2015-2016 Volkl One

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Volkl One for Blister Gear Review
2015-2016 Volkl One

First Look: 2015-2016 Volkl One, 186cm

Dimensions (mm): 138-116-130

Sidecut Radius: 27.5 meters

Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 185.0 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2373 & 2378

Mount Position: +1 of Factory Recommended

Boots / Bindings: Salomon X-Pro 120 / Marker Jester

Test Location: Mount Olympus, New Zealand

Days Skied: 2

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 One, which was not changed for 15/16, except for the graphics.]
Preface: I picked the new Volkl One as part of my two-ski quiver for Taos, and as I noted there, I still need to get more time on the One, especially in deeper snow. But a lot of readers have been asking us about this, so here is a very preliminary first look.

In some fairly big news this season: Volkl has come out with some new “fun-shape” skis, the One and the Two.

Given that I’ve been rekindling a love affair with the non-fun-shaped Volkl Mantra (review forthcoming), I didn’t really care, because I assumed that Volkl was just jumping on an industry trend and building a super-rockered, super-soft, pow noodle with a tiny sidecut radius—not that there’d be anything wrong with that, we’ve just already seen it.

Thankfully, Jason Hutchins and Will Brown kept insisting that we needed to take the One down to Canterbury, New Zealand with us, so we did.

And it wasn’t till we were down in New Zealand (and sadly, it wasn’t till we were pretty far into the trip), that I finally began to really check this ski out.

So despite the fact that this ski would generate a lot of interest, I didn’t really feel like skiing it, and I kept waiting for the “right conditions” to emerge: basically fairly deep, perfect snow—you know, the type of snow where basically any ski will do just fine.

But having put two days on the One in big-mountain terrain and conditions that were far from deep, perfect pow, I can definitely say that I wasn’t giving the designers of the One nearly enough credit. So I’ll apologize for that, and we’ll be following up with a 2nd Look as soon as possible.

First, let’s look at Volkl’s own description of the One:

“A powder ski for easy, drifty turns, the new Völkl One is a brand new model for skiers who want to excel in both deep and variable snow conditions. The early taper in the tip and tail allow the ski to instantly maneuver in any direction at any time. ELP Full Rocker design allows a slightly stiffer flex than other skis in this category, for added stability.”

A powder ski for easy, drifty turns…

Yeah. A quick glance at the very seriously significant amount of tip and tail rocker on the One is enough to hammer home the point that this ski will do “easy, drifty” really well. It has (a) deep rocker lines and (b) a substantial amount of splay in both the tip and tail. And I admit—in general, I don’t mind if skis have either a or b, but I’m not that interested in a and b. And that is a big reason why the One didn’t immediately pique my interest. But let’s continue:

For skiers who want to excel in both deep and variable snow conditions.

Wait, what? Excel in deep snow, sure. And I am already willing to wager that the Volkl One will be one of the best ~115mm pow skis out there in deeeep snow. 116mm underfoot isn’t that fat, nor is the One’s tip, at 138mm. But look at those deep rocker lines and the amount of splay…

But what’s crazy is the next claim, the “For skiers who want to excel in … variable snow conditions.”

Normally, this is where I cry “Marketing BS.” Lots of tip rocker + lots of splay = fun in pow, and allows a ski to “maneuver in any direction at any time” — e.g. slash quick turns, pivot through trees, or execute huge, sustained, sideways, power slides.

But excel in variable?

And this is where I think the One gets really interesting. Look at the tips and tails. Volkl talks about the “early taper in the tip and tail,” but I’m not sure that “early taper” best describes the One’s tip and tail shapes. Skis like the Armada JJ, the new Rossignol Super 7, or the DPS Wailer 112RP have a lot of early taper—where the widest point of the tip is pushed further down into the body of the ski. In general skis like that are very quick and have a low swing weight, because mass has been moved away from the extremities of the ski. But as a result, stability in chop and crud is often diminished.

The One, however, doesn’t actually have a lot of taper in the tip and tail—that is, the widest section of the shovel isn’t much wider than the narrowest portion of the shovel and tip. Compared to the JJ, the One’s tips and tails are quite straight, not tapered. So the widest portions of the tip and tail are actually quite close to the extremities of the ski—a common design quality of skis that are good in variable conditions, chop, and crud.

