Ski: 2020-2021 Volkl Blaze 106, 186 cm
Days Skied (so far): ~11
Test Location: Crested Butte, Colorado
Available Lengths: 165, 172, 179, 186 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 186.4 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 1772 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1784 & 1790 grams
Stated Dimensions: 146-106-128 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 145.6-105.7-127.7 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (186 cm): 19 meters*
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 64.5 mm / 28 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 1.5 mm
Core: multi-layer wood core + titanal binding reinforcement + fiberglass laminate
Base: sintered P-Tex 2100
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -11.9 cm from center; 81.3 cm from tail
Volkl is launching a new series of skis for the 20/21 season, with the new Blaze 106, Blaze 106 W, Blaze 94, and Blaze 94 W serving as their lightweight freeride skis and effectively replacing the “Eight” series (100Eight, 90Eight W, etc.).
The category of “lightweight freeride” skis has been steadily growing for years now, and so here we’ll take a closer look at the Blaze 106 to see how its design compares to the rest of the market.
What Volkl says about the new Blaze series
“The emerging category of lighter weight Playful Freeride skis ushers in a new era for skiers seeking lively, lightweight products with easy all-day handling in a wide variety of snow conditions. These are riders who constantly look for alternative terrain, either adjacent to the groomers or adjacent to the resort. With 4 new models, 2 unisex and 2 women’s, the all-new BLAZE series provides an off-piste feel for intuitive skiers who favor short turns, offering one of the lightest freeride skis in its class.”
Volkl is emphasizing the Blaze skis’ off-piste performance, and they note that that could be lift-accessed or outside of the confines of the resort. They also mention “skiers who favor short turns,” which is interesting and we’ll get more into that in the Sidecut Radius section. Other than that, these skis are supposed to be light, easy, and versatile.
Shape / Rocker Profile
The shape of the Blaze 106 looks very similar to the 100Eight it effectively replaces. Neither ski is very tapered and the widest points are similarly close to the ends of the skis, though the Blaze 106’s tips don’t taper to as much of a point as the 100Eight’s and the Blaze 106’s tail looks a bit less tapered.
While the Blaze 106’s shape is fairly traditional compared to most freeride skis, its rocker profile is not. The Blaze 106 has a really deep tip rocker line and a pretty deep tail rocker line, too. That said, its rocker lines are very low-slung and stay pretty close to the ground / snow until you get near the ends of the ski. So, when you tip it on edge, you should be able to engage a lot of that rockered portion, but we’re curious to see how loose the ski feels when you’re not really laying it over.
And one of the big changes from the 100Eight is that the Blaze 106 features camber underfoot, whereas the 100Eight was a full reverse-camber ski. The Blaze 106 does not have much camber (just a bit over a millimeter underfoot), but it does have some.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Blaze 106:
In Front of Toe Piece: 8-9
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-8.5
The Blaze 106 is a fairly strong ski, but its flex pattern also stiffens up pretty slowly as you move from the tip or tail toward the middle. The tips are fairly easy to bend but stiffer than those on skis like the Line Sick Day 104 and Armada Tracer 108, and the Blaze 106’s tail finishes a bit stronger than its tips / shovels, but it’s not a massive difference. The area between the shovels and bindings is a bit softer than what I’d call “average,” but it has a nice and smooth ramp-up.
Compared to the Volkl BMT 109, the Blaze 106’s flex pattern feels similar overall, but the BMT 109’s flex pattern stiffens up more quickly and is stiffer in front of and behind the bindings.
The Blaze skis feature Volkl’s “3D Radius” sidecut, which basically means that the skis feature a tighter radius in the middle and longer radii at the tips and tails. For the 186 cm Blaze 106, they say that the radius in the middle is 19 meters, 40 meters at the tip, and 30 meters at the tail. The idea is that the shorter radius in the middle allows for quick, carved turns, while the longer radii at the ends of the skis prevent them from feeling hooky when making bigger turns and when throwing the skis into a drifted / slarved turn.
