We took one for the team and spent two days at “work” testing the skis of the future at SIA’s OnTheSnow Demo event at Copper Mountain last week to find the best daily drivers of 2018.
It’s hard to find a ski that truly does it all. But when you find the right ski, that perfect year-round mountain companion that stays true to you on hard pack and storm days alike, you hold it tight and never let it go. So with two days of non-step ski testing, we narrowed down our selection to make your life a little easier. Whether you’re skiing twelve inches of blower pow, shredding bumps or ripping corduroy, these skis won’t let you down.
Blizzard Bonafide – Unofficial Networks Editor’s Pick
Made in Austria, the Blizzard Bonafide is the traditional skier’s do-all, shred-everything ski. This year, Blizzard has decreased the amount of tip rocker, making the planks ski longer without losing their nimble nature. Overall, this was our favorite daily driver of SIA.
Lengths: 166, 173, 180, 188
Kastle BMX 105
This year, Kastle brings back its classic, BMX 105 and not much has changed. A couple of years back Kastle extended their air-core tips, making the setup a touch lighter without compromising the overall product that Kastle customers have come to expect.
Lengths: 173, 181, 189
Dimensions: 134, 105, 123
Rocker: Progressive rise rocker
Elan Ripstick 96
Elan continues to break onto the freeride scene with their previously praised Ripstick 106. This year, we had the pleasure of going smaller and trying out the narrower waisted, Ripstick 96 and we can say the brand name matches the product. The 96 is the most nimble ski on this list and feels at ease with medium to shorter radius turns. If hardpack/chalk/bootdeep pow is your mountain’s modus operandi– this ski is in an entire league of its own.
Lengths: 134, 96, 113
Dimensions: 174, 181, 188
Rocker: Amphibio Profile
Salomon QST 106
The 2018 QST is the exact same as this years and the lack of change is a testament to the ski’s quality build and utilitarian shape. Salomon seems to have finally finished what started with its new QST offerings. Stiff yet nimble, playful yet demanding– this ski is a force to be reckoned with.
Lengths: 167, 174, 181, 188
Rocker: Tip and tail rocker
Head KORE 105
More powder than anything else, the new KORE series is a great daily driver for those who live in particularly snowy areas. Whether that’s the PNW, Jackson, or Snowbird, this ski is lighter and more playful than HEAD’s earlier big mountain offerings. That said, it still retains the burly HEAD backbone that loyalists know and love.
Lengths: 171, 180, 189
Dimensions: 135, 105, 125
Rocker: Allride rocker
When Volkl changed the Mantra from a traditional build to reverse camber, many skiers held a skeptical outlook. This year, the German ski company seems to have perfected their goal of creating a reverse camber ski that rips hardpack and powder equally well and we couldn’t be more stoked to have the Mantra back as one of the most reliable daily drivers on the market.
Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191
Dimensions: 132, 100, 118
Rocker: Full rocker
Black Crows Atris Birdie – Unofficial Networks Editor’s Pick
The Atris Birdie takes the cake this year for the most versatile women’s big mountain ski. Don’t let the wide waist width fool you, the Atris Birdie is a super versatile ski that performs well in all conditions. Slightly wider than a traditional all mountain ski, the Atris Birdie skis more like a 95 in hard pack but of course, floats like a feather on those ultra-deep days we dream about.
Lengths: 169.1, 178.3
Dimensions: 138, 108, 125
Blizzard Sheeva 10
A fast and responsive ski, the Blizzard Sheeva 10 integrates carbon fiber in its core making it slightly lighter than its male counterpart, the Rustler 10. Whether you’re blasting through crud or sailing through powder, the Sheeva 10 maintains a perfect balance of edge grip and flotation.
Lengths: 156, 164, 172
Dimensions: 131.2, 102, 121.5
Armada Trace 98
Get ready for a hell of a lot of fun on the hill with Armada’s new Trace line. We recommend the Trace 98, which incorporate’s Armada’s new Xrystal Mesh technology. We know what you’re thinking and yes, it’s called Xrystal Mesh. Armada uses mesh in the core to dampen the contact area, creating stability and power without added weight.
Lengths: 156, 164, 172
Dimensions: 127, 98, 119
Rocker: EST All Mountain Rocker
Nordica Santa Ana 100
For a light, maneuverable ski, the Santa Ana will be your new best friend. A women’s specific design featuring a balsa core makes the ski nimble and powerful while reducing weight. Groomers, powder, crud, this ski handles all the above.
Lengths: 153, 161, 169, 177
Dimensions: 131, 100, 119
Rocker: All Mountain camRock