2018-2019 Blizzard Rustler 11

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Blizzard Rustler 11 for Blister Gear Review
Blizzard Rustler 11

Ski: 2018-2019 Blizzard Rustler 11, 188 cm

Available Lengths: 164, 172, 180, 188, 192 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 186.4 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2034 & 2052 grams

Stated Dimensions: 142-114-132 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 141-113-131.5 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius: 21 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 75 mm / 37 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~2 mm

Core:

  • Poplar/Beech/Paulownia/Balsa/ISO (synthetic)
  • Titanal Metal
  • Fiberglass Laminate
  • Carbon Tips/Tails

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -7.8 cm from center; 85.4 cm from tail

Test Locations: Telluride Ski Resort & Arapahoe Basin, CO; Big Sky, MT

Days Skied (Total): 15

[Note: Our review was conducted on the 17/18 Rustler 11, which was not changed for 18/19, apart from graphics.]

Intro

For the 17/18 season, Blizzard is introducing the Rustler 10 and the Rustler 11, and these two skis have already generated a lot of curiosity, buzz, and attention, and for pretty good reason. These two skis effectively replace the Blizzard Peacemaker and Blizzard Gunsmoke, which were both good skis in their own right.

But when you take two skis out of a lineup and replace them with skis of a similar width, the question is inevitable: How similar or different is the Rustler 10 and 11 from the Peacemaker and Gunsmoke (respectively)?

We’ll get to the Rustler 10 later, but here’s what Blizzard has to say about the Rustler 11:

“Blizzard skiers all over the world, from freeride world tour champion Leo Slemett to everyday fun seekers, are now reaching for the all-new Rustler 11 as their go to ski of choice. Carbon Flipcore D.R.T. construction gives them something that is hard to find these days – a playful and forgiving ski that still allows them to shred with confidence and power. Founded on an innovative waist concept: the longer the ski, the wider the waist the Rustler 11 is specifically designed for the individual’s needs. More float, more fun on any terrain, in any conditions. Free to Fun.”

Pretty interesting description, no?

On the one hand, dude won the FWT on this ski. On the other hand, Blizzard uses the word “fun” three times in a single paragraph, along with “forgiving” and “playful.” By contrast — and this probably already jumped out to devotees of the Blizzard Brahma, Bonafide, and Cochise — the word “power” only shows up once.

(Quick aside: a number of companies are — and have been — making their longer skis wider, so no bonus points for Blizzard’s “innovative waist concept.” Furthermore, Blizzard’s website currently shows the exact same tip-waist-tail dimensions for all lengths of the Rustler 11, which sort of undermines all that innovation. But I digress…)

So just how playful vs powerful is this Rustler 11?

Shape / Rocker Profile

Interestingly, I’d say the dimensions of the Rustler 11 make it look pretty mean. I may have complained once or twice on Blister over the years about skis that have too much tip taper. Well, that is definitely not the case with the Rustler 11; those tips and shovels are wide, and sure look like a shape that would encourage you to get all over the shovels and drive the ski hard. (The same could have been said of the Gunsmoke, BTW, and these two skis look quite similar in terms of their tip & shovel shape.)

The tails of the Rustler 11, however, have a bit more taper to them (and more taper than the tails of the Gunsmoke), and mostly just look like a solid shape that should provide adequate support while still being easy to release in deeper snow.

Turning to the rocker profile of the Rustler 11, things quickly start to look less “mean,” and start to look more floaty and fun. Like the Gunsmoke, the Rustler 11 has quite a bit of tip splay (their respective rocker lines are quite deep, and our measurements showed the 186 cm Gunsmoke and 188 cm Rustler 11 to have an identical amount of tip splay (75 mm).

As for their tails, the Rustler 11 has quite a bit less tail splay than the Gunsmoke (37 mm vs. 65 mm), and for more directional skiers, this will probably be a welcome thing — we found that it was pretty easy to wheelie out on landings on the 186 cm Gunsmoke, and the reduced tail rocker of the Rustler 11 should help that cause a bit.

Aside from the difference in tail rocker, the other significant difference in the shape & camber profiles of the Gunsmoke and Rustler 11 is the difference in the amount of camber underfoot — at least when comparing side-by-side our pair of 186 cm Gunsmokes to the 188 Rustler 11; the Gunsmoke easily appears to have an additional 1-2 mm of camber — though we’ve been told that the Rustler 11’s that will be appearing in stores soon might have a touch more camber than the pair we’ve been testing. So we’ll report back on this when we know for sure.

What we can say is that the Gunsmoke was a beautiful carver — just stupid smooth and nice.

