Ski: 2020-2021 J Skis The Vacation, 186 cm
Available Lengths: 173, 180, 186 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 183.3 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2010 & 2018 grams
Stated Dimensions: 127-104-122 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 126.3-103.7-122.3 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (186 cm): 20.1 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 70 mm / 53 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2-3 mm
Core: Maple + Carbon Fiber Stringers + Fiberglass Laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -3.75 cm from center; 87.9 cm from tail
Boots / Bindings: Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 / Marker Jester
Test Locations: Grand Targhee, WY; Maverick Mountain, MT
Days Skied: 6
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 18/19 Vacation, which was not changed for 19/20 or 20/21, apart from graphics.]
This year J Skis updated their all-mountain-freestyle ski, The Vacation, with a new shape, a narrower waist of 104 mm, and a few other tweaks. The old Vacation was basically identical to the J Skis Metal, just without the metal (or was the Metal just a Vacation with added metal?). But this new version of The Vacation is its own beast entirely. So how does the new Vacation compare to the old one, how does it slot into J Skis’ lineup, and how does it stand out in this stacked class of skis?
Shape and Rocker Profile
In terms of shape, the new Vacation looks pretty similar to the old version, but the new ski has a bit more taper in the tips. Apart from the tips and the narrower waist, the two skis share a lot in common when it comes to shape.
In terms of their rocker profiles, the new Vacation’s tip rocker profile looks very similar to that of the old ski, but the new ski has a deeper tail rocker line. The old ski basically looked like it had a slightly rockered twinned tail, while the new ski’s tail rocker line extends significantly deeper.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the new Vacation:
In Front of Toe Piece: 8-9
Behind Heel Piece: 9-8
Compared to the old Vacation, the new ski has a very similar flex pattern when hand-flexing it. If anything, our pair of the new Vacation might be ever so slightly stiffer in the shovels and behind the heel piece. But on snow, the differences are more notable, so keep reading.
The new Vacation is coming in a touch lighter than the previous version, which could likely be contributed to the new ski’s narrower waist since the construction of the ski hasn’t changed. The new Vacation still sits on the lighter end of the spectrum, though there are several skis that come in lighter than it.
For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. And as always, pay close attention to the length differences to keep things more apples-to-apples.
1875 & 1881 Line Sir Francis Bacon, 184 cm (19/20)
1941 & 1994 Faction Candide 3.0, 186 cm (18/19)
1950 & 1977 Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (17/18–18/19)
1980 & 2016 Liberty Origin 106, 187 cm (17/18–18/19)
1980 & 2019 Moment Deathwish, 184 cm (15/16–19/20)
2010 & 2018 J Skis Vacation, 186 cm (18/19)
2032 & 2062 Line Sir Francis Bacon, 184 cm (15/16–18/19)
2042 & 2105 Line Mordecai, 186 cm (16/17–18/19)
2048 & 2096 J Skis Vacation, 186 cm (17/18)
2080 & 2089 Sego Big Horn 106, 187 cm (16/17–18/19)
2113 & 2121 Moment Meridian 107, 187 cm (16/17–19/20)
2113 & 2140 Armada ARV 106, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
2133 & 2134 Faction Prodigy 3.0, 183 cm (18/19–19/20)
2144 & 2153 K2 Marksman, 184 cm (16/17–19/20)
2221 & 2245 ON3P Kartel 108, 186 cm (18/19)
2241 & 2295 4FRNT Devastator, 184 cm (14/15–18/19)
When you make a ski narrower, powder performance generally suffers. The Vacation got narrower, and it’s not quite as good in powder anymore. That said, the original Vacation wasn’t incredible to begin with, and the new ski doesn’t lose much in terms of float.
The Vacation is not a powder ski. J makes one of those, and it’s called The Friend. The Vacation is an all-mountain ski, and compared to other similarly wide all-mountain skis, the Vacation is just fine in powder. It’s not difficult to bury the tips in deep snow if you push hard into the front of the ski, but stay centered, and the ski floats just fine. And the Vacation stays pretty loose and predictable, even when the snow gets deep and the terrain gets tight. So in powder, the Vacation is exactly what a 104mm-wide ski should be: capable, but not mind-blowing.
Soft, chopped-up snow should be the happy place of any playful all-mountain ski. You know, those days after the storm when things are tracked out, but still soft — that’s where skis like this should thrive. And in terms of balancing playfulness and stability, The Vacation is one of the best in this category in these conditions. It does a great job of being damp and stiff enough to have a pretty high speed limit, while also being super easy to pop and spin.
