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

Blister's 2019-2020 5-ski Quiver Selections
Article Navigation:  Intro //  Luke Koppa //  Kristin Sinnott //  Jonathan Ellsworth

Intro

Well, it’s that time of year again. Some of us in the Northern Hemisphere are already skiing, while the rest of us are chomping at the bit. And one of the most entertaining ways to fill time before ski season is thinking about your dream ski quiver.

Assembling a ski quiver is certainly fun, and it’s a great way to make the hours at work fly right by!

But quivers can also be a bit tricky, and cause the more obsessive among us to start going a bit mad. Which is why we get a lot of questions around here about whether ski X is too similar to ski Y to own both, and even more questions about how (in general) to think about putting together a quiver that will serve you well.

The first things to figure out are:

(1) Whether for you, personally, it makes sense to own more than a single pair of skis.

(2) How to put together a group of skis that will help you get the most out of every day on the mountain.

To be clear, there is no single perfect quiver for everyone. It all depends very much on where you ski, how you ski, and why you ski.

So our selections below should not 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.

More Ski-Quiver Guidance 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.

1, 2, 3, 4, or 5-Ski Quiver?

This year we’re once again starting with our picks for 5-ski quivers, partly because it’s just fun to think about this stuff, and partly because we do know a lot of people with some pretty expansive quivers. Plus, even if you’re opting for a 1- or 2-ski quiver, seeing how we think about assembling a larger quiver may still be beneficial in terms of you sorting out the compromises you’re willing to live with.

So between our Buyer’s Guide quiver section + what we have here, we hope to help you figure out (a) what size quiver makes the most sense, and (b) give you a bit of direction on how best to think about assembling your own quiver.

We’ll be starting with 5-ski quivers, then narrowing it down to our 4-, 3-, 2- and 1-ski quivers over the course of the coming weeks.

Four Questions

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

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 5-ski quiver, and why?

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 5-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Two Additional Notes

(1) For our quivers, we’re only including skis that we’ve actually spent time on, but we will allow some speculation regarding skis that we think might fit into our quiver once we get to ski them / ski them more.

(2) We will be updating this post with more options from some of our other reviewers in the near future, but we’d also love to hear your answers to some or all of our four questions, too, so please do so in the Comments section.

Luke Koppa

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 5-ski quiver, and why?

First, a little background. I spend the vast majority of my season in Crested Butte, predominantly riding lifts at Crested Butte Mountain Resort from December through March and then getting out in the backcountry a bit during the winter and a lot in the spring.

Given that, I think I’d split my 5-ski quiver into two touring skis and three skis for the resort.

Ski #1: Spring Touring Ski — Majesty Superwolf, 178 cm + ATK Raider 12

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Majesty Superwolf

I used the Superwolf for the majority of my spring touring days last year and it never did anything weird or unpredictable (even in unpredictable conditions). It held an edge well on steep ice, was a blast to carve on spring corn, and never felt excessively heavy on my feet or on my pack. That’s exactly what I want out of a spring touring ski.

I’d be equally content using the Salomon MTN Explore 95 for this slot, but the two are so similar in my experience that I’m going to go with the Superwolf this time around simply because it’s (1) a tiny bit more playful and (2) I like its top sheets way more.

As for bindings, it’s an easy choice for me. The ATK Raider 12 / Majesty R12 / Hagan Core Pro 12 is the best binding I’ve used in terms of being substantially lighter than more downhill-oriented bindings like the Fritschi Tecton, while offering what I think is the smallest compromise in terms of downhill performance. That said, the new Moment Voyager XIV / ATK Freeraider 14 could replace the Raider 12 if that burlier version proves to be significantly better on the descent.

Ski #2: Mid-Winter Touring Ski — Line Vision 108, 183 cm + Fritschi Tecton 12

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Line Vision 108

Same as last year, the Vision 108 remains my favorite dedicated touring ski for my days from about November through mid-April. It’s really light, skis really well for how light it is, is quite versatile across most winter-like conditions, and most importantly for me, it’s really playful.

I’m rarely skiing super fast or going super big in the backcountry, and the Vision 108 makes mellower speeds and terrain more fun than any touring ski I’ve used in this width and weight class. It’s also super fun for silly backcountry booter sessions.

Regarding bindings, the Fritschi Tecton is still my favorite dedicated touring binding for this sort of setup. It skis really similarly to an alpine binding, it’s got two climbing risers, and it’s notably lighter than the burlier options like the CAST system, Marker Duke PT, and Salomon Shift. If I were going to frequently use this setup in the resort, I’d choose one of those three, more downhill-oriented alternatives. But for a pure touring setup, the Tecton is still my choice.

