2015-2016 Kingswood Archetype

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Kingswood Archetype for Blister Gear Review

Kingswood Archetype

Ski: 2015-2016 Kingswood Archetype, 184cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 140-104-123

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 139-104-123

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 183.7cm

Stated Sidecut Radius: 24 meters

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2149 & 2149 grams

Mount Location: 1cm behind the Factory Recommended mark

Factory Recommended Line: ~84.2cm from tail; -7.65cms from center

Profile: “early rise tip, camber under foot” – also available in a full rocker profile

Boots / Bindings: Salomon X Pro 120 & Atomic Hawx 2.0 12o / Marker Jester (DIN at 11)

Test Location: Canterbury Club Fields, New Zealand; Taos Ski Valley

Days Skied: 9

Intro

Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Kingswood Skis, and I am a bigger fan of Alex and Kris Herbert, the couple behind Kingswood. Check out our profile of Kingswood / Kris and Alex, and our reviews of the Kingswood SMB, and I think you’ll understand why.

Having reviewed the 123mm-underfoot SMB, we were eager to check out something slimmer from Kingswood. And two years ago down in New Zealand, Paul Forward and I both got to spend a bit of time on an old pair of the Kingswood Archetype, a 104mm-underfoot, all-mountain ski that many Canterbury, New Zealand, skiers have clicked into at some point.

Our initial impressions of those old Archetypes were positive, so when we headed back to the Canterbury Club Fields this past August, we wanted to ski and do a full review of a current pair of Archetypes.

It’s important to keep in mind for this review that both the camber profile and the flex patterns of the Archetype can be tailored for every skier. So this is only a review of the particular pair we skied, though I’ll offer some thoughts / suggestions about ways in which you might tailor a pair of these, if this is a ski shape that sounds like it’s up your alley.

Ski Shape

It just so happens that this ski shape is very much up my alley. For a ski of this width (104mm) I’m generally looking for a ski with good / very good firm-snow performance, and outstanding off-piste, variable-conditions performance. I don’t really care if a 104mm-wide ski excels in pow, because I’ll break something wider out on deep days (like the 190 Blister Pro, or the 187cm Kingswood SMB, for example).

For variable conditions and crud-busting, the Archetype has very little tip taper, a lot of camber underfoot, and a very subtle amount of tail rocker—it’s mostly just a twinned-up tail. The Archetype does have tip rocker, but it’s pretty subtle too, with a much shallower rocker line than skis like the Moment Belafonte, and the Blizzard Cochise. (The Archetype’s rocker line is quite similar to the 13/14, 184cm Volkl Mantra.)

Flex Pattern

I’d describe the tails of our Archetype as being ‘medium-stiff’ flex and the shovels as having a ‘medium’ flex.

For a few points of comparison, our Archetype’s have softer shovels than the 14/15 185cm Cochise, and much softer shovels than the 13/14 & 14/15, 184cm Mantra.

Nothing about the Archetype’s flex pattern seemed odd just from handflexing the ski though its on-snow performance would incline me to bring the flex pattern of the shovels a bit closer to that of the tails—or make the tails a bit less stiff to better match the shovels. I wouldn’t really care which way you shifted the skis, my primary interest would be in matching the flexing front and back of the ski better.

Mount Point

The Archetype is a relatively traditional, very directional ski. So one of the somewhat odd things about it is that Kingswood’s recommended mount (it’s actually a mark punched into the side of the ski) is set at ~7.65cms behind center.

In contrast, other directional skis with a relatively similar shape have recommended mount positions that are 3-4 centimeters behind that. (E.g., the 185cm Blizzard Cochise (-11.4cms); 186cm Line Supernatural 108 (-10.1cms); 14/15, 184 Volkl Mantra (~3cms farther back); 13/14 184cm Volkl Mantra (~4cms farther back).

In short, there is really nothing about the design of the Archetype that warrants a mount point that far forward.

When skiing the Archetype on the recommended line down in New Zealand, Paul Forward and I both felt like we weren’t in the right place on the ski relative to the ski’s sidecut. So he and I both played around with the mount position, and I’ve continued to play with the mount position back at Taos.

Having moved as far forward as +0.5cms (forward didn’t feel right) and as far back as -1.5cms (nope), I’ve settled in at 1 centimeter behind the recommended mark, and it’s the point where I’ve felt most comfortable on the ski.

What I haven’t been able to do is reproduce the stability and big sweet spot of the Cochise, the 13/14 Mantra, the Moment Belafonte, or the Line Supernatural 108. While those skis are not necessarily the most forgiving skis out there, I’ve never had any trouble finding a solid balance point on any of them.

Anyway, after a decent amount of experimenting, I’d stick with -1cm of the recommended line, and my review will talk about the ski’s performance at -1cm.

Firm-to-Variable Off-Piste Conditions

When we were between storms down in New Zealand, Paul and I spent most of our time on the Archetype skiing a combination of firm, windscoured snow to some softer, spring-like slush. The terrain ranged from wide open and smooth faces, to moguled-up faces, to some narrower chute skiing.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Kingswood Archetype for Blister Gear Review

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Kingswood Archetype, Broken River Ski Area, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Compared to the 14/15 Cochise and the DPS Wailer 105 Hybrid T2 we had with us, the Archetype was the least damp of the three skis, and far less damp than the Cochise. At high speeds in slightly bumped-up terrain, the Cochise smoothed the terrain and the snow out the most, then the Wailer 105, then the Archetype. Making big turns at speed, the Archetype was the harshest ride, so both Paul and I were more inclined to check our speed on the Archetype.

