Ski: 2019-2020 Salomon MTN Explore 95, 184 cm
Available Lengths (cm): 169, 177, 184
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 183.1 cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 130-95-116
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1618 & 1633 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius (184 cm): 18.8 meters
Core Construction: Poplar + Carbon & Flax Fiber Laminate
Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): 65 mm / 5 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm
Factory Recommended Line: -10 cm from center; 81.5 cm from tail
Mount Location: Recommended Line
Days Tested: 12
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 16/17 & 18/19 MTN Explore 95. While Salomon states that no changes have been made to that ski from 16/17–21/22, apart from graphics, our two pairs of the 18/19 ski came in about 50-70 grams heaveir per ski. After spending dozens of days on both the lighter and heavier pairs, we were not able to notice any considerable performance difference. Our measured weight is the average of the two pairs of 18/19 skis.]
Introduction & Sneak Peek: Our Lightweight Touring Binding Test
We first skied the MTN Explore 95 a few seasons back, and a few seasons later this ski continues to stand out to us in the category of ~95mm-wide touring skis.
And that’s why we’ve chosen it as the benchmark ski that we’re going to use for our ultralight touring binding comparison test we’re conducting this spring. We’ll be releasing more details soon, but what we can say now is that it will be similar to what we did in our AT Binding Shootout, but with some of the lighter touring bindings that will be on the market for the 18/19 season.
Salomon describes the MTN Explore 95 as having, “the best ratio between climbing efficiency and downhill performance,” and they list a variety of features including a lightweight “Carbon and Flax core,” and a rocker and sidecut profile that they claim “increases edge grip while skinning and traversing.”
I’ve put time on the MTN Explore 95 both in New Zealand and in Alaska, and other Blister reviewers have spent time on the Explore 95 in Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, etc, and we have all come away impressed by how fun they are to ski in a wide variety of conditions.
The MTN Explore 95 is no noodle. The tails are stiff (call them medium stiff), and that stiffness carries through under the bindings and just in front of the ski. The front 30 cm of the ski then goes a bit softer through the shovels and tips.
Handflexing the ski, here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern:
In front of the Toe Piece: 8-9
Behind the Heel Piece: 9-8.5
The MTN Explore 95 is notably stiffer than the 185 cm Blizzard Zero G 108. I have not been able to compare the the MTN Explore 95 to the Zero G 95, but to my recollection, the Zero G 95 is a little stiffer than the Zero G 108.
I am typically wary of stiff skis that are also quite light, and have learned that the combination of light and stiff can be a liability—especially in firm, bumpy conditions. As I’ll elaborate below, the MTN Explore 95 does well in these conditions despite its light & fairly stiff makeup.
It is interesting that Salomon built a ~1630 gram dedicated touring ski in a world where 95mm skis are routinely coming in around 300 g lighter per ski (e.g., the 185 cm Blizzard Zero G 95 has a stated weight of ~1340 g per ski). There are skiers and applications for which 300 g per ski could be a significant difference but, as you’ll read below, it seems obvious that Salomon intentionally went a bit heavier to gain certain characteristics on the descent.
We mounted these with G3 Ion’s right on the recommended BSL mark, and were quite happy with the result. In the past I have found Salomon’s recommended mounting points to be a bit too far forward for me (I moved back 2 cm from recommended on both the Rocker 2 122 and the Quest 115) but I wouldn’t change a thing about my mount position on the MTN Explore 95. The Explore 95’s recommended line comes in at 10 cm behind true center, which is a very common / traditional location for a directional ski like this.
I’ll break down the MTN Explore 95 based on different types of snow conditions, but overall, I’ve mostly kept thinking how intuitive and predictable the ski feels. All things considered, it is one of the easiest skis to jump on and start skiing without any need for adjustment. It’s easy, predictable, reasonably stable, and always does what I want it to.
Firm, Smooth, Chalky Snow
New Zealand offered up a lot of fun, chalky, firm snow this year, particularly in some of the steeper and more featured terrain. In these conditions, the MTN Explore 95 excelled.
The sidecut radius and moderate tip rocker allowed the ski to hold an edge well both at speed and on slower, more deliberate turns. The camber underfoot adds a little extra pop that is also helpful when hop-turning in tight terrain, but also loans the ski a little extra rebound when arcing long turns in bigger terrain, or even on groomers.
Firm, Bumpy Conditions, Powder, Etc.