3-Ski Quivers: Reviewers’ Selections (19/20)

Intro

We recently published several of our reviewers’ selections for both 5-ski and 4-ski quivers and now we’re once again asking them to cut those down, this time to three skis. So below you’ll see some of their picks for 3-ski quivers, and stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow, when we’ll add quiver selections from several of our other reviewers.

To be clear, there is no single perfect quiver for everyone. It all depends very much on where you ski and how you ski. So our selections below shouldn’t be viewed as our answer to the question, “What are the best skis out there?” Instead, these are our personal picks, and our rationale for why we’d choose them. As always, we’re interested to hear what you’d pick for your own 3-ski quiver, so let us know in the Comments section at the bottom.

More Ski-Quiver Help

For more general suggestions — as opposed to what we personally would pick — check out our 19/20 Buyer’s Guide.

And if you’d like to get our recommendations for assembling your own ski quiver, then become a Blister Member, send us an email, and we’ll remove the guesswork.

Four Questions

For each of our reviewers, we asked them to answer the following questions:

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?
II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?
III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?
IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 5-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

The Selections

  • Luke Koppa
  • Eric Freson
  • Sam Shaheen
  • Kristin Sinnott
  • Jonathan Ellsworth
  • Kara Williard
  • Cy Whitling
  • Sascha Anastas
  • Paul Forward
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Review Navigation:  Luke Koppa //  Eric Freson //  Sam Shaheen //  Kristin Sinnott //  Jonathan Ellsworth //  Kara Williard //  Cy Whitling //  Sascha Anastas //  Paul Forward

Luke Koppa

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?

For my 3-ski quiver, I’d opt for one touring ski and two resort skis. I’d want my touring ski to cover everything from quick mid-winter pow laps to long spring missions, while my resort skis need to handle firm / chalky days on Crested Butte’s steeps, and the crazy fun soft-snow days.

Ski #1: Do-Everything Touring Ski — Line Vision 108, 183 cm + Fritschi Tecton 12

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

This is a ski that works well for a lot of things and makes me feel comfortable just about anywhere. I’d want a narrower ski for firm-snow spring days, but the Vision 108 is so fun in soft snow and good enough on firm snow that it wouldn’t be a big deal. I could go with the MTN Explore 95, but that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as the Vision 108 in powder or when jumping off stuff, and since I ski pretty conservatively in the spring anyway, I’d be pretty happy with this setup.

I opted for the ATK Raider 2.0 12 on this ski for my 4-ski quiver, but since I don’t have another touring option in this quiver, I’d opt for the better skiing performance and potentially safer release characteristics of the Tecton 12 in this scenario since I’d want that for bigger mid-winter days where I’m trying to see just how much I can scare myself on backcountry booters.

Ski #2: Firmer-Snow Resort Ski — Dynastar Menace 98, length=? + Salomon STH2 13

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

This is where I chose to consolidate things vs. my 4-ski quiver, so I don’t get to specialize as much. The Menace 98 isn’t a ski that stands out in any particular regard, but instead does everything quite well. And in that way, it does stand out.

The Menace 98 is pretty damp, pretty stable, and quite playful. So it combines elements from some of my favorite firm-snow skis (J Skis Masterblaster) with elements of my favorite soft-snow, more playful skis (Line Sir Francis Bacon). It won’t be quite as fun as the Masterblaster when charging on firm snow, nor as fun as the SFB when messing around at slow speeds, but it can do both of those things better than either of those skis.

As for length, I really like the 181 cm Menace 98 but we also got the 187 cm version this summer, and its specs have me very excited (~2225 g per ski, yes please!). So for now, I’d opt for the 181 cm just since I’ve already skied it, but I might change that to the 187 cm after I get time on that length.

Ski #3: Soft-Snow Resort Ski — Rossignol Black Ops 118, 186 cm + Salomon STH2 13

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Cy has the Deathwish, and I have the Black Ops 118. Like Cy and the Deathwish, I would be pretty depressed if I had to leave out the Black Ops 118 from my quivers (which is, unfortunately, what I’ll probably have to do when we further narrow things down). But for a 3-ski quiver, I can still justify putting this crazy heavy and crazy fun ski in the lineup. Apart from being a lot of work to whip around, the Black Ops 118 is actually really versatile for its width, and I would be totally content breaking it out on any days when the snow is even remotely soft. Unless it’s pure ice or a long skin track, I will be hooting and hollering any time I get on the Black Ops 118.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

The Line Sir Francis Bacon is a ridiculously fun and playful ski, but for this quiver, the Menace 98 is just more sensible. The Menace 98 is almost as fun as the J Skis Masterblaster for romping around firm, off-piste snow, but I’d still miss the Masterblaster for those brutally firm days.

