Ski Reviews

2020 DPS Alchemist Wailer 100 RP Ski Review

2020 DPS Wailer Alchemist 100 RP Ski Review: // Ski Reviews

Here on SkiEssentials.com, we spend a lot of time looking at the latest and greatest skis in terms of design, construction, and overall performance. Over the past two decades, DPS has been a brand pushing the capabilities of skis with innovative construction and designs arguably more than any other. Their headquarters is located in the heart of Utah ski country, they own and operate their own factory, and they continue to release skis with eye-catching and head-turning designs and characteristics. They are, without question, an important brand in the sport of skiing. Sure, they don't manufacture nearly as many skis in a given year as some of the bigger, more established brands, but their designs certainly help push the entire sport in new directions. With that said, we're excited to share our review of the new 2020 DPS Wailer 100 Alchemist RP.

The new Wailer 100 essentially replaces the Wailer 99. There are plenty of similarities, but a lot has changed as well. Let's look at shape first. The Wailer 100 uses DPS' RP shaping concept. It has a 15 m turn radius throughout all lengths, and the amount of rocker and early taper has been reduced compared to the 99. It still has the classic DPS shape with its early tapered tips and tails, but it's a little less pronounced than on the 99. We see this shape from a lot of other companies these days, and it's something we talk about quite a bit here on Chairlift Chat. This rockered and early tapered shape typically provides a very maneuverable ski, and that's even something that, in my opinion, has become synonymous with most DPS skis. Even with these changes compared to the 99, my expectation was this ski would be an absolute blast in tight terrain, un-groomed snow conditions, and anywhere you have to make quick movements or adjustments to your skiing. Before we get into that, however, let's touch on construction.

2020 DPS Wailer Alchemist 100 RP Ski Review: Ski Spec Image

Since the early 2000s, DPS has been on a quest to create a construction that has the perfect balance of reactiveness and dampness. Skis that use carbon fiber can sometimes be too reactive. A super lightweight ski that responds immediately to everything that's happening to it isn't always that fun to ski. It can create a very twitchy, unstable feeling. DPS has easily been one of the leading companies in terms of tweaking the performance of carbon construction skis, and this is hands down the best yet. The new Alchemist construction uses an aspen wood core sandwiched between two sheets of pure prepreg carbon fiber. DPS then adds proprietary damping additives in specific areas of the ski. Despite my prying attempts, DPS kept the details of their construction fairly secret, which is understandable. They did, however, say that this new version of the Alchemist construction has a more balanced and more refined flex pattern. The tip is also designed to be more supple, which when combined with a flatter tail gives you both smoother, easier turn initiation as well as a more complete, crisper finish to a turn.

2020 DPS Wailer Alchemist 100 RP Ski Review: Full Camber Image

So, what do we think? Well, I'll be the first to admit that I typically don't choose skis with this much early taper for my personal skis, but I actually think that made me a perfect person to test these skis. My first impression of them was on relatively firm, groomed snow, and I was pretty darn blown away. DPS is essentially trying to provide the same feel and performance we get from skis with metal, but in a much lighter package. The swing weight is noticeable as soon as you click into them. The skis I was testing had relatively heavy Tyrolia Attack 13 demo bindings, so picking the skis up didn't make them feel particularly light, but as soon as they were on my feet, they definitely did. The 179 cm length I was testing is typically right up my alley at 5'10 and 150 lbs, and for a ski that long they felt quite a bit lighter than skis with metal. The stability and vibration damping is down-right impressive, period. Considering it uses as much rocker and early taper as it does, and considering there's no metal in it, it's staggeringly-good.

2020 DPS Wailer Alchemist 100 RP Ski Review: Wide Action Image 12020 DPS Wailer Alchemist 100 RP Ski Review: Wide Action Image 2

It's not uncommon for me to get on skis that use a similar shape and feel a little bit nervous. Losing effective edge length and contact with the snow typically results in a fairly unstable feel for me, especially on firm snow, but the Wailer 100 Alchemist RP feels smooth and relatively powerful. It's not matching the performance of a full cambered ski with metal, but even aggressive expert skiers will be hard-pressed to push it past its limits for edge grip. Heavy aggressive skiers will more easily than someone my size, but it's quite good for a ski with this shape. The 15 m turn radius is really fun, too. It has a nice round flex from tip to tail that feels very even. It doesn't feel like the tip wants to fold over when you're linking carving turns. It's responsive in and out of a carving turn, holds an edge well, and far surpassed my expectations on firm snow for a ski like this. You'll have a silly grin on your face as you lay down perfectly round railroad-track turns down your favorite groomer. There's very minimal noticeable tip flap for a ski with this shape, which was very refreshing.

