Buying First Skis / Going to Japan

Penguin

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Hi Everyone! I've been overwhelmed with choice so I made an account here to hopefully get some thoughts from the community though I know there is no 'perfect answer'.

I'm a 5'11" / ~150 lbs male, fairly advanced skier. I have skied mostly in Utah. I can ski all parts of the mountain but don't do a lot of jumps (and prefer not to). I do go faster on groomed terrain and I can ski well in powder / steep areas but tend to go slower. I have rented skis forever and have enjoyed most of what I have skied (Enforcer 100s, Blizzard Bonafides) in the ~185-187cm range. I have skied a few skis in the 190/191 range which feel long in tighter spots and heavy by the end of the day.

I just booked a backcountry trip to Japan and am finally going to buy a pair of skis. I am thinking I go wider (112+) given the terrain / likely conditions and with the expectation that I buy a narrower ski in the near future and that I'll use these on deep days going forward. I have traditional alpine boots so will need to do a binder like the Marker F12.

In an attempt to narrow it down a bit, I have focused on: Blizzard Rustler 11, Nordica Enforcer 110, Rossy Super 7 HD or RD, Moment Wildcat, Black Crows Anima, DPS Alchemist Wailer 112, or K2 Mindbender 116c. I do have a way to get a few of these for a lower price; maybe it just comes down to that? Any thoughts / suggestions would be appreciated! Thank you.
 

DocGKR

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I used to live in Japan; have experience with the following: Blizzard Rustler 11, Nordica Enforcer 110 & 115, Moment Wildcat/Blister Pro 118--all are great choices. Might also look at the Moment Wildcat 108, ON3P Woodsman 108, and Liberty Origin 106 if you want to go a touch narrower.

Currently I am running the Enforcer 115 and Enforcer 104 for deeper snow days.
 

Mattadvproject

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Hi Everyone! I've been overwhelmed with choice so I made an account here to hopefully get some thoughts from the community though I know there is no 'perfect answer'.

I'm a 5'11" / ~150 lbs male, fairly advanced skier. I have skied mostly in Utah. I can ski all parts of the mountain but don't do a lot of jumps (and prefer not to). I do go faster on groomed terrain and I can ski well in powder / steep areas but tend to go slower. I have rented skis forever and have enjoyed most of what I have skied (Enforcer 100s, Blizzard Bonafides) in the ~185-187cm range. I have skied a few skis in the 190/191 range which feel long in tighter spots and heavy by the end of the day.

I just booked a backcountry trip to Japan and am finally going to buy a pair of skis. I am thinking I go wider (112+) given the terrain / likely conditions and with the expectation that I buy a narrower ski in the near future and that I'll use these on deep days going forward. I have traditional alpine boots so will need to do a binder like the Marker F12.

In an attempt to narrow it down a bit, I have focused on: Blizzard Rustler 11, Nordica Enforcer 110, Rossy Super 7 HD or RD, Moment Wildcat, Black Crows Anima, DPS Alchemist Wailer 112, or K2 Mindbender 116c. I do have a way to get a few of these for a lower price; maybe it just comes down to that? Any thoughts / suggestions would be appreciated! Thank you.
As someone who runs trips to Japan every year, then I would say that you have a good list there already. You can definitely use a wider and longer ski in Japan. I'd say anything over 110mm underfoot and a little longer than your regular skis, should work well. Some people might say that a bigger ski isn't going to be maneuverable in the trees, but a bigger ski is going to float more and therefore turn easier...... You'll find the snow in Japan very light, so even if it is deep, you should just be able to plow through it. Have a great time!

- Matt
 

GregK

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Are you going to be using these skis back in Utah after this trip I assume? The reason I ask is that Utah powder/most places other than Japan is heavier and gets chopped up quickly. Many of the skis on your list work well in new snow anywhere but not so great when it heavy or tracked out.

I’d remove the Rossignol HD version but keep the RD as the RD is still good in light or heavy snow/tracked snow. The DPS 112 loves very short turns in fresh snow only and not as versatile as the others are here so I’d remove that one too. Mindbender 116 is not as heavy or stable as the narrower models are so not as versatile in variable conditions as the rest on your list.

Might add in the new Volkl Revolt 121 into the list and maybe the Line Outline as well in case you can get either of those for cheap. Revolt 121 is like the Wildcat in that it’s very playful in new snow but still stable in rougher conditions or even soft groomers. The Outline is very surfy and fun and would be a blast in Japan but still pretty good for it’s weight in heavy or in variable snow.

The rest of your list is great and the models could work on your Japan trip and any trip after that.
 

Masaki Goto

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Hello,

I'm living in Japan. Which ski resort are you going to? It seems to be a warm winter here. But the weather forecaster says so every year.Lol. There are regional differences in the amount of snowfall and snow conditions are different every year. If it's a ski resort I know, I hope I will help you.
 

markojp

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Not on your list but should be if you're thinking of doing some skinning:

Armada Tracer 108
Atomic Backland 107

Wider?
Atomic Bent Chetler 120.

