Wider, Lighter, Faster and Quiver of one?
Is there anything in your gear closet that you only have one item of? One backpack? One jacket? One bike? One set of skis? Likely not… Because having one piece of gear to do everything, is never nearly as good as having a specific piece of gear, to do something great. For skiers, a one-ski quiver is an extremely big ask. Looking for something to shred deep pow and manage marginal conditions strikes a fine balance of constructed width and dimensions to best handle conditions that are drastically different.
The last years of ski development have focused on wider and wider widths, and well, how wide can we really go before we just call them snowboards? With the addition of rockered designs and early rise tips, skiing has never been so accessible in terms of the learning curve required to navigate all terrain and snow. The unfortunate part of these developments is that the skis become more specialized, and you find yourself needing more than one ski to cover all the perceivable snow conditions.
Fast forward to 2014/2015 and skis have settled into a few common widths with the increased prevalence of exotic materials. The liberal use of carbon fiber and advanced hybrid ski shaping is bringing us closer to that one ski quiver that handles all snow conditions with the ease that ever skier lusts for.
G3 Synapse 101
The Synapse is actually a grouping of three skis with widths of 92, 101 and 109mm. Each set of skis has its own flavor. The widest ski trends to a big-mountain freeride style with influences from its bigger brother, the Empire. The narrower 92mm ski lends itself to a capable lightweight ski, great for going for a rip, but more touring focused. After examining the lineup it was the 101mm ski that best suits the variable nature of skiing in British Columbia.
The Synapse 101 features an aggressive early rise tip in combination with a very slight camber underfoot. The aggressive sidecut gives it the appearance on paper of being a very capable ski from spring corn to north shore ice. At only 2 lbs 13 oz per ski, the weight of your ski gear won’t be your excuse for slacking in the back of the skin track. Combining this ski with the ION binding and the full setup it just a hair over 8lbs.
I (and my hip flexors) was expected to take a beating after over a month off the snow. But after the first stride on these 101s, and almost 500m of elevation gain later, the legs were still fresh and ready for more. The ski has an exceptional torsional stiffness due to the liberal use of carbon fibre – which by the way allows the ski to be tuned and refined in all directions. The uptrack was icy to say the least and I sought to find the hardest side hills to test the skis edge hold. I was pleasantly surprised at its ability to hold on as I side stepped up the hill. The edge performance was no doubt aided by the wider platform of the ION binding that was on this pair of demo sticks.
The weight is very noticeable entering and exiting kick turns. The ski is very well balanced front to rear which made smooth uphill switch backs much easier. Heavier metal laiden skis often require a little more body english to wrangle them around the corners. Overall I was impressed with the ski on the uphill and the weight is a major contributing factor to that satisfaction.
Last year’s powder drought made it difficult to test this ski in deep conditions. On paper the Synapse has the chassis to perform in deep snow but that experience will have to wait till the snow falls again. With the right operator most skis will perform well in deep snow. It is the marginal conditions that set most good skis apart. Frozen, rutted chunder would be accurate descriptions of the snow conditions for my testing days. Not ideal but a very good testing ground.
The Synapse was very good edge to edge due to the aggressive side cut and I was pleasantly surprised on its ability to handle high speed aggressive turns. In short radius turns it was a little sluggish but something to be expected from a ski that is clearly tilted to soft snow conditions. The early rise tips glided over ruts with ease but did have a tendency to flutter when turned sideways to aggressively.
Overall the ski was very confident in the worst conditions I could find. In deep powder this ski will be a dream as its shape and overall geometry is proven in the big mountain powder gun the Empire. A ski in this category is more about the overall performance and versatility rather than its specialization for optimal conditions.
This ski is light and the whole line of Synapse skis is very well thought out. The 101 is by far the most versatile and its slight camber underfoot will give you the confidence to grab it any day and know that you won’t be caught unprepared. The weight is probably the most striking feature – hands down, they are light. Given the weight of the ski, they ride with confidence despite the common challenge with lighter carbon skis. With more snow, time will be needed to give this ski its full due. Overall I was very impressed and wouldn’t hesitate to add this one to my closet. This is an exciting time for ski development for the dedicated backcountry skiers. The production of skis that are light and ski above their weight will make for better on snow experiences allowing you to push the boundaries and head into new zones.
Who should buy this ski?
If you are skier who wants performance, weight, versatility and skiability you will be hard pressed to find a ski out their that matches the Synapse. Other skis in this category are more expensive as well which puts another point in G3’s corner. The 101mm waist is my pick for its slight traditional construction which suits my more technical skiing style. More progressive and new skool technicians will love the 109mm and its rockered design. The Synapse line is your one ski for the backcountry. If you are looking for a ski that covers you in the resort, you may be better served by the District.
G3 Synapse Ski Series
Available (width) sizes: 92, 101, 109
MSRP: $839 – $899
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