2019-2020 Salomon MTN Explore 95

Firm, Bumpy Conditions

Firm, bumpy terrain is often the place where stiff, lightweight skis start to become much less predictable due to an increased tendency for deflection. Despite spending most of my time skiing the Explore 95 with the Atomic Backland Carbon (a relatively stiff boot that’s lacking in progressive flex / dampening), I was surprised how composed these skis remained even when pushed hard.

Compared to some of the similarly lightweight or lighter DPS skis (I have brief time on their Tour 99) or the Dynafit Manaslu, the MTN Explore 95 is much less flappable at speed in hard, bumpy snow. The G3 Ion bindings do have some elasticity which I’m sure helps, but I attribute most of this to the construction of the ski. I also think that some of this predictability and stability is related to the relatively long sidecut profile and an excellent balance between the camber and tip rocker.


It’s been awhile since I’ve skied pow on a 95mm-wide ski (although I still remember how floaty and fat my 95mm-wide Seth Pistols felt in powder circa 2003), and was surprised how much fun I had on the MTN Explore 95 in boot top, low-density pow while touring in the Mt. Cheeseman backcountry of New Zealand. I was generally able to keep the tips up, and with a little effort, could break them free into most turn shapes.

Paul Forward reviews the Salomon MTN Explore 95 for Blister Gear Review.
Paul Forward on the Salomon MTN Explore 95, Mt. Cheeseman backcountry, NZ.

I made six runs on the same slope that afternoon, and swapped out onto the G3 Synapse 109. It only took a few turns on the Synapse 109 to realize that its heavily rocked and tapered shape offered much more flotation and playfulness in powder than the MTN Explore 95 (the Synapse 109 is not only wider, it has a much more powder-specific shape than the Explore 95), but at least in relatively shallow, low-density snow, I still had blast on the Salomons. Compared to similarly categorized skis like the Dynafit Manaslu, I prefer the MTN Explore 95 (especially at higher speeds) due its increased stability and just the right amount of tip rocker to stay on top.

Breakable Crust

To me, 95 mm is about as narrow as I’d want to go when breakable crust is on the menu for the day. Any skinnier, and my 190 lbs plus gear makes it a lot more difficult to work my tips and downhill edges up onto the crust for some semblance of control.

As is the theme for me on the MTN Explore 95, I’ve found them to be highly predictable even when the snow is highly unpredictable. This characteristic alone puts them high on my list of skis that I want to be on when bopping around in serious terrain and no fall zones, and makes them a great choice for endeavors that might verge on ski mountaineering (usually involving ropework and highly technical, exposed ascents and descents).

Soft Chop

Relative to their weight and intended use, the MTN Explore 95 provides a remarkably stable and predictable ride in soft or deep chop, even when the snow is set up and a bit heavier. That said, regardless of whether I was skiing them with the Atomic Backland Carbon or the Salomon MTN Lab, the MTN Explore 95 certainly isn’t going to be on anyone’s list of great skis for charging around the resort off-piste. They are reasonably damp and the medium-stiff flex provides more power than expected, but compared to any dedicated resort ski or even some other lightweight (but not quite as light) touring skis like the Blizzard Zero G 108, the MTN Explore 95 gets knocked around quite a bit.

Smooth Corn / Groomers

Down in New Zealand I had the opportunity to ski groomers a few times, and I even spent some time arcing around on the MTN Explore 95 coupled with the Atomic Backland Carbon boot.

Paul Forward reviews the Salomon MTN Explore 95 for Blister Gear Review.
Paul Forward on the Salomon MTN Explore 95, Porters Ski Area, NZ.

On firm groomers, this combination worked well enough to carve some clean turns on hard, refrozen corduroy, and was reasonably fun—though I never felt like I had quite enough power out of the boot to really bend the skis into the top of the turn. On sun-softened groomers or smooth backcountry corn runs, however, the MTN Explore 95 really came alive with powerful, carved turns and excellent grip.

As of now, it will be hard to force myself to grab any other ski this spring if I get out for some big days of smooth corn carving.

Jump turns

I love bouncing down tight, steep terrain, and have written about the nuances of different types of skis for this type of skiing. Typically I prefer a ski with minimal early tip taper, and a smooth, relatively low tip rocker profile. This combination allows for easy pivoting on the shovel of the ski, and gives the skier the option of landing on a hard or soft edge depending on the desired turn shape and speed of descent.

