Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

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Johnny
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Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

Post by Johnny » Wed May 05, 2021 7:24 am

Alpina Pioneer 80 Ski Rottefella XPlore review.jpg

The Pioneer 80 is Alpina's next year's all-terrain backcountry ski. But I was lucky enough to receive a pair of 196cm in the mail! Woaaah! Of course I had already seen the picture on the web a few weeks before, and I remember my very first impression was "Wow, at last, a ski with nice cosmetics!!!" And no, it's not fake wood, it's real wood! Just like the Discovery 80's clear top sheets, but without the red paint... So cool!

I was really delighted when I received the skis, they are really beautiful. Natural and simple. No useless graphics. But I was not super excited, thinking they were just yet-another-ski with fishscales. Nothing ultra-special, nothing extraordinary, nothing groundbreaking. Just beautiful, very nice Alpina planks. Well, to be honest, I was more excited about the XPlore bindings that came on it! So they stayed in the kitchen for a few days... (all the other rooms being overloaded with skis already.) I would touch and flex them several times a day, a real pleasure for the eyes, and a real pleasure for any skier's right hemisphere. But then I took them for a ride. Woo! It only took a few kicks and I was totally in love!

According to Alpina, the upcoming Pioneer 80 ski is "The perfect choice for skiers that demand stability, control and edge grip in the ungroomed terrain. Full metal edges provide grip when you need to head downhill or control when you need to traverse across steeper terrain. The camber design aides in flotation and issues easier maneuvering when you need to change course. The skis will be equipped with a new Rottefella Xplore™ mountain ski binding system that provides better mobility when walking and more stability."

Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore.jpg

On snow, the ski is flying. It's really fast for a backcountry ski of that class. I find it faster than the Ingstad. In fact, with a nice sidecut of 80-58-69, it's quite similar to the Ingstad (84-64-74). The sidecut is also similar to the Madshus Eon ( 83-62-70 ) the Rossignol BC 80 (80-60-70) and the Fischer Traverse 78 ( 78-61-69 ). I would be curious to see the difference between the Pioneer and the Discovery 80, which seems identical... (Reinforced mounting area for XPlore bindings perhaps?) Unfortunately, there isn't much information about Alpina products on their website, as it always been the case...

They are a bit straighter, having a longer radius that the Ingstad. Tracking in powder in very fast, and these beasts are going straight ahead, never wiggling a bit. I'm not 100% sure if this is due to the ski or the XPlore bindings, but the feeling is amazing! I have never seen a ski going that straight with such a sidecut profile. Very impressive! And yes, they also have REAL tips for real powder skiing...!

The flex is actually similar to the Ingstad too but with a few differences. First, the camber strength and height is similar, but the Pioneer seems to have a slightly stronger "wax pocket". (It's quite small, I wouldn't call it a second camber). With the same about of force, there is like a 1mm pocket on the Pioneer that I can't crush completely. They do have a bit of nordic rocker, but not as much as the Ingstad. Imagine an Ingstad ski but with the camber of the Nansen, or the original non-NR'ed Combat NATO. Quite similar to the Rossignol BC 80 in terms of flex, but with a bit of that famous FT68-style "Marked Chamber"... ; )

The simple waxless pattern is very efficient. The pattern length is much longer than on the Asnes WL line, offering better grip, especially for my 130lbs at 6'. Maybe that is also why I feel they go so fast! The Ingstad is obviously optimized for glide, while the Pioneer is optimized for grip. See picture below... Yes, you're right, it's grip wax that you have noticed on the Ingstad... 8-) )

Asnes Ingstad vs Alpina Pioneer 80 waxless pattern.jpg
The 196cm Alpina Pioneer on top, and the 205cm Asnes Ingstad at the bottom, both aligned at balance point.


I use the Ingstad for exploring the woods, when I want to take a walk in the forest with skis on, when performance is not involved. The new Pioneer will be even better for this, meaning I can explore a bit further and faster! And I think this is exactly what the Pioneer was designed for. (That said, I can't wait to compare them with other XPlore-equipped skis of that class!) The dimensions of the Pioneer are a perfect compromise for a perfect mix of speed, stability and flotation. They are Alpina's only skis that will come pre-mounted with XPlore bindings, meaning this is really the perfect combination. At only 1045g at 196cm, they are lighter than the Traverse 78 and the Eon. Same weight as the Rossignol BC 80 and just a few more grams than the Ingstad (1025g)

Really, it's a very nice surprise for me. (Or should I say a nice discovery?) I knew I was already in love with the Pioneer cosmetically, but I was not expecting to love it that much on snow! A fast 4x4 backcountry tool for any terrain. The Alpina Pioneer 80 + Rottefella XPlore combo is a total blast. Not really a downhill ski, but the perfect 4WD machinery for backcountry exploration and an explosive arsenal for traversing down your favorite 4,000 footer.

pioneer80.jpg
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
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Re: Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

Post by Woodserson » Wed May 05, 2021 2:31 pm

Nice to see the longer lengths are coming back!

