2018 Volkl RTM 81 Skis 2018 Volkl RTM 81 Skis

2018 Volkl RTM 81 Skis

The RTM 81 is part of Volkl’s “Ride the Mountain” collection, although is arguably best considered a “versatile frontside carving ski”. While its 81 mm waist width can handle some off-piste terrain, most of its design is focused on performance on firm snow. For those that want to increase ability off-piste there are wider RTM models like the 84 and 86, although even those skis are most intended for use on firm snow. The RTM 81, 84, and 86 all use Volkl’s 3D.Ridge technology which reduces overall weight while retaining torsional stiffness and strength in a centrally located strip. Not only did our testers get to try them on firm, groomed conditions, they also ventured off the piste to test their versatility. All our testers were on the 177 cm length.

Joe Cutts didn’t get to ski the RTM 81 until late in the afternoon on a relatively warm day. He thought they were refreshingly fun to ski for a carving ski with metal in it. “After skiing the heavier, racier models in this category, this one was a welcome relief for sloppy afternoon conditions.” Compared to some other carving skis with similar waist widths Joe thought the RTM 81 was “snappier and easier to ski.” He described them as being very “light and quick” and thought they did quite well in softer snow for a ski with an 81 mm waist width.

Michael Rooney thought the RTM 81 was impressively quiet and was very balanced. He commented, “while you would think this ski would turn on a dime, and you’d be right, the surprise is it stays on the snow even in choppy conditions.” We think the combination of light overall weight and this relatively smooth, damp performance is a perfect choice for advanced intermediate skiers looking to improve their technique and ability. While it never feels overpowering, the RTM 81 still delivers high-end performance. Michael certainly seemed to agree, ending his review by calling the RTM 81 a “good upper intermediate ski.”

Mike Thomas gave the RTM 81 5 out of 5 for quickness, playfulness, and forgiveness. Mike is a big, aggressive skier who is used to skiing very powerful skis. At his size and level of aggressiveness the RTM 81 just wasn’t quite enough ski for high speed, powerful skiing, but very few of us ski like Mike Thomas. Mike also has an incredible ability to accurately describe a ski, even one that’s not particularly right for him: “For a frontside skier who is improving from intermediate to expert or a light weight, less aggressive skier.”

Matt McGinnis, being much lighter and less aggressive than Mike in terms of driving a ski into a carving turn, had a different reaction to the ski. “Yet another RTM ski that does its job effortlessly. Just like the 84 and 86, the 81 is designed to be a versatile frontside ski. Unlike the 84 and 86, the 81 is also intended to be a bit softer and more approachable than its two fatter brothers.” He went on to describe his reaction to the ski: “It was easy to ski, predictable, and perhaps most importantly lively. This ski would make an excellent choice for intermediate to advanced-intermediate skiers who take a more playful approach to skiing groomed slopes.” Matt did comment that at high speeds the RTM 81 can “chatter a bit on fast hardpack,” but that’s why Volkl gives us skis like the RTM 84, 86, and the Code series. If you want the ultimate in high speed carving, there is a different ski.

Overall, however, the RTM 81 delivers excellent performance on groomed slopes and even in some light off-piste terrain. As our testers seemed to agree, we do think the RTM 81 is best suited for intermediate to advanced-intermediate skiers, although even the expert skiers who tested them were quite impressed.


Joe Cutts Ski Tester Headshot Image

Joe Cutts

Age: 54Height: 6'3"Weight: 225 lbs.

Ski Style: Heavy-footed, a little reckless, bumps, trees, beer league

Mike Thomas Ski Tester Headshot Image

Mike Thomas

Age: 48Height: 6'3"Weight: 225 lbs.

Ski Style: Upright, fluid nimble, powerful

Matt McGinnis Ski Tester Headshot Image

Matt McGinnis

Age: 27Height: 5'7"Weight: 175 lbs.

