Ski: 2021-2022 Dynastar M-Free 99, 185 cm
Days Skied: 10
Available Lengths: 171, 179, 185 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length (straight-tape pull): 181.5 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 1900 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2024 & 2112 grams
Stated Dimensions: 128-99-120 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 127.6-97.2-119.4 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (185 cm): 18 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 75 mm / 59 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 5 mm
Core: poplar / PU + titanal binding plate + fiberglass laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -7.6 cm from center; 83.0 cm from tail
Dynastar completely overhauled their “freeride” lineup during the 20/21 season, with the M-Free and M-Pro skis replacing the long-standing Legend X skis (and the Cham skis before them). The new “M” skis looked — and skied — very different from their predecessors, and we’ve generally been a fan of this change.
Given that, it makes sense that Dynastar expanded the collection for 21/22. You can learn more about their whole lineup in our Blister Summit Brand Lineup video below, but one notable addition is the ski we’re discussing here, the brand-new M-Free 99.
The M-Free 99 effectively replaced the Dynastar Menace 98, which was a ski many of us loved, even though its design had basically been unchanged for nearly a decade (it was formerly known as the Slicer, among other names). But the M-Free 99 looks basically nothing like the Menace 98, and a whole lot more like its bigger siblings, the M-Free 108 and M-Free 118.
So, how does the design of this new ski compare to the other alternatives in the crowded, ~100mm-wide all-mountain category? We’ve now updated this post with our Full Review below, but first, here’s our original First Look:
The M-Free 99 shares the same construction as the wider M-Free skis. The most notable thing here is that the M-Free skis use a core that consists of a mix of poplar wood and polyurethane (PU). The idea is that the PU offers a good damping-to-weight ratio, and combined with the wood core, can make for skis that are fairly lightweight while also being fairly damp.
The M-Free skis also get a small titanal plate around the binding area for screw retention, and then a fairly heavy fiberglass laminate. The M-Free skis feature a heavier-weight fiberglass laminate than the Dynastar M-Pro skis, which is reportedly why the M-Free skis are relatively heavier.
Shape / Rocker Profile
Especially since their top sheets vary so little, all three skis in the 21/22 M-Free collection look really, really similar. The M-Free 99 very much looks like a slightly skinnier M-Free 108, with very little noticeable change in taper lines or overall sidecut.
While the wider M-Free skis’ shapes aren’t wildly out of the ordinary when compared to similarly wide skis, the M-Free 99’s shape stands out a bit more when you look at other ~99mm-wide skis. The M-Free 99 features more tapered tips and tails than a lot of the directional skis in this class, and its shape is fairly similar to freestyle-oriented skis like the Volkl Revolt 104.
It’s a similar story when looking at the rocker profile of the M-Free 99. This ski has basically the same amount of tip and tail splay and as deep of rocker lines as the M-Free 108. And like that ski, the M-Free 99’s tips and tails rise fairly abruptly, as opposed to a ski like the Revolt 104, where the rocker lines are deep but the tips and tails stay low until the very ends of the ski.
Overall, the Salomon QST 98 is probably the ski that looks the most like the M-Free 99. Both skis have pretty tapered tips and tails and deep tip and tail rocker lines, though the M-Free 99 has more of a true twinned tail.
As for the Menace 98, well, the M-Free 99 doesn’t really look like it at all. The Menace 98 stood out for having basically no tip or tail taper, and its rocker lines were quite subtle. The M-Free 99 is basically the opposite in both regards.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the M-Free 99:
In Front of Toe Piece: 8.5-9.5
Behind the Heel Piece: 10-8.5
Once again, there’s a very strong family resemblance between the M-Free skis when it comes to flex pattern. The M-Free 99’s flex pattern feels almost identical to that of the M-Free 108. Both skis have tips and tails that are a bit on the stiffer end, especially for playful skis. The M-Free 99’s flex pattern isn’t as consistently stiff as, say, the Volkl M6 Mantra or Blizzard Bonafide 97, but I’d still say it sits on the stiffer end of the spectrum. Though, as we discussed in our review of the M-Free 108, that ski’s flex pattern did not feel as punishing or demanding as you might expect when hand flexing it.
