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

Intro

We recently published several of our reviewers’ selections for giant 5-ski quivers, and now we’re asking them to *gasp* cut that down to a 4-ski quiver. So below you’ll see some of their picks for 4-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 4-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 4-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
  • Kristin Sinnott
  • Jonathan Ellsworth
  • Cy Whitling
  • Kara Williard
  • Paul Forward
  • Sascha Anastas
  • Eric Freson
  • Sam Shaheen
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Review Navigation:  Luke Koppa //  Kristin Sinnott //  Jonathan Ellsworth //  Cy Whitling //  Kara Williard //  Paul Forward //  Sascha Anastas //  Eric Freson //  Sam Shaheen

Luke Koppa

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 4-ski quiver?

I split my time between Crested Butte Mountain Resort and the surrounding backcountry, with a bit more time spent in the resort than in the backcountry. So my 4-ski quiver would consist of one versatile touring ski, and three resort skis. Since I’m not changing anything in my resort quiver, things are very similar to my 5-ski quiver for the resort.

Ski #1: Do-Everything Touring Ski — Line Vision 108, 183 cm + ATK Raider 2.0 12

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

In my 5-ski quiver, I had the Salomon MTN Explore 95, which is currently my favorite spring-touring ski. Since living next to a bunch of lifts on my favorite mountain makes it easier to get out in the resort than in the backcountry, I’m consolidating my touring skis in my 4-ski quiver. The Vision 108 will keep me very happy throughout most of the season and when it comes time later in the year to walk up bigger lines and ski down them in shallower conditions, I think it’d still do fine. I skied it in a lot of pretty firm conditions last year and came away impressed. It definitely would not be my ideal ski for skiing 45° couloirs on truly firm snow, but it slides down steep, firm snow predictably, so I think it’d be fine. And it’s plenty light for long days.

Instead of the Tecton I’d put on it for my 5-ski quiver, I’d opt for something lighter in this case since the Vision would be seeing some longer days and fewer booter days (see my 3rd ski).

Ski #2: Firm-Snow Resort Ski — J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

No change here — the Masterblaster is still my favorite firm-snow ski when it comes to blending excellent stability with enough playfulness to keep things interesting.

Ski #3: Playful Soft-Snow Resort Ski — Line Sir Francis Bacon, 184 cm + CAST Freetour

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

This ski is just too dang fun to remove from my 4-ski quiver. For when I’m not looking to charge, want to practice tricks, or there’s just a bit of soft snow, this is the ski I want to be on.

And since I ditched my narrower touring ski, I’d opt to throw the CAST Freetour system on this ski. It’d still see most of its days within the confines of the resort, and it falls into the same exact width-class as the Vision 108, so there’s a lot of overlap there. But I’d trust the CAST system for everyday inbounds laps, and the SFB is just so fun that it’d be nice to have it as an option for when I want to go upside down and sideways in the backcountry.

Ski #4: Resort Powder Ski — Rossignol Black Ops 118, 186 cm + Salomon STH2 13

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

I still can’t get over how much I like this ski. It’s incredibly stable and lets me ski faster than the vast majority of skis I’ve been on, but I can still spin it (with a bit of effort), ski switch, easily throw it sideways, and otherwise ski with a pretty playful style in between straightlines through chop.

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

The Salomon MTN Explore 95 is the most obvious, given that I included it in my 5-ski quiver. And then the Moment Wildcat is such a fun ski, but I want something a bit heavier in this quiver. Same case for the Line Outline, and since I have the Sir Francis Bacon, I’m not as upset about excluding the Outline because it’s so similar to the SFB. I really enjoyed my time on the Volkl Revolt 121 last season, and there’s a chance I might prefer it for CB once I get to actually ski it here, but for now, the Black Ops 118 remains my top choice for a pow ski in this 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?

I’ve really been liking the Moment Wildcat 108 and Moment Deathwish during my initial time on them, and I think one of them has a good chance of replacing the SFB. The Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105 and Prior Northwest 110 also seem like they’re up my alley, but I need much more time on them to confirm. Then the Wildcat Tour 108 seems like it’s going to give the Vision 108 some very strong competition for the touring-ski slot in my quiver. The Kye Shapes Numinous and Metamorph seem like they’d offer a combo of stability and playfulness that I’d like, but I’ll have to ski them to confirm. Finally, I’m really excited to spend more time on the Woodsman 108 at Crested Butte, and hopefully the Woodsman 96 and Woodsman 116, so I think those have a good chance of taking one or more of the spots in my quiver.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 4-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Not much change from my 5-ski quiver — I think 4-ski quivers from Line or Moment would work very well for me.

Line: Vision 108, 183 cm (touring ski), Sakana, 174 cm, Sir Francis Bacon, 184 cm, Sick Day 114, 190 cm

I’d have my current favorite touring ski with the Vision 108, a ridiculously fun groomer / slush ski in the Sakana, my favorite ultra-playful all-mountain ski in the SFB, and the Sick Day 114 is a pow ski that’s really easy to get along with, at least for me.

