Our 21/22 Blister Winter Buyer’s Guide (Ep.171)

On GEAR:30, Luke Koppa and Jonathan Ellsworth discuss our 21/22 Blister Winter Buyer’s Guide and some corresponding industry trends and category highlights. They also talk snowblades, clarify our Buyer’s Guide ‘Best Of’ Awards, and go on a rant or two.
Luke Koppa on the Armada Declivity 92 Ti, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Luke Koppa and I discuss our 21/22 Blister Winter Buyer’s Guide and some corresponding industry trends and category highlights. We also talk snowblades, clarify our Buyer’s Guide ‘Best Of’ Awards, and go on a rant or two.


  • Early-season turns & the new Nordica Enforcer Unlimited 104 (6:21)
  • Our new glossy Buyers guide (11:27)
  • Weight Trends (13:25)
  • Unisex vs. ‘women-specific’ trend? (21:56)
  • Alpine ski boots (22:54)
  • Rant: ski stiffness & stability (29:52)
  • GripWalk soles (34:11)
  • ‘Best Of’ awards clarification (36:58)
  • What We’re Celebrating (43:48)


18 comments on “Our 21/22 Blister Winter Buyer’s Guide (Ep.171)”

  1. Will the snowblades video be when Max G. Force makes his cinematic premiere? Because white boot steeze (i.e. , Raptor 140s) on blades would be the BEST kind of steeze. It may be a top notch way to retire your favorite pair of boots…

    • Wow. If we gave out a ‘Best Of’ award for comments … this would surely win. So many great ideas in so few words. I am impressed.

  2. I Love Blister! You have had a strong impact on me, at first through ski reviews, but now primarily through your podcasts that cover a diversity of topics ranging from detergent (and other products), to interesting books and people! But I have a rant, well, really two rants. I’ll try not to come across as winey/bit**!!y. Rant one: What happened to ON3P this year? They have a loyal following and filled an interesting spot in your guide. Also, what happened to the Wildcat review? Rant Two: Most of the time, the largest size skis never get tested, or if they do get tested, its by someone under 180lbs (no offense Luke!). There are a lot of 200+ pound skiers out there who might appreciate hearing from a 200+ lbs reviewer.

    • Hi, Tom – you’ll be hearing more from ON3P soon. Stay tuned.

      And for years now, we’ve had some people — very, very, very, few people, mind you, given that we have millions of people in the Blister audience — complain that we don’t review skis exactly in the particular region where they happen to live, or we didn’t review something in exactly the length they happen to ski, or that our reviewers don’t weigh exactly what they themselves weigh.

      And if you think about this for a minute, you’ll quickly realize the logistical impossibility of reviewing every ski, in every length, everywhere.

      That said, I still maintain (having done this for over a decade) that we don’t *need* to do this.

      We’ve addressed these issues multiple times on GEAR:30, but this episode gets into it a good bit:


      And re: heavier reviewers in particular, we address that at minute 37:50.

      Furthermore, you are a Blister member. So if you have a specific question about a ski … email us. For over a decade now, we’ve been successfully helping people of all sizes from all around the globe get on gear that will work well for them.

      Also, you can now come to the Blister Summit and test a bunch of the skis yourself if you are reluctant to trust our reviews or gear recommendations.


    • I’ve bought two skis based on Luke’s reviews, with both I found issues that he wasn’t having that I’d at least partially relate to size (I’m 230 pounds). That said, the reviews still gave a great overview of how the skis preform and now I have a better idea of what does and doesn’t work for me (and potentially other tall/heavy skiers as well). Can’t expect the reviews to cover every possible variable so you have to understand your own circumstances to some extent.

      • Hi, Steven – I’m curious: what the two skis were that you purchased, and their length?

        And to further clarify (since you’re a Blister member), did you buy those skis after reading reviews, or were those skis specifically recommended to you by Luke – i.e., were they his specific gear recommendations for you?

        • Revolt 121 in the 191 (mounted 2 back from rec), it mostly performs exactly as I hoped it would but the front of the ski doesn’t float/support me in untracked snow. Paul Forward has mentioned this as well in a deep dive and mentioned that lighter skiers seem to like it more. (I still have a ton of fun on the ski, it’s fantastic in the trees)

          The other was the Declivity 92 in the 188. Afterwards someone suggested it may have been a tune problem, but whether it was that or my size of or a combination, I had to ski it SUPER gently. If I put any power into the ski it would lose traction and start skidding. There were good moments on it but for the most part it was just frustrating and scary.

          I wasn’t a member at the time so it was purely based on the reviews, I take full responsibility for my purchasing decisions

          • That’s all helpful info, Steven, thank you. Plus, now we won’t have to beat Luke to death for giving out off-the-mark gear recommendations. Phew.

  3. Hi Jonathan. Thanks for responding to my rant. You were kind, and broadened my perspective a bit. Also for the links to more info. because as we know, size does matter. haha!
    I knew when I wrote this that I was walking on thin Ice and that it is totally unreasonable to expect you to test every ski, every size. As you know, its when you get to the end of a spectrum, like size, that things can get dicey. I ski primarily on a 189 Wren and a 190 Bibby ( the oldie but goodie) and I love them both. I bought them both , primarily because you wrote excellent reviews of both the 189 and the 190. So thanks a ton for that!
    I guess my question is, When you jump in size from a 186 to a 192, is it really even the same ski? Also, are there instances when a 186 all mountain daily driver ski, is a better call for a really large person who is a competent Skier?
    Rant over! I’ll finish like I started – I love Blister, You are the best!

    • Well thank you. And good questions.

      Answer to your first question: it depends. Sometimes, the jump up from a ~186 to a ~192 can be pretty moderate. Other times, that jump up can be extreme. If you look at the millions of words we split over whether people ought to go with the old 184 cm Bibby vs the 190 … I’d call that an example of a rather moderate / subtle bump up. They are definitley different skis, but the 190 is not shockingly different.

      Other times, brands specifically beef up a ski in its longest length. We try to note in our reviews when this is the case.

      Re: your second question: absolutely. And again, we try to suggest this in our reviews. For example, when we’re talking about skis like the Volkl Mantra 102 or the current Blizzard Bonafide 97, I think those are both skis where a larger person might not need (or want) to be on the longest lengths. (In short, the heavier and stiffer the ski, the more likely it is that a larger person can still get the stabilty they might want out of a shorter length. But that’s just a general rule, and wouldn’t say that we always would say this is the case.)

      Finally, if someone is really on the fence or just wants to really make sure, this is where asking us the question, letting us know what skis – in which lengths – you’ve been skiing and liking or disliking … that puts us in a great position to advise on which particular length will likely be the most appropriate.

  4. The issue of people not understanding the “best of” awards is not your fault. You’re just fighting an uphill battle against ingrained expectations. People have been taught that there’s always going to be an objectively better product no matter who the consumer is. So, it’s going to be hard for a lot of people to understand that the best ski for one person could be poor choice for someone else.

    • I would like to believe you’re right. In any case, we’ll keep trying to undo years of mis-education in the outdoor industry and promote clearer thinking.

    • 1) There’s no “list”

      2) Complications created by Covid + some production issues = skis that we were told were being sent to test didn’t get sent. And unlike a number of other publications, we only write reviews of products we’ve actually used and tested.

      We’re in touch with ON3P regularly, and Andrus says we’ll have skis soon to test. Whether we will or won’t is not up to us.

Leave a Comment