2018-2019 Blizzard Zero G 95

Three Questions – #1: Firm Conditions

I haven’t seen such conditions yet, and I’m very curious.

Again, I’m not expecting miracles out of this ski, so basically, the obvious question is how damp and composed can this ~1350 gram ski can possibly feel?

We certainly were impressed with how well the 185 cm Zero G 108 handles variable conditions, but that Zero G 108 is ~200 grams per ski heavier than the Zero G 95.

Question #2: Would I Ski This In The Resort / Use it as a “50/50” Ski?

If this seems like a silly question to you, well, I’m with you.

And yet, the very first question we received about the Zero G 95 was asking about its performance vs. that of the Blizzard Bonafide.

My initial reaction to that question was, You people are crazy. This isn’t a legitimate question.

Then again, I have to admit that the Zero G 95 felt very good on those first turns under Crater Rock, and I can’t say with certainty that the Bonafide would have felt better.

But I would also say that the Bonafide will outperform the Zero G 95 basically everywhere else. The Bonafide is one of the absolute best all-mountain skis in its class, and I am overdue in posting my update to spell that out.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Blizzard Zero G 95 for Blister Gear Review
Jonathan Ellsworth on the Blizzard Zero G 95, Mount Hood, OR.

We are not at the point where you can reasonably expect a 1350 g ski — even a damn good one — to perform like a ~2175 g ski. And especially one of the best 2175 g skis on the market.

So how interested am I in using the Zero G 95 as an inbounds ski? Not at all. But if you know you like lightweight skis, and also find the Bonafide to be far too heavy … then … maybe. But don’t get mad when your 1350 g ski doesn’t possess the durability of a well-made (and heavier) ski that’s designed for inbounds abuse.

Question #3: 185 cm Blizzard Zero G 95 vs. 184 cm Salomon Explore 95?

We haven’t yet A/B-ed these two skis, but I know a lot of readers will be wondering about them.

So here’s my take for now:

If you’re considering one of these skis to serve as a ‘50/50’ ski, my best advice — and again, I say this without having skied these two skis back to back — is that I would opt for the extra weight of the MTN Explore 95.

While my first impressions on the Zero G 95 have been quite good, we were very impressed with the MTN Explore 95. So for now, let’s keep this simple:

(1) The more you care about going uphill, go with the lighter Zero G 95

(2) The more you care about downhill performance, opt for the extra weight of the Salomon MTN Explore.

Again, if we were less impressed with the MTN Explore, I wouldn’t be advising this way.

It may turn out that we are equally impressed with the Zero G 95 even though it is also lighter … but we’ll have to wait to see about that.

Bottom Line

We’re not in a position yet to make a definitive statement regarding weight-to-skiability, but I’m already willing to wager pretty heavily that the Zero G 95 will be a top contender in its class for its combined low weight and downhill performance.

Again, low weight isn’t everything when it comes to a touring ski, and there are very legit reasons to opt for a heavier ski. But for those of you who are weight conscious but also want to ski hard on the way down … the Zero G 95 has struck an impressive balance so far.

We look forward to getting more time on these skis, and will update as we do.

NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics

13 comments on “2018-2019 Blizzard Zero G 95”

  1. Seems I’m the only one excited for this upcoming review. Thanks nevertheless for always being on top of great new products. Eager to hear how these might stack up against other superlight mid-90’s waist touring options like the Salomon MTN 95, Scott Superguide 95, Dynastar Mythic…

  2. Very helpful review, thanks. I’m still getting the hang of my pair as well. I went with the 178cm size (I’m 6’0”, 175lbs) to maximize the uphill utility since I assumed the downhill would be uhh, lightweight. I wanted it to be an uphill monster and at least predictable on the down, and I think it meets that. Turns out they do pretty darn well on firm stuff, no major lack of stability noticed at moderate speed, just maybe a little more prone to tip dive while testing at, coincidentally, Mt. Hood in some variable wintry stuff in April. I’m curious how much the 185s would add to the downhill experience for me. Anyway, I was hoping these would compare more to the dearly departed Kabookie than the Bonafide, but they have their own character and are not quite as confident on the downhill, no surprise of course with the large weight difference. I wish they had not discontinued the Kabookie, absolutely classic ski. Now that’s a 50/50 ski. Killed the resort, light enough for most touring days, an all conditions masterpiece. Zero G 95 summary thoughts: low weight to width ratio, stout flex and feel, medium ski performance, very high ski performance to weight ratio. Its a good quiver ski.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Brent. Sounds like we largely agree. And yes, interesting re: the 178 vs. the 185. For what it’s worth — the Bonafide that I love is the 180 cm. (I haven’t yet skied the 187.) But I think a big reason why I’m happy with the 180 Bonafide (when I tend to opt for skis in the 185 – 190 range), is because it *isn’t* a light ski. For me (and as a rough generalization) I can get away with a shorter ski when it’s a heavier ski. So on the flip: the lighter the ski, the less interested I am in giving up length. And there’s no question that I’m trying to preserve as much downhill performance as possible, so on a ski this light, I’m not trying to cut both weight AND length. Who knows, my position on this may change over time — perhaps when my touring consistently involved longer, faster approaches. But that is simply to say that I’d then be placing more of a premium on going uphill than going downhill…