Can we get scale length in cm's and a pic of rocker with skis compressed?



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Re: Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

Post by Stephen » Wed May 05, 2021 10:04 pm

The Pioneer 80 looks nice.
I was wanting something like the Traverse 78 for next year, but this might be a better choice?
Also wondering if there will be an economy of scale, what with the new binding being bundled with the skis?
Might be a less expensive way to get a good ski, AND the new XPlore binding as a package?
The cosmetics are a nice change -- fake wood, but still a nice look.



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Woodserson
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Re: Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

Post by Woodserson » Thu May 06, 2021 2:55 am

Stephen wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 10:04 pm
The Pioneer 80 looks nice.
I was wanting something like the Traverse 78 for next year, but this might be a better choice?
Also wondering if there will be an economy of scale, what with the new binding being bundled with the skis?
Might be a less expensive way to get a good ski, AND the new XPlore binding as a package?
The cosmetics are a nice change -- fake wood, but still a nice look.
I don't know about "better" but I would certainly say "comparable." The T78 class is a good 1-ski and I'm happy to see more options for people. Good on Alpina (and the longer length)

I think you're on to something with the economy of scale idea. Do the heel pieces come mounted? What about boot length?

I'd insert the shit out of those bindings and just use them on a bunch of different skis.



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Stephen
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Re: Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

Post by Stephen » Thu May 06, 2021 3:18 pm

Woodserson wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 2:55 am
Stephen wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 10:04 pm
...
Also wondering if there will be an economy of scale, what with the new binding being bundled with the skis?
Might be a less expensive way to get a good ski, AND the new XPlore binding as a package?
...
...
I'd insert the shit out of those bindings and just use them on a bunch of different skis.
Shhh, they might make them non-removable...
:shock:



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Woodserson
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Ski style: Bumps, trees, steeps and long woodsy XC tours
Favorite Skis: DH: Voile V6, Altai KOMs, XCD: Asnes FT62, XC: Nansen, E99, Bonna 1800
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Re: Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

Post by Woodserson » Thu May 06, 2021 3:19 pm

Stephen wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 3:18 pm
Woodserson wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 2:55 am
Stephen wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 10:04 pm
...
Also wondering if there will be an economy of scale, what with the new binding being bundled with the skis?
Might be a less expensive way to get a good ski, AND the new XPlore binding as a package?
...
...
I'd insert the shit out of those bindings and just use them on a bunch of different skis.
Shhh, they might make them non-removable...
:shock:
But I’d buy a bunch I have so many skis and I swap 3x a day. (Truth, ask Reil)



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Johnny
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Re: Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

Post by Johnny » Thu May 06, 2021 5:08 pm

Stephen wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 10:04 pm
Might be a less expensive way to get a good ski, AND the new XPlore binding as a package?
Certainly a nice marketing strategy, but yep, it should be a win-win situation for both parties. Now what about a super-ultra bundle of Pioneer + bindings + Alaska XP boots for around 700$? 8-)

Woodserson wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 2:31 pm
Can we get scale length in cm's and a pic of rocker with skis compressed?
I should have known you would ask...
I somehow forgot you had the biggest technical details database in the galaxy... 8-)

1- The waxless pattern is 80cm long. Which means the ski is 40.8% fishscaled. Do you want me to calculate the ratio using the effective edge length? With both weighted and unweighted length? 8-)

2- Nordic Rocker is about 12cm from the uncompressed contact point. See picture below.

3- Are you telling me you NEED new skis? 8-)

_IMG_0148.jpg
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
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Woodserson
Posts: 2564
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:25 am
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Ski style: Bumps, trees, steeps and long woodsy XC tours
Favorite Skis: DH: Voile V6, Altai KOMs, XCD: Asnes FT62, XC: Nansen, E99, Bonna 1800
Favorite boots: T2Eco, T4, Rossignol BCX10
Occupation: Retro Rager-grouch. Flailmeister. E99 Nerd

Re: Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

Post by Woodserson » Thu May 06, 2021 5:21 pm

Johnny wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 5:08 pm


Woodserson wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 2:31 pm
Can we get scale length in cm's and a pic of rocker with skis compressed?
I should have known you would ask...
I somehow forgot you had the biggest technical details database in the galaxy... 8-)

1- The waxless pattern is 80cm long. Which means the ski is 40.8% fishscaled. Do you want me to calculate the ratio using the effective edge length? With both weighted and unweighted length? 8-)

2- Nordic Rocker is about 12cm from the uncompressed contact point. See picture below.

