Ski: 2020-2021 Dynastar M-Free 108, 182 cm
Test Location: Crested Butte, Colorado
Days Skied: ~15
Available Lengths: 172, 182, 192 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 181.5 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 2200 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2170 & 2180 grams
Stated Dimensions: 138-108-128 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 137.6-107.6-127.1 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (182 cm): 18 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 73 mm / 53 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 5 mm
Core: poplar/PU + titanal binding plate + fiberglass laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -7.75 cm from center; 83.0 cm from tail
This past January at Outdoor Retailer, Dynastar announced an overhaul of their freeride lineup for the 20/21 season. They’re discontinuing the Legend X series and now consolidating all of their freeride skis under the “M” moniker, and breaking that into three categories:
- M-Pro: directional, metal-laminate skis with more traditional shapes, rocker profiles, and mount points
- M-Tour: lightweight skis for backcountry touring
- M-Free: playful twin-tips with more progressive mount points and more symmetrical shapes
The current Menace Proto returns unchanged but with a new graphic and new name, the M-Free 118, and the Menace 98 returns completely unchanged. Oh, and they brought back the Pro Rider (!!!) without any changes to its construction, and that’s now called the M-Pro 105.
We’ll be reviewing the M-Pro 99 and the ski we’re talking about today, the M-Free 108. I’m super excited about this ski, so let’s dive in:
Many of the new skis in the “M” lineup feature a hybrid core made of wood and polyurethane (PU). While we’ve seen brands use PU sidewalls, we haven’t seen many that include this much PU in the core itself. For the M-Free 108, it uses a poplar wood core, PU, a titanal binding plate, and a fiberglass laminate. The M-Pro skis feature a partial titanal layer on top of a poplar / PU core, while the M-Tour skis use a Paulownia core, some PU, and a basalt laminate. The Menace Proto, Menace 98, and Pro Rider return with their regular constructions (i.e., no PU).
Here’s an image of the M-Pro 99’s core, which shows the wood and PU. The M-Free 108 has a similar core, but only features titanal under the bindings, rather than the metal plate extending far beyond the bindings. On an unrelated note, I think the M-Free line has the best graphics I’ve seen from Dynastar in a very long time.
Shape / Rocker Profile
In short, the M-Free 108 looks like a narrower version of the Menace Proto (which was formerly called the PR-OTO Factory, and will now be called the M-Free 118 … yeah, it’s hard to keep track).
The M-Free 108 has a very tapered shape, both in the tip and in the tail. Its tail is very similar to the Proto’s, while the M-Free 108 has a slightly less pointed tip vs. the Proto. The M-Free 108’s widest points and the tips and tails are still much closer to the middle of the ski than more traditionally shaped skis like the Black Crows Corvus, Icelantic Nomad 105, and Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti. One thing we were surprised by regarding the Proto was just how loose and pivot-y it felt and we think a lot of that came down to its shape, so that’s something we’re curious about regarding the narrower M-Free 108.
The rocker profile of the M-Free 108 looks extremely similar to the Proto / M-Free 118, but the M-Free 108 actually has slightly deeper rocker lines and slightly higher tip and tail splay. This is interesting since wider skis are usually the ones with deeper rocker lines and more splay, but the difference is fairly subtle.
Compared to other all-mountain freestyle skis, the M-Free 108 has pretty deep rocker lines and a nearly full twin tip. There are some skis like the Moment Wildcat 108 and ON3P Jeffrey 108 that have deeper rocker lines, but the M-Free 108’s rocker profile looks pretty in-line with other freestyle skis in this width. Compared to more directional skis like the BLACKOPS Sender Ti and K2 Mindbender 108Ti, the M-Free 108 has much more tail rocker and tail splay.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the M-Free 108:
In Front of Toe Piece: 8.5-10
Behind the Heel Piece: 10-9
The M-Free 108 is a pretty strong ski with a very round, nearly symmetrical flex pattern. Its tips and tails feel about the same, and they’re a bit stronger than average compared to most skis in this class. The flex of the M-Free 108 smoothly ramps up in the middle and it feels quite solid underfoot and around the bindings.
The M-Free 108 isn’t quite as stiff at the ends vs. the ON3P Jeffrey 108 and Woodsman 108, but it’s not super far off. The flex pattern of the M-Free 108 reminds me of the Prior Northwest 110, but the M-Free 108 is a bit stiffer at the ends.
The Proto / M-Free 118 has a pretty traditional mount point of around -9 cm from true center, but the M-Free 108 has a slightly more progressive mount point at around -7.7 cm from true center.
That mount point is not as far forward as some freestyle skis like the Moment Wildcat 108, ON3P Jeffrey 108, and Prior Northwest 110, but it’s more forward than most directional skis. We’ll be playing with the mount point on the M-Free 108 to see how it responds, particularly in regard to if you can ski it centered and / or forward.
Like the wider M-Free 118, the M-Free 108 is a pretty hefty ski. Our pair of the 182 cm length is coming in around 2175 grams per ski, which is very heavy (especially when you consider the length).
We loved how damp and planted the Proto / M-Free 118 felt, and we suspect that the M-Free 108 could feel similar, given how heavy it is. We’re also curious to see how heavy its swing weight feels, since it’s very heavy but also has a very tapered shape (which tends to decrease swing weight).
1755 & 1792 Line Sick Day 104, 179 cm (17/18–20/21)
1787 & 1793 Fauna Pioneer, 184 cm (19/20)
1806 & 1862 Armada Tracer 108, 180 cm (19/20–20/21)
1814 & 1845 Elan Ripstick 106, 181 cm (17/18–19/20)
1848 & 1903 Line Sick Day 104, 186 cm (17/18–20/21)
1849 & 1922 Elan Ripstick 106, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
1883 & 1898 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender, 178 cm (20/21)
1996 & 2012 Dynastar Legend X106, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
1999 & 2020 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, 180 cm (20/21)
2005 & 2035 Liberty Origin 106, 187 cm (19/20–20/21)
2006 & 2065 Head Kore 105, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2011 & 2028 Moment Wildcat 108, 184 cm (19/20)
2027 & 2052 K2 Reckoner 112, 184 cm (20/21)
2030 & 2039 Rossignol Soul 7 HD, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2042 & 2062 Dynastar M-Pro 99, 186 cm (20/21)
2079 & 2105 Kastle FX106 HP, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2097 & 2113 DPS Alchemist Wailer 106 C2, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2101 & 2104 Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm (18/19–20/21)
2110 & 2119 Moment Wildcat 108, 190 cm (19/20)
2112 & 2125 4FRNT MSP 107, 187 cm (18/19–19/20)
2120 & 2134 Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (19/20–20/21)
2143 & 2194 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2153 & 2184 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, 187 cm (20/21)
2165 & 2211 K2 Mindbender 108Ti, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2165 & 2219 Icelantic Nomad 105, 191 cm (19/20–20/21)
2170 & 2180 Dynastar M-Free 108, 182 cm (20/21)
2177 & 2180 Moment Commander 108, 188 cm (19/20)
2182 & 2218 Nordica Enforcer 110 Free, 185 cm (17/18–20/21)
2188 & 2190 Prior Northwest 110, 190 cm (19/20–20/21)
2190 & 2268 Armada ARV 106Ti LTD, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
2202 & 2209 Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105, 186 cm (19/20)
2218 & 2244 Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2232 & 2244 ON3P Woodsman 108, 187 cm (19/20)
2233 & 2255 Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2250 & 2307 Argent Badger, 184 cm (19/20)
2283 & 2290 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
2312 & 2386 Prior Husume, 188 cm (17/18–20/21)
2318 & 2341 J Skis The Metal, 186 cm (16/17–19/20)
2321 & 2335 Fischer Ranger 107 Ti, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2376 & 2393 Blizzard Cochise, 185 cm (15/16–19/20)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) On paper, the M-Free 108 shares a lot in common with the wider Dynastar M-Free 118 / Proto, so just how similar will they feel?
(2) On that note, will the M-Free 108 be as damp and surfy / loose as the M-Free 118?
(3) The M-Free 108 is pretty heavy, but it also has a very tapered shape and a lot of rocker. So is this a ski that’s best suited to soft snow, will it feel very / fairly / somewhat stable in rough snow, and how will it fare in very firm, smooth conditions?
(4) How will the M-Free 108 respond to moving the bindings in front of its mount point? Is this a pure freestyle ski, or will directional skiers looking for a more playful feel still get along with it?
(5) Not many skis use a lot of PU in their cores, so will that feel weird on snow? Or maybe it’ll feel better than a more traditional wood core construction?