Ski Style: Surfy Freeride with a Freestyle Background

Michael Rooney Ski Tester Headshot Image

Michael Rooney

Age: 70Height: 6'"Weight: 155 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast and precise; racing background

Jamie Bisbee Ski Tester Headshot Image

Jamie Bisbee

Age: 43Height: 5'10"Weight: 190 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast and Furious, like the movie

22 Comments on the “2018 Volkl RTM 81 Skis”

  1. Hi,
    Iam 39y old 6” tall 220lb. Looking to buy volk rtm 86.
    What size should I get?172? 177?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Ivan!
      I’d go with the 177. You’ll appreciate the extra stability for sure. Have fun!

  2. hi ya

    I am a 60 yr skier for 45years. Given my knees I now ski anything groomed, ice or no ice; mainly VT. I weigh 200lb and am 6’3″. I currently ski 185cm and am told that 177cm is good in the Vokl rtm81. I like long GS turns but not as fast as I use to. Is this length ok?



    1. Hi David!
      If you’re slowing down, I’d say the 177 is the correct size. If you were speeding up and skiing more aggressively, I’d recommend the 182, but it sounds like the 177 would work just fine–they’re amazingly stable even at a shorter length, so I think you’ll appreciate the 177.

  3. Hi! I am 22 years old, just over 6’1″, and weigh around 148 lbs. I am probably an advanced intermediate/advanced skier. I ski almost all on the east coast (southern Vermont), mostly on groomed trails, but will hop onto moguls or into glades any time the snow permits. I’m looking to get the Volkl RTM 81, and just need to figure out what size (I’m between 170 or 177). I’ve been skiing on 170 skis for a long time, and am not sure if I should make the jump up. I’m a confident skier and I enjoy going fast, but given my light weight (and relative lack of leg strength), I don’t know if I would get anything more out of the 177s than the 170s, and even be able to really use them to their full potential. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Sam!
      If you’re comfortable on the 170, don’t rock the boat. Your height warrants the longer length, but it sounds like the rest of you does not. Stick with what you know works for you.

  4. Hi, I am 37 yeats old, 180 tall and 75 kg. I have völkl rtm 75 ski that are 4 years old. When I bought them I was told they where for beginners, and that was pretty correct, as they where easy to control, radius is 13.7 and they are 161cm long. Now, i have developed my skiing skills, and would like something more stable, as the Rtm75 arent vert stavle when the speed is gigher. Would Rtm 81 be something for me, or should I rather go for the Atomic Vantage X 80? Any other suggestions?

    1. Hi Jasmin!

      Both the RTM 81 or the Vantage X 80 would be great choices. Both skis definitely take overall performance to the next level compared to your RTM 75, but aren’t overly demanding, too stiff, etc. You’ll have a higher performing ski that still allows you to progress at a consistent rate. Between the two, you get a little more forgiveness, especially in soft snow, out of the Vantage X 80. Its shape allows for easier pivoting or smearing turns, which helps for developing skiers. Something to consider. I’d also go a little longer than your RTM 75, mid-upper 160 cm should be good.


  5. Hello!

    I am 42 years old, 184 cm tall and 70 kg, intermediate level currently skiing with Fischer Progressor 700 (167 cm). I am looking for something a bit more flexible in terms of snow conditions, still to be used for the vast majority of time on slopes, but which can handle also some bumpier conditions and the occasional off-piste. I’m skiing in the Alps, not an aggressive skier, and looking for something relatively easy to handle and forgiving.

    I am looking at the Völkl RTM 81 and the Atomic Vantage X80 CTI; what do you think, are those good choices? Talking about length, I would go for 173 cm for the Atomic, whereas for the Völkl I’d go for 177 cm but I’m afraid they are a bit too long… any suggestion?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Davide!

      It depends how much versatility you’re looking for. Realistically both the RTM 81 and the Vantage X 80 are both more focused on firm snow performance than anything else. If you bumped up the waist width to, say, closer to 90 mm underfoot, you’re going to get a lot more versatility. So, it really depends on yourself as a skier. Do you feel like you need something wider for soft snow? Something a little softer flexing perhaps? Neither the Vantage X or the RTM are going to be particularly forgiving on off-piste conditions.

