2020 Blizzard Bushwacker

The Blizzard Bushwacker is an important ski in Blizzard’s All-Mountain collection of skis. It shares the same shape with the Brahma 88, but doesn’t use any metal, making it the lightest ski in the collection and the only one that doesn’t use any metal. All too often, this turns people off from the Bushwacker. As skiers, we’re accustomed to looking for the “best” ski, which, in our minds, typically means the most expensive or highest rated in a magazine test. Sometimes, however, the result of that is a skier choosing a ski that’s too much for their ability level, level of aggressiveness, etc. The Bushwacker is a ski that can be enjoyed by an expert skier, even the best of the best, but is much more appropriate for the masses than some heavier, stiffer skis.

Bob St.Pierre tested the 180 cm Bushwacker and scored it 5 out of 5 for quickness/maneuverability, playfulness, and also forgiveness. The Brahma 88, for example, has never been given 5 out of 5 for forgiveness in our tests. “Awesome ski that will satisfy a huge range of skiers. Extremely quick edge to edge with nice and supportive tips and tails.” Just because the Bushwacker doesn’t use any metal, doesn’t mean it’s a flimsy, unstable ski. Blizzard uses carbon in the Bushwacker, a full wood core, and vertical sidewalls throughout; it’s still a high-end construction. “After skiing a few runs on this, I couldn’t help but to think that there are so many skiers out there that would love the playfulness and ease of use of this ski. It’s remarkably well-rounded and fun.” That sounds pretty darn good to us, Bob.

Dave Carter tested the 180 cm length as well and, like Bob, his highest scores were for quickness/maneuverability, playfulness, and forgiveness. Dave thought it was an “agile ski that turns quickly and is predictable.” Dave also tested the Brahma 88 during our ski test, and he did add a comment that the Bushwacker was “a bit soft for aggressive skiing,” but that’s okay, that’s what the Brahma 88 is for.

Jeff Neagle was also on the 180 cm Bushwacker and his reaction was very similar to Bob’s, although we saw more consistent scores from Jeff, including 4 out of 5 for torsional stiffness/edge grip. “I’ve always been a big fan of this ski. I don’t necessarily need a pair for myself, but I think it’s a fantastic choice for a lot of skiers. I see too many people on skis that are too heavy, stiff, wide, rockered, etc. for how they ski. For the average weekend warrior, these are perfect.” That’s insightful feedback from Jeff, and something that we often come back to at SkiEssentials.com. Buy the ski for how you ski and the conditions you ski, not how you want to ski and the conditions you want to ski. It can be an exercise in self-reflection, but it’s really going to help you get a ski that complements your skiing style. “Can carve, can maneuver through trees and bumps, can handle some fresh snow, but these are far easier and less-fatiguing than heavier skis like the Brahma, Enforcers, etc.”

If you want a fun all-mountain ski and you’re not a speed demon or a really aggressive skier, the Bushwacker presents an excellent option. It doesn’t have as much rocker as some all-mountain skis, so is arguably best for a skier who spends most of their time on trail and/or has a relatively traditional style, but it can still be taken into the trees and bumps without feeling out of place. One of our favorite aspects about it is it’s much less fatiguing than heavier skis, which means you can stay out on the slopes longer!

Testers

Dave Carter

Age: 61Height: 5'9"Weight: 155 lbs.

Ski Style: They don't call me "carving" Dave Carter for nothin'

Bob St.Pierre

Age: 41Height: 6'2"Weight: 215 lbs.

Ski Style: Adaptable, versatile, ex-competitive mogul skier and coach

Jeff Neagle

Age: 33Height: 5'10"Weight: 150 lbs.

