Comparison Review 2017 Tester's Choice

Philpug

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We started with our ever-popular Steals & Deals, but added a new twist: the first phase of our “Tester's Choice.” Tester's Choice is a compilation of our reviewers' favorite 2017 skis. We will stick with the same categories as Steals & Deals, but these are more often the skis that manufacturers feel are their bread and butter, the ones you will find on most ski walls. We still think there aren't many bad skis out there, but these stood out.

Remember, our reviews are in real time: as soon as we get on skis, we let you know what we think. Check out our Gear Review and Comparison forum for previous reviews of many of these skis. As always, we encourage interaction; please feel free to ask questions of me, @Tricia, or any of our other testers.

In each category we also included some of the Steals & Deals winners that we feel are great skis regardless of price, and we have noted where a ski’s sizes are scaled. Stay tuned for Tester's Choice Premium, where we will be talking about high-end offerings.

Hard-Snow Frontside

Blizzard Quattro W 7.4 Ti
Dimensions:118-74-101
Radius:[email protected]

"A sweetheart of a front-side ski." --Tricia
Blizzard 7.4 Ti.png
The Quattros are all new for Blizzard; the collection is extensive and can be almost overwhelming. The one ski that stood out for @Tricia and other testers was the 7.4 Ti; they felt that it had the most distinction and direction. The minimal early rise does limit its versatility, but that doesn’t matter: there are other Quattros that are more versatile, it is its precision that makes the 7.4 Ti so special.


Dynastar Speed Zone 12 Ti
Dimensions: 121-72-106
Radius: [email protected]

"Dynastar has reinvented the Course line and named it the Speed Zone." --Philpug
Speedzone 12.png
Dynastar has a great history of making hard-snow skis, and the new Speed Zone is the latest one. I really like when you can actually feel the technology that a manufacturer advertises. The Speed Zone integrates a rubber dampening wall between the core and sidewall, creating a beautifully supple, damp feel on the snow.


Head Supershape Titan
Dimensions*: 137-81-117
Radius: [email protected]

"On groomers it was as fast, carvable (in multiple turn shapes), stable and predictable as I wanted."—Drahtguy Kevin
Titan.png
Where the Rally was the testers' darling over the past few seasons, the 2017 redesign of the Supershape collection moved the Titan to the front of the class. Head gave the skis a more purposeful shape, a new rocker profile, and Graphene -- a combination that makes the new Titan shine. The outgoing version felt musclebound and cumbersome and was a great 11/10th ski, but the 2017 Titan acts like it went to finishing school. There is a level of precision in the new collection that last year's Supershapes just did not have. While there is a slight loss in versatility, the addition of more power is worth the sacrifice. *scaled sizing.


K2 SuperCharger

Dimensions: 127-76-107
Radius: [email protected]

"Who are they not for? Eurocentics. These are All American Muscle: red white and blue, apple pie, baseball, and all that." --Philpug
Supercharger.png
The SuperCharger is the "serious" part of K2's “Serious Fun” advertising campaign. It is hard to convey how much different the SuperCharger is from any K2 you may have skied in the past quarter century, it is that much of a departure. The on-snow feel is so positive and accurate that it is on par with any ski from Europe. Read more about the SuperCharger.


Völkl Flair SC UVO

Dimensions: 122-72-105
Radius: [email protected]

"The Flair SC UVO may look like the classic little black dress, but it skis like a little German sports car." --Tricia

Volkl Flair SC.png
How many manufacturers make a women's top-end carving ski? Take a minute (... take an hour, take a day) to think about it. Ok, time's up: not many, and of those, none are as good as the Flair. Völkl tried its hand at making a women's-specific line with the Bio-Logics but concluded that women and men are more similar than different, skiers are skiers, and a good platform transcends any differences. The new Flair is based on the unisex Code with a slight change in construction to accommodate a lighter skier. Use this ski to run gates on Sunday, take your PSIA L3 exam on Monday and Tuesday, and free ski the rest of the week.

Steals & Deals Winner: Head Super Joy


All-Mountain Frontside

Atomic Vantage X 83 CTi
Dimensions: 125-83-111
Radius: [email protected]

"The two words that came to mind when I skied the Vantage X 83 CTi were "confidence" and "predictability," and I cannot think of two better attributes that a ski can convey than that." --Philpug
Vantage 83CTi.png
Like its narrower brother the Vantage X 80 CTi, the all-new 83 is a class leader in not only price but also performance. While it shares construction with the bigger Vantages, the 83's shape is much more hard-snow-directed, with a flared tip and a sidecut that runs past the running surface. Binding is again where the 83 separates from the other offerings in the class with a system interface derived from the Warden 13; it is the only binding in the class that is multi-norm compatible.