Ski #3: Groomer / Firm-Snow Resort Ski — Line Blade, 181 cm + Marker Griffon 13

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Line Blade

This was a really tough call for me. I could see the resort portion of my 5-ski quiver being divided up in a variety of ways. But a 5-ski quiver is big enough that I think I could afford to have a pretty niche ski for days that consist mostly of ripping groomers, and no ski I’ve used makes that as fun as the Blade.

This ski won’t be good for nuking down runs and I’ll probably opt for my other two inbounds skis if I’m spending most of my time off piste. But the Blade would be so much fun for early season laps when groomers are you’ve got, late spring days where we’re staying mostly on piste and swinging through the park, and the days where I just don’t feel like venturing into the steeper off-piste terrain or skiing really fast (e.g., super low-vis days).

As for alpine bindings, I really don’t have strong preferences. Realistically, I’d just go with whichever 13 or 16 DIN alpine binding I could get at the best price. For now, I’ll just say the Marker Griffon cause I think it looks cool on the Blade.

Edit: I just went no-boarding for the first time in a couple years, and that made me reevaluate this ski choice. If we’re not limited to just skis, I’d be very tempted to just swap out the Blade for a no-board because it’s just ridiculously fun.

Ski #4: Playful Resort Ski — Line Sir Francis Bacon, 184 cm + Salomon Warden MNC 13

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Line Sir Francis Bacon

This is still one of my all-time favorite skis, and it’s still gonna be in several of my quivers this year.

The SFB isn’t going to be super fun when conditions are brutally firm (and I’ve got the Blade for those days), but other than those days, I think I could have a very good time on this ski every single time I use it. It’s just so ridiculously playful. And as I find myself trying to spin, flip, ski switch, etc. more often, the SFB just keeps becoming more and more appealing. I’d be taking this ski out any day it’s somewhat soft and the snow isn’t more than 6” deep, as well as days when it’s fairly firm and I want to ski more off piste than on.

For bindings on the SFB, I think I’ll go with the Warden MNC 13 cause I like how it skis and there’s a chance I might want to throw some Daymakers in them and use the SFB with my touring boots. But I could just as happily thrown on a different MNC binding like the Tyrolia AAAttack2 14 AT or Marker Griffon 13 ID.

Ski #5: Powder Ski — Rossignol BLACKOPS Gamer, 186 cm + Salomon STH2 13

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Rossignol BLACKOPS Gamer

Frequent readers of Blister (or listeners of our GEAR:30 podcast) will not be surprised by my final ski. Formerly called the Black Ops 118, the BLACKOPS Gamer is my favorite ski of all time.

It’s exceptionally composed when skiing stupid fast through chop, it’s maneuverable in Mt. Crested Butte’s tight and techy terrain, and its freestyle-oriented design makes it comfortable throwing tricks and skiing switch. In short, it makes skiing chop basically as fun as skiing untracked powder, and since most resort “pow days” are actually “chop days,” that once again makes it an easy call for my widest ski.

And given that I’ve opted for some less stable / more playful narrower skis in my resort quiver this year, I think I’d be using the Gamer on many non-pow days. Despite being 118 mm underfoot, I’d still be happy to use this on just about any day when I’m looking to ski hard and fast.

As for bindings, the STH is easy to step into in deep snow, so that’s what goes on my pow ski.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

A 5-ski quiver is obviously not small, but that didn’t mean it was easy for me to narrow down my personal choices. There are just a lot of really good skis out there.

As mentioned, the Salomon MTN Explore 95 could have served as my spring touring ski and I would be totally fine with that. It’s still really good.

For my mid-winter touring ski, I think I would also be very happy with the Moment Wildcat Tour 108, J Skis Slacker, WNDR Alpine Intention 110, or maybe the Sego Condor 108. I chose the Vision 108 because (1) I want more time on the Wildcat Tour 108, (2) the Slacker is just a touch heavier than I think I need for a dedicated touring ski, (3) the Intention 110 is also a bit heavier and less playful than I want, and (4) I think I’d want a slightly more playful and lighter ski than the Condor 108.

Luke Koppa on the WNDR Alpine Intention 110, Crested Butte, CO.

As for my inbounds skis, there were loads of skis that narrowly missed the cut. I was really close to choosing the J Skis Masterblaster, Dynastar Menace 98, or Nordica Soul Rider 97 for my narrowest inbounds ski. All of those are far more versatile off piste and more stable at speed than the Line Blade (and better in the park), but the Blade just has that vague “fun factor” for me that can’t really be matched by more versatile skis. And a more traditional carver like the Fischer The Curv would be better on ice and for making longer turns, but the Blade is so much more fun at slower speeds and works better for my playful style of skiing.

For my mid-fat resort ski, I was close to choosing the Moment Wildcat 108, Whitedot Altum 104, Prior Northwest 110, Sego Big Horn 106, ON3P Woodsman 108, or Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105. All of those would be much better for skiing fast, compared to the Line SFB, but none of them are as fun at moderate speeds, and that SFB is just so, so fun for reasons that are difficult to describe. The K2 Reckoner 102 is the only ski that feels roughly as playful as the SFB, but I figured I’d opt for the looser, surfier ride of the SFB since I have the Blade for firmer days.

