2014-2015 Blister ‘Best Of’ Awards

 

Best Men’s All-Mountain Skis – Firm Conditions

These skis are carvers that are also highly capable in firm, off-piste conditions.

 

Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS, 184cm

Blister Gear Review's Best 3-Ski Quiver awards
Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS

 

The X-Drive .8.8 FS is an extremely capable ski with a big sweet spot. Advanced and expert skiers will love it, and strong intermediates that are looking for stability, predictability, and power ought to demo it. For any terrain or any snow condition other than 10 or more inches of pow (e.g., ice, slush, soft chop, firm crud, refrozen death cookies, etc.) this ski is outstanding.

 

Rossignol Experience 100, 182cm

Blister Gear Review's Best 2-Ski Quiver awards
Rossignol Experience 100

 

If you like high edge angles and speed, value precision in steep, technical terrain, but also want a ski that will still plane and float on deeper days, you ought to check out the Experience 100.

 

Best Women’s All-Mountain Skis – Firm Conditions

These are carvers that are also highly capable in firm, off-piste conditions.

 

Blizzard Samba, 173cm

Blister Gear Review's Best 2-Ski Quiver awards
Blizzard Samba

 

The Blizzard Samba is a fairly damp, directional ski that does a great job at cutting through any sort of firm conditions. It feels solid, stable at speed, and is a great carver.

 

Volkl Aura, 170cm

Blister Gear Review's Best Of Awards 2014-2015
Volkl Aura

 

The Volkl Aura feels a littler more nimble than the Samba, but still has impressive hardpack performance and can be skied hard and fast through firmer conditions.

 

Best Playful All-Mountain Skis

For those who like the looser, more forgiving feel of a tail rockered ski, or who want a light and playful ski to trick around the mountain.

 

• Line Sir Francis Bacon, 184cm

Blister Gear Review's Best Of Awards 2014-2015
Line Sir Francis Bacon

 

Cliff notes version of Jason Hutchins’ reviews of the 184cm and 190cm Bacon: Of all the skis I’ve ridden, I’d call the Bacon the most versatile one-ski quiver option currently available for the playfully-minded, all-mountain skier.

 

• Blizzard Peacemaker, 186cm

Blister Gear Review's Best 2-Ski Quiver awards
Blizzard Peacemaker

 

Quite versatile in it’s own right, the Peacemaker is a bit stiffer than the Sir Francis Bacon, which makes it a bit better suited for skiing in firm, variable conditions.

 

• Salomon Rocker2 108, 190cm

Blister Gear Review's Best 2-Ski Quiver awards
Salomon Rocker2 108

 

While the Peacemaker leans more toward firm conditions than the SFB, the Rocker2 108 is more soft-snow oriented.

 

• Nordica Soul Rider, 185cm

Blister Gear Review's Best 3-Ski Quiver awards
Nordica Soul Rider

 

The Soul Rider is the most legit park ski of these four selections (its used by many of Nordica’s park team riders), but it is also a whole lot of fun around the rest of the mountain. It is forgiving and intuitive for intermediates, fun and energetic for advanced and expert skiers.

 

 

Best Versatile Pow Skis

These skis are fun in pow, but they don’t need pow to be fun.

 

• Moment Blister Pro

Blister Gear Review's 3-Ski Quiver awards
Moment Blister Pro

 

Our all-time favorite “playful charger” is back.

 

• Blizzard Bodacious, 186cm

Blister Gear Review's Best 3-Ski Quiver awards
Blizzard Bodacious

 

We are eager to put more time on this ski, but the Bodacious blew us away down in New Zealand. So much fun.

 

Kingswood SMB, 187cm

Two Ski Quiver, Blister Gear Review.
Kingswood SMB

 

The SMB is the fattest of our selections, but it also has the most traditional shape, which lets it continue to shine when those pow stashes vanish.

Best Women’s Versatile Pow Skis

 

• 2014-2015 Line Pandora, 172cm

Julia Van Raalte reviews the Line Pandora, Blister Gear Review
Line Pandora

 

The Pandora is a versatile, every day ski for softer snow conditions. For a 110mm underfoot ski, the Pandora still carves nicely on piste, but is an absolute blast in fresh snow, soft chop, and more playful, open terrain.

 

• Rossignol Savory 7, 178cm

Julia Van Raalte reviews the Rossignol Savory 7, Blister Gear Review
Rossignol Savory 7

 

The Rossignol Savory 7 is a light, fun ski that does best in consistent snow and softer variable snow. It is quick and easy to turn, but can still handle a little more aggressive skiing in more consistent conditions.

Best “50/50” Skis (Resort + Backcountry Touring)

 

 Volkl V-Werks Katana, 184cm

Blister Gear Review's Best 2-Ski Quiver awards
Volkl V Werks Katana

 

The V-Werks Katana offers the best combination of dampening + light weight of anything we’ve skied. So it can handle hard skiing in rough resort conditions, while not being a chore to drag uphill.

