Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 187.3cm
Dimensions (mm): 139-117-125
Bindings: Salomon / Dynafits (swappable via binding freedom inserts)
Boots: Full Tilt Konflicts / Dynafit Titans
Mount Location: -0.5cm
Days Tested: 25ish
Test Locations: Whitefish, Montana, both inbounds and backcountry, and a couple days at Revelstoke
I live in Whitefish, Montana, which lacks big alpine terrain, but has a surplus of dense fog. This combination means that I spend a lot of time in the trees and hitting small features in tight places. That said, like many of us, I like to go fast whenever the fog lifts and I can see where I’m going.
For me, an everyday ski needs to be comfortable in tight trees while still retaining its composure at moderately high speeds in chopped-up crud. The Praxis Concept was my latest purchase along these lines, and most of the time, I think it’s the best everyday ski I’ve found for what I like to do.
The basic concept, if you will, is that the Concept combines the pivotiness and slarviness of a reverse camber, reverse sidecut ski (like the Praxis Pow), but retains the hardpack capabilities of a more traditional ski.
The Concept has what Praxis calls Compound Camber and Tri-Cut sidecut, which basically means that a lot is going on with the ski.
The Compound Camber means there are “pods” of camber along the length of the base. Those “pods” coincide with the Tri-Cut sidecut, meaning that the sidecut is reversed (i.e. bulging out) at each area where there is reverse camber, and the sidecut is “normal” (i.e. curving toward the middle of the ski) where there is normal camber.
Just in front of and behind the binding, the Concept has traditional sidecut and camber—more or less like a normally cambered ski. The Concept also has tip rocker and a bit of tail rocker, which is also fairly similar to lots of other skis out there.
Where the Concept is quite different is directly underfoot, where it has reverse camber and a slight reverse sidecut.
The idea behind this sidecut / camber combination is essentially this: if you keep your weight centered, the ski can pivot or slarve on the reverse camber / reverse sidecut that’s underfoot, thus making the ski exceptionally easy to throw sideways, even in tight places at slow speeds.
But while fully reverse / reverse skis excel in soft snow, they pretty much suck on hardpack. This is where the more traditional tip and tail portions of the Concept are supposed to come into play, allowing you to pressure the tips and ski them like a “normal” ski when your local mountain is lacking freshness.
If you ignore the sidecut / camber bulge that’s underfoot, the Concept is a fairly normal looking ski. The cambered portions have a fairly small amount of camber (Praxis calls it 4mm, but in reality it’s slightly less than that). There’s also 35cm of tip splay and 25cm of tail splay, which is fairly modest compared to some of the other skis in this category.
The stated 27m turn radius is a bit longer than some of the other similar skis out there, putting the Concept more in line with skis with long turn radii like the 4FRNT Hoji or the Moment Night Train, rather than the Atomic Automatics or Rossi S7’s.
Keep in mind, however, that the Concepts’ sidecut is not one continuous arc—the Tri-Cut sidecut makes an analysis of the turn radius a bit more complicated (Praxis calls it an “average” radius.)
Trees / Tight Spots / Maneuverability
The Concepts are fantastic is tight spots—it’s incredibly easy to throw the skis sideways to scrub speed, and they’ll turn on a dime when you want them to.
The remarkable thing about the Concepts, however, isn’t just their maneuverability—it’s that the maneuverability doesn’t really come at the price of stability in other situations, and the Concepts will make a wide variety of turn shapes in different conditions.
With a bit of a weight shift onto the front of the skis, the slarvy pivotiness all but disappears, and the ski will lock into a fairly confident carve. Sure, there are skis that charge harder than the Concepts, but I have yet to ski anything else that covers such a wide range of styles so well.
This makes the Concept a bit tricky to describe, because they don’t really ski like anything else I’ve been on. Lots of skis try to achieve a middle ground—they have a medium flex, medium sidecut, and medium rocker profile, which make them a medium ski: they do everything OK, but nothing really well.
In this category, the Armada Norwalks come to mind. I think they’re a nice, medium ski that’s stiff enough to handle some speed, but not so stiff that they take a lot of effort to turn. The Concept, on the other hand, is easier to maneuver than the Norwalk, but they’re happier going straight and fast, too. It’s not that they just do an adequate job in lots of situations, they do a good job in lots of situations. (And sometimes even a great job.)