My pow ski was really the only one that wasn’t a tough call. I’d still have a great time if I’d chosen a more nimble, playful pow ski like the Volkl Revolt 121, Moment Wildcat, Whitedot Altum 114, or Line Outline. But especially since my other skis in this 5-ski quiver are not designed to excel at high speeds, I definitely want the monster-truck ride of the Blackops.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

The Moment Wildcat Tour 108 narrowly missed the cut as my winter touring ski. It’s one of the only other skis that’s similarly light compared to the Vision 108 and that’s also designed with playful skiing in mind. I’m most curious to find out how fun I find it in mellower terrain and at moderate speeds, given its stronger flex pattern and longer sidecut radius compared to the Vision 108.

The J Skis Hotshot is one of the skis I’m most excited to spend more time on this year. I know it’s nothing like the Line SFB in terms of general playfulness, given that the Hotshot is drastically heavier. But if the Hotshot proves to be as damp and stable as I think it is — while also being playful enough for tricks and mellow-ish speeds — it could earn itself a spot. If I went that route, I’d probably swap out the Blade for something more playful like the K2 Reckoner 102 or Nordica Soul Rider 97.

In a similar vein, I’m curious about the 192 cm Dynastar M-Free 108. I really liked the 182 cm length but it got knocked around too much in rough conditions to justify choosing it as a heavier, stable-yet-playful ski. So if the 192 is notably more stable but just as surfy and playful as the 182, that could be a strong contender for the same role as the Hotshot.

Luke Koppa reviews the Dynastar M-Free 108 for Blister in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Luke Koppa on the Dynastar M-Free 108, Crested Butte, Colorado.

There are a few skis that have the potential to replace the Blade, most notably the Armada Stranger and Folsom Spar Turbo. I haven’t skied either, but if they can be as fun to carve as the Blade while also being more stable and / or versatile, I could see myself swapping them.

The ON3P Woodsman 116 seems like a potential competitor to the Blackops Gamer, but I haven’t skied the big Woodsman so I can’t say for now. Same goes for the Black Crows Anima, though I doubt it’ll be as stable as the Gamer.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 5-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

No single brand makes skis that perfectly fill all the roles I want in a 5-ski quiver, but here are my top four picks:

#1: Line: Vision 98, Vision 108, Blade, Sick Day 104, Outline

I’d be pretty psyched on this quiver, with the only downfall being that I don’t get a really heavy, damp charger.

#2: Moment: Deathwish Tour, Commander 98, Wildcat 101, Deathwish, Wildcat

For Moment, I think I’d just use the Deathwish Tour as my do-everything touring ski. Then I’d have the Commander 98 for firm days and three playful-yet-stable skis for everything else in the resort.

#3: Volkl: Blaze 94, Blaze 106, Mantra M5, Revolt 104, Revolt 121

I haven’t skied the Blaze 94 but if it’s very similar to the 106, I think I’d be pretty psyched on this quiver. It wouldn’t have my ultra-playful resort ski and the Blaze 106 is more directional than I’d want for a touring ski, but I’d still be pretty content.

#4: J Skis: Slacker, Masterblaster, Allplay, Hotshot, Friend

Main drawback here is that I don’t have an ultralight, narrow ski for steep lines in the spring. Other than that, it’d be a sweet quiver.

Kristin Sinnott

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 5-ski quiver, and why?

Before I get into my picks, you need to know a little bit about me — the most important part of which is that I am a mom to a toddler. The second most important thing to note regarding these picks is that I have zero family members within 800 miles of us. As a result, my husband and I do a lot of juggling on weekends. We each get time on the mountain but we also prioritize exposing our son to skiing and snow play.

With that said, here’s my list, in no particular order.

“Ski” #1: Snowblades: any company + adjustable bindings

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Moment Frankenblades

Now, before you start judging, forget all the stereotypes you may have about them and hear me out. There are four main reasons snowblades made my list.

(1) I’ve found it’s way easier to ski with a toddler while wearing them. When lugging all your gear and your little one’s gear to the mountain, it’s easier to strap a short pair of skis onto the pack alongside the toddler-sized ones. And, bonus you don’t need poles! Whether riding the magic carpet (it’s much easier to load on short skis with a toddler between one’s legs) or skiing down and then skating back up a short slope, snowblades were my go-to last season. My husband and I always keep a pair in the car and as a bonus, we can both use them thanks to the adjustable bindings. So when it’s my turn to watch my son, it’s fun to throw them on and do some short laps with him — regardless of whether he’s between my legs or in my arms.

