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Surface Watch Life vs. Hart Pulse Ski Review 2012

I was recently looking to buy new skis and demoed Surface Watch Life and Hart Pulse. There wasn't a single good online review of these two all mountain skis so here is my attempt to share what I found out. These two skis could not be more different which proves that the all-mountain category is either arbitrary or very wide.

But before we get into how these skis behave, let's describe them first. Construction Both have traditional camber, wood core (poplar for Watch Life and ash/beech for Pulse). Watch Life is pretty wide underfoot with 132/100/122mm dimensions in 172 and 182cm length. Pulse is more carving inclined with 124/77/110mm with better length selections: 152, 162, 170 and 180cm. Pulse does not come with twin tips but as all modern skis has slightly raised tails and I had no problem skiing switch on a groomed run.

I've seen two other Surface skis on the hill and they were a little banged up with broken edges and delaminating layers. Both were skied by pros who spend much more time on the snow than I ever will so I am not too concerned.

Testing Conditions

Unfortunately, there was no pow, no crud, no cut up snow the two days I was riding these skis. Just fast super hard pack with a ton of ice. Kind of World Cup material, stuff I normally don't care about.

I demoed Watch Life 182cm and Pulse 180cm. Handling Watch Life feels like a harder flex ski than Pulse. It won't carve groomers at low speed. You need to push it a little, or a lot if you like to get a nice clean carve. It felt incredibly stable and safe at high speeds, although I wasn't able to put enough weight on my uphill ski. Although this may have to do with my style, the uphill ski felt a little loose, but it didn't seem to affect the overall stability.

There were few people on the hill and I rode Watch Life probably too fast for resort skiing most of the time. It's at those high speeds that it performed the best. Low speed is not kind to it. The edge-to-edge transfer is very lazy. I was skiing with bindings mounted forward of the line and when I moved the demo bindings backwards, it was even harder to initiate turns but the ski was even more stable in strong dynamic carves.

Pulse on the other hand carves beautifully at any speed. It is super fast edge-to-edge. It's like when you watch fighter jets fly in formation and a couple of them peel off to the side all of the sudden. That's how Pulse feels underfoot.

You can ski it very slow and keep all the elegance while hanging out with slow skiers, or you can rip it like a speed demon. OK, for some reason I felt less secure on it at high speeds than on Watch Life, but it could all be in my head. It carves so cleanly that I couldn't believe my own tracks.

Top Sheet

Who cares about the top sheet? It gets damaged in no time anyway. I'd just as well ski a solid color ski, but for you dandy skiers who like to look at what you ride, Watch Life has a pretty lame graphic, but it does stand out in the lift lines and it solicited some praise from teenagers. Go figure.

Pulse has an EKG pulse graph (Hart, EKG, get it?) and printed circuit board lines. Was this stuff ever cool, or am I completely out of touch with what's hot? It does have an interesting bottom layer made with lenticular 3D or some similar technology. The graphics seem to float on top of this layer. Even so, if you're looking at your skis instead of what's in the front, you have no business skiing.

Surface Watch Life or Hart Pulse?

Pulse is an awesome ski if you stay on the groomers most of the time. I have a feeling that it would handle moguls well, but this is just a guess. It's a snappy fast turner, real elegant and fun to ski at any speed.

Watch Life should be renamed Heartbreaker not because it's better than a Hart ski, but because your boyfriend or girlfriend will never be able to catch up with you ski on it.

If Pulse is an F-15, Watch Life is some kind of fast, giant cargo plane that can land on a dirt strip behind the enemy lines and deliver tanks. It requires an aggressive style, it's not easy to ski.

Speed alone is not necessarily a good thing. I don't even like skiing fast, but I took a leap of faith and bought Watch Life hoping that it's going to outperform Pulse in pow and variable snow.

Now excuse me, I have to go to the gym to build up my core because this ski will kick my ass.


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