This season I managed to ski The Vacation in a little bit of everything, from powder to soggy slush. I’ve also been comparing it to many of the playful all-mountain skis currently on the market, including The Vacation’s heavier brother, the J Skis Metal. And while my experience with The Vacation hasn’t been directly in line with J’s description of the ski, overall, I’ve enjoyed my time on it.
In fresh snow, The Vacation is a lot of fun to slash and play around on, though it doesn’t offer best-in-class flotation. I found that if I wasn’t careful to keep a centered stance, I experienced a fair amount of tip dive on The Vacation in around 6” of pow.
When they’re both mounted at -4 cm from center, The Vacation planes a little better than The Metal. But with The Metal at its recommended -6 cm mount, The Metal floats and planes a bit better than The Vacation (which is to be expected given the more rearward mount).
In shallower pow, The Vacation does fine, but if you’re particularly concerned about deep-snow performance, there are better options in the ~105mm-underfoot all-mountain freestyle category.
In soft, chopped-up snow The Vacation can be fun so long as you keep in mind its playful design intentions and fairly low weight of ~2070 grams per ski. So if you’re prepared to get most of your stability from your legs rather than the ski itself and you just want to pop, spin, and jib around, The Vacation will definitely comply.
But on chopped-up landings and at higher speeds, the Vacation requires much more skier input than most of the other skis I’ve been on in this class. And again, that’s not terribly surprising given The Vacation’s weight.
In these conditions, The Vacation’s much heavier brother, The Metal, does significantly better than most jibby ~106 mm-underfoot skis. While The Vacation shares the same shape and rocker profile as The Metal, the nearly 300-gram weight difference between the two skis really stood out when I was trying to go fast and make big turns through inconsistent snow. The Metal’s weight helps it perform quite well in these conditions, while the Vacation does better with either a slower approach or a more active skiing style.
Again, this is one of those areas where you need to really think about what you want from your skis. If you ski with a very active style, know that you prefer lighter skis, and don’t need your skis to bulldoze through / over everything, The Vacation is happy to make a variety of turn shapes on firm snow. It’s easy to break The Vacation’s tails loose, but lay it over hard, and it’s also comfortable cranking out big, hard turns. While The Vacation isn’t the best ski in this class when it comes to edge hold on firm snow, it’s easy to carve turns on The Vacation when the groomers are smooth. But if you run into any sort of inconsistency in the snow, you’ll be reminded that The Vacation is a fairly light ski with a good deal of taper and rocker, and therefore isn’t ideal for charging on rough, firm snow.
The Vacation is a bit wide for a dedicated park ski, but it’s worth touching on its performance here since more and more people are bringing 100mm+ skis into the park. The Vacation is not a super soft butter machine, but this means that it holds up better at higher speeds and on bigger jumps compared to softer skis. The Vacation has a low swing weight, is easy to spin, and feels balanced in the air. On landings, it’s not as forgiving as some softer and / or more tapered skis if you under- or over-rotate a jump and land sideways. Instead, The Vacation prefers a more precise touch.
J Skis Vacation vs. Line Elizabeth
J says The Vacation is “like a futuristic version of the Elizabeth.” After spending time on both skis, I think that could be misleading to people familiar with the Elizabeth, and I’d definitely emphasize the “futuristic version” part of that statement. Sure, The Vacation fits into approximately the same category as the Elizabeth (i.e., playful, mid-fat all-mountain skis). But if J hadn’t mentioned that comparison in the marketing copy, I wouldn’t have noticed a hint of the classic Lizzie in either the design or the ride of The Vacation. The Vacation is more tapered, stiffer, and has much more rocker than the Elizabeth, to the point where they don’t feel very similar on snow.
The Elizabeth felt like a toy, especially for taller / bigger skiers (it’s longest available length was 182 cm). It was so poppy, so easy to butter, and so playful. But ski design has come a long way since then, and modern all-mountain freestyle skis like The Vacation reflect that. Pretty much all mid-fat, playful all-mountain skis now have stiffer flex patterns and incorporate more taper and rocker than the Elizabeth. So if The Vacation is a modern Lizzie, I think the same could be said for nearly every other all-mountain freestyle ski on the market.
If you’re looking for something that rides just like your old Lizzies, the market is pretty barren. Brands just aren’t making skis quite like the Elizabeth anymore (i.e., super soft, fully cambered, no taper, 110mm-underfoot). The closest thing to a replacement for the Elizabeth may be something like the Vishnu Wide, though that ski still has much more tip and tail rocker than the Elizabeth, so I’m not sure how similar they’d feel. But if you’re looking for a ski that allows you to approach the mountain pretty similarly to how the Lizzie did — and do so with better variable-snow performance — The Vacation is a good option.
Who’s It For?
What really makes The Vacation unique is the fact that it is basically a J Skis Metal without metal. (Or maybe The Metal is a Vacation with added metal?)
Either way, it’s not very common that we’re given the option to choose a playful, all-mountain shape with or without metal. (The 18/19 Armada ARV 106 is the most prominent of a few exceptions, as there is a limited-edition ARV 106 with metal.)
I think this makes The Vacation a more interesting ski, since skiers who like the sound of The Metal but want something a little more playful, lighter, and a little easier to spin and jib have a pretty ideal option in The Vacation. (Just keep in mind that The Vacation is not as stable as The Metal in difficult snow or at high speeds.)
At first glance, the J Skis Vacation seems like just another playful all-mountain ski in a pretty crowded marketplace. It’s a good ski in that category, sure, but it’s neither the most stable nor the most playful — it falls closer to the middle of the category in terms of both stability and playfulness.
But when you realize that The Vacation is essentially a J Skis Metal without the metal (or additional ~250 grams of weight per ski), it becomes more interesting. It’s impressive how easy it is to swap between The Metal and The Vacation — these skis complement each other very well (as they should with their identical shapes and rocker profiles).
The Vacation offers a lighter, more playful ride than The Metal, while The Metal feels significantly damper and more stable at high speeds and in rough snow. So if you like The Metal but want something more playful and are willing to give up some stability, the Vacation is a great choice.
And stay tuned for an upcoming Deep Dive where we’ll be comparing several of the ~100-110mm playful all-mountain skis that will be on the market for the 18/19 season.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics