1-Ski Quivers: Reviewers’ Selections (20/21)

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections
Article Navigation:  Intro //  Luke Koppa //  Kara Williard //  Paul Forward //  Drew Kelly //  Kristin Sinnott //  Eric Freson //  Sascha Anastas //  Sam Shaheen //  Jonathan Ellsworth // 

Intro

Over the past few weeks, we’ve published our reviewers’ selections for 5-ski, 4-ski, 3-ski, and 2-ski quivers. Now it’s time for the most difficult decision of them all: picking a single ski to use for absolutely everything. 

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 1-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 20/21 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 a note, and we’ll remove the guesswork.

Six Questions

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

I. What’s your 1-ski quiver for where you ski most (backcountry and resort), and why?

II. If you didn’t do any backcountry touring, what would your 1-ski quiver be for inbounds-only skiing?

III. If you only skied in the backcountry, what would your 1-ski quiver be for backcountry-only skiing?

IV. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?

V. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?

VI. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?

Luke Koppa

I. What’s your 1-ski quiver for where you ski most (backcountry and resort), and why?

For the bigger quivers, I like to have a very diverse set of skis that give me the option of skiing with a very different style on a given day. Depending on things like the conditions, the people I’m skiing with, my mood, what my astrology friends say is going on with the planets, what I ate for breakfast, etc., I may feel like skiing in a very different way. And I like having different skis that allow for that approach.

But a 1-ski quiver for me (and, I assume, most people) is all about compromising and finding the ski that gives up the least in a ton of different regards. I know it’s not going to be the “ideal” or “perfect” ski for a lot of days, but it needs to keep me generally happy just about every day I’m out. It’s a difficult ask, especially when I need something that can handle both aggressive skiing in the resort and long days of human-powered skiing in the backcountry. Add on the fact that I want something that’s playful and that can work for my stupid habit of skiing every month, and it’s a tough question to answer. But this year, I think I’d go with:

Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm + Marker Duke PT 12

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Fischer Ranger 102 FR

I picked this as my single inbounds ski in my 2-ski quiver picks, but it’s also not that heavy, and I think I could just get in better shape by skinning on it. This ski is a blast on piste. It’s very stable and pretty damp at high speeds for its not-super-heavy weight. Conversely, it’s very quick and energetic at slow speeds for its not-super-light weight. It floats fairly well in deep snow. It holds a very solid edge in steep, firm terrain. And mounted around -6 cm from true center, it’s balanced in the air and skis switch pretty well.

All of that makes me pretty content to ski the Ranger 102 on just about any day of the year. I’ll be wishing for some more flotation during deep mid-winter backcountry days, and I’ll be cursing myself for not being in as good of shape when I’ve got it on my back during a 10-hour August “ski” day. But overall, I feel pretty good about this pick.

As for bindings, I’m making a bit of a gamble here, since I’ve only skied the Duke PT 16, and not the 12. But I basically never ski with a DIN higher than 10, and the Duke PT 12 reportedly shaves about 200 grams of weight off the 16. That puts it in line with the weight of the Salomon Shift and notably lighter than the CAST system, which I’d appreciate during longer days in the backcountry. If the Duke PT 12 skis just like the 16, then I’d be psyched.

II. If you didn’t do any backcountry touring, what would your 1-ski quiver be for inbounds-only skiing?

Given that I went with a somewhat heavy ski for my true do-it-all 1-ski quiver, I think I’d just stick with the Ranger 102 FR but throw an alpine binding on it. But as you’ll see below, there are a lot of other skis I could also be pretty happy on for this 1-ski quiver.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Fischer Ranger 102 FR

III. If you only skied in the backcountry, what would your 1-ski quiver be for backcountry-only skiing?

I’d stick with what I picked as my single touring ski in my 2-ski quivers, for all the reasons I listed there:

Moment Wildcat Tour 108, 184 cm + ATK Raider 12

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Moment Wildcat Tour 108

As I’ve noted, this ski is a bit wide and rockered for hop-turning down firm couloirs, but I trust its edge hold and it’s way more fun for me when the snow is good, compared to most of the narrower options I’ve used. From mellow mid-winter pow laps seeking things to jump off to spring and summer days looking for the least-worst snow, the Wildcat Tour 108 would serve me pretty well.

IV. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?

Pretty boring answer, but I think I’d stick with the Ranger 102. That ski is excellent on firm conditions for how wide and rockered it is. And while it’s far from the surfiest and float-iest ski in deep snow, it’s good enough that I’m still gonna have a good time. Cause, let’s be real, skiing deep snow is pretty much always fun.

V. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?

I could go on and on about all the skis I considered, but I’ll try to keep it brief:

Line Sick Day 104 — probably the closest contender for the true do-it-all choice. But given that I spend more time in the resort than in the backcountry, I wanted the improved firm-snow performance and stability of the Ranger 102 FR.