As with my other quivers, the Moment Wildcat, Volkl Revolt 121, and Line Outline narrowly missed the cut for my pow-ski spot.

The Armada ARV 96Ti is a ski that could take the place of the Menace 98, but I prefer the softer flex pattern and better on-piste performance of the Menace 98 for a daily driver.

II. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

The 187 cm Dynastar Menace 98 looks extremely interesting, and if it doesn’t give up too much in the way of maneuverability and playfulness while providing a bump-up in stability, there’s a good chance I’d opt for that length over the 181 cm.

I’ve been using the Prior Northwest 100 as my early season jib ski and have really been liking it so far, so that’s high on the list for potential replacements for the Menace 98 (though I don’t think the Northwest 100 will be quite damp enough for my daily driver).

I also recently started getting time on the venerable Nordica Soul Rider 97 and that ski reminds me of the Menace 98 in many ways, so it’s got a good chance of knocking out the Menace 98.

Then the heavier 19/20 Moment Commander 98 may also replace the Menace 98, provided that the new version doesn’t lose much of the energy or playfulness that I loved in the lighter 18/19 version, while still being more damp and stable.

And then who knows, maybe a wider ski like the Moment Deathwish, Moment Wildcat 108, Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105, Icelantic Nomad 105, or ON3P Woodsman 108 will be able to handle firmer conditions well enough to take the place of the Menace 98? We’ll see this year…

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Narrowing it down to three skis, my options here are a bit less obvious. Here are a few I think could work well:

Line: Vision 108, Sick Day 104, Outline

I wouldn’t really have any complaints with this quiver. I love all three of these skis, and while I wouldn’t have anything that remotely resembles a charger, this would be a very fun quiver.

Moment: Deathwish Tour, Commander 98, Wildcat

Very few complaints here. I think I’d really like the Deathwish Tour as a do-everything touring ski, I really liked the 18/19 Commander 98 and so far, the 19/20 version seems even better, and then the Wildcat is just an awesome ski.

Armada: Tracer 98, ARV 96Ti, ARV 116 JJ

I’d be pretty happy with this one. The Tracer 98 is a bit more directional than I’d prefer, the ARV 96Ti isn’t the best carver, and I’m guessing that the ARV 116 JJ will leave me wanting a bit more stability. But all in all, I wouldn’t have any major issues with this quiver.

Dynastar: Mythic 97, Menace 98, Menace Proto

I really like this quiver, apart from the Mythic 97. I know Sam and Brian really like that ski, but I’d want something with a less directional shape and a softer tail. But that ski could still get me down some techy lines, and I’d have a blast with the Menace 98 + Menace Proto as my resort setup.

Salomon: MTN Explore 95, QST 106, QST 118

Again, this one would work pretty well, though it wouldn’t quite be ideal. I’d be wishing for something wider than the MTN Explore 95 for mid-winter touring days (though I guess I could put a Shift on the QST 106…), and I wish the QST 106 was a bit more freestyle friendly. These skis would do a very good job of covering all the conditions and terrain I typically ski, I just wish they were a bit more playful. That said, if the ski with the 1080 top sheets that some of Salomon’s athletes have been riding is a reincarnation of the old Rocker2 100 (my first personal ski), then I’d be pretty dang stoked about this quiver.

Eric Freson

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?

I typically ski in the backcountry more than I do at the resort in a never-ending search for soft snow. I also would always rather have too much ski than too little, and will work hard to make the ski I *want* to be riding work, regardless of the conditions, making my choices skew towards the “hammer meet nail” side of the spectrum. With just three skis to choose from, I’d want more versatility in my backcountry setups than the resort. If the resort hadn’t seen snow in a while, I’d be out in the backcountry for sure.

Ski #1: Everyday Touring Ski — 4Frnt Raven, 184 cm + Dynafit ST Rotation 12

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Staying the course here… fundamentally, this is a setup I can trust anywhere I might find myself in the backcountry. The Raven is quite light for its size, predictable on firm snow, loose in soft snow, and at 184 cm long and 104 mm underfoot, it offers the right mix of stability and maneuverability to accommodate me if I have a rope and ice axes in the pack, or a GoPro on my head and a mouthguard in my mouth. I can take it anywhere and it will see me through the day. I have had good experiences with the Dynafit ST Rotation 12 — it’s pretty light, it has a DIN that’s high enough that I’m not constantly feeling the need to lock out the toe piece, and it’s quick and easy to get in and out of, even in treacherous spots. Vanilla choice, but they haven’t yet disappointed me.

