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Kastle FX96 HP Review

A hard charging ski that likes to go straight and fast
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Price:  $1,099 List | $1,098.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Super stable at speed, hard charging
Cons:  Expensive, geared towards experts only, unforgiving
Manufacturer:   Kastle
By Andrew Pierce ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2019
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84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 15
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 10
  • Carving - 20% 9
  • Crud - 20% 8
  • Powder - 20% 8
  • Playfulness - 15% 7
  • Bumps - 5% 6

Our Verdict

The Kastle FX96 HP is redesigned from previous models in an effort to make a similarly stable ski that is lighter weight. We tested this ski in a 180cm length with dimensions of 133-96-113 and a turn radius of 18m. Hardcore Kastle fans may be disappointed that the ski lacks the classic metal layer, but the FX96 HP is still a burly ski that charges. It is really only suited for expert skiers and comes with a large price tag, but if money is no issue and you want a quality built ski that delivers high-end performance, this may be the pair for you.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Super stable at speed, hard chargingFast, solid, consistent, large sweet spotHard charging, fun, easy to skiGreat all around ski, great pop, easy to swingExcellent carving ski, quick
Cons Expensive, geared towards experts only, unforgivingMinor chatterSlight chatter at high-end speedSometimes feels soft, skis shortChatter in the tips, poor powder performance
Bottom Line A hard charging ski that likes to go straight and fastThe new Mantra, now called the M5, is more user friendly than previous versions but is still a powerful and consistently fun ski.The Daemon is a hard charging ski that can be tamed.Fantastic all around ski that will for perform for skiers of all abilities.This contender has superb edge hold and energy through turns.
Rating Categories Kastle FX96 HP Volkl M5 Mantra Black Crows Daemon Blizzard Rustler 10 Nordica Enforcer 93
Stability At Speed (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Carving (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
10
Crud (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Powder (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
7
Playfulness (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Bumps (5%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Specs Kastle FX96 HP Volkl M5 Mantra Black Crows Daemon Blizzard Rustler 10 Nordica Enforcer 93
Intended Purpose All Mountain All Mountain All Mountain All Mountain/Soft Snow All Mountain/Firm Snow
Ability Level Expert Intermediate-Expert Intermediate-Expert Intermediate-Expert Expert
Shape 133-96-119 mm 134 - 96 - 117 mm 132 - 99 - 120 mm 135.5 - 104 - 125.5 mm 126 - 93 - 114 mm
Available Lengths 172, 180, 188 170,177,184,191 170, 177, 183, 188 164, 172, 180, 188 169, 177, 185, 193
Waist Width 96 96 99 102 93
Radius 18.1m 21.2m 20m 14.5m, 16m, 17.5m, 19m 15.5m, 16.5m, 18.5m, 20.5m
Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker Full rocker, reverse camber Rocker/Camber/Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker
Weight Per Pair 3817 4252 5265 4126 4464
Core Material Poplar/Beech/PAULOWNIA/Carbon/Fibergalss Beech, poplar Poplar wood Multi-layer wood Beech and poplar wood
Tested length 180 184 183.6 188 185

Our Analysis and Test Results

Kastle has a reputation for making skis that charge hard, no matter what. We decided to review the Kastle FX96 HP in this years all-mountain ski category, and it lived up to its notoriety. Previous HP (High Performance) models sported two layers of titanal, but the updated versions have ditched the metal in favor of carbon, which makes the ski lighter a bit lighter. The FX96 HP also comes with Kastle's unique and updated, Hollowtech 3.0, which is a cut-out section of the front of the ski that, counterintuitively, increases stabilization of the tip. The FX96 HP is a great ski that stands out in our line up this year, and not just because of its price tag.

Performance Comparison


The Kastle FX 96 HP want to...no  NEED to go fast. They perform best when the speed is cranked up to 11 and love making huge GS style turns. You should have full confidence in going as fast as you want on these skis. Hold on to your beanie!
The Kastle FX 96 HP want to...no, NEED to go fast. They perform best when the speed is cranked up to 11 and love making huge GS style turns. You should have full confidence in going as fast as you want on these skis. Hold on to your beanie!

Stability at Speed


Speed is definitely where the Kastle FX96 HP shines, which can't be said for most skis in the men's all-mountain category. In fact, this ski might as well be named Ricky Bobby, because it screams, "I WANNA GO FAST!" Our testers felt most comfortable on this ski when they were pushing their own speed limits. It is damp and stable, even if the snow is frozen or uneven, and we found the edge hold to be second to none when maching down steep chalky terrain.


Just looking at the hollow tip of the FX96 HP might make you queasy, but our testers only experience noticeable tip chatter when conditions were the worst of the worst. Because this ski performs best at high speeds, we would not recommend it for beginners or those looking only to make soul turns.

Carving Performance


Again, our testers found the sweet spot for this ski to be when they were most aggressive and deliberate in their movements. Although short, medium radius turns can be made, our testers found the most enjoyment out of these skis railing big GS-style turns on wide-open groomers.

These Kastle FX 96 HP can hold an edge and have plenty of power transmission  you just need to be on your game. You get out what you put into this ski  and it is not for the faint of heart. The FX 96 HP is all business...you'll see (and feel) when you lay them over on a groomer.
These Kastle FX 96 HP can hold an edge and have plenty of power transmission, you just need to be on your game. You get out what you put into this ski, and it is not for the faint of heart. The FX 96 HP is all business...you'll see (and feel) when you lay them over on a groomer.