Ski Style: Aggressive freeride with freestyle background

41 Comments on the “2020 Blizzard Bushwacker”

    1. Hi Aaron!
      The Bushwacker, being wider, is a stronger all-mountain contender with more versatility. The build is about the same, but the shape and rocker profile of the 8.0 is much better suited for on-trail skiing and groomer carving. If you’re strictly an on-trail skier, the 8.0 is the way to go.
      SE

    1. Hi Sean!
      The Bushwacker is more versatile, and better suited for all-mountain skiing and conditions versus the front-side oriented Vantage 82. If you’re spending the majority of your time carving the groomers, then the Atomic is the better choice, but if you’re exploring the mountain, the wider platform and the non-metal construction of the Bushwacker is a stronger option. Have fun!
      SE

    2. Hi,I am an eastcost skier (Quebec) who like’s carving at medium speed on groomers and occationaly goes into tight trees and 7 to 9 inches of pow (5× a year).Im 6″3 350 pounds and pretty powerfull.i have a salomon qst 99 for the pow and a volkl decon 74 for carving on hard stuff.im searching a frontside orriented ski in the 80 to 90 wide full sidewall but 2 sheets of metal on the soft snow is to much to my taste.between the buswacker in the 184 lenght or a atomic vantage 90 ti in 184 lenght to witch do you think would work better for me.Thank’s guy’s loves the reviews!!!

      1. HI Phil!
        I’d say you’d crush the Bushwacker. the Vantage is a better choice of the two. Also check out the Rossignol Experience 88 Ti for an approachable yet powerful ski. Also the K2 Mindbender 90 Ti is a good choice in that realm. Have fun!
        SE

  1. Hi

    I recently got into a pair of Elan Ripstick 88s and after reading this review am wondering how the Bushwackers compare to the RS 88s? Im specifically interested in their hard snow / ice performance and stability vs the Ripsticks?

    Are they aimed at the same type of skier and if so what sets them apart?

    1. Hi Kris!
      Great comparison!
      Both are light, wood core skis that use carbon in the build. The big difference is that Elan uses carbon tubes while Blizzard uses carbon strips. The tubes are 3D, so they flex the same way in all directions while the carbon strips pretty much only flex fore/aft. In my experience, this gives the Elan a stronger ice performance, which is impressive given how light they are. But if you were to ski them back to back, it’d be hard to tell that much of a difference. I’d say they’re suitable for intermediates all the way to lighter expert skiers. Hope that helps!
      SE

  2. How would you compare the Elan Ripstick 88, Bushwacker 88, and the Kastle 86 (2020)? In the above comment, response, the Ripstick and Bushwhacker are very similar, wondering how close, if at all, to the Kastle 86. Currently I have the Kastle FX85 HP.

    1. Hi Stuart!
      I had a very similar experience on all three. I thought the Ripstick was the most interesting and unique while the Kastle had that high-end feel. I found them all to be very quick from edge to edge, and even though I’m on the heavy side (220lbs) to get the most out of these skis, I still found them all to be quite stable. I could lay into the Ripstick the most, while the Kastle didn’t quite have the heft to keep me from chattering the ski. Neither the Bushwacker, but for shorter turns and slower speeds, they’re all more than capable. You’ll notice less weight and stability and edge hold in the new 86 versus you’re 85 HP. The metal does make a big difference. Have fun!
      SE

  3. Great reviews!!
    I am curious how the Bushwhaker compares to the Rustler 9. I currently ski the 2014 Bushwhacker and have loved them to death since the 1st turn, so I am ready to replace them this year.
    Over 50 skier, 6’2″ 225. Would rather be skiing the trees and bumps than groomers…but I live in the east so we take what we can get…
    Thanks!
    Ken

    1. Thanks, Ken!
      A little wider, certainly stiffer underfoot, and a bit more playful thanks to the turned-up tail. If you’re looking to graduate from the Bushwacker, the Rustler 9 is a great next step. In terms of length, I’d lean to the 180, but your size does put you in consideration for the 188 if you prefer longer skis. Just a heads up, if you’re looking to get another Bushwacker, we’ve heard sad rumors that it’s discontinued for 2021. Have fun!
      SE

      1. Thanks SE.
        Not surprised that they are considering canceling the Bushwhacker, it seems to be a one-off ski that doesn’t really fit within their all mountain freestyle/freestyle lineup. (I think it is the only “men’s” ski in those categories that does not have metal)
        Thanks for the input. Spoke with a local shop that has the BW in a 180, but also recommended the Elan Ripstick, either 88 or 96, thoughts on those? Neither have metal which is probably why I’m hesitant of the Rustler.
        Cheers,
        Ken