Line Sir Francis Bacon — I honestly wouldn’t mind using this as my single inbounds ski because it’s just so playful, but the logical part of my brain is saying that I’d be left wishing for something that gets knocked around less when the conditions are rough and I still want to go fast. Similar story with the K2 Reckoner 102.

Moment Wildcat 108 & Deathwish — These skis are lighter, more playful, and float better than the Ranger 102, making them very strong contenders for my do-it-all ski. But the Ranger 102 is more fun to me when the conditions are really firm and / or I’m spending a lot of time on groomers, so they just barely missed the cut.

Luke Koppa reviews the Moment Wildcat 108 for Blister.
Luke Koppa on the Moment Wildcat 108, Mt. Crested Butte, CO. (photo by Jared Farley)

Rossignol BLACKOPS Gamer — there’s a patroller at CBMR that rides this ski every day, and I’m honestly kind of jealous. Sure, it’s arguably a dumb 1-ski quiver since it’s so big and we ski firm conditions far more often than soft ones. And yeah, my knees and quads would get pretty worked by skiing a ski this heavy every single day. But man, it’s hard to imagine a version of my life where this ski isn’t a part of it. Plus, I bet I’d have friggin Tour de France legs by the end of the season…

J Skis Slacker — It’s just a bit too wide and heavy for my single touring ski, and a bit too wide and light for my do-it-all ski.

Armada Tracer 108 — similar to the Sick Day 104, this ski is just a bit too light to be my do-it-all ski, and I’d prefer something lighter and more playful for my single touring ski.

Atomic Bent Chetler 100 — same story as the Tracer 108.

Line Vision 108 — definitely the close runner-up for my single touring ski, but I prefer the stiffer flex and straighter sidecut of the Wildcat Tour 108 for steep, high-consequence spring and summer lines.

Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105 — I’d be very happy with this as my single inbounds ski, but I’m finding that I am more and more preferring something a bit quicker and more lively, rather than super damp, and so I’d go with the lighter and more energetic Ranger 102.

Whitedot Altum 104 — Very strong contender for the do-it-all ski, but I like the Ranger 102 a bit more for when the conditions are very firm. If I skied softer snow more often, I’d have zero qualms about using this ski for everything since it’s more playful and fun in pow than the Ranger 102.

VI. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?

Both the WNDR Alpine Vital 100 and Intention 110 seem like really strong contenders for my do-it-all ski. They’re both lighter than the Ranger 102 FR, but the 19/20 Intention 110 was really impressive in terms of how well it skied for its weight. Add on the fact that the slightly heavier 20/21 version is right around the weight I’d want for a 50/50 ski, and I have really high hopes for how this ski will handle rough conditions. And the Vital 100 seems like it could be the more versatile of the two for the skiing I do.

If Rossi ever decides to take my advice and literally just cut 5 mm off each side of the Black Ops 118 and call it good, that ski would probably be my single resort ski. The J Skis Hotshot could be the closest thing to that still non-existent ski, but my main question is how it’ll feel once the real off-piste terrain here in Crested Butte opens.

Maybe the Shaggy’s Ahmeek 95 will provide the best of both worlds of the Ahmeek 105 and Ranger 102? Not sure, but we should be getting on that later this season.

Kara Williard

I. What’s your 1-ski quiver for where you ski most (backcountry and resort), and why?

Usually, this question is really hard for me. This year, not so much because I have recently been operating with this as a 1-ski quiver and it has proven to be versatile, reliable, and incredibly well-rounded. It’s held up well in a variety of resort and backcountry adventures last spring, to early season tours this year, a couple powder days at Wolf Creek, and lots of groomer laps as I explore my new home mountain of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

Anywhere and Everywhere Ski = Blizzard Sheeva 10, 180 cm + Salomon Shift MNC 13

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Blizzard Sheeva 10

I am so happy that Blizzard started offering the Sheeva 10 in a 180 cm. Since last February, this has served as my 1-ski quiver. From a couple sweet, mid-season powder days, to a wide spectrum of spring touring, to the icy, early season groomers I have been getting out on the last couple weeks, I have been impressed by the versatility of this ski.

One caveat — I have been skiing at about 80-90% since coming back from ACL reconstruction last spring, so right now, I may be slightly partial to something lighter and more forgiving, which the Sheeva 10 offers. But given that, it still feels stable and responsive, I can trust it as I venture into some low-tide conditions in the backcountry, navigate through chop and crud, get enough float through pow, and make quick turns on bumps. It is hard for me to imagine a condition where I’d have a seriously bad time on the Sheeva 10, and combined with its moderate weight, that makes it a great do-it-all ski for me.

II. If you didn’t do any backcountry touring, what would your 1-ski quiver be for inbounds-only skiing?

I would navigate towards something slightly stiffer, more stable, and narrower, which points me back to the 179 cm Nordica Santa Ana 98 + Look Pivot 14.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Nordica Santa Ana 98

Something slightly narrower than 100 mm underfoot makes sense for the reality of conditions I typically end up skiing at places like Taos and now Crested Butte. If I am being optimistic about snow conditions and want something a bit more forgiving and playful, I would stick with my choice of the Sheeva 10 + Look Pivot 14.