At about -7.5 cm from true center, the M-Free 99’s mount point slots between more traditional, directional skis and more freestyle-specific ones. And same as the wider M-Free skis, we’re playing with different mount points on the M-Free 99 to see how it feels with the bindings farther back and farther forward.
It’s worth quickly noting something here — when measuring its length using our standard straight-tape method, the 185 cm M-Free 99 actually measures exactly the same (181.5 cm) as the 182 cm M-Free 108.
Now, most skis measure shorter via that straight-tape method than their stated lengths, since most brands come up with their stated lengths before the skis are pressed / bent with their rocker / camber profiles (when their straight-line length is consequently shortened). But I wanted to include this note mostly for folks who are interested in the M-Free 108 vs. M-Free 99; while I’d say the 182 cm M-Free 108 “measures long,” I’d say the 185 cm M-Free 99 “measures short.”
The wider M-Free skis are fairly heavy for their size, and the M-Free 99 mostly continues this trend. Our pair of the 185 cm length came in at an average weight of 2068 grams per ski. That’s not extremely heavy, but you can certainly find lighter skis in this category. Of course, we’re not at all mad about this ski having a bit of weight to it — that’s a big part of why several of our reviewers personally love the other M-Free skis. They offer nice suspension and stability, but in a pretty playful package.
For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples-to-apples.
1638 & 1639 Atomic Maven 93 C, 172 cm (21/22)
1734 & 1750 Renoun Endurance 98, 184 cm (18/19–20/21)
1758 & 1758 Head Kore 93, 180 cm (19/20–20/21)
1781 & 1795 Atomic Maverick 100 Ti, 180 cm (21/22)
1801 & 1839 Salomon Stance 90, 176 cm (20/21–21/22)
1807 & 1840 Atomic Bent Chetler 100, 188 cm (18/19–21/22)
1810 & 1828 Armada Declivity 92 Ti, 180 cm (20/21–21/22)
1863 & 1894 Blizzard Rustler 9, 180 cm (18/19–21/22)
1883 & 1906 Season Aero, 180 cm (20/21)
1900 & 1908 Atomic Maverick 95 Ti, 180 cm (21/22)
1921 & 1968 Head Kore 99, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
1925 & 1934 Black Crows Camox, 186.5 cm (19/20–21/22)
1925 & 1937 Liberty Helix 98, 186 cm (18/19–21/22)
1936 & 2013 Salomon Stance 96, 182 cm (20/21–21/22)
1937 & 1945 Fischer Ranger 94 FR, 184 cm (19/20–21/22)
1966 & 1973 Liberty Origin 96, 187 cm (18/19–20/21)
1976 & 2028 Parlor Cardinal Pro, 182 cm (19/20–20/21)
1985 & 2006 Parlor Cardinal 100, 185 cm (16/17–20/21)
1994 & 2011 Fischer Ranger 99 Ti, 181 cm (19/20–21/22)
1998 & 2044 4FRNT MSP 99, 181 cm (17/18–21/22)
1999 & 2060 Line Blade, 181 cm (20/21–21/22)
2024 & 2112 Dynastar M-Free 99, 185 cm (21/22)
2043 & 2089 Volkl M6 Mantra, 177 cm (21/22)
2049 & 2065 Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm (18/19–20/21)
2054 & 2063 Salomon QST 98, 189 cm (21/22)
2055 & 2080 Salomon QST 99, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
2085 & 2096 Dynastar Menace 98, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
2089 & 2105 Nordica Soul Rider 97, 185 cm (15/16–21/22)
2115 & 2149 J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm (16/17–20/21)
2170 & 2180 Dynastar M-Free 108, 182 cm (20/21–21/22)
2178 & 2195 Volkl M6 Mantra, 184 cm (21/22)
2218 & 2244 Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm (19/20–21/22)
2256 & 2284 Nordica Enforcer 94, 186 cm (20/21–21/22)
2281 & 2284 Blizzard Bonafide 97, 177 cm (20/21–21/22)
2302 & 2342 Dynastar M-Free 108, 192 cm (20/21–21/22)
2311 & 2342 K2 Mindbender 99Ti, 184 cm (19/20–21/22)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) Many of us at Blister have gotten along really well with the wider M-Free skis, particularly in softer or more varied conditions. But how will that design translate to a narrower platform that will likely see conditions that are more on the firmer side of the spectrum?
