Skimo Co

Dynafit Denali Ski


Despite being a smaller mountain than Cho Oyu or Nanga Parbat, Denali won the naming rights to the biggest ski in Dynafit’s family of ultralight mountaineering skis. If you consider that prominence is often a better measuring stick than pure elevation, then the naming could be spot on. Denali’s 20,073 feet of height above its surroundings easily surpasses the others (7,677 and 15,118 if you’re keeping score).

The new Dynafit Denali ski builds on the design success of its relatives with carbon stringers, micro sidewalls, and a scoop rocker. All this in a 98mm wide [176] platform that raises the bar for ratios of surface area to weight. It also features niceties such as the popular pintail, which make it easy to slip the ski into its holster.

Now to answer the $900 question on everyone’s mind: “does it ski”? We think so, since the triple radius sidecut that made the Cho popular is also found on the Denali, albeit larger in magnitude. The increased radius makes the ski more amenable to longer turns, adding to the versatility of the design. But don’t take our word for it, as the ski has earned the stamp of approval from the IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations), who field tested the Denali on its namesake mountain. It remains to be seen whether the ski can exceed the mountain in figurative prominence.

  • Flex Tip design replaces some wood with carbon to reduce weight and improve dampening.
  • Scoop Rocker is a gentle rise that helps keep your tips above powder or crud.
  • Micro Sidewalls are shorter than average while penetrating deeper into the core, making them stronger.
  • Triple Radius shape goes long-short-medium across tip-underfoot-tail which is kind-of-cool.
  • Carbon Speed Stringers run the length of the ski to reduce vibration and increase rebound.
  • Pintail shape makes it easier to slide the skis into the carry system on your pack for booting.
  • Optional precut skins work great in the tip notches.
Lengths (cm) 168, 176, 184, 193
convert to ounces
1175g [168]
1265g [176]
1335g [184]
1420g [193]
Weight (pair) 2350g [168]
2530g [176]
2670g [184]
2840g [193]
Dimensions   130-97-115 [168]
131-98-116 [176]
132-99-117 [184]
133-100-118 [193]
Turn Radius   21.0/22.0 [168]
22.0/21.0 [176]
22.5/21.5 [184]
23.0/22.0 [193]
Skin Fix   Tip notch, flat pintails
Specs Verified Yes
Profile   430mm tip rocker, camber, 200mm tail rocker
Shape   Triple radius, pintail
Construction   Micro sidewall, carbon stringers, 3D carbon tip
Core   Paulownia wood
Skimo Co Says
Usage Long distance deep powder
Notes Built on successful Cho Oyu / Nanga Parbat platform
Bottom Line The new standard in lightweight girth
Compare to other High-fat Skis

