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Review: WNDR Alpine Intention 110 2020-2021
snowHeads Forum Index
r=18.9m @ 171cm, r=20.5 @ 178cm
Tuckerman's Ravine, April 10, 2021
Note the two conga lines of skiers in the far-left and middle-left upper gullies
918 500 W Unit B
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Suggested Retail Price
free shipping in Canada and U.S.A.
$100 usd flat rate shipping anywhere else in the World.
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
8 Backcountry & resort hardpack surfaces (for a backcountry ski)
9+ Mixed surface conditions backcountry & resort
9 Powder backcountry for its width
WNDR Alpine is the first consumer brand spawned by Checkerspot (https://www.checkerspot.com), a public-benefit biotech company started in 2016 pioneering biobased materials to replace and out-perform petroleum-based materials. Snow industry vets, Matt Sterbenz and Daniel Malmrose, alongside freeski pioneer Pep Fujas and Xan Marshland spearheaded WNDR (Wonder) Alpine to design and manufacture backcountry skis using Checkerspot's algae oil-derived bio plastics, and to demonstrate manufacturing techniques and product lifecycle policies to reduce the environmental impact of ski production while also proving that bio-based components could deliver performance exceeding their petroleum-based predecessors. Their first product was the Intention 110 ski, and most recently they released the Vital 100 for tighter terrain where grip and agility are higher priority. Interestingly, they offer either ski in cambered, or reverse-cambered profiles.
"The Intention 110 is your ski for effortlessly floating through diverse backcountry terrain. Featuring our proprietary AlgalTech™ ski materials platform. The Itention 110 is the most balanced backcountry ski in the world. The sidecut is shaped to rip and grip in a wide array of snowpacks at varied speed. The semi-cap sidewall construction provides incredible stability and energy transmission over the edge while minimizing wear and tear. Descending, you may find yourself looking down to make sure they are still there, as the tapered sidecut symmetry precisely intersects the early rise splay in the tip and tail curvatures, creating a weightless, buoyant and nimble sensation."
"Extruded plastic, polyurethane and carbon fiber have been taken from other industries and repurposed by ski brands. Our industry has rarely had access to materials built explicitly with skiing in mind. For the first time in history, we’re using biotechnology to design materials derived from microalgae specifically for backcountry skiing. Petroleum has historically been a key ingredient in materials across the outdoor industry. But there are only so many types of material innovations and performance gains we can get from petroleum.Seeking to break the mold, we teamed up with scientists from Checkerspot and collectively created the WNDR Alpine brand. We use biotechnology to design our own materials—with performance characteristics that reach beyond what petroleum products can offer. AlgalTech™ fuses biomanufacturing and chemistry with materials science and advanced fabrication techniques to unlock better performance characteristics. Algal Wall is a biobased cast polyurethane that protects the Algal Core and delivers superior damping and resistance to impact to traditional ski building materials. To integrate this material directly into our ski's construction, we use a channel on the outside of the core as a mold for pouring in the liquid sidewall material. This creates a seamless and virtually unbreakable bond with the aspen as the sidewall hardens, increasing the overall structural integrity of the ski.
The colder it gets, the more durable Algal Wall gets - all while retaining predictable stiffness in a ski. See why it’s better.
Manufacturing Algal Wall diverts plastic waste from the landfill compared to traditional use of extruded plastic sidewalls.
Polyurethane biobased carbon content 60% by ASTM D6866-18 Method B."
Technical Ski Data:
Vertically laminated, domestically sourced aspen with high-density, algal polyurethane stringers. Biobased carbon content 41% by ASTM D6866.
Algal Wall cast polyurethane sidewalls utilizing a proprietary biobased polyurethane, engineered to improve edge hold and bondline strength with core over traditional materials. Biobased carbon content 60% by ASTM D6866.
Biobased Entropy Resins Super Sap® technology replaces traditional petroleum-based resin systems. The certified bio-based content per ASTM D6866 of the ER-305 Resin is 28%.
Weght: 1783g and 1744g measured (171cm model)
"If we have the means, we reserve the right to repair items prior to replacing them. Items will be repaired or replaced if, upon inspection by a member of our team, they are found to be defective in materials or workmanship. Upon receipt of customer’s properly completed warranty claim forms, WNDR will review and, if approved, issue a RMA # to the customer. WNDR warrants products to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for a period of one (1) year from the original date of purchase."
"We prototype and test our skis both in the lab and with feedback from athletes, guides, and mountain professionals. We don’t release a product unless we love it, and we’re confident that you’ll love our skis as much as we do. If for any reason you’re not 100% satisfied with a product manufactured by WNDR Alpine, you may ship it back to us for a full refund under our Love It or Return It Policy."
