Kästle isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing.

Not to dis the current Kästle’s ancestry, but Kästles of yore could be clumped in two camps: race skis it took a god like Zurbriggen to bend, and kooky creations that should have been euthanized in development, like the Echo Thesis and B-52. All of which has zero intersection with the Kästle of today except that both have a dominant strain of Austrian DNA.

The current Kästle camp relies on modern execution of a traditional construction, with a signature damping system called Hollowtech adorning every tip. Colorful Hollowtech inserts catch both the eye and the snow, as they’re meant to dissipate shock faster than a conventional shovel. Not many brands are concerned with early contact any more, but a ride on the MX84 will remind you not only of what camber does, but why you ski.

Kästle has moved back into the facility in Hohenems where Anton Kästle created the first skis to bear his name, where its engineers can concoct prototypes and execute small production runs. Its choice of production partner for its mass production needs (rhymes with “red”) is telling, for without scrupulous quality control, Kästle would lose the cachet and acclaim that come with being one of the best finished skis on the market.

The current Kästle line is clearly segmented, which allows it to cross category boundaries among its several series without confusing the intended audience. The RX SL and GS models breathe the same air as race skis; the fully cambered MX series are on-trail skis with the identical properties as liquid mercury; mega-rockered FX models absorb off-trail irregularities like terrain sponges and BMX behemoths are best behaved where no “X” has tread before.

Because Kästle cuts no corners, its skis command a premium at retail. This means most skiers will never know what they’re missing. It also helps explain why Realskiers’ testers can’t wait to ski them year after year. They don’t get re-skied because testers forgot how they skied; they’re re-skied every year because skiers can’t forget how incredibly they ski. It’s like a designer drug: once you try it, you’re hooked.