Voile HyperDrifter Review
Cons: Abysmal, scary firm snow performance, specialized application
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|Price||$795 List||$699.95 at Backcountry||Check Price at REI|
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|Pros||Fast float, incredible weight (for the size), acceptable poor snow performance||All-around performance, damp, inexpensive, available, sweet spot weight||Stable, damp, predictable||Inexpensive, balanced downhill performance, average weight||Floaty fast powder performance, stable at speed and through tough snow|
|Cons||Abysmal, scary firm snow performance, specialized application||Soft and damp||Mid-weight, no real stand out performance||Ski “short”, powder skiing stability suffers at super high speed||Heavy, high leverage in steep and firm conditions, demand close skier attention|
|Bottom Line||Perhaps the most specialized skis in our test, it's optimized for the deepest of days in the deepest of regions||Inexpensive, proven all-around performance that's suitable for a wide variety of backcountry skiers and ski conditions||Good skis for good skiers in all kinds of conditions; the definition of all around backcountry skis||Great, budget skis for backcountry skiers of all kinds; the all around, balanced performance appeals to a huge range of users||Skis on the absolute heaviest end of what we’d consider suitable for backcountry skiing, these offer the best downhill performance in our review|
|Rating Categories||Voile HyperDrifter||K2 Wayback 106||Black Crows Camox F...||Salomon MTN Explore 95||Black Crows Corvus...|
|Firm Snow (20%)|
|Crud And Poor Snow (20%)|
|Stability At Speed (15%)|
|Specs||Voile HyperDrifter||K2 Wayback 106||Black Crows Camox F...||Salomon MTN Explore 95||Black Crows Corvus...|
|Weight Per Pair||7.0 lbs||6.9 lbs||6.7 lbs||6.8 lbs||8.5 lbs|
|Weight Per Ski||1545g, 1585g, average: 1565g||1518g, 1557g, average: 1537g||1510g, 1509g, average: 1510g||1547g, 1529g, average:1538g||1940g, 1923g, average: 1932g|
|Weight Per Pair||3130g||3075g||3024g||3076g||3863g|
|Weight Per Surface Area Ratio, g/cm^2||0.64||0.71||0.71||0.76||0.86|
|Available Lengths||171, 178, 186cm||172, 179, 186cm||162, 172, 178, 183cm||169, 177, 184cm||176, 183, 188cm|
|Construction Type||Cap||Sandwich Cap Hybrid||Semi-cap||Half-cap||Sandwich|
|Core Material||Paulownia||Paulownia||Paulownia, poplar||3D Full Woodcore, C/FX reinforcement||Poplar|
|Rocker/Camber||Tip rocker, camber underfoot||Tip rocker, slight camber underfoot||Tip rocker, camber underfoot||Rocker, camber, rocker||Tip and tail rocker, camber underfoot|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Voile Hyperdrifter is the widest ski we have ever tested. At 121mm underfoot, this is a deep, soft snow specialist. Skis this big have long been on the market. We dragged our feet for a long time in testing skis this big, as they were historically so heavy. Somehow Voile flipped the script and made a giant powder specialist at a very average, acceptable weight. We are glad we came around. It is awesome to have big skis like this at our disposal. When it seems "too deep to ski" (yes, that happens sometimes…), the Hyperdrifter recalibrates your expectations.
In absolute terms, the Hyperdrifter is light. When we correct for its size, its weight is remarkable. We weighed the 178cm testers to be 1545 and 1585 grams. For an average of 1565g per ski. Or 3130 grams for the pair. In imperial units, that is 7.0 pounds. No matter how you look at it, this is a respectable raw weight point to meet. Bigger skis require bigger, heavier skins. Factor a few dozen additional grams in for that. In the soft snow, you'll use these in the greater girth will cart around more snow on the top sheet. This can be a very significant weight factor.