This was a bit surprising, since other skis made with a bamboo core that we’ve reviewed (e.g., the 191cm ON3P Billy Goat, and the 181cm ON3P Wrenegade) have done a respectable job of smoothing things out, despite the lack of titanal. Same goes for the Aspen&Ash-cored 13/14 Moment Belafonte.

Of course, if you’re generally skiing smoother terrain, or don’t generally tend to push the speed limit, then the lack of dampness we’ve experienced will be less of an issue, but we were very much locating the Archetype as a directional charger, in league with the skis that I’ve just mentioned.

(And I’ll say it again, neither Paul nor I recall the old pair of Archetypes we skied as having a harsh ride in some pretty similar terrain and conditions… ?)

Groomers

On well-manicured groomers, the Archetype is certainly fun to carve—way more fun than the 14/15 Cochise.

The Archetype is most at home with medium-to-large turn shapes, but once again, at very high speeds, the ski wasn’t as well-composed as any of the skis I mention in the previous section. So the conclusion here is that the more you care about on-edge composure and precision at high speeds, the better fit one of those other skis might be. And the less you care about high speeds or high edge angles on groomers, the less reason you’ll have to complain about the Archetype’s performance there.

Moguls

In moderately-sized, well-spaced bumps, the Archetypes are just fine. (But skis with more tip taper will feel quicker here.) Get into weird bumps, and the Line Supernatural 108 feels quicker, while the Cochise (once again) smoothes out the ride more than the Archetype. And the Archetype feels like it has a narrower sweet spot / is much more of a balancing act than either the 108 or Cochise.

So if you’re going to ski the Archetypes a lot in weird bumps (and especially at speed), then it will help to be a very technically strong, balanced, bumps skier who doesn’t really need a forgiving ride.

Untracked Pow

Given the relative lack of dampness / suspension, it’s not a big surprise that the Archetype felt best in good snow and smoother terrain.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Kingswood Archetype for Blister Gear Review

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Kingswood Archetype, Taos Ski Valley. (photo by Ryan Heffernan)

Granted, that’s not where I’d be looking for a ski like this to shine, but you may have different intentions for your ~105mm ski.

In untracked snow, I had no issues with tip dive, the tails of the Archetype didn’t feel particularly grabby, the skis felt good here.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Kingswood Archetype for Blister Gear Review

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Kingswood Archetype, Highline Ridge, Taos Ski Valley. (photo by Ryan Heffernan)

A Few Comparisons

• Archetype vs. 14/15 Blizzard Cochise, 185cm

While the 14/15 Cochise is a bit stiffer overall than the Archetype, it is also offers a much smoother ride, and has a much bigger sweet spot. The only place where I would opt for our Archetype over the Cochise would be on good groomers, where the Archetype would win by a lot.

• Archetype vs. 14/15 Volkl Mantra, 184cm

Skiing the Archetype and the current 184 Mantra back-to-back in some challenging conditions and terrain at Taos, it was interesting how little I liked the Mantra, and how much it made me miss the 13/14, 184cm Mantra. Even with the 14/15 Mantra mounted at +1, the Archetype felt much quicker and less cumbersome.

In fact, in terms of quickness, the Archetype probably reminded me most of the 13/14 184cm Mantra, though the older Mantra seemed more tolerant of getting out all over the shovels, or getting a little backseat (so long as you don’t hang out back there).

• Archetype vs. 14/15 Line Supernatural 108, 186cm

The Supernatural 108 has a much bigger sweet spot, and is also a quicker and more playful ski. It is also at least as good on groomers as our version of the Archetype. In short, I can’t think of a scenario where the Archetype would get the edge over the Supernatural 108.

Who’s It For? / Bottom Line

The category of directional, ~105mm-underfoot skis is stacked, and it takes a hell of a lot to really stand out.

Skiers who are coming from a traditionally cambered / fully cambered ski, appreciate the feel of a traditional ski, and are still pretty skeptical about this whole ‘rocker’ thing will feel at home on the Archetype, while benefitting from its subtle tip rocker.

The smoother the terrain is you’re going to be skiing—or the more fluid and less mistake-prone you are as a skier—the more I think you’ll like the Archetype.

Again, this ski’s camber profile and flex pattern can be modified to your tastes, but our particular version isn’t a ski that smoothes out variable terrain or nasty conditions as well as other skis in its class.

P.S.

Starting next week, Will Brown is going to be getting time on the Archetype, so we’ll be sure to update if his findings differ from my own.

NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics

3 Comments

  1. Frame January 29, 2015 Reply

    Impressive that you got 2 ski’s with the exact same weight.

  2. Blister Member
    Pat March 29, 2015 Reply

    Jonathan, do you have an educated guess for how the Rocketype skis? The Blister reviews of the SMB were obviously very positive. Your review of the Archetype seems more mixed. I’m looking for a ~110 or so underfoot, ~185-190 length ski that ideally will be good for both touring and resort skiing… Thanks, and a big fan of the website, you guys do a great job.

  3. Hugh Nicholson September 20, 2016 Reply

    Hi Jonathan have you tried the Rocketype? Have enjoyed your reviews of the SMB and Archetype – am looking for a fatter all mountain ski for telemarking and touring.

    Keep up the good work Hugh

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