And you know what else?

Volkl doesn’t mention it in their description, but check out the sidecut radius of the 186cm One—27.5 meters. That’s a much bigger sidecut radius than most “fun-shape” skis. The 185cm Armada JJ = 16 meters. The 184cm DPS Wailer 112RP = 15-18 meters. The 188cm, 13/14 Rossignol Super 7 = 20.8 meters.

Look back at those skis that are famous for their performance in variable conditions, and you will rarely find a ski with less than a 25-meter sidecut radius. And the 186cm One has a sidecut radius right around that of the 191cm Volkl Katana, the 187cm Moment Belafonte, and the 185cm Blizzard Cochise. Interesting.

But that’s not all. Volkl continues:

ELP Full Rocker design allows a slightly stiffer flex than other skis in this category…

And Volkl’s not kidding. And they could have left out the word “slightly.” The One is a pretty stiff ski, and it is definitely stiff compared to “other skis in this category.”

When handflexing, the tail of the One is a little softer than the tip, but the One has a strong-medium, maybe even medium-stiff, flex through the forebody and behind the binding of the ski.

Compared to the 13/14 Blizzard Gunsmoke, the One is softer over the twinned-up portion of the tail (the very last 3-4cms of the tail), but it then it quickly gets stiffer toward the bindings than the Gunsmoke does.

Compared to the Kastle West 110, the One is simply stiffer all around. The West 110 has a soft tail, a medium flex underfoot, and transition from medium to medium / soft through the forebody of the ski and the tip.

Exception to the Rule: Volkl One vs. Praxis MVP — in a stiff, carbon layup

While the MVP is narrower than the One, the MVP has a fairly similar rocker profile to the One. But the MVP was a ski that didn’t quite click for several of us at Blister (Jason Hutchins, Garrett Altmann, and I all put time on it) and as Jason wrote in his review of the MVP, he felt that the stiff flex pattern worked against the other design elements of the ski.

Personally, I think there are a couple other key differences between the MVP and the One: the MVP in a stiff flex was being positioned as a comp ski, where emphasis is placed on performance at high speeds in firm, variable conditions. And for that application, the weight-to-stiffness ratio of our test pair, in addition to the rocker profile of the MVP, wasn’t an ideal fit. (The One isn’t as stiff as the MVPs, and the One weighs ~250 grams more per ski than our MVPs.)

Also, the One is being positioned as a loose, easy, drifty pow ski—a soft-snow ski. And in soft chop, the One works very well. But it’s certainly not a comp ski that will go destroy bad conditions. This is a pow ski, and a ski for playing in soft chop and handling transitions from lighter- to heavier-density snow.

Carving Performance

Notice that Volkl doesn’t even mention the word “carving” in their description of the One. I don’t think that was an accident. They’re not selling this as a ski to go dice up groomers, and in their description of their other new, fatter pow ski, the “Two,” they explicitly say that the Two is meant to smear, not carve. Cool. Accuracy and truth and advertising. +1 to you, Volkl.

We didn’t ski any groomers in New Zealand, so I can’t say how good or bad the One is at that activity that Volkl doesn’t even mention in their description of the ski. Good on ’em. This is a pow ski. It’s not a one-ski quiver. Use it accordingly.

What I can say is that you will get back to the chairlift on groomers just fine. You just might not be making super race-steeze, high-angulation carves, that’s all. That okay for now? Hope that’s okay for now. This is a pow ski.

Volkl One: On-Snow Performance

So in two days in New Zealand, how did the One do? It did well, especially given that I had it in conditions that it wasn’t designed for.

My first day on the One, we were skiing at Mount Olympus, and in the middle of a freeze-thaw-freeze cycle. But on this day, temperatures got warmer later, and we spent the morning skiing a lot of very firm, coral reef-type snow. No ski handles this stuff well, and I was pretty nervous, because I figured I was on precisely the opposite type of ski you’d want for conditions like these.

