3-Ski Quiver: Reviewers’ Choices (17/18)

Paul Forward (see Bio)


I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?

Ski #1: Firm-Snow Resort Ski

Alyeska is my home hill (5 min away), and since I’ll always have a big pow board mounted up with alpine bindings, I can have something a little skinnier in the quiver for firm-snow riding. I love carving at high edge-angles on groomers, smashing through crud, and hop turning down the steepest parts of the hill, even when it’s not powdery. The ski I had the most fun on last year in this sort of terrain was probably the 191 cm Volkl Mantra. The 184 cm Mantra is a little easier to swing around in tight spots and hop turn, but the 191 cm feels like a missile on Alyeska’s big terrain and can still pivot and skid when needed.

Blister Review's 3-Ski Quiver Selections
Volkl Mantra


Ski #2: Backcountry Touring Powder Ski

I still try to spend a large portion of my season touring for powder, so a lightweight ski that can float well enough in pow but still handle some variable or firm conditions is a must. Lightweight is important, but downhill performance is even more important for me. I spend most of my time touring on skis in the 115-125 mm range during much of the winter, but if I’m going to ride one touring ski all season, I’d probably opt for for something skinnier. From what’s currently out there, the ski that probably best fits this description is the Volkl BMT 109. I’d miss the float of the BMT 122 on the big lines, but the 109 will handle all terrain pretty well and will do better on anything firm.

Blister Review's 3-Ski Quiver Selections
Volkl BMT 109


Ski #3: Mechanized Backcountry / Resort Powder Ski

The final ski will have to be the 191 cm DPS Lotus 124 Alchemist Spoon. I spend 10-12 weeks per year guiding heli skiing for up to 7 days per week. Some days I’m skiing long glacial pow runs, but many days I’m riding steep, deep conditions and sometimes I’m on the biggest lines of my life. I need a strong, stable ski that can handle chundery late-season runouts but still be quick and light underfoot to handle super steep and technical terrain. The Lotus 124 Alchemist does this as well as any ski I’ve used but is still versatile enough that I’m happy to smash around Alyeska on them in just about any condition. The 124 is also light enough that if I was really stuck skiing just 3 pairs all season, I could either insert them for tech bindings or just redrill for big spring touring trips after the heli season is over.

Blister Review's 3-Ski Quiver Selections
DPS Lotus 124 Alchemist Spoon


II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

In reality, I do most of my touring on pretty fat skis. While the BMT 109 is quite versatile, the BMT 122 or Moment Bibby Tour are skis that I’d probably spend a lot more time on each season, but they wouldn’t be as fun for late spring/summer or early season adventures when I’d want a fourth pair of skis like the Salomon MTN Explore 95, 4FRNT Raven, or Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon.

It’s also hard to leave off a 105-110 mm damp inbounds ski. I could easily go for a Blizzard Cochise or 4FRNT Devastator in place of the Mantra, but as long as I have the DPS Lotus 124 Alchemist for anything soft, I’ll probably take the skinnier Mantra for some hip dragging and firm-snow smashing.


III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

I’m quite impressed by the DPS Lotus 124 Alchemist and I’m excited to check out the Alchemist version of the 189 cm DPS Wailer 106. I wasn’t blown away by the 185 cm Foundation version, but the additional length and different construction could create a very versatile ski.

I’m also cautiously optimistic about the Black Diamond Helio 116 Carbon as it’s weight-to-width ratio is impressive, and if it skis like a fatter version of the Helio 105 in soft snow, it could be a great ski for big days of human-powered pow skiing.

The Black Crows Anima Freebird is probably also a candidate in the category of the Bibby Tour or BMT 122 as a reasonably light pow touring ski. Based on my brief time on the regular Anima, the lighter Freebird version likely shares the same excellent width-to-float ratio but will likely be even less stable on edge than the normal version.

Also, the Black Crows Daemon sounds super interesting to me based on Jonathan’s review. If it’s an overall better ski than the Mantra, sign me up!


IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

This is a tough one for me. I could make do with a Volkl quiver consisting of a Mantra for firm lift-served days, a BMT 109 with a tech binding for touring, and a BMT 122 with an alpine binding for heli skiing and inbounds pow skiing. This quiver isn’t ideal, and I’d really miss the Lotus 124 or some other big mountain pow ski, but the 122 is a respectable pow ski and more fun for inbounds pow than the Volkl Three (now called the Bash 135) or Volkl Two, and the Volkl Confession doesn’t have the powder performance that I’m looking for.

A DPS quiver could work with the Lotus 124 Alchemist, Wailer 106 Alchemist, and one of their skinnier frontside carvers, but I’m not sold on the Alchemist construction enough to expect that an Alchemist version of the DPS Cassiar could match a ~100 mm metal-laminate ski.

The company I’m most curious about is Black Crows. The Nocta looks like it could be a sweet heli ski, the Anima Freebird would suffice for soft-snow touring, and the Daemon sounds like a great choice for firm days under the lifts. But I’ve yet to ride any of those skis.