We’ve spent a lot of time on the Volkl Mantra 102, which also features the 3D Radius sidecut, and found it to be a great carver but also easy to pivot. We’re not sure how much of that had to do with the ski’s 3D Radius, but we just know the Mantra 102 is very intuitive and comfortable making a variety of turn shapes. The 184 cm Mantra’s radii are listed as 27 m / 20 m / 25 m (tip / middle / tail), which is a less dramatic difference than the Blaze 106’s stated radii, so we’re curious to see if we notice a big difference between the turn shapes that the two skis can make.
At -11.9 cm from true center, the Blaze 106’s mount point is very traditional / rearward. This is in line with Volkl’s other directional skis, though the Blaze 106 does feature two lines (+1 cm & +2 cm) in front of the recommended line. We’re curious to see what kind of stance the Blaze 106 will prefer, but we’re guessing you’ll want to be over its shovels.
Our pair of the 186 cm Blaze 106 is coming in at an average weight of 1787 grams per ski, which is very light compared to most inbounds-oriented skis, but not nearly as light as some dedicated touring skis like the Black Diamond Helio 105 and Blizzard Zero G 105.
Compared to some other “50/50” backcountry / resort skis like the Line Sick Day 104 and Elan Ripstick 106, the Blaze 106 is slightly on the lighter end of the spectrum. And what’s really interesting is that the Blaze 106 is not that much heavier than the Volkl BMT 109, so we’re interested to see how those two skis compare.
For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples-to-apples.
1476 & 1490 K2 Wayback 106, 179 cm (18/19–20/21)
1547 & 1551 Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon, 185 cm (17/18–19/20)
1605 & 1630 Line Vision 108, 183 cm (19/20–20/21)
1606 & 1641 Blizzard Zero G 105, 188 cm (19/20–20/21)
1642 & 1651 Renoun Citadel 106, 185 cm, (18/19–19/20)
1642 & 1662 Atomic Backland 107, 182 cm (18/19–20/21)
1660 & 1680 Moment Deathwish Tour, 184 cm (19/20)
1692 & 1715 Moment Wildcat Tour 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1706 & 1715 Volkl BMT 109, 186 cm (17/18–20/21)
1745 & 1747 4FRNT Raven, 184 cm (16/17–19/20)
1752 & 1771 Amplid Facelift 108, 189 cm (18/19–20/21)
1784 & 1790 Volkl Blaze 106, 186 cm (20/21)
1787 & 1793 Fauna Pioneer, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
1787 & 1806 WNDR Alpine Intention 110 – Cambered, 185 cm (19/20)
1806 & 1862 Armada Tracer 108, 180 cm (19/20–20/21)
1828 & 1842 Elan Ripstick 106 Black Edition, 188 cm (19/20)
1848 & 1903 Line Sick Day 104, 186 cm (17/18–20/21)
1849 & 1922 Elan Ripstick 106, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
1918 & 1931 Sego Condor 108, 187 cm (19/20–20/21)
1951 & 1953 Elan Ripstick 106, 188 cm (20/21)
1993 & 2026 Black Crows Atris, 184.2 cm (17/18–20/21)
1996 & 2012 Dynastar Legend X106, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2005 & 2035 Liberty Origin 106, 187 cm (19/20–20/21)
2006 & 2065 Head Kore 105, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2011 & 2028 Moment Wildcat 108, 184 cm (19/20)
2027 & 2052 K2 Reckoner 112, 184 cm (20/21)
2030 & 2039 Rossignol Soul 7 HD, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2079 & 2105 Kastle FX106 HP, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2096 & 2100 Salomon QST 106, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
2097 & 2113 DPS Alchemist Wailer 106 C2, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2101 & 2104 Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm (18/19–20/21)
2110 & 2119 Moment Wildcat 108, 190 cm (19/20)
2112 & 2125 4FRNT MSP 107, 187 cm (18/19–20/21)
2120 & 2134 Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (19/20–20/21)
2143 & 2194 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2153 & 2184 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, 187 cm (20/21)
2165 & 2211 K2 Mindbender 108Ti, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2165 & 2219 Icelantic Nomad 105, 191 cm (19/20–20/21)