But the One smoothed out those conditions far more than I’d expected. More than anything, I figured that the significant amount of tip and tail rocker would make these skis feel like I was skiing coral reef on ice skates. But as I was chasing snowboard reviewer Justin Bobb around the mountain (Justin is impervious to horrible conditions), I found that so long as I maintained a centered, slightly forward stance and didn’t let myself get knocked into the backseat, the One handled the coral reef far better than I would have imagined.

Volkl One, Blister Gear Review.
Jonathan Ellsworth on the Volkl One, Mt. Olympus, New Zealand.

Thick, Dense Untracked

In heavy cream-cheese snow, the One was smooth, and never felt grabby or hooky. And when we were skiing bigger, open lines at Olympus, the One handled transitions from lighter to denser snow quite well.


NEXT PAGE: Lighter, Deeper Pow

20 comments on “2015-2016 Volkl One”

  1. A review of the volkl two very helpfull because they are extremely new. Also, a comparison with the jj or. Ak jj,what do you think ? Thank you.

  2. Hallo,I am in a difficulty choosing between these skis , so your help would be a great help.
    I am 6.2 and 190. I am mainly skiing on groomers ,and I am just now going into the deep. I am looking for fun ,good float ,control,easy ride ski. I am not interested in maximum speed big lines.My choices: armada jj 185, ( but I am afraid how good will float,everything else I think will be fine), Ak jj. ,and the new volkl two at 186. I would appreciate your opinion very much because I am going to purchase one of them in the next two days the latest.
    Begging for a quick replay,

    Ps: My concernings about the ” weakness” of each ski

    Armada jj 185 : to small for me, i couldn’t float in really deep fresh snow,( tip diving)
    Volkl two : too ” stiff” regarding other skis, how the full rocker will be on the piste, 28.2
    Turning radius will not be so playfull and fun in pow in the end
    Armada AK jj.195: Maybe it will feel big and not so playfull as the jj

  3. Me: 6’1″ 220 lbs. advanced, not expert. Can ski most terrain.

    Just spent the day on the Ones from hardpack to 24 inch powder stashes. One of the funnest skis I’ve ever, ever been on. My normal ride is the sickle 186 on new snow days (for comparison) – which I’ve loved so much I even have a backup pair – thank you Jason! . However, the ones were more buttery, more playful, more “gentle” when in the backseat, more flotation – just fun, fun fun. In the tightest of spots you never once worried about catching an edge or getting in trouble. Absolutely fantastic! Now to comment on sizing – at 220, I’m packing some weight but even in the real deep stuff, I never longed for more width or support. I skied at the 0 mark. I wouldn’t want to give up the 116 versatile waist for the extra width – flotation was superb. Now what surprised me was groomer performance. Granted they were softer groomers – so take it with a grain of salt – but they were surprisingly good. High speeds – stable! The radius felt spot on – no weird hooky behavior like some shorter radius skis. I demoed the soul 7s 188 the other day. The volkl was immensely more stable, grippy, supportive, and fun. Soul7 will be very popular, but it was no contest for a bigger guy like me. The extra weight of the Ones made for a much more smooth ride in ALL conditions.

    Now I own it – it was that fun! And love the site guys – keep up the great work.

  4. Jonathan:

    great site, awesome reviews as always, huge fan. any further comments/thoughts on the ONE? Thinking of adding it to the quiver as a powder ski alongside a 185 cm Cochise for Tahoe resort skiing. Hoping the ski has enough versatility to ride chopped up snow inbounds as the day progresses.

  5. I’m looking for a more relaxed powder ski after 2 years on the thigh-burning Katana 184. I just demoed Volkl One 186 at Whistler on a couple of days with deep-ish conditions. The One was ok but still harder to turn than I would have liked. It kind of insisted on going down the fall line. If I tried tighter turns the tails would skid out. I’m thinking this is due to the long sidecut radius.

    I’m wondering now if either the Volkl Two or maybe Rossi Super 7 might be worth trying. I’m about 6′ 220. Any suggestions?

