Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition // Helpful Hints
A couple weeks ago we took a look at 15 different all-mountain skis in the 90 mm waist width range. This time, we’re doing the same thing, but we’re looking at 100 mm skis! You may notice that a lot of the comparisons we made in the 90 mm article carry over to this 100 mm range, but we also start to see a little more variety in shapes and intended use as skis get a little wider.
As a reminder, here at SkiEssentials.com we don’t believe one ski is better than another. All of our reviews, ski tests, and comparison articles are rooted in that belief. These skis aren’t listed from best to worst, we don’t believe that a certain ski is just downright better than any other ski. Each of these skis offers their own unique set of attributes, performance characteristics, and overall feel. As always, we invite you to learn more about each of these skis in our 2019 Ski Test Results, our full-length reviews on Chairlift Chat, or if you want to talk to a skier directly, contact our Customer Service Team!
2019 Kastle MX 99:
The Kastle MX 99 is stiff, powerful, and holds an edge better than just about anything in the 100 mm category. It uses a wood core made from silver fir and beech, sandwiched between two full sheets of titanal metal, and finished with carbon and fiberglass. This construction is similar to what we see in race skis. The MX 99 also has a full camber shape and doesn’t use any early taper. The shape and construction combined give the MX 99 an exceptionally strong, precise feel. It will hold an edge like a GS ski on firm snow, and has a preference to complete a carving turn, as opposed to letting the skier release the tail edge and smear the ski. Its focus is arguably more on firm snow performance than soft snow, although with its 99 mm waist width it will let a skier take their carving turns from firm snow to mixed snow conditions, softer snow, crud, and just about anything else.
Who it's For: Aggressive skiers who prefer carving over smearing, slipping, or pivoting turns. Skiers that value edge grip, stability, and a stiff, powerful ski will fall in love with the MX 99.
2019 Blizzard Bonafide:
In a lot of ways, the Bonafide is quite similar to the MX 99. It uses two sheets of metal sandwiched around a wood core, and also uses some carbon in its construction. The difference here is that Blizzard builds in some rocker into the tip and tail, and there is also some very subtle early taper. The shape of the tail in particular is quite a bit different. Where the MX 99 has a flat, squared-off tail similar to a race ski, the Bonafide is more rounded, which enhances the ski’s ability to release its tail edge. Overall, however, the Bonafide is still right up there among the stiffest, most powerful skis in this category. Its vibration damping and stability at speed rivals anything else in this article. Perhaps you don’t get the same preference to finish a carving turn as with the MX 99. You could, however, argue that the Bonafide just accepts skier input a little more easily than the MX 99. It’s not an exceptionally forgiving all mountain ski for most skiers, but it has that high level of power, vibration damping, and stability that comes along with that much metal.
Who it's For: Similar to the MX 99, you should be a relatively aggressive skier who is comfortable driving a ski. You probably spend a lot of time on firm snow, but want to be able to venture into soft snow conditions without getting bogged down.
2019 Volkl M5 Mantra:
Volkl changed up the Mantra for the 2019 season! Unlike the previous version, we’re back to a Mantra with camber. The construction of the Mantra marks the introduction of Volkl’s new Titanal Frame construction. They use their classic multi-layer wood core, a full sheet of titanal along the base of the ski, but the metal along the top of the ski is focused only along the edges of the ski and does not meet underfoot. This new construction delivers high-end vibration damping and stability, but allows the ski to flex more naturally right underfoot. Like the Bonafide, it uses tip and tail rocker and some early taper, but both are quite subtle. This gives it a great feel on firm snow as you get full length edge contact, however the M5 Mantra is impressively maneuverable in softer snow conditions as well. It’s slightly lighter than a ski with two full sheets of metal, and its willingness to flex naturally under your feet allow you to play around with different turn shapes more easily than a stiffer ski.
Who it's For: You want a precise, stable, relatively-powerful ski for groomers, but you want some versatility in your skis both in its ability to ski different terrain and its ability to make different turn shapes.
2019 Atomic Vantage 97 Ti:
The Vantage 97 Ti shares a relatively similar shape to the Bonafide and M5 Mantra, but its construction is much more focused on weight savings than anything we’ve looked at so far. Atomic removes a serious amount of material from the center of the ski, which really brings the overall weight down. Add in the fact that the Vantage 97 Ti still has really high levels of torsional stiffness due to its innovative construction and you’ve got a ski that’s very responsive and easy to flick around. It’s going to hold an edge really well on firm snow, and it will respond to skier input really quickly. It won’t have the same tank-like feel of some of the heavier skis we’re looking at in this article, but manufacturers are making strides in retaining stability and vibration damping while bringing down the overall weight. The Vantage 97 Ti is a perfect example of that concept. Because it’s lighter, it’s going to be easier to maneuver compared to some of the heavier skis in this article. Swing weight goes a long way, and a ski like the Vantage 97 Ti is going to be easier to maneuver and less tiring than a heavier ski.
Who it's For: You probably still spend most of your time on groomers, but you really don’t want a heavy, race-construction-style ski. You don’t want to have to fight a ski to maneuver it in softer snow conditions, but you don’t want a super-rockered shape either.
2019 Nordica Enforcer 100:
The Enforcer 100 starts to feel like a ski with more of an even mix of performance characteristics for different terrain than some of the skis we talked about above, but the important thing to remember with this ski is it still uses two sheets of metal. While that metal is thinner than we see in most skis with this style construction, it’s still there. That gives the Enforcer 100 excellent vibration damping and stability, but because the metal is thinner it softens up the flex a little bit from tip to tail. Combine this with the fact that the Enforcer 100 uses more rocker than anything we’ve talked about so far (50% total) and you’ve got a very smooth ski that stays stable on firm snow, holds an edge well, but also allows you to pivot and smear the ski. It crosses over between different terrain and snow conditions very well, and is a more forgiving ski than those with lots of metal and less rocker, but don’t forget about that metal. An intermediate skier may struggle with its level of power.
Who it's For: You like the feel of a ski with metal laminates, but you want more maneuverability and forgiveness in soft snow conditions. You’re willing to give up some edge contact on firm snow for the extra soft snow performance.
2019 Fischer Ranger 98 Ti:
The Fischer Ranger 98 Ti is another ski that bridges the gap between weight savings and stability. Fischer uses a number of different methods to shed weight from the Ranger 98 Ti. Their Aeroshape design uses less overall material, while retaining high levels of torsional stiffness. Their AirTec core sheds even more weight by removing strips of material, which is then supported by a titanium laminate. Fischer also uses a very thin tip construction by integrating carbon into the ski’s construction. The Ranger 98 Ti offers the stability and vibration damping that aggressive skiers value, but in a weight that’s light enough to justify using it as an alpine touring ski. In fact, the Ranger 98 Ti has a built in skin clip on the tail, a nod to its intended use as a potential AT ski. Because it’s lighter, it will get deflected more than heavier skis. It won’t track through heavy choppy snow quite as well as a heavier ski, but it’s not unstable by any means. If you value a lighter overall ski, but don’t want to give up metal, the Ranger 98 Ti is a great choice.
Who it's For: Skiers who like to do a bit of everything. It has the torsional stiffness to hold an edge on firm snow, the stability needed to ski fast and aggressively, yet it’s also light enough to tour with without being exhausting.
2019 Head Kore 99:
If we were to pick two words to describe the Kore 99 from Head they would be stiff and lightweight. Head is another company focusing on delivering high-end performance in a lightweight package. Their blend of Graphene, Koroyd, carbon, and karuba wood results in a ski that is not only unique in its construction, but also impressively stiff for how light it is. That stiffness also translates to torsional stiffness, meaning the Kore 99 will hold an edge with the best of the best in this category. A stiffer overall flex pattern compared to the Ranger 98 Ti above, which is going to make the ski very responsive to skier input. It’s like Head took race ski performance on firm snow, somehow made it super lightweight, then changed the shape to add in some versatility. The rocker and early taper gives it smooth performance in soft snow conditions, but the key thing to remember here is that it’s still quite stiff. It doesn’t have a distinctly playful feel in soft snow and responds to skier input almost immediately.
Who it's For: You want a lightweight ski, but you don’t want to sacrifice power, stability, and overall stiffness. Because of its stiffness, you should be at a relatively high ability level, it’s a ski that rewards good technique.
2019 Salomon QST 99:
Salomon added basalt and doubled the amount of carbon and flax in the QST 99 for 2019. The result is a “boost” in the ski’s power and stability, but the overall feel of the QST 99 stays more or less the same. In terms of versatility, the QST 99 can be described as a ski with a very even mix of performance characteristics for different terrain and snow conditions. It’s not the most powerful or more precise ski on firm snow, but it’s no slouch either. It doesn’t have huge amounts of rocker or early taper, so its shape isn’t totally focused for soft snow, but it still performs really well even in deep conditions. Its ability to transition through different snow conditions is perhaps its most impressive attribute. It goes from icy moguls to powdery troughs to firm groomers without missing a beat. It’s relatively lightweight, but feels a little heftier than some of the really lightweight contenders in this list. An all mountain ski with some distinct freeride influence is a great way to describe it.