Stronger, wider, and still light'ish?
Atomic Backland 117
Head Kore 117

Honshu or Hokkaido?
 

ScottB

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I just booked a backcountry trip to Japan and am finally going to buy a pair of skis. I am thinking I go wider (112+) given the terrain / likely conditions and with the expectation that I buy a narrower ski in the near future and that I'll use these on deep days going forward. I have traditional alpine boots so will need to do a binder like the Marker F12.
You mention backcountry trip. Can you expand on that a bit. There are dedicated "backcountry" skis that are light and can still work well for the resort, especially in powder. If you are skinning for a long distance that is what you ideally should be on. If you are really doing "sidecountry", meaning riding the lifts and then hiking a bit, then the skis you mention are good choices. Will you be using skins?

If using skins, and going any distance, you really want a boot that has a walk mode as well. I assume the bindings you mention are "frame" bindings. You could also consider a Salomon shift binding if you wanted to have "inserts" added to your boots.

The backcountry trip can mean a lot of different things and can put you into another category of gear altoghether (AT gear).

The skis you listed are all excellent resort powder skis, none are backcountry skis, except the ones Markojp mentions.
 
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Penguin

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Not on your list but should be if you're thinking of doing some skinning:

Armada Tracer 108
Atomic Backland 107

Wider?
Atomic Bent Chetler 120.

Stronger, wider, and still light'ish?
Atomic Backland 117
Head Kore 117

Honshu or Hokkaido?
Thanks much. I am going to Hokkaido. Don’t know exactly where yet. I realize that most of the skis I listed aren’t dedicated touring skis but I am fine with that as I don’t expect to do much backcountry touring after this trip (we’ll see if this experience changes that!). I looked at the Head Kore 117s - I think they are basically the same weight (~30g difference) as the Rustler 11, which is the ski I am currently considering.
 
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Penguin

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You mention backcountry trip. Can you expand on that a bit. There are dedicated "backcountry" skis that are light and can still work well for the resort, especially in powder. If you are skinning for a long distance that is what you ideally should be on. If you are really doing "sidecountry", meaning riding the lifts and then hiking a bit, then the skis you mention are good choices. Will you be using skins?

If using skins, and going any distance, you really want a boot that has a walk mode as well. I assume the bindings you mention are "frame" bindings. You could also consider a Salomon shift binding if you wanted to have "inserts" added to your boots.

The backcountry trip can mean a lot of different things and can put you into another category of gear altoghether (AT gear).

The skis you listed are all excellent resort powder skis, none are backcountry skis, except the ones Markojp mentions.
Thanks ScottB! Yes, most of the days will be skinning with no lifts. Might do 1 or 2 days at some of the resorts in the area. I am checking my boots as we speak to see if they and accommodate a tech insert. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Shift.
 
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Penguin

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Are you going to be using these skis back in Utah after this trip I assume? The reason I ask is that Utah powder/most places other than Japan is heavier and gets chopped up quickly. Many of the skis on your list work well in new snow anywhere but not so great when it heavy or tracked out.

I’d remove the Rossignol HD version but keep the RD as the RD is still good in light or heavy snow/tracked snow. The DPS 112 loves very short turns in fresh snow only and not as versatile as the others are here so I’d remove that one too. Mindbender 116 is not as heavy or stable as the narrower models are so not as versatile in variable conditions as the rest on your list.

Might add in the new Volkl Revolt 121 into the list and maybe the Line Outline as well in case you can get either of those for cheap. Revolt 121 is like the Wildcat in that it’s very playful in new snow but still stable in rougher conditions or even soft groomers. The Outline is very surfy and fun and would be a blast in Japan but still pretty good for it’s weight in heavy or in variable snow.

The rest of your list is great and the models could work on your Japan trip and any trip after that.
This was very helpful - thank you.
 
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Penguin

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As someone who runs trips to Japan every year, then I would say that you have a good list there already. You can definitely use a wider and longer ski in Japan. I'd say anything over 110mm underfoot and a little longer than your regular skis, should work well. Some people might say that a bigger ski isn't going to be maneuverable in the trees, but a bigger ski is going to float more and therefore turn easier...... You'll find the snow in Japan very light, so even if it is deep, you should just be able to plow through it. Have a great time!

- Matt
I’m currently leaning towards 188cm Rustler 11s. I think this is the longest I’d want to go..?
 

GregK

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With that much touring, I’d go for the “best for their weight” in the group which would be the Rustler 11 in 188cm, Wildcat in 184cm(although you COULD handle the 190cm if you wanted even more stability) and the Kore 117 188cm which would be the least playful of the 3.

Best $ deal would be the Rustler as those are discounted online where the Wildcats aren’t.

And yes, the 188cm Rustler 11 is the longest you should go as the 192cm is MUCH stiffer and way more ski. For large chargers.
 
