Back in March, we reviewed the new M-Pro 99 from Dynastar. Today, we’re looking at another ski in their new M-Line collection, the M-Free 108. If you recall, Dynastar’s new range of skis is split into 3 different categories, M-Pro, M-Tour, and M-Free. The M-Pro and M-Tour skis share very similar shapes with their main differences found in the construction. The M-Free 108, however, uses a more symmetrical, progressive shape (although it’s not actually symmetrical). It’s designed more for soft snow use than the M-Pro 99 that we talked about last time, but also designed to deliver more of a freeride/freestyle inspired feel. It is, simply put, a whole heck of a lot of fun in powder.
One of the key elements in Dynastar’s new M-Line skis is the use of PU. This is a similar material to what we see in 130 flex ski boots and an interesting material to integrate into ski construction. The M-Free 108 uses a combination of a poplar wood core and PU, which is located along the edges and in the tips and tails of the ski. There is also a Titanal plate underfoot for binding retention, although over the years we’ve come to learn this application of metal often provides a little extra stability too. It’s all sandwiched together with vertical sidewalls and a fiberglass torsion box around the core.
The shape of the M-Free 108 is a pleasure to look at. It has very smooth lines, no abrupt, drastic taper or rocker that looks like it’s rising out of nowhere. It does use quite a bit of early taper and rocker both in the tip and tail, but its progressive and smooth rather than abrupt. There’s also relatively high-rise camber underfoot. We’ve become accustomed to seeing skis in this width range with plenty of rocker like these, but it’s not as common to get this much camber. Recommended mount point is about 7.5 cm back from the true center spot on the ski. That’s closer to center than most directional skis, but not as close to center as we see on freestyle-specific powder skis or those that lean a little more in that direction. That said, we expect there will be a significant percentage of skiers on the M-Free 108 that will choose to mount it a little further forward for a more balanced feel when jumping, spinning, buttering, etc.
So, how does it feel? Well, let’s start by saying it’s pretty hard to have a bad time on a powder day, and luckily every day we tested the M-Free 108 had at least 8 inches of fresh snow. We’ve found that it’s a total pleasure to ski in powder. It’s buttery-smooth in just about every application. The shape allows for insanely easy tail release, which made it a blast to take through tighter Vermont tree lines. It pivots as well as just about anything else out there, and does so very intuitively and with a fun, rhythmic feel. It also has really good float for a ski that’s 108 mm underfoot. The progressive rocker profile does a tremendous job keeping the tips on top of the snow, and the fact that the taper profile isn’t too abrupt means you get a lot of surface area up there too. It is a powder ski through and through, and on those deep, champagne powder days, it’s has dream-like performance.
What’s nice about the M-Free 108, however, is despite its maneuverability, playfulness, and eagerness for butters, backcountry jibs, and other “new school” techniques, it’s also more stable than you might expect. The application of PU gives it a super-smooth feel for something this playful. It has a lot of energy and pop thanks to the high-rise camber, but it also stays composed and quiet. Dynastar talks highly of the unique snow feel their new M-Line has, and that really is the best way to think about it. The M-Free 108 provides a really nice connection to the snow. Smooth, quiet, and stable, yet energetic, playful, and fun.
While we’ll double down on the idea that it’s a more of a powder ski than anything else, you often find yourself on a groomer on any given powder day. We also expect there will be skiers who choose the M-Free 108 as their daily driver. More and more skiers are going with something this wide, especially those out west. Luckily, the M-Free 108 can handle firmer snow conditions too! We’ve had it on multiple groomed slopes, and it’s still a lot of fun. You don’t get the power or edge grip that you do in a ski like the M-Pro 99, but the amount of camber, metal underfoot, PU along the edge, and that fiberglass torsion box all work together to actually provide pretty decent edge grip. You also get a nice amount of pop out of a carving turn, which is fun, and of course, it’s insanely easy to release the edge and pivot or smear the ski, just as it is in soft snow.
All things considered, the M-Free 108 is a fantastic powder ski. It has excellent float, it’s highly maneuverable, and there’s a little stability to it too. Interestingly enough, it’s actually not tremendously lightweight. The 182 cm length is listed at 2200 g, which is surprisingly on the heavy side. Why is that surprising? Well, because it doesn’t feel heavy on your feet. In fact, it’s the opposite of that. I give a lot of credit to the maneuverability factor and the feel that the PU provides. It’s not challenging to ski by any means and never feels fatiguing, so I never got the impression it was heavy, and was actually surprised to see that weight listed in the Dynastar catalog. Of course, if you want to go lightweight, that’s why they have their M-Tour skis. For comparison, the M-Tour 99 is just 1300 g per ski.
We said it when we did the M-Pro 99 review, and we’ll say it again here. These new skis from Dynastar are the real deal and we expect there to be more significant demand for Dynastar skis in the coming years than we’ve seen in, say, the past 5 or so.