Ski #2: Big Day / Powder Touring Ski — 17/18 4FRNT Renegade, 186 cm + Marker Kingpin

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

While I haven’t yet skied the new, current Renegade, I have skied or owned the 4FRNT Renegade in all its various iterations since its inaugural release (bring back the full-width wood core and no sidewalls!). Having skied many, many wide and soft-snow focused skis over the last 10 years, I still haven’t found anything to displace the Renegade as my go-to “soft snow, big days” ski. I also prefer the older/stiffer Renegades to the more recent and softer flex profile, so I’m excited to try out the ‘19/20’s.

Fast, smooth, and predictable, the Renegade lets me focus on where I am headed rather than where I am when skiing. At 122 mm underfoot, I will never feel short-changed on deep days, but with a stiff flex profile both underfoot and torsionally, I have skied Renegades in some truly heinous backcountry conditions without too much drama, either. It’s quick to get on top of the snow, very easy to pivot, and you can shut it down in a moment.

I don’t think it would be fair to call it totally “practical,” but if I know there is 6+” of fresh snow and I’m not trying to skin all the way from Crested Butte to Aspen, I typically reach for the Renegade over just about anything else.

To make it a bit more versatile, I would switch up the binding for a Kingpin. This would help to make the Renegade a backcountry pow ski and resort “storm ski” for me. I’d prefer to keep the simplicity of the Kingpin over something like the Shift, as I’d only be skiing this at the resort on true “powder” days.

Ski #3: Everyday Resort Ski — Blizzard Bodacious, 186 cm + Salomon STH2 16

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Yeaaaaah… I know. This is not an especially “practical” choice. But, I’m not skiing to be practical. I once skied the Blizzard Bodacious at Crested Butte Mountain Resort exclusively for an entire winter, and wasn’t even a little mad about it. It wasn’t a big snow year, either.

When the snow is soft, the speeds are high, and the terrain is gnarly, the Blizzard Bodacious is what I’m going to reach for almost every single time. A good example of getting it right the first time, the Bodacious is currently back in its original shape and construction, and that’s a very, very good thing. No speed limit, heavy, damp, and fast. At Crested Butte I’d choose the 186 cm length over the 196 cm for its ability to fit into smaller places and function more effectively at slower speeds.

The Bodacious doesn’t feel like a ski that’s 118 mm underfoot, meaning I don’t feel penalized by its wide waist when things aren’t especially soft or deep, or on the way back to the chairlift. It’s incredibly fun in chalky snow. But don’t be fooled, this is a very heavy, stiff, and demanding ski, but if you haven’t been skipping leg day and would like to feel like a wrecking ball, I think it’s hard to have more fun at a resort when conditions are soft and you want to keep your skis pointed down the fall line.

As far as bindings, I like stiff springs, good power transfer, a damp ride, and I don’t like feeling the elasticity / heel rotation of Look Pivots. Salomon bindings have served me well for many years, and are what I would use for my resort ski.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

So even though it wasn’t in my quiver of four, it was hard to leave a ski like the 186 cm J Skis The Metal off this list. The Metal is a versatile, damp, smooth, and fun ski which simultaneously manages to be powerful and playful. A ton of fun for bouncing around the whole mountain, and generally having a good time regardless of conditions. With good float in soft snow, I was also impressed by how well the The Metal did in variable and firmer conditions, too. It strikes an excellent balance as an everyday resort ski quiver of one, which made it hard to leave off this list.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

In a quiver of three scenario, the Kye Shapes Metamorph would be very high on my list of skis I’d like to spend more time on. Its size, weight, and shape all look very interesting as a resort ski, and I’d be very interested to get some time on it.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

No change here — 4FRNT would be my go-to brand for a ski quiver of three. The MSP 107 would cover my time at the resort. The Raven and Renegade would stay as backcountry tools, similarly covering a huge range of conditions. I really enjoy 4FRNT ski shapes, and I think the MSP 107 is enough ski for me to be content with it as an every day resort bruiser. The MSP 107 doesn’t have as much float as some other skis in that category, but by putting Kingpins on the Renegade, I’d have a deep-snow-specific tool for the resort, too.

Sam Shaheen

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?

Ski #1: Mountaineering Ski — Salomon MTN Explore 95, 184 cm + ATK Raider 2.0 12 / Hagan Core 12

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Yes, this ski again. I definitely need a ski for big days and big peaks.