Now, while I didn't have huge expectations for it on firm snow, I expected it to be an absolute blast in tighter terrain like our east coast trees. Saying that it met my expectations would be accurate, but also probably a little bit of an understatement. If you like skiing tight off-piste terrain, you'll absolutely love this ski. While the rocker profile and early taper was reduced, it still feels super-maneuverable. I think the shorter turn radius helps. I wasn't always sliding or flicking my turns, sometimes you'll find time in the trees to actually initiate a bit of a carve, which is really fun. Skis like this, especially in un-groomed terrain and softer snow, respond to skier input super quickly. For some, it might be too quick, but I think most people will love it. I consider it best for someone who is always seeking out the most challenging lines and always looking to push their ability in un-groomed terrain, but from a technical standpoint more than pure speed. It's not a speed-demon, and that's more true in off-piste terrain than on trail, in my opinion. If you like to make really long, slow, smearing, slashing, slarving turns in deep snow, you might want something with less early taper in the tips and tails. I spend a lot of time on skis that don't use as much early taper, so it took me a moment to adapt to the performance of these skis, especially in deeper snow. It likes to be driven, and it likes the skier to make purposeful decisions. It prefers more moderate speeds over stupid-fast, I-might-hurt-myself skiing, but that's perfectly okay with me.

So, what's the take-away here? If you're looking for one pair of skis to do everything and you're comfortable with the DPS price range, it honestly doesn't get much better than this for most skiers. I say most skiers because there are some people who prefer bigger turns and speed over smaller turns and technical lines. That's okay, because there are plenty of skis out there for those people. I do, however, think the latter describes a significantly bigger percentage of the skiing population. Not many skiers choose to ski or even have access to big, wide open terrain where they can open up the speed limit. Not many skiers feel comfortable or want to ski fast enough that the Wailer 100 won't work for them. For the majority of skiers out there, the mix of performance that the Wailer 100 delivers is perfect. Carve some turns on groomers, feel like a pro snaking through the trees, and feel comfortable, stable, and smooth while doing so.

2020 DPS Wailer Alchemist 100 RP Ski Review: Available Soon Image


 

Written by Jeff Neagle on 04/04/19

30 thoughts on “2020 DPS Alchemist Wailer 100 RP Ski Review

  1. Please compare these to the Liberty Origin 96. In particular as a tree ski, but also as an easy going and fun all mountain ski for (mostly) soft snow. Thanks!

    1. Hi Peter!
      Great comparison! I'd say the flexibility of the Origin 96 makes it better for trees for a heavier skier, but lighter skiers will prefer the weight-saving DPS and its carbon build. The DPS prefers shorter turns, so the maneuverability of the skis is off the charts. The DPS is stiffer, but you can flick it around easier than the Origin, which is a bit slower edge to edge. I'm 215 pounds, and I felt a lot more comfortable on the Origin, but I feel that lighter skiers will prefer the DPS, especially in softer snow. Hope that helps!
      SE

  2. Great review (as always)! Have you gotten on the Foundation version of this ski and/or have thoughts on how its performance would compare? DPS seems to generally state that the Foundation skis are more forgiving and less responsive. I don't necessarily see this as a positive outside of saving some money.

    1. Hi Truberski!
      We haven't gotten on the Foundation version of this ski, so to speculate, they are typically less responsive for sure, as the dual carbon layup is crucial to the Alchemist (and DPS) build. Not many skiers would see this as a positive, other than if you really like the shape of the ski and don't really care about the money either way. I would say that they're damper than the Alchemist, but that comes at the cost of weight. If you're looking for a strong performing ski, the Alchemist is the way to go. Have fun!
      SE

  3. I am 5'8" 143 lbs, advanced to expert skier.
    What would be your length recommendation for the DPS Alchemist Wailer 100.

