We recently posted a conversation on our GEAR:30 podcast where some of us discussed our picks for the most influential — and the best — ski gear from the past decade. Check out that conversation here, and then here we’re having several of our other reviewers offer their nominations.
As always, we’re curious to hear what you think, so let us know in the Comments section below what you’d pick.
1st: Nordica Enforcer 100: because it works for so many different people, and has been competitive in its class since it was created, despite not having been changed since then.
2nd: Rossignol Sickle: Mostly because we continue to get so many questions along the lines of “what’s the current replacement for the Sickle???” It was playful and still quite stable, versatile across most conditions, and everyone from directional chargers to freestyle skiers to beginners and intermediates seemed to like it.
3rd: Rossignol Black Ops 118: Just because it’s the most fun chop ski I’ve ever used and almost no other ski has been as fun in so many regards. Definitely some recency bias here, though.
1st: Nordica Enforcer 100. As I said on the podcast, it’s hard to ignore a ski that went unchanged for the better part of a decade AND remained at the top of its class in so many respects.
2nd: Rossignol Soul 7 HD (latest iteration). So many people around the world have had amazing days on this ski. It’s one of the few skis that I think beginners can enjoy as much as experts — personal opinions aside, that’s enough to make it one of the best skis of the decade right there.
3rd: Volkl Mantra M5. The Mantra lineup has been a mainstay in the ski world for the past 10 years and the latest version of the ski is one of my favorite skis of all time. It is so dialed and has a rare combination of damping and energy.
1st: Nordica Santa Ana Series. Between the Santa Ana 110, 100, and 93s, there is very little reason to stray from the line — unless you want a lightweight ski. With two sheets of metal and an energetic feel, the Santa Anas are fun to ski, handle just about any condition well, and still aren’t all that demanding.
2nd: Blizzard claims the Black Pearl 88 is the best-selling women’s ski in the world and while I can’t verify this, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true, based on how often I see that ski in lift lines. At 88 mm underfoot and with a low-profile rocker / camber / rocker profile, this all-mountain ski is accessible to a wide range of skiers from beginners to experts.
3rd: Line Pandora (any version). I can’t think of one female friend that has not owned a pair of the Pandoras and most of them still have a pair in their quiver. For years I skied the Pandora 110 and loved them because they were predictable, stable, and playful. While the Pandoras have undergone changes over the years, I don’t recall an iteration that most people disliked. A ski that has been persistently popular for almost the entire decade and continues to be a well-loved ski certainly deserves a place on this list.
1st: Nordica Santa Ana 100: I agree with everything that Jonathan, Luke, and Sam said about the Enforcer 100, and I’ll add the women’s version which was extremely similar. For someone who often felt let-down by many women’s skis through most of the decade, and as someone who skied men’s skis through most of the decade, I was so damn happy to step on the Santa Ana 100 and feel a ski as damp, versatile, and reliable as the men’s version.
2nd: Rossignol Soul 7: I probably sold a couple hundred Soul 7’s to a couple hundred happy customers over the last ~6 years. This ski was brilliant, insanely influential to the entire industry, skied well, and as long as you weren’t a mega person or prioritized lots of stability and damping, the Soul 7 would probably work for you. It was one ski that I I had few qualms about in terms of putting a huge range of skiers on it. And to this day, with some minor changes, it still totally rips.
3rd: Armada TST: Thankfully, my skiing style has changed a lot over the last decade, and while I have also evolved in terms of what I like in a ski, the TST was a pretty rad ski. As I mentioned above, the TST was a rare ski at the time in that it featured lots of taper and rocker at the tips, but with a more traditional shape and camber profile at the back of the ski.
1st: Moment Deathwish. I’m not going to try to be some arbiter of taste here, saying what the “best” ski of the decade is. But this is my favorite one, and I bet if you skied a day or two on it you’d really like it, too.
2nd: Atomic Bent Chetler 120 & Moment’s touring skis. I’m giving this second-place award to a general category, not a specific ski. It’s really cool that, by the end of the decade, companies are figuring out how to translate all the best parts of their inbounds skis to a very lightweight package that is an absolute blast to ski. Here’s to more touring-friendly playful skis!
3rd: K2 Shreditor 112. Again, I know this isn’t the “right” answer, but I really loved this ski, and I miss it. I still think K2 really nailed it with their whole Shreditor line, and it was really cool to have the option of a good 102, 112, or 122 mm underfoot ski that all felt really similar and skied well. In retrospect, I personally think the Marksman is a let down compared to the 102 and 112 it replaced. Fortunately, it sounds like something like the Shreditor series will soon be coming back under a new name. Here’s to hoping K2 starts the new decade out with something cool.