Ski #2: Everyday Resort Ski — Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm + Marker Jester

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

And this one again, too. The main difference is that in my 3-ski quiver, the Mantra M5 is going to get a larger share of my time as it will get taken out pretty much every single day that there are less than a few inches of new snow when I’m skiing inbounds. All days with more than a few inches will see the next ski…

Ski #3: Everyday Touring / Pow Resort Ski — Moment Wildcat, 184 cm + Salomon Shift MNC

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

A bit heavy for the touring days, but that’s a sacrifice that must be made. This ski works great for me over a wide range of soft conditions and I’ll be just as happy pounding resort laps on it as I would be on touring days — until the up at least.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

Obviously (if you’ve seen my larger quivers), the Rossignol Soul 7 HD. I went back and forth over the Soul 7 or the Mantra for a while, but in the end, the Mantra won. The Mantra is a bit more versatile when paired with a pow ski like the Wildcat. For me, the Soul 7 and Wildcat are too similar to be the only two resort skis in my quiver.

II. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

The Line Pescado is very intriguing as a replacement for the Wildcat in this quiver. It wouldn’t quite have the stability I’d like inbounds, but I think it would match my style very well and shave a big chunk of weight off of my everyday touring setup.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Man, I hate this question. But if I must answer, I’m probably going to go with Line. It’s a lightweight quiver, but I think it would be pretty fun, and it gives me a few more touring options.

Line: Sick Day 94 (Raider), Sick Day 104 (Shift), Outline (Shift)

Kristin Sinnott

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?

Not a whole lot of changes between my 4-ski and my 3-ski quiver — except for having to remove one pair of skis I love. As a primarily resort-based skier that gets in short (if I’m lucky) weekly tours, my quiver will once again have one backcountry setup and the other skis will be only used in the resort. So here goes:

Ski #1: Nordica Santa Ana 93, 169 cm + Tyrolia AAAttack2 11 or Marker Griffon

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

I plan to end 2019 and start 2020 on these skis, and there was no question about them making the cut. Heavy (thanks to those two sheets of metal) yet playful, these skis can charge down the mountain or make quick turns through the trees and chutes. They edged out the DPS Alchemist Uschi 94 thanks to the Santa Ana’s versatility in terms of turn styles. Slide, pivot, carve — the Santa Ana 93 can handle them all, whereas it’s hard to slide a turn on the Uschi 94 and when I ski bumps, I tend to slide them a bit.

Part of what makes these skis so versatile for me is due to their length. Any longer and they’d be a bit less nimble and playful. Any shorter and I’d have to slow down a bit on the groomers. But to paraphrase Goldilocks, the 169 cm length is just right.

Ski #2: DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2, 168 cm + Tyrolia AAAttack2 11 or Marker Griffon

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Like the 4-ski quiver, the Zeldas are once again my choice for a powder ski in this group. They’ll float well enough on just about any powder day but they’re playful enough that I love skiing them almost every day at Taos. If it hasn’t snowed in a while and there was a big freeze / thaw with most of the day being in the “thaw” portion of that cycle, I’d grab the Santa Ana 93. But otherwise, these are usually a safe choice for an enjoyable day at Taos.

Ski #3: Armada Trace 98, 172 cm + Marker Kingpin

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

I purchased these skis after the top sheet on my Armada VJJs started to delaminate. Disappointed I couldn’t get them replaced, I opted to try the then-new Trace 98. While I loved my VJJs on deep powder days, they were a bit wide for a 1-touring-ski quiver — great for Japan but not so great for refrozen spring dawn patrols. As mentioned previously, the Trace 98 handles just about every condition and terrain with ease and predictability. I’ve never had to change my ski style or learn how to ski the Trace — they’re intuitive and their lack of quirks makes them easy to jump on and go.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

It was hard to say goodbye to the DPS Alchemist Uschi 94 since it is one of my favorite skis for Taos, but in the end it got axed because, overall, it doesn’t bring quite as much to the table for me as the Santa Ana 93.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

The Santa Ana 100 (169 cm) has a good shot of making the list if and when I get to ski it. Prior to my time on the Uschi 94 and Santa Ana 93, I thought 100 mm was an ideal ski waist for Taos. I’ve since come to appreciate narrower skis, but I’d like a chance to reevaluate that theory.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

I’d stick with DPS even though, as we whittle down the list, fewer of the skis in my quiver are from DPS. For that quiver, I’d bring back the Uschi A94, keep the Zelda 106, and add the Foundation Yvette 100 RP as my touring ski. I’d probably end up skiing the Zeldas more frequently than in my multi-brand ski quiver, but I’d be okay with that.