The MTN Explore 95 exhibits these design features as nicely as any ski I’ve used, and as expected, is an exemplary ski for jump turning down steep terrain, whether firm or soft.

Bottom Line

Backcountry skiers looking for a remarkably stable and predictable ski, and who don’t mind an extra ~300 grams (in comparison to other companies similar offerings) should put the MTN Explore 95 high on their list. There is a large and growing assortment of 90-100mm-wide lightweight touring skis, and the MTN Explore 95 sits on the slightly heavier, more powerful side of the spectrum.

I am very interested to see how the MTN Explore 95 stacks up to skis like the Blizzard Zero G 95 and the Volkl BMT 94, but I suspect that the MTN Explore 95 will continue to be a top choice for me when I’m headed out for a long day and I’m not sure what sort of conditions I’ll encounter.


17 comments on “2019-2020 Salomon MTN Explore 95”

  1. Sounds very similar to the design and performance of the Kastle TX97 which I own and love. Suspect from the comments the Kastle is a bit more of a charger than the Salomon which would fit most peoples expectation. I find the 95-100mm range in a more traditional style the most versatile in mixed conditions and they ski pow just fine, are good in firm considtions and still tour very well. By European std’s more than 100mm in a touring ski is rare and while I love your guys reviews it’s great to see more sub 100mm skis which are the meat of the overall market making it to your review list.

  2. Thanks for the review, Paul. Cool site. I’m pretty sold on this ski as an all-arounder that I can use at the resort, but still light and versatile in the backcountry. I’m looking to use this as my middle ski in a quiver of 3 with an ultralight ski, for faster/longer efforts and a bigger powder board. I’m a little torn between the 177 and 184 length. I’m 6’2, 175, and I’d say I’m solidly intermediate, so having something a little shorter appeals for tighter couloirs/trees etc. Do you think 177 would be enough? I’m really into lightweight gear, and I’m still sort of intimidated by turning a longer ski in tight terrain, but I also know sizing is a little different with shapes of some of these modern rockered skis. Thanks!

  3. Similar question. Looking to use them mainly for touring, but occasional piste use. I’m 6ft1, 168lbs, intermediate skier. Have enjoyed skiing the synapse 92, but got very chattery on chopped up snow. I’ll probably look to get them mounted G3 ion 10s and have the tlt7 boots. Wondering between the 177cm or 184cm.


  4. What’s up with variation in camber between skis of the same model?

    You reviewed some nearly flat Blizzard Zero G 108s, and mine clearly have a decent amount of camber.

    I just picked up some MTN Explore 95s and mine have 17 mm of camber between skis when unweighted. 8.5 mm per ski. Way more than the 3 mm you list here. More than any backcountry ski I’ve seen in a long time.

    I enjoy the Zero G 108s. I don’t mind cambered skis, but this seems excessive. I’m worried they’ll be a more of a chore than necessary in crusty snow . Am I crazy?

  5. I’m skiing the volkl carbon Katanas. Love them on descents, but I find them challenging skinning steep corn, firm or not.

    Probably because of the width.

    How much would I be giving up with the Salomon in challenging snow conditions on the descent?

    Wind affected, crust, slush.

    The Katanas excel in these conditions.

    Than you

  6. Hi Folks
    I am looking at this ski for an east coast (US) backcountry and resort ski and am debating between the 177 and 184. I am 6’1 175 lbs intermediate/advanced (but not expert). Would like good manoeuvrability in moguls, trees, etc and be able to learn jump turns, but at the same time don’t want something that is too short/twitchy for me. Would you have any advice?

  7. Had about 20 days on these skis(almost touring&pow riding) last season and everything in the review was confirmed. The only downside, I mentioned is the flat tails design-if you have to go back in some steep and tight terrain it’s an inconvenience..thanks for the another precise review, folks!

    • Could you comment on the size and your height and weight? I am 1.81 m / 80 kg (5’11 / 176 lbs) and cannot decide between getting them in 177 or 184.

  8. Thanks for the review, super useful as always. Any idea how these compare to the Black Diamond Helio 95s? I know there’s a review of the Helio 106s on here but couldn’t find anything on the 95s. I imagine they ski pretty similarly, with the MTNs perhaps being a bit better on the down at the cost of slightly more weight?

    • I haven’t skied these but just looking at them it seems the Camox is a little more soft snow oriented and the MTN will be a little better in firm and mixed conditions.

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