Ski: 2021-2022 DPS Foundation Koala 103, 184 cm
Days Skied: 14
Available Lengths: 168, 176, 184, 189 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length (straight-tape pull): 182.4 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2022 & 2046 grams
Stated Dimensions: 129-103-119 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 132.6-103.2-121.2 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (184 cm): 18 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 65 mm / 47 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 4 mm
Core: Poplar + Carbon Stringers + Fiberglass Laminate
Base: sintered “World Cup Race Base”
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -6.1 cm from center; 85.1 cm from tail
Boots / Bindings: Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 S, Tecnica Mach1 130 MV / Tyrolia AAAttack2 13 AT
Last season DPS unveiled a ski that looked — and was — very different from what they’d been making. The Foundation Koala 119 was pretty hefty, it had a progressive mount point, and it was designed with freestyle skiing in mind.
For 21/22, DPS added a brand-new ski under the Koala name, the Koala 103, which is designed to bring the playful-but-stable ride of the bigger Koala to a more versatile, all-mountain package.
Dylan Wood and I both ended up getting several days on the Koala 103 this past season, and now that DPS is holding their “Dreamtime” sales event, we figured it’d be a good time to publish our full review. First, we’ll dive into the design of this new ski.
What DPS says about the Foundation Koala 103
“Poppy on the lip, stable on the landings, and comfortable on the rails, focus on making the entire mountain your personal park with the Koala 103. With its completely fresh shape and flex pattern, it’s made to spin, butter, ollie, and transform the side hits into your new best friends. Yet it retains DPS’ emphasis on the art of the turn, ensuring enjoyment between freestyle hits.”
This is pretty standard stuff for an all-mountain freestyle ski. The Koala 103 is supposed to be playful and versatile, but still carve well. A lot of brands make similar claims about their skis in this class, so what sets the Koala 103 apart from the others?
The Koala skis use DPS’s “Foundation” construction, which is their less-expensive, more downhill-oriented construction (relative to their others like Pagoda Piste, Pagoda Tour, and Alchemist).
In the 21/22 Koala 103, that Foundation construction consists of a full poplar wood core, carbon stringers, a fiberglass laminate, and DPS’s “world cup race base.”
Shape / Rocker Profile
The Koala 103 looks very much like a narrower Koala 119. Its tips are fairly (but not extremely) tapered, looking pretty similar to skis like the Volkl Revolt 104, Whitedot Altum 104, Sego Big Horn 106, and Moment Wildcat 108. The tails of the Koala 103 are slightly less tapered, but the overall shape is more symmetrical than some of DPS’s other shapes like the Wailer 106 C2 and Wailer 100 RP.
Predictably, the Koala 103’s rocker profile looks like very similar to the 119’s, but the Koala 103 has slightly shallower rocker lines and a bit less tip and tail splay. Overall, the Koala 103’s rocker profile looks pretty similar to the Line Sir Francis Bacon, Dynastar M-Free 108, and Whitedot Altum 104. It’s not a totally symmetrical rocker profile, but I’d call the Koala 103’s tail a nearly true twin, and it still has a significant amount of camber around the middle of the ski. (FWIW, DPS says that around 40% of the ski is rockered, while the other ~60% is cambered.)
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the DPS Foundation Koala 103:
In Front of Toe Piece: 9-10
Behind the Heel Piece: 10-8.5
The 189 cm Koala 119 we tested was really, really stiff. The new 184 cm Koala 103 is still a strong ski overall — particularly compared to most other freestyle-oriented skis — but it’s not as stout as the Koala 119 we had.
The cambered portion of the Koala 103 is quite strong. But the rockered portions are not unbendable, making the Koala 103’s flex pattern stand out from most of the recent DPS skis we’ve tested, which have had flex patterns that were quite stiff from tip to tail.
The Koala 103’s flex pattern is pretty similar to the Dynastar M-Free 108 and Whitedot Altum 104. The Koala 103 is significantly stiffer overall compared to the Line Sir Francis Bacon and K2 Reckoner 102, and it also feels stiffer around the bindings compared to the Volkl Revolt 104.
As is common in this class of freestyle-oriented, but still directional skis, the Koala 103 has a recommended mount point of about -6 cm from true center. With the Koala 119 and most other skis with similar mount points, we find that a mount point around -6 cm tends to create a ski that lets you drive it through the shovels, while still being able to ski it fairly centered and have a balanced feel in the air.