Despite being 96mm underfoot, the ski transitions from edge to edge easily. With plenty of edge hold, pop, and power transmission, we think this is a prime example of a ski that you get out exactly what you put into it. The main detractor from its performance in this category is that when our testers got lazy or tired with their turns, the FX96 HP made them pay. Any back-seat skiing was a recipe for quickly getting out of control.

Crud


While not an absolute crud buster like some of our other top performers, this ski held its own in nasty conditions. When our testers were deliberate and accurate in their direction of the skis, they were able to plow through almost any snow type thrown at them. But our testers did find themselves getting bucked to the back seat often, especially when the crud was on the firm side. Occasionally, we also noticed the tails hooking up in chopped up pow and thick slush. However, the ability of the FX96 HP to absorb vibration equaled that of the highest-scoring skis.

Mmmmm...steep  variable  windboard! Our testers subjected the Kastle FX 96 HP to the worst of the worst. Not the official Kings of Crud  but close! These skis felt damp in nearly any condition and our testers felt confident they would make it out alive and with all of their teeth intact.
Mmmmm...steep, variable, windboard! Our testers subjected the Kastle FX 96 HP to the worst of the worst. Not the official Kings of Crud, but close! These skis felt damp in nearly any condition and our testers felt confident they would make it out alive and with all of their teeth intact.

Powder


In similar fashion to our other top performers in the men's all-mountain ski category, we found that the Kastle 96FX HP was a blast when mother nature delivered the goods. Our testers felt that the dimensions of this ski provided sufficient float for the average dump. Although the FX96 HP did not readily slarve and slash as some of the more rockered and forgiving skis we tested, we felt as though the skis made up for it with its consistent energy and stability. Our testers also found that they required a bit more power to direct them through the snow than some others we tested. Because of that, our testers did feel that the length we tested them in was slightly cumbersome in powder snow in tightly spaced trees, but sizing down may help alleviate that feeling.

Although no powder was found the day of this photo shoot in Portillo  Chile  the features that help the Kastle FX 96 HP's performance in the soft stuff are illustrated in this photo. A slightly rockered tip (note the see through tip) and a wide platform of 96mm underfoot both help this ski rise to the top. While mother nature did not deliver this day  these skis were tested thoroughly in many separate pow days.
Although no powder was found the day of this photo shoot in Portillo, Chile, the features that help the Kastle FX 96 HP's performance in the soft stuff are illustrated in this photo. A slightly rockered tip (note the see through tip) and a wide platform of 96mm underfoot both help this ski rise to the top. While mother nature did not deliver this day, these skis were tested thoroughly in many separate pow days.

Playfulness


Playful is not the first word that comes to most people's minds when describing the Kastle brand, but with the FX96 HP, they have found a way to add a fun side to a ski that appears to be all business. In a similar respect to the other categories we test for, this ski responds best when the skier is aggressive.

We don't think anyone would go out of their way to call the Kastle FX 96 HP playful  but they do have a little spring in their step. Also  being a bit lighter weight than previous models helped out testers swing these planks while they were in the air.
We don't think anyone would go out of their way to call the Kastle FX 96 HP playful, but they do have a little spring in their step. Also, being a bit lighter weight than previous models helped out testers swing these planks while they were in the air.

The light swing weight and energy received from the ski instill confidence in easy takeoffs and quick spins, but the unforgiving nature of this ski had our testers quickly out of control if they weren't spot on with their landing. There are definitely skis, even in this same review category, that are more playful, but we were impressed by this hard-charging ski's ability to let loose.

Bumps



Victor  a member of the local ski patrol  navigates a small line of widely spaced bumps on the Kastle FX 96 HP. While not the ideal mogul ski  the FX 96 HP can be tamed by aggressive and expert skiers.
Victor, a member of the local ski patrol, navigates a small line of widely spaced bumps on the Kastle FX 96 HP. While not the ideal mogul ski, the FX 96 HP can be tamed by aggressive and expert skiers.

Our testers found the Kastle FX96 HP to be slightly unwieldy in the bumps; especially when the moguls were tightly spaced and the troughs were deep. The unforgiving and burly nature of this ski did not mesh well with the need for short, quick, and nimble motions to put together a fluid line in the bumps. Again, our most expert testers were able to bend this ski to their will and mash some bumps, but only with unwavering focus and consistent energy exerted. When the moguls were smaller or more widely spaced, the FX96 HP was downright fun, as it easily plows over and through less intimidating bumps.

Value


Kastle uses the most durable and highest quality materials for their ski construction, and that is most definitely reflected in the price tag of their skis. You may get an extra few seasons of use out of the FX96 HP compared to cheaper skis. This ski performs right up there with our highest-rated skis but is nearly double the price.

Conclusion



The Kastle FX 96 HP are an all business ski that takes and expert level rider to get the most out of them. They are quite expensive but are made of only the finest and most durable materials. They could definitely be your one ski quiver...if you've got the cash and the skills.
The Kastle FX 96 HP are an all business ski that takes and expert level rider to get the most out of them. They are quite expensive but are made of only the finest and most durable materials. They could definitely be your one ski quiver...if you've got the cash and the skills.

The Kastle FX96 HP is not a ski for the faint of heart. If you like to go fast and demand a stable ski in all conditions, this may be the ski for you. We would not recommend it for an intermediate or beginner skier, as it can be quite unforgiving and is the most expensive ski in our lineup. All that being said, this ski's ability to deliver in all conditions and corners of the resort is truly what we seek out of an all-mountain ski and we feel confident in calling the FX96 HP and one-ski quiver.


Andrew Pierce