Most of us have heard or have been a part of the discussion surrounding the weight of a ski versus its ski performance when looking at the best option for ski touring and ski mountaineering. It isn’t a surprise because both aspects are incredibly important and up until recently, it has been difficult to find a ski that pairs the benefits of a lightweight ski but still has exceptional ski performance in a variety of conditions.
In the past few seasons the ski industry has really begun to focus R&D and engineering efforts towards building a ski that is lightweight yet still has the stiffness characteristics essential for good downhill performance. Of course you are always going to have the weight weeny/maybe rando racer who is only going to go for the lightest options and conversely you are going to have a skier type who is convinced they must have a heavy skis that are capable of driving through any condition. Then there is the group of us in the middle (probably most of us) that enjoy moving quickly and efficiently in the mountains as possible while still having a ski that performs reasonably well in most conditions.
Several members of our group have been skiing both the Blizzard Zero G 95 and Zero G 108’s this season and we are extremely impressed with the time and effort the Blizzard designers and engineers have put into building both skis. It is one thing to build a ski with light weight material with just the focus on the uphill but Blizzard’s carbon drive technology throughout the Zero G line reduces the weight of the ski without compromising the stiffness of the ski. The end result is a very lightweight ski that has the characteristics of a heavier and stiffer ski. I specifically want to focus on the Zero G 95; for individuals who want to find a single ski for all touring and mountaineering conditions, this one gives you everything you need.
First let’s look at the weight and the uphill performance. The Zero G 95 in a 178cm weighs 1,250 grams flat and mounted with the Dynafit TLT Speed Radical binding the ski/binding combination comes in at 1,660 grams. My previous ski was the Blizzard Kabookie which had a flat weight of 2,005 grams and 2,415 grams with the TLT Speed Radical. The reduction in weight per ski is dramatic (750 grams or 1.6 lbs) and certainly something you immediately notice the minute you start touring. There have been a number of studies showing that weight carried on your feet plays a much more significant roll on energy consumption during activity than a similar amount of weight carried in a pack. The extra energy requirements for weight on the feet are thought to come from the biomechanical limits of walking and as a general rule, it is thought that one pound of weight reduced from your feet is equal to five pounds taken out of your pack. If going by this rule the total reduction of 3.2 lbs per pair of skis would be the equivalent of a 16 lbs reduction from my pack; and just by playing around with our food scale, that is the equivalent to two six packs of beer and two bottles of wine in your pack (roughly). Don’t get me wrong, I have carried my fair share of beer and wine into yurts but you notice that extra weight and you wouldn’t be caught dead lugging that kind of weight around on a daily tour. Bottom line is having these lighter skis on your feet makes a big difference in how much vertical you can ski and your fatigue level during the course of a day or your ski partner’s will be pumped because you can bring in a bunch of beer and wine for the group.
It climbs well but how does it ski?
I couldn’t be more impressed with how the ski performs in a variety of different conditions. First of all, with 95 mm under foot, the ski has enough width to ski very well on even the deepest of powder days; there is enough rise in the tip to make sure it doesn’t dive in and I think it makes for an excellent powder ski. Sure, the Zero G 108 would be great for a deeper days, but if we are talking about folks who want only one touring ski or many times I run into yurt trips in the Sawtooths where you aren’t sure of the terrain or conditions you will ski so having a single ski that performs well in all conditions is key.
The trick is, most skis ski well in full on blower conditions and the rubber meets the road when you start to get into variable snow conditions. Bottom line the ski performs exceptional in everything from firm wind board all the way down to corn snow. The carbon drive technology integrates a 3D unidirectional carbon fiber frame into an ultra lightweight wood core sidewall allowing for a lightweight ski that is still torsionally stiff. The ski really performs well in some of the more challenging snow conditions. I also love the ski in very steep/technical lines; if you are going to attack steeper more technical terrain, it is critical that you are confident in the performance of your ski. The weight of the ski is not just a benefit for the up hill but with it being so light, it is also very quick when negotiating technical terrain.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with its ski performance; the one barrier might be adjusting to a ski that is very stiff but that is this light. I know the first couple runs I took with it were a surprise but once I made the adjustment for a lighter ski, I was thrilled with the ski in all conditions.
I think the folks at Blizzard have solved the issue of having a ski that skis well but also is light enough for touring with the Zero G 95. Anyone who is interested in touring and being more comfortable during your tours regardless of how fast you go, should check out the Zero G line. Get the weight of a couple six packs and bottles of wine out of your pack so you can go longer and feel better in the back country.