Whitedot Skis very kindly provided me with a pair of their Ranger Carbonlite skis this winter, and having spent a bit of time on them now here are some personal opinions:
First off, a bit about me (as no ski review is useful without knowing about the reviewer...):
Height 6'2", weight 83(ish) Kg, boot size 28.0, boot skied during review - Dynafit Mercury
Professional skier for 18 years, specialising in off-piste coaching. Ski mountaineering is what floats my boat on days off.
Personal 'reference' skis currently - Volkl Mantra (184), Volkl Gotama (184) - these skis for me are the standard by which I would compare anything else for off-piste, ski touring, ski mountaineering and freeride... (so many different words for one thing!)
Testing conditions: on piste & off, up to 40 cm of powder, chopped up powder, some crud
Turn types - everything from tight couloir jump turns to big arcs on open faces, speeds from very slow to 'giving it heaps'.
Test ski - 2013/14 Whitedot Skis Ranger Carbonlite - length 186 cm
Bindings used - Plum Yak (separate review to follow).
Testing conditions were 'OK' at times...
First impressions - these things are LIGHT! For such a big ski they weigh next to nothing and yet still feel solid in the hand and underfoot. Absolutely no qualms about going out for a big uphill day on these...
Mounting point: the skis come with one main mounting point marked, along with a mark 5mm either way - personally I thought the suggested point (marked by FR on the topsheet) looked quite far back for my taste (I don't like having a monstruously long tip and short tail) so they have been mounted at +15mm relative to this and this seems to work quite well (though without skiing another paired mounted bang on the mark its hard to tell if it makes any difference!).
The 'almost flat' camber gives the ski a nice smeary feel for tighter spots, or when skiing with slower clients - some reviews I had read suggested otherwise but I found the skis very easy to handle at low speeds.
About to test out the 'tight spot' capabilities of the Ranger Carbonlites:
And opening up the throttle a bit:
At higher speeds these skis feel very stable, helped along by the fairly long turn radius (28m according to the Whitedot info sheet) - the flip side of this is that on piste the skis really needed a wide slope for a pure carve... I am however a fan of 'not too shaped' skis for steep skiing as it avoids the possibility for tip and tail to be touching while the foot is suspended in mid-air in tight concave gullies.
One major bug-bear is the squared profile tip, extremely annoying when you are fitting skins - even the adjustable tip loop that comes with 125mm Black Diamond STS skins isn't wide enough, forcing me to buy (yet) another set of adjustable uber-wide tip loops and add to my collection of unused tip loops in the garage...
Of course, its important to test skis in the air as well as on the snow...taking the Ranger CLs for a test flight:
For the record one ski + Plum Yak (no brakes) weighs in at 2.35 Kg (only 20g more than a 184 Dynastar Mythic Light (88mm underfoot) + Dynafit Vertical FT, and some 350g less than a 184 Volkl Mantra + Radical FT).
*Caveat* I am a firm believer that there are very few bad skis on the market these days, just poor choice of ski by the skier (or lack of skill to be able to adjust and cope with different ski styles) *
Having said that I think the Ranger Carbonlite is likely to find a firm foothold in the ski mountaineering world amongst those looking for a wider ski without taking a weight penalty and certainly gets a very big thumbs up from me! I am looking forward to taking these skis out for some real adventures as the season progresses...