Hands-on Gear Review

Dynastar Cham 2.0 117 Review

Decidedly directional powder ski for the technically-focused alpine skier.
Dynastar Cham 2.0 117
By: Rob Woodworth ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 2, 2017
Price:  $850 List  |  $330.95 at Amazon - 61% Off
Pros:  Light, tracks well, stiff tail
Cons:  Loose turns, boaty
Manufacturer:   Dynastar
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 12
  • Float - 25% 8
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 7
  • Crud - 20% 6
  • Playfulness - 20% 7
  • Carving - 10% 7
  • Versatility - 5% 7
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Our Verdict

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 woodcore. Seeing that the result is a snappier, lighter, more backcountry-ready ski, we think it's a nifty tradeoff.

Discontinued
The Cham 2.0 117 is phased out of Dynastar's ski line-up for 2017/2018. While we're sad to see them go, we're psyched to see what they come up with next.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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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.

Performance Comparison


Fast and straight  the Cham 2.0 117 feels like a harpoon underfoot.
Fast and straight, the Cham 2.0 117 feels like a harpoon underfoot.

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 Bibby and Volkl Confession.

Carving


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.

Once up to speed  the Cham 2.0 is better at linking turns with its 22 m turn radius.
Once up to speed, the Cham 2.0 is better at linking turns with its 22 m turn radius.

Crud


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 Bibby, and Volkl Confession.

Lightweight Dynastar construction doesn't fare well in well-mangled snow.
Lightweight Dynastar construction doesn't fare well in well-mangled snow.

Float


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.

The rockered tip and five-point sidecut of the Cham 2.0 make it a great floater.
The rockered tip and five-point sidecut of the Cham 2.0 make it a great floater.

Playfulness


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 Bibby, 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.

Versatility


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 Bibby, Atomic Backland Bent Chetler, Volkl Confession, and Rossignol Soul 7 HD.

Frontside lapping is fun on the Cham 2.0.
Frontside lapping is fun on the Cham 2.0.

Best Applications


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.

Very evident taper on the five-point sidecut.
Very evident taper on the five-point sidecut.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

The Cham 2.0 is more easily maneuvered on high-angle terrain.
The Cham 2.0 is more easily maneuvered on high-angle terrain.

Other Versions


We tested the Cham 2.0 117 in the 180 cm length. This model is also available at 190 cm. There are also some skinnier options in the Cham family: the Cham 2.0 97, Cham 2.0 107, and Cham 2.0 Pro Xpress.

Rob Woodworth

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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