(2) Many skis like the M-Free 99 could serve as a lot of different things — daily driver for directional skiers, park ski, one you’d use for both of those things, etc. So does the M-Free 99 clearly fall on the more directional or more playful side of things? Perfectly in the middle?
(3) Given its shape and rocker profile, how well will the M-Free 99 carve on firm groomers, and how maneuverable will it feel off piste?
(4) Apart from weight, the M-Free 99 doesn’t look anything like the Menace 98 it effectively replaces. But will folks who liked that ski still have reasons to consider this new one?
Bottom Line (For Now)
The Dynastar M-Free 99 looks like, well, what would happen if you shaved a few millimeters off the sides of the Dynastar M-Free 108. We got some time on the M-Free 99 at the Blister Summit and then got a pair for a long-term test later in the season, so stay tuned for our full review. In the meantime, Blister Members can check out our Flash Review linked below for our initial on-snow impressions.
Blister Members can read our Flash Review of the M-Free 99 for our initial on-snow impressions. Become a Blister member now to check out this and all of our Flash Reviews, plus get exclusive deals and discounts on skis, and personalized gear recommendations from us.
Dylan Wood (5’10”, 155 lbs / 178 cm, 70 kg): Luke Koppa and I have now skied the M-Free 99 in just about every condition imaginable, ranging from chalk at the 2021 Blister Summit to mid-winter pow days and late spring slushy park laps, and we have some thoughts to share on the narrowest ski in Dynastar’s increasingly popular M-Free line.
Dylan: The M-Free 99 impressed me with its performance in powder.
At a few millimeters under 100 mm wide, the M-Free 99 isn’t a dedicated powder ski. Nevertheless, it offers impressive flotation and performance in powder for its width. Its significantly splayed, pretty tapered, not-super-stiff tips plane above the surface well and it has a loose, surfy feel in soft snow, reminiscent of its wider M-Free siblings. The M-Free 99 strikes me as a particularly good option if you are interested in this width class and you spend a lot of time with your skis sideways in powder, whether because you are in steep terrain or you just like to make lots of slashes and surf your way down the mountain. The M-Free 99 makes a variety of turn shapes in powder, and it is pretty easy to feather and drift around.
With a mount point that isn’t as far forward as other all-mountain freestyle skis, I can put my weight over the M-Free 99’s shovels without experiencing any tip dive in most snow conditions. I am not suggesting that it is an ideal ski for directional skiers who often ski deep powder, but rather, skiers who think it would be nice to have an all-mountain freestyle option that doesn’t require a super centered stance in powder. I did find the M-Free 99 to be kind of sketchy when skiing hard and catching airs in punchy, hollow, early season snow. I had the sensation that I might go “over the bars” a few times, especially when mounted 2 cms forward of its recommended mount point. To be fair, though, punchy conditions are generally sketchy and I’d prefer something both wider and stiffer (and maybe longer) if I were often skiing in these conditions.
I found myself skiing powder ranging from 4-10” deep on the M-Free 99, and that felt like a pretty ideal depth for this ski. I think if you regularly experience dumps of over a foot of snow, you will likely be better served by a wider ski (like the M-Free 108 or 118). However, the M-Free 99 feels perfectly comfortable in shallow to moderate powder while feeling more at home in firmer conditions than most wider skis out there.
Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70 kg): Yep, as far as ~100mm-wide skis go, I think the M-Free 99 is very impressive both when it comes to flotation and how well it mimics the surfy, loose ride often only found in wider skis. I think this ski is at its best when you can still feel a firm base underneath the fresh snow, but it floats and maneuvers in deep snow better than most ~100mm-wide skis I’ve used.