As I lose skis left and right from my quiver, Nordica is slowly starting to creep into the list as a potential single-brand option. My biggest hesitation is their lack of a good touring ski. Since I now carry a child on most of my tours, I’m not willing to add even more weight with a heavy ski. I know that probably sounds ridiculous, but I’d probably have a meltdown if my touring kit was super heavy.

Jonathan Ellsworth

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?

Ski #1: J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

It’s not the best carver on bulletproof days, but it’s such a good off-piste ski in anything from very firm to fairly deep conditions, I’ll get over it.

Ski #2: Salomon QST 106, 188 cm + Shift MNC

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Given that the QST 106 actually got a bit heavier for 19/20, I feel better about placing it here as my middle resort ski, because depending on how much snow we get this season, the majority of my days will be on it or the Masterblaster.

And given that I’ve spent so much time touring on the previous 188 cm QST 106 and the Shift binding, I know how at home I feel on this setup, and am not worried about the additional weight gain on the way up.

Ski #3: Rossignol Black Ops 118, 186 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

It’s very good in chop and crud, it’s fun in powder, and it’s heavy and damp enough to not feel like an overly-one-dimensional “powder-only” ski if / when I inevitably get into lines where a lot of snow has been scraped off.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

Once again, a strong case could be made here for going with the Volkl Mantra M5 instead of the Masterblaster. You get more precision out of the M5, but (I’d argue) more all-around fun out of the Masterblaster.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

The top answer here is easy: the Moment Wildcat 108. Thinking that could possibly make a play for my current middle ski.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

So … this one proved to be extremely difficult for me, so here’s my ranking:

4th Place: Salomon

(1) I need to figure out my option here from Salomon for very-firm snow stuff, but otherwise, I’d be psyched on this quiver. Maybe the new S/Force Bold?
(2) QST 99, 180 cm + alpine bindings
(3) QST 106, 188 cm + Shift MNC (for touring ski + pow days)

3rd Place: Blizzard

(1) Brahma, 180 cm + alpine bindings (extremely happy)
(2) Cochise, 185 cm + alpine bindings (I’m not in love with this selection given that I’ll likely be on this ski most of my days, but I also think that it’s a ski that I’ll adjust to and be fine. And it is still one of the better options on the market for mediocre-to-crappy conditions.)
(3) Rustler 11, 188 cm + Shift MNC (quite happy)

2nd Place: K2

(1) Mindbender 99Ti, 177 cm + alpine bindings
(2) Mindbender 108Ti, 186 cm + alpine bindings
(3) K2 Wayback 106, 186 cm + Shift MNC

1st Place: Volkl

(1) Mantra M5, 177 cm + alpine bindings

While it’s certainly not a dedicated carver, this is a good option for firm-snow carving, and a better and better option the firmer the off-piste stuff gets.

(2) Mantra 102, 184 cm + alpine bindings

I haven’t spent enough time on this ski in deep snow to know whether I’ll be kicking myself for not going wider. But what I already know is that, on chop days after a storm … and then on the crud days that come days and weeks after a storm, this is a terrific option.

(4) BMT 109, 186 cm + Shift or Duke PT

As you’ve heard me caution repeatedly, I don’t recommend subjecting this very thin, lightweight ski to a bunch of rock strikes. So given that I will be breaking out this ski on deep pow days … I’m rolling the dice a little bit here, and may have to end up spending more time on the narrower Mantra 102 than I might want to on certain days.

Then again, when it is deep in the resort (and the coverage is hopefully good), I’ll have a pretty good time. And given that I’ve got a lot of touring days on this ski (where I was using it as my only, everyday touring ski), I already know that I quite like the BMT 109 in that capacity.

Kara Williard

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?

For my 3-ski quiver, I seek out a well-balanced resort quiver with one all-mountain ski that is stable, damp, and reliable, as well as a versatile powder ski that I can also use as a more playful option, even when the snow isn’t extremely deep. I also want a versatile touring ski that can work for pretty much any backcountry conditions, regardless of the location or snow.

Ski #1: Everyday Resort Ski — Nordica Santa Ana 100, 177 cm, + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

No surprise here. As I have repeated, almost incessantly, this is the daily driver for me. It offers such a great blend of stability, playfulness, and energy. I can trust this ski for 90% of inbounds conditions at Taos, and it meets every need when conditions are firm, chalky, unpredictable, or slushy. I will continuously stick by this ski, since it provides just enough dampness and smoothness without being overly demanding in tighter areas or when I’m not charging.

Ski #2: Powder and Playful Resort Ski — K2 Mindbender 106C Alliance, 175 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

For practicality’s sake, I am quite fine narrowing the waist width of my resort powder ski in this smaller quiver. A narrower ski makes sense for a mountain like Taos, and it also makes more sense as a more playful all-mountain ski (rather than a pure pow ski). I found the K2 Mindbender 106C to be an incredibly adaptable ski from firm snow to isothermal slush, while still being an impressive option when it comes to overall flotation and soft-snow capabilities, especially for its width.

