Claim #4: Easy to ski: Voile’s got a good thing going with the Charger line. For my money, it’s one of the best choices in terms of affordability, weight, and versatility. I do wish there was a little more sidecut on the Chargers, but one could certainly chalk that up to personal preference. They’re definitely not as nimble as the DPS Wailer 112, nor do they carve as well. But I didn’t buy this thing to rip trenches on winch-cat runs; I bought these to let me not get bogged down on the up, and let me confidently haul ass through BC blower on the down.
Finally, Claim #5: Voile’s signature lightweight construction: Also 100% true. We measured our pair at about 1800 grams per ski, which is definitely light for a 191cm-long ski this fat.
So, Who’s It For?
This ski is for an aggressive, confident skier, interested in moving quickly and efficiently in the back country. This is not a ski you should take anywhere near inbounds. Are all your tours plug and plays in Little Cottonwood where you start knocking out 75 degree skin tracks from your car? Cool. This might not be your ski. Do you tour in some place like Teton National Park, where damn near all of your approaches and exits include one to two miles of almost dead flat touring? Great. Consider buying something from the Voile BC line.
Again, the fish scales are not a replacement for skins, but they do make the ski a better tool for certain backcountry situations. Tele skiers will be able to take better advantage of the scales in rolling terrain, simply because they’re already in tour mode. Couple this ski with a good tech binding, and you’d have an AT setup capable of crushing some long days with pretty minimal futzing.
The Charger BC is a backcountry ski, so that’s where I skied it. I took it inbounds for one day of groomers, just to see, and I won’t ever do that again. I’ve skied the original Charger in everything from bottomless blower in the Tetons, to sun-baked semi-breakable crust in New Mexico, to steep early spring hard pack in AK.
The Chargers are, by and large, a directional ski happiest in big turns. The stiff tail makes it a real challenge to smear turns, at least as compared to some super rockered ski like my inbounds-pow ski, the 183cm Volkl Shiro.
The low swingweight of the Charger BC makes it pivot well in tight trees or chutes, but only if you’re confident and forward. Weight the tails, and you will be taken for a ride.
As for hard-pack carving, this ski doesn’t have much sidecut. My 191s have a sidecut radius of 25.4 meters, though the shorter-length Chargers have a shorter sidecut radius, too. For an all-arounder, I actually prefer something with a bit more sidecut, as I don’t find myself really wanting to do 60 mph on such light boards, and if you lock an edge in, that’s exactly what you’re going to find yourself doing.
Q: Does that lack of sidecut mean the ski only does well if you’re truckin’?
The overall stiffness of these boards made me feel like they were a lot happier the more energy I put into them. This often translates to speed and an ability to flex the ski through a turn. That being said, they have a lot of tip rocker, and a very low swing weight, so you can definitely get them to wiggle through tight trees at low speeds, as long as you’re forward. They don’t turn easily at low speeds in even a neutral stance, and certainly not if you’re weighting the tails. In tight trees (not the thinned-out stuff you tend to find inbounds) you have to be awfully confident to make it work for you. But if you are, the low swing weight will reward you with a ski that pivots well.
On the topic of confidence, with a tail as stiff as the Chargers’, they require that you stay forward to neutral. If you find yourself intimidated and in the back-seat, they’re not going to do much of anything for you besides send you wherever they happen to be pointed.
In short, the Charger BC is best at going fast in consistent conditions. That can be deep snow or spring corn, but it does best when the conditions are not variable.
If you do find yourself in chop, you need to dial things way back, as the ski just doesn’t have enough weight to move through inconsistent snow in a predictable manner. Lots of bucking and tip deflection. Keep in mind that these skis are really light. This means that they won’t plow through slide debris. It’s just not a particularly stable setup in death-cookie chunder. That being said, if you find a touring ski that makes skiing refrozen debris fun, please be sure to let me know.
This is a ski for backcountry skiers. Not inbounds, and not side-country. I found this thing downright annoying on the one day I took it groomer-cruising inbounds.
The stiff tail and longer sidecut radius mean that it favors confident, aggressive skiers, and will reward them with a great lightweight ski that is also a lot of fun to slide downhill on.
As for options if you’re considering the Charger BC, they don’t really exist. There are other skis in Voile’s BC line with different dimensions that would be worth a look if you’re interested in a slightly narrower ski that still has fish scales.
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