Moment: Deathwish Tour, 184 cm (touring ski), Commander 98, 178 cm, Deathwish, 184 cm, Wildcat, 184 cm

I think I’d get along really well with the Deathwish Tour as a do-everything backcountry ski, and I think I could be quite happy on the Deathwish as my daily driver at Crested Butte. I really like the Commander 98 as a firm-snow ski, and the 184 cm Wildcat is still one of my favorite pow skis.

Kristin Sinnott

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 4-ski quiver?

As a parent who lives far away from both sets of grandparents, it can be challenging to log a lot of big days on the mountain. I’m lucky to be able to split time on the hill with my husband, but sneaking away from the office for a powder day is even less feasible nowadays than it used to be. Especially since I no longer have an office and my ‘boss’ (my 15-month-old son) would surely notice if I didn’t show up to work. With that said, my 4-ski quiver looks like my 5-ski quiver, with the exception of a big powder ski.

Ski #1: DPS Alchemist Uschi 94 C2, 171 cm + Tyrolia AAAttack2 11

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

The Uschi A94 has a tendency to ease me back into the steeps each season. Lightweight and easy to control, I can hop on them after an offseason and feel like I haven’t skipped a beat — no fighting them to do what I want and my legs aren’t left exhausted after a few runs. They’re great for carving and hop turns, though not ideal for sliding turns. If it hasn’t snowed in a while and I want to ski steep, tight chutes, these are my go-to skis.

Ski #2: Nordica Santa Ana 93, 169 cm + Tyrolia AAAttack2 11

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

It might seem strange that my quiver includes a 93mm-wide and a 94mm-wide ski and nothing wider than a 106. But I’ve found the Uschi A94 and Santa Ana 93 to be vastly different and both are quite versatile, which is why I chose to include both. Over the holidays I’ll be visiting family in Idaho, New Hampshire, and Maine and while I enjoy skiing each of the local mountains, the terrain is quite different than Taos. The Santa Ana 93’s stronger flex pattern, damp metal-laminate construction, surprisingly versatile design, and 93 mm waist should make for a fun ski day, no matter what type of conditions I encounter. And the Santa Ana 93’s damp metal construction brings a nice contrast to the very light and quick nature of the Uschi A94.

Ski #3: DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2, 168 cm + Tyrolia AAAttack2 11

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

As the widest ski in this quiver, the Zelda would serve as my powder ski. It’s pretty light, has a fairly wide shovel, and floats pretty well for its width, so I’d be happy with it on most, if not all powder days. I would certainly miss the chop bulldozer that is the Nordica Santa Ana 110, especially since most of my powder days will undoubtedly be skied at Taos. A powder day at Taos typically means a quarter to a half of each run is spent hightailing it back to the lift through crud city. But the Zeldas are a more versatile ski for me and they handle chop okay, as long as I slow it down a bit. Fun in powder but also playful enough to be skied all winter long. From bumps to chalky steeps to groomers, the Zeldas are easy and fun for just about any day I get to ski them.

Ski #4: Armada Trace 98, 172 cm + Marker Kingpin

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

As mentioned in my 5-ski quiver selection, these skis are good for a bit of everything. Not necessarily great at everything, but pretty good at most things, which makes them a solid 1-ski backcountry quiver for me.

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

The 177 cm Santa Ana 110 as a dedicated powder ski and chop crusher. By leaving it off, it feels a little like I’ve already given up on my powder days this season. But at 177 cm long and with a hefty metal construction, they are a heavy ski that I find myself using less frequently than the other four skis listed. And without any big ski trips planned this winter, they probably wouldn’t be missed as much as the others.

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?

I imagine the Santa Ana 100 would have a good chance of making this list if and when I get to ski it. It would give my quiver a little bit more range. Hopefully, this is the year I get to test that hypothesis.
The DPS Foundation Yvette 112RP might be a future contender, too. I’ve watched my husband ski the Wailer 112RP as his daily driver for the past 5 seasons and if I had anywhere as much fun on the Yvettes as he does on the Wailers, then it would have to make the cut.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 4-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

DPS: Alchemist Uschi 94, Foundation Yvette 100RP, Alchemist Zelda 106C2, Foundation Yvette 112RP,

I haven’t skied all of these but what I have skied I love. This is just slightly different from my 5-ski quiver with the Nina being removed here. For this lineup, I’d mount the Foundation Yvette 100RP with an AT binding.

Jonathan Ellsworth

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 4-ski quiver?

Ski #1: 4FRNT Raven, 184 cm + SHIFT MNC 13

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Same reason that I stated for my 5-ski quiver:

Fact is, when the chairlifts are spinning, I’m usually in the resort skiing pow, not touring. (I got skis to test, yo!) So most of my touring happens in the spring, and / or during the winter when it hasn’t snowed in a while and the conditions in the resort are beat. Therefore, for the time being, I don’t need the fattest touring ski, and I still just absolutely love the Raven. And I’m going with the 184 cm ski because I didn’t find the 190 length to add much additional stability, so I believe that people skiing on the 190 cm Raven are just clearly compensating for something. (Just kidding, I don’t really think that. At least, not all the time.)