      • There is one significant reason for going shorter on a ski like this: swing weight and wind area when they’re A-framed on your pack while you’re climbing.

        Also: it makes no sense to use ski that light with such a heavy binding. Something like the Superlight 2.0, Hagan ZR, ATK Raider, etc makes the most sense, but even switching to a Speed Turn would save you over 850 g on the setup (that’s like 1.8 POUNDS).

        • (1) I’m not sure that dropping from a 185 to a 178 (the lengths we’re discussing here) would count as a “significant reason” / create a significant difference, but I see your point.

          (2) ZJH: “it makes no sense to use ski that light with such a heavy binding.”

          From my comment above yours: “there’s no question that I’m trying to preserve as much downhill performance as possible, so on a ski this light, I’m not trying to cut both weight AND length. Who knows, my position on this may change over time — perhaps when my touring consistently involved longer, faster approaches. But that is simply to say that I’d then be placing more of a premium on going uphill than going downhill…”

          I think I’ve laid out pretty clearly what I’m going for in this setup. We’re going to be talking more about this soon, but for all sorts of reasons, just because you’re on a light ski doesn’t mean that it “makes no sense” to pair with a heavier binding. Granted, I’m not recommending a frame-style binding for the Zero G 95, but there are a number of questions and factors to consider before saying that something doesn’t make sense. Some degree of mixing and matching (boots, bindings, skis, skins, etc.) isn’t something that makes no sense, it’s something that, what? 90+ % (?) of skiers are doing every day, and for good reasons.

          In this case, the Zero G 95 is light. But I’m also interested in maximizing downhill performance, even at the expense of some weight. And I’m not yet ready or willing to assume that all (or any?) of the bindings you’ve named go downhill as well as — or even nearly as well as – a Kingpin. You (and others) might care to keep the total weight of your setup down to XXXX grams. Cool. But I’m willing to go a bit heavier for a tech binding that still goes uphill well, and is possibly the best *downhill* tech binding out there. That makes sense; no part of me thinks that a Superlight 2.0 on a Zero G 95 will go downhill as well as / indistinguishably from a Kingpin.

  3. I’ve skied the 178 Blizzard Zero G 95s this spring in a number of conditions and I’ve found them to be excellent touring skis, especially for spring season.

    I’m 5’10” about 175-180 lbs. Mostly using these skis with Dynafit TLT6P boots, mounted with tech bindings. I’ve used them once with the beefier Scarpa Maestrale RS. I ski in the Sierra in CA. I’ve had these skis in really good corn, sloppy corn, not quite softened corn, steep chalk, horrible frozen sh*t snow with lots of refrozen tracks, manky snow with lots of refrozen debris, smooth dust on crust, and even deep pow. They’ve been in pretty steep terrain up to 45 degrees or so.

    I think these skis rock. For the weight, they perform remarkably well. That’s the thing with these skis. I wouldn’t ever compare them to a ski like the Bonafide (besides the waist widths and manufacturer). For the record the Bonafide is my primary inbounds ski. They won’t deal with poor snow nearly as well. But for the weight, they are tremendously capable.

    Going up is obviously a breeze. The light weight is awesome. Breaking trail in really deep pow can be a bit of a challenge with the low tip rise (they want to submarine more than a ski with a lot of tip rise), but that’s my only complaint on the up.

    Going down they are a lot of fun. They’re stable at speed, reasonably damp for the weight, and are just a blast in corn. Easy to turn but not hooky. Above average in breakable crust for this waist width. Jump turns in steep terrain are SO easy with the light weight, and the edge grip is outstanding. An awesome steep skiing tool.