DPS Uschi F82
Dimensions 122-82-104
Radius: [email protected]

"First turns on the Uschi put a grin on my face that didn't go away." --Tricia
Screen Shot 2016-09-18 at 7.39.49 AM.png
How does one ski from a collection make it to Steals & Deals and another doesn't? Well, it has to do with the segments. The Uschi could almost be represented in the Premium category, too. Does it really matter where it is displayed? No, just that it gets its due. There are not too many women's skis in this range that are available flat.


Völkl Flair 81
Dimensions: 128-81-109
Radius: [email protected]

"This ski turned on a dime, held an edge, and made every bump in the run feel smooth." --Tricia
Flair 81.png
Völkl has replaced its women’s-specific Bio-Logic collection with an all-new design, taking the rocker-camber-rocker profile from the men’s RTM. Our women testers welcomed this upgrade. Besides FLAIR, this new collection has POWER: Precision Our Women Especially Respected. We really like the direction Völkl is taking. Read more about the Flair 81.


Völkl RTM84
Dimensions: 131-84-112
Radius: [email protected]

"Sure you can park and ride ... but why? Don’t waste a great ski by being lazy. So, for the lazy, no RTM for you!" --Philpug
RTM84.png
I mentioned earlier how enamored I was with Völkl's new direction, particularly that they added camber to all skis under 100mm underfoot. I could choose three skis from the RTM collection: the 81, the 84, and the 86 UVO, and it is a toss-up. Do you want 81 underfoot or 84, orange or green? I chose the 84 because when I skied both, the 84 was a smidge (one smidge = two tads) better in mixed conditions. The 86 UVO was also an option, but its price puts it into the Premium category. The New RTM84 is the best of the last two skis that Völkl has offered in this segment. An exceptional ski, it has the power of the old AC50 but without the I-beam rigidity; it has the ease of the first-generation RTM84 but more pop. These attributes make the RTM84 one of the best skis offered here. Read more about the RTM84.

Steals & Deals Winner: Atomic Vantage X 80 CTi


All-Mountain Backside

Head Monster 88

Dimensions: 133-88-114
Radius: [email protected]

"Why was this my Number 1? Because I felt like a rock star on it! It felt so solid and stable the entire time." --Stephen
Monster 88.png
All hail the Monster 88. The Monster 88 straddles the all-mountain front- and backside categories: it could be in both segments but because of the inherent dimensions, I put it here. Where some brands emphasize versatility at the cost of precision, Head did the opposite: it erred toward the precision side of that equation. The Monster 88 gives you 9/10 the performance of the Kästle MX89 for 3/4 the price. It is one damn fine ski.


K2 AllLuvit
Dimensions: 128-88-110
Radius: [email protected]

"What it lacks in deep powder performance, the AllLuvit makes up for in fun on groomers and moguls."—Tricia
K2 Allovit.png
K2 Pinnacle 88
Dimensions: 128-88-110
Radius:[email protected]

"The 88 is my favorite Pinnacle. By a mile." --Drahtguy Kevin
Pinnacle 88.png
The Pinnacle 88 is the little brother of the fun and playful Pinnacle 95 and 105. Like a good little brother, it learned from the others' limitations and realizes that it has a different purpose in life. Many brands will offer a smaller version of a ski, throw a different color on it, and call it a day. Not K2, which took the ISPO-award-winning shape and adapted it with a longer contact length, giving the 88 much better edge control and connection to the snow. The Pinnacles are the "fun" in the “Serious Fun” campaign. The women's version, the AllLuvit, takes the same shape and extended wheelbase but adjusts the construction for a lighter skier; this has created the foundation ski for the three-ski collection that includes the FullLuvit and Luv Boat. Read more about the Pinnacle 88.

Steals & Deals Winners: Armada Invictus 89Ti and Victa 87Ti.


The 98th Percentile

Blizzard Bonafide

Dimensions: 133-98-110
Radius: [email protected]

"I always start the day on it when I am testing skis in this category." --Philpug
Bonafide.png
When the Bonafide was introduced, it ignored the rules. The Bonafide didn’t wait its turn; like a bull in a china shop, it pushed its way to the front of the line and became “the ski that others will be compared to.” Last year saw the Bone's first evolutionary change when carbon was added to the extremities; by doing so, Blizzard refined the ski by making it a bit calmer and quieter on the snow without losing anything. The Bonafide is the choice of the power skiers out there, and it will not relinquish that title until another comes and takes it.


K2 FullLuvit
Dimensions: 132-95-115
Radius: [email protected]

"I’m not sure how K2 made a ski that is so easy to ski but still ready to be skied aggressively." —Tricia
Fulluvit.png
So fresh, so new. The AllLuvit, Luv Boat, and FullLuvit are the first significant departure in .. well, I don't know how long, but too long. K2 has brought the Pinnacle design over to the ladies' side and by doing that made a collection of winners. The FullLuvit is right in the middle at 95 underfoot and could easily be a Western one-ski quiver.