Ski #2: Nordica Enforcer 93, 185 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Given that I’m giving up my dedicated carver, the 185 cm Enforcer 93 functions as a good carver (and a great carver if the groomers are the least bit soft) while also being a good off-piste ski.

Ski #3: ON3P Woodsman 108, 187 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Given the way a 5-ski quiver breaks, I wasn’t quite ready to commit to the Woodsman. But for a 4-ski quiver, I’d give it the nod. And I have enough time on it already and like it enough already that I am willing to make it the ski that I would spend the most amount of time on at Crested Butte.

Ski #4: Rossignol Black Ops 118, 186 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

As a wise man once said, “It’s really good. Like, really really good.”

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

Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm

I spent a long time deciding whether to go with it or the Enforcer 93. And I am not fully confident that I made the right choice here. Ultimately, I’d take the M5 for carving extremely firm groomers … but I think I’d opt for the Enforcer 93 in firm, steep, bumped-up off piste terrain. But as I said, this is an extremely tough call for me … and I might be wrong.

Folsom Blister Pro 104

If it’s a lower-snow season (unlike last year), then I might wish I’d gone with something a bit narrower and more firm-snow oriented than the Woodsman 108. But if we’re fortunate enough to get anything resembling last season … then please ignore this paragraph.

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?

Moment Blister Pro, 190 cm

Again: Sometimes, I just like heavy things. And for me personally … the lighter 190 Blister Pro has to take a backseat to the incredibly good (and heavy) Rossi Black Ops 118.

That said … stay tuned….

Nordica Enforcer 88, 186 cm

Honestly, I’m the least sure about this ski in this section … but I really am intrigued to get more time on this length of the ski. In other words, I’m looking forward to A/B-ing it more against the 185 cm Enforcer 93 in very firm, steep, off-piste conditions. (This is why we’ve had to delay our full review of the 88, for those who are wondering about that, but we’ll be getting back on it as soon as the lifts start spinning here next week.)

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 5-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Volkl

(1) Volkl BMT 109, 186 cm + Marker Kingpin

My everyday touring ski. Good ski.

(2) Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm

Not sure whether most of my days would be spent on this or #3

(3) Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm

(4) Volkl Revolt 121, 191 cm or Confession, 186 cm

Ok, I’m breaking the rules here, because I haven’t skied either of these skis. Fortunately, I basically have a Blister Premier Membership, so I effectively scheduled a consultation with Luke Koppa, and asked him to speculate about the 191 cm Revolt 121 for my deep-snow ski. While the 186 cm Confession feels like it might more-obviously be in my wheelhouse … it doesn’t seem (at all) like it would be the best pow ski for a mountain like CB … so I’m rolling the dice with something longer but way more playful and floatier.

Cy Whitling

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 5-ski quiver?

Ski #1: Do-Everything Resort Ski — Moment Deathwish, 184 cm + Look Pivot 18

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Hey, guess what? This ski is going to be in every quiver article I write from now until the end of time. It’s intuitive. It’s stable. It’s playful. It makes me want to go fast, take chances, and do tricks that end in trips down the mountain in a ski-patrol sled. And, unlike some one-ski-quivers that tend to be jacks of all trades, masters of none, I prefer the Deathwish over most other skis, in most conditions. Yeah, I love playing the field as a reviewer, a new ski in my roof box every week, but there’s a lot to be said for long-term relationships. Don’t tell the Deathwish, but I’ve already bought a ring, and am just waiting for the right moment to pop the question.

Ski #2: Do-Everything Touring Ski — Moment Deathwish Tour, 184 cm + Fritschi Vipec Evo

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Imagine, like, your favorite ski ever, and then just, like, imagine it 500 grams lighter. Wouldn’t that be cool? Uh, yeah. It is cool. I have only skied one touring ski on which I’m just as comfortable tricking pillows into deep pow as I am skiing steep, exposed lines in really crappy snow. That ski is the Deathwish Tour.

Ski #3: Pow Ski — Atomic Bent Chetler 120, 184 cm + Atomic Shift MNC 13

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Every season I have days where I wake up wanting to pretend like I’m actually really good at jibbing. I want to go build booters and try new tricks and get the grab for the camera. This ski gets me closer to doing that well than anything else. It’s also surprisingly versatile, really light, and a whole bunch of fun. I laugh out loud every time I get on this thing.

Ski #4: Sego Wizard .5

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

I know some of you saw this ski blade on my 5-ski quiver article and laughed a little. It’s not a joke. I really like ski blading … a lot. I’d rather have a good pair of blades than another pair of skis. Go try it, screaming semens are really fun.

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

I do really enjoy the Atomic Bent Chetler 100. But honestly, any day I’m planning on taking out that ski, I could probably just take ski blades instead and have just as much fun on them.

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?

K2, I know you’ve got Marksman and Catamaran replacements coming. I bet they’re going to be awesome. I bet I’m going to like them a lot. There’s a chance a Catamaran replacement could take the BC 120’s spot on this list. Only time will tell.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 4-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Moment. These guys in Reno make some really good skis. Whenever I’m reviewing a really weird ski that I don’t get along with, I mutter under my breath and threaten to quit reviewing so many skis and only ride Moments. I don’t really want to do that, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Kara Williard

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 4-ski quiver?

