The Atomic Vantage collection of all-mountain skis is relatively unique in their construction and feel. Atomic’s Prolite construction essentially removed material from the center of the ski creating a channel between raised areas along the edge of the ski. There are two main renditions of this construction relying on either metal or carbon. This Vantage 86 C relies on the latter. The Energy Backbone and Carbon Tank Mesh provide most of the performance in the Vantage 86 C. One of the biggest benefits of that construction is weight, and the Vantage 86 C is impressively lightweight at 1550 g in the 173 cm length. Skis in this width range tend to be versatile resort all-mountain skis, and we expect the Vantage 86 C to be a lively, fun-loving ski.
Bob St.Pierre thinks “there’s a lot to like about the Vantage 86 C. It is stiff like the Ti, but not quite as demanding or heavy.” That is a trend we’ve seen throughout the Vantage line; they’re all relatively stiff, especially for how light they feel on your feet. That combination makes them very responsive. Bob tested the 181 cm length and his highest scores were for stability, quickness/maneuverability, playfulness, and forgiveness, all coming in at 4 out of 5. Those are solid scores for a ski that doesn’t use metal. Skiers are often quick to overlook skis like the Vantage 86 C in favor of their heavier, metal counterparts, but that’s not always the right way to go. This ski is going to be a lot of fun for a huge percentage of skiers; not everyone needs metal in their skis. “Very poised ski with a fun-loving personality.” We can’t ask for much more than that.
Dave Carter opted for the 173 cm length when it came time for him to test the Vantage 86 C. Quickness/maneuverability and playfulness were the highest scores we saw from Dave, which makes a lot of sense considering the flickable nature that comes along with skis this lightweight. “Overall a pretty lively ski. Good performance on shorter radius turns.” The 173 cm length Dave was on has an 18.2-meter turn radius, not the smallest, but combine that with the weight and you’ve got a ski that’s super easy to toss from side to side and can also lay into relatively short radius carves. Dave did find it has “light chatter at higher speeds,” but that’s what the Vantage Ti skis are for. If you need maximum vibration damping at speed, you may prefer the metal versions, but that’s only if you’re really maxing out the speedometer.
Mike Thomas had a similar reaction as Bob after he skied the 181 cm length, focusing mostly on how much fun the Vantage 86 C feels. Mike even scored it 5 out of 5 for versatility and overall impression, notable scores for any ski in our test. “This ski is really fun. Many of the Vantage skis have a hollow sound on firm snow, but these didn’t, which I like.” Noise doesn’t necessarily affect the performance of a ski, but it’s something a handful of our testers notice. Some skis with metal, especially lighter skis, can sound a little funny sometimes. Mike went on to describe it as having “solid edge grip, but a lightweight feel. Very stable for the weight.”
While the Vantage 86 C might not be the stiffest, strongest, most powerful ski out there, it’s an incredibly fun all-mountain ski. Lightweight skis have their benefits, perhaps most notably the fact that they’re less tiring to ski. If you like to spend a whole day on the slopes (who doesn’t?!) and want a ski that’s perfectly capable exploring the entire resort, the Vantage 86 C is a fantastic choice. Want a little more ski? Check out the Vantage 90 Ti.