DPS made some updates to their lauded Pagoda Tour line and graciously obliged when I asked for a chance to test them out.
But before I dive into the Pagoda Tour 100 RP, I want to talk about another DPS ski. I’m a diehard fangirl for the Yvette Alchemist 112 from 2018. Craigslist brought us together when I needed a powder touring ski, but they ended up becoming my touring quiver-of-one. They were unsinkable in pow, stable in crud. They were directional and stable, but also acquiesced when I skied them from the backseat. They held an edge in firm conditions, and I even took them on a 6,000ft ski mountaineering trip up Adams. They were almost perfect, but they were not light. If DPS could make their touring line with all the same traits at a fraction of the weight, I think I could get over the $1,549 price point and nab a pair.
They were close. The Pagoda Tour 100 RP felt familiar in powder, crud, and corn. It’s quick and nimble, forgiving in the backseat, but really rewards you when you drive the tips. But edge hold took a bit of a downgrade. Some might find this to be a logical compromise when you’re significantly slashing weight, but at over $1,500, your wallet has compromised enough. That being said, I think the Pagoda Tour 100 RP is still a worthy buy for certain groups in the market for touring skis, particularly across short sizes where powder-capable models are few and far between.
Before diving into the details, quick disclaimer: DPS loaned me these skis for part of a season, along with skins and bindings. I greatly appreciate them supporting me and my efforts to increase women’s ski review coverage, but it does not affect the content of my review.
Construction (Size 171)
To really appreciate how the DPS Pagoda Tour 100 RP handles, it helps to understand it’s made and how it’s different from its peers before connecting those features to its on snow performance.
We’ll dive in to how these specs inform how the Pagoda Tour 100 RP handles, but to learn more, check out the Construction Cheat Sheet.
Pagoda Tour 100 RP and Ability Level
The Pagoda Tour 100 RP is a good fit for intermediate and advanced skiers venturing out in the backcountry. The turn radius is already short, and the soft tips / moderate overall flex make it easy to bend and shorten that radius even more. The Pagoda Tour 100 likes to make frequent turns and keeps them on the tighter side. This makes it easy to explore new or challenging terrain with quick, controlled turns, but still lets you keep your turns rhythmic and connected.
The Pagoda Tour 100 RP also has a lot of both tip rocker and tip taper. Both of these make powder skiing easier. And the moderate flex in the tail of the ski makes it amenable to backseat skiing (we all end up back there at some point, as much as we hate to admit it).
This doesn’t mean expert skiers won’t get along with the Pagoda Tour 100. It’s nimble handling make it a great companion for tree skiing, and you can usually size up if you need some extra stability. DPS also offers the Pagoda Tour 106, which comes with their “C2” shape and has a longer turn radius and feels more stable in the fall line. But if you’re doing lots of high-consequence lines, the edge hold factor may be an issue and you’d likely benefit from a different ski or a narrower companion (like an 80-something ski mountaineering ski).
Next, we’ll get into the Pagoda Tour 100’s performance in various types of terrain and snow conditions, from best to worst:
Trees and Tight Terrain
The Pagoda Tour has DPS’s “RP” shape, which I like to think stands for “real playful.” (In reality, it stands for resort powder). Every size has a 15m turn radius (shorter than the norm), which becomes even shorter if you’re deeply flexing the ski. The tips and shovels have both a lot of rocker and taper. The former makes the ski handle a little shorter than the length suggests. The latter makes the tips lighter. Weight in the extremities (tips and tails) affects maneuverability more than weight underfoot (it’s further from the pivot point, also known as swing weight). This all combines to a ski that’s quick, nimble, and partial to tight turns. That agility shines in tight corridors or dense trees, that are all too common in the PNW.
