review-g3district-1

Alpine touring skis have evolved dramatically as more and more users flock to the backcountry. With the added number of skiers riding, we are bound to see more specific equipment. This is good news for us long-time AT-ers; we’ve figured out what works for us and can recognize a winner when we see one.

Five years ago a 90mm waisted touring ski was considered wide. It had a traditional camber construction and advanced technique to ride in powder was required. Wanting a wider plank required you to use a downhill ski, resulting an extra three pounds or more on to your feet. There is no debating that a wider ski with an early rise tip has changed the landscape of skiing. It has had a great impact on the touring ski as we seek the holy trinity of ski touring skis in coastal BC: Control, Weight and Width. It is a balance that each of us seek to find for our own style and terrain. The decision of what ski fits that bill is mostly personal preference but the decision criteria is very similar.

I have tried a lot of different skis over the years but I have always been partial to G3 with the thought that a ski designed in my backyard will likely perform well in the conditions I see on a regular basis. Having skied the Highball, Manhattan, Infidel, and Saint, a point of reference to compare the District is well formed.

Control

Control is not only a downhill function. The wider the ski the harder it is to keep straight on an icy skin track. Therefore a balance between the uphill capability of a ski and its downhill prowess (when it comes to width) is required. The District though slightly wider than my last year’s ski (Manhattan) feels no different uphill. The change comes on the control of the ski on the down. The ski is very stable in deep powder but powers through crud and chopped powder in the resort. This is largely due to the increased tip rise over previous G3 iterations. I was surprised at the performance on groomed slopes and the ability of the ski to hold an edge. This is often a challenge of wider planks with larger side cut radius’ as they often cannot make effective short, sharp turns on groomed terrain.

The District excels in deeper snow. Which is not surprising considering its 112mm width underfoot. The wider platform helps float on top of the snow rather than plummet below, which helps to maintain a balanced and aggressive position. This does make it harder to blast snow into your face if you are into that sort of thing. However the slightly upturned tail does help compensate for our bad technique when you get into the back seat and helps complete the turn regardless.

Width

Width and overall size of the ski make a difference on the ability to hover and float in all conditions. With blower powder conditions, a supportive base isn’t as critical to stay on top of the snow. Wet and heavy coastal snow (which I ride most often), means the deeper you go, often the harder it is to turn requiring more leg lift. Also, the wider the ski, the more difficult it is to side-hill on the skin track. Ask any splitboarder how they like an icy traverse using their extremely wide planks. The same can be said about a touring ski that is too wide. The District finds that balance of width for flotation but it right on the cusp of control for traversing. Any wider and you might notice some degradation in side-hill performance.

Weight

Sitting at a little of 8lbs for the pair, The District isn’t a pig but it isn’t the lightest ski in its class on the market. With the never ending race for the lightest ski, there is something to be said about a ski with a some feeling of stability derived from weight. When paired with a tech compatible binding, the District can become your everything-you-need ski. The ski weight is reasonable without resorting to exotic carbon materials, keeping the price in line with any mainstream manufacturer.

Overall Impression

The District is stiff, noticeably stiffer than the Manhattan which was one of the best G3 skis ever. This could present a problem to those which love making short and snappy turns. When the throttle is punched, both on or off piste, the stiffness creates a ski that is both responsive and confidence inspiring. Modern skis with generous amounts of tip and tail rocker can feel like they fold when weighted heavily such as in a full drift in deep snow. So the added stiffness is a welcomed feature to allow sensitive and confident drifting in and out of turns. (If only to get that snow up in your face!)

It wasn’t until I went back to riding the Manhattan that I realized how much the District had helped my skiing. To qualify that, the Manhattan was a game changer for me these last two years and I wanted to go back and give its due. One run was all I needed to realize that they would now be my rock skis. Who would have thought 4mm would make that much difference. As it turns out, adding that 4mm with lots of tip and tail rocker on a stiff platform, makes for a Ferrari that loves to be driven. So with many options out in the market, give the District a look because it is most definitely in the league with the big boys.

 

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14 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Been on the Manhattans for 2 years, mounted NTN; only for resort skiing so far. I like them so much for Eastern skiing (180cm) I bought a second pair, 185 cm for Western trips.