Nordica Santa Ana 93
Dimensions:124-93-112
Radius: [email protected]

"The Santa Ana 93 isn't the Santa Ana 100's baby sister, it's her sorority sister, looking for a party!" -- Tricia
La Nina 93.png
Nordica Enforcer 93
Dimensions:124-93-112
Radius: [email protected]

"They were possibly the most versatile skis in the test." --UGASkiDawg
Enforcer 93.png
The Enforcer 93 and Santa Ana 93 are not riding on the coattails of their 100mm counterparts; they are riding on their capes, because they are Super Skis. Nordica did not mess with its immediate success but capitalized on it. The 93s do everything their 100mm siblings do, just quicker. Read more about the Enforcer 93.


Nordica Santa Ana 100
Dimensions: 130-100-118
Radius: [email protected]

"Every time I get on this ski, I think, Now it's a party!" -- Tricia
LaNina 100.png
Nordica Enforcer 100
Dimensions: 133-100-121
Radius: [email protected]

"Is this just viral marketing gone wild? If it is, the joke’s on Nordica because this ski truly is an instant classic, one that doesn’t need any extra hype." --Ron
Enforcer 100.png
The Enforcer and Santa Ana twins carry over with a dose of NGT and a huge amount of momentum from their prelaunch the season before. Nordica has straddled the fine line of power and finesse with these two skis. The Enforcer and Santa Ana are just as happy in the bumps as they are tackling the wind-buffed west face of your favorite mountain. Read more about the Enforcer and the Santa Ana.

Steals & Deals Winners: Blizzard Samba, Salomon QST 99, Volkl 90Eight/90Eight W


One Oh Somethings

Atomic Backland FR 109 W
Dimensions: 133-109-123
Radius: [email protected]

"I expected them to have float in the soft snow and charge through the moguls and chop, but I had no idea how much they would hold an edge and rip when it was time to venture on the groomers back to the lift."—Tricia
Backlands 109W.png

Atomic Backland FR 109
Dimensions: 133-109-123
Radius: [email protected]

"This will make a nice wider partner in a two-ski quiver." --Drahtguy Kevin
Backlands 109.png
These twins could just have easily been in our Steals & Deals -- and maybe they should have been, my bad, they weren’t, but I am giving them their due here. There is a lot more going on than just tossing a new name and graphics on the Automatic and Century 109s: these are better skis because of a new construction. Our testers aren’t sure what was done, but be it pixie dust or unicorn dreams, they skied better and felt much more responsive than the outgoing models.


DPS Zelda F106
Dimensions: 142-106-125
Radius: 18m @178cm

“Dibs.” — Monique
Zelda 106.png
Many are gravitating back to skis in this segment as their powder skis, and the Zelda F106 should be the poster child for that decision. She is just as happy being in the snow as on it. While the One-Oh’s are too wide to be an only ski for most women, this would be the perfect wider side of a two-ski quiver.


K2 Luv Boat
Dimensions: 139-105-127
Radius: [email protected]

"They are just that easy, no need to overthink it"--Tricia
LuvBoat.png
K2 Pinnacle 105
Dimensions: 139-105-127
Radius: [email protected]

"The perfect blend of tip & tail rise" -- Philpug
Pinnacle 105.png
There is serious fun, and then there is stupid fun. I am sorry, I still cannot get over these skis getting called “stupid fun.” Why? Because the Pinnacle 105 and Luv Boat are just that: stupid easy, stupid playful, hence, stupid fun. They might be the best 105s every produced ... with the caveat that they are not chargers but they will run, they won’t bust crud but they will ski over it. Where these skis shine is in the trees and fluff. These are easy done right.

Steals & Deals Winners: Volkl 100Eight/100Eight W and Salomon QST 99


Powder
"Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
Honestly, we did not get on enough powder skis to have a clear judgment as to what were winners. Our testers just did not have the right conditions, and we think it is a disservice to test these skis on days they were not designed for. We don’t think you care about the edge grip of a 117mm ski or how it handles the hard pack.

The DPS Wailer and Yvette 112RP2 that won our Steals & Deals would be winners here, too. Skis were in our long-term test fleet for a good part of the season, they did have an inside track. Nordica's Patron and La Nina with their hammerhead design are great skis that have stood the test of time, and the new Völkl Confession is getting accolades from @SkiEssentials and many review sources. So, while we don’t have pure data in this segment, I am sure we can still give you some good direction to narrow down to a model or three.


________________________________________
*Scaled sizing: Some manufacturers go the extra distance in their designs by “scaling” their sizing, which makes the different sizes of skis proportionate.

Example:

Artwork: @Dave Petersen

 
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Philpug

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Along with our Steals & Deals, here are some more skis that our testers were infatuated with.
 

