Hands-on Gear Review

Dynafit Chugach Review

Dynafit Chugach
Top Pick Award
Price:  $800 List
Pros:  Big, fast, stable
Cons:  Heavy, wide
Bottom line:  Big gun for fast, confident skiers.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 4
  • 5
Tested length:  188
Actual Length:  187
Available Lengths:  173, 181, 188, 194
Manufacturer:   Dynafit

Our Verdict

The Chugach is the widest, longest, and heaviest ski we have ever tested for backcountry touring. This outlier status narrows the field of potential consumers, but for those that want to ski fast and be relegated to skinning slow, the Chugach fills a niche. It should go without saying that the weight on the way up will be onerous. What may not be so obvious is that the heavy and stiff construction requires either beefy boots, significant skier skill, or both. Also, it is only in the most open of terrain that the high-speed chops of the Chugach can be optimized. Pick something else for trees and couloirs. Ride these on big bowls and faces.

As of Fall 2017, the Dynafit Chugach is Discontinued


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Backcountry Skis

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jediah Porter

Last Updated:
Saturday
October 29, 2016

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Hands-On Review


The Dynafit Chugach is the biggest "touring" ski we have ever tested. Its weight puts it more in the class of our All Mountain Ski review, however it is branded as a touring ski. Also, there are many users for whom this sort of hard charging, heavy-weight ski is appealing for backcountry use.

Performance Comparison


The Chugach ski likes going fast. Only when the rooster tail reaches 40 or 50 feet is it happy.
The Chugach ski likes going fast. Only when the rooster tail reaches 40 or 50 feet is it happy.

Weight


Skinning with the meaty Dynafit Chugach is hard work. Strong skiers are rewarded for their efforts with the fast downhill performance.
Skinning with the meaty Dynafit Chugach is hard work. Strong skiers are rewarded for their efforts with the fast downhill performance.

The Chugach is the heaviest in our review. By far. It is 120 percent the weight of the next heaviest (the K2 Wayback 104 and almost twice the weight (173 percent) of the lightest we reviewed. Putting that lightest ski, the La Sportiva Vapor Nano and the Chugach in the same category is almost ridiculous. But backcountry skiing is also a little ridiculous, so we went with it. The fact is that both the ultralight and the ultra heavy are ill-prepared for the vast majority of users. But there are surely people who will seek the outliers. The Chugach is a hard charging, fast riding, confidence inspiring outlier. You can get something way lighter, but you can't really get a touring ski that's any beefier than the Chugach. You've been warned.


Stability at Speed


All that weight on the up, now it's in your favor. Provided you could lug it up to the top of some big runs, and our lead editor has toured these for multiple 5000 vertical foot days, rocketing back down is a joyful thrill ride on the Chugach. The only ski that comes close to the downhill performance of the Chugach is the similarly heavy K2 Wayback 104. Either of these heavier rides can compare favorably to resort all-mountain skis, but they come with touring ready skin attachments. Any resort ski can be mounted and skinned for touring, but the best skins are purpose built with the skis. Dynafit's skins are the best in the business, and that option alone distinguishes the Chugach from resort ski competitors.


The Chugach rides hard like a resort ski, with touring pedigree. To try and compare the stability of the Chugach to the lighter skis would be silly. Something like the DPS Tour1 Wailer 99 or Best Buy-winning Fischer Hannibal is in an entirely different class of stability. Lightweight skis are stable, for their weight. The Chugach is stable, period.
The Chugach ski is named for the wide open  glaciated terrain of Alaska's easiest access coastal range. It is also designed for this type of big terrain.
The Chugach ski is named for the wide open, glaciated terrain of Alaska's easiest access coastal range. It is also designed for this type of big terrain.

Firm Snow Performance


We don't expect wide, fully rockered touring skis to perform all that well on hard snow. However, the beefy construction of the Chugach supersedes the shape concerns and delivers an adequate firm snow performance. Were the ski this shape and size, but made of lighter materials, it would be frightening on firm stuff. As it is, it is serviceable and confident. Good skiers will have no problems with the Chugach on hard stuff.


