Ski: 2017-2018 Kingswood Skis SMB, 187cm
Available Lengths: 156, 165, 177, 187, 194 cm
Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 187.5cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 145-123-135
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2,429 grams & 2,437 grams
Sidecut Radius: 24 meters
Core Construction: Bamboo + Fiberglass Laminate
Tip & Tail Splay: 42 / 30 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2-3 mm
Boots / Bindings: Atomic Redster Pro 130 / Marker Jester (DIN at 10)
Mount Location: Factory Recommended Line
Days Skied: 7[Editor’s Note: our review was conducted on the 13/14 SMB, which was not changed for 14/15, 15/16, 16/17, or 17/18, apart from graphics.]
Now that I’ve had their flagship SMB across a broad range of conditions, Kingswood has shifted from being a little boutique outfit that I didn’t know much about, to being a company that I would place among the exceptional indies out there.
The Kingswood SMB is beautiful, and beautifully constructed. We see a lot of skis around here, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever been more impressed by the looks, the feel, or the quality of the construction. The SMB is like a work of art that was built for abuse. As we noted in our Profile of Kingswood, the last thing owner Alex Herbert wrote on the plastic covering the ski was, “Try and break ‘em.”
There is a statement on the Kingswood website that goes a long way toward summing up the gist of this company: “To own a pair of Kingswood Skis is to stand up for quality.”
I’ll testify that this isn’t merely rhetoric. Hold a pair in your hands, and I believe you’ll agree with everyone here at Blister who’s checked these out: these are special.
Alex Herbert only makes about a hundred pairs of skis a year, and he builds them all himself—each pair, made to order. (The Kingswood skis website is well laid out, and the interactive process of customizing the flex of your ski is straightforward and fun.)
A Few Features
All Kingswood skis have vertically laminated bamboo cores that extend all the way to the edge of the ski.
Alex prefers this traditional sandwich construction for its ease of repair if damaged, and the sides can be maintained with a little wood oil.
Another thing for you purists out there: the 1.4mm graphite sintered bases, no die cuts. Die cut bases often look sweet, but I always smile with approval when I see solid black bases.
I also was a big fan of the factory tune, and I still haven’t touched the edges at all. The SMBs felt dialed right out of the box.
Two Important Notes
(1) Every Kingswood ski is made to order, and this review is of the SMB with a flex pattern chosen by Alex for us, which he described as “a tad on the stiff side.” So as you read this review, keep in mind that the flex pattern could be adjusted to your taste.
(2) Each length of the SMB comes in different dimensions:
156 cm – 136/115/124mm – Sidecut radius: 18m
165 cm – 128/109/120mm – Sidecut radius: 21m
177 cm – 137/116/128mm – Sidecut radius: 23m
187 cm – 145/123/135mm – Sidecut radius: 24m
194 cm – 167/136/151mm – Sidecut radius: 28m
So while our pair of 187s and the 194cm model are pretty much fat pow skis, the shorter lengths bring these closer to All-Mountain dimensions. And I’ve got to say, I would absolutely love to check out a 187cm length of the SMB with the dimensions of the 165cm or 177cm SMB….
(Kingswood does, however, make a ski called the Rocketype, and in a 186cm length, its dimensions run 134-112-124, which would be pretty great with a flex pattern similar to our SMBs.)
The Test So Far…
I’ve had the 187cm SMBs in a wide range of conditions: light pow; heavy untracked; cold, soft chop; chopped-up snow on top of firm bumps; straight-up moguls; steep trees and bumps; soft groomers; icy groomers.
Any 123mm underfoot ski better be good in deep snow, and the SMB is. In light pow at Alta and some thicker untracked in Taos, I never experienced tip dive.
The SMBs have a large sweet spot, and I was surprised at how easy these were to pivot, given how much bite the edges provide on hard pack. That pivotability is likely attributable to the minimal camber underfoot of the SMB.
While these skis are easy to pivot, the low splay of the tip and tail means that this isn’t a super loose, surfy ride. The tips and tails never got hung up at all—ever—and the skis planed well and offered no surprises. But this is a ski that puts more of a premium on transitioning well from pow to variable conditions, rather than just being ultra-surfy. (For straight surfing, the Armada AK JJ is still tough to beat.)