    How does it compare to the Atomic Bent Chetler 100

    Thanks
    Mathew

    1. Hi Matthew!
      Jeff, one of our testers, is 5/8 150 and found the 179 to be the right length for him. If you're more mellow and prefer slower speeds, then the 171 wouldn't be out of the question either, but I'd guess either size will work just fine. Compared to the BC 100, the DPS is quite a bit stiffer due to the carbon, but has a shorter turn radius, so isn't quite as versatile. The BC 100 is pretty soft in the tips and tails versus the DPS which is on the stiffer side. Both are light and capable skis, but the Atomic has a longer turn radius so is a bit more forgiving. Have fun!
      SE

  4. Hi SkiEssentials
    I am about to have a Wailer 100 mounted tomorrow. 184, that is.
    In the 2014 W112 I liked midsole, and anything forward of that not so much.

    Now as measured from tail, W112 Midsole was 78cm,

    Current W100 Point is 80cm.

    Shoud I again trust DPS with their suggestion, or rather mont a little back to replicate the ski feel of the old W112?

    In the Ski test, did you guys ski the W100 on the recommended line?

    cheers!!

    1. Hi Daniel!
      We generally test on the line, unless it's a park ski or something like that. I'd stick to the DPS line on the 100--perhaps the 112 has a bit farther forward due to different rocker profile. Have fun!
      SE

      1. Hi SEers

        I mounted on the line but went -1,5cm halfway through my weekend trip. The remount basically brought foot steering back, for me usually an indicator of good mounting position.
        This goes for relatively forwar leant AT boots (15deg) that are stiff laterally, forward not too much.
        Fo more upright an/or stiffer alpine boots I could see the "line" to be good indeed.

        Cheers

  5. Hi Jeff, Great review! I am looking to get into an all mountain ski that is better in the bumps and trees than some of the big carver skis. I have been skiing Nordica soul riders for way too long. I occasionally do some mild GS turns, but I typically enjoy making a ton of small turns down the fall line (as I am looking for an entry into the trees). The Wailer sounds like a perfect ski for me, except that I am @190 lbs at 6'3". Should I be worried about holding an edge given my weight on these skis? The other option I am looking into is the stockli 95 stormriders, your review didnt mention that they were good for tight turns, but I have heard from others that they are pretty good in the trees. What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Brad!
      The Stockli doesn't quite have the swivel-ability or nimbleness of the DPS, but if you're willing to put a bit more effort, you can make it work. I don't think the edge grip will be an issue with the Wailer, except on steep and very icy terrain--they're pretty precise. Both great choices, but you sound more like a DPS skier to me. Have fun!
      SE

  6. Wow, this ski sounds really interesting. How would you compare it to the QST 99 and Mantra M5? In particular, how does this ski cope with rough conditions like crud and harder snow?

  7. Really love your reviews. Wow this sounds like a fun ski. I’m looking for something in the 100 waist category for some off piste runs out west as well as groomers. I’m a 60+ skier not terribly aggressive, looking for a good performance all-mountain ski. I know the 2021 Nordica Enforcer 100/94 is soon to be released, and y’all are the only review I’ve seen thus far. My question is how would you compare this DPS to the above mentioned new Nordica? Thanks again for your reviews!

    1. Hi Grant!
      Weight is the biggest difference, with turn shape not far behind. The lighter DPS prefers shorter turns and slower speeds, while the Enforcers (both past and future) are the heavier and burlier skis. It sounds like you're more of a DPS skier to me, given your stats and desired application. Have fun!
      SE

  8. As always, thanks for excellent reviews and a wealth of information. I am a solid intermediate west coast skier. Not overly aggressive. 5’11” and 155 lbs. I have a Stockli Laser AX 168cm as my groomer and resort ski. I am now looking to add a wider second ski for soft snow and start exploring off-piste.

    I am looking at this Wailer A100 RP and also last years Wailer A100 C2 both in 179 length. I understand the side cut is different with the C2 having a longer radius. Which one would you recommend? And is the older Wailer A99 a decent option as well? Any other skis I should be looking at?

    1. HI Albert!
      Yes, that sounds right. Really amazing skis in all conditions and terrain. You'll love them!
      SE

        1. Hi Jeremy!
          I feel that this is a ski you can size up if you want. The RP shape keeps the 15-meter radius throughout sizes, so you'll get similar performance with more stability at the longer length. The 179 will be lighter and quicker, so if that's the performance you're going for, I'd stick to that! Have fun!
          SE

  9. Hi,
    I’m 5’9, 165lb intermediate skier. I have dedicated off-piste skis, so plan on using these primarily for lift service on the West Coast (consolidated, packed mostly with a few lucky powder days sprinkles in) and side country. My skis are generally in mid 170 length, but don’t have as much rocker. Would you recommend the 171 or 179?

