 1 layup is much lighter than the Hybrid version we tested here, but the shape of the ski remains the same. Testers in that review also revered the Wailer's soft snow performance.
Stability at Speed
We tested the longest size available in the Wailer 99. 192cm is a lot of ski. By sizing up a lot in this ski we were able to get a little bit more effective edge out of the Wailer, which skis short. This gave us more stopping power and better edgehold from a ski shaped like this than we expected. The Wailer is nice and damp and absorbs vibration well. The rocker tip on this ski is long and a bit prone to bouncing around but it doesn't lead to any feeling of instability, probably because there's still a lot of ski underfoot.
We were initially surprised that the Wailer was so stable and capable on-piste. From a distance, they look more like clown shoes than stable, easy turning skis.
The DPS Wailer 99 has too much rocker for an everyday all-mountain ski. In order to get enough effective edge for our taste, we sized way up in the Wailer and you may want to consider doing the same. It feels like skiing a much smaller ski. The ski is very responsive for something of its size and weight and it turned easily and smoothly. This is probably due to the big rocker profile of the ski.
Powder Skiing Performance
We love the DPS Wailer 99 for powder skiing. It is nothing short of smooth in soft snow. Easy to turn and a fun shape makes for a ski that is made for opening it up on clean snow slopes. The ski is surfy and floats really well. We think that the big shovel and narrow tail allow the ski to sink a little bit in the back and be quick when snow gets deeper. There is a lot of surface area on this ski to keep you from bogging down.
In crud conditions the DPS is as capable as the fully rockered Volkl Mantra. The Mantra relied on its rocker and stiffness to bust through tough conditions. One crucial difference is the somewhat soft, long rockered tip of the DPS which tends to bounce around a bit in bumpy, chattery, refrozen chunder. Extra length on the DPS can get you more edge when you need it, but it comes with the extra weight that gets in the way when you want to get the ski off the ground or need to turn quickly in challenging conditions.
The DPS is really fun. It does have a heavy swing weight which makes it feel a little bit slow to turn. Give it room to run and it's got a fun surfy feel to it. The extra weight gets tiring when you try to get the ski off the ground, but it has a nice snappy tail that helps with smooth little airs off of natural features.
Bumps Skiing Performance
The tested size of the Wailer is way to big to be considered a good bump ski. Its a lot of ski to bounce through a tight mogul field. Any shorter and we would be concerned that we're losing valuable effective edge on a rockered ski like this for performance on firm snow. Bumps happen. On off-piste days after a storm, its not uncommon to find seemingly unnavigable mogul fields. Getting through them may be part of the commute to your favorite stash though, so finding a ski that isn't too much work in the bumps is a small consideration in your ski choice.
This ski is best for skiing powder and skiing crud. There were no real surprises about the DPS being an excellent powder ski. They exude a soft snow prowess with a generously rockered shape and other clean lines. Most of us were actually pretty surprised about how well the Wailer did other things also. We were cautious about approaching a ski of this shape, and therefore sized up in hopes of having a little bit more stability and effective edge. It ended up helping the on-piste performance of the Wailer but it still felt a bit more sluggish edge to edge than other skis of similar width. By compensating, the ski ended up being really long and although still very skiable, some of the agility of the ski was lost in the few extra centimeters. We feel as though this ski would be more versatile without quite so much rocker, which would make us feel better about skiing it shorter.
We think that the Wailer will fit well into a quiver of skis, to come out on all but the deepest of powder days. We love this ski in a variety of soft snow conditions. It buttered its way through spring snow, surfed in deep powder and was smooth and fun in a few inches of wind-buff.
The DPS Wailer 99 Hybrid is a very expensive ski. At $800 the Wailer 99 Hybrid is the most expensive ski in our review and is actually the cheapest version of the Wailer series from DPS. By stepping into the Hybrid version, you have, however, saved $500 from the cost of the Pure version. This is a lot of money! Our Top Pick awards usually go to products that are the best tool for a very specific purpose. The Best Buy Award goes to the product which exemplifies bang for your buck. The Wailer is absolutely the best ski in our review for powder skiing, it is not, however, bang for your buck. It is very expensive and it does not fit well into our goal of finding an all-mountain ski that excels in all conditions.
This ski should be considered by skiers with deep pockets that collect skis for every condition imaginable. People whose collection of skis out-values their vehicle and don't mind and won't blink at investing in a quality tool for skiing pow.
We love this ski for powder skiing and were impressed with its capabilities in other conditions. Clown shoes? No they are not. These skis are fun, easy to ski, and can charge. They should be considered for powder skiing because they have excellent float, are smooth turning on untouched snow, and can be opened up with an open slope below you. They are not as quick to turn as the Armada TST but they are much lighter. Skis like the Volkl Mantra are more versatile than the DPS and are less expensive.
— Mike Phillips, Nate Greenberg, and Scott Donaghey