Questions & Reviews

Question from liming z
is this ski (168 cm) effective edge is 105 cm (168-43-20) ? I am 5'6" and 165 lb, just wondering is this length works for me (I think the 176 cm maybe too long for me)? I am a intermediate skier and most of time on piste touring and some time off piste. also I am thinking about the Cho Oyu 166 cm, but don't know which one is better in my case. Please advise.
Answer from I-M
Liming, I would recommend the 168cm length over the 176 for you. Regarding the Cho Oyu vs the Denali, it's up to you. The Denali is a little wider than the Cho Oyu so might have some improved powder performance, where the Cho Oyu being a little narrower would have some improved edging performance and lighter weight. Otherwise they will ski pretty similar.
Answer from jbo
Hi Liming, I would get the Cho for mainly on-piste touring. No need for all that width in the Denali.
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Question from Anton S
What length would you recommend for a 5'9"/152lb intermediate skier? I am looking for a a ski with a better floatation than my current Nanga Parbat, for backcountry soft and variable snow. Thanks!
Answer from eric
Anton I think the 168cm would be a good length based on your height and weight. But it also depends on what length you are currently skiing on too.
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thomc (used product regularly)
Not much to add except to confirm this is the best float to weight ski I use. Compares well on hard pack as well. Skied US east, west, Europe and it is likely as big in the 184 as I need. It's less chattery than Movement Vertex, has a useful rocker to beat that skis initiation in soft snow, and holds better on hard than Trab Stelvio. Works well with TLT5&6, but prefers the stiffer TLT6. No complaints and would use on all but the tightest couloirs.
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Giles Peek (used product regularly)
I have a pair of 193 Denali's which I used for the Urner Traverse this spring. I am 185cm and 105Kg skiing the ubiquitous Scarpa Maestrale with Plum Guides, no brakes. This setup comes in at 3784g which is lighter than my old Trab Stelvio's 185's with the same binding. This is a very versatile ski in all conditions. Whilst training for this tour I spent a few days on east coast boilerplate and on the tour we had everything from late afternoon soup to perfect powder and everything in between. It ski's short as you would expect from the rocker, the underfoot camber and sidecut give you perfectly good hard snow performance and the combination of its surface area and rocker give you great soft snow characteristics. It is a carbon ski so it is a bit chattery but that is the price you pay for the light weight which is great on the uphill. The Pomoco skins were excellent and I managed to stick with skins when several of my mates were putting on ski crampons. The tip is quite wide so in the average euro skin track it catches a bit but you just need to find a split boarder or an American to follow and you will be fine. If breaking trail the rocker really helps and the 100mm underfoot wasn't a problem when side-hilling. Overall I give this 5 stars it is a great all round touring ski which is very versatile on the downhill too.
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Question from Chris
Will 100mm crampons fit these ok?
Answer from jbo
Hi Chris, yes they fit.
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Question from Chris
Would like to but a pair of these but I'm really unable to decide on the length. I have a pair of 187cm 2012 Manaslus that I love and cannot decide between the 184 or 193 Denalis. They'll be used for a fair bit of technical ski mountaineering as well as some touring - but happier to use the Manaslus for the latter. Just how short do these ski? Is it worth saving that bit of weight and having something that's a bit more manoeuvrable or will the 184s be a bit squirrely? I'm 6'4''.
Answer from jbo
Hi Chris, I'd go with the 184 for mountaineering. Having a shorter length is nice for steep switchbacks, climbing/rapping with skis on your back, making jump turns, etc. They will turn faster than the 193s but I wouldn't call them squirrely. They ski a few cm short but it's still a good running surface.
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Jonathan S (used product a few times)
Overall: Five Stars for an excellent ratio of surface area to weight, with the float that would be expected from its wide rockered tip, and unexpectedly strong firm-snow performance given its nearly triple-digit waist and nearly unbelievable weight.

Background on product familiarity: So far I have skied on the 2014-15 version in a 168cm for a little over 24,000 earned vertical of backcountry powder plus about half a day of lift-served in various conditions. Mounted with ISMF-prohibited combination of Dynafit Speed Superlite toes and Plum Race 165 heels (mainly for reasons of random expediency, as I have nothing against SSL heels or Plum Race toes). So far for boots I’ve used Dynafit EVO for backcountry and Dynafit TLT5 Performance (stock Velcro strap replaced with elastic version for extra responsiveness) for resort and sidecountry. Closest ski I have previously used is probably the original-generation Dynafit Manaslu (169cm, 92mm with rockered tip but traditional tail).

First, the first impressions out of the box: With its notched tip, shovel width extension, radically slimmed-down final ~3cm of tail, and thinner cross sections in the tip and tail, the Denali makes quite the first impression. Then again, it’s pretty much just a wider version of the Cho Oyu and Nanga Parbat that debuted last season, and that have been joined this season by price point redesigns of the Manaslu and Seven Summits.

Mounting will have you worrying about dulling your drill bit and depleting your drill battery, but you certainly won’t have to worry about stripped screw holes or bindings pull-outs: the wider 4.1mm drill bit rec is serious, just as serious as the massive metal binding retention plate lurking somewhere in the ski innards. (And unlike some other light skis, the profile is of normal thickness, so no need to compromise retention by filing down screw lengths.)

In my 168cm length, the 97mm waist works with a 100mm Dynafit ski crampon.

Second impressions, in use: I hesitate to latch onto a marketing campaign theme, but the IFMGA endorsement makes sense for this ski. Unlike many skis with waist widths around the century mark, the Denali copes well with all sorts of firm surfaces often encountered in a true ski mountaineering context, as opposed to the pleasantly soft snow that is the typical goal of backcountry skiing. Even skiing resort groomers was so much fun that I sometimes delayed skiing steep ungroomed terrain and venturing into the untracked backcountry powder – my only “complaint” is that at true GS speeds (i.e., what non-racers call SuperG speed) if I then encountered some uneven snow, I noticed lots of tip flapping.