2170 & 2180 Dynastar M-Free 108, 182 cm (20/21)
2177 & 2180 Moment Commander 108, 188 cm (19/20)
2182 & 2218 Nordica Enforcer 110 Free, 185 cm (17/18–20/21)
2188 & 2190 Prior Northwest 110, 190 cm (19/20–20/21)
2190 & 2268 Armada ARV 106Ti LTD, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
2202 & 2209 Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105, 186 cm (19/20)
2218 & 2244 Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2232 & 2242 Blizzard Cochise 106, 185 cm (20/21)
2232 & 2244 ON3P Woodsman 108, 187 cm (19/20)
2233 & 2255 Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2250 & 2307 Argent Badger, 184 cm (19/20)
2283 & 2290 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
2312 & 2386 Prior Husume, 188 cm (17/18–20/21)
2318 & 2341 J Skis The Metal, 186 cm (16/17–19/20)
2321 & 2335 Fischer Ranger 107 Ti, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2325 & 2352 Folsom Blister Pro 104, 186 cm (19/20)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) Volkl is targeting the Blaze 106 at skiers who want to ski off piste, whether that’s lift accessed or under your own power, so will these feel like more of a dedicated backcountry ski or one that can handle aggressive skiing in the resort? Or … both?
(2) The Blaze 106 has really deep rocker lines and very little camber, so how loose and easy to pivot will it feel and how precise will it feel on edge?
(3) Given its 3D Radius and the very large difference between the stated radii along the length of the ski, what kind of turn shapes will the Blaze 106 be able to make?
(4) While the Blaze 106 and Volkl BMT 109 have very different rocker profiles and constructions, their weights, shapes, and flex patterns aren’t super different, so how should people decide between the two?
Bottom Line (For Now)
The Volkl Blaze 106 looks like an interesting addition to the freeride category. It combines a pretty traditional shape and mount point with very deep rocker lines, an intriguing sidecut design, a moderate flex pattern, and a light-but-not-crazy-light weight. Blister Members can check out our Flash Review linked below, then stay tuned for our full review.
Blister Members can now check out our Flash Review of the Blaze 106 for our initial impressions. Become a Blister member now to check out this and all of our Flash Reviews, plus get exclusive deals and discounts on skis, and personalized gear recommendations from us.
Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70.3 kg): The Volkl Blaze 106 was one of the more surprising skis I got on last season. It’s as light as some of the skis that I’d only want to use for human-powered skiing, but Volkl says it’s equally well suited for skiing inside and outside the resort.
And while we’re typically quite wary of those sorts of claims, having now skied the Blaze 106 in a pretty wide range of conditions, I do think that Volkl has done a very good job of making lightweight, versatile ski. We’ll be having Jonathan Ellsworth and Drew Kelly weigh in with their thoughts in the future, but for now, here’s my take:
My first couple days on the 186 cm Blaze 106 were in some of the best snow I skied all season: 1-2 feet deep, low-density, and varying from steep trees to moderate-angle, open terrain. I’m always a bit worried when taking out a new ski on amazing day like these, but thankfully, the Blaze 106 did not ruin my pow days; in fact, I’d say it performed far better than I expected.
First, the Blaze 106 floats very well for its width. And that makes sense, since it’s got a very rearward mount point (so there’s lots of ski in front of you), pretty fat shovels, a not-super-stiff flex, and very deep rocker lines. Even in 2 feet of snow, I felt like I could maintain a pretty forward stance on the 186 cm Blaze 106 without worrying about the tips diving. Overall, I’d say this ski is definitely above average in terms of flotation for how wide it is.