(2) When your local hill hasn’t been blessed with early season snow and terrain is severely limited but you still want to hit the slopes, even if it’s the bunny slope, snowblades are a great option for keeping things interesting (and not taking yourself too seriously). You need to be balanced in order to really ski them and it’s ideal at the start of the season to help get your body position dialed. One of my friends who was a former ski racer spent the first 2 weeks of every season on them, per ski team rules.

(3) They’re fun. Whether dancing around on snow, skiing slush bumps with friends, navigating giant sun cups in June, or wanting to challenge yourself on terrain that’s starting to feel stale, snowblades will help bring the fun.

(4) You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a pair. You can find them at ski swaps, second-hand shops, or purchase them brand new (new snowblades are substantially less expensive than new skis). My husband and I currently have 5 pairs in our possession and I think the most we paid for any of them was $15. But they aren’t always easy to find and with some sweet options on the market, buying new can be pretty enticing.

Ski #2: Blizzard Black Pearl 88, 171 cm + Salomon STH2 13

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Blizzard Black Pearl 88

I love a ski that I don’t have to think about — a ski with zero learning curve. And for me, the Black Pearl 88 is just that. I imagine it’s that way for a lot of people, especially seeing as how the previous version was one of the best-selling skis in the world. I didn’t spend much time on the previous version but I won’t be surprised if the 20/21 version is as popular. What I love most about them is how predictable and responsive they are on firm groomers, chalky bumps, and light chop. I wouldn’t describe this ski as a hard charger but I was impressed with its all-round performance.

Being a relatively lightweight ski, the Black Pearl 88s could easily double as a touring ski for me on days when I’m just skinning up the local ski hill (with or without my son on my back).

Ski #3: Nordica Santa Ana 98, 172 cm + Marker Griffon 13

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

I’ve been slowly gravitating to narrower skis over the past few years, but I still think 98-100 underfoot is a good width for me. I am a big fan of early morning groomer laps, especially when my favorite off-piste runs haven’t warmed up from their overnight freeze. But once the steeps soften, that’s where I want to be. On those days, a ski that can handle both snow conditions and terrain types is ideal.

On top of that, with a toddler to juggle, I’m not always blessed with fresh powder and I often find myself skiing chop with a few pocket powder turns.

The Nordica Santa Ana 98 is fat enough that it’ll keep me happy on sneaker powder days, nimble enough to cruise through trees and steeps, and stable enough for fast GS turns on corduroy. The new version that features one less sheet of titanal makes the ski a little less stable in chop, but of my favorite skis, it still performs the best in these conditions.

Ski #4: DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2, 168 cm + Tyrolia AAAttack2 11

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

The Alchemist Zelda 106 C2 has been a staple on my ski quiver ever since I first skied them. Another intuitive ski with zero learning curve. I also like that I don’t have to muscle my turns to get them to perform.

The Zelda handles groomers and chalk well but also floats enough to be used as my powder ski for this quiver. I haven’t had a lot of luck with powder days over the past two seasons, so any ski wider than a 106 underfoot just seems like wishful thinking right now.

Ski #5: Line Pandora 110, 170 cm + Salomon Shift

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Line Pandora 110

The Pandora 110 was my backcountry ski of choice this past season. Prior to that, I’d happily been using the Armada Trace 98. But with a bit less weight and a wider platform, the Pandora 110 made spring tours more fun. It gets bounced around a bit in firm chop and refrozen slush, but as long as I slowed myself down in those conditions, I found the ski to be very predictable. On easy tours while carrying my son, predictability is key.

For my binding choice, I’m torn between the Shift and the Marker Kingpin. I’ve never experienced issues with either but after having listened to the GEAR:30 podcast with Cody Townsend, I’m definitely rethinking my use of pin bindings. Based on the last two seasons, it’s unlikely that I’ll be going on many epic backcountry tours this season and will instead stick to low-angle, non-avy-prone ones with my son. Skiing with a child in a backpack is not for everyone as it has its risks, but as long as I can eliminate the unpredictable risks, I feel it’s safe for us.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

Nordica Santa Ana 93, 172 cm: The previous version was one of my favorite skis and was a constant in my quiver choices last season. The new version impressed me last season; I found it to be a bit more versatile, especially when skiing tight trees. As difficult as it was to leave it off of my 5-ski quiver list, I am pretty sure it will be making its way onto the list as the numbers start decreasing.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

Blizzard Black Pearl 97, 171 cm: I enjoyed my time on the 88 and I imagine the 97 would be equally fun, but a bit more versatile for steeper and more rugged terrain.

Renoun Earhart 88, 170 cm: The season ended before I had a chance to really test the Earhart 88, but the time I did spend on it was very enjoyable. It’s an extremely lightweight ski but it shares some similarities with heavier skis — particularly its ability to absorb chop and crud. I seem to be gravitating towards the 88–93 mm wide skis lately and it’s unlikely I’d include two pairs within that width range but I’m really looking forward to skiing the Earhart 88 more this season.