And unlike many competing wide skis, the Denanli rocker seems to be optimized to enhance float through unconsolidated nastiness while still allowing a normal length selection and without any strange complications for rocker versus sidecut placement. All this for a weight penalty of, well, actually, the Denali is probably lighter than the overwhelmingly vast majority of skis marketed for and used in the backcountry, regardless of width.

Third impressions, for long-term durability: I can’t pass judgment on that yet given my usage, but I haven’t heard of any durability issues with the identically constructed Cho Oyu or Nanga Parbat. Plus the tips and tails don’t skimp on metal reinforcement.
Reply from thomc
Thanks for the thoughtful review. Your TLT5 modification sounds interesting, since the velcro is the worst feature of that great boot. If you're able to share details of your modification that would be much appreciated.
Reply from Jonathan S
The mod is a Scarpa Active Power Strap (resewn to size down for the smaller circumference of the slender TLT5 as compared to some big clunky boot). Essentially the same idea as a Booster Strap but with a typical velcro closure instead of the big cam buckle. In addition to allowing the top of the shell to be cranked tight while still allowing some nice give, it's also wider than the original.
Oh, and review update: this past summer I brought the Denali with me on a business trip to Chile. I was way too early in the season, but still got in two days of a skiing, for a mix of resort frozen groomers, resort powder, sidecountry spring conditions, and backcountry volcanic pretty-much-everything. The Denali was the perfect quiver-of-one for that trip!
Reply from Jaap v
Thanks for the thorough write-up Jonathan. How would you compare the Denali to the Movement Response X, apart from the 130g weight penalty (according to Dynafit, your site measures Denali to be lighter)?
Planning to use them for long(er) days in all sorts of average snow, with the occasional fresh cm´s on top. Stability and confidence in 3D snow and steeper spots is a benefit. The Cho-oyu fell off the list due to its short radius, and I could hold on to my 2kg 105mm sticks for resort travel or pow days.
me: 85kg, 190cm, currently on a scarpa maestrale RS but may go for something lighter next year.
Reply from Jonathan S
Although I felt that the Response-X had excellent float far beyond its rather modest waist width, it just didn't perform on the firm like I would expect. (The confusing part is that I still have my Logic-X -- no rocker but otherwise almost identical dimensions -- and although demoted to rock status, they still ski great on the firm.)
By contrast, I feel that the Denali does everything well. Even on those Chilean groomers (Corralco definitely needs to spend the extra pesos on diesel and staff time for a second groomer pass after a vicious thaw-refreeze cycle), although the optimal setup would have been a FIS-stock GS race skis, I could still have fun on the Denali. And the float was then excellent when we found the windblown overnight pow on the lee side of ridgelines. Plus perfect of course for the spring snow during some sidecountry skinning. (If this sounds like a bizarrely strange yet enjoyable ski day, it was! By contrast, the backcountry volcano the next day was just the typical combination of going through fall>winter>spring at the different elevations.)
Reply from Jaap v
Thanks! Forgot to mention that all firm snow i ski is in the backcountry, no groomers up here. Not much carving involved due to bumpiness or angle.

Would you still consider the response-x a worse performer then the denali when considering mountaineering / frozen/firm bc use?
Reply from Jonathan S
Yes, my reference to the resort groomers was just as a worst-case scenario.
I used the Response-X on some nasty frozen junk on Mt Washington (one of that mountain's specialties!) and on Mt Hood (Crater Rock on a spring day that never quite warmed up at that elevation, with many skiers even walking down from there) -- I survived, but the Denali would definitely have performed better in those conditions.
Reply from Jonathan S
Enjoying some final turns at the end of a backcountry tour near Boise back in December 2016 after the USSMA races at Brundage.
This trip also highlighted the Denali's versatility: excellent in the untracked backcountry powder near Boise (Mores Creek Summit), yet also excellent the prior two days on the resort's cut-up "cake"-like powder and even the firm groomers.
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Model: Denali

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