  6. Very interesting ski with a good price tag. Could test the skis in so-la-la conditions, not much pow but a little bit of everything. Pretty much banana, but solid, its quite stiff underfoot. Because of the pronounced rocker/splay it is not as good on-piste like Line Opus or Rossignol Super 7 (2014), but still decent. Especially if you have different boards for firmer conditions, that should not be worth a thought, like written in Jonathans review: These are powder boards. Smearing them on softish slopes is still fun anyway. I Liked the Rossi Super 7 very much too, was (even) a little bit easier to ride, but not that much better, that I would pay the 200 Eurones extra.

    One (no pun intended) question:

    Where is the recommended mounting point located from center? Thx. Bon.

  7. Jonathan,

    How would you compare the One to the Sickle? Both are full reverse camber and have similar-ish waist widths. I would assume the One would float way better in fresh powder, but how much for a 165lb guy on an average 6-12″ storm? What about general maneuverability (186 Volkl vs. 181 Sickle) and overall crud performance?

  8. Hi guys just purchased the Volkl one 176. I demoed the ski twice
    first with binding at traditional then second with the binding more
    toward centre mount. (+2 for centre of boot as marked on ski.)
    I love the ski and found doing 360 jumps fairly easy. I’m 165 lbs 5
    8 tall. Any comments as to where I should mount the binding. I’m
    thinking of the look FKS. Cheers joe

  9. I am 6 2 and 220. I got the ones at the beginning of the season. As expected great in powder. I also found them really good in crud and chopped up powder when doing shorter turns. What was really surprising was how good they were on moguls, soft groomers and even hard packed, I just need to focus on keeping weight neutral to forward.. I could use them as a daily ski in Utah and Colorado.

  10. Any comparisons between the one and hoji? Pretty close in side cut, full rocker, amount of taper looks close. More twinned up tail in the one, maybe a little looser? What do you guys think?

  11. I’ve skied the one’s for 20 days and really liked them. I am looking for something longer ~190-195, narrower 105-112, and possible a little stiffer as my main resort ski for next season. Any recommendations? I have been considering the Gotama (can’t find any reviews), the cochise (feel like it might be too stiff/not fun). Automatic 117’s will be my deep snow ski and i love those, but want something more aggressive for variable conditions. Thanks!

    • Hey, Edwin – you probably already know this, but keep in mind that those ONEs ski short – a non-fully rockered 195cm ski is going to feel much bigger. (Again, I imagine you realize this.)

      But a couple of skis to consider:

      186cm Line Supernatural 108. If you’re liking the One and the Automatic, I’d say the Supernatural 108 will get you everything you’re looking for, except the couple extra inches — which I wouldn’t worry about.

      Also: Blizzard Peacemaker (see our reviews). 190cm Moment Deathwish. And while it’s probably wider than you’re looking for (and more of a replacement for the ONE or the Automatic) sounds like you should read our review of the ON3P Jeffrey 114 that we’ll post in a day or two…

      • I’m 6’1 190lbs and after spending a lot of time on my 193 automatics I believe I need something in the 190 range which unfortunately substantially limits my options. Both the peacemaker and the supernatural are skis I am interested in but not long enough. The gotamas seem like one of my only options other than the death wish which I will check out. Is there a reason you haven’t reviewed the gotamas? I liked the full rocker of the one and think a narrower, longer version of it is exactly what I’m looking for.

  12. I’m thinking of buying the Volkl one’s (14-15 model). Mostly for powder/fresh snow days, I have line prophet 98 for more all-round skiing. I was wondering what size you would recommend. I am a 5,11 male, 155 pounds. I would say I’m an advanced skier, not expert. Would you recommend 186 of 176 for someone of my size?
    Greetings from the Netherlands!

  13. I was wondering your thoughts on using this as an east coast daily driver. Obviously, its meant to be played with on deep days, but from what I have read, it seems like it would also be a blast to simply play around with on hardpack due to the fully rockered design. I was looking for some thoughts on if this is true, or if it would simply be too cumbersome to maneuver around the mountain

    • I probably wouldn’t. I own a pair of 186s and they are a quiver ski. Great for days when there is fresh snow but I would probably hate it on an icy east coast day.

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