Re-tooled and dialed-up for 2017, the Dynastar Cham 2.0 117 is a five-dimensional freeride floater that has a keen focus on steep fall-lines. Overall, our testers with a preference for technical terrain enjoyed this ski more than non-directional jibbers. Not as stiff or burly as years past, Dynastar has trimmed some metal and added fiberglass laminates to surround the paulownia wood core. Seeing that the result is a snappier, lighter, more backcountry-ready ski, we think it's a nifty tradeoff.
Dynastar Cham 2.0 117 Review
Cons: Loose turns, boaty
Our Analysis and Test Results
Leaving much unchanged from the original Cham design, the primary difference in the Cham 2.0 is reduced weight and dampness thanks to fiberglass lamination instead of metal. Beyond that and updated graphics, it's the same old Cham you're used to.
Stability at Speed
Decently stiff and torsionally rigid, the Cham 2.0 was not only comfortable at speed but had a knack for fast, high-angle maneuvers. Forgoing metal reinforcements, this ski isn't quite as damp as it used to be. But rest assured, the new and improved Cham 2.0 is stable enough to take on big lines with confidence, earning it an above average score of 7 out of 10. Similar competitors include the Atomic Backland Bent Chetler and Elan Ripstick 116, while the Blizzard Spur takes the cake, followed by the Moment Wildcat and Volkl Confession.
Full-length vertical sidewalls and camber underfoot help this ski grip through an arc, but some of our testers found it slow to roll over onto edge; the tapered tip is perhaps a bit slow to engage on firm snow. At times, the Cham 2.0 felt like a lot of ski—the 22 m turn radius was hard to swing quickly in the tight and narrow. That said, the Cham's backend stiffness delivers great exiting power and plenty of stability when you find yourself on manicured groomers, taking home another 7 out of 10, bested only by the Volkl Confession, Rossignol Soul 7, and Elan Ripstick 116.
When it came to bumped-out, cruddy snow, we were underwhelmed with the Cham. Being light and soft up front, the tips felt a bit twitchy when tracking through heavier chunks or refrozen debris. Thankfully, the overall stiffness of the Cham would let us get away with backseat recoveries when things got a little out of hand. Not the most authoritative crud buster; but it'll do - 6 out of 10. This contender is bested by the Head A-Star, Line Pescado, Blizzard Spur, Atomic Backland Bent Chetler, Rossignol Soul 7 HD, Moment Wildcat, and Volkl Confession.
At 117 mm underfoot, the Cham 2.0 is the fattest ski currently offered by Dynastar. It was categorically designed to perform in powder, and we think that's the one arena where the Cham really delivers, earning an 8 out of 10, and bested only by the Blizzard Spur and Line Pescado. The harpoon-shaped tip with gradual rocker offhandedly floats through blower while the five-point sidecut allows the skier to shmear a variety of buttery turn shapes. Additionally, the tail has a bit of pintail taper to it, which helps the ski to plane well through ultra-light particle. Strong and maneuverable in deep snow, the Cham 2.0 is an excellent powder tool.
Even though the Cham is considered to be part of the Dynastar freeride family, we didn't find it to be an overly playful ski. It's too stiff and lumbery to be used as jib-stick and its directional construction is more suited to ripping down that spine as opposed to spinning over it. Overall, it didn't feel as lively as some of the others, like the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, Moment Wildcat, Atomic Backland Bent Chetler, and Line Pescado. But that doesn't mean you can't send it off natural features—the Cham 2.0 can certainly stomp.
The Cham 2.0 is about as versatile as you'd expect a directional powder ski to be. More focused on float than all-mountain performance, this five-dimensional freeride tool likes technical lines in steep snow. Take it anywhere outside of soft snow or juicy groomers, and the Cham starts to show the few weaknesses it does have. The most versatile contenders in our fleet include the Moment Wildcat, Atomic Backland Bent Chetler, Volkl Confession, and Rossignol Soul 7 HD.
Preferring high-angle, technical terrain with fresh snow, the Cham 2.0 could be a suitable backcountry freeride ski—it's light, floaty, and strong enough to hold an edge on wind scour. Though, it's probably more sensible as an inbounds powder tool.
Offering average utility at an above-average cost, we don't believe the Cham 2.0 117 is a good value. Unless you've got your heart set on this new model, you'd probably find more all-around performance in another ski at lesser cost, like in our Best Buy award winner, the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, $750.
The new and arguably improved Cham could be the perfect powder tool for a high-alpine technical enthusiast who enjoys mobbing downhill just as much as wearing crampons. It is stiff, durable, and has a solid edge that prefers running straight down the fall line. As with most of the skis we tested, the Cham 2.0 had noteworthy float abilities and was capable of making a variety of turn shapes in soft snow. However, it wasn't very surfy or lively when ripping through the deep stuff. Directionally-minded skiers with strong legs would have fun ripping the Cham down corny couloirs and high-angle snowfields. But the snow-seeking weekend warriors would be better off on a more user-friendly setup.
— Rob Woodworth