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Penguin

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Greg, have you skied the Rustlers and the Wildcats. I am torn between the two - I am leaning toward the Rustler due to lower price and the few extra CMs of length for theoretically deeper snow.
 

GregK

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Yes, skied both(and own Bibby’s and owned the thinner Rustler 9) and would call the Wildcats more playful especially if you like to get air, easier to pivot with their increased rocker and tip splay and more of a high speed GS carver with it’s larger turning radius. Not great on harder snow and they like some speed to be fun carving on soft snow.

The Rustler is able to make tighter carved turns, more fun at slower speeds and it’s going to be better if the snow happens to be harder with it’s increased edge grip. Many bump the mount up a cm or so to make the Rustler 11 more playful in the air.

So a higher speed, playful charger who sees mostly soft snow would like the Wildcat a bit more, the person who sees all snow conditions and skis all speeds would like the Rustler 11 more. Both would be great in Japan or back in Utah as they both are good in fresh or tracked out powder.

I’m in Canada so even bigger price difference between the 2 skis so “bang for the buck” is definitely on the Rustlers side.
I’d happily ski either as they are both very versatile but I got the older(and heavier) Bibby used on a deal. The older Bibby isn’t as a good a ski for 50/50 use like the lighter Wildcat now is.
 

markojp

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Thanks much. I am going to Hokkaido. Don’t know exactly where yet. I realize that most of the skis I listed aren’t dedicated touring skis but I am fine with that as I don’t expect to do much backcountry touring after this trip (we’ll see if this experience changes that!). I looked at the Head Kore 117s - I think they are basically the same weight (~30g difference) as the Rustler 11, which is the ski I am currently considering.
FWIW, doing what you're doing, I'd get a proper touring boot and whatever tech binding you can find a deal on, then find a deal on a ski. Weight does matter unless you're an aerobic freak of nature. If you aren't doing much touring in the future, then sell the tech bindings and remount with a Shift.... or just sell the set up and put together a Shift based side country rig. 188 Armada Tracer 108 or 188 Rustler 11. Either would really ski well for your size in a 188, and you'd have more legs left for the last lap of the day if you're yoyo skinning.

FWIW, I had a heavier lift served ski for Japan (12 years) , and a lighter skinning ski (including binding and skin weight). Both were about the same dimensions. The heavier ski would have been much slower going up, but if the group doesn't mind, and you're a really strong climber, then the set up you're looking at will be serviceable and ski well downhill.
 
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GregK

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The 2019 Tracer 108 188cm is actually 100 grams heavier than the Rustler 11 188cm and only the new lighter 2020 Tracer 108 is about 80 grams lighter than the Rustler 11. Kore 117 in 189 is again 100 grams or so heavier than the 188cm Rustler with a more traditional mount point adding to it’s swing weight.
So Rustler 11 is actually pretty light really for it’s stability.

The Wildcat Tour would be a great ski if you really wanted light weight(1800 grams in 184cm) but still a solid ski in all conditions. Like a “lighter Rustler 11” in feel. Again no huge deals unless you see it used.

Bent 120 would be another very light pow ski(1800 grams 184cm) that’s still decent in tracked powder. Not as stable as the Wildcat Tour but more deals possibly on it. Move the mount back a bit as the rec mount is very freestyle biased.
 

markojp

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The 2019 Tracer 108 188cm is actually 100 grams heavier than the Rustler 11 188cm and only the new lighter 2020 Tracer 108 is about 80 grams lighter than the Rustler 11. Kore 117 in 189 is again 100 grams or so heavier than the 188cm Rustler with a more traditional mount point adding to it’s swing weight.
So Rustler 11 is actually pretty light really for it’s stability.

The Wildcat Tour would be a great ski if you really wanted light weight(1800 grams in 184cm) but still a solid ski in all conditions. Like a “lighter Rustler 11” in feel. Again no huge deals unless you see it used.

Bent 120 would be another very light pow ski(1800 grams 184cm) that’s still decent in tracked powder. Not as stable as the Wildcat Tour but more deals possibly on it. Move the mount back a bit as the rec mount is very freestyle biased.
I was thinking more about the whole frame binding and alpine boot thing. I'll edit my post to add the Rustler 11.

(I'd still do a Backland 117 vs. a B.C. 120 though... very stable and light, but whatever... it's not really germane. ogsmile )
 
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karlo

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I realize that most of the skis I listed aren’t dedicated touring skis but I am fine with that as I don’t expect to do much backcountry touring after this trip
Rhythm, at least in Hakuba, has a good selection of demo touring skis with tech bindings. Maybe they have frame bindings too. They have a big shop in Hokkaido, at Niseko.

They can be contacted at [email protected]. They’ve helped by email with both ski rental and purchases, having everything ready, including waxing, upon arrival.

https://www.rhythmjapan.com/

I would rent and not deal with carrying the skis there. Then, back home, buy the skis that best suits my needs.
 

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