This is one of the most fun and capable all-mountain-freestyle skis I’ve been on. It feels like it has a higher speed limit than the old version and is more damp and forgiving, while still being very poppy and playful. It’s not as damp as the ON3P Kartel 108, but it’s more maneuverable, and feels very similar to the Armada ARV 106 in these conditions.
Firm Off-Piste Snow
The Vacation is not as strong on firm or rough, icy snow. It still outperforms the original version in these conditions — it’s more damp, offers better edge hold and a higher speed limit, and is about average for this class when it comes to stability (more damp than the Line Sir Francis Bacon, not as damp as the ON3P Kartel 108).
But these conditions aren’t great for any of the skis in this category. A strong skier will have no problem making the Vacation work in these conditions, you just have to ski pretty dynamically as The Vacation won’t blast through chunder like a heavier ski. For most people, J’s Masterblaster or Metal are better choices for brutally firm conditions as those skis are significantly more damp and smooth out rough snow much better.
In the Air
The new Vacation feels easier to spin than the old version, and feels very balanced in the air. On the new Vacation, I found myself spinning off new hits that I’d never considered, confident that I’d get the spin around. And when I was off by a few degrees, the Vacation was forgiving, allowing me to shuffle the rest of the way around without catching an edge and slamming. The Line Sir Francis Bacon and K2 Marksman are a little easier to spin, but the Vacation is easier to get around than the ARV 106 or Kartel 108.
One of my biggest overall quibbles with the old Vacation was that it wasn’t loose and playful enough to justify how unstable it was. That especially played out in landings. The old Vacation felt a little harsh, and had a tendency to buck you if you didn’t land centered. The new Vacation has a bigger sweet spot, and is much more confidence inspiring when hucking into variable snow. It’s not quite as solid on landings as the ON3P Kartel 108, but it’s also not a wheelie machine like the K2 Marksman — The Vacation strikes a nice middle ground.
The old Vacation was pretty fun in the park, but the new one is more so. The new ski has a lower swing weight and is a little quicker edge to edge. That means it’s a little more intuitive for people coming from narrower park skis, and feels more at home on jumps and rails.
I wouldn’t recommend the Vacation if you’re only skiing park (for that, it’d be worth checking out the J Skis Whipit or Allplay). But if you like to ski the whole mountain — including the park — this ski will work well for you.
At Grand Targhee many of the runs I like to ski converge at the terrain park, so I’ll often end my lap with a run through there. And of all the all-mountain-freestyle skis I’ve reviewed in the last few years, the new Vacation is the most fun in the park.
The Vacation has a recommended mount point of around -4 cm from center and I spent a lot of my time on it there. In the past, I’ve found J Skis to not be terribly sensitive to mount point, and the Vacation is no exception — it has a pretty big sweet spot.
At -6 cm from center, The Vacation is a little less balanced in the air, but rewards a more forward stance. At -2 cm from center, it’s a blast in the park, it’s very easy to spin, but it doesn’t give up too much stability. Personally, I’d leave the bindings at -4 cm, but I don’t think anyone’s going to be frustrated if they move them forward or back a little to cater to their specific style. Just keep in mind that The Vacation is a very playful, pretty light ski, so don’t expect to be able to turn it into some directional charger just by moving the bindings back.
Who’s It For?
The new Vacation would be a great one-ski quiver for someone who lives in a place that doesn’t get enough snow to justify a true powder ski, but who wants to jib all around the mountain, every day. It’s a very good one-ski quiver if your mountain’s annual snow total sits closer to 200”, rather than 500+”.
I think The Vacation will also work really well for playful skiers who are looking for something they can use to make the most of those days between storms. Anytime there’s less than 4” of fresh on the ground, I’d have no hesitation taking out The Vacation. I found myself jibbing new features and hunting for new transitions every time I skied it. That’s exactly what I want from this sort of ski.
If you’re looking for a higher speed limit in those conditions though, the J Skis Metal or ON3P Kartel 108 will be better choices, at the expense of some playfulness. So as always, it just comes down to your priorities.
For more directional and traditional skiers who want a playful ski but who don’t get into the air that much and don’t ever plan on spinning, The Metal is still a better choice. Compared to The Vacation, The Metal is a lot more damp, responds better to a forward stance, has a much higher speed limit, and does all of this while still being pretty fun to play on.
With the new Vacation, J Skis took a ski that was pretty mediocre for its class, and turned it into something much more interesting. The new Vacation is quicker, more playful, and more damp than the old version, and is one of the most well-rounded playful all-mountain skis we’ve been on.