Ski #3: Versatile Touring Setup — Blizzard Sheeva 10, 172 cm + Salomon Shift MNC

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

While my touring ski needs to provide a lot of different things, I definitely prioritize downhill performance in a variety of snow conditions because my touring season is unpredictable and needs to cater to a variety of locations and snow temps. The Sheeva 10 is one ski I can confidently stick to for this sort of variety. While a blast in the spring, it still offers ample flotation in deep snow and confidence in tricky terrain. Given that I don’t tend to do a ton of really long tours, I’m comfortable going with a heavier ski that’s more fun on the down. That said, I decided to go with something a bit lighter and more nimble here than I did in my 4-ski quiver (where I chose the pretty heavy Nordica Enforcer Free 104 as a touring ski).

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

I was definitely tempted to go wider for my second resort ski, in which case I would be torn between the Nordica Santa Ana 110 and K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance. I also have been leaning heavily toward the Nordica Enforcer Free 104, but was able to split the difference with my two resort oriented-skis. I was also really close to including the 174 cm Salomon QST Stella 106 as my touring ski, for most of the same reasons I chose the Sheeva 10.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

My considerations stay consistent throughout the quiver articles. I would like to try some of the options from Armada and Line’s women’s lines. I am also realizing how few lighter-weight skis I’ve been on, and I think this is skewing me into believing I really don’t mind a heavy ski for touring. With that in mind, I am hoping to get on some lighter skis this season, such as the Armada Trace series, Rossignol Soul 7 HD W, Blizzard Zero G … I need to expand my horizons in this realm.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

I do not want to sound redundant here, but I am again leaning toward Nordica. This is again an easy choice, and it’s the same as my 4-ski choice, but without the Santa Ana 93. This would leave me with the Santa Ana 100 for everyday use, Enforcer Free 104 as my touring ski, and Santa Ana 110 as my resort powder ski. Blizzard is still a good option, though I like how well the Santa Ana / Enforcer series blends both stability and forgiveness, and using all of those Nordica skis would make for effortless transitions between each ski since they’re all pretty similar.

Cy Whitling

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?

Hey! This is getting more realistic. I’ve found that, outside of reviewing, when I try to spread myself over more than three skis I end up with a lot of overlap that leaves me trying to make silly decisions about which great powder ski to choose on a given day. The longer I ski, the more I long for simplicity in my own quiver. It allows me to get to know the skis I use a lot, and focus more on my own technique rather than what the ski is doing.

Ski #1: Moment Deathwish, 184 cm + Look Pivot

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

This ski is really good. If Moment ever threatens to discontinue it, I will scour the internet and buy up every existing pair I find so that I can ski them till the end of time. For the kind of skiing I do, in the places I do it, I can’t find a better ski. And I’ve been looking really hard for years.

Ski #2: Moment Deathwish Tour, 184 cm + Fritschi Vipec Evo

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

My skiing is split pretty evenly between walking uphill and riding lifts. It’s really cool to use a ski that feels very consistent between the two. The Deathwish Tour is awesome, it’s light, it’s intuitive, and it’s consistent. Moment does an excellent job of translating the inbounds experience you get on their skis to the backcountry (apart from high-speed stability), and the Deathwish Tour is no exception.

Ski #2: Atomic Bent Chetler 120, 184 cm + Atomic Shift MNC

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Ugh, this one was hard. I can’t imagine life without ski blades. But I also really like the BC 120. And realistically, are ski blades part of a “quiver,” or just something everyone should have in the garage? I’d argue the latter. So here’s the BC 120 again, for deep days when I want to spin, butter, and pop.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

A good pair of ski blades. But seriously, you haven’t lived till you’ve bladed off the cornice on Mary’s saddle with 100 other people, many of them naked, in a mass-start Chinese Downhill.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

The Armada ARV 116 UL has a good chance of being up there, along with the 192 cm Bent Chetler 120. And again, K2, before the Deathwish was my favorite ski, the Shreditor 112 held that honor. Bring out your new jib sticks already!

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Moment is the obvious choice here: a quiver of the Deathwish, Deathwish Tour, and PB&J would be a blast. I could also be fine on Line, with the Sir Francis Bacon, Vision 108, and Outline.

Sascha Anastas

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?