As for maneuverability, while I wouldn’t say the Blaze 106 is some ultra surfy ski, it did surprise me. It looks like a very directional ski, but within the first few turns, I found myself having very little trouble slashing my way through tight, steep, and deep trees where quick changes of direction are necessary. It’s not a ski like the Dynastar M-Free 108 that wants to be sliding sideways all the time. But if you keep a bit of pressure over the Blaze 106’s shovels, I think it does an admirable job of allowing for both slarved and carved turns.
At a little under 1800 grams per ski for the 186 cm length, the Blaze 106 is pretty light. But it’s also a ski where I think every one of those grams is used quite efficiently.
In other words, I’d say that the Blaze 106 is quite stable for its weight. Skiing it through some dense, sun-warmed chop did not inspire the same “blast through everything” mentality that you get with far heavier skis, since the Blaze 106 does feel more prone to bending up and over patches of dense snow. But it does that in a predictable, non-twitchy manner, and it blows through dry, low-density chop surprisingly well, provided you stay over its shovels.
It seems like the Blaze 106’s shape and flex pattern are big factors here. It’s not some ultra tapered ski, and it’s also not extremely stiff or soft. It’s got a fairly long effective edge that I can lean over and engage while skiing fast to keep it under control, but then its flex pattern won’t send me flying the moment I make a mistake or run into a more dense / less dense patch of snow.
I still want to spend more time skiing really hard on the Blaze 106 in resort chop, but so far, it seems stable enough for any of the chop I’d encounter in the backcountry, and seems like it’d work for those who aren’t trying to ski very fast in chop at the resort.
Firm Chop / Crud
In addition to skiing some of my best days on the Blaze 106, I also skied it on some of my worst days. Particularly when I was counting on an afternoon thaw to soften up the refrozen slush … but that thaw never happened.
I’d certainly be happier on a ski several hundred grams heavier than the Blaze 106 in these awful-snow scenarios. But for how much it weighs, I do think the Blaze 106 offers very nice suspension / damping. It doesn’t feel nearly as harsh as some of the <1700-g, carbon-laminate skis I’ve used, and I think the Blaze 106’s rocker profile and flex pattern help here, too.
If I’m on a ski as light as the Blaze 106 in truly awful conditions, my approach is usually just … “survive.” This often means lots of shorter, slarved turns to keep my speed in check — and probably some backseat skiing. While it’s definitely easiest to turn from a proper, forward stance, the Blaze 106 didn’t make me feel super out of control when I did end up backseat, and again, it allows for a mix of carved and slarved turns.
The Blaze 106 isn’t going to make super firm, rough snow lots of fun to ski, but it’s one of the better <1800 g skis I’ve used when it comes to absorbing harsh vibrations. Plus, while it can be pushed quite hard in good snow, it doesn’t require you to do the same when the snow is not particularly good.
Firm, Smooth Snow / Groomers
I didn’t get to ski the Blaze 106 on any freshly groomed pistes, but I did enjoy carving it on some softer, more inconsistent “groomers.”
The Blaze 106’s not-super-tapered tip and pretty low-slung rocker lines equated to intuitive, easy turn initiation without being too eager to pull me across the fall line. Once on edge, I’d say the Blaze 106 holds a carve quite well, though it’s not nearly as solid, smooth, and powerful as a ski like Volkl’s own Mantra 102. But of the similarly wide and similarly lightweight skis I’ve used, I’d say the Blaze 106 is one of the better ones.
As for Volkl’s “3D Radius,” it’s always tough (and borderline pointless) to attempt to distinguish the sidecut radius from other things like general shape, rocker profile, and flex pattern. But all I’ll say is that (1) the Blaze 106 never felt particularly “hooky” to me, (2) it allowed me to carve fairly tight turns, and (3) it handled fairly large turns pretty well, too. I.e., the Blaze 106 never felt weird to me, and pretty much just felt like a ski that was slightly above average in terms of turn-shape versatility.