Rossignol BLACKOPS Rallybird: The shortened season is partially to blame for them not making my top 5 but I also found them to be a less intuitive ski than the skis that made my list. Once I figured out how to ski them, I started to really enjoy them. At 102 mm underfoot, the skis are likely a bit too wide for any future 1-ski quivers I create, but I could definitely see them making their way into the 3, 4, or 5-quiver ski selection. I tend to prefer skis that carve instead of smear turns but the BLACKOPS Rallybirds seem to handle both turn styles equally well. Perhaps these will be the skis that transform me into a more playful skier.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Kristin Sinnott on the Rossignol BLACKOPS Rallybird, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free, 172 cm: I was and still am a big fan of the 19/20 Nordica Santa Ana 110, thanks to its ability to charge through deep chop and float in powder. But it did have limitations, with the biggest one being I found it difficult to turn in tight trees. If the Santa Ana 104 Free is able to charge through chop and make short-radius turns, it could become my new favorite … but before I can test them, I’ll have to pry them out of reviewer Sascha Anastas’s hands. She seems to have taken a liking to them, so that may be easier said than done.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 5-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Can’t do it. In the past I have gravitated to DPS for my single brand but then they discontinued the Uschi A94 and I haven’t had a chance to ski any of their new narrower skis. I think Blizzard could be a contender but I haven’t explored their line as much as I’d like to make an informed answer.

Jonathan Ellsworth

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 5-ski quiver, and why?

Ski #1: Blizzard Bonafide 97, 177 cm

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Blizzard Bonafide 97

I’m probably going to get yelled at by people who can’t believe that I wouldn’t have a dedicated on-piste carver in my 5-ski quiver … and I get it. But the fact is that I pretty much never spend an entire day skiing only on groomers. If I did, then I would 100% have a Head Supershape i.Titan here (or potentially the new e-Titan that we’ll be reviewing this season).

But this latest iteration of the Bonafide is strong enough on very firm snow while also being versatile enough to go ski horrible off-piste conditions and moguls, that I’m going to go with it.

Ski #2: Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm

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

I love this ski, and I’ll be breaking it out whenever the conditions are softer / a bit more forgiving to warrant leaving the Bonafide at home. (The firmer and less forgiving the conditions, the quicker I’ll be reaching for the Bonafide.)

The Ranger 102 is such a fun combination of quickness and maneuverability while still being a strong ski on edge. Fun.

Ski #3: Blizzard Cochise 106, 185 cm

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Blizzard Cochise 106

This will be my go-to ski when I know I’ll be getting into a mix of a bit of everything — from deeper pow to skiing steep, scraped-off sections of rock. (Not that we ever ski any lines like that in CB. Cough.)

Ski #4: Rossignol BLACKOPS Gamer, 186 cm

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Rossignol BLACKOPS Gamer

What’s that you say? A super fun shape with a good bit of weight to it? What a novel idea! I’m 100% in. Maneuverable and stable and … a whole lot of fun.

Ski #5: Touring — 4FRNT Raven, 184 cm + ATK Raider 12

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

While there are more touring skis out there than ever before that I could be happy on, thanks to its versatility and weight, nothing I’ve been on knocks the Raven out of this spot. Sure, on very deep days it would be fun to be on something wider, but the thing about the Raven is that I don’t feel like I absolutely have to be on something wider.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

  • I loved the HEAD SuperShape i.Titan, and I want to see how similar or different it feels to the new SuperShape E-Titan.
  • J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm: It doesn’t have the edgehold of the Bonafide, but it’s more playful than the Bonafide. If I did have a dedicated carver in my quiver, the harder I would think about replacing the Bonafide with the Masterblaster.
  • Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro, 190 cm: see the next question.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

  • Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro: we still need to get on the updated Wildcat / Blister Pro. But if this updated core brings us back closer to the 1st-gen Blister Pro, then this ski would replace the most-excellent Blackops Gamer for me.
Jonathan Ellsworth, Luke Koppa, and Sam Shaheen review the Moment Blister Pro / Wildcat for BLISTER
Jonathan Ellsworth on the 19/20 Moment Blister Pro / Wildcat, Crested Butte, CO.
  • Salomon Stance 102: Very interested in this one, haven’t skied it yet
  • J Skis Hotshot: a more playful Cochise?

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 5-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

This was actually wildly difficult, and my runner up here was Salomon, with 3rd place going to Blizzard.

I like all the skis in the Volkl lineup (except for the Revolt, which I’ve yet to get on) but it feels more one-dimensional than I would like. Good skis, just a lot of the same — except for the very wide Revolt which won’t be getting broken out very often.

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39 comments on “5-Ski Quivers: Reviewers’ Selections (20/21)”

  1. Jonathan wrote, “the fact is that I pretty much never spend an entire day skiing only on groomers”.

    Okay, that’s nice for you, Marie Antoinette. ;) Many of us in the east have no choice but to spend many days exclusively on groomers, if only because our climate dictates that. The off-piste is frequently unavailable, either because there is simply no cover – common in December and even into January – or because it’s unskiable due to rain -> freeze cycles.