      2. Ken,
        There’s nothing wrong with skis without metal. I’ve been on the Nordica Soul Rider 87 for the past year and a half and love it. I’m 6/2 220, so not a small person, and I get all the performance I need out of it. Also great for skiing with the kids! The Rustler is slightly stiffer than these models, but I wouldn’t say it’s in the “demanding” category. The Ripstick skis are great–they love to be on edge and are insanely quick, especially that 88. More float and power from the 96, but for your application, I’d stick to the high-80’s.
        SE

  4. Hey, thanks for the great in-depth reviews/feedback. How would you compare the Bushwacker to the Soul Rider 87? Obviously the Nordica is a twin-tip, but other than that? I’m 6ft 185lb, advanced skier, not a high-speed charger, looking for an east coast tracked-out trees, bumps, ski for mainly NY and VT mountains, I mainly ski between the trails — but, when am not there, ski backwards quite a bit to keep my eye on the kids (who like the parks). I have 100mm skis for deeper snow days with 4+ inches and out west. Bushwacker sounds like a good fit, but am intrigued by a twin, perhaps learning some new tricks, and wondering what I give up and what I gain. Thanks for any help, and if there’s any other skis you suggest I’m all ears. . . .

    1. Hi Drew!
      I’ve skied the Soul Rider 87 for the past two years and love it as an all-mountain ski. I’m 6/2 220, so I have some size behind (and in front of) me. I do not ski park, except with the kids, and if there’s a better tracked-out tree ski out there, I’d be interested in hearing about it. Snappy and poppy with decent grip for its build, I’ve hit some high speeds, and while it’s not that stable, it’s overall a ton of fun. The Bushwacker is simply a more directional version of the ski, so not as good in the woods or play. Love the Soul Rider!
      SE

      1. That’s great; you’ve convinced me and thanks for the detailed feedback. One last question. What length are you skiing in the Soul Rider? I’m 6′ 185lb. My 179 length, early-rise 98mm skis feel a smidge long in tight trees, so was thinking of going 177. But the rocker makes me wonder if I should go up to 185. Any thoughts there?

      2. Drew,
        I’m 6/2 220 and I’m on the 185. I wish it went up to 191! I think you’ll like the 185 versus the 177. Have fun!
        SE

  5. Hi there,
    I’m 6.13 f / 168 lbs and 36 years old. I ski 70% groomers and 30% allmountain. I’m not a hard charger and I mostly ski with my kids. So I’m looking for a ski that isn’t on the demanding site, that can carve pretty descently and that can handle some fresh snow, trees and bumbs.
    Some skis I thougt would be good for me:
    Rossignol experience 94ti
    Blizzard rustler 9
    Blizzard bushwacker
    Salomon qst 92
    Which one do you think is the best one for my purpose? Or is there another ski to consider?

    1. Hi Silvan!
      Great list!
      I’d narrow it to the Rustler 9 and the QST 92. Those two tend to be the most agreeable to skiers who are looking to do a little bit of everything without being too demanding. The Rustler is lighter in the tips and tails so has more of a playful personality, and the QST is just a solid and versatile ski that has endless capabilities, but weighs a bit more. Have fun!
      SE

  6. Hi, Thanks for the great reviews. I’m looking to update my equipment and I’m curious how you would you compare the Bushwacker to the K2 Mindbender TI? I ski east coast with one trip out west each year.

    1. Hi Scott!
      Definitely a lot more power and dampness to the K2. The Bushwacker is lighter and easier to turn while the K2 requires more effort and energy. The end result of that effort is a higher-performance feel and more upper end capabilities. If you’re just cruising all-mountain terrain and not looking for something heavy, the Bushwacker is the way to go. For a higher gear, the K2 will supply that. Have fun!
      SE

  7. Hi:

    Trying to decide between the Brahma 88 and the Bushwacker. I’m 5’9″, 175lbs, 50…intermediate – advanced skier.

    I am not a speed demon, but do not like the chatter at speed or want to get unstable in variable conditions.

    How aggressive can you be with Bushwacker and not regret not being on something like the Brahma?

    What length would you recommend for either ski?

    Thanks. Really appreciate all the videos, reviews, and comments.