The tip rocker and taper that contribute to the Pagoda Tour 100’s playfulness also make it shine in soft snow. Rocker helps the ski plane, while taper allows the ski to flow through powder with less resistance and more ease – think aerodynamics, but for snow. These skis might not be the fattest on the shelf, but their float is more in line with the 105-110 width class. That makes the Pagoda Tour 100 a godsend for the 5ft & under crowd. They’re really the only ones making a ski that’s that floaty, that short, and a touring specialty tool.
Ideally, when we’re skiing, we’re leaning into gravity with our weight shifted forward. This bends the tips and shovels, which is typically the softest zone on the ski. When we’re feeling super nervous, our weight shifts back so we can take any falls on our hips or rear. However, this flexes the back half of the ski. Some models are designed to accommodate this form, others aren’t (especially since it can compromise stability).
The DPS Pagoda Tour 100’s tail is on the stiffer side, but it has just enough rocker and softness in the tail where they’re somewhat amenable to a cautious, defensive, or backseat stance. They definitely feel best when you’re driving the tips, but it’s more carrot than stick.
Weight makes such a difference with crud performance since a burlier ski can plow through crud and dampen out vibrations. None of the sub-1400g “true” touring skis are going to be world class in variable conditions. But the Pagoda Tour 100 really surprised me. Those rockered, tapered tips plane well and keep you up on top of the snow, where you’re less likely to catch an edge. I never have issues skiing through tracked out snow, rollerballs and tree bombs, or even skiing over the skin track. I definitely feel some vibrations and slow down a bit, but it’s a slight adjustment, compared to the Ripstick 102 W where I needed to put on the brakes and pick my way down a few turns at a time.
Long, Arcing Turns
So many of the Pagoda Tour 100’s design features make it a nimble model that shines in short and medium radius turns. On the flip side, long, arcing turns that pick up speed are not in their wheelhouse. They’re not comfortable sitting in the fall line for very long.
Firm snow is the only spot where I felt like the DPS Pagoda Tour 100 left some things to be desired. Faster, steeper, and firmer turns had a tendency to “skip,” where the edges catch and release until I finally come to a stop. Slowing my speed helped immensely, but the best part of skiing spring corn is open, fast lines in the alpine. For a skier who steers clear of steep terrain and keeps speed conservative, the Pagoda Tour 100 would be a fine 1-ski quiver. But I wouldn’t feel safe on this ski for consequential terrain like glaciers or couloirs where control is paramount. This video clip catches my downhill ski kind of wobble or skid out as I’m trying to set an edge – and that’s even after preparing to stop and slowing my speed in the preceding few turns. These two frames catch the outside / downhill ski on edge one moment, and then skids out diagonally the next:
A few friends ski the previous version of the Pagoda Tour 100 and 112, and all 3 are satisfied with the edge hold. DPS made some tweaks to the core materials and swapped to a bio-based sidewall, so maybe that’s the difference? Just to be sure, I swapped skis with a ski partner who owns and loves my same Yvettes. She had similar problems with firm terrain, both for skiing and skinning.
A note about the name and topsheets. I feel a little weird about the Pagoda name and imagery. I’m not Asian. I don’t have strong knowledge about Asian cultures. But I know pagodas are sacred spaces in several religions and that the ski industry doesn’t have the strongest track record when it comes to cultural appropriation. Do I know for sure that they’re problematic? That’s not my place. But if I’m spending over $1,500 on skis, I want to be 1500% sure that they’re not going to be controversial.
A note about price. Some of the most common questions about DPS is why they’re so expensive and whether they’re worth the price. The price tag mainly comes from 2 places: innovation and high-cost materials. On the innovation front, the founders of DPS thought way outside the box for the shapes they used for powder skis. In the 2010s, every brand was making some sort of DPS knock off. On the materials front, they use 2 layers of pre-impregnated carbon. Carbon is a common material in ski construction, but DPS’s use of pre-preg is unique. It has a higher strength-to-weight ratio since it uses a lower proportion of resin. DPS also has a US supply chain, which includes higher labor costs than the brands that manufacture in China or Ukraine. Do you need to spend $1,500 for a quality, enjoyable ski? Absolutely not. There are plenty of great models for almost half the price. But for DPS, it’s not just “Double Price Skis” – there are some design choices that justify at least part of the premium.