"We take pride in acting responsibly and seek to give our customers an opportunity to join us through the WNDR Takeback Program. As a first step, we always encourage you to sell or donate your skis to friends, family or a local charity. We will also take back your skis at the end of life and, depending on the condition, we may: 1) refurbish and find them a new home, 2) deconstruct and re-use parts of the internal materials, or 3) upcycle the skis. In all cases, we inspect the worn skis and utilize the data to help us improve our manufacturing process and ultimately the ski performance. Lastly, as an incentive, if you send your skis back within 3 years, you will receive 20% off a new pair of skis, and have the peace of mind knowing that your old skis have been dealt with responsibly."
Bindings, Boots & Wax Used:
Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13 bindings
Salomon QST PRO 90 TR W boots
Tecnica Zero-G boots
Green Ice Waxes
Like the Vital 100s we tested earlier, the Intention 110s have a really appealing topsheet graphic design, with excellent fit-and-finish of all the components. Tune and base structure out of the box were better than average. Not super-light...the weigh in-hand is right in the middle of similarly sized backcountry skis, neither super light or super heavy. Sidecut looks like a freeride ski with decently floaty-looking tip and tail rocker. Somewhat soft-ish tip flex and significant rocker profile leading smoothly to a firm midsection and moderately stiff and moderately rockered tail (our test ski is the cambered edition), leading us to think the ski will be easy to turn and finish in a directional, but smearable manner and ski a bit shorter than its measured length. WNDR claims a 87.2cm running surface length for the 176cm model and 91.6cm for the 178cm model. Torsional strength appears moderately strong with more compliant forebody by hand testing. Damp, and moderately energetic rebound response. The Intention 110 looks and feels like a modern, all-purpose backcountry ski with an emphasis on downhill performance and agility.
Boilerplate eastern hardpack, dense snow pack, dry natural fresh and multi-day settled powder, resort corduroy, shin-deep and 2-foot deep fluffy powder, refrozen, regroomed old manmade resort snow, soft bumps, hard bumps, low-angle and moderate-angle tree runs. Springtime frozen and unfrozen-to-sloppy corn.
WNDR Alpine has taken a state-of-the-art, ecologically-centered material production and assembly process and demonstrated the ability to create a seriously versatile backcountry ski for the masses. The ability to replace 40-60% of the petroleum-based polyurethane ingredients with algal materials grown in a lab, adhere the sidewalls to the core with natural bonding (no epoxy adhesives) using a poured-liquid sidewall mold technique and complete the adhesion of other materials in the layup with bio-based resins (like so many other builders these days) is impressive (It helps to have a California biotech startup as a parent company). Combine the innovative eco-sensitive materials and manufacturing science with a progressive, rock-solid ski geometry design and you get a ski that delivers high-performance fun and effectiveness for a huge population of skiers.
Like the Vital 100, the Intention 110 is a completely intuitive, zero-learning curve ski with an energetic, playful feel that delivers a confident, predictable behavior all over the mountain in all kinds of conditions while skiing a bit shorter than it measures due to the moderate rocker lines. The Intention 110 has a wide array of competencies across the spectrum, with a bias toward softer snow and a naturally intuitive semi-surfy, agile personality and behavior profile so nearly any skier can jump on it and finish the day happy and satisfied, and that's the kind of goal we like to see ski makers achieve. While some skis may hit higher marks for lightest-weight, most intense downhill performance, super-surfy powder response, dead-solid speed handling or agility in tight terrain, the Intention 110 achieves really high marks for all these categories with no real downsides we could find other than rock-hard boilerplate surfaces where grip was average, but available in more robust fashion with a just a bit of concentration from the pilot. Since backcountry skiing is all about encountering whatever the mountains have in store for you that day, a ski with a huge bandwidth of high performance in nearly every condition is exactly what a huge variety of skiers want. WNDR Alpine's Intention 110 should put other ski builders on notice that modern ski and materials science means compromises in performance are quickly becoming more and more unneccesary for backcountry skiers. WNDR's skis represent the future of the craft of building backcountry skis with minimized ecological impacts during production and a "close-the-loop" take-back program to minimize waste at the end of a recreational product's lifespan by taking the product back from the consumer, if they choose. We think the Intention 110 hits the mark people are looking for in a whole bunch of categories including ecologically-sensitive production and fun-loving performance at a great price.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
To test the real hard snow performance of the Algae-based sidewalls supporting the edges in conditions other than backcountry woods settings, we spent some days on sections of boilerplate resort groomers here in Vermont, and drove the cambered Intentions with a pair of Tecnica Zero-G 4-buckle boots on top of the Salomon Shift bindings. We did not get a pure alpine piste boot on the Intention 110s for this test like we did for the Vital 100 review. For a backcountry-oriented 110mm ski, WNDR's Intention 110 has an respectable hold on firmer surfaces right out of the box as tuned, but felt a bit unsettled and scattered on bulletproof Eastern boilerplate (but you're unlikely to find these kind of resort-oriented pure boilerplate conditions in the backcountry unless you really want to...). We found the Intention 110's edgehold was nearly as good as many softish 110mm-class freeride skis on somewhat firm terrain at low to moderate speeds, with decent vibration control and frequency damping underfoot.