 

• Rossignol Soul 7, 188cm

Blister Gear Review's Best 3-Ski Quiver awards
Rossignol Soul 7

 

For those who approach the mountain with a more playful, lighter touch, the Rossignol Soul 7 is a great choice for going up and getting down.

 

• Rossignol Savory 7, 178cm

Julia Van Raalte reviews the Rossignol Savory 7, Blister Gear Review
Rossignol Savory 7

 

Paired with light tech bindings, the Rossignol Savory 7 would be a great backcountry ski: it’s surfy, playful, and fun. This ski performs best in soft and consistent snow, but can handle variable snow just fine at slightly slower speeds.

 

 

Best Skis for Beginners (which is not the same as saying, Best “Beginner’s Skis”)

We ski because it’s fun. And anyone new to the sport ought to get on skis that will allow them to really enjoy their first time on the mountain.

That’s why crappy rental skis with flat tails make us cringe. We go into a lot more detail about this in our Skiing 101 article on the topic, but for now, we’ll just say that the best skis for beginners are also skis that work exceptionally well for some advanced and expert skiers, too. They are easy to turn, relatively light weight, and have a huge sweet spot that makes them very forgiving.

 

• Rossignol Soul 7

Blister Gear Review's Best 3-Ski Quiver awards
Rossignol Soul 7

 

 Rossignol Savory 7

Julia Van Raalte reviews the Rossignol Savory 7, Blister Gear Review
Rossignol Savory 7

 

 

The fact is, Rossignol’s “7 Series” skis are dead easy, intuitive skis that are ideal for beginners, and are loved by a lot of advanced and expert skiers, too.

We haven’t yet skied the Rossi Sin 7 and Saffron 7, but the Rossignol S3 was our all time favorite “Ski for Beginners,” and none of the modifications of the S3 that now appear in the Sin and Saffron 7 have us seriously questioning that they will be less good than the S3. If we’re wrong, we’ll let you know, and we will be getting on the Sin 7 soon.

 

 DPS Wailer 99 & DPS Nina 99 Hybrid

Blister Gear Review's Best Of Awards 2014-2015
DPS Wailer 99 Hybrid

Another easy choice here. The Wailer 99 Hybrid and the Nina 99 Hybrid (the women’s version of the Wailer 99) are quick, work very well at slower and moderate speeds, have a large sweet spot, and a wider, stable platform. They are light and fun.

 

 DPS Wailer 112RP & DPS Yvette 112RP, Pure or Hybrid

Blister Gear Review's Best Of Awards 2014-2015
DPS Wailer 112RP Hybrid


Same reasons, wider package. We have friends who are expert skiers who use the 112RPs as their everyday skis, in all terrain and all conditions. And we wouldn’t hesitate to put a newer skier on these, especially if they were interested in getting into some softer, deeper snow.

 

Next: Pow, Crud, and Park Skis

28 comments on “2014-2015 Blister ‘Best Of’ Awards”

    • We haven’t reviewed the Nabu, Rob. But the stated weight of the Nabu (though Marmot doesn’t specify the size) is 592.5 grams. We weighed the size Large Apoc at ~425 grams. The Lab Coat 2.0 weighed 810 grams with its powder skirt attached. So I suspect the Apoc is still more packable and might have a thinner fabric than the Nabu, while the Lab Coat 2.0 is the more fully featured (and heavier) jacket.

  1. I’m surprised that you didn’t go with the Marmot Quarsar down over the Arcteryx. When I was searching for a down jacket, I couldn’t get over how bulky the Arcteryx was. I really enjoy the Marmot, it is so warm and so light.

  2. Wait…what?

    “There are a number of good goggles on the market, but there is nothing this good. In fact, the Anon M2 goggle might be the best product in the entire snow sports industry.”

    That is a very un-blister like comment…can you tell us more? I need new googles so that I can scratch the s**t out of the lenses on day 3.

      • Jonathan, if you ever get a chance to talk to the Anon people, tell them they need to put silicone grippers on the inside of their goggle straps. The M2 has excellent optics, fit, and by far the best lens changing system on the market… but the lack of silicone on in the inside of the strap drove me absolutely berserk last season. Every time I lifted the goggle to put it on my helmet for a few minutes it would slide up and flip back. This was made worse by the brim on my Smith Vantage helmet. This is one of those features you take for granted on Smith and Oakley goggles.

  3. Hi guys – loving your reviews and advice as always. Bit surprised not to see the Blizzard Gunsmoke in your ‘best of’ list with it sounding like a unanimous top one or two versatile powder skis in previous reviews?

