Praxis WooTest

Once we got over the whole midwinter spring thing with three inches of base, I was able to get the WooTest out in some real winter snow. A few hiking days and a few sled days had me grinning from ear to ear. In untracked snow, I swear I could have had my Protests on my feet: easy turns of any shape, from pow 11s and super tight slow stuff between and around trees to bouncing on pillows. I was stoked. They weren’t quite as easy and loose feeling as some of the other 130ish-waisted skis I’ve been on, and I expected that. But the WooTest was in its element here, and they’re the best backcountry pow skis I’ve owned. That’s a fact I’m very happy to report.

Praxis WooTest, Blister Gear Review
Kevin Bazar on the Praxis WooTest.

With weird winters often comes weird snowpacks, and like much of the West this season, we had some sketchy-ass snow conditions, including a lingering hard layer from the plethora of “not snowing” that happened through January. As much as I would have loved to have parked the WooTest in the backcountry and left them there, I knew to really give them the workout they deserved I needed alpine binders on them. There were a lot of pow days that I didn’t go near the BC this season. makes plates that allow multiple combinations of AT and alpine binders to fit on the same ski, so I bought a pair of ‘sollyfit’ plates: Salomon and Dynafit binders on the same ski. Sweet.

As most pow days go, first runs in the resort are no different than in the backcountry. Fast, slow, big, or tight turns, I was stoked. But there’s something about that 12 p.m.-and-later time that’s not quite a pow day anymore. Chunder, crud, tracked… whatever you want to call it, it’s rough. It’s rewarding on the right skis and snow, and a nightmare in heavier snow on the wrong skis. In this environment, the WooTest sometimes feels like the wrong skis. I know it was never intended to be a resort ski, but I’m picky.

As much as it pains me to say so, the WooTest gets knocked around from the tips a bit. It’s not a lack of dampness, not a lack of stiffness; it’s something else. But it’s there, and both I and a few friends who got a pair have felt it. Not everyone—some think I’m crazy—but for some reason, in these conditions, these skis tend to get tossed around from the tips from time to time.

Praxis WooTest Tip Profile, Blister Gear Review
Praxis WooTest - Tip Profile

They’ve got a 30-plus-meter sidecut, so it’s not because that the WooTest is overly “turny.” It’s not something I’d call hooky in the traditional sense, but it’s the same end result. It doesn’t happen in corn, it doesn’t happen on smooth hardpack, and it certainly doesn’t happen in anything untracked. But once that pretty snow surface turns into a series of lumps and irregular undulations, the calm, cool, completely controlled feel I’ve come to love in the Praxis Protest—the one I wanted to duplicate with the WooTest—just wasn’t there, or at least not as much. I’ve been trying to get this ski made for years, and in those rare instances where this was happening, I kept feeling that we might have screwed something up.

The TGR thread that helped gin up the interest in this ski has shown a good number of comments that echo what I’ve said so far. In anything smooth, from untracked groomers to pow, the WooTest is solid. But once it gets lumpy, something’s grabbing. To a degree, what I wanted to duplicate from the Protest was very specifically something that crushes this kind of snow. With the WooTest, it’s not there, or at least it’s not  there in the same capacity.

Like I said, opinions on this seem to vary. Neither Keith nor Kevin O’meara seem to be feeling what I and a few others have experienced. I’ll go ahead and admit that there’s something about the members of the O’meara family whom I’ve met (just those two, for what it’s worth), maybe growing up skiing in some complete garbage on the East coast, that makes them both better skiers than I am in funky snow. (Actually, they’re both better skiers than I am in any snow, period.)

I’m more of a fair weather guy, and literally the very first day out on these in some gnarly, thick crust, I was embarrassed by how well Keith moved down the hill. It was literally my first day on any skis this season, but I just didn’t have the motivation for all the hopping around. Keith was actually enjoying himself while I was simply getting to the bottom. He was breathing so hard he sounded like a humping cow, but he was doing it. I wasn’t.

The complaints from the family guys who made this ski seem to be from the lack of sidecut causing some outrigger leg. I feel that too, but I’m kind of used to it from the Protests, and just slide them around if they’re not turning. The whole hooky/grabby in chunder thing just doesn’t happen to them, it seems.

