DPS Tour1 Wailer 99 Review
Cons: Get pushed around at speed and in funky snow, squirrely firm snow performance
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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