Trees, Moguls, & Tight Terrain
I’ve become a big fan of Volkl’s recent rocker profiles: very deep rocker lines, but with very low-slung tips and tails. What this has equated to, in my experience, is a really nice balance of precision and edge hold when the skis are laid over, but with easy pivoting / a looser feel when you have the skis more bases-flat.
The Blaze 106 is a pretty good example of this. Again, it’s not a super loose ski overall, but for how well it carves and tracks through rougher snow, it’s pretty easy to quickly work it through tight trees and bumps. As long as you stay over its shovels, the Blaze 106’s tails feel far from “locked into a turn.”
One thing to note is that, while the Blaze 106 is a lightweight ski, it also has a pretty heavy swing weight compared to other skis of a similar weight. I mostly noticed this when trying to catch air between moguls or quickly zipperline for a few turns — the Blaze 106 felt happiest / most intuitive when I was taking more of a casual approach to moguls. It still feels a lot lighter than most inbounds skis, it’s just not a ski that feels like it wants to get airborne all the time.
Apart from maneuverability and swing weight, the Blaze 106’s flex pattern felt really nice to me. Combined with its rearward mount point, I can’t imagine me personally wanting a more supportive / stiffer ski, and its tail never felt particularly punishing. The ski does feel pretty unbalanced if you get super backseat (there’s just a lot of ski in front of you), but I always found it pretty easy to get back into a forward stance without losing control.
Who’s It For?
Intermediate to Expert skiers who are looking for a lightweight, directional ski that performs well for its weight. And I’ve deliberately kept that pretty vague because (1) the Blaze 106 works well in a wide range of conditions and (2) the whole question, “Is the Blaze 106 a backcountry or resort ski?” will depend on your priorities.
Because I think this ski’s suspension is quite good for its weight and it’s just pretty versatile overall, I think it could work for some people who never plan on skinning uphill. That said, if you’re considering using the Blaze 106 is a pure inbounds ski, I would also highly recommend looking into some skis that are even just a couple hundred grams heavier, since most of them will make it more enjoyable to ski in rougher, firmer, inbounds conditions.
The Blaze 106 is a very appealing 50/50 ski for use inside the resort and for touring. Again, it’s definitely not gonna be as stable in rough snow as much heavier, resort-oriented skis. But for those who want a single ski for touring and resort use — and who are willing to deal with the compromises that come with that — the Blaze 106 offers a very nice combination of low weight and decent stability.
Finally, I think the Blaze 106 would make an excellent touring ski for those who haven’t liked the light, twitchy, unstable feel of lighter skis in the category. The Blaze 106 offers significantly better suspension and stability than most of the lighter alternatives, and it’s still not a very heavy ski on the skin track.
As for specific conditions, the Blaze 106 would make a great 1-ski quiver for areas that rarely see super icy snow, and I think it could also work as a versatile pow ski for areas that aren’t consistently getting massive storms. It’s definitely not a ski that feels quite limited to a specific kind of snow condition or terrain.
The Volkl Blaze 106 blends a lightweight construction with impressive stability and general downhill performance. While many people who are not doing any touring will likely be better off on something a bit heavier, the Blaze 106 is a good example of how to make a lightweight ski without making it suck — it’s predictable across a wide range of conditions, it’s damp for its weight, and you can push it hard without needing to do so all the time. For directional skiers seeking a versatile, very lightweight ski, the Blaze 106 is certainly worth a look.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the Blaze 106 to see how it compares to the Line Sick Day 104, Volkl BMT 109, Faction Agent 3.0, Folsom Cash 106 Carbon, Moment Wildcat Tour 108, Moment Deathwish Tour, WNDR Alpine Intention 110, 4FRNT Raven, Atomic Backland 107, Blizzard Zero G 105, Black Diamond Helio 105, & Line Vision 108.