(6) The M-Free 108 only comes in 172, 182, and 192 cm lengths. Will many skiers be caught between lengths, or will this ski feel versatile enough that people shouldn’t worry about sizing up or down?
Bottom Line (For Now)
Many of us at Blister really like the Dynastar Proto / M-Free 118, and the new M-Free 108 seems like it could be pretty similar. We’ve been spending time on the new ski and Blister Members can check out our Flash Review for our initial on-snow impressions, and then stay tuned for our full review.
Blister Members can now check out our Flash Review of the M-Free 108 for our initial impressions. Become a Blister member now to check out this and all of our Flash Reviews, plus get exclusive deals and discounts on skis, personalized gear recommendations from us, and much more.
We were able to spend a good chunk of time on the new M-Free 108 this past season at Crested Butte, and I’m a pretty big fan of the ski. So let’s get into how exactly this playful ski from Dynastar performs in a variety of conditions (and Jonathan Ellsworth will be chiming in, too.)
Luke Koppa (5’8″, 155 lbs): If you like to slash and slarve your way through fresh snow, the M-Free 108 is one of the best skis I’ve used in this width.
As I’ll be repeating here, the M-Free 108’s defining characteristic is just how easy it is to throw sideways. Just like the M-Free 118 (formerly called the PR-OTO Factory & Menace Proto), the M-Free 108 requires very little effort to release and slide through a turn, which makes it feel exceptionally surfy in any conditions, and especially pow.
The M-Free 108 & M-Free 118 are interesting since, if you just look at the skis & their specs, they don’t seem like they’d be super loose on snow. They have a lot of camber underfoot and aren’t radically rockered. And yet, getting both of them drifting sideways down the fall line is extremely easy … and extremely fun.
While the M-Free 108 is one of the surfiest skis I’ve used that’s this wide, I wouldn’t say it’s best in class if we’re just talking about pure flotation. That’s not to say it’s bad in deep snow, it’s just not a ski that instantly planes above deep snow with the tips constantly staying above the top.
I never experienced any unexpected / weird tip dive on the 182 cm M-Free 108 in the snow I got it in (up to around a foot of fresh), but it’s not a ski that you can drive super hard through the shovels in really deep snow. As someone who tends to ski pretty centered in fresh snow anyway, I think I’d be pretty happy skiing the M-Free 108 on all but the very deepest days. And with that said, I’m guessing that I wouldn’t be upset about having the 192 cm version as my widest ski (182 cm is on the shorter end for me).
So while the M-Free 108 isn’t class-leading in terms of flotation, for most powder days, it’ll still be a lot of fun — especially if your idea of a great day is getting your skis sideways at every opportunity.
Jonathan Ellsworth (5’10”, ~175 lbs): If you gave me a single word to sum up this ski, I would go with “loose” or “surfy.” To me, that is the defining feature of this ski, and I agree with everything that Luke’s just written. And for me personally, the deeper the snow, the more I liked the M-Free 108. This will be a recurring theme throughout this review, but I think the most helpful question for you to consider as you read along is just how loose and surfy do you want your ~108mm-wide ski to be? I’ll say a bit more about this below, but in deep snow and tighter terrain, this ski is a blast. Click in, go surf.
Luke: In short, I rarely felt held back by the M-Free 108 when skiing in soft, low-density chop.
This is a pretty hefty ski, and it consequently offers very nice suspension. While that’s more noticeable on firmer, rougher snow, it still helps in soft chop — especially given the fairly strong flex pattern of this ski. The M-Free 108 does a good job of blowing through patches of chopped-up snow, especially compared to other freestyle-oriented skis. If you’re looking at other skis in the freestyle category, the M-Free 108 definitely sits on the more stable end.
The main drawback when it comes to the M-Free 108’s stability at speed seems to be its tapered shape and loose feel. As long as the chop is pretty soft and not super dense, I could ski very fast on the M-Free 108 without fearing that the ski would get randomly knocked around. But in heavier, denser chop, the M-Free 108 has a tendency to want to go more sideways than straight. I.e., its tips will get knocked off track if you try to straight-line through dense chop.
Again, the M-Free 108 is more stable than many ~108mm-wide freestyle skis, but there are also many directional skis in this class — most of which are less tapered than the M-Free 108 — that will track better through chop. But, unlike those more stable, directional skis, the M-Free 108 is ridiculously easy to slash and shed speed, which means I actually feel more comfortable on it vs. those directional skis when skiing fast since I know I can shut things down at a moment’s notice. Plus, the M-Free 108’s swing weight feels very light relative to its actual weight, which makes it really easy to flick around when catching air off every patch of chop.