Feedback through the boot is accurate and sensitive, letting you know what the surface density is like at all times without being annoying when the snow gets rock-hard and roughed up. Edge pressure through the algal sidwalls was reliable, informative and consistent in all situations and temperature ranges. The relatively short running length due to the generous tip rocker and moderate tail rocker means the Intention 110 feels shorter than its overall length at higher speeds on hardpack, but it feels controlled and smooth at all times with just a hint of tip flap at eye-watering speeds on rough terrain, yet has good contact with the snow at all times. The rocker profile and camber allow some pretty quick edge-to-edge transitions on most surfaces (on piste or off) for a 110-waisted ski, so agilty is always good and lively, but never nervous or disoriented on firm, windblown or crusty snow unless you're riding at warp 9. Rough and choppy conditions result in the Intention 110's sensations being well-controlled on descent, with predictable, consistent grip and behaviors which can upset lighter, more flimsy backcountry skis. If you frequently encounter hard surfaces on your routes, the Intention 110 gives you a predictable and decently grippy platform with its factory tune as delivered, but takes a back-seat to its narrower sibling the Vital 100 when things firm up. We were surprised how well the Intention 110 felt on dense snow, considering its easy-to-ski, playful nature. Like the more grip-oriented, cambered Vital 100, the combination of materials and design of the Intention 110 works well in firm snow conditions if you keep a tight tune on the base and edges.
Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:
The Intention 110s really show their wide range of adaptablity when snow conditions are mixed with variable densities and textures of snow because the geometry of the ski allows intuitive, reliable, playful behaviors while the materials deliver a quiet, yet energetic and secure feel underfoot. Agility at low, moderate and higher speeds is always excellent, with just a hint of unexpected quickness at highest speeds in mixed surfaces (likely due to the short contact length and generous tip rocker), but most backcountry skiing is not at warp 9 high-speed levels, and if you do frequent those speed levels, you would choose a longer version of the Intentions. The tip rocker and taper profile provides excellent float and directional choice in variable snow conditions without darty feelings and you can slash and drift on-demand. Predictabilty, agility and playfulness were the words that came to mind most often with the Intention 110s in mixed snow. Eastern tree skiing feels totally natural with the Intention 110s, allowing great manuverabilty with spunky, fun, playful response and predictable edge security when needed. Bumpy terrain is absorbed nicely with just a hint of tip deflection if you're off balance in chunky conditions, but the deflection seems to feel limited to the very early part of the rockered tips, and as you contact the terrain with the forebody and midbody of the ski, it stabilizes and stays on trajectory. You can bank your turns or pivot a flat ski quickly with equal confort, which is a nice combo. Like the Vital 100s, the Intention 110s are the kind of ski you can ski all day in variable conditions and feel totally comfortable and unspent when the daylight starts fading. The additional float afforded by the Intention 110s over the Vital 100s creates a significant different feel in surfing "across" the mixed surfaces rather than "through" those surfaces. Western skiers will want the 110, Eastern skiers will want the 100s unless most of your western terrain is tight and frequently hosts low-tide snow conditions.
We didn't get to ski the Intention 110s in super-deep powder, but we did get time in shin deep to 2-foot lightweight fluff in open terrain and in tight woods conditions. The ratio of rockered profile to cambered midsection and rockered tail seemed well balanced with excellent flotation along the entire ski at various speeds delivering a playful, smearable feel, yet allowing a quick change of direction on-demand with excellent rebound oomph if you loaded the ski and released it. Driftablity was intuitive, balanced and easy...just what you want. Open terrain or tight tree skiing in powder is easy and really fun with agility and stability, with a bit more surfy feel and shorter imagined tail length than the sibling Vital 100. If you frequent deeper powder conditions you may want to size-up the Intention 110s to get a more true-to-length feel since the generous rocker tip profile generates the feel of a shorter-than-they-measure ski in powder. Fun and predicable were the two words that came to mind riding the Intention 110s.
Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
The Intention 110s initiate turns very easily at slow, moderate or high speeds, and at different edge angles. You don't need to "get-them-up-to-speed" to get quick engagement. Just tip them over a bit, apply a bit of pressure and bingo...you have a ski engaged in the snow, eager to change direction as desired. This does not mean they are darty at most speeds (perhaps slighly unexpectedly quick at highest speeds in firm, 3D snow due to their short effective edge...but they do it quietly and with control with a compliant tip tortion profile), but responsive and easy to engage into a variety of turn shapes. You can initiate turns and modify the radius pretty easily without protest, even pushing the Intention 110s into tigher-than-design-spec radius without the ski protesting or pushing back. Turn initiation is compliant without feeling wimpy or uncertain. Turns initiate intutively at a variety of speeds without any special technique or action by the skier. The rockered tips quickly lead to pressuring the midbody of the ski which is fairly stout and a reliable platform, with turn finishing on the tails feeling solid, round, reliable and easy to release in all conditions. Like the Vital 100s, WNDR gave the Intention 110s a fairly progressive mounting point, so turn agility is always on tap, yet you can ride the ski in long-radius arcs with plenty of stability. The playful engagement into turns migrates into a solid-feeling midbody and tail platform, with no discernable washout or loss of composure through the turn sequence, even at moderate to higher speeds...something backcountry skiers will appreciate. Again, like the narrower Vital 100, it takes only a couple of turns on the Intention 110s to understand how they want to change direction in different conditions and speeds.
Manufacturer's Mounting Position:
For the Intention 110, WNDR recommends the 171cm model be mounted with boot center 78.45 cm from the tail, 178cm model mounted 82cm from the tail (our 171 model measured 169.5cm, and 178cm model measured 176.6 cm using straight tape pull), so fairly progressive, but not extreme. We mounted Salomon Shifts on-the-line and had no urge to change them after skiing in a bunch of different conditions.
("This ski is like...")
Your comfy favorite shoes you always grab when you're going to be out and on your feet all day.
Notable Tester Comments:
WNDR Alpine’s Intention 110 is a playful, do it all backcountry ski. We found this ski intuitive and fun from the first time we clicked in; there were no sketchy first days trying to figure this ski out. The Intention 110 is responsive and agile, and it is a ski that you are able to forget about while skiing. That is until you come to a stop and look down at WNDR’s sleek and techie top sheet design. This ski does what you want it to do, and it does it well. The Intention 110 is surprisingly versatile. This ski can hold an edge and lay out some nice turns even when conditions firm up. The Intention 110 weighs in at 1890 grams in the 178 cm edition, so there are many touring skis out there that are lighter. That being said, this ski’s weight never feels like a burden. The Intention 110 feels easy on the uphills, and the added weight gives some extra stability and confidence when charging downhill. This ski is not intended for skiers aiming to race up the mountain at Mach 10 speed; rather, it is meant for the skier who is looking to make the most of their descent.
The shape of the Intention 110 contributes to its versatility. This ski has a decent amount of tip and tail rocker; however, there are many skis with deeper and shallower rocker lines. It falls in the middle of the pack. This ski has a decent amount of tip and tail splay (70 mm in the tips and 35 mm in the tail). The Intention 110’s mount point is -6.3 cm from true center. This is fairly progressive but still far from the recommended mount point of some more freestyle-oriented skis. All of these attributes contribute to a pretty playful and versatile ski.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
This ski feels pretty squirrely on boilerplate. This is to be expected given the shape and width of the Intention 110. It is important to remember that this ski is intended for use in the backcountry where you are not likely to encounter these boilerplate conditions. If the conditions are firm but not icy then the ski is able to hold an edge and performs well for its width. Although this ski does not feel at home on groomers and firm snow, it is far from scary.
Chop and Crud:
The Intention 110 handles soft chop and crud very well. This ski is stable and damp, more so than its weight would lead you to believe. It was both agile and playful in soft chop. While there are heavier skis that feel damper, this ski felt fun and lively when skiing chop. We were able to get out on this ski in some spring corn, and the ski did a great job in these conditions. It felt playful and responsive. Even when the snow got wetter and slushier, the Intention 110 did not get bogged down. Its width helped it plane over this denser slush.
The Intention 110 feels good in fresh snow. It has a fairly loose and surfy feel in powder. We were able to get out on this ski in conditions up to two feet deep, and the ski performed great. This ski is easy to slash around and is nimble even when not right on the surface. When skiing slower a more neutral stance allows for greater float, but as things get steeper or faster you can drive the shovels and ski a more traditional stance. If you are frequently skiing deep powder opting for a longer model could provide you with more float.