A note about sizing. Rocker makes a ski feel shorter than the length measurement suggests. The ski’s “effective edge” is the portion of the ski in contact with the snow that you press into, flex, and turn. I skied these in a 171, similar to the length of my wider freeride skis (like the Atris Birdie, Santa Ana 110, or Sheeva 11). For comparison, I have the Backland 98 in my personal quiver, and I ski those in a 164 since they’re less rockered and shaped more like the average all-mountain ski.
If you’ve got additional questions, drop them in the comments below.
Keep up with Femignarly
Find me on Instagram or hit follow at the bottom of your screen.
9 thoughts on “Gear Review: DPS Pagoda Tour 100 RP Skis”
Hi, thanks for the review! I’ve been looking at Pagoda Tour 100 for the past couple of weeks. The main thing that stops me from just hitting the purchase button is the sizing issue. I’m 5’3 (160cm) 100lbs. Usually I would just go with the 153cm version since it should be much easier to do kick turns, and to maneuver through trees. However the 163cm version is enticing as well, since as you’ve said in the review, that it skis short because of the low percentage of camber under foot, as well as the short turning radius due to shape; also the longer length would have a longer edge just by itself, making edge hold better in couloirs or in icy condition even just a few days after storm in PNW. I’d really appreciate your input on the choice of length here.
By the way, the other model that I’m looking at is Voile Hyper Manti 158cm, which sits in between Hyper Charger (less rocker) and Hyper V6/V8 (more rocker). However, soothski does not have measurement and stiffness profile on any Voile skis, so I’m less confident in that option.
Sure thing – what other skis are in your quiver (inbounds, older touring skis, etc.) and what size are you running in those?
Elan Ripstick Tour 88 in 156cm, and DPS Pagoda 94 C2 in 157cm. I’d say they are the right length for me.
Elan Ripstick Tour 88 in 156cm, and DPS Pagoda 94 C2 in 157cm. I’d say they are of the right length for me.
Based on the rocker on the Pagoda 94, if a hypothetical Pagoda Tour 100 in a 157 would ski shorter than your Pagoda 94 since it has a fair bit more rocker. I think the 163 would feel a little longer than your current quiver, and a 153 would be noticeably shorter. (But the kickturns consideration is totally valid).
In terms of the Manti, I haven’t skied Voile, but their construction choices are… different. They use cap construction (vs. sandwich or sidewall), which is lighter, but also a lot cheaper. Makes a big difference in edgehold and stability. They also use fiberglass instead of carbon (also cheaper, and poorer strength-for-weight). It likely isn’t the strongest ski, which might be a perk for some skiers, but the $750 price tag feels steep for what you get.
Thanks for the detailed reply! I also had reservation regarding the cap construction from Voile – they claim it to be lighter which is likely true, but certainly some dampness needs to be sacrificed. One small thing is that the Hyper version of Manti uses two layers of carbon compared to fiber glass + carbon in regular Manti to achieve lightness, but the Hyper version also costs $50 more. And from what I see Voile rarely go on sale unlike DPS.
I‘ve gone back to read your wonderful article “Why are women’s powder skis so long?” again, in which you mentioned your height. And since you were testing the 171cm version of DPS Pagoda Tour 100 here, I assume you prefer this length instead of 163cm version, though you are a far better skier than me, so longer ski would suit you better I think. All in all I think the 163cm version would likely be the right choice for me, compared to other lengths and models. Please feel free to point out if there is any error in my thinking here. Thanks again.
Yea – I felt a little torn between sizes between 163 & 171, and I’m glad I rounded up. Hard to say sizing for sure for strangers on the internet, but my gut says 163 will work for you now and provide more room for progrssion
Great review Analisa, very insightful. Am going to be at a test weekend in March so hope to try some of the DPS range then