NEXT: Kara Williard’s 3-Ski Quiver Selections

21 comments on “3-Ski Quiver: Reviewers’ Choices (17/18)”

  1. FYI about the BMT series and non-Marker binding compatibility: I’ve mounted the BMT 94 (also only made for Marker bindings) with the Vipec, but used inserts and haven’t had any issues to date. I’ve put 7 days on them last spring, Expert skier, style: 160 lbs and ski in a playful directional way, but fairly hard. I’ve even subjected them to a day of resort laps in firm, cruddy snow, that was just beginning to thaw a bit and they held up. They actually skied surprisingly well for their low weight..

    You guys really should have reviewed the BMT 94 before it was replaced with the now cambered BMT 90.. The 94 is soooo much fun as a narrow touring ski for firm / spring conditions. It has tenacious grip in firm snow, you wouldn’t even know it’s fully rockered! Until you try the first ankle initiated slarve in spring corn..

  2. Great write up, I was hoping you guys would drop a quiver article this year.

    There were a few mentions of using multiple binding patterns on the same ski with inserts. Have you noticed any change in performance or stiffness when there are multiple insert patterns drilled?

  3. The love for blizzards appears to be over compared to the last couple of years…. was it that good of a snow year in the US? ;)

    • For the Western side of the U.S., yeah. Some Californian resorts were open until August, and when the temps around 2 hours away were over 100f.

  4. Awesome stuff. Surprised the Nordica Enforcer 100 didn’t make anybody’s cut, since it reviewed well here (and everywhere else).

    Looking forward to the A/B of Monster 88 and 98. The 88 is on my short list, but may have a bit too much overlap with the Enforcer 100 sitting in my garage.

    • Hi, Tom – I mention the Enforcer 100 and offer my explanation. It’s a fantastic ski, no question. And others will prefer it to my pick – it’s such an easy ski to recommend.

      As for the Monster 88, I personally don’t think it has too much overlap with the Enforcer 100. On really firm snow, the Monster 88 blows the Enforcer 100 away in terms of stability at speed. Whereas in deeper snow, the Enforcer 100 would blow the Monster 88 away. The Monster 88 is simply one of the best / burliest firm-snow skis we’ve been on. I’m not 100% ready to put it in the same category as the Salomon X-Drive 8.8 … but I’m about 99.2% ready to do that. It’s really, really good.

  5. Pretty cool segment! Dialing in my 3 ski quiver has been a hobby of mine to kill time at work forever. It’d be nice if you mixed in a lady reviewer. I personally don’t like most skis over 115 underfoot because they drive me more than I do them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong ass lady and am by no means small but still it’s often too much much ski for me. Since most of these reviews had skis bigger than that I’d like to hear some lady’s opinions. Cmon at least add one before you publish an article like this…. we are 40% of the market.

  6. Jonathan,

    The quiver section is my favorite. Quick question for you. My travel quiver is Kastle MX84 185cm and Bibby Pro 190cm. What would you choose for the middle spot the Masterblaster or the Kartel. I am 6′ 220 expert. Ski mainly Utah and Wyoming. Thanks Steve

    • Hi, Steve – for this middle ski, the more you care about its carving / groomer performance, the more I’d opt for the Masterblaster. Beyond that, you just have to make the decision: the Masterblaster is the better firm-conditions ski, but it can also handle some deeper snow – easily 6-12″, where I, at least, wouldn’t hesitate to then break out the Bibby. The Kartel 108 is going to overlap more with the Bibby, but it’s certainly a fun, all-mountain ride. So I’d think you’d want to go with it the more interested you are in — when you’re not skiing the Bibby — opting for 1 of 2 very different styles of ski, the MX84 (traditional carver) or the Kartel 108 (more versatile, way more playful, all-mountain ski). I.e., the MX84 anchors the groomer / carving side of the quiver. The Bibby anchors your deep snow / variable conditons end. Now just decide where you’re willing to overlap a bit / have zero performance gaps (MX84 + Kartel 108 + Bibby, or MX84 + Masterblaster + Bibby). Two good options, just depends now on your preferences.

  7. I am surprised you picked the Kartel 108 over the Wrenegade 108 given you prefer directional skis. I am assuming the bump up in playfulness of the Kartel is greater than the bump up in stability of the Wrenegade. Is that a correct assumption or were you looking for greater differentiation between skis in your three ski quiver?

  8. I realize this is not really what blister is about but I’m surprised that even though you pick skis specifically for groomers nobody chose an actual SL/GS carving ski like the Fischer RC4, Stöckli Laser, Nordica Dobermann etc.
    Has any of you ever skied something like that?

    • You and I may be in a club of two here at Blister, but I enjoy skiing my Head SLs and Titans as much as my wider skis.

      It doesn’t hurt that these skis usually come out on bluebird, windless days, and that crowds on those days tend to run around 20% of a good powder day!

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