This ski feels right at home in tight terrain. Its shorter effective edge allows you to easily make quick adjustments. The Intention 110 is very nimble and is a blast in tight woods. This is a ski that disappears from under your feet when skiing trees. It goes where you tell it to go and is incredibly predictable.
The Intention 110 is a playful ski. This ski is easy to throw sideways and spin, and it is easy to ski switch thanks to its tail splay. While there are more playful skis out there, the Intention 110 is very playful when considering its versatility and intended use. All in all, this is a fun ski to ski, and the Intention 110 will put a smile on your face.
The Intention 110s are a good friend to have in the front and backcountry. They’re floaty and lively enough to surf in deeper snow, but maintain the assertiveness of a heavier ski to hold their own in heavy eastern spring conditions. By the end of a spring day, the resort slopes are usually a chopped-up mess, but the wider, slightly heavier boards dampened the chop so that I hardly noticed the slushy snow piles I cruised over. As a touring ski, the Intention 110s run slightly on the heavier side, but aside from getting more of a workout on the way up, this came as an advantage in the spring snow and the extra grams are definitely nice to provide stability and consistency on the slopes.
As a 5’5” woman, I was excited to see that WNDR Alpine introduced a shorter ski into the Intention 110 series! At 171cm, this ski is still longer than many of the skis I’ve used this season. I’ll admit, at first I was skeptical that they’d be snappy enough for my taste. So I put them to the test on the steeper and narrower slopes at Tuckerman’s Ravine. There, I found them lighter and more faithful underfoot than I could have hoped. The length on these is definitely not something to let yourself get intimidated by. The Intention 110s are a super intuitive ski, handling everything from tight step turns to wide arcs without too much force on my part, making them easy to include into my quiver. At speed, the Intention 110s provide an ultra-stable base but without the overly planted feel of a carving or race-oriented ski. They retain their playfulness and are even eager to catch air off of lips, bumps, and other features in the snowpack. All around, these are fun and spirited skis that can be driven in a more serious way when the situation and skier call for it.
Only having tested these skis in the soft spring corn and afternoon slush late in the season, I can’t speak to their performance on hardpack or true powder (to which I’m sure they’re best suited). Greg Phillips (another one of our testers) can report on the personality of the 110s in colder mid-winter conditions since he got his 178cm pair earlier in the season. The Intention 110s are a downhill-oriented touring ski and certainly lived up to, and sometimes surpassed, my expectations in that realm. I’d highly recommend these skis to all my adventurous women out there!
Disappears underfoot as soon as you start skiing.
Goes anywhere with a fun, sporty feel.
Not super light for backcountry. Skis lighter than it weighs.
Dances through skied-out surfaces nicely.
Agile, yet pretty darn stable.
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Add a skin notch to the tail.
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
Like the Vital 100, WNDR's Intention 110 is a great example of a do-it-all backcountry ski with no real shortcomings. You can find lighter backcountry skis, but you'd be hard-pressed to find another ski that does so many things so well in so many conditions. Add innovative, cutting-edge eco-sensitive material engineering, end-of-lifecycle takeback program and "love-em-or-get-a-refund" return policy and you have a really progressive company behind the product. All for $700 retail and free shipping.
What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?
The Intention 110 will probably suit any backcountry skier from beginner to hard-charging expert. That's impressive. Super-high speed, big-line backcountry freeriders may find the Intention 110 a bit soft, but buy 'em longer for more stability.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
Size-up if your terrain is higher-speed or big powder conditions most of the time.
Blister Gear Review: (minute 45:50)
Backcountry Skiing Canada:
WNDR Alpine core with algal core inserts and sidewall material
Image courtesy of WNDR Alpine
WNDR Alpine poured algal sidewall operation
Image courtesy of WNDR Alpine
WNDR Alpine cores with algal insert detail
Image courtesy of Pep Fujas and WNDR Alpine
WNDR Alpine no-adhesives, natural binding of poured sidewall to core concept
Image courtesy of WNDR Alpine
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 tail insert joint.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 topsheet cap detail.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 sidewall midsection.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 textured topsheet.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 tip detail.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 tip edge termination detail.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 tip.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 tail insert.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 topsheet texture.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 tip profile
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 midsection camber
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 tail profile
Greg Phillips on top of Camels Hump, Vermont
Greg Phillips airing out the backcountry WNDR Alpine Intention 110 in the park
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