REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Hinterland 99 All-Mountain Carve 2021-2022
Hinterland 99 All-Mountain Carve (2021-2022)
153-99-133 r=16.5 @ 184cm
4391 500 West
Murray, Utah 84123, United States
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
7-8 if you want a "traditional" carving ski.
9+ if you want a completely unique, wide-body high-speed carving machine like nothing else out there (not a skinny race carver).
Hinterland skis is the specialty offshoot brand of the original WSD (Wubanger Ski Design) custom ski company. After creating the first prototypes in 2007, handcrafted skis by Howard Wu, Nick Wheeler and Scott Smith began rolling out of their shop in Utah in 2008. Custom skis and their molds quickly totaled more than 100 different shapes after more than 1000 pairs sold, and a few select, favorite models were selected to be sold under the Hinterland brand by Creighton Elinski (who bought the company) as "stock" skis pushing the envelope of traditional designs. The Hinterland brand is all about highest-quality materials and workmanship to create a unique ski with a long lifespan. Hinterland has partnered with TreeUtah and will plant two trees for every pair of skis they make and one tree per each apparel item sold. The trees are planted in and around ski areas to help repair and revegetate damaged lands.
"Attention speed freaks! The 99 was built for you. This ski is our race-inspired all-mountain carving beast. The long effective edge allows the ski to get deeeep into carves. Lean this baby over on edge and you’ll find that it loads up power and blasts you from turn to turn. We’ve added a light rocker in the tip for easier turn engagement but the rest of the ski is cambered. The idea here is to keep things stable for high speed carving, the last thing you want is a wishy washy ski. Perfect your carve and break the sound barrier on The 99 ski, you won’t regret it.
The 99 is our race inspired all mountain carving machine. Its long effective edge give this ski the ability to get deeper and deeper into carves. The big proportions and big camber it loads up power and shoots you out of one turn into the next. The tip has a light rocker that lets the front end engage and disengage easily. "
- Website - 2022
Creighton describes the inspiration for the 99 Carve being the original cutting-edge Elan SCX super-shaped carving ski introduced in 1993-1994 which was short and deeply sidecutted for intense carving experiences like nothing else on the market at the time. He stretched the concept out into a bigger, smoother, larger-radius carving tool after a bunch of prototypes and voila! The 99 All-Mountain Carve model was born.
Technical Ski Data:
Bindings and Boots Used:
Tyrolia AAtack 13 demo bindings
Final mount position -1cm (+-) to match current production models
Salomon S-Max 130 Carbon boots.
First things first. The Hinterland 99 All-Mountain Carve is a seriously BIG ski for a "carver".
Essentially 100 mm underfoot (ok, ok...99 mm), with things geting much bigger as you go to each end. The 153mm shovel width is downright impressive and nearly intimidating for anyone contemplating a traditional, fully-cambered frontside carving ski geometry. The really cool-looking 133mm swallow tail just adds to the whole effect, giving you the impression this is a one-of-a-kind design which is the product of either an unhinged ski designer or someone very serious about wide-body carving behavior. Unusually deep tip and tail inserts extend farther down the ski than most designs.
The 99s are beautifully built and a pleasure to look at. The veneer topsheet is super-attractive and exotic with minimalist "Hinterland" logos. The super-wide shovels on a slightly rockered tip profile are intriguing and impossible to look away from. Flex is fairly stout, but rounded and even. Damping feels robust, yet the ski hand-flexes with some sporty rebound and responsive personality. Torsionally strong and serious feeling. The 99 All-Mountain Carve is an attention-getter and looks like nothing else.
Eastern corduroy, 12-inch fresh powder, tracked-out powder, packed powder and hardpack groomers & Eastern boilerplate.