I spend my time skiing on an almost daily basis at Taos Ski Valley and then focus more on touring in the spring, including trips to Colorado and beyond. My 4-ski quiver is comprised of 3 resort-oriented skis that cover everything from minimal, early-season snow to deep resort days. And then I just want one pretty versatile backcountry ski.

Ski #1: All-Mountain Everyday Charger — Nordica Santa Ana 100, 177 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

This is the ski that sets my standards for what a stable all-mountain ski should be, especially for the conditions at Taos. For me, it offers the perfect balance of smooth and damp while still being fairly playful and maneuverable. I very much prefer heavier, metal-laminate skis for daily use at Taos, and this ski gives me the confidence to ski hard all over the mountain, no matter the conditions.

Ski #2: Playful All-Mountain Powder Ski — K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance, 179 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

After spending considerable time on the K2 Mindbender 115C, I was consistently impressed by the versatility of this ski in any type of soft-snow conditions. It is my ski of choice for any powder day, it’s not super demanding to ski, and it maintains impressive stability when conditions aren’t perfect. It feels like the hard-charging women’s powder ski that I have been dreaming of for some time.

Ski #3: Playful & Nimble Resort Ski — Blizzard Sheeva 9, 172 cm, + Tyrolia Attack 13

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Full disclosure: I have only skied the men’s Rustler 9, but it and the Sheeva 9 are pretty much the same ski. It’s fun and really nice on the legs to have something a little narrower, lighter, and quicker, especially on the mega-long bump runs at Taos.

Ski #4: Touring Ski — Nordica Enforcer Free 104, 179 cm + Salomon Shift MNC 13

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

While I am yearning for a whole lot more time on this ski, I am super excited about it. It’s far from the lightest ski, but my tours tend to be pretty short and I just really like my backcountry skis to feel similar to the skis I use in the resort. I tend to get into a wide range of backcountry conditions, with no real trend when it comes to location or conditions, so something as versatile as the Enforcer Free 104 makes me feel equally capable, whether on a sweet spring trip or exploring the backcountry around Santa Fe.

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

I found myself looking for a place to include the K2 Mindbender 106C Alliance, as it is a really well-rounded ski, but it didn’t quite fit into this 4-ski quiver. I am also having a major toss-up when it comes to which powder ski I most prefer right now, since I really love the 179 cm Mindbender 115C, 177 cm Nordica Santa Ana 110, and the 180 cm Dynastar Menace Proto. But the Santa Ana 110 is a bit heavy, and the Menace Proto isn’t quite as damp as I desire in variable soft snow.

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?

I definitely want to spend a lot more time on the Nordica Santa Ana 93. I’d also like to try some of the options from Armada and Line’s women’s lines, since Sascha and Kristin have said many intriguing things about those skis.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 4-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Nordica

This is again an easy choice, and it’s the same as my 5-ski choice, but without the Enforcer Free 115. So that leaves me with the Santa Ana 93, Santa Ana 100, Enforcer Free 104, and Santa Ana 110. 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.

Paul Forward

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 4-ski quiver?

Ski #1: Volkl Mantra M5, 184 cm + Marker Jester

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

I still want a fun all-round inbounds ski and this is as good as any I’ve found. I’ll miss having a dedicated carver but this will get me through the season, along with a fatter option.

Ski #2: Moment Blister Pro (OG version), 190 cm + Marker Jester or Salomon STH2 16

Blister Gear Review's 3-Ski Quiver awards

It’s still my go-to for inbounds pow skiing for all of the reasons I listed in the 5-ski-quiver selections and elsewhere.

Ski #3: Volkl BMT 109, 186 cm + Marker Alpinist (or something similar)

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

This is where I’m making my biggest compromise. I can tour all year on this ski, though I’ll regret the extra weight and wider width for big missions and will lament the decreased float for the pow touring that I love. But as one touring ski for everything I do, the BMT 109 will keep me happy all season.

Ski #4: DPS Alchemist Lotus 124, 191 cm + Marker Jester or Salomon STH2 16

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

As I’ve said many times, this is the ski I prefer for my work as a heli-ski guide.

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

Giving up a dedicated powder touring ski was the hardest decision. I’d be sad not to have a 115mm+ lightweight touring ski in my quiver since that’s what I actually spend most of my time on when I’m touring. Something like the DPS Tour1 Lotus 124 or the Black Diamond Helio 116 would be a nice addition to the above skis.

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?

As I mentioned in my 5-ski selections, I’m really excited about the new 4FRNT Renegade as well as some other new pow shapes like Moment Commander 118 & 124 and Moment Chipotle Banana. Other reviewers and readers reminded me of two other pow shapes that I just have to try: the Kye Shapes Numinous and Black Crows Nocta.