Ron

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yep buy a pair! awesome ski. the 177 is easier than the 184. YMMV.

EDITED: with info from @markojp regarding the mount point, I would strongly suggest either adjustable bindings or even better, demo a pair to ensure you are good with the mount point.
 
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Are the 2017 Head Monster 88 the same as 2016 Head Monster 88s?
NGT, the new matte finish verses the gloss of the first year, actually is very rich looking and worth the price difference.
 

markojp

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Are the 2017 Head Monster 88 the same as 2016 Head Monster 88s?
Yes, but the mount mark has been moved forward a bit.
 
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markojp

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matte finishes are what all ski's should have IMHO, I have seen some very aggressively priced 88's.....
And they'd be we'll worth picking up.
 

fatbob

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I always feel the main test criteria for powder skis is how well they do everything else. Because if someone has designed a pow ski that isn't actually great in powder there is something fundamentally wrong. So for me its's about how good they are in chunder, on groomers, in the bumps etc which assesses how suitable they are.
 
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I always feel the main test criteria for powder skis is how well they do everything else. Because if someone has designed a pow ski that isn't actually great in powder there is something fundamentally wrong. So for me its's about how good they are in chunder, on groomers, in the bumps etc which assesses how suitable they are.
I hear what you are saying but we came to the conclusion that those attributes are secondary, if we had a powder day, we wouldn't be too concerned how the float of a 165cm slalom ski would be. We wanted to test the skis in the conditions they were designed for, then if there are groomers and chunder on the way back in, even better.
 

Ron

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The term powder ski is pretty vague these days. My powder ski is the Stockli SR107 and provides more than adequate float for CO powder days up to my knees (yep tested) so once you cross over to the >110 width, the use of that ski is primarily for the deep days. Not all powder ski are equal in powder though!

Yes, I do agree that they need to work on soft bumps too but groomer performance is something I dont even want to know about for these skis :) I hope they dont see any groomed the day I use them.
 

Lorenzzo

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I can supply a review for the DPS Wailer RP Hybrid (112). They're great. More detail? Really great. My qualifications as a tester? Not great...it usually takes me a while to figure out a ski so I've kept my review short and qualified it.

I had quite a few deep days at Snowbird last year. While true most anything is fun in uncut, really good float and quasi carving ability is appreciated as it gets deeper. And given the reality of how quickly powder gets cut up, I want a powder ski that is good to great in a variety of crud, fresh bumps, pow on top of frozen bumps and a little carving. I think these secondary criteria overtake the primary.
 

liv2ski

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Phil, what do you think of the Atomic Backland 117 in 193?? for a 5'10 180lbs jong that loves his 117 Automatics? I lost a bunch of weight, so is the 193 still the length for me?
 

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I will reply for Phil and say that I think, if you liked the Automatics, you'll likely love the Backland.
 

Dwight

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yep buy a pair! awesome ski. the 177 is easier than the 184. YMMV.

EDITED: with info from @markojp regarding the mount point, I would strongly suggest either adjustable bindings or even better, demo a pair to ensure you are good with the mount point.
Now I need to find a money tree. :)

My kid has the Revs 105 and I really like them in all snow, so I was hoping to get my hands on the 88s this year. At least demo for sure. We mounted his 105s 1 cm forward too based on others reviews. The more we test other skis, the more we like his 105s.

I have friend that gets Heads at good prices, so now I need to see what his price would be. :) Probably will go with 177.
 
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@liv2ski , I did ski the Auto 117 a few seasons back and really liked it, like @Tricia said, If you like the Auto, you will love the Backlands and we really liked the 102 and the 109 that we focused on. Now, for your size, the 193 sounds a bit big, and could be cumbersome in the trees, I think the 186 would be a lot more playful.
 

markojp

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Now I need to find a money tree. :)

My kid has the Revs 105 and I really like them in all snow, so I was hoping to get my hands on the 88s this year. At least demo for sure. We mounted his 105s 1 cm forward too based on others reviews. The more we test other skis, the more we like his 105s.

I have friend that gets Heads at good prices, so now I need to see what his price would be. :) Probably will go with 177.

Just be aware that the Monster 88 (and old Rev 85pro) ski nothing like the Rev 105.
 

Monique

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DPS Zelda F106
Dimensions: 142-106-125
Radius: 18m @178cm


“Dibs.” — Monique
Many are gravitating back to skis in this segment as their powder skis, and the Zelda F106 should be the poster child for that decision. She is just as happy being in the snow as on it. While the One-Oh’s are too wide to be an only ski for most women, this would be the perfect wider side of a two-ski quiver.
I totally agree with your comments overall, but I just want to be clear that when I said, "Dibs," it would be on the low range of the waists of last season's quiver, and I liked it on groomers and spring conditions. You don't need fresh snow to enjoy it.
 
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