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 little intersection with the Kästle of today except that both have a dominant strain of Austrian DNA and the new Kästle recently re-occupied the founding factory in Hohenems.
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.
As recently as last season, the core of Kästle’s Alpine line was segmented into three series: the cambered MX series of Frontside carvers, the abundantly rockered FX series of all-mountain skis and BMX Big Mountain models. For 2020, the BMX name has been eliminated in favor of extending the FX family into its turf.
Once upon a time, Kästle made a women’s ski named Vogue; for 2020, it has revived the Vogue name to serve as an umbrella for three new women-specific models, the DX73 W, DX85 W and FX96 W. All three women’s models are more aggressively priced than previous Kästles, with the DX73 W selling at $799, with binding.
Because Kästle cuts no corners, its skis customarily 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.