Here’s one area where the Koala 103 differs from the old Koala 119. The Koala 103 is not a very heavy ski.
I wouldn’t say the Koala 103 is particularly light — a lot of skis in this class come in at similar or lighter weights. But unlike the Koala 119, the Koala 103 is not a particularly heavy ski.
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.
1787 & 1793 Fauna Pioneer, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
1800 & 1824 Luke Koppa’s ROMP 100, 183 cm
1806 & 1862 Armada Tracer 108, 180 cm (19/20–20/21)
1807 & 1840 Atomic Bent Chetler 100, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
1814 & 1845 Elan Ripstick 106, 181 cm (17/18–19/20)
1848 & 1903 Line Sick Day 104, 186 cm (17/18–20/21)
1875 & 1881 Line Sir Francis Bacon, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
1883 & 1898 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender, 178 cm (20/21)
1883 & 1906 Season Aero, 180 cm (20/21)
1896 & 1942 K2 Reckoner 102, 184 cm (20/21)
1947 & 2011 4FRNT Devastator, 186 cm (20/21)
1973 & 1997 Volkl Revolt 104, 188 cm (20/21)
1976 & 2028 Parlor Cardinal Pro, 182 cm (19/20–20/21)
1985 & 2006 Parlor Cardinal 100, 185 cm (16/17–20/21)
1999 & 2020 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, 180 cm (20/21)
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)
2022 & 2046 DPS Foundation Koala 103, 184 cm (21/22)
2030 & 2039 Rossignol Soul 7 HD, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2046 & 2120 Black Crows Corvus, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
2049 & 2053 Whitedot Altum 104, 187 cm (19/20–20/21)
2073 & 2074 Season Nexus, 183 cm (20/21)
2080 & 2089 Sego Big Horn 106, 187 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)
2113 & 2121 Moment Meridian, 187 cm (16/17–20/21)
2111 & 2125 J Skis Vacation, 186 cm (18/19–20/21)
2112 & 2125 4FRNT MSP 107, 187 cm (18/19–20/21)
2113 & 2140 Armada ARV 106, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
2120 & 2134 Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (19/20–20/21)
2131 & 2189 Nordica Enforcer 100, 185 cm (15/16–19/20)
2133 & 2134 Faction Prodigy 3.0, 183 cm (18/19–19/20)
2143 & 2194 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2145 & 2167 Sego Big Horn 106, 187 cm (20/21)
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)
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)
2241 & 2295 4FRNT Devastator, 184 cm (14/15–18/19)
2283 & 2290 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
2295 & 2344 J Skis Hotshot, 183 cm (20/21)
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)
2326 & 2336 Nordica Enforcer 100, 186 cm (20/21)
2353 & 2360 Volkl Katana 108, 184 cm (20/21)
2449 & 2493 J Skis Hotshot, 189 cm (20/21)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) With the Koala 119, we had directional skiers and very playful ones who really liked it. So will that hold true with the Koala 103?
(2) On that note, should you only be checking out the Koala 103 if you throw tricks and ski switch? Or will directional skiers who prioritize maneuverability and a more balanced feel also get along well with this ski?
(3) Given its moderately low weight, how damp and stable will the Koala 103 feel when compared to other skis in its class?
(4) With its strong flex pattern and middle-of-the-road rocker profile, how surfy, lively, and generally playful will the Koala 103 feel compared to other freestyle-oriented skis?
(5) At 103 mm underfoot, the Koala 103 seems like it could make for a good 1-ski quiver for areas that rarely see icy conditions. So how versatile will it feel, particularly when it comes to really firm or fairly deep / soft conditions?
Bottom Line (For Now)
The DPS Foundation Koala 103 looks like it has a lot of the ingredients that typically combine to make a versatile and playful all-mountain ski. It’s got the fairly deep rocker lines, twinned tail, and progressive mount point that make us think it should feel maneuverable and balanced, but then its strong flex pattern and moderate weight make us curious about how it will handle more aggressive skiing and higher speeds.
Blister Members can read our Flash Review of the Koala 103 for our initial on-snow 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.
Dylan Wood and I both spent several days on the new Koala 103 this past season at Mt. Crested Butte, and we both came away pretty psyched on the ski. A lot of what we suspected about this ski’s versatility proved to be true, so here we’ll try to outline what kinds of skiers should have it on their list when considering their next all-mountain ski.
