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Stevens Pass and surrounding area

Zak's Passions


Zak's Bio

Engineer by profession. Skier, climber, cyclist by avocation.

178 Trab Stevio Light XL - Plum Guide
PM Gear 191 Fat - FKS & Plum
ON3P 191 Billy Goat - FKS
4FRNT 186 Renegade - FKS
DPS 202 Lotus 138 - FKS/Duke


Zakwrote a review of on December 18, 2017

Great ski with a traditional mount point
4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

ME: 5'11", 165#, skiing the 185 Zero G 108 with the Dynafit Vulcan and Marker Kingpin, originally mounted on the line, now re-mounted +1.5 from the line. I've skied the Zero 108 as my primary touring ski the past few seasons in a variety of locations, but more in the lighter snow of the interior US/Canada and Chamonix than in deep, heavy maritime snowpack (US Pacific Northwest, British Columbia , etc).

The Zero G 108 is really an awesome ski, especially for the traditional skier. I love the stiffness and longer turn radius. The construction is great: very damp for the weight and the edge hold is amazing. Reasonably priced, too, considering similar carbon skis all cost well over $1k (DPS, Volkl V-werks, etc). For me, it's a very intuitive ski with lots of pop and rebound. Everyone talks about the torsional stiffness and sharp factory tune so I brought a gummy stone along the first few days, but I never took it out of my pocket. Since then, it's just been an intuitive ski for me in all conditions. Sure, there are better skis on hard snow; there are better skis in pow. But I've yet to find a touring ski I like as much for everything.

No review would be complete without a few complaints/wishes:
1) For my stance and style of skiing, I wish the mount point was more forward. I remounted +1.5 from the line, but it's still a very rearward mount. I don't notice it when skiing fast in the backcountry, especially in pow, but I prefer a more even swing weight when doing jump turns and they feel weird inbounds. I personally would prefer if the ski was designed with the sidecut/rocker centered for a mount point like -8 from center, instead of -12 or -14 whatever it is currently. (And yes, I realize that kick-turns are easier with less tail.)

2. I wish it had a little less taper. This makes it perform a little weird in jump turns on very firm snow.

I also sometimes wish it had a bit less camber and a little more tip rocker...but then it wouldn't be as good in firm snow.

All in all, this an amazing choice, especially for a more traditional skier who likes a forward, driving stance.





Zakwrote a review of on April 3, 2013

5 5

My foot:
276 mm long (R) and 270 (L); 104 mm wide (R) 102 (L). Flat arches, high instep, relatively high volume foot.
Size 10.5 street shoe; 26.5 (307 bsl) Scorpion

The boot fit exceptionally tight out of the box; less than 5mm shell fit. It felt shorter, but actually wider in the forefoot than the equivalently-sized KR2. I wanted to ski it a bit before starting the boot-fitting process, but couldn't make it more than a run or two. Had the liners molded with double toe caps, and had the right shell stretched for length with some slight grinding for the 5th metatarsal head (6th toe) to accommodate my slightly larger right foot. Now it fits like a glove. (No work was necessary on the left boot.) I also tossed in a tongue eliminator shim, and kept the calf shim in. I also had my bootfitter lessen the forward lean a few degrees. This, in my opinion, is the only real negative to the boot. Even on bindings with no ramp angle (FKS w/shim), I felt like the stock forward lean of the boot was too much for my anatomy, stance, and style. (I was getting a fair bit of pain in my peroneus longus muscle, but that issue is entirely unrelated to the boot's performance and will be fixed with some canting/sole planing.)

The flex is stiff, but perfect. It feels much stiffer than the equivalent 130 flex boots from Lange, etc. (Tecnica boots may be an exception to that.) It's the first boot I've skied recently that I never felt collapse on me when charging hard over variable terrain (including KR2 w/ stiffest wedge & tongue and Full Tilt w/ #10 tongue and WC booster strap.) I'd recommend tossing a WC booster strap on them to give it that progressive flex. I also run the stock (non-elastic) strap at the same time, but I keep it fairly loose so I'll never blow all the way through the boot's flex.

All in all, one of the best boots on the market; just needed a few mods for me. Now I'm unbelievably stoked on it, and won't be skiing in anything else for a long, long time.





Zakwrote a review of on April 18, 2012

5 5

I refuse to ski on anything else. The solid feel of an all-metal binder with the greatest elasticity in the heel. After years on FKS/Pivot, I skied a few days on some Dukes, tore a tendon in my knee, and decided to stick with turntable heels. It probably had nothing to do with the binders, but I like the peace of mind.