    Which among your testing crew is in this position, and what do their quivers look like?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. Hi Kristin,
    Your snowblades experience is exactly mine! They were the best for getting around the hill with wee little kids. My three kids also started out on kid sized blades. But, that wasn’t perfect as our youngest broke his leg using the non-release binding sometimes found on blades. So, release bindings make sense to better protect inexperienced riders. Our son still loves skiing and is in college now, we still sometimes call him “broken leg boy” in the annoying way parents do, reminding him of that Cub Scouts ski trip and missing 11 weeks of second grade.
    -Andy

  3. Could companies putting out more coherent and complete ski collections be a new industry trend? The “one brand” brand question used to leave some gaping holes in ski choices. Now if you told me I could only buy from a single company and chose the company at random it seems likely the outcome would be fine (with a weird but personal preference for Moment, Volkl, Blizzard, or Line).

  4. Great stuff as always!
    Favorite ski for CB’s steeps when it hasn’t snowed in 5 days and even the crud is pretty well beat in?
    I’ll be on Deathwishes any day there’s fresh snow or the possibility of new terrain opening, and touring when it’s low tide, but I’m looking for a “seriously low tide” ski for CB. Have you gotten on the Black Crows Solis?

  5. The Bonafide is comfortable, powerful, and precise in many conditions. Great ski for directional junkies who ski in all day, all the mountain. Possibly too versatile if four other pairs of skis are close at hand.

    John’s idea of the i.Titan paired with the Masterblaster might become an fine 2-ski quiver for trips to the resort.

    • Yes, it would be interesting to know it and get some different opinion from a more directional skier. I am seriuos doubts where to mount the bindings… Considering just +1 for my Salomons X-Max Carbon, which means +2 for my Dynafit Mercury’s due to shorter BSL

    • Most of my time on the Ranger 102 has been at +3 cm of the line, aka, – 7 cm from true center. I’ve been quite happy with the ski there. But Luke and I have also skied them at +2 and didn’t notice a major difference, so we would not suggest that you remount – especially since you say you’re loving them at +2. Just enjoy!

  6. Both Jonathan and Luke have black ops 118 two years in a row. Guys, what ski do you think is a narrower equivalent of this skis characteristics, just narrower, at approx 106-110 underfoot? I just can’t justify a 118 as my fat ski where I live.

    • Unfortunately, the ski you’re describing is something I’ve been seeking for the past few years and haven’t found. The J Skis Hotshot is the one that I’m most optimistic about, but I need more time on it. The ON3P Woodsman 108, Prior Northwest 110, Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105, and Icelantic Nomad 105 are all skis that kind of fit that role, but none of them truly feel like a narrower Black Ops 118.

  7. eff love it, as always. Just did the same thought experiment with my quiver. No new skis this year, just replace the two King Pins with ATK to safe weight.

    – Touring Spring/Resort/Bad Snow: Salomon MTN 95 with ATK R12 with Scarpa F1
    – Powder Touring: Moment Bibby Tour with ATK R12 with Scarpa F1 or Dalbello Lupo AX120. Thinkin about replacing with Helio 104, Raven, Vision 108 cuz of the weight.
    – Groomers/Ice: Stöckli Laser SC with Tecnica Cochise 130
    – Soft Snow, Resort: Moment Commander with Salomon Shift with Tecnica Cochise 130
    – Powder Resort: Völkl Revolt 121 with Salomon Shift with Tecnica Cochise 130

    In a 6-Ski quiver there would be a Mantra M5 for Resort and soft snow.

      • You can see the influence that Blister had. I am totally compliant :-)

        Blister also owes me for impulse purchasing a silly Norrona Tamok ski suits while being well aware that I don’t need Gore-Tex pro (who skis in the rain?! Getting wet is not the problem but the snow starts sucking pretty quickly).

  8. I’m always amazed how Luke could ski either on Line or on Moment. I find the latter to be a much more substantial ski. I love my Deathwishes and Wildcats and could never get along with Sick Days and Visions. The only place I could see the Vision working is as a dedicated touring ski, but my Deathwish Tours absolutely rip and at 112 mm, perfect width for powder touring.

    • Yeah it’s definitely interesting, given the two brands’ different approaches to ski design (especially in terms of flex pattern, rocker profile, and sidecut radius). But I think it mostly reflects how I find myself adapting my skiing style to different skis. I love many Line skis for how snappy they feel while carving and their playfulness in general, and then I tend to like a lot of Moment skis because of how hard I can push them, while still being able to comfortably throw some tricks. But I’d never realistically have a quiver of skis only from one brand. If I went with all Line I’d find myself missing a charge-y ski or two, and if I went all Moment I’d be missing a softer and/or tighter-turning ski.