It also sounds like I need to make some runs on the Atomic Bent Chetler 120, unless Sam and Cy are just crazy when it comes to how much they like that ski. Maybe it would be good enough to bump my current touring choices.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 4-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Once again, I’m going to give the nod to Volkl. More specifically, I’d take the Mantra M5 for on-piste, BMT 109 for touring, BMT 122 or Revolt 121 for heli-skiing, and probably the Confession for inbounds pow days. If the Revolt 121 turns out good enough for my style of skiing, I might be able to dump the Confession and grab a second BMT 122 with a light touring binding, a superlight touring ski like something from the VTA series, or maybe an RTM or race ski for on-piste. It would depend on a lot on how my winter shapes up here in Alaska!

Sascha Anastas

I primarily spend my time skiing inbounds in Central Colorado and Taos, New Mexico in search of steep terrain such as Aspen’s Highlands Bowl, Taos’s Kachina Peak, and as of last year (thanks Blister for relocating to CB!), the steep and technical terrain at Crested Butte. But I am also a former racer and do love getting my skis on edge on groomed or firm conditions. So my 4-ski quiver includes two resort-focused all-mountain skis; a light backcountry setup to primarily skin up resorts for exercise and / or if I am lucky to get out on an overnight hut trip; and a dedicated powder ski for the out-of-nowhere-dumps we can get in the Central Rockies or for that hopeful trip to AK— with the former being the more likely scenario.

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 5-ski quiver?

Ski#1: Resort Ski for Variable & Soft Conditions — Line Pandora 104, 165 cm + Marker Squire

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

I was a bit split on whether I should choose a narrower ski for inbounds variable / powder conditions, but because the Pandora 104 is so easy to maneuver and holds an edge well for its width, I’m comfortable using it in this context. And in powder or heavier snow, its extra width makes it float well and keep it from getting bogged down. Ultimately, I think that excellent blend of soft- and firm-snow performance is why this ski has been so hard for me to leave at home.

Ski #2 Resort Ski for Firm Snow — Liberty Genesis 90, 165 cm + Marker Squire

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

As a former ski racer, I’d definitely want a ski that excels at carving and the Genesis 90 is great for this, while also performing really well off piste. I had a hard time leaving the wider Genesis 96 off my list for one my 1-ski quiver last year, and while I certainly considered the 96 for this choice, I think the Genesis 90, as a narrower ski, best fills this niche. The Genesis 90 is quite stable while carving on groomers, is impressively capable on steep chalky terrain, and is still somewhat playful and maneuverable for tight tree runs or hardpacked moguls.

Ski #3 Powder Ski — Blizzard Sheeva 11, 164 cm + Marker Squire

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Full disclosure: I have yet to ski this ski, so I’m breaking our own rules by picking it. With that said, the widest ski I have skied over the past few years is the Armada Trace 108 (which, to be clear, has no problem handling powder), but if I were to get a truly dedicated powder ski, I would want something wider. After lots of conversations with Kara and Kristin (who have spent a substantial amount of time on both the Sheeva 11 and Nordica Santa Ana 110), I think the Sheeva 11 would be my best bet. It’s more forgiving and playful than the Santa Ana 110, which would likely make it easier to surf and possibly more fun in heavy or deep powder.

Ski#4: Sidecountry / Touring Ski — Prior Flute, 163 cm + G3 ZED 12

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

The Flute, at 105 mm wide, is on the wider side for an all-round touring ski and I am sure a lot of people would consider this too wide for their dedicated touring ski. But this ski is impressively light and is stable enough to handle Colorado’s variable backcountry conditions, all the while having enough surface area and rocker to keep afloat in powder. I would keep this setup light with the G3 ZED 12 binding.

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

K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance

This could have easily been my choice for my resort variable / soft-snow ski and / or my resort carving / firm-snow ski, but I think it makes more sense in a smaller quiver where it can fill a broader / more versatile role.

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?

Blizzard Black Pearl 82 and Line Pandora 84

I would have never thought to select a ski any narrower than the Genesis 90, but given the trend this year of brands adding narrower all-mountain options to their lineups, I think that both of these narrower skis could be great options for my inbounds carving / firm-snow ski. While I have yet to get on the Black Pearl 82, if it maintains some of the stability that was so notable with the Black Pearl 98, then I think it would safe to assume that the ski would be fairly capable on the chalky, steeper terrain as well. (Similar story with the Pandora 84 vs. Pandora 104.)

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 4-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Blizzard

The Black Pearl and Sheeva series come in a wide array of widths, providing a ski for almost any occasion. The men’s all-mountain and all-mountain-freeride lines (e.g., Bonafide, Cochise, and Rustlers) also come in shorter lengths, which could make them good options for me since I am often limited to shorter, less substantial women’s-specific skis (I usually use skis in the 164-172 cm range).

Eric Freson

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 4-ski quiver?

I typically run roughly a 70/30 split of backcountry skiing to resort skiing in Crested Butte. My quiver reflects a desire to be skiing off the top of stuff and down the fall line wherever I might be. Fundamentally, I’m also pretty stubborn, 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.

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

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

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 love the centered skiing stance the Raven encourages for a ski like this, I like its stiff underfoot flex, and I like its overall extreme versatility. 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 — 16/17 4FRNT Renegade, 184 cm + Dynafit ST Rotation 12

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

While I haven’t yet skied the new, current Renegade, I have owned the 4FRNT Renegade in 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.

