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DPS Tour1 Wailer 99 Review

All around, ultralight skis with a definite powder snow bias.
DPS Wailer 99 Tour1
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Price:  $1,099 List | $1,099.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Light and surfy
Cons:  Get pushed around at speed and in funky snow, squirrely firm snow performance
Manufacturer:   DPS
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 23, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 15
  • Weight - 25% 9
  • Stability at Speed - 15% 3
  • Firm Snow - 20% 4
  • Powder - 20% 10
  • Crud and Poor Snow - 20% 6

Our Verdict

The DPS Tour1 Wailer 99 is one of the more specialized products in our otherwise general purpose selection. Surely, many will make the Wailer 99 work in all conditions, but it is most at home in great powder on long, high energy days of ski touring. The lightweight construction is great for the up but deserves gentleness and kindness in handling and riding. Don't ride these for day-to-day use on the ski lifts. We choose our products for this review for all-around, quiver of one backcountry skiing. While we all wish to own and travel with many different dedicated skis, reality often dictates otherwise. If you are lucky enough to ride predominantly dry powder snow, with only occasional excursions to the firm or funky, the DPS Tour1 Wailer 99 is a hot rod cold smoke blaster. If you like the steep and rowdy, or the long corn tours, or end up on "character building" snow regularly, something else is likely to be a better choice.


Compare to Similar Products

 
DPS Wailer 99 Tour1
Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $1,099.95 at Amazon$948.95 at Backcountry
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$698.95 at Backcountry$699.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Light and surfyLight, well-balanced downhill performanceAll around ski performance, hit what we consider to be the weight ‘sweet spot’Solid all around downhill performance, compatible with excellent Dynafit SpeedSkinsLight and versatile
Cons Get pushed around at speed and in funky snow, squirrely firm snow performanceExpensive, ski “short”Grabby firm snow performance, expensiveHeavier than averageLimited poor snow performance
Bottom Line All around, ultralight skis with a definite powder snow bias.Excellent, all-around backcountry skis in nearly all conditions.Excellent backcountry skis for the majority of applications.Touring skis for he or she that prefers downhill performance to uphill efficiency.All around choice for beginner to advanced backcountry skiers on a budget.
Rating Categories DPS Tour1 Wailer 99 Kastle TX98 Volkl VTA 98 Dynafit Beast 98 Fischer Hannibal
Weight (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
Stability At Speed (15%)
10
0
3
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
5
Firm Snow (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
Powder (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
Crud And Poor Snow (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Specs DPS Tour1 Wailer 99 Kastle TX98 Volkl VTA 98 Dynafit Beast 98 Fischer Hannibal
Weight Per Pair 5.7 lbs 6.2 lbs 6.4 lbs 6.8 lbs 6.2 lbs
Measured Length 175 cm 177 cm 185 cm 183 cm 183 cm
Manufacturer Length 176 cm 178 cm 184 cm 184 cm 183 cm
Available Lengths 168, 176, 184 cm 168, 178, 188 cm 156, 163, 170, 177, 184 cm 170, 177, 184 cm 162, 169, 176, 183 cm
Claimed Dimensions 125/99/111 mm 128/98/117 mm 133/98/116 mm 136/98/117 mm 126/96/114 mm
Measured Dimensions 126/100/112 mm 122/97/116 mm 132/98/111 mm 126/97/116 mm 127/97/113 mm
Weight Per Ski grams 1299g, 1294g, average: 1297g 1394g, 1400g, average: 1397g 1454g, 1449g, average: 1452g 1541g, 1553g, average: 1547g 1421g, 1388g, average: 1405g
Weight Per Pair 2594g 2794g 2903g 3094g 2809g
Weight per Surface Area Ratio, g/cm^2 0.66 0.71 0.69 0.75 0.69
Construction Type Cap Sandwich Cap Hybrid Sandwich Cap Hybrid Sandwich Sandwich Cap Hybrid
Core Material Balsa wood with carbon and fiberglass Karuba Wood Beech, poplar & paulownia Ash/poplar wood Paulownia wood with carbon stringers
Waist Width 100 mm 98 mm 98 mm 98 mm 97 mm
Radius 17 meters 22 meters 22.3 meters 21 meters 21 meters
Rocker/Camber Tip and tail rocker, camber underfoot Low camber Tip rocker Double Ellipse Rocker Tip rocker

Our Analysis and Test Results

DPS skis have a cult following in the American backcountry ski community. They are a small company, based in the US, making good products. Their Tour1 construction, like contemporary offerings from other companies, continues to drop the weight with little compromise in certain aspects of performance.

