Elan Voyager Folding Skis Review: Convenience Realized

The single most annoying aspect of owning skis is transporting a pair of 1.7-meter planks with sharp metal edges to the slopes without doing damage to yourself, the skis, innocent bystanders, your clothes, the car, fellow travelers, or your general sense of decorum. 

The simple fact is that most of us don’t live anywhere near to within a snowball’s throw of a mountain resort. And while a lucky number might be close enough to drive to one, the rest of us are forced to opt for trains or planes when it comes to getting that winter sports fix. And for skiers serious enough to shun rental options, this means carting about those unwieldy planks. 

So pervasive is near-universal hatred of carrying skis around, Larry David has even joked about coming up with a solution. But while his idea of skis that “screw together like a pool cue” was seemingly ridiculous, Slovenian brand Elan, with 75 years of ski-making experience under its belt, has, with all seriousness, gone and done something remarkably similar with its new Voyager skis. These are the world’s first all-mountain skis that fold clean in half when you’re not using them. 

Now, this is no small feat. Mountain skis are, until now, one solid unbroken plank because integrity, coupled with flexibility, is a huge part of what makes them work. If you start cutting them in half and sticking what is essentially an elaborate hinge in the middle, then all manner of things can go wrong as you’re halfway down a mogul field. None of them are likely to be welcomely received. 

Fortunately, Elan has form when is comes to ski innovation. In 1993, it made the SCX, or “SideCut eXtreme.” Rather than straight all the way down, the SCX skis were narrower in the middle and wider at the ends, allowing for elegant, fast, sweeping turns. These easy-to-ride “carving” skis were a huge hit, and at the time went a long way toward battling the loss of interest in skiing as snowboarding lured the youngsters in. The tragic mistake was that Elan hadn’t patented the design, so all the other brands were free to copy. And, boy, did they. 

Know When to Fold ’Em

Photograph: Elan

Keen to not make the same terrible mistake twice, 28 years later, Elan has not one but seven patents on these new award-winning Voyager folding skis. How do they work? The ski is made whole, then cut in half to ensure a perfect join. Making batches of “half skis” was never going to work, apparently. Then four chunky steel hinges are embedded in the center of each ski, affording it the all-important party trick of folding in half. The binding, which comes integrated as part of the ski, sits on a carbon-reinforced plastic plate that, once unlocked, swings round on a pivot to marry the two halves of the Voyager. This rigid carbon-plastic plate is then locked in place with special clips. 

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