    In really deep pow they performed OK (this was pretty heavy, deep, and slightly wind effected Sierra pow in flat light, so not exactly hero snow). Obviously a fatter ski with more rocker would float better and be less work. They were average here. But I’m sure they’ll ski boot top blower fine – what ski doesn’t? And in the worst snow conditions (fairly steep refrozen tracked out snow that hadn’t softened one bit) they got bucked around, but I wouldn’t expect a ski of this weight to just plow through this snow and smooth it out. It’s always a compromise with the weight. But again, the performance you get at this weight is hard to beat.

    I wouldn’t consider them a resort ski at all. If you want a 50/50 ski I’d personally look at a heavier ski. Also, if you primarily tour in mid-winter for soft snow, I’d look at a fatter more rockered ski. But for spring touring & ski mountaineering, these are a top choice IMO. I think many dedicated backcountry skiers will have a mid winter touring ski and a spring ski. This fits the spring quiver slot very nicely.

    Durability has been fine. Just a few light base scratches. They seem stout & well made. Topsheets have been holding up nicely.

    I’ve skied the Volkl BMT 94 quite a bit as well. I’d say the Volkl is just a hair better on the down in all categories (more damp & stable, also a bit better float) while the Zero G is better on the up (lighter and the camber makes skinning easier IMO). Obviously the Zero G is much cheaper, about half the price, which makes it a tremendous value. I’ve also had a few days on the Dynastar Mythics. Not enough to really say for certain, but it’s also a very good ski. Mythic skis pow better than the Zero G with that big tip rocker. Zero G seems to have a slight edge in steep terrain & edge grip, but it’s too early to say for certain. All 3 are great skis and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Haven’t skied the Salomon MTN explore 95 but it sounds like it’s also a great choice in this category.

  4. Thank you for a very informative review.The crazy question that I asked regarding Bonafide was because in the review of big brother Zero G 108 there was always line drawing with the Cochise(which again is a big brother of Bonafide).I was very curious if the smaller cousins are comparable in the same way as the bigger ones…after your review it seems that they are not at all.Thanks again for clearing that up.

    • That makes sense, Ujkadule – and it is a point worth doubling back on: Blizzard didn’t attempt to go crazy light on the Zero G 108, but instead decided to make a *relatively* beefy touring ski. On the Zero G 95, however, they did decide make a much lighter ski, so the discrepancy between the Zero G 108 & the Cochise is less pronounced than the Zero G 95 and the Bonafide. So yeah, not such a crazy question after all…

  5. Strongly considering the ZeroG 95 and the new Kastle TX 98 as a long day/spring touring ski for next season. Kastle is a little heavier but I’m guessing might ski a little better in fimer conditions. Anyone been able to compare the these two?

    • No comparison but have 2 days on my TX98 188 (Im 6’1″ 185lbs, level 8-9). With so little press on them figured I would post my first impressions.
      Coming off TX97 and own (ed) numerous other Kastle, Head, Volki products. Recent BC ski experience with Black Crows and Moment.
      TX98 while 400+g lighter than their previous TX97 skis better somehow. Better edge hold and its the most maneuverable/ nimble ski I have ever been on that isn’t a banana. They are a hoot to ski and I have had them in very dense pow and chop and they still let you ski hard and float like a wider ski. They are head and shoulders better than the black crows and Moment skis I rented. Few reviews on them are v. positive. Heading for a week ski tour will report back if I notice any non stellar characteristics but so far blown away a ski this light can ski this well on the downs.

  6. Very interesting read.. I have also purchased and read your 2016/17 buyers guide as I I’m looking for a 50/50 resort/touring telemark NTN one ski set-up. Best compromise between lightness and downhill performance in all conditions.

    Right now I’m considering but hesitating between either the Zero G 95 or MTN Explore 95 but you don’t really talk if your article could also apply to telemark… So first since May have you skied and compare back to back those two like you wanted to do, do you have an update on that?

    I would install a pair of Meidjo 2.0 and ride NTN. I’m not tall and not heavy but I can charge and go fast. I’m 165cm, the Zero G is 164cm and Salomon is 169cm. I think you have a telemark expert in your team don’t you? So what are you thoughts as to witch one would be better for the set-up I want?

  7. I´ve been telemarking on the Zero G 95 with the Meidjo Binding for 3 years now and it´s an ok ski with good uphill Performance that handles basically all conditions but i would not recommend it as an Resort Ski for hard, frozen conditions. Egde hold is good but with a pin binding it has basically no damping. The carbon transfers every Little bump straight in to your joints which makes skiing hard and unpleasent.
    A common Carbon ski problem. Either they are stiff or they flex, but not naturally.
    I´d rather recommend to carry a little more weight for a more balanced Flex an skiing fun

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