Dylan Wood (5’11”, 155 lbs / 180 cm, 70 kg): Given its shape and rocker profile, I expected the Foundation Koala 103 to perform well (for its width) in powder. Thankfully, the Koala 103 proved my hypothesis correct when I was able to ski it in some light, untracked snow for a morning at Mt. Crested Butte.
The Koala 103 floated well in about five inches (~13 cm) of untouched snow and slightly exceeded my expectations for the powder performance of a ~103mm-wide all-mountain freestyle ski. Its tips stayed above the snow with both a forward and centered stance in both steep and low-angle terrain. Not only did the Koala 103 float well, but it also felt maneuverable and easy to pivot through soft snow. The Koala 103 definitely stood out for its width in powder, but it did feel a little over its head in very deep situations, such as when I took it down an unconsolidated run that had opened for the first time that season. In these situations, I easily prefer a wider, more powder-oriented ski like the DPS Foundation Koala 118.
The Koala 103 wasn’t as loose and surfy in soft snow as the reverse-cambered 4FRNT Devastator and it wasn’t as stable as the heavier and more directional Sego Cleaver Comp. Instead, the Koala 103 occupies a nice middle ground between directional speed and a playful, loose style. It can be driven down the fall line in a directional manner, then thrown sideways with relative ease in the same run. Overall, the Koala 103 provides impressive floatation for its width and a versatile ride in powder.
Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70 kg): Yep, I don’t have a whole lot to add here. The Koala 103 performs admirably in fresh snow and — as in other conditions and terrain — it can adapt to a variety of skiing styles. There are a few other ~105mm-wide skis I can think of that beat the Koala 103 by a small margin when it comes to float, and some others when it comes to surfiness / maneuverability in pow. But this ski is still above average when it comes to having a good time on most pow days, and I could be very happy on it for days when it’s snowed up to about 8” / 20 cm.
Dylan: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: all-mountain freestyle skis are a very fun pairing for soft-chop resort conditions. The Koala 103 is no outlier.
Overall, the Koala 103 felt pretty good when skiing fast through soft chop. When blasting through piles of snow and skiing in tracked-up soft snow, the Koala stays fairly composed and doesn’t get bucked around a whole lot. And this brings me to an important point – the Koala 103 is impressively stable for its weight. Luke and I both skied the Koala 103 before we weighed it, and we both overestimated how heavy it is due to its (relatively) damp and stable ride.
The Koala 103 made for a good ski for capitalizing on soft chop conditions: it could be skied pretty hard and fast, but it was also easy to throw sideways and shut down when necessary.
Luke: Like most freestyle skis around this width, I loved taking out the Koala 103 whenever there was a bit of soft snow. And I agree with Dylan regarding it not showing its weight (in a bad way) — I’d say this ski offers a very nice stability-to-weight ratio.
With that said, the deeper and / or more consolidated the chop, the more I’d want to be on this ski’s wider sibling, the DPS Foundation Koala 118. That ski not only has the extra surface area to stay afloat a bit better, but it also has a lot more mass than the 103 and does a significantly better job of plowing through more set-up piles of chop and crud.
Now, I said above that I’d be happy skiing the Koala 103 in up to about 8” of snow, and as long we’re in that range in terms of the day’s snowfall, I’m still very comfortable skiing this ski quite fast when things get cut up. But doing so does require a notably more dynamic, light-on-your-feet style than is required by the Koala 118. The Koala 103 is a ski that feels best when you’re paying attention to line choice, looking for airs, and finding smooth transitions between them. Heavier skis like the Koala 118 and narrower, but similarly heavy skis like the J Skis Hotshot will let you get away with less thought and get knocked around less in difficult conditions, but they’re also not as nimble or playful as the Koala 103.
So, in sum, the Koala 103 is a lightweight ski that performs very well for its weight in soft conditions, but it’s not magically immune to the lack of stability that’s typical in similarly lightweight skis. That’s a middle ground I personally really love, but those who skied the old Koala 119 and were hoping for a narrower version with similar stability should look elsewhere. Those who wanted more playfulness than that ski offered should keep reading.
Moguls / Trees / Tight Terrain
Dylan: The Koala 103 is a quick, maneuverable ski in tight terrain.
In moguls, the Koala 103 feels poppy and dynamic. It’s easy to change directions and make traditional, trench-bashing turns. The ski’s strong flex pattern allows me to drive it down the hill with a forward stance, but it’s more forgiving of mistakes than the majority of directional, less-tail-rockered skis in this width. That said, the Koala 103 is one of the less forgiving all-mountain freestyle skis I’ve been on. Skis with softer tails like the Line Sir Francis Bacon are not as punishing when I get backseat and have moments of sloppy form. This characteristic took a little bit of adjustment on my end, but once I accounted for it I enjoyed skiing the Koala in moguls with a forward stance, driving it down the fall line.