Only complaint: Make sure the forward pressure is high enough. The indicator tab is not reliable. Even when I had the forward pressure set slightly higher than recommended, I pre-released going mach loony through crud with the DIN @ 13 and messed up my wrist. Nearly positive it was a forward-pressure issue and not lack of DIN (though I did increase that afterwards too). I blame my shoddy tech skills, but just be aware if you're the kinda guy that does his own mounts and adjustments. Also, some people like to run the heel 1 din higher than the toe, which I learned when researching possible reasons for my prerelease.

I'll answer the typical questions/complaints:

1) The toe-piece is not adjustable in height. You could try to shave the vibram of your AT boot down, but there's no guarantee that will work or that you won't shave off so much that you can't click into your dynafit toe anymore. Seriously consider whether you need an metal, 18-DIN binder if you don't have a DIN sole. Very few AT boots without swappable soles ski well enough to warrant such a bombproof binder. Go for the Sally STH series if you really need an adjustable height. (Be warned that the lack of moving AFD will affect the release values.)

2) Just turn your ski pole upside down to get out of them without scraping up the paint. Alternatively, you could toss some bondo or epoxy in the space. But it's really not that hard to flip your pole over. My new ones look fine after a season of use. My old ones are beat to hell but function just fine.

3) Yeah, it would really be nice if they made a wider brake. But they can be bent - out to 140+ mm if you are good at it. If you're going more than 15-20 mm wider, you'll prolly want to read the tutorial on TGR (search for it). But it's a pain, they can break, and you could possibly get hurt. Fortunately, the 115mm easily make it out to 125-ish just by pulling the brake arms outward a few times.

(Disclaimer: I'm not a shop tech and claim no responsibility if you break yourself or the bindings following any of my advice. Having them mounted and adjusted at a shop is the safest way to go.)

EDIT: Rumor is the Pivot 18 will have 130 mm brakes available next season...





Zakwrote a review of on April 16, 2012

5 5

Not sure how useful this review will be, as people already interested in this ski will buy it and people who aren't won't. That said, here goes:

I've been on quite a few skis lately, and the 186 Renegade is the perfect ski for my size and style. I'm 5'11", 165# (though I'm recovering some surgery, so me in shape is 5# lighter and much stronger), and I mainly ski Stevens Pass (combo of tight trees and open faces). If you're over 175#, the 196 should be your weapon, as whyturn implies below. (I haven't been on the 196, but on TGR, whyturn claims it's easier to ski than the 186, FWIW.) I'd also consider the 196 if you ski mainly open bowls and you already have a smaller tree ski (I don't).

If I had to choose just one ski for the resort, this would probably be my pick. However, I've never had a ski with such a learning curve, including DPS L138, which is a full reverse/reverse. I had heard them described as playful and chargy, but after the first run, I told my friend they were neither. After some more time on them, I understood how to adapt my style.

They are so stable and love speed in the open. It takes a fairly-skilled pilot to manage the speed, but those who can will be rewarded with a stable platform at mach looney. For as much as it loves speed, the Rens perform exceptionally well in tight trees. I suspect this has to do with the full reverse camber much more than the sidecut (which is very small). I have not yet found a situation where the trees were too tight for the ski. As I continue to gain core and leg strength after surgery, I think the Renegade will gain even more agility in trees. On hardpack, the Rens, with full reverse, require a balanced stance and do not like to be driven from the tip, racer style. They do carve unexpectedly well, likely because of the matching rocker and sidecut.

Only gripe: Once or twice in the 10 or so days I’ve spent on the Renegade, I have noticed the tips diving if I get too far forward. This is probably a combination of the full reverse (requires good fore-aft balance) and the smaller tip (which is awesome and not hooky at all). I attribute tip dive more to pilot error (not being as balanced as I should have been) than any inherent flaw in the ski. I have heard other skiers, mainly those who are heavier than I am, say they have float issues in low-angle pow, but I haven't experienced this too much.

Mount point seems to have a big effect on the ski: 86-88 from the tail is pretty much the range. Obviously, the further forward you are, the better they carve groomers and the farther back, the better they float. I went 87 because I'm on the bigger side of things but I still wanted to ski tight trees (this is my tree ski cuz it's the smallest ski I own) though. I might have gone 88 if I were 155#; if I were a little bigger and really strong, I might have went 86.

Also note that these skis are particularly picky as to how they're tuned. The factory tune is excellent, IMO, so stick with it. When you do need them tuned, 4FRNT recommends a 1* side and 1* base bevel with minimal base structure, which is how they come from the factory.