III. If you only skied in the backcountry, what would your 1-ski quiver be for backcountry-only skiing?

There are a few lighter skis out there that might work better, if / when I get to ski them, (e.g., Rossignol BLACKOPS Rallybird or the DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2 that Kristin speaks highly of). But in the meantime, I will stick to my answer of the Blizzard Sheeva 10, since I’ve toured on it a lot and it’s proven to be a reliable backcountry tool in all conditions.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Blizzard Sheeva 10

IV. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?

The Nordica Santa Ana 98 makes more sense for this question since it offers the smoother, more damp feel that I am preferential to when snow is really firm, and it can still be fun in soft snow. Otherwise, I think of the Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, since it’s a bit wider, more playful, and definitely an upgrade for powder skiing. Both feel like reliable, durable options with the main difference being performance on groomers vs. flotation and playfulness in softer conditions.

V. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?

I’ve spent enough time on the Enforcer 104 Free to know that it’s pretty much ideal for my skiing preferences, which leaves me curious to try the 20/21 Santa Ana 110 Free and Santa Ana 104 Free — especially since they’re a bit lighter and potentially more touring-friendly than the pretty heavy Enforcer 104 Free.

VI. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?

After having so many good experiences on the Blizzard Bonafide and Brahma, I am really curious to try the Blizzard Black Pearl 97 and Black Pearl 88, especially now that they are coming in 177 cm lengths. I am especially curious to see if the Black Pearl 97 could prove a viable contender to the 1-ski quiver choice I mentioned above, the Nordica Santa Ana 98.

Paul Forward

I. What’s your 1-ski quiver for where you ski most (backcountry and resort), and why?

Moment Wildcat Tour, 190 cm

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Moment Wildcat Tour

Once again, I’m going to have to go with the Moment Wildcat Tour. It’s light enough to tour on but its shape and flex are still stable and predictable enough to be fun for all-day inbounds skiing. For its width, the Wildcat Tour is not even close to the best pure-powder ski around, but they’re good enough that I’ll enjoy chasing pow on them all season, including out of the heli. And as I discussed on the recent GEAR:30 episode 125, I still need to spend more time on the burlier AT bindings on the market before making a final call for this do-it-all setup.

II. If you didn’t do any backcountry touring, what would your 1-ski quiver be for inbounds-only skiing?

I probably spend at least as much time heli-skiing in recent years as I do inbounds skiing, so I’m going to combine those here and say that I’d take the DPS Foundation Koala 119.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
DPS Foundation Koala 119

That ski is simply excellent for my style of skiing and I would be happy all year if that’s the only ski I could ride lifts with or throw in the heli basket.

If we’re truly talking lift-served only, I’d go with the Volkl Mantra 102 because I love that ski in firm conditions. But if the Katana 108 is even close to a wider version of the Mantra 102, I’ll take that, no question.

III. If you only skied in the backcountry, what would your 1-ski quiver be for backcountry-only skiing?

I’m sure most would consider it far from versatile, but for all the reasons I listed in my 2- and 3-ski quivers, I’d stick with the Black Diamond Helio 116 here. Hopefully, the new 115 is just as good.

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections
Black Diamond Helio 116

IV. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?

I’d stick with the Wildcat Tour because my priority is always going to be looking for pow, but still wanting to play inbounds whenever possible. I’d go with something skinnier only if I knew I was going somewhere with much less snow.

V. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?

The Koala F119 is so freaking good for me, but it’s just too heavy for touring. (At least for me; Dash Longe is apparently in better shape than me.)

VI. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?

My recent ski experience has been notably lacking in 105-110mm skis. That’s probably part of the reason I have been digging that Majesty Havoc. On paper, the reverse-camber WNDR Alpine Intention 110 looks like it could be a great fit as a 1-ski quiver for me, but I’ve never seen a pair in person, much less skied them.

Drew Kelly

I. What’s your 1-ski quiver for where you ski most (backcountry and resort), and why?

Fischer Ranger 107 Ti, 189 cm + Marker Duke PT 16

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Fischer Ranger 107 Ti

This is obviously a brutally heavy setup. But I spent enough time touring in frame bindings on Volkl Mantras (back when that was my 1-ski quiver) and Nordica Dobermann 150’s that weight doesn’t really scare me. I like moving slowly up the mountains — I appreciate them more when I do, and I’ll get where I need to be eventually.

What does scare me is pre-releasing or chattering skis. So for the reasons I mentioned in my 2-ski quiver pick (versatility, agility, and stability) I’m sticking with the Ranger 107 Ti with the Duke PT 16.

I chose the Marker Duke PT 16 here because, having skied it about 15 days now, as far as I can tell, it’s the only touring binding I trust to hold up to hardpack resort bashing. And, I’ve gotten used to its weight on the skin track. The CAST system could potentially fill this role for me, I just haven’t been able to use it.