In tight terrain, the Koala is generally easy to maneuver and pivot around. Skis with a more centered mount point and notable tip and tail rocker usually pivot well, and this held true with the Koala 103. At slow speeds, the Koala’s relatively low swing weight made jump turns in tight scenarios very manageable. And when I skied a bit faster, the Koala 103 made it easy to slash and dump speed and it didn’t require excessive amounts of input to quickly change directions. The 4FRNT Devastator, for example, outshines the Koala 103 in terms of how quick and maneuverable it is, but the Koala 103 is certainly up-to-par in its class of all-mountain freestyle skis in terms of its tight-terrain performance.
Luke: Yep, I’d say the Koala 103 is generally a very easy ski to get along with when the terrain gets tight. If you’re coming from other freestyle-oriented skis, I’d say it’s around the middle of the pack in terms of how easy it is to break loose and how easy it is to flick around. And if you’re coming from more traditional, directional skis, I’d say it’ll make moguls and trees notably easier.
As Dylan noted, the Koala 103 isn’t the most forgiving or generally the softest ski, but I never had instances where I felt like it was really punishing my inevitably sloppy technique. And more importantly, in my book, the Koala 103 allows for both a centered or forward skiing stance. So when it’s very steep and very tight, I know I can lean into its shovels and have some support there, but I can also ski it more neutrally when the slope angle mellows out and I have some room to play around. Overall, I’d say the Koala 103 is one of the most maneuverable and most forgiving skis in this sort of terrain when looking at the current DPS all-mountain lineup — it lets you get away with more mistakes than the DPS Pagoda 106 C2 and Pagoda 100 RP.
Dylan: DPS claims that the Koala 103 was still designed with on-piste performance in mind and that it should be enjoyable to carve. And while I don’t really prioritize how an all-mountain freestyle ski carves, the Koala 103 definitely satisfied my expectations. It was easy to get the Koala on edge and initiate turns, and it feathered predictably when needing to make mid-turn adjustments. It offers good edge hold on soft to moderately firm snow, though it struggles to really bite very firm to icy groomers. All in all, the Koala 103 is a good carver, but those who really want their all-mountain freestyle ski to excite on-piste would likely prefer the Sego Big Horn 106, or Line Sir Francis Bacon if they like shorter turns.
Luke: Overall, I’d call the Koala 103 a slightly above-average carver when compared to other freestyle skis, and maybe slightly below average when compared to the whole ~103mm-wide all-mountain category. This ski carves very well on fresh corduroy, soft groomers, and really anything that’s not approaching ice. But on the scraped-off sections of groomers at the end of the day or really firm man-made slopes, the Koala 103 does give up some edge grip and precision, compared to some other similarly wide skis with less rocker and less tip and tail taper. For an all-mountain freestyle ski, though, it’s still plenty of fun on piste.
Firm, Rough Snow / Crud
Dylan: The Koala 103 isn’t a ski that feels like it wants to charge super hard when conditions are really nasty, but it feels relatively damp for its weight and it’s easy to release and control your speed in these conditions. In rough, firm snow and crud, the Koala 103’s lack of weight became most apparent, and it got knocked around notably more than heavier skis like the J Skis Hotshot. I am not very picky about how an all-mountain freestyle ski performs in icy crud, but the Koala 103 felt about average for its class here. If you frequently encounter these conditions, you’d be better off with a heavier ski.
Luke: Yeah, there’s no getting around that the Koala 103 doesn’t have a lot of mass to it, and that means it doesn’t feel great when conditions are both very firm and very bumpy / rough / just gross. But as we noted above, the Koala 103 does feel nicer than some similarly lightweight skis, and its performance in these conditions is admirable for how light it is. If you want a really damp, smooth ride, check out something that weighs a couple (or several) hundred grams more per ski.
Playfulness / Freestyle
Dylan: DPS basically made this ski sound like a wide park ski in their description of it, so I definitely made sure to treat the Koala 103 as such, tricking side hits and taking it through the park.