Dylan: The fun continues on the M-Free 99 when fresh powder turns into cut and chopped-up fields of soft snow. This ski is moderately heavy for its size, and it does a good job of staying composed and stable in choppy snow conditions.
A lot of what I said about how this ski performs in powder applies here, and its loose, playful ride also stands out in chop. The M-Free 99 is a blast to surf and slash around on, and it encouraged me to both pop around through chop and throw it sideways on top of piles of soft snow. You can get going pretty fast on this ski in chop, but the ease in which you can throw it sideways is arguably more impressive.
Skiers who like to see how few turns they can make in soft chop have stiffer, heavier options that should work better. Though, similar to the M-Free 108, the M-Free 99 stands out in chop due to how well it balances a stable, composed ride with the ability to easily throw it sideways when you need/want to.
Luke: Again, Dylan hit the main points here. The M-Free 99 is neither some super planted charger, nor a super light, twitchy ski. It hits a nice middle ground that I think a lot of skiers could appreciate. Compared to, say, the K2 Reckoner 102 or Season Kin, the M-Free 99 gets knocked around considerably less when skiing fast in chop, but it’s still a ski that makes it easy to shut things down. Its admirable flotation (for its width) is also a nice asset in soft chop — sometimes you end up slamming into a pile of pushed-around snow that’s deeper than expected, and I felt less prone to going “over the bars” on the M-Free 99 than most similarly wide skis in its class.
Dylan: When I am skiing in the spring, I often find myself wanting to make lots of slashes, ski pretty fast, and overall take a more playful approach to the mountain. The M-Free 99’s solid performance in soft snow conditions also applies to slush, and I found it to be a great tool for making the most of those soft, sunny days.
I don’t have anything particularly noteworthy to add on how the M-Free 99 performs in slush versus powder and soft chop; its stable-yet-loose ride characteristics also unsurprisingly apply to spring slush. I found the M-Free 99 to be a very solid option for spring conditions where the steeps up high were pretty chalky and firm and down low was soft, warm, and slushy. The M-Free 99 handles a lot of off-piste terrain well, ranging from tight, steep terrain to more mellow, wide-open runs as well as those awesome slush bumps.
Luke: Yep, I had zero complaints about the M-Free 99 in the spring. It’s great for seeing how high I can spray slush into the air on windlips and the like, but it’s strong enough not to fold up if I was skiing fast and ran into some deeper, more unconsolidated soft snow. And as Dylan noted, this ski still handles firm snow well, which is nice in the spring when you’re often transitioning between firm and soft snow, depending on how much various aspects have warmed.
Moguls, Trees, and Tight Terrain
Dylan: The M-Free 99 feels most at home in off-piste terrain. It is very easy to pivot and slide around in tight moguls and trees, and it doesn’t demand the greatest technique to do so. The M-Free 99’s tails feel softer on snow than I expected when hand-flexing the ski, and I found it quite forgiving of tail-gunning it through moguls when I’m lazy and tired at the end of the day (or all day, no judgment here).
In moguls, the M-Free 99 provides an easily manageable, pleasantly stable ride. I can drive its tips into the trench and upside of each mogul and easily slide its tails around to weave my way through large bumps. While it isn’t as quick as lighter options like the Salomon QST 98, it does have better suspension and feels more stable in bumps than slightly more maneuverable options. If I lean too far back onto its soft tails in moguls, it lacks the stiffness needed to keep me off my ass, but unless you either get totally bucked back or you are just used to skis with very stiff and supportive tails, the M-Free 99 makes recovering from backseat skiing pretty easy.
The M-Free 99’s loose ride is equally apparent in tight and steep terrain, where it is easy to make turns on without worrying that the ski is going to lock onto the fall line and take you for a ride. Its tails are easy to wash out from a centered, forward, and even somewhat backseat stance. While it isn’t the lightest or most nimble ski out there, its swing weight is fairly low thanks to its tapered shape, and it feels quite balanced when flicking it around in the air.