Jonathan: Yep, just to offer one other perspective here, the M-Free 108 did feel a bit ‘twitchier’ to me in soft chop than I typically prefer. In chop I really prioritize skis that track really well, and as Luke notes, there are more stable skis out there that do this better than the M-Free 108. But for those who tend to find super-stable skis to be too boring / not playful enough the M-Free 108 might fall a bit closer to your sweet spot.
Firm Chop / Crud
Luke: Basically, everything I said above about the M-Free 108 in soft chop applies here, but its suspension and somewhat twitchy feel in rough snow are more exaggerated the more the snow trends toward the “Do I actually want to go skiing today?” end of the spectrum.
The M-Free 108 does a very good job of absorbing impacts. Given that many skis in this class are now pretty light, the suspension / damping of the M-Free 108 stands out in this class, especially compared to most freestyle-oriented skis.
On the other hand, the M-Free 108’s surfy feel becomes more of a liability when trying to ski super fast through super-crappy conditions. It was clear pretty early on that the best approach on the M-Free 108 in really nasty snow is to slip and slide through the rough patches of snow and carry speed through the smoother, more forgiving sections. If I tried to just ski straight through crud on this ski, its tips got knocked around a lot.
That said, I rarely feel the need to straight-line through crud regardless of what ski I’m on, and the M-Free 108 makes a more controlled, conservative approach to these conditions very easy and predictable. Since throwing — and keeping — this ski sideways is so easy and its suspension is quite good, it makes for a pretty intuitive ride when you’re not looking to rage through rough snow.
I think those coming from freestyle-oriented skis will find the M-Free 108 to feel quite stable in rough snow thanks to its nice suspension, but those coming from less tapered, similarly heavy skis will likely find themselves needing to ski a bit slower when the snow sucks.
Jonathan: 100% agree with this, and it was in firm crud where I personally disliked the M-Free 108 the most. To be clear, this is very much a matter of personal taste, but on inconsistent, firm snow, I don’t want a ski that’s this loose, surfy, or “fun” — I want a bit more stability and precision. And to try to be even more clear, in variable, firm conditions, I also do not want some super-locked-in ski that basically feels like a wide carving ski. Such skis can feel scary in their own right, leaving you feeling stuck in a turn. So most ~108mm-wide skis fall in between “very locked in” and “super loose,” and this review — in conjunction with our Deep Dive — ought to give you a good sense of how loose or locked in this ski is, and whether that might suit you well. But for me, put me in the “too loose” camp for a ski of this width, since I will often be out on a ~108mm-wide ski not just when the conditions are fresh and forgiving and deep, but often when conditions are extremely variable and sometimes weird.
Moguls, Trees, & Tight Terrain
Luke: The M-Free 108 is super easy in tight spots. All that talk of surfiness applies to any sort of tight terrain, and that’s arguably where it’s the biggest asset.
When I first skied the M-Free 108, there were a few times where I felt the cambered portion of the ski dig in behind my boots when I got backseat, but after lightly detuning the tails, this issue went away. And after that, I could ski the M-Free 108 forward, centered, or even a bit backseat without issue.
I think some beginner skiers might have trouble on the M-Free 108 if they end up backseat very often, but for most other skiers, this ski is very easy to maneuver through tight spots.
As in crud / firm chop, the M-Free 108 is prone to going sideways in rough snow in tight spots, so if you prefer to carve your way through bumps & trees, you’d probably get along better with a more precise, less tapered ski. But if you’re like me and tend to slash (read: hack) your way through tight terrain, the M-Free 108 offers a really nice combo of (1) a super loose & surfy feel, (2) nice suspension, and (3) a big sweet spot.
Luke: The M-Free 108 is far from exciting on groomers, but it’s also far from scary. For how easy it is to pivot this ski, it holds an edge quite well, and you can lay it over pretty hard when the groomers are somewhat soft. It definitely does not pull you across the fall line like a ski with less tapered shovels will, but get some speed going, and the M-Free 108 is happy to carve a variety of turn shapes.