I was very pleased with how poppy the Koala 103 felt, especially at moderate to high speeds. The Koala 103 feels like it’s trying to give you some extra air time on every hit you launch off. In addition to this, the Koala was very balanced in the air, both during tweaks and shifties as well as any spin or flip I was willing to throw. Taking off switch, landing switch, and skiing backward on the Koala 103 felt natural and intuitive. While I think there’s a lot more to this ski than its freestyle performance, it is a great option for those who love to trick features around the mountain and like to lap through the park on a typical inbounds day.
Luke: Dylan is much better at spinning and flipping than I am, but I totally agree in that the Koala 103 is a ski that feels designed with freestyle skiing in mind. I think the only thing I’d add is that, despite this, it’s still a ski that will work for a lot of directional skiers who just want something that’s on the more maneuverable end of the spectrum. Some skis like the Volkl Revolt 104 feel specifically targeted at freestyle skiers who ski with a very centered, upright stance, but the Koala 103 will also work for those who like to lean into the front of their boots and skis.
Dylan: I spent almost all of my time skiing the Koala 103 on the recommended -6.1 cm mount point, primarily because it felt great there. I did ski it with the mount point at about +1.5 cm of the recommended line (about -4.5 cm from true center), and it did slightly improve how well the ski pivoted and made it feel more balanced and accommodating to a freestyle approach. However, it also took away from the Koala’s stability and ability to be skied with a forward stance. I really appreciate the balance of directional stability and playful maneuverability the Koala 103 offers when mounted on the recommended line, and I wouldn’t want to change that for myself by mounting it anywhere else.
Luke: I’ve liked a whole lot of skis with recommended mount points around -6 cm from center and I’ve liked a lot of skis mounted there that weren’t actually designed to be mounted there. So it came as not much of a surprise that I got along really well with the Koala 103 with it mounted on its recommended line of about -6 cm from center. It’s a mount point that’ll work well for most skiers, though in my experience, you can move about 1 cm forward or back from that line (depending on your priorities) and the ski still performs pretty well.
Who’s It For?
Dylan: I believe there are a few types of skiers who could really enjoy what the Koala 103 has to offer.
(1) Skiers looking for a versatile and playful 50/50 ski
The Koala 103’s moderate weight makes it a reasonable ski to put a (downhill-oriented) touring binding on and use it for both backcountry and resort laps. Its versatile nature allows it to perform well in a variety of conditions, from low-angle backcountry powder to steep, hardpack inbounds terrain.
(2) Directional skiers looking for a more forgiving, playful, and quicker option
You don’t have to only “[make] the mountain your personal park” to enjoy the Koala 103. Many directional skiers looking for a ski that is quick and manageable in tight terrain can appreciate the maneuverable nature of the Koala 103. Despite being easy to turn and intuitive, the Koala can also be skied pretty hard in relatively soft conditions and it accommodates for a directional style.
(3) Playful skiers looking for a ski that is easy to throw around, yet who still like to ski fast
The Koala 103 releases easily, making it a fun ski to slash and slarve around the mountain. It is also very poppy, easy to jib and trick, and fun to take through the park. That being said, this ski is no park noodle – it is impressively stable for its weight, making it a great ski for those who like to make big turns and ski fast in between airs.
Luke: I think Dylan pretty much nailed it. The Koala 103 doesn’t feel like a really specialized ski, and I think that’s why Dylan’s three categories cover a pretty broad range of skiers. You shouldn’t buy it if you’re looking for maximum suspension and stability, or the softest, most playful ski on the market. But for those folks who don’t occupy those ends of the spectrum, there are reasons to put this ski on your list.
The DPS Foundation Koala 103 is a versatile all-mountain ski that can satisfy those who are constantly seeking airtime, while also serving as a really fun, maneuverable option for more directional riders. It’s not the bulldozing beast that the previous Koala 119 was, nor is it some super soft jib stick that’s only enjoyable at mellow speeds. Instead, it occupies a broad middle ground, making it easy to grab on most days and potentially enjoyable for a whole bunch of skiers.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the Koala 103 to see how it compares to the DPS Foundation Koala 118, DPS Pagoda 106 C2, Moment Wildcat 108, Dynastar M-Free 108, Line Sir Francis Bacon, Fischer Ranger 102 FR, Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, Liberty Origin 106, Black Crows Atris, Icelantic Nomad 105, Blizzard Rustler 10, Prior Northwest 110, ON3P Woodsman 108, Moment Meridian, J Skis Hotshot, Elan Ripstick 106, Line Sick Day 104, Head Kore 105, Whitedot Altum 104, 4FRNT Devastator, K2 Reckoner 102, Volkl Revolt 104, & Season Nexus.