Mount Point

By the way, it’s worth noting that, while Blizzard is stressing just how fun and playful the Rustler 11 is, “fun” isn’t necessarily synonymous with “jibby,” and the Rustler 11’s recommended mount point of nearly 8 cm behind center should tip you off to that fact. As should the Rustler 11’s reduced tail rocker profile, and … see our next section…

Flex Pattern

Tips: 6.5-7
Shovels: 7-8
In front of the Toe Piece: 9-10
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel piece: 10-9
Tails: 8-7.5

Long and short, this ski is stout underfoot and in the middle-third of the ski, while the tips and tails ease up quite a bit. There are no hinge points in the flex pattern, and to a hand flex, no overly-abrupt transitions. It’s a nice flex pattern, and given the context of Blizzard emphasizing how “fun” and “playful” the Rustler 11 is supposed to be, I’d actually call this flex pattern pretty solid.

And when hand flexed and A/B-ed against the Gunsmoke, the Gunsmoke feel equally stiff underfoot, but both its tips and tails are softer than the Rustler 11 — not wildly softer, but noticeably softer. And so for those who aren’t looking for soft, buttery tails — but rather, nice, supportive tails — the Rustler 11 will likely seem like the better fit and should produce less of a wheelie / trap-door effect on landings and / or when you get pushed into the backseat.

Weight

The 186 cm Gunsmoke weighed in at 2248 & 2273 grams.

The 188 cm Rustler 11 weighs in at 2034 & 2052 grams.

And so the big question: if you reduce the amount of tail rocker on the Gunsmoke and make the flex pattern a bit stiffer and more progressive … can you build a new ski that’s 200+ grams lighter than the old ski, without sacrificing stability in variable conditions?

To be clear, the Rustler 11 isn’t trying just to be a newer, lighter, Gunsmoke 2.0. But still, there are enough similarities between the two skis that it is a fair question (and probably a question that a bunch of people will have), and it’s a question that can be asked about any number of skis, such as these…

Some Comparisons / Food For Thought

We’ll be publishing our initial on-snow review of the Rustler 11 soon, but for now, here are a number of the skis that we’ve been thinking about w/r/t the Rustler 11:

190 cm Line Sick Day 114 – Similar width, similar intended purpose.

Volkl V-Werks Katana – Granted, we’ve only skied the 184 V-Werks Katana, but the similarities in weight and look and (at least, roughly) construction make this an interesting comparison.

* 188 cm Rossignol Super 7 HD – This maybe isn’t the most obvious comparison, but it’s an interesting one.

186 cm ON3P Kartel 116 – Which is the better all-mountain performer, the Kartel or the Rustler?

* 188.4 cm Black Crows Anima – Is the old Gunsmoke the better comparison here, or is the new Rustler 11?

190 Moment Bibby / Blister Pro / 186 cm Moment Governor – Is the Rustler 11 more Bibby, Governor, or neither?

185 cm Nordica Enforcer 110 or 191 Nordica Enforcer Pro – How much performance overlap is there with the Rustler 11, and which Nordica is the better comparison?

* 186 — or 193 (?) — cm Line Mordecai – This is another ski that puts a big emphasis on fun and playful and forgiving. So how does the Rustler 11 stack up, and which is the more apples-to-apples Mordecai length – the 186 or the 193 – compared to the 188 cm Rustler 11?

185 cm Blizzard Cochise – How similar or wildly different is the Rustler from the Cochise? How intrigued should someone that is interested in a slightly-dialed-back Cochise be in the Rustler 11? Very intrigued, or not at all?

Bottom Line (For Now)

Fun, playful, and forgiving, yet powerful enough to win the FWT.

Anyway you look at it, you have to admit that this Rustler 11 sounds quite intriguing.

And we’ll be weighing in soon with our on-snow assessments.

Flash Review: Blizzard Rustler 11

Blister members can now read our initial on-snow impressions in our Flash Review of the Rustler 11.

(Learn more about Blister Member benefits, and Become a Blister member)

NEXT: The Full Review

13 comments on “2018-2019 Blizzard Rustler 11”

  1. Really excited for this review. Ski looks fun. Is there going to be any tall about the lengths too? Like how the 193 gunsmoke was much more beastly than the 186.

  2. This one looks very interesting! I would love a Cochise with a smidge less power, particularly if the suspension feels more like the last generation of Cochise.

  3. Jonathan, I’m keeping the torches and pitchforks in check until I read your take. Still hoping the Rustler I tested last season was a prototype and “not finished” as you suspect. Looking forward to your review.

  4. Between this in the 180cm 112 waist or the Head Kore 117 in 180cm with 115mm waist? What was better all mountain performance to pair in between a 100mm enforcer and a 124mm moment nighttrain?