II. If you didn’t do any backcountry touring, what would your 1-ski quiver be for inbounds-only skiing?

Since I made almost no compromise to resort skiing with my selection, I am still choosing the same ski, but with an alpine binding.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Fischer Ranger 107 Ti

III. If you only skied in the backcountry, what would your 1-ski quiver be for backcountry-only skiing?

My stubborn sensibilities are really preventing me from making interesting new selections here. I’m going with the 19/20 188 cm Black Crows Corvus Freebird + Salomon Shift binding, which was my touring setup in my 2-ski quiver selection. (I have yet to ski the updated 20/21 version.)

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
19/20 Black Crows Corvus Freebird

IV. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?

Again, I’m choosing the Ranger 107 Ti because, to me, it feels pretty good at everything, at least for how I ski. Sure, maybe this ski isn’t the most fun ski out there in powder, even when mounted 1 or 2 cm behind the recommended line, but I don’t spend a ton of time on a powder rampage and the Ranger 107 Ti is excellent for what it is when the snow is firm. Hardpack isn’t so whack and ice can be nice…

V. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?

Hmm, something that feels like the Ranger 107 Ti but maybe 200-300 grams lighter? If it’s out there, I haven’t found it.

VI. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?

I’d be interested in the Blizzard Rustler 11 in the 188 cm length or the 189 cm Head Kore 117, both for their slightly lower weights. My initial reservations are how well the Rustler 11 would carve, and whether the Kore 117 would hold up to hard resort skiing, given its lack of metal and generally low weight.

Kristin Sinnott

I. What’s your 1-ski quiver for where you ski most (backcountry and resort), and why?

For the past two years, the Armada Trace 98 has been my 1-ski quiver of choice. But not this year, since Armada updated the core and I have yet to ski the new version.

Quick recap — I ski primarily in the southern Rockies and am the opposite of a snow snob. If there’s snow on the ground and I’m able to sneak away from my other responsibilities, I want to ski and I want a ski that will perform well. I tend to prefer intuitive skis that have zero learning curve, and I am also a very directional skier.

With that in mind, here’s what I’d go with for a 1-ski quiver:

DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2, 171 cm + Salomon Shift MNC 13

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2

I was so close to choosing the Nordica Santa Ana 98. In fact, I even started to type it, but the thought of adding more weight (even if it’s just 400 g / 0.8 lbs for the pair) to my already heavy load for uphill traffic (think 25lb toddler in a backpack most days) made me choose the DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2.

At 106 mm underfoot, the ski is definitely wider than I would like for a 1-ski quiver but I did ski on the old Line Pandora 110 for a number of seasons and had zero complaints. And the Zelda A106 also happens to carve really, really well for how wide it is. I’m not going to repeat too much about the ski here as I don’t want to sound like a broken record (see my full review and other quiver picks for more). But in short, it’s lightweight enough that I can ski (and / or skin on) it all day without getting exhausted. And it still manages to be stable enough for me in all but the heaviest chop.

II. If you didn’t do any backcountry touring, what would your 1-ski quiver be for inbounds-only skiing?

Nordica Santa Ana 98, 172 cm

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Nordica Santa Ana 98

It was just a little too heavy for my true do-it-all ski but for a dedicated inbounds-only ski, the Santa Ana 98 would work just fine. Easy turn initiation, carves groomers with ease, and is quick enough to maneuver through and around tight trees and medium-sized moguls. It performs better in chop than the Zelda and its slightly narrower width makes more sense to me for a 1-ski quiver in the resort, where conditions are often pretty firm.

III. If you only skied in the backcountry, what would your 1-ski quiver be for backcountry-only skiing?

Why is this so tough to choose just one when I used to only have one pair of skis for backcountry and one for inbounds?!

My backcountry-only ski is a toss-up between the Line Pandora 110, Head Kore 99 W, and the DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2. Yes, they are all very different skis, but I think I could be happy with any of them, with the deciding factor likely just coming down to the conditions I’d mostly be skiing. For the sake of just making a decision, I choose the Zelda since every time I think of taking them out for a run, I get excited.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2

IV. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?

I’m going with the Nordica Santa Ana 98 because, in the next three years, I plan to visit family in New England and Idaho so a 98mm-underfoot ski makes more sense for me.

V. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?

There are so many skis out there, so there could be a ton of skis listed here. This year I’ll be focusing on trying many more to hone in on my 1-ski picks for next season. It shouldn’t be this difficult to pick just one ski.

VI. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?

Moment Sierra, Line Pandora 104, or Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free. I think they would all make for good 50/50 skis without sacrificing much in the way of all-mountain performance. I haven’t had the opportunity to ski any of them but am very much hoping that changes this season.

