G3 ZenOxide Ski Review

Gear Reviews

If you’re planning shredding a rad line down Everest or Aconcagua this summer but can’t stand skinny touring skis, G3’s ZenOxide might be the answer. Their width helps keep the float in powder, while the core is so damn light that I often joke "hey has anyone seen my skis?", when really they’re on my feet. Oh, so clever aren’t I?

Using the exact same footprint as their flagship El Hombre, G3 simply made a lighter-weight core for the ZenOxide for weight-concious backcountry skiers looking for a lighter touring and ski mountaineering ski. Oddly, if you talk to super-backcountry-ski-touring-geeks a 185cm ZenOxide probably counts as a monster of a touring ski, but with the way skis are going these days it’s easily the lightest and skinniest touring ski I’ll dare own from here in.

I didn’t get a huge opportunity to ski the ZenOxides this year because there was so much damn snow that resort and slackcountry laps on my bigger skis was too easy to pass up. Truth be told I hate super light skis, because no matter how well designed they are, they’re inevitably squirrellier and less stable than heavier, more solid, fatter skis. So when it’s deep and my line is within close reach, I’ll always choose bigger boards.

BUT… when there’s lots of touring involved or your staring at a 10,000 ft bootpack before you get to turn around and ski, well hot damn, you couldn’t ask for much better than the ZenOxide from what I’ve seen. Just save them for those occassions to keep them in good light and the stoke high.

Has anyone seen my skis? I must have forgot them. My pack is too light.

The best use for them this season was a somewhat accidental Spearhead Traverse in a day, or close anyway. Meeting up with some fast-travellin’ ski patrollers at 7am before the lifts opened, it seemed like a good idea to rock some light skis like the ZenOxide. Sure enough we started from Blackcomb but decided to ski the NE Face of Fitzsimmons – which is waaay closer to Whistler. As we drifted quickly past Decker, Trorery, Shudder, Pattison, Tremor, Macbeth and Iago, I couldn’t help but grin that my legs still worked, thanks to some light skis and some punk rock.

So what’s the deal, am I endorsing them or not? If you’re going to be exclusively ski touring, with lots of long days in your season, then totally go for these skis. If you just like an easier ride on the way up, again, get these skis. If you can afford a big mountain ripper ski AND a light touring ski, then again I say go for it. But if you shred the resort as much as the backcountry, I’d say a heavier ski is where it’s at. You’ll soon agree that eating spinach and doing squats all through the pre-season will pay off when you can carry a heavier pair of skis up with you for the sweet chargin’ you’ll be able to do on the way down. So yep, totally a two-thumbs-up review, for backcountry skiing use specifically.

As an analogy, if you don’t mind skiing full-time in touring boots, you’ll totally dig these skis. If you can’t stand touring boots, the same will go for these light skis – use’em when you need’em, but not when you’re ripping the resort. Makes sense right?

Where does that leave me then? If you’ve seen G3’s line-up for 2010/11 you already know the answer. I’m counting down the days to give the new G3 Manhattan a run for their money. It will replace the El Hombre, and comes armed with a hefty early-rise tip to let the good times roll. Stay tuned for a review of those when I get my hands on them.

Testing Details

185cm G3 ZenOxide mounted with G3 Onyx AT bindings. Skied on by a whopping 145 pound male wearing Dynafit Zzeuss touring boots.

Hey, if they feel too light, you can always strap a loaf of hearty bread to them for good measure. Or get a bigger back pack. Up to you.


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