  5. I wouldn’t recommend the Rustler 11 as a touring ski, even 50-50. It’s fine on the way down off-piste, but the rounded tail doesn’t have a good skin attachment point. Also, due to the tip/tail rocker, the traction isn’t as good as a ski with less rocker and a flatter tail. (For reference, I own a pair and have ~10 days on them with a little touring. My main touring ski is a Salomon MTN Explore 95. Having taken then out separately on back-to-back days in the same terrain, the lower weight and better traction for the MTN Explore was a huge factor in how much fun I had.)

    • Good comments, Paul. Thanks. But seems extremely apples-to-oranges to be comparing a mountaineering ski (the extremely good MTN Explore 95), to what would be, in effect, a touring ski for deep snow — which is how we are recommending it?

      No question, the MTN Explore 95 will feel better on a skin track. And it will be way less fun in backcountry pow — particularly *deep* pow.

  6. I agree 100% with Sam’s assessment of the 11. I have a pair that has 4-5 mm of camber instead of the 2 mm of your test pair. I would say mine have a nice pop on groomers. I know this will sound like heresy to OG Bodacious owners and I’m one of them. My Rustlers are smoother through chop and cut up powder than my Bodacious. I feel many people who first ski the Rustler will misinterpret ease of use for lack of power as I initially did. The more you drive them the more you realize how powerful they are. They are the best ski I’ve ever used for attacking the unknown with regard to snow conditions and terrain. And for their width they are darn good on hard snow.

  7. I mounted my 188cm R11 +2 of recommended, and find them very playful. I can still push them hard, and i find them quite poppy on somewhat soft groomers, they need some angle, but i get lots of energy turn to turn. Not the best ski for chop, but handles it well, though i think i would prefer my 185 ZeroG 108 in crud and chop.

    Interested to hear your thoughts if you’re going for a remount.

  8. I skied the Rustler 11 in the 180 recently (I’m 5’8” 155lbs aggressive skier). I can appreciate and agree with your comments. I ski out of Aspen and as a result, one factor I tend to lean to as my deciding factor (at least for anything but a pure powder ski) is capability in chop and variable conditions. I think Noah’s comments were right on. With the Rustler 11, I felt a lightness or tinnieness in hard conditions that left me underwhelmed. I’m not sure I’m willing to ski the new (I.e. old) Bodacious in a 186 because we have so many tight areas (I skied to 2013 in a shorter length), but I wish they had a little more metal in this ski. I tried it because I thought my Black Crows Animas were more of a powder ski than a big mountain ski but I find my Animas to have a more
    substantial damp feel (and they are better in powder). Btw, I really liked
    the Rustler 11 overall.

    • Daryl, for what it’s worth, I was skiing a 186 new (old) Bodacious for a lot of this season (though I suffered a season-ending injury in February) and was really surprised at how comfortable they felt slashing tighter turns, given that they’re stiff-ish, damp, and don’t have very much rocker, tip or tail. Obviously it’s not what they’re strictly best at, but they’re hands down my favorite inbounds ski for the PNW, and I’m a not-huge guy (6′, 160lbs) who likes skiing trees.

  9. Hi Jonathan!

    Thank you for review.

    May be you can give me some advice regarding third ski in my quiver.

    After a season with Brahma 186 I decided to change my Icelantic Nomad 105 which I had as ski for big mountains. My friend (he is freeride coach) knowing my skiing recommended Cochise and I just bought brand new 13-14 version 185 with very great discount. I’m going to use it for shitty conditions on mounatains with steeps having in mind that this ski should be good at this.

    And now I need a third ski. I see it as a ski for soft snow and powder. But still want it to be capable in variable conditions for the cases when I will not guess the conditions or for snowy spring all mounting skiing on big mountain, where you can ocassionaly encounter shitty conditions but overall you expect some powder after night snowfall. And I want it to be more fun than enything else I have (I have also SL non-fis race volkl whih is fun but in completely different sense). I like some jumps, I like feel of rebound in the end of the turn more than long turns. And I’m not very skilled in powder yet and need some support from a ski. And finally I prefer to carve wherever I can and it is reasonable.

    After reading almost all relavant reviews on Blister It looks to me that I need either QST 106 or Rustler 11. And I tend more to Salomon since it is lighter (also considering Kingpin for them to be able touring), should be more poppy and playfull in soft snow and powder). My friend who spent last season on them says they require to be more precise but overall very interesting in soft and he likes them. Not sure if it going to glide and slash turn capble in deeper snow.

    Another reason why only Rustler and QST, because I have acess to them for a good price. And preorde for next year Blizzard ends in 4 days and I still not 100% sure.

    Thank you in advance.

  10. Loved the new Gear Guide (18/19), but would have liked to have seen the Rustler being compared with the new (lighter) Wildcat (not the tour version). Trying to decide between the 190cm Wildcat or the Rustler 11 in the 188cm.

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