Eric Freson

I. What’s your 1-ski quiver for where you ski most (backcountry and resort), and why?

K2 Mindbender 108Ti, 186 cm + CAST System

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
K2 Mindbender 108Ti

Before improvements in touring equipment, I was the guy you saw out there happily (sometimes) logging miles in alpine boots, race-stock bindings, and Alpine Trekkers. If I only have one setup, I want it to do everything I need it to, particularly in terms of skiing aggressively.

In the backcountry there is no denying that the CAST system can be slow and tedious to transition, and bulky, and it’s pretty heavy … but it gives me a tech toe on the way up and a legit alpine binding on the way down. Or a full-on alpine binding at a resort. In my 2-ski quiver picks, I had gone with the Duke PT 16, but if I literally only have one ski (especially one that I’m going to be frequently bashing around in the resort), I think I’d be more inclined to go with the more proven performance of the CAST system.

The Mindbender 108 Ti wasn’t my favorite ski in any particular conditions or location, but it also feels good in pretty much every condition and it’s quite stable at speed. I think its best quality is its versatility / adaptability, which is just what I’d be looking for in a single-ski quiver. It can carve, slarve, straight-line, or make jump turns with no drama. Damp and maneuverable, I can just count on the Mindbender 108Ti to work well and be enjoyable wherever I might find myself in the backcountry, or at the resort. It’d be heavy on the skin track, but this quiver is all about tradeoffs and as I mentioned above, I’ve spent time on far heavier setups in the past.

II. If you didn’t do any backcountry touring, what would your 1-ski quiver be for inbounds-only skiing?

Blizzard Bodacious, 186 cm + Salomon STH2 16

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections
Blizzard Bodacious

I’ll stick with the Bodacious.

No speed limit, heavy, damp, and fast. It also does well on piste for what it is — the Bodacious doesn’t feel like a ski that’s 118 mm underfoot, meaning I don’t feel particularly held back by its wide waist when things aren’t especially soft or deep, or on the way back to the chairlift. It’s incredibly fun on chalky snow and it demolishes anything close to “soft” snow. It’s a very heavy, stiff, and demanding ski, but that’s part of what makes it so much fun for me. For the skiing I do, I think it’s hard to think of a ski that’s more fun in the resort when conditions are anything other than boilerplate.

III. If you only skied in the backcountry, what would your 1-ski quiver be for backcountry-only skiing?

4FRNT Hoji, 187 cm + Marker Kingpin

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
4FRNT Hoji

The 4FRNT Raven, even in the 190 cm length, is a bit too small for a 1-touring-ski quiver for me. Its lighter weight and narrower waist give up too much for me on the days when the snow is good or I want to go very fast. Pushed really hard in really steep or deep conditions, I can “out ride” it fairly quickly. Similarly, the heavier and much wider 4FRNT Renegade gives up too much for me on the longer days or those when conditions aren’t very good. On days with lots of mileage / vert and / or firm snow, the Renegade is just less sensible.

Given that, I think the Hoji provides a happy middle ground between the two. I haven’t skied the latest iteration of the Hoji, but I was a fan of past versions and have skied the current Raven and Renegade, so I feel like this is a pretty safe choice. The older Hoji did better in soft snow, high speeds, and bigger lines than the Raven, but was a bit better on firm snow and isn’t quite as heavy and cumbersome as the Renegade. The Hoji is a pretty comprehensive mashup of the character of the Raven and Renegade. After some major back and forth, I think I’d go with the 187 cm over the 195 cm to help keep it a bit lighter and more agile. Overall, I’m always going to be looking for soft snow, and the Hoji excels there while still doing well enough when things get firm and sketchy for me to commit to it as my only backcountry ski.

In this scenario, I’m going to go with the Marker Kingpin as my binding. It provides better touring and transition efficiency than the CAST system, Marker Duke PT, and Salomon Shift, but the Kingpin’s heel provides better firm-snow performance over any full-pin binding, which will be useful if I’m going to be skiing something that’s 112 mm underfoot everywhere and in all conditions.

IV. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?

If I was going to throw a single pair of skis in the truck and drive for the next three years, didn’t know where I would be headed, and didn’t know what I would encounter, it would be the 188 cm Salomon QST 106 with CAST system. That would cover me anywhere. I could rail corduroy on the US East Coast, use it as an everyday driver in the intermountain west, smash mashed potatoes on the West Coast, and go real fast with almost no stress in AK. My legs can always get stronger. For this pick, I think the QST 106 makes a bit more sense than the Mindbender 108Ti since the QST handles firmer conditions a bit better.

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections
Salomon QST 106

V. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?

The 4FRNT Raven. It’s just so darn intuitive, versatile, and functional. It’s the choice the realist in me would probably make for their quiver of one. In the end, its lighter weight and more forgiving flex pattern comes as too much of a compromise to be my only ski for everything.

VI. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?

Last spring I spent a few days in the backcountry on the Kye Shapes Numinous. But due to Covid, I never got to ride a chairlift with ‘em. I don’t ski like Kye, but I’d like to, and the Numinous made me feel like I could.