While it doesn’t offer the same precision and edge hold as something less tapered and rockered like the Black Crows Camox, the M-Free 99 has a solid feel on firm, steep runs, and its edges will bite enough to allow me to stay in control. Just like in soft snow, the M-Free 99 will stay composed at pretty high speeds, and when you start to find its limits, you can easily throw it sideways and dump your speed on firm snow.
Luke: I agree for the most part, but I didn’t find the M-Free 99 quite as forgiving as Dylan did. Similar to the M-Free 108, I’ve had a few instances on the M-Free 99 when its tails hooked up a bit more expected when I got too far backseat in tight, firm moguls. I’d still call it a fairly forgiving ski overall, but if maximum ease of use in bumps is what you’re after, I’d look to a slightly softer, lighter ski like the K2 Reckoner 102 or RMU Apostle 106. Other than that, though, I agree with everything Dylan said — the M-Free 99 is loose, quicker than its weight would suggest, and damp and supportive enough to be skied hard in most conditions and terrain.
Firm Crud and Variable Snow
Dylan: While this ski does perform well in soft snow, it feels pretty comfortable when it hasn’t snowed in weeks, too. Its moderately stiff flex pattern and heavier weight create pretty nice suspension that mutes out a lot of what is happening underneath your feet. It doesn’t feel quite as plush as something heavier like the J Skis Masterblaster, but again, it outshines a lot of similarly loose and maneuverable skis in rough and firm snow conditions.
Like most all-mountain freestyle skis, the M-Free 99 would not be my first choice if I often encountered firm and variable conditions and I wanted to ski fast through them. Rather, the M-Free 99 makes it easy to slip and slide your way through rough snow when you find yourself on the wrong side of the mountain.
Luke: Agreed. The M-Free 99 is definitely not as damp as the wider and heavier M-Free 108, but among playful ~100mm-wide skis, the M-Free 99 does an admirable job of muting out harsh snow. But, as Dylan said, it’s a ski that feels like it wants to slash and slide through the really rough snow, rather than make big turns through it.
Dylan: On one hand, the M-Free 99 has a moderate waist width, a somewhat short radius (18 m at 185 cm), and a flex pattern that allows you to fairly easily bend it into tighter turns. On the other, it is pretty rockered and tapered and doesn’t have the best edge hold of ~99 mm wide skis out there.
The result of all this is a ski that has middle-of-the-road groomer performance for an all-mountain freestyle ski. On softer groomers, I enjoyed making a variety of turn shapes on the M-Free 99, from bigger Super G turns to tighter GS ones. While it doesn’t eagerly pull you across the fall line like a less tapered, less rockered ski (e.g., Volkl M6 Mantra), it will start to initiate a carved turn once you’ve tipped it over far enough and is both predictable and easy to feather out of turns.
It does struggle on firm, icy, and manmade groomers, though. I found myself fighting to get the edge hold I needed out of the M-Free 99 on firmer groomers and rather opted to just slarve or seek side hits on my way back to the lift or wherever I was headed. While I’d say it is better than the wider M-Free 108 in terms of edge hold on groomers, it isn’t by a huge margin.
Luke: Yep, the M-Free 108 and M-Free 99 feel pretty similar to me on piste. Both are generally predictable and can be fun on soft groomers, but neither really encourages me to try to get them up to high edge angles when the groomers are very firm and/or scraped off. A less tapered, less rockered ski like the Black Crows Camox definitely provides better edge grip on those sort of pistes, but the M-Free 99 handles firm, smooth snow predictably enough that I don’t see it as a huge drawback (especially considering how maneuverable it is off piste).
Dylan: The Dynastar M-Free 99 has just about all the “playfulness” you could ask for out of an all-mountain freestyle ski.
