We first heard about Utah ski brand DPS from a few locals after poaching some storm day powder lines at Snowbird Ski Resort a couple of seasons ago. Over a few apres ski beers in the lodge they spoke in hushed tones of ultralight carbon fiber skis that a few of the pros were using to rip steeper lines and push faster speeds than ever before. Subsequent bar recon always got the same story: if you're looking to climb faster and bomb deeper powder, the best backcountry weapon of choice is a pair of DPS skis.
After demoing a pair of the Wailer 105s during some backcountry skiing earlier this year, DPS has been on our watch list of outdoor innovators. So when given the chance to sit down with the Utah-based company's design team, we got down to business about company history, dreams of perfect powder lines, and, most importantly, the company's new PURE3 carbon Wailer 112RPs.
Stephan Drake, DPS's founder, originally began brainstorming the idea for a lightweight, high-performance powder ski after a few too many face plants on a pair of late 1990s narrow Rossignol Vipers in Las Lenas, Argentina. Going through a few design ideas over a multi-year development cycle led Drake and his design team to the conclusion that they needed to completely abandon conventional ski construction in favor of carbon fiber. By using conventional materials -- metal and fiberglass -- ski makers are either putting everything in for a heavy alpine ski or taking it out for a flimsy backcountry ski. Carbon allowed DPS to build a ski that retains the torsional stiffness and longitudinal power of a much heavier ski while shaving weight more aggressively than anyone else. Their latest refinement, PURE3 construction, is a direct result of moving all their manufacturing in-house to a small factory in Ogden, Utah. With total control over quality and materials, DPS can build design mockups, test skis and have production ready to go in under a week.
Early DPS innovations are readily apparent the PURE3 Wailer 112RP. Previous models flirted with different patterns of camber and rocker, or a ski's underfoot flex. Too much camber creates a fat ski that is more suited to full-tilt giant slalom and downhill races. Fully rockering a pair of skis allows for excellent powder riding but sloppy skiing in any other conditions. The Wailers walk this line by taking cues from the early Lotus and Spoon models. An early rise, rockered tip allows even inexperienced skiers to float and "surf" steep powder lines, while light camber underfoot and a full sidecut profile are snappy and responsive on groomed runs or even busting through tracked-out crud snow. The PURE3 carbon construction not only lends a lightweight core (competitors' big mountain skis average 10-12 pounds a pair, while Wailers are closer to 7.5), but also superior vibration dampening.
Next time you you decide to rip an aggressive line down the mountain, there's no need to fear tracked out or choppy snow; Wailers bust through any conditions like cutting groomed corduroy every turn. If you're hunting for the best ski of 2013, adding to your growing quiver, or even downsizing to a "one ski fits all", there just isn't a ski that handles the entire mountain like the Wailer 112RP.
Excellence, innovation, craftsmanship, and an unwavering desire to challenge expectations -- these are the constants that have captivated our attention since Gear Patrol's inception in 2007. This year we're proud to announce the next step in our role as a champion of quality in product design and execution: welcome to the GP100. Our inaugural product awards are dedicated to honoring the 100 best consumer products released during the calendar year by companies of all sizes and scope.
The GP100 is not a ranking or a contest. These selections represent the collective expertise of our entire editorial staff, who have scoured every corner of the vast product universe -- from automotive and electronics, to men's style essentials, home goods, spirits and outdoors -- to find the inspiring and the practical, the ground-breaking and the traditional, the priceless and the accessible. In short: products that define or defy their respective categories to better the life of the modern man.
The GP100 is not a contest influenced by marketers or brands, nor is it a ranking by specifications as determined by uniform tests. Instead, it starts with a comprehensive list of nominees released in the calendar year, researched and compiled by our editorial team of obsessed experts across all of Gear Patrol's major areas of interest including Motoring, Technology, Style, Home, Spirits, Outdoor and Watches. Brands are not part of the selection process. Nominees are then debated in context of the past, present and future of their respective fields. Which selections stand as significant innovations, category busters or faithful monuments to the icons of history? Do they adhere to Gear Patrol's core tenets of excellence, design, utility and the spirit of adventure? Distilled to the following 100 items, the GP100 represents the best products on earth released in 2013 -- easily inspiring consumers and creators alike during their search for guideposts of excellence in a vast world of products.
Motoring Watches Style Technology Sports Outdoors Home Spirits
Jeremy BergerBen Bowers