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Voile HyperDrifter Review

Perhaps the most specialized skis in our test, it's optimized for the deepest of days in the deepest of regions
Voile HyperDrifter
Photo: Backcountry
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $795 List
Pros:  Fast float, incredible weight (for the size), acceptable poor snow performance
Cons:  Abysmal, scary firm snow performance, specialized application
Manufacturer:   Voile
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 8, 2021
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Weight - 25% 8
  • Firm Snow - 20% 2
  • Powder - 20% 10
  • Crud and Poor Snow - 20% 6
  • Stability at Speed - 15% 7

Our Verdict

We had been reluctant to push our test into such specialized directions. The Voile Hyperdrifter is so wide that it requires the absolute deepest of snow conditions to differentiate itself. It is only the weight, in conjunction with the dimensions, that tipped the balance for us. We are glad we included the Hyperdrifter in our test. It is the best true powder touring ski we have used. Bigger, as it turns out, is better. You'll suffer if you try and press this into duty in anything but deep, soft snow. A little bit of tougher stuff is accommodated, but super firm snow is terrifying. These are specialized tools and get awarded accordingly.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Voile HyperDrifter
This Product
Voile HyperDrifter
Awards Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $795 List$699.95 at BackcountryCheck Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$899.90 at Backcountry
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Pros Fast float, incredible weight (for the size), acceptable poor snow performanceAll-around performance, damp, inexpensive, available, sweet spot weightStable, damp, predictableInexpensive, balanced downhill performance, average weightFloaty fast powder performance, stable at speed and through tough snow
Cons Abysmal, scary firm snow performance, specialized applicationSoft and dampMid-weight, no real stand out performanceSki “short”, powder skiing stability suffers at super high speedHeavy, 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 regionsInexpensive, proven all-around performance that's suitable for a wide variety of backcountry skiers and ski conditionsGood skis for good skiers in all kinds of conditions; the definition of all around backcountry skisGreat, budget skis for backcountry skiers of all kinds; the all around, balanced performance appeals to a huge range of usersSkis 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...
Weight (25%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
3.0
Firm Snow (20%)
2.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Powder (20%)
10.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Crud And Poor Snow (20%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
Stability At Speed (15%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
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
Measured Length 177cm 179cm 182cm 177cm 183cm
Manufacturer Length 178cm 179cm 183cm 177cm 183cm
Available Lengths 171, 178, 186cm 172, 179, 186cm 162, 172, 178, 183cm 169, 177, 184cm 176, 183, 188cm
Claimed Dimensions 155/121/138mm 135/106/124mm 130/97/115mm 130/95/116mm 140/107/119mm
Measured Dimensions 154/121/138mm 135/107/123mm 137/97/117mm 130/95/116mm 142/107/118mm
Construction Type Cap Sandwich Cap Hybrid Semi-cap Half-cap Sandwich
Core Material Paulownia Paulownia Paulownia, poplar 3D Full Woodcore, C/FX reinforcement Poplar
Waist Width 121mm 107mm 97mm 95mm 107mm
Radius 19m 22m 18m 18m 21m
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.

Performance Comparison


Low angle light, low angle snow, high speed powder skiing. Early...
Low angle light, low angle snow, high speed powder skiing. Early winter testing of the Hyperdrifter on Teton Pass.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Weight


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.

Big skis require big skins. Factor that into your assessment of the...
Big skis require big skins. Factor that into your assessment of the weight of skis. It isn't a huge difference, but it isn't to be ignored either.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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.

Firm Snow


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.

Yeah, we learned about the limits of the Hyperdrifter the hard way...
Yeah, we learned about the limits of the Hyperdrifter the hard way. These skis aren't for these snow conditions. Owning skis like this requires skill and judgment: the skill and judgment to avoid taking them out on days like this.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Powder


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?

The relatively low weight of the Hyperdrifter reserves your energy...
The relatively low weight of the Hyperdrifter reserves your energy for going bell to bell on those amazing fresh, deep days.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Crud/Poor Snow


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.

Giant. The waist of these is bigger than the shovel of some of our...
Giant. The waist of these is bigger than the shovel of some of our other tested skis.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Value


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.

Fresh, soft, smooth snow. This is when you want the Voile...
Fresh, soft, smooth snow. This is when you want the Voile Hyperdrifter. If the conifer branches have lost their snow, this Voile has lost its advantage.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Conclusion


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