REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Whitedot Skis "R.108 Carbonlite" 2014-2015 186cm
2014-2015 White Dot R.108 (Ranger) Carbonlite 138-108-119 r=28m @ 186cm
Late-season "earn-your-turns" after closing date at Pico, Vermont
Brian Finch airing-out the Whitedot Rangers
in the cozy, springtime forested terrain of Vermont
"...The Rangers some to do everything well and were really an incredible ride. Here's a picture of the back country that was just completely gnarly and they handle them like a groomed velvet corduroy surface...." - Brian
Whitedot Skis Ltd
91-93 Green Lane
Leeds, LS16 7EY
Phone: (509) 392 1394
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
All terrain - backcountry touring
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
9 for a powder ski (more precision directional than surfy-smeary)
8 for packed powder groomers
9+ for mixed conditions
8+ for hardpack for 108mm underfoot class (sharp tip to tail with slight detuning at the tip, 0.5 base bevel)
Whitedot Skis began to really get skis out of prototype mode and sold to the public in 2009. (We tested some of their first production candidate models back in 2009 in France.) The collaborative effort of several enthusiasts who wanted to build unique and effective skis in small batches using designs developed with pro freeriders at Chamonix and Verbier testing grounds. The guys at Whitedot believe in constantly evolving their designs and exploring the effectiveness of different materials, so their models often behave differently from year to year. Whitedot Skis are very popular in Europe for a reason...they seem to work for the conditions found in the Alpes of France, Italy and Austria.
"The R.108 is Whitedot’s most versatile all-mountain ski. It is the ideal choice for groomed trails, side and backcountry terrain. We designed this ski to be both great for longer radius turns on groomed trails whilst being able to reach into the deepest corners of glacier environments, conquer steep ground without sacrificing the powder performance on the descent.
The performance profile allows for efficient ski touring and aids steep ascents; the skin clip tail feature gives the rider assurance that their skins will remain firmly in position all the way to the summit."
- website 2015
The R.108 ("Ranger") in the lightweight CarbonLite construction was originally targeted at backcountry and touring skiers, we found the geometry and construction remarkably suited for "all mountain" usage as well as adventuring off-piste. The R.108 is one of those rare skis that performs at an impressive level across the spectrum of snow and terrain conditions. It's prowess is not in achieving class-leading marks in any one particular type of snow, but achieving very high levels of satisfaction in nearly any condition...making it one of our "must have" skis for nearly any day except when the snow is super hard or super deep when some other skis in the quiver would be more ideal.
If you are looking for a lightweight, responsive ski for a wide variety of situations and snow conditions ranging from backcountry to frontside resort trails, the Whitedot R.108 "Ranger" fits the bill better than most any ski we have tested in recent memory. Testers spending time on the R.108 Ranger came back with huge grins and phrases like "Wow...this ski works great...and it's so light!" and "I did not expect it to work so well everwhere on the mountain...and it's so light!"...(you get the idea). The R.108 is secure and responsive on hard surfaces, stable, predictable, agile and supple in mixed snow, and shows a comfortable, fun floating behavior and friendly semi-surfy, semi-directional personality in soft and powdery conditions. Turn initiation is easy, friendly and predictable without any hooky, grabby or insecure behaviors, yet delivers a sporty, fun ride and nicely balanced turn shape at a variety of speeds with nearly zero effort in nearly any conditions. The Ranger R.108 essentially disappears underfoot so you can concentrate on where you want to go instead of what's on your feet and how to make the skis do what you want them to do.
The R.108 can feel like a lightweight ski at higher speeds because of its low mass underfoot, showing some slightly feathery characteristics as the speed increases, but it is always predictable, and by keeping your speed below racer-levels, you never feel this behavior. We did not test the traditional construction version of this design, but based on our tests of other models with Whitedot's traditional layup, this slightly feathery feeling should disappear by choosing the slightly beefier non-CarbonLite construction if you have a "need for speed".
Technical Ski Data:
Weight: 1742 grams and 1744 grams (measured) 186cm
1.2mm ISO 7200 High Speed Precision Sintered base, Die-cut
Full Tip - Tail Popular / Ash Laminate Core
Carbon Fibre / Flax / Carbon-Kevlar Stringers / Dry Weave Binding Retention Plate / Rubber Foil Dampening Tape / Carbon-Aramid / Carbon
1.9mm hardened Steel, 360 pre-bent Wrap-Around Edges
ISO Foil, Screen Printed & Twice Lacquered topsheet
Zero-camber, rockered tip and tail
Bindings and Boots Used:
Tyrolia AAAmbition Touring Bindings
Salomon S-Max 120 boots.
Catchy field of dots on a glossy topsheet with excellent fit and fihish. Moderately soft tip and tail flex, firmer midsection. Very light weight by hand-feel (see specs...they are light!), relatively damp response with moderate torsional strength. Appealing look and feel. Very thin vertical thickness...almost blade-like. Impressive aluminum ski notch insert in the tail.