      Have you considered the Vantage (non-X) collection from Atomic or something like the Volkl Kanjo? You’re going to get more versatility out of those skis, and they still perform really well on firm snow too.

      Just something to consider. If you’re thinking about sticking with the Vantage X 80 or the RTM 81, I think you’re pretty accurate with length choices. I don’t think 177 cm is too long in the RTM 81.

      Hope that helps!


  6. Hello
    Thank you for such great information. Very helpful. I am looking to update my skis that I have used for last 10 years. Volkl AC30 unlimited 170. Have loved them. I would say I’m advanced intermediate skiing about 7-10 days per year out west USA. Mostly frontside. Would you recommend the RTM 84 in size 172 or 167 or RTM 81 in size 170 as a more modern comparable ski. I’m 5’8” and 77 Kg. Thanks for your advice.

    1. Hi Henry!
      I think you should go with the RTM 81 in the 170. If you’re mostly frontside, they’ll be a better option, also more closely related to your AC30. Other than the extra width and the UVO vibration absorption, they’re the same ski. Have fun!

  7. Hi…. love the reviews… I am a 55 year old, 140 lbs, expert skier that loves the bumps….. but my knees …not so much now days. I am looking for a new ski for next Season and was considering the 2017 Volkl rtm 81. I ski around 120 days each year and need a new option for the hard pack and bumps…..any suggestions.

    1. Hi James!

      I think the RTM 81 would be a good choice. Does well on hard pack and is nice and quick in moguls, but isn’t overly stiff or too demanding so should feel just find on those knees. I would also take a look at the Salomon XDR collection. I often recommend the XDR 84 for skiers with similar demands. Definitely worth taking a look at. It’s a little more playful and forgiving than the RTM, while still performing well on firm snow.


  8. Hi,

    great review! Thanks for that!

    I have a question: I am 178cm and 67kg and would consider myself an upper intermediate skier who’s on the edge to expert on a good day. I like going fast and also like bumps (the little afternoon-on-the-slopes-bumps is what I mostly do… not so much the extreme, week-old, stiff bumpy stuff next to the slopes).

    I am fairly inexperienced when it comes to powder skiing (have years of powder experience on a snowboard though), as in the last years I went with some slalom carvers (Elan SLX Fusion). Also, I am mostly skiing in the alps, where the powder is not that good and abundant as compared to elsewhere.

    Still I’d like to have an alternative to the SLX, which allows me to tap into the deeper snow next to the slope here and there.

    I tried the 81 this winter but could only test it on groomed snow. I loved them on the groomed snow, as they were wonderfully playful when skiing the afternoon bumps and still rigid in fast turns. Would you think the 81 would allow to go for some light poweder here and there as well?

    Also, I unfortunately do not remember whether I skied the 170 or 177cm. If I go for the 81, given my size, ambitions and current level, which one should I go for?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Hi Johnanes!

      The RTM 81 would definitely be a little easier in softer snow and bumpy terrain than your current Elans, and still perform really well on groomers as you already know. So, if you’re just looking for a ski that can handle some softer snow now and then I think it would be a good choice for you. I think the 170 cm length is more appropriate. It’s somewhat overkill to go with a length that’s taller than you in a ski like the RTM 81. It doesn’t use exceptionally pronounced rocker, so doesn’t ski short. I would imagine the 178 cm would feel a little bit hard to handle when trying to make quick turns through bumps for you. 170 cm will be much easier.

      You could consider getting a ski that’s a little wider, although I wouldn’t go much wider as it would be more of an adjustment for you coming off a pretty narrow ski. The Salomon XDR 84 is always a ski I bring up in these conversations. I would take a look at the Nordica Navigator 85 as well. Relatively similar performance between them, but the XDR and Navigator take the soft snow performance a step further than the RTM, and you don’t really lose much firm snow performance. A little bit, but not much.