1st: 4FRNT Renegade: Fast, loose, and adaptable. What’s not to like? “ReflectTech” works, thanks Hoji! It was a very good, very pow-specific ski that does a lot of things a very pow-specific skis isn’t really supposed to be able to do. I’ve been a huge fan of most iterations, and am eager to try out the current one.
2nd: Blizzard Cochise: The early Cochise models hit the sweet spot of what a silky smooth weapon of a ski is supposed to be. Later models lost the magic a bit as they got more tapered and more carbon-y, but I think the Cochise set the stage for a renaissance of big-mountain chargers to follow.
3rd: Volkl Mantra: If you picked up a pair of Mantras from any year this decade, you’d be on a pretty good, versatile ski. The spiritual successor to the immensely important Volkl Explosive, the Mantra had a lot to live up to and a lot of people wanting to see it fail. But how many skis have been in a manufacturer’s lineup for 15+ years? There is a reason the Mantra is still here.
1st: Duh — Line Pandora. As Kristin said, there are very few female skiers I know that didn’t own a variation of this ski. And despite changing over the years, I’m still a massive fan of the current Pandoras.
2nd: Blizzard Black Pearl 98. It’s such a versatile ski that’s light and easy enough for some beginners, but strong enough for some experts.
3rd: Rossignol S7. Now, there are much better skis than the S7 at this point, but for many people, it was the first very tapered and rockered ski they got on and made skiing much easier for many folks.
I discussed in detail all of my picks, rationale, and honorable mentions in our GEAR:30 podcast, so here I’m going to keep things brief. But if you want to hear more about why I picked what I did, I highly recommend listening to our GEAR:30 conversation.
24 comments on “Best Ski Gear of the Past Decade”
Some Full Tilt boot commentary.
I love that they are lively rather than damp.
“not the stiffest”? They have recently released a “12” flex tongue.
Hey GW- Same here. Love the pop. I have been spending time on the 12 flex, and they are rad. But they still aren’t the stiffest (FT’s in general, in any direction really). The much more popular 8/10 flex tongues are pretty mellow overall.
Came here to second what Kristin Sinnott said about the King Pin. Helped me (and assuming many others) to consider/try pin bindings in the first place.
I know your guys’ hearts are in the right place, but I personally can’t believe how sold you all still are on the SHIFT. Sure, it looks great when marketed to newer skiers (it has “alpine like performance”, woho!), but I continue to be shocked how a large group of strong skiers, who have obviously spent significant time on tech bindings, can continue to recommend it to average skiers.
I’ve spent time on frame bindings, the SHIFT, and lightweight tech bindings, and the biggest difference between these bindings remains weight and touring efficiency. Sure, there are minor, although perceptible differences in downhill performance, but nowhere near large enough to actually matter when in the real world when considering the differences between skis and boots. At the end of the day, I can get to places on tech bindings that I just plain couldn’t on the SHIFT, and can ski the tech bindings as hard as I need to after I’ve gotten there. This is also coming from a 190 pound guy who regularly hucks, does backflips, and skis “really hard,” not some total skimo gram weenie.
I’m willing to concede that if you’re regularly filming and trying to trick natural features in deep snow (while still touring up to the top of your lines), SHIFTs will release marginally more consistently than traditional tech bindings, and that SHIFTs are lighter and more efficient than the frame bindings that this is traditionally done on. But, come on, when people are being honest with themselves, how many skiers (ESPECIALLY those first getting into touring, who are usually those interested in the SHIFT) are really doing that? And do you really think that Hoji wishes he was on more “alpine like” bindings when filming for MSP? Because he does things on pins that 99.9% of skiers can’t, and they don’t seem to bother him too much.
This whole discussion is also ignoring the problems that the SHIFT has had. To name a few, the brakes don’t like to stay locked, the binding often releases boots even while supposedly locked out in touring mode, and it’s really hard to get the AFT to stay in the right height. To be fair, bindings often have problems early in their lifecycles, so I expect many of these problems to be fixed. But it’s still a complicated binding, and has caused one of my friends to have fairly severe issues using it that really made it not fun to ski on.