Ski #1: Everyday Resort Ski — K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance, 168 cm + Marker Griffon or Squire

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

After skiing it last season, I found the Mindbender 98 Ti to be a very versatile, powerful, and stable ski, making it a blast to get on edge, supportive on steep and more technical terrain, while still being somewhat forgiving. It’s hard for me to think of resort conditions in which this ski wouldn’t feel comfortable. It is also easy to keep this ski floating in powder because of the deeper tail and rocker lines and rearward mount point, which means I wouldn’t feel bad if I had it out on a surprise pow day.

Ski #2: Touring Ski — Line Pandora 104, 165 cm + Fritschi Tecton 12

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

While it would be completely reasonable to choose this as my dedicated powder ski or as a wider all-mountain ski, the Mindbender 98Ti and Pandora 104 have quite a bit of overlap as all-mountain skis, so I’d choose to put a touring binding on the Pandora. Despite being wider, the Pandora is easier to maneuver in tight terrain and floats a bit better, providing a much quicker and more playful option to use in the resort and the backcountry. So choosing the Mindbender as my all-mountain ski and having the option of skiing the Pandora 104 on soft-snow days inbounds gives me the best of both worlds — especially if I mount the Pandora 104 with a powerful touring binding with an alpine-style heel such as the Fritschi Tecton 12 or Marker Kingpin 13.

Ski #3: Dedicated Powder Ski — Blizzard Sheeva 11, 164 cm + Marker Griffon

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

With the Mindbender 98Ti and Pandora 104 I can cover a lot of conditions, but I still think I would want a wider ski in my quiver for those really deep days or for ski trips to the US Pacific Northwest. As of three or four years ago, my one and only everyday ski was the Line Pandora 110, so I’m not too worried about skiing the surprisingly versatile, ~112mm-wide Sheeva 11 on days that aren’t insanely deep (though my legs and knees will be happy to have those narrower skis for bump runs and firm days). As I noted in my 4-ski-quiver selection, I think the Sheeva is more compelling than the Nordica Santa Ana 110 because the Sheeva is more forgiving and more playful, and I already have the Mindbender 98Ti for when I want to ski very fast.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

Armada Victa 97 Ti

This ski was probably one of the stiffest and least forgiving skis I have skied in quite some time … but it is a blast to get on edge at high speeds. So with 3 skis to choose from, I had a hard time leaving it out. It was a pretty close call between the Mindbender 98Ti Alliance and the Victa 97Ti for my everyday resort ski option. Ultimately, the Mindbender won my vote since it is a bit more forgiving and offers more versatility in rough snow than the fairly light and very stiff Victa 97Ti.

II. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

Nordica Santa Ana 100

After listening to Kara and Kristen rave about these skis, I’ve had some serious FOMO when it comes to the Santa Ana 100. I think that the Santa Ana 100 could easily serve as my everyday resort ski. I am hoping to spend more time on this ski as well as the 110 this season to see how it stacks up against the other skis I’ve used.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

I think for a 3-ski quiver it would have to be Nordica. I think I could get along with a 3-ski quiver consisting of the Santa Ana 93, 100 and 110, with the 100 likely the ski of choice for touring, the 93 for everyday resort use, and the 110 for deeper days. While I don’t have a ski in this mix that fits a playful niche, I think I would survive as I value stability and carving performance over being able to do nose butters (I have yet to put time into park skiing to add this trick to my repertoire).

Paul Forward

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?

Ski #1: DPS Alchemist Lotus 124, 191 cm + Salomon STH2 16 or Marker Jester*

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

This is my work ski for heli-ski guiding and my primary powder board. It would also work for pow days at the ski hill.

*If I’m down to three skis, I’d consider trying a binding like the Shift on these so could tour for pow on them, but I have no experience with that class of bindings yet and would need to put in a lot of time on them before trusting them with my life while ski guiding.

Ski #2: Volkl BMT 109, 186 cm + G3 Zed or Marker Alpinist

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

This ski isn’t that light for big tours but it will get me through a big winter of ski touring in any conditions and would still serve as a decent setup for traveling to just about anywhere. I do sometimes wish the Marker Alpinist had a slightly higher heel lift, but overall, this would serve me well for a season of touring. The caveat here is that if I ended up with a Shift or something similar on the Lotus A124, I might opt for a lighter binding, like the Black Diamond Helio 110.