      Hope that helps!


  9. Hello – Your reviews and commentary are very helpful. I’m 5’11”, 190 lbs and an advanced intermediate skier. I spend most of my time in the Eastern US on piste, carving, etc but sometimes veer offpiste and also want to improve my bump skiing. I’ve used a pair of K2 AMP80s (170) for years now and am looking to upgrade. I’d consider myself moderately aggressive. I’m considering the RTM81 and the Rossi Exp84. Which would you recommend? Also thinking of increasing the length to 177/8.


    1. Hi Dan!

      I think the Experience 84 will be a little easier in the bumps. Neither ski is exceptionally user friendly in moguls as they don’t use much rocker or early taper, but in my experience the flex pattern of the Experience 84 works a little better in moguls. They both carve really well, so I wouldn’t worry about that. I’m mostly focusing on versatility, and I think the Experience 84 is the more versatile ski. I definitely think you can handle the 178 cm Experience 84 at your size and ability level. Are you familiar with the Salomon XDR 84? I usually bring that ski up in these conversations because it retains good carving performance, but has more early taper, rocker, and is also softer in the tips and tails.

      Hope that helps!


  10. Hi
    Read your reviews on Völkl RTM81, Rossignol 84 & Head Titan….all read well.
    I am an advanced skier…all pistes, spending more time off piste, and on bumps Want something versatile that can handle it all with confidence.
    I am 6ft tall, weight 90kg and d ski quite aggressively and fast on piste…which would you recommend?

    1. Hi Leslie!

      At your size and considering you’re a fast, aggressive skier I would go with the Head Titan. Out of those skis the Titan is the most powerful and has the best vibration damping and stability. It’s just as versatile as those other two skis too, in my opinion, especially for an advanced skier. The RTM 81 and especially the Experience have lighter swing weight, but I don’t expect swing weight to be an issue for you. I would go Titan, unless you really want to go to a different shape and width to get a little more ability off piste, but that’s another conversation. These three skis have similar shapes, which I’m assuming is what you’re looking for.

      Hope that helps!


  11. Thanks for the reviews – they’re really helpful!

    I’m 5’11 and 196lbs. I’d class myself as advanced intermediate level. I’m getting into carving and can’t get enough of it. I’m not an aggressive skier. I like to ski at a good pace and as precise as possible. Most of my skiing is in the Alps.
    I’m looking for a ski that’ll enable me to do more off-piste, but I spend most of my time on piste and more than anything I want my skis to be able to cope with all snow conditions – from hardpack to crud, bumps, etc.

    This’ll be my first ski purchase and after months and months of deliberating I’m ready to push the button on a purchase now.

    I’ve narrowed my search down to the Salomon XDR 80ti, or the Volkl RTM 81. I’m looking for a ski that will grow with me, so although I want one to work at my current level, I also want it to be just as exciting as I (hopefully!) improve further.

    At the minute I think the RTM 81 will serve me best as I gather it’s a little stiffer and will cope with my weight better. Out of the 170 or 177 I’m thinking of the 177. I’m guessing the 177 will hold the edge better, but the 170 is easier to turn. I’d rather have the better edge and work harder with the ski.

    Do you think I’m making the right choice, or think I should look at something different? I’d really appreciate any advice you can give.

    1. Hello!

      Yeah I think the RTM 81 will work well! I think it has slightly better carving performance than the XDR 80ti. They have relatively similar performance off-piste. The XDR might be a little bit more maneuverable in soft snow, but it’s a marginal difference between the 81 and 80 (more pronounced between the RTM 86 and XDR 88 because of construction changes).

      I think you’ll be just fine on the 177 cm length too. I think you’ll appreciate having the extra stability. It will hold an edge better, but really the extra stability in variable snow conditions, in my opinion, is more of a benefit.

      Hope that helps!


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