      • Luke, you forced me into buying the Moment Wildcat 184 last year… and I love em! Thanks for the advice! I still have the Sir Francis Bacon 178 that I’ve been on since 2012. Now, I’m after another ski (you guys are turning me into a gear whore!) But seriously, I need one more ski right?? I primarily ski treed, heavy snow, NW resorts and probably won’t tour that much at all, but would like the option. Looking for a sort of light weight daily driver that is a little less free-style than the Bacon and Wildcat, but still poppy and fun, and can carve if I’m on a groomer. Maybe the Sick Day 104 with Pivot 15/Cast Freetour? I’m 5’11”, 165lbs and the Bacons are definitely too short for me but I still love them- They’re like big ski blades, hands down the most fun ski I’ve ever been on!

        My 3 quiver set up

        1) Line Sir Francis Bacon 178
        2) Moment Wildcat 184 with Pivot 14
        3) TBD

        I just realized I’m probably going to have to buy new boots too if I want to tour. I currently have Lange RX130. Any advice here as well is greatly appreciated.

  9. Thx for the stellar reviews. May all freeriders be happy and stay safe during this La Niña winter.

    Navis freebird 179
    Atris 189
    Wildcat Tour 184
    Menace proto 189

  10. Kristin totally totally gets it right with blades. I’d rather have blades with real bindings, but I picked up a thrift store set for $30. They do make you ski better, and do liven up a green or bunny slope. And skiing with the fam is different than skiing with friends or by yourself. After the first season getting my kids skiing, I got Line TWP’s for my everyday skis. Yep, they are harsh burning down a hill, downright scary on ice, but they totally work for most runs skiing (backwards) in front of kids, picking little one’s after falls, finding dropped poles, stopping for stragglers and just refereeing down the mountain. It’d be funny to have a new category for you to review, Parent Skis. The skiing isn’t as good, but the day is definitely better with kids.

    • Hilarious that the TWP, for which the target market is the cool kids, are actually also great as “Parent Skis.” This may complete Tom’s evolution from urban rail legend to sponsored golfer.

  11. “I’m probably going to get yelled at by people who can’t believe that I wouldn’t have a dedicated on-piste carver in my 5-ski quiver“

    I find it incredible that you bother to mention 57 varieties of off piste skis, yet leave out the whole genre of skis that allow you to lock in turns, build g-force and simply rocket (or scare yourself) down every run. They also help build skills that work off piste as well. It’s like choosing 5 sports cars and coming back with 5 SUVs with mud tyres and no 911, no Ferrari and no Lamborghini.

    Good piste skis work fine on hard, soft, slush bumps, lumps, moguls whatever. Try the Head iRace Pro. In amongst my 9-ski quiver it probably gets the most miles. I think you would like it.

    • “Good piste skis work fine on hard, soft, slush bumps, lumps, moguls whatever.”

      “Work fine” – in the way that a spoon “works fine” to use when eating a steak. We’ve written a lot on this topic (see the Class Overview for frontside skis), though we inevitably get someone claiming that carving skis “work fine” in moguls. They might work fine for you, and that’s awesome. Enjoy.

      But our goal is to clarify for the many thousands of people around the world who are unaware that when they take skinny skis with very little tail rocker and a ton of sidecut into moguls and then wonder why they hate skiing moguls – or assume that they are just terrible at skiing moguls – that they are basically using a spoon to eat steak.

      Dedicated carvers are phenomenal tools. We love them. But they are *specific* tools – as are 120+mm wide powder skis. There is a time and a place for both. But neither ought to be pushed on others for their versatility. If most of your time is spent on groomers, then we’d strongly suggest that you go with one of the very good frontside skis out there.

      So read our specific reviews on frontside skis, read our buyer’s guide on them, see our Quiver selections (that include frontside skis) in our buyer’s guide, but stop trying to convince new skiers or people who don’t get to ski that frequently that skinny carvers are versatile, all-mountain tools.

  12. I’m loving all the comments on skiing with kids. I did Ski Blades for a while and they were perfect for all the reasons above. One word of caution: adjustable bindings can be loose if your boot sole length is between the sizes. I lost one off a lift once – skiing down on one ski blade was hilariously fall inducing. Now have the Bent Chetler 100s in 180—similar to TW comments above, a lightweight freestyle ski is the perfect dad ski. Easy enough to shuffle uphill or whatever but can also be driven a little and be fun if I get away from the kids for a few runs.

  13. “We’ll be starting with 5-ski quivers, then narrowing it down to our 4-, 3-, 2- and 1-ski quivers over the course of the coming weeks.”

    Wow. That a lot. Perhaps to much?

  14. Jonathan, could you ever see the ON3P Woodsman 116 in a 187 replacing the original bibby for you? It is about the same length as the 190, has a similar rocker profile, mount point, and weight. At the least I would expect it holds its own in chop and floats pretty well.