But for us West-coaster pampered-snow types, I know I’m not alone in what I’ve been experiencing. Others have said the same.

One of the biggest revelations I had came while skiing a pillow line I’ve skied several times. I realized that I just wasn’t committing. I was skiing like a backseat-driving scared dork, landing on my tails all over the place. This was after half a dozen days or so skiing the resort, and I realized what my subconscious already knew, what to me is one of the most damning things that could be said about a pair of skis: I didn’t trust them.

I got back on my Protests the next day, and it was like I’d completely discovered them again. No hooking, no surprises, just charge or chill, and they were like an appendage. This is what I’d wanted in the WooTest. In most ways, we succeeded, but not quite in every way.

So where does that leave us?

14 comments on “Praxis WooTest”

  1. In a world with mystical scenes from fairy tales and graphics of block symetrical patterns, I really dig the ski’s look.

  2. Gotta agree with Joel, dear lord those are ugly. Praxis makes bomber stuff though and it seems like an intriguing design. Good review.

  3. been following the developement of these. great concept and i’ll be interested to hear how the tweaks go. like you i’m in it for the down, but with a short inseam i’m finding 177- 180 provides a great deal of ease on the climbs particularly switchbacks. i’d seriously consider a light (carbon?) 178ish . any possibility of a lighter version?

  4. I’m pretty sure the lightweight topsheets from the Backcountry models are available. They were on this run even though that’s not what I got…..that’ll save you a few ounces for sure. There was some mumbling about additional carbon in the ski (meaning reduced fiberglass, and reduced weight) for the next run. Even the ones I have are certainly not heavy by any means……especially with dynafits on them.

  5. I really wish we had a better winter to get more days on them. I agree with every thing in the review. The plates add versatility for in and out of bounds. Detune the shit out of them and seek out the untracked. I detuned in 3 stages and wish I would have just hit them hard the first time. Multiple passes with the panzer at 45* from contact points is the way to go. The edges come way to sharp to start.
    I think part of the weirdness in the afternoon has to do with just how easy they are to ski. They are just so easy to pivot and turn that when the tip gets engaged on chunder it can toss you around faster than you can react to it. Big straight fast turns were the best at avoiding the weirdness. Slower, shorter turns were where I found myself lacking some confidence.
    I found committing to them 100% and staying forward decreased the weirdness as did keeping the speed up. The couple roundhouse days we skied showed me this. Once I got them up to speed they were much less reactive to the chunder. They can’t hook if you don’t turn!

  6. From the looks of it, you seem to be mounted too far forward in the sidecut. That’s probably why more tail on the snow was giving you such a hard time.

  7. Hey Kevin.
    Any news on the Woo 2.0? Which of the changes you hinted at in your review are likely to be implemented? I – and I suspect many others – am very interested to know.
    As someone who finally got on a pair of Protests (good lord, they’re good), the Woo would be the logical ski to replace my Praxis BCs once they give up the ghost.

    • The guys at praxis are planning to implement pretty much everything I mentioned in this review as far as changes to the ski. That would be a more rockered tail, a more tapered tip that’s not so squared off and round, and a slightly deeper sidecut (not much at all). I’m not sure if they’ve gotten any pressed yet. I’ve been gone for a lot of the summer and have been riding bikes whenever I’m home. I’ll swing by there in the near future and see what I can find out. I’m dying to see the 2.0 version too!

  8. Hello kb,
    Do you remember tip/tail splay numbers from the original wootest?

    wootest 2.0 shows 60/33 cm in the 187 version and a -10 cm mount position.

    I have the file on another computer and will post it up

  9. Hey Kevin, did you have any time on the BC or Yeti? I’d love to hear about those skis as well… thinking about one of these as my first touring ski!

    • Not much on the BC and none on the Yeti. The BC definitely seems like one of the better ‘quiver of one’ skis out there. I’d certainly rather have those than the Wootests come corn season. But with version 2.0, I’m still in love with the Wootests mid winter.

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