The Hinterland 99 All-Mountain Carve is a dead-serious medium-to-long radius frontside railgun of a ski that craves speed and high-angle carving under pressure, but does it with authoritative confidence and quiet disposition. Snow inconsistencies along your trajectory can be forgotten. The 99s cut through transitions of powder-to-boilerplate-to-packed-powder-to-chop-to-corduroy without blinking an eye. Strong, super-stable and predictable with a pretty unlimited top-end speed. It's a ski that likes to be driven, but doesn't feel heavy. The 99s feel like a confident, sporty platform instead of a planky, over-dampened heavy-metal charger, and crave carving on-edge. You can ride them flat just fine, but they really come alive when loaded on-edge with pressure. Highly cambered, yet you can scrub them sideways without fear of high-siding into the weeds. The 99s can feel a bit balky and big in the bumps because of the massive 153mm shovels contacting a large surface area of bump faces (but these are large-arc carving machines, not bump skis). You can generate a turn radius tighter than the optimal 16.5m claimed as their design spec, it just takes a technically-proficient pilot to start the arc with the right angle and press it into a tighter curve. The 99s never give up, wash-out or fold under pressure. The more game you have, the more they like it. They are smooth, quiet and have a natural turn shape for carving enthusiasts to feel at-home with. These are a specialty item for moderate-to-high speed afficiandos who grab the first corduroy of the day before anyone else is on the hill. Ex-racers from GS and Super-G disciplines will find the 99s a hoot for skiing the resorts. Their sheer surface area makes them fun to swoop across the entire width of a wide slope in fresh boot-deep snow in graceful arcs, and later bust through the skied-out powder surfaces with speed on-edge without any deflection or quiver underfoot. When it's too soft and inconsistent to grab your race skis for big arcs, grab the 99s and get the flotation AND power you want to make those conditions submit to your turns. Pedal-to-the-metal on-edge power arcs are what this ski is all about, and it does it like nothing else on the market.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
The 99s we received for testing had been used as demos, so we got a chance to see how a broken-in pair performed on classic Vermont boilerplate after a few days of rain on old snow followed by single-digit temperatures. The sheer width of the fully-cambered 99mm-waisted ski with a 153mm shovel means getting the big ski onto the right angle is important. Luckily, the Hinterland 99s feel intuitive and telegraph the degree of grip initiating in the front and progressing through the rest of the ski as you crank out your turns on concrete surfaces. The wide tip means engagement begins early in the ski, and if you follow the pull across the hill with angulation and pressure, the 99s bite nicely with authority and confidence along their length. Medium-to-longer radius turns are best on super hard surfaces since edge-to-edge transitions are a slower operation on this big ski than on a 65mm super-skinny race ski...so don't expect jackrabbit edge-to-edge quickness. That said, the Hinterland 99s can execute shorter-radius turns surprisingly quick for their size. Remember this is a wide-body carver, not an knife-edge carver. Vibration damping is excellent, with the skis remaining confidently quiet on bulletproof surfaces at speed, ignoring frozen snowcat treadmarks and ruts which would otherwise set lesser skis abuzz underfoot. Bite underfoot is quite good, much better than less-cambered 99mm skis, with excellent acceleration if you load the ski up in the turn and rocket out. Since the 99s are so large, they can be drifted sideways across hardpack with shallow edge angles without fear of catching the outside downhill edge like traditionally narrow carving skis.
The Hinterland 99s do remarkably well on boilerplate conditions, but don't approach the laser-like grip of a race ski or race-carver on bulletproof surfaces. Where they really shine is when the surface becomes a bit more compliant. As soon as the surface becomes like skiing gypsum drywall with the paper removed (think hard chalk)...or softer like squeeky styrofam or the elusive inch of packed talcum, the 99 Carves engage their full body and operate like a large spring of stored energy waiting to be released along a long arc of joyus power. The geometry and camber profile of the 99s is naturally suited to loading up a carved turn along the entire length of the ski, and letting it build to an apex and then released in a controlled manner with surprising power and graceful execution. They are elegant, smooth carving machines with a really large surface area which comes in handy for the next set of conditions described below.
Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:
The Hiternland 99 All-Mountain Carve skis take carving behaviors on hardpack and packed powder and instantly allow you to continue the carving antics into mixed, variable snow conditions where traditionally-sized carving skis would feel like sinking into the surface and becoming a bit more out-of-place. Imagine taking your hip-dragging, fully-flexed carve on the dense packed surface of a pristine groomed run off the buffed section and into the cut-up, tracked-out powder conditions on the side of the trail ignored by the grooming machines, and feel totally at home cutting the crud without changing a thing. Normally, if you take your trajectory in a strong carve off the groomed piste into the ungroomed trailside, you need to back off your pressure and angle or risk sinking, slowing and high-siding into the weeds with a narrow carving ski. The Hinteland 99 Carve doesn't care if the surface went from firm and smooth to soft and chopped-up....they just carry on like nothing happened. Their strong camber means they are definitely directional and want to be powered through mixed materials, but the generous surface area provides flotation and top-skimming you never get with a traditional carver. Think of them as crud-carvers and you get the idea. While they have the surface area to float and skim through odd consistencies of snow, they are big and cambered, so you may find extended time in rough seas a bit more tiring at the end of the day than if you had surfy, loose, more rockered, less-cambered skis all day....but then again, you wouldn't be able to generate impressive rock-solid carved turns on piste with the looser, more smeary ski designs. Hinterland has designed an impressive mixed-snow carving powerboat with its 99 All-Mountain Carve ski.