3- Are you telling me you NEED new skis? 8-)


_IMG_0148.jpg
Dude brother I can't get enough of the nitty gritty details I just LOVE IT.

Ok so 10cm less pattern than the Offtrack Crown, with similar camber and rocker. The subtle rocker is the way to go with this chassis. I bet this is a winner of a ski on par with the T78. Nice job, Alpina!

(Though I absolutely hate being forced into a ski+binding system, I like choices. Remember the Salomon Pilot? But Rott has been doing this with their NNN bindings recently too... I think it's BS. Offer the package but also offer the ski flat. I get slimey capitalist vibes when companies do this.)



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Stephen
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Re: Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

Post by Stephen » Thu May 06, 2021 5:42 pm

Johnny wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 5:08 pm
Stephen wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 10:04 pm
Might be a less expensive way to get a good ski, AND the new XPlore binding as a package?
Certainly a nice marketing strategy, but yep, it should be a win-win situation for both parties. Now what about a super-ultra bundle of Pioneer + bindings + Alaska XP boots for around 700$? 8-)
That sounds pretty tempting...
Assuming that would be this fall?
I would want to try the fit for boots first, which might or might not work, timing wise.
The Alaska BC was just a bit narrow for me, and I didn’t know if it would stretch and conform to my wide (but low-volume) feet.



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riel
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Re: Alpina Pioneer 80 XPlore Ski Review

Post by riel » Thu May 06, 2021 9:57 pm

Johnny wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 7:24 am
The simple waxless pattern is very efficient. The pattern length is much longer than on the Asnes WL line, offering better grip, especially for my 130lbs at 6'. Maybe that is also why I feel they go so fast! The Ingstad is obviously optimized for glide, while the Pioneer is optimized for grip. See picture below... Yes, you're right, it's grip wax that you have noticed on the Ingstad... 8-) )
Sounds like a ski that is very close to the Alpina Discovery 80 as made prior to 2018 in the Fischer factory. I have a pair of those, and used them a lot until I got the Ingstad skis and decided I wanted to put 100 miles on those in their first season :)

Next year I'll probably use both again on a more equal basis, though the Ingstad seems to have better torsional rigidity than the T78 / 2018 Alpina Discovery 80. I'm naming them both in one breath here since Woodserson and I compared his T78s with my 2018 Alpina Discovery 80 skis side by side, and they appear to be identical.

After Alpina moved from the Fischer factory to the Sporten factory, the flex and skier weight specifications for the Discovery 80 totally changed. I assume the Pioneer brings it back closer to what it used to be.

As for the fishscale pattern, I know Asnes may have tried to optimize their waxless pattern for glide, but I'm not convinced they got that quite right. First, you and others seem to get significant extra traction by adding some kick wax in front of the fishscales. That is a part of the ski that does not touch the snow much at all during the glide phase, but which does touch the snow very well when kicking the ski down. In other words, Asnes could probably extend their fishscales to that point without adding much in the way of friction at all.

Secondly, pretty much every thread about short skins on this forum has people telling each other how much better the glide of the ski is when the short skin is cut right at the heel, and how little that seems to influence traction. Additionally, the area right behind the heel is where glide wax seems to wear off the ski the quickest. Presumably this is because it is one of the highest friction areas when gliding. That suggests the area under and behind the heel should either not have fishscales, or only shallow ones, while the deep fishscales go quite a ways back on the Asnes skis.

As for the Alpina Sollte fishscale pattern, it seem to result in much better glide than the 90cm Offtrack Crown pattern. This may be due to the second highest friction (as measured by wax wear) part of the ski, which is the area right behind the front contact point where the ski touches the snow when the nordic rocker is compressed. On packed snow, that contact area extends into the front of the Offtrack Crown pattern, while Alpina's fishscale pattern is a little behind that front friction area.

Of course, I have only really looked into that on 188cm Alpina Discovery 80 skis and 205cm Asnes Ingstad waxless skis. Maybe things line up differently on different lengths ski?



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