Ski #3: Volkl Mantra M5, 184 cm + Salomon STH2 16 or Marker Jester

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

I love riding lifts because it’s fun and it makes me a better skier, and I’ll always want at least one ski that will be fun on firmer days at the hill. The M5 carves well but is still fun in variable snow.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

I love pow days at Alyeska and the Lotus A124 usually feels a little big up there, unless it’s really deep. I’d miss having a ~115 ski for resort pow days, such as the Moment Blister Pro.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

Hard to say, but as I’ve mentioned before the new 4FRNT Renegade looks good on paper. I’d also be keen to try some of the lighter but still decent-performing pow skis like the 192 cm Atomic Bent Chetler 120, which might do double-duty as a pow-touring ski while also working as a good heli ski.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

I’m still going to give the nod to Volkl here. It feels weird because there’s never been a single Volkl ski that I found super “inspiring,” but they have a lot of skis that do what they’re meant to do in an effective way. So that quiver would consist of the Mantra M5, BMT 109, and either the old BMT 122 or maybe Revolt 121 for heli days.

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18 comments on “3-Ski Quivers: Reviewers’ Selections (19/20)”

    • I luv the pick of the bodacious as well. This will be my 6th season on it in a 186 length. I have not found another ski that can handles as wide a spectrum of conditions as the bodacious.

  1. I have to side with Sam here – what is the point of picking a quiver from one company? I think we should challenge JE to detail the scenario where this would be relevant to any one…

    Pretty amazing to see the Bibby/WC still making these lists. What an absolute legend.

    • That question isn’t meant to really mimic a real-world scenario (unless, I guess, if you were choosing which company to sponsor you?). Instead, we mostly use it to make us think about which brands are currently making the most skis that would work well for any particular one of us. And, it’s just kinda fun to think about…

    • For real life purposes it would be more appropriate to pick a quiver subject to budget constraints. Say, 3 ski quiver for 2k vs 3 ski quiver for 10k

  2. Count me as a fan of the one brand quiver question….just makes for an interesting debate!

    While I personally don’t have a one brand quiver, I do tend to lean more toward certain brands because I’ve become used to how a particular construction feels on the snow… until they mess with the construction. For example the heavy model Volkls all have a similar on snow feel you either like or don’t. I’ve never skied any of Volkl’s light weight models or v-werks stuff but I’m willing to bet they all have a similar feel you will either like or not.

  3. Question for Jonathan: in your K2 quiver, why put Shift MNCs on the Wayback 106? That seems like a counter-intuitive binding choice for such light ski.

    • Because I like the downhill performance and power of the Shift more than any other AT binding, simple as that. And I don’t personally believe that, just because a ski is of a certain weight, you have to mount with a binding of a certain weight. I’m also, clearly, not going for the lightest setup possible here.

  4. Fan of the single brand question too. The 3 skis for $xx only works if you have comparable prices across countries and if RRP’s were in any way realistic

  5. Cy has said in these quiver reviews that he lives the fact that the deathwish tour and deathwish feel so similar. I’m wondering what exactly makes him love the death so much and what is the downside of getting the lighter deathwish tour instead of the deathwish if they feel virtually the same?

    • Hey Peter,

      Yep, they feel very similar, they feel the same through turns, they both have surprising edge grip while also being east to throw sideways and skid and slarve. They have precisely the same personality. And the weight difference doesn’t change that. What shaving that weight does do is make the Tour less damp, and much more susceptible to being thrown around in less than perfect snow at higher speeds. So the inbounds Deathwish has a much higher speed limit, and is much less work to ski in typical inbounds conditions. They feel the same, you can jump back and forth seamlessly. If you’re dialed on one, the other will feel familiar and easy to ski, but they perform pretty differently in variable conditions. The DW Tour is the best touring ski I’ve ever been on. But it’s still a touring ski. It’s still way more work to ski inbounds than I’d prefer to do on a daily basis.

      I dive pretty deep into the comparison in my Deathwish Tour review on the site, and break down where I think each shines.

  6. The Masterblaster plays great in resort pow and chow, and carves/snaps sweetly on mid winter soft pack. Very intuitive and precise in most conditions, the MB’s deliver big reliable fun in those early/mid winter in-bounds conditions, and are a great blend of dampness and liveliness thru most transitions. However, IMO, very firm snow is it’s weakness. Come Spring, I’ll be experimenting with a more aggressive edge angle tune to see if it’s versatility can include a more reliable carve thru very firm/variable transitions….

  7. I’m frankly shocked by the omission of the 4Frnt Raven from JE’s quiver. No mention of it at all! Perhaps that was an oversight? I would love to hear Paul’s take on the Bentchetler & the Renegade. He seems interested…..perhaps you guys could make that happen. I’m looking for a deep pow touring ski to take on my annual pow pilgrimage to BC…

      • Oh yeah. You’ve heaped so much praise on it elsewhere, I was just surprised that it didn’t make the cut here. Those QST’s must be good. Keep up the good work!

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