Who it's For: Salomon added basalt and doubled the amount of carbon and flax in the QST 99 for 2019. The result is a “boost” in the ski’s power and stability, but the overall feel of the QST 99 stays more or less the same. In terms of versatility, the QST 99 can be described as a ski with a very even mix of performance characteristics for different terrain and snow conditions. It’s not the most powerful or more precise ski on firm snow, but it’s no slouch either. It doesn’t have huge amounts of rocker or early taper, so its shape isn’t totally focused for soft snow, but it still performs really well even in deep conditions. Its ability to transition through different snow conditions is perhaps its most impressive attribute. It goes from icy moguls to powdery troughs to firm groomers without missing a beat. It’s relatively lightweight, but feels a little heftier than some of the really lightweight contenders in this list. An all mountain ski with some distinct freeride influence is a great way to describe it.
2019 Fischer Ranger 102 FR:
The first ski in this comparison that could be described as a twin tip, the Ranger 102 FR is another ski with some obvious freeski influence in its design and construction. It’s construction is very similar to the Ranger 98 Ti, although the 102 FR is a little bit heavier. It can make proper turns on firm snow, but its highlighting features are its performance in soft snow and its blend of playfulness and stability at speed. It’s somewhat like the Nordica Enforcer 100 in the sense that its construction provides the stability and torsional stiffness, while the shape gives it a more maneuverable feel than lots of the skis in this comparison. Tail rocker combined with the twin tip shape allows you to release the tail edge quite easily, yet it will hold an edge on firm snow even when you’re skiing aggressively. Arguably a bit much for the terrain park, but we’ve seen some of Fischer’s athletes ripping this thing in the park, which is a nod to its playful nature and versatility.
Who it's For: Skiers that love soft snow and/or like to jump off stuff. If you like skiing switch (backwards) you don’t have too many options, especially out of the skis in this comparison article. That said, you don’t have to be a park-style skier to enjoy it, it’s kind of like a Ranger 98 Ti that’s more focused on soft snow performance.
2019 Blizzard Rustler 10:
The Rustler 10 is to the Bonafide as the Ranger 102 FR is to the Ranger 98 Ti. Ratios are fun. The Rustler 10 takes the performance we’re familiar with in the Bonafide and repackages it in a more playful, maneuverable, freeride-inspired shape. Underfoot, it’s a lot like the Bonafide, but the metal tapers and ends as it reaches the tips and tails, which use more early taper and rocker than the Bonafide too. This gives the Rustler 10 more of a soft-snow focus, although it can still hold an edge on firm snow too thanks to that metal and the resulting torsional stiffness underfoot. The tips and tails also have a softer flex pattern compared to the portion of the ski underfoot, which helps boost forgiveness in off-piste terrain. Imperfections in the snow surface won’t affect the performance of the Rustler 10 as much as a ski with stiffer tips and tails. This flex pattern also enhances maneuverability as it’s designed to work alongside the increased rocker and early taper.
Who it's For: Like the Ranger 102 FR, it’s best on the feet of a relatively playful skier, or at least a skier that values soft snow performance. Arguably one of the most soft-snow oriented skis of this article. Who’s making that argument, you might ask? Well, I guess we are.
2019 K2 Pinnacle 95:
As the narrowest ski in this comparison article, you might expect the Pinnacle 95 Ti to be one of the more firm-snow-focused skis, but that’s not necessarily the case. The flex pattern and shape of the Pinnacle 95 Ti give it really good performance in soft snow. It uses some of the longest rocker in this comparison article, especially in the tip. This boosts its soft snow performance and helps the ski float in soft snow, despite only having a 95 mm waist. Like Volkl and Atomic, K2 has positioned metal along the edges of the ski. While the construction is slightly different between the three, the overall concept and goals are similar. It retains good torsional stiffness and stability when you’ve got the ski up on edge, while resulting in a lighter weight overall. That long tip rocker also helps smooth out turn initiation on firm snow, helping you to link carving turns. Maneuverable in soft snow, holds an edge on firm snow, it’s a very versatile ski.
Who it's For: As the narrowest ski in this comparison article, you might expect the Pinnacle 95 Ti to be one of the more firm-snow-focused skis, but that’s not necessarily the case. The flex pattern and shape of the Pinnacle 95 Ti give it really good performance in soft snow. It uses some of the longest rocker in this comparison article, especially in the tip. This boosts its soft snow performance and helps the ski float in soft snow, despite only having a 95 mm waist. Like Volkl and Atomic, K2 has positioned metal along the edges of the ski. While the construction is slightly different between the three, the overall concept and goals are similar. It retains good torsional stiffness and stability when you’ve got the ski up on edge, while resulting in a lighter weight overall. That long tip rocker also helps smooth out turn initiation on firm snow, helping you to link carving turns. Maneuverable in soft snow, holds an edge on firm snow, it’s a very versatile ski.