Performance Comparison


Cold breaths  soft sparkly snow  and snow-flocked trees are the hallmarks of powder touring. The DPS is perfect for this sort of human powered powder hunting.
Cold breaths, soft sparkly snow, and snow-flocked trees are the hallmarks of powder touring. The DPS is perfect for this sort of human powered powder hunting.

Weight


The DPS Wailer 99 Tour1 weighs around five and a half pounds. For a pair of skis that performs this well in everyone's favorite snow conditions, this is excellent. Others are bringing all-around performance near this weight, but none are this well suited for exclusive soft snow riding.

Stability at Speed


Of all the design and construction characteristics of a ski, weight is the one most directly associated with stability at speed. Heavier skis are more stable when going fast. The lightweight and powder focused Wailer 99 is pretty wobbly and unsteady at high speeds; this is not what they are for. As a lightweight tool, we definitely noticed that the Tour1 Wailer 99 prefers shorter radius turns at a more moderate pace. In perfect snow, our test team felt they could open it up, tentatively. When it got weird, we had to reign it in more than on beefier tools.

Firm Snow


Few expect a lightweight, mid-fat, cap-constructed, rockered ski from Utah to perform well when it gets icy. The DPS met our expectations in this regard and is a great tool for the colder and drier regions. If you ski mainly powder snow and are good at hunting it down when conditions get tougher, you'll do well with the DPS. The occasional foray into steeper, firmer conditions with the DPS scared our test team a little bit more than we'd like to admit.

While we could certainly survive the hard stuff, we felt better on the more well-rounded ski designs. Given the different regions and preferences in our backcountry ski community, we understand some will have different preferences. Each ski we tested is suited for all-around backcountry skiing, but the Tour1 prefers the soft, and the bigger guns like to go fast.

The DPS Wailers have a unique  distinctly "modern" shape. The long tips and nuanced side cut combine with elaborate engineering and excellent materials to deliver the final user experience.
The DPS Wailers have a unique, distinctly "modern" shape. The long tips and nuanced side cut combine with elaborate engineering and excellent materials to deliver the final user experience.

Powder


All the skis we tested were fun in powder snow. Great powder snow is fun on all skis; it is that simple. That being said, because powder snow is just so much fun and easy to ski (given at least a rudimentary understanding of the technique required, of course), all backcountry skiers wish to just get more and more of it. The DPS is wide enough and shaped nicely to surf in soft snow, with that ultralight construction empowering big days of fast cold smoke.

Basically, all the skis we tested are fun in powder snow. The lightest ones, like the Tour1 Wailer 99, enable either more vertical, more uphill speed, or fresher legs when you get there. All of that leads to more enjoyable powder skiing. As such, the DPS is a high recommendation for powder skiing.

Lead test editor on the Tour1 Wailers at Tennessee Pass  Colorado  for some November powder.
Lead test editor on the Tour1 Wailers at Tennessee Pass, Colorado, for some November powder.

Crud/Poor Snow


The width, rocker, and carbon inclusions in the DPS fare alright in the choppier conditions. Many backcountry powder days involve some sort of survival skiing. Whether it is sun crusted, wind jacked, or skier chopped, your run or tour often involves something other than ski movie quality riding. For those turns in trickier snow, there are essentially three types of skis. Some skis make breakable crust and sloppy stuff almost fun; in our test, the wide and big Black Crows Corvus Freebird is the best poor-snow rider.

In between is the majority of modern backcountry touring skis and the DPS Tour1 is in that middle category. The Wailer 99s in Tour1 construction can blast through moderate breakable crust and surf on top of mashed potatoes. When it gets truly desperate, the featherweight sticks get pushed around and send the skier back to the basics just to get to the next powder stash.

The long tip and gentle camber of the DPS Wailer 99 Tour1.
The long tip and gentle camber of the DPS Wailer 99 Tour1.

We like good  light skis. If they can have light-colored top sheets  even better. The orange of the DPS Wailers seems to shed the snow pretty well  even in relatively warm  sunny conditions.
We like good, light skis. If they can have light-colored top sheets, even better. The orange of the DPS Wailers seems to shed the snow pretty well, even in relatively warm, sunny conditions.

Value


The DPS skis are not inexpensive. Powder specialty and super lightweight construction come at a cost. The initial purchase is steep, and the skis' light weight means lessened durability. In the end, though, it is up to you to determine how much many thousands of feet of powder riding is worth.

Conclusion


DPS skis have a great reputation and a robust following. In our review of All-Mountain Skis for Men, the Wailer 99 in DPS' "hybrid construction" won a Top Pick Award for powder performance. In that case, the Hybrid construction skis are heavier and more biased to resort use. The Tour1 construction is similarly fun in powder snow, but the lightweight construction is great for touring up and limited in absolute strength and durability.


Jediah Porter