    1. Hi Jared!
      For a bit of added stability, I'd go with the 179. Still has the 15-meter radius of the shorter (all) lengths, so if you're using them for resort skiing, I think you would like the extra size. Super light and very fun skis!
      SE

  10. HI

    I'm 72 ski very aggressively ( raced a bit), ski 50+ days annually. I'm on a pair of DPS Wailers 99s 176cc. about 5 yrs old and love them. I ski mostly on piste and live in SW CO> mtns. I'm shocked at the velocity I can generate w/ a GS turn on piste and love the skis. I think I need a DPS replacement and need your thoughts.

    Help?

    1. Hi Bob!
      Are you looking for a similar DPS? The 100 with the RP build is so incredibly fun, stable, and light--I think you'll get a lot of the same performance and quality out of that ski for sure. If you want to wait a bit, the 2021 Pagoda Piste 94 takes that GS turn to the next level. We all loved how that ski performed and it sounds like it might be a good ski to look in to for a bit more of a trail-oriented ski. Have fun!
      SE

      1. Hey guys, any chance you'll be putting up any chairlift chat or initial thoughts on the new pagoda piste line for those of us who are thinking about buying wailers/cassairs before they go out of production? Maybe compare strengths/weaknesses of the two gens? Personally, I'm sitting on an unmounted pair of wailers questioning whether I should wait for the pagodas or not. Very exciting stuff coming out of DPS for next season!

        1. HI Jeremy!
          I don't think we'll have enough on-snow data for a full comparison this year, but I can give you my thoughts on my time on the Pagoda 94 from earlier this year. I've been on the Casiar 87's and the Wailer 100's (which I love), and the Cassiar 106, and other than the 100, the Pagoda 94 was the most impressive ~95 underfoot ski I've been on in quite some time. Extremely capable and quick, and the more you pushed in, the better it responded. Always with a caveat, the 94 did lack that top-end stability that a Mantra will have, just a function of the carbon versus the metal at the end of the day. Still, up to about that top speed, it was incredibly impressive. Pound for pound, I'm not sure it gets much better in that shape. Even though the 94 and 100 are approaching each other regarding width, they do ski quite differently, mostly due to the 100's RP shaping. For the Cassiar, I was never that impressed, but maybe I just never got on the right one in the right conditions. Hope that helps!
          SE

  11. SE,
    I thought I had decided on the Volkl Mantra (with the help of you guys), but happened across this review. I'm out west with occasional trips to Utah. Strong intermediate, 5'9" 165lbs I ski on trail but as my ability has progressed I'd like to explore more of the whole mountain. What are your thoughts on the DPS compared to the Mantra, and what size of the DPS would work best for me?

    1. HI Darren!
      The Mantra has a higher gear than the DPS, but not nearly the same all-speed compliance. I loved the composure of the DPS for its weight, but found I couldn't quite let it rip like the Mantra. With the Volkl, that high gear does come at the cost of friendliness--even some advanced/expert skiers aren't really getting the most out of the ski, even with a lot of effort. The DPS has more of an automatic type feel that guides you and brings you through turns while the Mantra really needs to be pushed and driven. I'd go with the 171 for more quickness and maneuverability or the 179 for more stability at speed. Either way, they're still going to be light and fun!
      SE

      1. SE,
        Thank you for the input, sounds like it may be a better fit for me than the Mantra. Question is, with a 15m radius will I be able to open it up a little bit and make bigger carving turns with it?
        Thanks

        1. Hi Darren,
          There's the crux of the RP shaping I think. I think that if you're skiing the mid-lengths of that ski, like the 171 or 179, where in other skis a 15-meter radius would be about average/expected, you can open it up as such. For myself, at 6/2 220, I need the 184 at least, and a 15-meter radius at that length, or even the 189, doesn't quite work well for higher speeds. But in those middle sizes, it can be opened up a bit. A bit of a learning curve, I thought, but once you get it, it's pretty sweet. Hope that helps!
          SE

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