It has a pretty tapered shape, symmetrical rocker profile, and forward mount point — all of which make it a very playful ski. But then it’s also pretty strong and heavy, which made it very comfortable at high speeds. The weight is a little less ideal when used exclusively in the backcountry where I was, but made it clear this was a ski that would work well for me inbounds. So while it worked well in the backcountry, it really feels to me like a ski that would shine with a binding like the Marker Duke PT, and would be skied both inbounds and out. It’s snowing right now in Crested Butte, which makes me very excited to get that ski onto some steep, fast terrain in the resort in the coming months.

Sascha Anastas

I. What’s your 1-ski quiver for where you ski most (backcountry and resort), and why?

Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free, 165 cm + Salomon Shift MNC 10

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free

Since I ski mostly using lifts, I finally decided on the Nordica Santa Ana Fee 104 for my 1-ski quiver. I definitely had major commitment issues once I settled on this, but as I have mentioned in my other quivers, this ski really impressed me last season. It is less playful than the Line Pandora 104, which has been my choice for my 1-ski quiver for the past 3 years, but the Santa Ana 104 is more stable at higher speeds and on rougher snow conditions (and still isn’t super heavy). In this scenario, I would go down from the 172 cm length that we have been reviewing to the 165 cm length so I could get better maneuverability in tight trees, moguls, and technical, steep terrain. If I were to only ski this ski exclusively, there would be certain conditions in which I would sorely miss the playfulness of the Pandora 104. But since I ski mostly in the resort these days, I ultimately feel that the Santa Ana 104 makes more sense. And I would go with the Shift binding here since I would want backcountry-touring versatility.

II. If you didn’t do any backcountry touring, what would your 1-ski quiver be for inbounds-only skiing?

Nordica Santa Ana Free 104, 165 cm + Marker Griffon

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free

I don’t think my answer would change since I am mostly skiing inbounds these days. The only thing I would change would be a switch from the Shift binding to an alpine binding (Marker Griffon). I did consider the Volkl Secret 102 (based on Kristin Sinnott’s review), but since I have yet to get on that ski, I felt that I would need to spend some time on it to make the call. Also, I am not sure the Secret 102 would be playful enough for a 1-ski quiver choice, even for resort-only skiing.

III. If you only skied in the backcountry, what would your 1-ski quiver be for backcountry-only skiing?

Line Pandora 104, 165 cm + Salomon Shift MNC 10

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Line Pandora 104

I am having a really hard time deciding between the Line Pandora 104 versus the Liberty Genesis 96. Both of these skis have felt incredibly comfortable to me, both are relatively lightweight, and I would feel confident navigating technical terrain and variable conditions on either of these skis. I think the difficulty for me is deciding on which width would be better for me. After much thought, I think the Genesis 96 would be just a bit too narrow for my 1-ski quiver, so I’m going with the Pandora 104 this time around.

IV. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?

I don’t think my answer would change from the Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free. Again, I would definitely opt for the 165 cm length and I would still go with the Shift binding. I tend to be a creature of habit and get attached to skis so I can see myself being happy with this ski for the next few seasons, assuming I would mostly ski lift-accessed terrain as I have for the past few years as a busy mother and with a demanding work schedule. If I tended to get out to the backcountry more, I would likely choose something a bit lighter, like the Line Pandora 104.

V. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?

Even though it made it into my backcountry-quiver selections, I still had a hard time leaving the Line Pandora 104 out of my other 1-ski quiver picks. See above for the reasons why I finally chose the Santa Ana 104 Free over the Pandora 104.

VI. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?

Given how much I love the Liberty Genesis 90 and 96, I think the Genesis 106 would be a pretty good contender. From what Lani Bruntz stated in her review of the ski, I feel that the Genesis 106 would be capable as an all-mountain ski but I would be uncertain if the ski would be as easy to get on edge as the Santa Ana 104 Free and Pandora 104.

Sam Shaheen

I. What’s your 1-ski quiver for where you ski most (backcountry and resort), and why?

As discussed in the previous quiver articles, I’ll primarily be skiing in the backcountry this year. For a 1-ski backcountry quiver, I’m really excited about the…

Scott Superguide Freetour, 185 cm + ATK Raider 12

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Scott Superguide Freetour

This ski is a no-nonsense directional tool with suspension / damping that punches a bit above its weight class. It’s not particularly exciting in any one dimension but there’s almost nothing that I ski in the average winter where I would seriously feel the need for a different ski. This ski rips and it will get the job done all year. I’m very much looking forward to spending more time on it this season.

II. If you didn’t do any backcountry touring, what would your 1-ski quiver be for inbounds-only skiing?

I plead the 5th *cries in the corner*

[Editor’s Note: see Sam’s 2-ski quiver picks for some background info.]

III. If you only skied in the backcountry, what would your 1-ski quiver be for backcountry-only skiing?

See above. The Superguide Freetour is an easy choice.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Scott Superguide Freetour

IV. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?