As we’ve touched on a lot in this review, the M-Free 99 is a surfy, loose ski that works in your favor when you want to throw it sideways and slash around. It also skis switch quite well, and its twinned-up tail allows you not only ski switch on firm snow, but also in powder up to about 8 inches deep and even in equally deep chop. The M-Free 99’s reasonable swing weight and somewhat forward mount point also make it feel manageable and balanced in the air while doing a variety of tricks, including spinning and getting upside down (or both at the same time). It isn’t super poppy like the heavily cambered Black Crows Camox, but the M-Free 99 certainly doesn’t feel sluggish and its moderate weight does not prevent the ski from getting airborne fairly easily.
The M-Free 99 skis quite well and feels even more playful with the bindings moved forward 2 cm, resulting in a mount point of about -5.5 cm. No surprises here, the M-Free 99 feels more balanced and skis switch better with the bindings moved further forward. As I mentioned earlier, the only time where I felt that moving the bindings forward negatively affected the ski’s performance was in hollow, punchy, early season snow, but I don’t think these conditions exist often enough where I ski for me to justify letting this change my mind about where I’d mount the ski if I were looking for a more freestyle-friendly ride.
Luke: Yeah, the M-Free 99 hits most of the marks when it comes to overall playfulness. I don’t find it to be super easy to bend and there are lighter options on there, so if absolute maximum playfulness is the priority, you’ve got better options. But especially as someone who prefers playful skis but who also isn’t throwing any massive tricks, I really like the M-Free 99’s balance of maneuverability, balance, and stability. And for what it’s worth, I ended up getting along just fine with it on the recommended mount point.
Who’s It For?
Dylan: I’ve found myself recommending the M-Free 99 to a variety of skiers.
(1) Skiers looking for a playful, loose ski that can also be skied pretty hard
The M-Free 99 offers a surfy ride, but it also has a pretty high speed limit and feels nice and smooth in somewhat rough snow. If your style consists of pointing your skis down the fall line and then abruptly throwing them sideways, the M-Free 99 offers a lot to like, especially if you often find yourself in the park.
(2) Directional skiers looking for something maneuverable, but with some good suspension
If you are a directional skier that skis a mix of soft and firm snow, the M-Free 99 is a solid option if you are looking for something that is easy to pivot and slarve around. It can be pushed pretty hard into the shovels, and it offers a smoother ride in rough snow than many similarly maneuverable skis.
(3) Beginner and Intermediate skiers who are looking to ski off-piste and want a maneuverable, confidence-inspiring ski
The M-Free 99 feels really at home on off-piste terrain, and it is pretty easy to maneuver all over the mountain. I think it would be a great ski for a skier looking for a forgiving, loose option to improve their game in moguls, trees, and steeps. Additionally, I don’t think this would end up being a ski that this same person outgrows in a season or two.
Luke: I agree with all of those. I think the one thing I’d add is that, for (3), it’s worth noting that the M-Free 99 isn’t the best ski if you want to really focus on both improving your off-piste skiing and your on-piste carving. Due to its more subdued turn initiation, it takes some getting used to in order to really lay it over and carve it, so I’d look to something a bit less tapered and less rockered if you’re looking to equally prioritize off- and on-piste technique improvement.
Dylan: After skiing (and really enjoying) the Dynastar M-Free 108, I had high hopes for the narrower M-Free 99. After getting a lot of time on this ski, I think Dynastar did a great job by making another loose, playful ski that also feels pretty damp as well as more comfortable on firmer conditions than its wider siblings. As long as you aren’t looking for stellar carving performance or loads of edge hold, I think the M-Free 99 makes sense for a lot of skiers out there who spend a lot of time off-piste.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the M-Free 99 to see how it compares to the Dynastar M-Free 108, Dynastar Menace 98, Dynastar M-Pro 99, Salomon QST 98, Nordica Soul Rider 97, J Skis Masterblaster, Wagner Summit 97, 4FRNT MSP 99, Volkl Revolt 104, K2 Reckoner 102, Shaggy’s Ahmeek 95, Moment Deathwish 104, DPS Koala 103, Black Crows Camox, Moment Commander 98, Whitedot Altum 104, Line Sir Francis Bacon, & J Skis Hotshot.