The average expert skier getting into backcountry would be so, so much better on a light binding that they can do more laps on, and be less tired on. If they’re still concerned about their setups’ downhill performance, well, they can put their foot in a Lange FreeTour and mount up some heavy skis. But my guess is at the end of the day, the only thing they’ll notice about their bindings is how much they slow them down on the way up.
Hi, Roger. Thanks for the comments. But this statement, “Sure, there are minor, although perceptible differences in downhill performance,” I think significantly downplays things. The Shift skis exactly like a good, dedicated alpine binding. Having A/B/C/D/E-ed them against a lot of tech bindings, and if you’ve done the same and still think the difference in terms of feel and power transmission is only “minor” … then I’m not sure what to say.
I’m also on record as saying that, given the choice, I don’t want to ski downhill on tech toe pins. I definitely still sometimes do and will, but given the opportunity not to, I will take it. And again, I don’t love the way tech toes feel, and I don’t trust as much the way they release.
Each of us is free to make their own calls — and the entire purpose of our long reviews is to try to provide the pros and cons of all gear. But in the case of the Shift, I think we’ve been exceedingly clear about our rationale.
Finally (and as I keep repeating) I’ve skied a lot of days on multiple sets of Shifts, and I personally have had zero issues with them. And as you say, I suspect that the issues that others have experienced will be reduced.
Thanks for the reply. While I haven’t done as exacting A/B testing as you, I wasn’t able to notice what I would consider a significant difference between tech style bindings and alpine style bindings. I guess I’m framing significant in terms of the differences between skis or boots with similar weight differentials… I feel confident that in some kind of blind test, I could notice the difference between similarly shaped skis with a 500g weight difference, whereas I don’t think I could say the same for a shift vs. fairly lightweight tech binding. I’m sure you have more finely crafted senses than I do, but I have skied a fair number of skis and boots, and feel like I have some sense of what I like and don’t in a ski.
At some level, you’re right, this is just a matter of opinion, but I guess I continue to be confused about how a large group of opinion makers in the ski industry continue to not like skiing on tech bindings… it often comes off like tech bindings are for people who can’t ski well, or don’t care about downhill performance, which I don’t think is fair any more.
I’ll close by saying that of all the people I’ve ever toured with, from total beginner to veteran crusher, only one (a professional skier who has filmed in Alaska) has said that they were glad to be on a heavier “higher performance” binding. I can’t even count the number of people who, huffing and puffing on top of a skintrack, wished they were on lighter gear. I wish that all of those people had been encouraged to buy one of the many light and in my opinion excellent skiing tech bindings currently on the market, rather than a heavier, “higher performance” binding.
Thanks for all you guys do! Despite my disagreement on this point, l really respect your opinions and methodologies, and have really benefited from all your hard work over the years.
I’ll comment here instead of the Gear:30 Ep: 81 posting because it’s newer and has more than Jonathan, Luke, and Sam’s choices.
In life, we tend to find the errors and mistakes and then we comment. Agreeing isn’t sexy per se, but sometimes it’s necessary. I can’t find a huge issue with any choices both on episode 81 or on this article. Really, really good choices all the way around.
I remember the first time I skied a Soul 7. It was at Crystal Mountain in WA on a day where around six inches of Pac NW concrete fell quickly. It was revelation. It would NOT be in my list for best three skis of the decade (sorry Sam), but the combination of taper, rocker/camber/rocker, and low swing weight immediately drove the industry and still does. It is undoubtedly the most influential ski of the last decade and I still remind myself of how much different that day at Crystal was because of this new ski.
There’s a miss by the industry from 2010-2019 that I wish would‘ve been discussed further as influential. Reverse camber, all-mountain 95-105mm skis. Volkl tried it on the Mantra. Black Crows followed later with the Daemon (fighter of the night man). There’s a couple more out there. But in the end, it hasn’t really revolutionized anything. I get it, this episode and article was about best or most influential. But to be fair, most influential could mean influencing the industry NOT to do something. Bottom line, Mantra v4 was very influential in my opinion.
Influential boot? Pick any light-ish, four buckle, hike mode, tech binding insert boot that’s been released in that last three years. The one boot quiver movement in the later half of this decade will drive boot development for a long time.
Thanks Team Blister for another fun episode/article.
DPS Wailer wasn’t influential?
I hated the Wailer 112 but it certainly had a huge impact on ski design… you’d see so many of those yellow banana rockered skis around. Fortunately designers realized that more subtle rocker lines were superior but still have to give DPS credit.