Powder Snow Performance


Most squiggling backcountry powder skiers ride the soft stuff as a three-dimensional experience. At moderate speeds with even medium sized contemporary skis, the skier planes and sinks in the fluff. Get the Chugach up to its comfortable speed, and maximize the entire considerable surface area, and you get a carving ride in even the softest of snow. Many like this sort of experience.


It is this modern, floating, long-turning style of powder riding that the Chugach is designed for. You need the confidence, the terrain, and the skill to pull it off, but the Chugach is right there with you. Slow it down and the stiff construction resists planing and forces the skier to work for short radius turns. Bouncy powder riding is best sought on something like the Top Pick for Powder DPS Tour1 Wailer 99. Not to mention that the Wailer is a fraction of the weight of the Chugach, and the skier can get that much more vertical powder terrain in a day or tour or hour.

Crud/Poor Snow Performance


We say it every time; it is poor snow performance that distinguishes backcountry skis' downhill scoring. With mass, width, and rocker on its side, nothing stops or slows the Chugach. In a March drought, on Wyoming's Teton Pass, our lead editor skied thousands of feet of breakable and sloppy snow. He actually enjoyed it. Now, he is a little twisted. And he's a strong skier.


However, it was the Chugach on his feet that tipped the scales. Only the sophisticated engineering of the Editors' Choice V-Werks BMT 94 approaches the poor snow performance of the Chugach. And then, in comparing these two, the Volkl V-Werks BMT 94 style is that of the careful technician while the Chugach charges right through. The end result is enjoyment, but the journey is quite different.
Part of the OGL ski testing team on Teton Pass. Jed Porter with the Dynafit Chugach  Nancy Bockino with the Cho Oyu  and IFMGA Mountain Guide Jeff Witt with the Scott Super Guide 95.
Part of the OGL ski testing team on Teton Pass. Jed Porter with the Dynafit Chugach, Nancy Bockino with the Cho Oyu, and IFMGA Mountain Guide Jeff Witt with the Scott Super Guide 95.

Best Applications


These are rugged, touring specific skis for the super strong, hard charging rider in big open terrain. The skier shopping for these should also be looking at resort all-mountain skis to mount with touring bindings, but he or she will likely be swayed to the Chugach by the option to use Dynafit's excellent, purpose built, "Speedskins."
The dimensions of the Dynafit Chugach. Our measured dimensions were basically the same.
The dimensions of the Dynafit Chugach. Our measured dimensions were basically the same.

Value


Of all the touring skis we tested, the Chugach will be the most durable. Value is a function of what you get, for how long, for what you pay. Almost regardless of the cost, the Chugach will last through many more turns and tours than something lighter weight. Even our Best Buy Fischer Hannibal can only take one hit or two, and the light materials will fatigue and change the performance. We are confident that the Chugach will last for years and hundreds of thousands of vertical feet. In that way, it is an excellent value.

Strapped to the back of an airbag pack  the Chugach makes for a serious load. Here  booting in the Teton's Turkey Chute.
Strapped to the back of an airbag pack, the Chugach makes for a serious load. Here, booting in the Teton's Turkey Chute.

Conclusion


We award Top Pick honors to specialized products that stand out. This time around, as it pertains to backcountry skis, people have varied leanings. Most fit a certain mold and will do best with an all-around product like the V-Werks BMT 94 or Fischer. Others ski a particular type of snow more often and reach for more specialized sticks. One subset of the community will be content to tour up slowly in exchange for absolute blasting downhill. Those will choose the Chugach.
Big mountains  big terrain. It is in wide open country like this that the Chugach excels.
Big mountains, big terrain. It is in wide open country like this that the Chugach excels.

Recommended Pairings


We tested them with the Dynafit Speed Radical bindings and mainly with TLT 6 boots. That is a ton of fun, but also somewhat silly. We recommend the Dynafit Beast bindings, maybe the K2 Pinnacle boots, and definitely Dynafit's proprietary skins.

Accessories


Dynafit Speedskin Chugach
Dynafit Speedskin Chugach
  • Cost - $220
  • Purpose built skins for the Chugach
Jediah Porter

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 29, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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