    • Good question, Davyn. We spent a lot of time debating whether to include the Gunsmoke in this very stacked category. It’s a really good ski. What it came down to for us is that (and Will Brown wrote this in his review of it) the Gunsmoke feels like a fat all-mountain ski, not a full-on pow ski. The Bodacious and Blister Pro and SMB, however, are skis that we would be totally happy to take out on a very deep day. So the skis in this category have to be versatile (the Gunsmoke certainly is) but the tie breaker came down to “and also be something we’d be jonesing to ski on deep days.”

      Now, the big caveat: we haven’t skied the 193 Gunsmoke, and that ski would seemingly close the distance on the 186 Bodacious and 190 Blister Pro. Hopefully we can get on the 193s this season…

  4. Makes sense Jonathon, thanks for your reply. I got them basically as a west coast one ski quiver that could handle Alaska so hopefully I’ve done the right thing (haven’t been on them yet).

  5. This is why I love Blister and read it religiously. Just solid info for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to test gear for a living! Jonathan if you could expand a bit on why you picked the Soul 7 for beginners I would love to know, just because it’s so easy and fun? Most places list it as an advanced ski but you’re the 2nd person I’ve heard say its great for people learning and wanting to have fun all over the mountain.

    I’m not quite a beginner, more intermediate but back to skiing at the end of last season after 15yrs snowboarding. Was about to get some Moment PB&Js but the Soul sounds so easy and fun and I’m worried about getting something too stiff while I try to get better. I don’t ski super fast and look for soft stuff whenever possible but gotta have groomer days too. I want a one ski quiver to handle both east and west around 30-40 days this year. Any advice you could provide would be great.

    • Hi, Gabe – if you haven’t already, check out our GEAR 101 article, “Best Skis for Beginners.” In short, the Rossi Soul 7 fits nearly all of our criteria, though it is slightly wider than we’d recommend for an everyday, EC ski. The narrower Rossi Sin 7 (review to come), or the Atomic Theory (see Will Brown’s review) are two other skis that you might consider

  6. Not much to say other than “keep up the good work Blister guys and gals”. I’ve been visiting the site for a few years now; you’ve worked hard for the credibility you’ve earned and it’s well deserved.
    Re: the Anon comments above, the fact that you’re willing to pick up the phone to manufacturers and pass on comments on our behalf is a boon. It’s good to know that there’s another way to get users’ views across to the larger / international manufacturers, who can sometimes be a little hard to reach. I’m sure the manufacturers will appreciate the role you play in facilitating this sort of exchange.

  7. This site is so good I’ve neglected my children… Looking for two new skis – Pow and Crud. I’m the same age and size as Jonathan, though I’m sure he’s a better skier as I’m still stuck in Chicago. I think all the reviews have convinced me that for Pow to go with the Moment Blister Pro 190. The Bodacious is also intriguing, but its bad-ass that you guys got one of your favorite skis back into production – there must be something special here. For Crud I’m leaning Cochise 185 as it’s universally liked on this site. I’m also considering tracking down a 13/14 Katana. I already have the 09/10 Katana in 183, but as you have noted the year after mine the ski was tweaked, production moved back to Germany and they won’t be around much longer. Thoughts on the crud ski choice? And if you say Katana do I man up to the 191? Thanks for the advice.

    • Ha, that opening line is my new favorite comment on the site. Thanks, Dave.

      As for the crud ski, we’ve only skied the 191 regular Katana – though I have skied the 184 V-Werks Katana. I’d say that if you never found your 183 Katanas to be too little ski, then I’d see no reason to size up.

      So I’m afraid that we can’t answer the ‘185 Cochise vs 184 Katana’ question, but if we were going to go ski crud, I can say that I would be excited to do so on either ski.

      • Thanks for the timely response Jonathan – the kids have now been fed, bathed, and put to bed. I may pull the trigger on the 191 so that it’s reasonably different than my old 183s. If it’s a poor vis day with more tree skiing I can always take out the old ones. Did you ski the 191 mounted +2CM of factory line like Will mentioned in his review and if so was this your preference as well? Thanks again.

  8. Why no review on the Westcomb Revenant Jacket? It seems like the ultimate ski touring jacket with the combination of Event and NeoShell fabrics for great breathability and waterproofness.

  9. Hi,

    Did you test the Rossignol Sin 7 ??
    I’m a very agressive skier, and I like so much off piste ski, couloirs,… But in the Pyreenes we do not have a lot of powder :-( Do you think The Ross Sin 7 could be a good option for me ?? Or better go for Soul 7 ?? Other possibilities ??
    Thans in advance

    David

  10. any chance a new 2015-2016 list is coming up? or perhaps a more relevant 2016-2017?

    thanks!

    fwiw, i read all your reviews (more than once) and if i had children i would probably neglect them, too. xD

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