The question wasn’t, “What products were influential,” the question was what products were *most* influential. And in that sense, the DPS Wailer 112 really was a response to the Rossi S7. (Not *Soul 7*, but the original S7. So while the Wailer 112 became quite a *popular* ski for sure, I think it’s a bit of a category mistake to call it the most *influential* ski.
That’s a good point. The joke for a while was that they took an S7 and traced its outline and made the Wailer.
I was a tried and true Lange RS130 guy, until I put the Head Raptor 140RS on. It’s the best skiing boot I’ve ever been on.
The JJ is amazing. I could have it as a one ski quiver for a deep resort out west, I’d give up some hard snow performance that the Kastle MX 98 gives me, but the rest of the time, the JJ does everything else I want.
I think you guys are kind of forgetting how important the original Tecnica Cochise Pro 130 was back in 2012, with swappable soles. It really created a whole new market for the concept of hybrid boots that could do it all… and without it the ZeroG doesn’t exist.
It seems very odd to talk about the connection between the Cochise and the Zero G — especially if you want to emphasize swappable soles, which the Zero G doesn’t have?
FWIW, I’m in full agreement with Paul Forward’s take on the Cochise, which we discuss at the start of GEAR:30, episode 82.
Don’t let this go to your head, but I second all your picks, Jonathan. Special mention to some very good front side skis on your list.
Glad we’re in agreement, Scott!
I also thought the DPS 112 came before the S7 and the S7 copied the DPS design but I’m probably wrong. The 112 came out in 2010, when did the S7 me out?
Also, I agree with Jay above,the Cochise and the BD Factor at the begininning of the decade brought side country and touring to a whole new group of people. Before these 2 boots there were only Alpine and Touring boots and no real middle ground…. with the exception of probably the Maestale (if it fit your foot) which also deserves the recognition you have given it above.
The same can be said about the Duke/Baron bindings (were they the previous decade or this decade?). They opened the doors for a lot of people to try touring without fully commiting to a full touring set-up much more so than the Beast.
Other than the weight element, why are people so down on the Dukes and Barons? I had a close call with death due to a pin binding malfunction, so I now refuse to use them unless its going to be a very long touring day but I know lots of people that use them inbounds. They don’t work well when the snow is firm! Use at your own risk, you have been warned! Jonathan speaks the truth!
The Rossi S7 was launched in January, 2008, then was made available for purchase before the 08/09 season.
And the Duke / Baron came out in 2007.
Personally I think Blizzard’s decision to take their awesomely successful and popular hard-charger AM skis (both men and women lines) and create softer, more-playful lines with very similar if not identical measurements (ie: Sheeva and Rustler lines) was the greatest move in ski design over the last decade. I’ve really loved the R9 and R10 for all-day skiing as I’m a weekend warrior these days – and just not having as much fun trying to drive a Cochise or Bonafide all day long. Brilliant idea and I’d guess Blizzard sold just as many Bonafides as Nordica did enforcers.
Also a HUGE fan of Rossi’s Soul and Super series. They redefined pow skiing for me, but with tiny effective edge lengths are clearly pow skis IMO. So what was with the rest of their (clearly lacking) AM effort? As a fortunate person who can get them for cost, understand I walked away from the Experience line and started paying retail for other brands. Seriously Rossignol: wtf. Black Ops? Please. I hear great skis – from magazines and those who could find a pair to demo…
Wow… everybody has cleared overlooked the biggest tech advance in years. I got 2 words for you people.
Thank you for correcting our egregious oversight here.
This may go back just a bit further than the last decade, but the introduction of the 22 designs vice binding offered up a significant change by introducing a beefy, simple and durable freeheel binding to the the mass market. As a freeheeler for the last 40 years, I sure remember the finicky, unreliable evolution of the cable binding. Having rejected the AT setup, (I still prefer my heels unlocked) I still ski the vice/axl on all my skis, inbound and backcountry. They have held up extremely well, provide excellent control from boot to ski, and have caused little to no problem over many years. I still marvel on how strong a duckbill binding can be with this design, and have had no desire to swap over to AT gear.
Good idea for an article.
+1 for the Nordica Santa Anna skis.
This year wasn’t too bad for innovation; Carv, Garmin Fenix watches, KJUS Hydro-Bot ski jacket and others…
Hopefully 2021 will bring out some good innovation.
Speaking of 10 year old skis; I would really love to hear from the Blister crew regarding how long a pair of skis can be skied—on average—before accumulated materials fatigue in the core of the ski begins manifest in a significant way and the ski is “dead”.