Eastern corduroy, packed powder and hardpack groomers, boilerplate, ungroomed packed powder with small bumps, shin-deep to knee-deep powder conditions, both smooth and bumpy. Chalky wind buff, fresh and old powder. Spring conditions.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
While we did not expect race-like grip on super-hard surfaces from the Rangers (especially in CarbonLight construction), we were pleasantly surprised at the level of bite and security these lightweight skis could produce. The feeling of their hard-snow grip is best described as a confident bite for directional changes and line-holding rather than a laser-like magnetic grip into the surface. There is none of the "whoa...watch yourself" anxiety on hard snow you can sometimes feel from lightweight backcountry skis, but rather a comforting "Nice....these hold way better than I expected" feel. While there is plenty of edge engagement along its length, the R.108 likes to bite underfoot rather than set its entire edge, making punchy directional changes more secure than GS-like railing at high edge angles. Higher speeds on hard surfaces revealed a slightly feathery feel because of their light weight, but there was always grip on demand when needed, and there was always a high degree of confidence and security...which is a nice feature in such a lightweight ski. Tuning the R.108s with minimal (0.5 degree) base bevel gave us a nice grip in Vermont conditions without sacrificing the driftability of the design. Overall, the Ranger 108s impressed everyone with their unexpected grip on hard snow for such as light ski billed as a backcountry model....making them a good choice for many frontside resort trails when the surface is not boilerplate-like and craving a race carver.
The R.108 Rangers got rave reviews for how well they handled wacked-out, mixed conditions with agility and smoothness. The CarbonLite chassis is not a heavy-duty crud-buster and responds best to a technically-saavy pilot rather than a muscle-bound power skier. The R.108s love to traverse mixed surfaces on a strategic line rather than a bull-through-a-china-shop technique. Their light weight and detailed, responsive nature make them ideal for agile direction changes in the troughs, on top of mounds, hopping off piles, banking off walls of snow...you name it. The only condtions causing slight deflections were when there were frozen cabbage-head snow chunks or strong crust under the surface...which give nearly any ski deflection issues unless it's a stiff charger with a strong pilot. The R.108s feel fun and frisky, never dull or challenged in mixed conditions, and we loved that feel. The R.108s are the kind of skis you can use all day in mixed conditions ranging from firm and crispy in the morning, soft and spongy mid-day and re-firming in the late-daylight and sunset hours without getting tired. One of the lasting impressions with the R.108s was the very low level of input required from the pilot in different terrain and snow condition situations to get them to remain playful, fun and effective. Big thumbs-up for these skis in variable conditions.
The Ranger 108s were surpisingly fun in the bumps, providing a smooth, controlled ride and lively response without any hint of bullish behavior, balking or bucking. In some tight bumpy conditions, the 186cm length became evident with the heels needing a moment to come-around, but otherwise they were absorbant, responsive, lively and fun with an almost mischevious feel at times because of the nice pop and weightless feel. The tips had sufficient torsional give and fluidity to never fight the pilot, yet maintain directional integrity when asked...making them pretty impressive to ski in bumpy terrain...more of an all-terrain ski than a backcountry-inspired model.
The Ranger 108s were super fun in powdery conditions because they become nearly weightless (I personally became more aware of the mass of my ski boots than the skis and bindings under me in powder), and had a nicely balanced mix between purely directional and surfy-smeary behavior. In many cases, I forgot about the skis and "just skied" in powdery surfaces. Usually it takes one of those rare bottomless powder days to feel the skis become weightless, but the CarbonLite construction and geometry of the Whitedot R.108s gave them a great minimalist feel in even the shallowest powder conditions, making them fun anytime there was the slightest fresh snow. The balance between directional and surfy-smeary powder behaviors was especially impressive since these skis were equally fun in heavier, damper, denser 3D conditions as well as the fluffy stuff, giving the pilot the choice of drifting around or staying on a dedicated trajectory with very little effort, and that's a good thing. While the R.108 chassis is no "fatty" by any modern measure, it's shape and sizing worked very well together to give a super-wide performance envelope in an equally wide set of snow conditions, making them an impressive design to deliver secure, directional lines in denser snow, yet provide a floaty, driftable personality in low-density, 3D material. While many skis can deliver one or the other, it's rare to find a ski provide both traits in a very satisfying manner...quickly becoming an old-friend in nearly any 3D snow.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
An old friend ready to play in any condition...rain or shine. Always up for a good time, never demanding anything in return. Always leaving you with good memories, always up for an adventure. One of the first ones you call when you get out of work.
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Nothing, other than maybe a "Pro Model" with just a touch of titanal strategically placed the core for added power and stabilty at speed.
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
Great example of a modern do-nearly-everything-realy-well ski, with a bias toward backcountry touring rather than resort frontside situations, but works remarkably well nearly anywhere. Doesn't lead in any one category, but leads the pack in its ability to do so many things really, really well with nearly zero effort from the pilot.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
It's not a ski for hard-charging muscle-head skiers who want to power through everthing. This is a ski for people who prefer feel and touch with a lightweght chassis, but demand agility, security and responsiveness from their skis to deliver precision fun without delivering a mandatory workout.
Pics: (click for larger versions)
Whitedot Ranger (R.108) - far left
Whitedot Ranger 108 - Far Right
Whitedot R.108s with Tyrolia AAAmbition bindings
Whitedot R.108s second from right
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