Ready for a curveball? I’d go with the Line Sick Day 104, 186 cm + Shift binding. Light enough for big backcountry days, solid enough on edge for techy steeps, and a hell of a lot of fun inbounds. This setup would be rad.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Line Sick Day 104

V. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?

I’m trying not to talk about it, but, obviously, the Rossignol Soul 7 HD.

VI. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?

I think the Volkl Mantra 102 in a 177 cm length might be a great resort 1-ski quiver, but I’ve only skied the 184 cm. With a bit more maneuverability, the 177 cm M102 might be the ticket there. It obviously wouldn’t replace the Soul 7 HD — they are extremely different skis. But I know I can’t replace her, so why try?

Jonathan Ellsworth

I. What’s your 1-ski quiver for where you ski most (backcountry and resort), and why?

Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm + SHIFT binding

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Fischer Ranger 102 FR

Luke already spelled things out pretty well, so re-read what he had to say. But I’m going with the Ranger 102 FR because of its weight-to-stability ratio, plus how fun it is to carve, plus how nimble and quick it feels to me in steep, techy terrain, plus how much I like skiing it in moguls, coupled with the fact that its rocker profile will allow it to plane better than a lot of other skis of this width … I’m feeling pretty good about this one. I also know that on backcountry tours, I will love it when it’s time to start skiing downhill, and till I manage to start working fewer hours every day, most of my backcountry touring this season will consist of single laps in the CB backcountry. If I were yo-yo-ing backcountry laps frequently, I would probably be inclined to go with a lighter setup. But this is an inbounds-biased and backcountry-downhill biased setup.

Re: the binding — I do think that people who will primarily be skiing an AT binding inbounds most of the time have good reasons to go with the Marker Duke PT, as Luke did. But I like how the SHIFT skis inbounds, and I’m more interested in touring on the (already heavy-ish) Ranger 102 FR with a SHIFT. I’ve got several years and a lot of days touring on a SHIFT … and I like it, I’m used to it.

II. If you didn’t do any backcountry touring, what would your 1-ski quiver be for inbounds-only skiing?

Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, 186 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Nordica Enforcer 104 Free

The Enforcer 104 Free shares a good bit in common (in terms of what I wrote about its strengths and where I like skiing it) with the Fischer Ranger 102 FR, but in a heavier package that offers a bit better suspension than the Ranger 102 FR. I’ve been banging this drum for a while now, but I really like both skis. The Ranger 102 FR is quicker and feels like more of a ninja stick … but I am a sucker for nice suspension.

Plenty of skis out there will be better on very firm snow or in horrible conditions. And plenty of skis will be better on deep pow days. But I’ll be very happy to be on this ski for probably at least 80% of my days out.

III. If you only skied in the backcountry, what would your 1-ski quiver be for backcountry-only skiing?

4FRNT Raven, 184 cm + SHIFT binding

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
4FRNT Raven

For all the reasons I’ve stated before.

IV. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?

Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm + Marker Duke PT 16 binding

I’ll keep the ski, but go with a binding that might hold up better to ~200 days of inbounds thrashings.

V. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?

I keep thinking a lot about the WNDR Alpine Intention 110 + SHIFT binding. And if I skied fewer scraped-off moguls in the resort, and instead skied in an area that typically had good coverage and often-soft or deep conditions … this ski could be fantastic. So for a softer / deeper-conditions-oriented 1-ski quiver, I think people should have the Intention 110 on their radar.

VI. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?

It’s a good question, but at the moment, nothing seems like the “most likely contender.” So I think whatever the answer is will come as a bit of a surprise this season.

That said, I’m looking forward to touring more on the WNDR Alpine Intention 110. I’m also eager to check out their new Vital 100.

I also want to get more time on the Moment Wildcat 108 and Wildcat Tour 108.

But given where I live and ski the most, I’m feeling quite comfortable with my selections. So let the many-days-of-testing continue, and let the surprise findings come.

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28 comments on “1-Ski Quivers: Reviewers’ Selections (20/21)”

  1. Sorry folks, too many caveats to justify most of these as a one ski quiver.

    The only question that matters in this topic is… “What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?”

    I’m taking the Black Crows Atris with Shifts – Most important part of a one ski quiver (for me) is can it float well enough on a blower pow day that you don’t feel the need to go demo something else and can it lay down a trench in corduroy groomers. Those are the scenarios that most often lead to super fun days. Yep it tours pretty well, can navigate crud, could survive icy steeps. Optimize for the best days not the mediocre ones.

    • I think there’s some contention (maybe just for me) between optimizing for the best days and what would I choose regardless of location. I expect to ski overwhelmingly in the next three years on soft snow conditions on a maritime PNW or BC snowpack.

      That dramatically influences how I’d optimize for good days relative to if my expectation was to ski the NE or even Colorado resorts frequently. If I had to optimize for ANY conditions I’d really consider groomer and ice performance as a big part of this choice, but if ice is a rare part of my skiing life…shouldn’t I opt for something that I’m going to love more on the soft and especially the deep days?