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 very 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. Again, I have had great experiences with the Dynafit ST Rotation 12, and would stick with it here over options like the Shift or Kingpin. I believe the stiff underfoot flex pattern of the Renegade helps the Dynafit binding work well here (seems less prone to pre-release than on a ski that’s softer in the middle), while a Kingpin or Shift might be a better choice on another ski.

Ski #3: Everyday Resort Ski — Fischer Ranger 107 Ti, 189 cm + Salomon STH2 16

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

The Fischer Ranger 107 Ti is a fairly significant departure from a typical daily driver for me in one important aspect. With a stated sidecut radius of just 19 m in the 189 cm length, it is by far the shortest radius of any ski I have enjoyed this much, and a big part of why I’d choose it as my everyday resort ski.

The 189 cm Ranger 107 Ti is long, heavy, has metal, and is very stiff. All of that makes me happy. Where it surprised and impressed me as a short-radius ski was in its edge hold, and general impressive on-piste characteristics. For a ski as powerful and stable as the Ranger 107 Ti is off piste, I had almost as much fun on it while pretending I was a FIS racer on the way back the chairlift. It is a very directional and fairly one-dimensional ski, not what I’d classify as jibby, playful, or easy-going by any stretch. But as a powerful everyday driver with decent float, the ability to hold an edge anywhere, and that likes to smash through crud and other variable snow, I’d be happy to grab these on most any day.

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 skis.

Ski #4: Big Day / Powder Resort Ski — Blizzard Bodacious, 186 cm + Salomon STH2 16

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

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, but at resorts with more wide-open terrain, I’d opt for the 196 cm version for something truly unstoppable.

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. 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.

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

I’m pretty darn content with my list, to be honest. But…

Since I spend a lot of time in the backcountry, and often put in some long days climbing technical routes with skis on my pack rather than my feet, it would be nice to have something like the Salomon MTN Explore 95 in the quiver as a lighter, smaller, and more nimble option. But I find it to be a pretty specialized tool for firmer days and longer missions, and it doesn’t displace any of my current selections.

Similarly, another ski I’d like to have in my backcountry quiver would be the Faction Prime 4.0. For those days where I might expect to encounter variable snow at high speeds in open bowls or similar terrain, I think the Prime 4.0 is an excellent choice. I find it less versatile and “fun” in soft snow than the Renegade, but the power and predictability it provides in variable snow is impressive (at least in my experience). I think it’s a great tool for high-consequence lines where a more traditional shape and flatter tail are welcome characteristics, and I’m looking for stability over all else.

Finally, I’d also enjoy having something like the Fisher Ranger 92 Ti on the list for the truly firm resort days. You won’t catch me in the park much anymore, and so typically in low-tide conditions or firm snow I’ll be hammering away at the chalk, rather than playing around on the various features any mountain affords you. Something like the Ranger 92 Ti would be a nice tool for the days when you are really working for every bit of edge bite available, and spending more time on groomers or trying to GS through a mogul field. But if it’s that firm at the resort, I’m probably headed for the backcountry anyway, and so have less of a need for a more on-piste ski like the Ranger 92 Ti.

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?

This one is easy: the Armada ARG II. The original ARG is one of my favorite pow skis of all time, and I’d really like to get some time on the ARG II to see if it still holds up to the high standard I remember, as well as check out the changes Armada has made to the ski. A very specialized tool no doubt, but my most memorable turns came on the original ARG.

The Atomic Backland 107 is also a ski I’d like to spend some time on. I’d be very interested to see how it does as an everyday backcountry setup. Its low weight and progressive flex pattern seem like they could make it a great choice as a versatile soft-conditions backcountry ski. And typically, I’m headed out into the backcountry in search of soft snow…

I’d also really like to check out the Kye Shapes Numinous and Metamorph. I don’t ski like Kye, but I’d like to, and those skis look like the kind of tools that might help. Heavy and beefy looking, the shapes are interesting, and it would be fun to see how I might adapt. I trust Kye to make something capable, and I’d like to try these.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 4-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

4FRNT would be my go-to for a single-brand ski quiver of four. In my mind, the Raven, MSP 107, Devastator, and Renegade are some of the most interesting skis from one brand today, and would cover me in about any conditions I might encounter. I also really like the Hoji in soft-snow-resort or backcountry settings, but given that it overlaps the Raven and Renegade so much, and is less desirable as an everyday resort ski for me, the MSP 107 and Devastator would cover my bases well with highly adaptable firm- and soft-snow options. The Raven and Renegade would stay as backcountry tools, admirably covering a huge range of conditions. I’ve really enjoyed 4FRNT ski shapes, and I think the MSP 107 is enough ski for me to be content with it as an everyday resort bruiser.

Sam Shaheen

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 4-ski quiver?

In an effort to have my cake and eat it too, I plan on making zero compromises when going from my 5-ski quiver to this 4-ski quiver. How? Double-duty skis and the Shift binding.

Realistically, there will be compromises, but I plan to somehow power through (this sentence should go in the dictionary description of “1st world problems”).

