We received prototypes of Voile's new Vector BC mounted with their rejuvenated 3-Pin Cable Telemark Binding a couple of weeks after we reviewed the innovative crop of wide, waxless skis available last year [see reviews, here]. The oversize fish-scale graphics gave it away: Voile has launched a waxless Vector. And save for the base, it's a Vector—the 2012 Editors' Choice winner—in every other way.
Nothing special or proprietary about the base: it's a basic, overlapping fish scale, easily sourced in Europe. (The same exact base appears on Rossignol's BC 125, which debuted last season.)
There was still plenty of fresh late last spring to test the Vector BC—and for the previously tested skis that the backcountry bretheren at Stowe's Trapp Family Lodge kept in play until, as one said, "the snow melted out from under us."
The Vector is a game changer, and it quickly became apparent in testing that splay—fully-rockered tips—carried the day.
For me, it started when I took a friend to some infrequently skied trees—I skied the 180s, she the 170s. I later skied the 170s on a solo tree-skiing tour and they worked fine for me (at over 6 feet tall). Though the spring pow' looked good, it proved too heavy even for the BCs. So we toured, following a streambed. The ride down, in the tracks of a couple of other skiers, was typically Eastern: fast and narrow, with blind corners and suspect snowbridges. But on the Vectors we could slide up the streambed's sides—without jamming tips in—and swivel on top to scrub off speed, riding it like a long, snaking halfpipe.
While I later mounted the 180s with Fritchi Eagles and effortlessly skied heavy resort slush, the Trapp-testers were prospecting in the shortening season, passing around a couple of pairs of 170 Vector BCs in wildly varying conditions. One was impressed with "the way it handled crud and variable snow. Amazing ski—my #1 choice for lightweight nordic touring." Another took them out in heavy, wet snow. While his buds were "pummeling through," he said, "I just rode on top of that stuff, like floating on whipped cream." Another said that the first reason to love them was their weight. But continued: "They are unfazed by powder, funky snow, ice and everything in between."
Voile was pleased enough by comments similar to ours from other testers to prompt Dave Grissom, Voile's sales and marketing manager to reveal that they are looking at putting a waxless base on "another ski in the line." Which one, he would not say. But for now, the Vector BC is my choice for a fatter light-touring ski.
The traditional Vector is reviewed in the Backcountry Gear Guide, available on newsstands now.