Dynafit Tour 88 Review
Cons: Smaller than is trendy
Our Analysis and Test Results
It wasn't that long ago that 88mm underfoot was considered the sweet spot for human-powered wild snow skiing. Our lead tester's "daily driver" skis were 88mm in 2009; trends move around, and recent consumers want bigger skis. Regardless of fashion and progress, skis this size are super relevant. It is telling that Dynafit themselves refer to this as "the most versatile model in the Dynafit collection"; we can't get fully behind that assertion, but our very experienced test team understands the value of what are now considered "small" skis. We didn't hesitate to use these skis in any and all conditions and found overall great performance.
All else equal, smaller skis are lighter than big ones. As compared to other backcountry skis, we wouldn't call the construction of the Tour 88 "ultralight". The wood core, full steel edges, carbon insets, and aluminum tip and tail reinforcements are fairly typical of backcountry ski construction. No corners have been cut, but the result is a pair of skis that are decidedly lighter than almost all of what the North American BC ski market is using.
We weighed the Tour 88 to be 1355 grams per ski. We consider all-around backcountry skis to weigh between roughly 1250 and 1450 grams per ski. These are right in that sweet spot. The smaller dimensions mean you can use smaller skins, further saving weight.
Stability at Speed
Our test pair of Tour 88 wasn't anything special at speed. These are designed for short-radius, conservative ski touring and ski mountaineering. We tested a relatively short pair. For the most part, we aim to test skis at or just over 180cm. With the Tour 88, to optimize its light weight and ski mountaineering maneuverability, we chose the 174. Our long and deep experience suggests that the next size up (182cm), for our test team (chosen to match our lead test editor's profile; 5'10", 165 pounds, skis very well), would be at least a little more stable at speed. However, you wouldn't be choosing these skis for high speed wide open ripping. They're for noodling in trees and chutes.
There was a time when 88mm underfoot was a "fat" ski. At that time, that we'd be lauding a ski like this for firm snow performance is somewhat comical. Relative to big powder skis, these tear up the hard stuff. The flex is stiff, longitudinally, and torsionally. The sidecut and materials work together to grip smoothly and firmly. We had little to no chattering in steep Teton couloirs on icy spring mornings.
We will say it over and over again and reiterate it here. In truly good powder snow, ski dimensions don't matter nearly as much as so many think they do. Yes, you can ski soft snow faster on bigger skis. But, especially in the backcountry where the consequences of high-speed tumbles go through the roof, fast skiing isn't the "be all, end all" of powder riding. Short, bouncy, flowing powder turns are a special sort of heaven, and totally accessible to these "small" skis.
We actually really, really enjoyed the Tour 88 on big Teton Pass storm runs, in trees and open bowls. We also really enjoyed that the small form, light weight, and feathery skins got us uphill faster and with less energy. We got more powder turns in the Tour 88, partially because of the shorter radius with which we spun them and partially because of the greater amount of vertical we were able to shred.
We didn't have particularly poor experiences on tough snow with the Dynafit Tour 88, but we weren't blown away by the smoothness either. For the dimensions, they do well. For the weight, they are a little behind. In this weight class, we know that you can get skis that handle tough snow with more smoothness than the Tour 88.
Dynafit skis aren't particularly expensive, and these specifically are often available discounted. If you insist that a pair of skis in this size category is only for firm snow and ski mountaineering, they are a good budget choice for your quiver. If you are one of the growing few that realizes how good these dimensions are for all-around human-powered skiing, you might just find the Tour 88 to be a best buy for you.
We like these skis. We've used them for a full year and have found them to be reliable and versatile, especially given their low profile width.
— Jediah Porter