    • Good question. Answer: Possibly.

      We haven’t skied the Woodsman 116, but I’d be willing to wager that you’re right about it “holding its own in chop” and “floating pretty well.” The question for me is where it would fall in the playfulness / charger spectrum, where the old Bibby / first Blister Pro still is my favorite “playful charger” of all time.

  15. I love these, I feel so normal for having a ton of skis.

    lets do 10 to 20 ski quivers! :D

    I finally decided on a hotshot, as currencies normalised somewhat after elections vs oil and our currency, and jskis were all sold out :o rumours is they are makeing a new gfx and releasing in not too distant future. It will be compared to menace 98, 102FR, new justis, mantra 102 etc.

    As a sidenote I feel the revolt 104 needs to get some more love. I’ve spent 90% of my time (indoors) skiiing it after getting it.

  16. Anticipating the crew jumping on telemark soon as promised, the Five Ski Quivers next year really must feature one tele choice. :D

    Did you mount skis w tele bindings yet? When choosing think Ripsticks, Pandoras, Santa Annas, Menace 98, MSP 99, Sick Days, Soul Rider 97, Rustler 9, Allplay, QST… you get the idea, comfortable cruising performance that works with a lighter touch, shallower edge angles, and lower speeds.

    • Well Luke and I already said on a recent GEAR:30 podcast that we’d convert to full-time tele if the choice was to do that vs. ski 2006 Rotation bindings, so I guess that’s something?

      We haven’t mounted skis yet. Been a lot going on this summer / fall, but we will definitely be tele-ing this season. And I’m liking the suggestion of using skis that work well at lower speeds – so my crash reel will look more mellow and less spectacular. You’ve really got me thinking about the Sick Day 104 now, or perhaps the crazy-versatile QST 99. Hmmm… that QST 99 could really be the ticket, no?

  17. Any recommendations for good ski blades(i don’t know how much i should care about non releasing bindings because im already one blown out knee deep) but i stole one of my friends j skis skibladezzz last year and i loved them and even better is giving them to friends, but they took them back so im looking for some new ones

    • Unfortunately, I haven’t skied any of the new models but of the ones I have tried (Kneissl Big Foot, Snowblades, and Salmon), I preferred the heavier Salomon skis with rental bindings as they had better edge hold.

  18. My Quiver this year.

    Directional:
    172 Dynastar Speedzone 12
    186 Dynastar Mpro99
    192 Dynastar Pro Rider (could probably happily replace with Cochise)
    196 Blizzard Bodacious
    202 Lotus 138

    Playful:
    192 Dynastar Mfree 108
    189 Dynastar Proto Factory
    180 Line Pescado
    (Would like to add a 99 underfoot ski to this realm, tried the menace but would like something with a bit more rocker/playful vibe)

  19. Questioning what skis are best for moguls is missing the point I think. It is fair to question why carving skis are essentially left out of all of these quivers (no serious carving ski has a 95mm waist). Something like a Redster R9 in 183 that you can really throw down on and has a radius near 20m.

    If you have a 5 ski quiver, why limit yourself to one ski per day? I routinely bring multiple pairs of skis to the mountain and often slopeside not just in the car. Whether it’s early morning hardpack before things thaw, or a brief window at dust on crust, you don’t have to compromise when conditions change, just swap skis.

    The nice thing is that really hammering a true carving or race ski uses different muscles than boating around on an all mountain ski, so you can charge hard all day when you swap between them.

  20. Hey!

    This is mainly towards Jonathan, as he’s mentioned the Stance 102. What length are you planning on reviewing, assuming there is a plan for that this coming season? I’m thinking based on the rocker profile you guys would be interested in sizing up to the 190, but interested to hear your thoughts!

    • We’re actually planning to review the 183, and we / I really wasn’t torn about whether to go 183 or 190. Increasingly – and perhaps especially at a techy mountain like CB – at my height and weight, I have little interest in going with something in the 190 cm length for a ski that’s ~100mm wide, and that I definitely won’t be using in deep snow, but will instead be using on firm, refrozen, rougher conditions.

      Again, we need to see this ski, but I personally find myself leaning more toward (slightly) shorter lengths when it comes to heavier, metal-laminate skis. Case in point: the new Bonafide (which is not a light ski) felt really good to me in the “177” cm length as a **firm-snow** ski.

      Another case in point: the Mantra 102. We’re skiing it in a 184, and that is a substantial all-mountain ski to throw around in techy terrain. No way I personally would want to bump up to a longer length for a place like CB.

      And even at a ski area with a lot of wide open terrain, that 184 Mantra 102 or a 186 cm Folsom Blister Pro 104 would be enough for me (and both skis would be super fun). But we’ll hopefully be able to get a report back soon on the 183 cm Stance 102.

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