As I said in my 5-ski quiver, these days I split my time pretty evenly between the resort and the backcountry, so this quiver is going to consist of 2 touring skis and 2 resort skis.

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

Get ready to see this ski in pretty much every single one of my quivers. There is no setup I’d rather be on when standing at the top of a no-fall line with questionable snow.

Ski #2: Everyday Touring Ski & Resort Pow Ski — Moment Wildcat, 184 cm + Salomon Shift MNC

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

This ski strikes an absolutely awesome balance between the two pow skis in my 5-ski quiver (Prior CBC and Atomic Bent Chetler 120) and is a good option for both everyday touring and a resort pow ski. Yes, this is a pretty heavy setup to be dragging around skin tracks, but just think how strong my hip flexors will be, come April…

Ski #3: Firm-Snow Resort Ski — Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm + Marker Jester

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Same as my 5-ski quiver, this ski is just so dialed.

Ski #4: Resort Daily Driver — Rossignol Soul 7 HD, 188 cm + Marker Jester

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections

Blah, blah, blah Soul 7 this. Yadda, yadda, yadda, Soul 7 that. Whatever your thoughts are on this very popular ski, for me, it’s too fun to not have on my list. But will it make my 3-ski quiver??? Tune in later this week to find out!

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

Both of the skis I cut from my 5-ski quiver are hard to part with (Bent Chetler 120 and CBC) but I’m pretty happy with how the Wildcat fills that gap. I could also have put the Blizzard Rustler 11 in there instead of the WIldcat, but then my whole quiver would be very directional and with 4 skis, I definitely want something with a twin tip.

The Line Outline could have taken the place of the Wildcat as well, but at the end of the day I think that the Wildcat is a safer bet — I’d rather have the Wildcat in funky weird conditions than the Outline.

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?

I think the Moment Deathwish has a chance of replacing the Wildcat (or even, *gasp*, the Soul 7?) since it comes in a more reasonable waist width for an everyday touring ski and, with how much Cy loves it, I imagine that I’ll also really like it.

As for other skis, I don’t really have any skis on my radar that I think might unseat the MTN Explore 95 or the Mantra M5. Those two skis work really well for what they are designed to do.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 4-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Is it cheating to say Folsom and just have them make me 4 custom skis for my exact purposes? I think that probably is cheating…

If I have to pick a non-custom company, I’m probably going with Salomon, mostly because I think their QST lineup is really good, and I need that MTN Explore 95 in my life.

Salomon: MTN Explore 95 (w/ Raider), QST 99 (w/ Jester), QST 106 (w/ Jester), QST 118 (w/ Shift)

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21 comments on “4-Ski Quivers: Reviewers’ Selections (19/20)”

  1. @Jonathan, what do you mean by “That said … stay tuned….”?!? Could this year’s Moment Blister Pro possibly be heavier than the standard Wildcat?

    • My guess is Jonathan talked Moment into making a version of the fatter wildcat with the same core as the wildcat 108. Would be the easiest way for Moment to make a heavier wildcat.

  2. Well done, Luke! ;-)
    I would do the same (except Shift instead of Cast for easier handling). I chose the Revolt over the Black Ops because a) after the Völkl Kuro I wanted to go lighter and b) because of what you said about face splashes with the Revolt.

    So, they are going to make a heavier Wildcat? Last week-end, my Bibby Tour sure was 500g heavier each due to the wet snow sticking to the top sheet while skinning up. Is there a trick to prevent that? (not ski specific)

  3. Hi Luke,

    Quick question: in your all Line quiver you chose the Sick Day 114 over the Outline, and was curious why? Just reading the reviews, the Sick Day 114 sounds like a very good ski while the Outline sounds quite exceptional.

    Hi Jonathan,

    Was curious about your choice of the Woodman, is it because it has an added playful/fun factor that similar skis lack or is it more for reasons of stability/charger/nice weight?

    • Good question — main reason is that I ski the SFB basically the same way I ski the Outline, and the SFB floats pretty well anyway, so I wanted a different-feeling ski for my pow ski. I really like the Outline and I really like the SD 114, they’re just different. The SFB would give me a super playful ski for all but super deep days, and then the SD 114 would let me ski a bit faster and with more of a directional style on those very deep days.

    • On groomers, I guess it depends a bit on the turns you’re trying to make, but I think the Outline is easier to get on edge and make tighter carved turns, while I’d prefer the SD 114 for carving big GS turns. Both carve well for how wide they are, with turn initiation and turn radius being the notable differences. If I had to use one of them for carving super firm groomers, I’d probably take the Outline since I’d want to make shorter turns anyway and it pulls you into a turn a bit more, while I’d opt for the SD 114 for making big turns down remotely soft groomers.

      And the SD 114 is definitely much better for skiing fast through chop. The Outline’s softer flex pattern, lighter weight, increased rocker, and tighter sidecut all make for a ski that’s really fun to bounce around on in chop, but for making GS turns or bigger through soft chop, the SD 114 stays much more composed.

  4. Eric gets a high five for including the two most indispensable skis in my personal real-world quiver with the 184cm Raven and 186cm Bodacious.

