Carlo had the opportunity to try out the X-ALPS4. Like its predecessor, X-ALPS4 is an ultralight 3-liner with 6.99 aspect ratio, nylon wires, complex internal design, and certified EN/LTF D. Skywalk explain that they deliberately chose a 3-line concept for the X-ALPS4 because they feel this is currently the best symbiosis of high performance, low weight and ease of use. “The X-ALPS4 is not only for the athletes of the 2019 Red Bull-X-Alps… but also for all XC pilots looking for a performant and extremely well-balanced racing wing.”
Skywalk X-ALPS4: Construction
The supplied light rucksack and concertina bag are very good. I am not a big fan of the ‘bootlace style’ Dyneema cord risers–I prefer lightweight ‘webbing style’ risers as I find them easier to handle and have proven to be more dimensionally stable–however Skywalk have designed and constructed the XA4 risers very well, much better than some others. On this note, the general build quality and finish is excellent, amongst the best in the industry.
It feels very different to the X-ALPS3. The ground handling of the X-ALPS4 is much more sorted, inflating more easily, with less of a tendency to drop back from lower angles or dive forward at the top of the launch arc, making launching and kiting much easier and more controllable.
In the air the X-ALPS4 feels more solid, more cohesive, more collapse resistant and more pitch stable than the X-ALPS3. The controls are rather firm, with moderate to heavy brake pressure (a bit lighter than the X-ALPS3), and the response is direct and progressive. I personally found the handling and feeling/feedback of the X-ALPS4 more functional than pleasurable, however these are very subjective things, a matter of taste; I expect that some pilots will like the firm, solid feeling of the wing.
The ‘speed control handles’ on the rear risers (to control speed and pitch and fly actively when using the speed bar) are quite easy to use and effective. Accelerated the wing feels solid, cohesive, efficient and pretty fast.
Skywalk X-ALPS4: Who is it for?
The X-ALPS4 could be an excellent choice for an expert pilot looking for a high performance ultralight EN D glider with good launch behaviour and who prefers a 3-liner and doesn’t mind long nylon wires and associated packing pillows.
Combine this wing with a Skywalk BACKPACK HIKE 2 plus a matching Skywalk RANGE X-ALPS2 ultralight pod harness and you’ll have a great set of ultralight, ultra compact gear for ambitious hike and fly adventures or racing.