    Matt

    1. Hi Matt!
      I’d go with the Bushwacker simply because you really have to be ON the Brahma all the time. There’s no relaxing or skidding for the most part. Yes you might get chattery at speeds, and that’s a tradeoff that you’re going to have to decide on yourself. I think the 180 in either ski is appropriate. Just as another thought, on the slightly wider side, the Blizzard Rustler 9 splits the difference performance wise with a partial metal laminate. A bit more of a freeride feel, but a good third option to explore if you’re still unsure. Have fun!
      SE

  8. Im 6′, 175lbs, currently on a 2012 173cm bushwacker which I love but are in need of replacement and want something with a bit more stability at speed. Demoed Enforcer 93s, Brahma 88s, and Rustler 9s a few days ago. To my surprise, I didn’t care for the Enforcers. I really liked the Brahmas (railed) and Rustlers (very playful) for their individual strengths but didn’t really enjoy either as much as my bushwackers ( if they made a brahma with the rustlers partial metal sheet I’d be set!) So my current dilemma is buy a sized up bushwacker to get a bit more stability before they’re discontinued or wait on the 2021 Brahma and see if the new core technology eases up turn initiation a little closer to the feel of the bushwacker.

    1. Hi Andrew!
      The cool thing about the 2021 Brahma is that they vary the core thickness/strength based on size, so it’s more appropriate for more skiers. So if you went with the 173 in the 2021 Brahma, you’d have a slightly more forgiving ski versus the 180 in that year. Also check out the Rossignol Experience 88 and K2 Mindbender 90 Ti as a good mix between the Brahma/Bushwacker. Have fun!
      SE

  9. Hello and thanks for your forum. I am an advanced/intermediate skier looking to complement my off piste Salomon 106 QST for a 2 ski quiver. I was thinking the Bushwacker might be a great paring as a front side mogul and on piste ski. I am not an aggressive skier in bumps, rather I enjoy slowing it down and performing tight turns in moguls and when on piste I will find at times enjoying a relaxed skiing style . I am 5’11” and 182lbs. Do you agree this would be a good choice and should I go with the 173 or the 180?

    1. Great choice, David!
      The Bushwacker gets overlooked for sure, and is a really nice ski for all of your applications. Very quick but can also hold an edge. I’d go 180 since they are on the light/maneuverable side. Have fun!
      SE

  10. Hello,

    Really appreciate your content, really informative and thorough. I am an Intermediate-Advanced skier that spends 70% of my time craving on trails and mostly on the East Coast (NH, VT, ME). I like to go as fast as I can within my ability to maintain control. I comfortably ski in 30mph range and in the 40s when I’m tryna send it fast. I’m in my 20s and 6’4″ 200lbs and have tried both the Bushwhacker and the Brahma SP (both at 180 cm), which I now realize are the same ski (let me know if I am wrong!). I didn’t love the Bushwhacker, and think I want a little more carving performance. I do want to be able to grow with the ski as my ability increases, but realize that the Brahma might be too much for me to handle. I feel like someone at my size who likes to ski somewhat quickly would benefit from metal in their ski. I’m thinking of looking at the Brahma, Rustler 9, ROSSIGNOL EXPERIENCE 88 TI, and the SALOMON XDR 88 TI. Do you think these are good options or have other suggestions I should consider?

    Thanks,
    Tom

    1. Hi Tom!
      Yup, same ski, the SP did come with a system binding (at least the ones we bought), but other than that they’re the same build. I think you’re right to stick to the 88’s, just with burlier constructions. The Brahma has the same shape as the Bushwacker just with two sheets of metal, so it’s quite a bit stiffer and heavier. If you’re looking for stability at speed, that’s the way to go. The XDR and Experience are pretty similar in terms of behavior and performance and they like somewhere in between the Brahma and Wacker. I’d say the Rustler is your more freeride-oriented ski, so if you’re looking to get more into off-piste skiing and softer snow, that’s worth a look. Have fun!
      SE

      1. Hello,

        Thanks for your feedback. Which ski between the XDR and Experience do you think has better carving performance? And do you think the Enforcer 88 or Mindbender 90 would be too much ski for me?