      • I think you’re spot on – where you ski influences your selection as much as anything else.

        I’m skiing primarily in the NE, so my 1 ski quiver is the K2 Ikonic 84 Ti. Groomer and ice performance is paramount, and I like being able to hit up moguls when I can find them.

        But someone from the PNW would probably look at that and laugh, given how different their conditions are.

    • The Atris is awesome. I’m not a “heavy ski” aficionado so maybe my love for it is outsized, but I can easily see using it everywhere.

      I ski fast, lift-served at CBMR and maybe I don’t throw tricks like Luke but if you’re light on your feet the Atris can handle the super sketchy firm steeps and the powder days alike.

  2. Hmm. Tough one (of course — one pair?!).

    In bounds only for me, so reality says Enforcer 93, but aspirational says Enforcer 100.

    If I can crank up the Wayback Machine, Fischer Motive 95, hands down. If forced to ACTUALLY live with one pair for three years, I’d pay retail for an NOS pair in 186!

  3. Do you only get one boot with your one ski? I think if I could use a zgtp and a mach1 my 1 ski quiver would be different than if I could only use a Cochise.

    • After about 4 hours of boot work, Hawx Ultra Xtd 130 has been a true do everything boot for me…it’s light, can still charge…my only complaint would be the walk mode is only ok…not great.

      • Interesting. You think the XTD 130 can charge… but the walk mode is only “ok…not great”? I’d call its walk mode great … but I would not call this boot a “charger” if we’re comparing it to the broad landscape of AT boots – though I’ll assume you mean relative to other AT boots of a similar weight.

        I think this is a good boot, just surprised that you find its walk mode to be (somewhat) lacking?

        • Coming off the Vulcan line, every “peer” boot’s walk mode is lacking. (Big fan of the rearward release into walk mode for long, slow strides)

        • I’d say the XTD 130 defines the 50/50 category well, there are some sacrifices on both ends. I went from Lange WC130, to Dalbello Krypton 130, to the Hawx XTD 130 and while I may not charge as hard as I did in my 20s…I don’t feel like it’s the boots holding me back ;).

          Don’t get me wrong, I think the touring performance has been solid, but it just doesn’t seem as smooth as more touring centric 3 piece boots.

  4. Rustler 11 with Shifts. Of a quiver of 7, it’s my go-to 75% of the time and always my travel ski.
    -For 114mm, it carves incredibly well, as well as most my 100mm skis.
    -It also pivots easily with the change to a neutral stance
    -It’s wide enough for deep powder.
    -It’s lightweight enough for touring but also damp enough for inbounds chop.

    • I second that nomination! Absolutely an amazing ski. Can handle pretty much all conditions the mountain can throw at you.

    • +1 from here. I have multiple seasons on Rustler 11s (the older green configuration), and my only complaint more about my ability to muscle them around in tight, icy moguls than anything that is genuinely the fault of the ski.

  5. A great question would be – suggested by Bcbuse’ comment- is what’s your travel ski? That has to be a true one ski quiver. Mine is the BC Atris for NZ. Works in anything.

  6. Question for you guys with the Intention 110. It has been referenced a few times throughout these quiver articles, (predominantly by Jonathan I believe,) and I have to wonder. Are you talking the cambered, or reverse cambered version?

    Very intrigued by the reverse cambered version. Seems like a cross between the most recent G3 Empire, (can’t get anymore, much to my dismay after riding a friend’s,) and a Hoji, (likely be the next touring kit if I can’t find more on the Intention’s).

    Curious anyones thoughts on them, as the only person I know who has ridden the reverse cambered ones was a little underwhelmed.

  7. I demoed the Fischer 102 FR and found it difficult more difficult in moguls than say a 100 Bent Chetler or Sick Day 104. The testers are better skiers than I am, but it is something to keep in mind if you tend to ski moguls or have to follow teens through them as I do.

  8. Whats everyone’s Tax Return ski choice?
    Ie, the one you get when you have most of your bases covered?

    Maybe its just a used tele setup?

  9. The main difference between the Duke PT 16 and 12 is the heelpiece; the 16 has a “Inter Pivot 3” heel (same as Griffon and Baron), and the 12 has a “Hollow Linkage 2” (similar to Squire and F10 tour). I’d guess you lose a bit of elasticity on the 12 versus the 16.

  10. Q for Kara: what does “skiing at about 80-90%” mean?

    I’ve just had ACL surgery, also tore my MCL in the same crash & will be out until next season

    This is definitely my cue to calm down (41 now), but how? I will try to employ more common sense & cut out the more stupid stuff, but for regular skiing on piste / mellow off piste, were you skiing at 80% of your normal speed, 80% of your normal level of turn aggression, cut out black pistes / off-piste / bad light etc.??

    Thanks & hope your recovery goes well

    (PS – Maybe a interesting topic for an article??)

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