Despite our warnings, you will find these skis to feel light in all the right ways. We don't know of other skis that are this big that are this light. That is a good thing considering their other performance attributes. On our repeatable, simple "weight to surface area" calculation, the Hyperdrifter nearly tops the chart. The only skis that do better are ridiculously light but much narrower. Nothing within 20mm of width comes even close to the weight:surface area ratio of the Hyperdrifter.
Stability at Speed
You choose these skis for deep pow wiggling. They are specialized tools for deep snow. Deep snow is inherently slow, relatively speaking. We are talking super deep. You might also choose these for shallower snow on gentler pitches. If your terrain choice is low angle and the snow is soft, big skis like this can enhance your experience by enabling carriage of more momentum. We are still not talking about high speeds.
If you try and press these skis into truly high-speed skiing, you will get bucked around. They aren't made for high speed. They wobble and chatter and skid at high speeds. These are no-compromises deep snow tools. When the snow is soft but fast, the Voile will keep up, but something heavier will do better.
Ouch. Don't try and press these into firm snow duty. Uphill and down, hard snow on the Hyperdrifter is terrifying. All that width only works against you. To save weight, Voile has foregone sophisticated materials and construction that would enhance torsional rigidity. You can "survival ski" groomers or polished exit luge runs, but you will definitely notice the shortcomings.
It should be easy to test specialized tools like the Hyperdrifter. We wouldn't be wrong to entirely avoid hard snow and ice on the Hyperdrifter. No one should be pretending they will function there. Nonetheless, we know you will press the issue and try these out in varied conditions. So we did too. We chased down drought-season ski resort groomed terrain one testing day. We found, to no one's surprise, poor performance, to put it mildly. Edges refuse to grab. Even if you can elicit a little traction, you risk losing it with the slightest lapse of attention or change in texture.
Our lead test editor experienced his best ever powder day on the Hyperdrifter. Huge skis are specialized for powder snow. Bigger is better, and these are the biggest. Don't let our enthusiastic words, though, make you think that you need 120mm skis for deep days. That same day that Jed tested the Voile and had an amazing day, other skiers were on all-mountain touring skis and echoed his sentiment. Good powder skiing is good skiing, no matter the equipment.
The best powder days are the best days, period. Regardless of equipment. That being said, the Hyperdrifter gives you some more important options. Huge skis like this enable more momentum in the deepest of snow. When those "normally" equipped are bogging down and trenching themselves, you might float and gain a little more speed on the Hyperdrifter. More importantly, when avalanche hazard or terrain options or both press you into gentler terrain on soft snow, big skis also enable more speed and momentum. This is good; making gentler terrain more enjoyable becomes a risk management device. If you can have fun on 25 degree powder terrain, why take the avalanche risks associated with steeper terrain?
They do alright, surprisingly. Size does matter when it comes to tough snow types. We can't say it enough; choose these skis for those deepest, best days. However, if you screw up your assessment and things get sloppy or refreeze with a breakable crust, having a tool that backs you up is great. The Hyperdrifter does as well in tough snow as other similar-weight skis. The more we test, the more we find that weight is the primary determinant of tough snow performance.
Lighter skis force you into survival skiing in tough snow before heavier ones, all else equal. Even when other design attributes seem wildly different (comparing, for instance, the 1500g 121mm Hyperdrifter to a 1500g 95mm all-mountain touring ski), the poor snow performance comes quite close together. The poor snow performance of the Hyperdrifter is acceptable to good, all things considered.
We'll say it over and over again until it sinks in. The Hyperdrifter is a specialized tool. If you throw a dart at the backcountry ski calendar and landscape, you probably have a 4% chance of hitting conditions and circumstances that are tolerable to great in the Hyperdrifter. Those aren't great odds. When, though, the Hyperdrifter is the right tool, you will readily justify the expense of having a pair ready to go. In terms of expense, they aren't actually that expensive. Unlike their Utah competitors, Voile has long been known for keeping price points low. We like that, especially for such a specialized, seldom-used product like the Hyperdrifter.
Amazing skis for way, way deep snow. You don't luck into that deep snow all that often, but when you do, you will be psyched to have the Voile Hyperdrifter on your side.
— Jediah Porter