        Thanks,
        Tom

      2. Hi Tom!
        I’d say the Experience is the better turner while the XDR is a tad more versatile. The Enforcer is stiff and heavy while the K2 is just heavy. It’s not that they’re too much, just perhaps too much work to reach that higher gear. If you’re charging and want that top-end stability at speed, those skis are certainly superior, it just takes more of an effort to get there.
        SE

  11. Hello, thank’s a lot for your feedback. I’m an advanced skier of 5’8 ” and 170 lbs. I ski mainly in the undergrowth, between the trees and the bumps in eastern Canada (Québec). I’m looking to buy the bushwackers 2019-20. What size do you recommend for me between the 166 and the 173 ? Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Andre!
      Given your skill level, I’d go with the 173. A beginner/intermediate might feel more comfortable on the 166, and if you’re ultimately looking for quickness and maneuverability, it’s not out of the question. Overall, the 173 will be a better length for you and your application. Have fun!
      SE

  12. Hi there, I still have some 184cm Blizzard Latigos I bought from you guys in 2016 and love them. Thinking about the Bushwacker to complement them when there’s a snowfall or I want to spend time off piste.

    Would the 180cm length be okay (ie not too short) for me as a male 190cm, 82kg intermediate skiing in the East?

    My reasoning is that the 180cm rather than 187cm would work better in tight spaces off piste, but would still be okay on hard pack in the morning and afternoon bumps and slush on piste.

    1. HI Joe!
      Bushwacker is such a great ski! I’d say the 180 is on the short side for you in terms of stats, but your reasoning is sound–especially when it comes to tight spaces. Additionally, the 187 might just feel too long! Have fun!
      SE

  13. Love to get your opinion on skis.

    Im 46 185 lbs and skied regularly from like 4 years old until I was about 31 and am advanced. The last ski I owned (foot a decade) was the Rossignol 7S. Loved the quick turns but didn’t like the effort it took in bumps and trees.

    Started skiing 2 years ago with my kids And did seasonal leases. Spend most of my days cruising resorts in PA with hopes to take kids to NE occasionally and maybe random trip out west. I do get in 2-3 bump runs when the family is at lunch.

    Looking for an all mountain ski that I can enjoy but still make a few runs on my own. Even when I ski with the family, I do let the kids get down a way on a blue and then work to make good quick linked turns until I pass them and wait for them.

    I don’t want to heavy a ski, prefer a lively ski but don’t want a lot of chatter.

    Considering
    Head Kore 93
    Salomon QST 92
    Nordica Enforcer 93 (a 2020)

    I was put on the Bushwaker by a salesman and have found a new 2019 for sale. I also might consider the Ruster 9.

    Any thoughts? Also what do you think of the Mindbender 90C?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Chris!
      I think you’ll have a ton of fun on the Bushwacker. I’d also check out the Kore 87–same build as the 93 but quicker and a great bump ski. Light and lively without much chatter. You will find chatter in the Mindbender 90C–that thing is too light without much strength. The QST and Enforcer are on the heavier side of the spectrum, but are the most versatile and well-rounded on your list. I’d push you to more of the ~88’s like the Bushwacker and Kore 87, and also add the Rossignol Experience 88 to the list for a bit more performance than the Bushwacker, but still a fun and ripping ski. The Rustler falls more into the category of the QST and Enforcer, with a bit more weight and width. Hope that helps!
      SE

  14. Hi there, I’m looking for skis for my girlfriend and these look great, just a tad long, which I guess is because this is a man ski… Do you have something similar to suggest for women? Do the Black Pearl compare better to these ones or the Brahma (Brahma would be too stiff).

    By the way, it is not a coincidence these skis are overlooked, they don’t even exist in Blizzard’s official page! I think I would have opted for these ones instead of my Brahmas if I was aware they existed, since I prefer moderate speed and skiing through trees and moguls, they seem a perfect match.

    1. Hi Dionysios!
      The Bushwacker and the Black Pearl 88 are the same ski with different graphics and lengths, so you’re in luck! They have discontinued the Bushwacker for 2021, so that is why you’re likely not seeing it in current catalogs. Feel free to fire up the Black Pearl 88 in your chosen length!
      SE

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