After waiting more than 2 weeks for decent snow, we finally got a 10-12 inch dry powder storm to test the 99s in powder conditions here in Vermont. We expected to find the big carvers balky in soft powdery conditions, but to our surprise, the highly cambered 99s used their surface area nicely to generate lift and floatable feelings in powder conditions without feeling like you took a race ski into powder ski conditions. The 99s definitely feel purely directional, and not "surfy" by any means, but instead felt like the faster you went, the more they loosened up, letting you skim the top layer of snow and drift your turns nicely without struggling to prevent a submarine dive situation. The large shovel brings flotation to the midbody quickly, where you track through the snow instead of surfing it (if that makes sense to you). If you encounter bumps or obstacles under the surface, the wde shovels can transmit the impact and eagerness to deflect a bit, but keep the ski flat and that sensation quickly goes away. Turn shapes can be varied, and you feel the full length of the ski in powder, while rockered, softer, camberless skis will feel much shorter and surfy in powder than the Hinterland 99s. This means you can definitely ski the powder with the All-Mountain 99s, you will feel like you're skiing an extra-wide carver with powder-skills rather than a dedicated powder ski designed for such conditions.
Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
Turns start easily with the Hinterland 99 carvers. All you need to do is begin to tip the ski on-edge, then commit to bringing the relatively wide body up to completion of the desired angle and the tip will pull you into the turn naturally. The geometry feels natural and well-designed with good balance between tip, mid-body and tail section behaviors. It essentially feels like a carving ski in a bigger body instead of a 100mm class ski shrunken down to carving dimensions. The 99s crave to be driven deeply into a carved apex and released with a smooth, powerful stroke like a purebred race-carving ski rather than an all-mountain ski, and this is the key to satisfy the racer-types looking for a widebody carving tool. The tail finishes powefully, but always controlled. You can get in the back-seat and recover yourself before disaster strikes, so there's a degree of forgiveness in the design so you don't need to be in super-athlete mode to drive the Hinterland 99s into full happy mode. Overall, the 99s have a naturally graceful and high-performance turn behavior with a variety of turn shapes and mid-course adjustments to radius and pressure easily on-demand without resistance, which is a testimony to the designers.
Manufacturer's Mounting Position:
Creighton described the test skis we recieved as having a mount point slightly forward of the newest production models, and we skied them "on the line" for a while before moving the demo bindings back 1-2 cm, and agreed the newer mounting recommendation was spot-on to deliver the best turn behaviors from the big carvers.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
A cross between a muscle car and an Audi S-6. Lay it into the turns with finesse and accuracy, then turn up the horsepower and trench the surface with energy to spare. Exit gracefully. Turn it full lock in the opposite direction and hit the gas again. Repeat until you run out of terrain. Enjoy the ride because your coffee cup won't spill...it's that smooth.
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Nothing. It's a thoroughbred specialty design as-is.
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
Probably the best example of a wide-body carving ski we've seen. You trade off lightning-quick edge changes of a narrow race-carver for the ability to warp into mixed surface conditions with flotation, yet maintain intense arcs. It's a big carver and feels like one. Smooth. Really nice quality, fit and finish. These will last a while.
What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?
Ex-racers who loved speed events will instantly "get" this ski and how it wants to be driven. The more you drive it, the better it delivers. Recreational skiers and those lacking technical expertise may find these skis feel like they're too big and wide to be fun.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
Ask the guys at Hinterland if you can catch a demo day to try-before-you-buy. Don't be afraid to downsize, depending on your favorite terrain. Brush up on your carving sequence technique.
None found, other than testimonials on the Hinterland website (January 2022):
Pics: (click for larger versions)
Hinterland 99 Carve.
Note depth of tip insert.
Hinterland 99 Carve Tip Detail
Hinterland 99 Carve Swallowtail Detail
Veneer Topsheet with Cameraman's Fingerprint.
Hinterland 99 Carve Tip Insert-Sidewall Mating Point
Hinterland 99 Carve Tail Profile
Hinterland 99 Carve Midbody Camber
Hinterland 99 Carve Tip Profile
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