2019 Armada Tracer 98:
Armada describes this ski as a 1-ski quiver you can take anywhere from the resort to the backcountry, and we agree. It uses their Ultra-Light wood core, which is supported by Innegra Mesh throughout the ski. There is also some metal and rubber underfoot that helps boost stability and also helps with binding retention. The Tracer 98 is light enough to use as a touring ski, yet the Innegra Mesh adds in the torsional stiffness you need to hold an edge on firm snow. That said, the shape of the Tracer 98 leans more toward soft snow performance and maneuverability than edge grip. It uses a fair amount of rocker and early taper, which like a lot of skis in this article is more pronounced in the tip than the tail. The shape combined with the ski’s light weight make it easy to maneuver. The weight allows you to just flick it around, while the shape gives it the ability to smear, pivot, or slip through a turn. One of the more forgiving skis of this article, although like the Pinnacle 95 Ti, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be enjoyed by an expert.
Who it's For: You like to seek out soft snow, yet you don’t want your skis to be so focused on soft snow performance that they’re no fun to ski anywhere else. Maybe you want to do some AT skiing too, the Tracer 98 is a good candidate for a touring binding.
2019 Rossignol Sky 7 HD:
The Rossignol Sky 7 HD was re-invented for 2018 and is back unchanged for 2019. Like the Tracer 98, the Sky 7 HD is more focused on soft snow performance than firm snow performance. It uses a lot of rocker, and relatively pronounced early taper too. The flex pattern is also one of the softest in this category, which really boosts the ski’s forgiveness in variable snow conditions and tricky terrain. Rossignol’s Carbon Alloy Matrix does give the ski an impressive level of torsional stiffness, but because the effective edge is relatively short when you’re on firm snow it’s not going to hold an edge quite as well as some of the other skis we’ve looked at in this comparison. It loves to make quick movements and really reacts well to skier input. Rossignol is willing to give up some stability and vibration damping in this ski in exchange for maneuverability and forgiveness, which is a popular choice among skiers who like to spend most of their time off trail in the trees, moguls, etc.
Who it's For: You’re not the most aggressive skier on the hill and you like to spend more time off the trail than on it. It’s a blast in powder, trees, and other off-piste scenarios and its lightweight feel and relatively soft flex pattern offers an important choice in this category.
2019 Liberty Origin 96:
The Liberty Origin 96 is the second twin tip we’ve looked at in this comparison article. Liberty has updated the ski for 2019 with a new rocker profile, which actually reduces the total rocker in the ski. The lower rise rocker gives the ski better edge contact on firm snow, which has improved carving performance. The ski’s construction consists of bamboo, poplar, and carbon, which gives the Origin 96 one of the more explosive, energetic flex patterns out of the skis in this article. It loves to pop and hop around the mountain, while this new version really lets you lay it over on firm snow more than the previous Origins. This is one of those skis that could double as a terrain park ski, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend time in the park to enjoy it.
Who it's For:Anyone that wants a fun, versatile, playful all mountain ski that will perform well in a variety of terrain and snow conditions will really enjoy skiing the Origin 96. Liberty is growing up as a brand, and the Origin 96 is a perfect example of how their skis continue to evolve.
2019 Atomic Bent Chetler 100:
The Bent Chetler 100 is another twin tip ski with a focus on soft snow performance. If you’re a playful skier that likes to use the entire mountain as your terrain park, a ski like this is right up your alley. Think about it alongside the Origin 96 and the Ranger 102 FR, although its construction gives it arguably a more playful feel than either of those skis. It has a relatively soft flex pattern that will allow a skier to butter, smear, and play in all sorts of different terrain and snow conditions. Atomic’s HRZN Tech is a nod to its soft snow performance. The boat-hull inspired shape in the tip and tail boost the ski’s float and overall performance in deeper snow conditions. Chris Bentchetler is known for taking freestyle and park-inspired tricks into the backcountry, and this is his pro-model all-mountain ski. It’s not the most powerful ski and doesn’t have the strongest torsional stiffness, but edge grip on really firm snow at speed definitely isn’t the focus of this ski, that’s why Atomic also has the Vantage 97 Ti.
Who it's For: An adventurous skier that wants to play around the entire mountain. Maybe you spend a little time in the terrain park, but don’t want to be limited by a narrower ski. Throw some tricks in the park, ski some powder, maneuver through trees, and do it all with Chris Bentchetler’s signature style (maybe…).