One thing I noticed with the M-Free 108 is that its carving performance seemed to be a bit more sensitive to the tune than most other skis. While skiing it for the first few days, the M-Free 108’s edge hold felt really good and I was confidently laying it over high on edge at high speeds. As I kept skiing it and slamming it into more rocks, I noticed a quicker degradation in edge hold and general carving performance vs. most of the other skis we tested this past season. Groomers aren’t where the M-Free 108’s excels regardless, but just keep in mind that you might want to be sure to keep it sharp if you plan on skiing it on a lot of firm snow.
Luke: The M-Free 108 is a very playful ski. Its surfy feel is easily the most noticeable aspect of its overall playfulness, but it also has a pretty low swing weight for how heavy it actually is, it’s fairly poppy, you can ski it neutral, and it skis switch very well.
The M-Free 108 isn’t super easy to bend / butter, but its tapered shape does make it very forgiving when under- or over-rotating spins, which is nice for someone like me who’s spins rarely end up being exact multiples of 180° or 360…
Luke: The M-Free 108’s recommended mount point measures at -7.75 cm from true center on our pair, and I skied it on that line as well as +1 and +2 cm in front of the line (about -6.7 and -5.7 cm from true center, respectively).
Overall, the ski didn’t feel very different on those different mount points. Moving the bindings resulted in the usual: getting forward made the ski feel more balanced and didn’t let me drive it as much through the shovels, while the opposite was true when I moved them back.
I ended up preferring the M-Free 108 with the bindings 1 cm in front of the line since the ski felt a bit more balanced in the air, and I didn’t feel like I lost any ability to drive the shovels when needed. As I noted above, this ski feels like it has a big sweet spot, so I wouldn’t worry too much if you feel the need to move the bindings a couple cm away from the recommended line.
Luke: I got along quite well with the 182 cm M-Free 108, despite it being a bit shorter than I prefer for a ski of its width. In most conditions, I was very happy with the 182.
That said, I am very curious about the 192 cm length. Given how nice the suspension is on the 182 cm M-Free 108, I think the 192 would offer that but also, potentially, decrease the twitchiness I noticed while skiing the 182 in rough snow. But the 192 is also a pretty long ski, and I’m a bit bummed about the fact that skiers will have to pick between 10 cm length increments for the M-Free 108. It’s a very subjective / selfish point, but I imagine that I’d get along even better with the M-Free 108 in a ~187 cm length. If we’re able to get on the 192 cm M-Free 108 next season, we’ll be sure to update this review.
Jonathan: Yep, my own very selfish and subjective take is the same as Luke’s: for skiing in the often pretty tight and technical terrain of Crested Butte, I would be very interested in this ski in a ~187 length. But yeah, the 192 might still fit the bill, and we’d love to find out.
Who’s It For?
Intermediate through advanced skiers who want a versatile, ~108mm-wide all-mountain ski and who prioritize maneuverability, playfulness, and surfiness.
The main things that make the M-Free 108 stand out from the other skis on the market are (1) how easy it is to pivot and throw sideways and (2) its very nice suspension / damping.
If stability at speed, a very precise feel, or remarkable carving performance are big priorities for you, you’d be better off on a different ski. And less experienced skiers who often end up backseat might be better off on a softer, lighter ski.
But for those who love to slash every windlip or patch of snow and appreciate a ski that does a good job of muting out rough snow, the M-Free 108 is very appealing. It’s not amazing on super firm snow, but apart from that, it feels comfortable in most conditions, and offers a really fun blend of playfulness and a damp feel.
It’d be a solid choice for freestyle skiers who want a ski with a bit more backbone and better suspension than most freestyle skis, or directional skiers who want to try a looser, more playful ski.
The Dynastar M-Free 108 very much feels like a narrower version of its wider sibling, the M-Free 118 / Proto. The M-Free 108 is a ski that does a good job of absorbing rough snow, while also being exceptionally easy to pivot and slash through any sort of snow — it’s a playful ski that still lets you ski quite hard when you want to.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the M-Free 108 to see how it compares to the Dynastar M-Free 118, Moment Wildcat 108, Moment Deathwish, Moment Meridian 107, K2 Reckoner 112, ON3P Jeffrey 108, ON3P Woodsman 108, Line Sir Francis Bacon, Faction Prodigy 4.0, Parlor McFellon Pro, Liberty Origin 106, Icelantic Nomad 105, Blizzard Rustler 10, Nordica Enforcer 110 Free, K2 Mindbender 108Ti, Folsom Primary, Black Crows Atris, & Prior Northwest 110.