  5. Fellas:

    Here’s one that’s been on my mind and I’m hoping you guys find a lot to discuss in this question. How does the Black Ops 118 compare to the 2018 Bibby in 190 (the one with the blue topsheet graphics of the hut and cliff)? I’ve been reading all the feedback on the Black Ops and, given that I’m a directional skier who throws the tails around here and there but am not spinning anytime soon, they look like they’re perfect for me, but I have absolutely no issue with my Bibby’s and they are nice and heavy (IMO) so what says the Blister Braintrust??

  6. “I do really enjoy the Atomic Bent Chetler 100. But honestly, any day I’m planning on taking out that ski, I could probably just take ski blades instead and have just as much fun on them.” Great Review over here!

  7. I’ve got the Moment Wildcat 190 18/19 and the new construction doesn’t satisfy me as well as the Bibby. A chance I kept my first Blister Pro, that I think, is still one of the best all Mountain freeride skis ever. there is a subtle but real difference of stability between both constructions, so, I did change my bindings of the Wildcat with some Marker Alpinist and turn them as touring skis.

  8. Last year I actually had a 5-ski quiver;
    Black Crows Navis Freebird 179cm/102mm with ATK Raider 12 – daily driver for ski touring
    Black Crows Atris 184cm/108mm with Atomic Warden 13 – resort ski
    Faction CT4.0 182cm/118mm with Shift for pow touring and deep resort days
    Blizzard Zero G85 171cm with Atomic Backland tech – spring mission skis
    4frnt Hoji 187 with Kingpin – early season rock ski (former pow ski).

    Downsizing to 4 skis this year and the Factions with Shifts are sold. They ended up seeing little use, and my old Hojis returns as the pow touring ski. After touring so much on lighter bindings and skis I find little motivation to drag up heavier sticks with heavy bindings other than on the deepest days. Those days are few around here, so the big sticks had to go. Maybe in a few years when I’m even older and even more out of shape I’ll invest in a pair of lighter pow sticks for touring.

    The truth is I could manage only on the Navis, but where is the fun in that..?!

  9. Great reviews, but I can’t help but think these quivers carve out only a narrow spectrum of skiing. Most read like “My Powder Ski, My Big Powder Ski, My Big Big Powder Ski.” There’s no sub 90 skis on this list. You guys don’t have fun pulling radius with a 12m SL on fresh corduroy?

    My current 3 ski quiver, brands redacted:
    166 cm, 121-72-106, 14m radius, heavy metal laminate
    180 cm, 125-88-109, 18m radius, light metal laminate
    182 cm, 139-106-123, 17m radius, no metal

    • Hi, tomahawkins. We definitely do.

      But few of our current reviewers are *only* skiing groomers on a given ski day, so in these quivers, we’re looking for skis that are a bit more versatile than dedicated, on-piste carvers.

      That said, nobody here would be mad about your 3-ski quiver. But I think your critique of some of our quivers might be relevant to your quiver, too — that your 3-ski quiver carves out “only a narrow spectrum of skiing” would apply. And while I’m not sure which specific skis you’re mentioning (or why you would redact the brands?), I suspect that I might be able to point to a number of skis that I think are better performers in moguls, trees, off-piste steeps, narrow couloirs, etc.

      Then again, one nice thing about skiing is that each of us is free to spend our time on — or to avoid — whatever terrain we most prefer.

  10. My current versatile four” ski quiver…actually 7 skis, I use both pairs of race skis and both pairs of Moment Pros plus an old pair of 186 Volkl Gotamas mounted with Dukes that I use once in a blue moon for resort sidecountry that aren’t listed here. If I had to go to 4 pairs I’d keep the elans over the Heads (but would miss the Heads) and keep the Bibby’s over the Blisters (for nostalgic reasons only). I don’t do a lot of touring, so the Armada ARG’s would have to take over from the Gotamas.

    1. Hard snow fun skis: Elan FIS RACESLX @ 165CM AND 12.5m radius OR Head World Cup SL’s @ 165cm and 12.5m radius
    2. Good to great anywhere ski: Nordica Enforcer 100 @ 185cm
    3. Good to great resort deep powder/crud, sometimes cat/backcountry skis: Moment Bibby/Blister Pro @ 190cm
    4. Dedicated Heli/cat ski: Original Armada ARG @ 184cm with Salomon Guardian 16’s & skins (they are old but still in great shape)

    They all ski different and have their place where they outperform the other skis on the list, except the Bibby and Blister (original edition) which to me ski the same. Even the race skis are quite different from each other although much more similiar to each other than to others on the list. The Nordica has the biggest sweet spot and is the most versatile but is outgunned on hard snow by the race skis and is not as capable as the Moments handling deeper snow, crud, sunbaked, mashed potatos, etc.

    There are sure a lot of great skis out there right now, but these work fine for me….right now…

  11. Nice lists. We lift up our hearts to mama winter, go Deeper, stay safe:)

    Quiver for Snoqualmie, baker, courmayeur, Cordova..

    1. Wildcat tour 184 with Salomon MTN
    2. Atris 189cm with Shift
    3. Wildcat 190 with Look Pivot

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