    Sounds like the District will be my next G3 ski, to join the Tonics and Zenoxides I tour with now.

  • Kurt says:

    The district will be great for western trips! They have a lot more rise than the other skis you have. I was surprise how they held an edge in hard packed resort conditions.

  • Hi PG! Love your site. Right now i’m skiing on the salomon czar, 182. I love the downhill performance of this ski but i’m looking for something that will be a little lighter on the skin track. Does the District have a lot of early rise? I love that i can stay in my forward charging position on the czars when in deep pow, so i’m hoping that the district will deliver that. Thoughts?

  • Kurt says:

    Clayton

    The district will be awesome. It has more rocker than the czar. The three pound diet will make you smile.
    I ride hard and fast never found the district to be soft.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the review

    Marius

  • Clive says:

    Hi I am a New Zealand skiier want a sidecountry ski for heavy snow have been looking at the Manhattan but read your review above on the District. Is this really just a powder ski? Sadly I don’t get to ski a lot of pow but am always chasing it out the sides and with a climb….but need a bit of versatility on hard. What length? I am 180 lbs 5′ 11″ advanced skiier.
    Thanx Clive

    • Unknown says:

      Clive,
      The district is surprisingly versatile. The side cut and stiffness of the skis allow it to be handled well in bounds. Due to its width you will never get that side to side edge control and feeling of a narrower ski but I was surprised on how lively it was in hard pack. The ski does shine in the crud however in cut up powder it is like a bulldozer.

      As for length the 187 or the 179 either will be a great pick whatever length is closest to your last ski. With the early rise tip they do ski shorter than the size indicates. If you plan on doing longer hikes 179 will be lighter.

      Kurt

  • Clive says:

    Thanks for your comments. I am still unsure if the Manhattan might be better for local conditions…I do have shorter and narrower skis for other conditions this new ski is for soft snow hiking and skinning….but inevitably must ski cut up powder and crud too…what did you mean with your comment about bulldozer? Cheers Clive

  • Clive says:

    Meant also to say….planning on mounting this new ski with Marker Tours as will only do shorter climbs and hikes…weight is not really the driver in this purchase…(However one thing in favour of the 179 District is the 3.7 kg)…But if I was to go with the Manhattan I am puzzling over a 180 or a 185… I’m 180lbs 5’11″…do they ski longish or shortish with that medium rocker…so what length did you ski the Manhattan in? Thanx Clive

    • Kurt says:

      Clive,

      The bulldozer comment was meant to mean they will plow through anything without resistance.

      I would likely say ski the 185 in either. I skied 180’s in both but I am a 155-160lbs. You would probably like the longer length. Both skis are very stiff with the District being even stiffer than the Manhattan. If they weren’t as stiff as they were I likely would have skied 185’s. One thing to note is the district releases a touch easier in the tail with the extra bit of rise built into the tail.

      Regardless I absolutely loved both skis so don’t feel that you are making a mistake with which ever one you choose. The district though for me with the deep snow we ski touring out here is my favorite.

      Kurt

  • Clive says:

    Wow I really have a choice on my hands now…I am tempted by 179 District light stiff stable at warp speeds which I looove….but I don’t ski enough deep snow…or do I go 185 Manhattan sounds stiff enough and versatile will double duty pow and on piste…or do I go Elan 1010 because it is the cheapest option right now and will do everything but somehow I can’t get excited about it…when all the logic is done it comes down to which I think will be the most fun for me…and sometimes that comes down to the colour scheme!
    Thanks for your help any further advice?

  • Just ordered some District 112’s, very excited. Old touring kit, 24lbs on my feet. New touring kit, 16 lbs. Stoked!

  • can you recommend which tech binding to mount on the districts – the radical ft seems to have some durability issues…

  • Unknown says:

    Clayton,

    with tech binding durability is all relative if you are are looking to pound resort laps all day then I would say go with a binding freedom plates so you can use both alpine and tech.

    The radical issue was more more in its first year with with the pin shearing they they have fixed that problem.

    G3 onyx is a great option if you want to swap the binding between skis.

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