2020 Elan Ripstick 88

The Ripstick 88 is the newest and narrowest ski in Elan’s collection of all-mountain freeride skis. They’ve taken the successful construction and shape of the wider Ripstick models and repackaged it in a narrower waist width. These skis are unique in their construction and shape. Elan uses 3-dimensional carbon tubes running through the ski’s wood core. This application of carbon provides a much smoother feel with better vibration damping than most skis using carbon. Elan also uses an asymmetrical shape with more rocker along the outside edge and camber along the inside edge. This gives the ski the ability to hold an edge even on very firm conditions, while also smoothing out turn initiation and giving it a more versatile feel and more capabilities in softer snow conditions. This 88 mm width range is a popular league and we’re excited about this new player.

Parker Herlihy, who in years past has won the Overall Ski The East Freeride title, is a great person to test the limits of a new ski. He opted for the 186 cm length in the Ripstick 88, which happens to be the longest length available. Lots of high scores from Parker, including 5 out of 5 for stability, torsional stiffness/edge grip, and overall impression. “No speed limit! Give’r a rip!!” If Parker can’t find a speed limit, not many skiers are going to. He was impressed by its ability to rip on firm snow, but also by its quickness and playful nature. Not many skis, or maybe no skis, have this blend of playfulness and torsional stiffness. “Quick to engage. So so stiff underfoot and so so sick. Love them.” He actually drew a heart on his test form too. Parker had heard the hype, but hadn’t had a chance to ski them until our test. His closing comment was “there’s a reason why people talk about these.”

Michael Rooney went for the 179 cm length and he too was impressed by the versatility of the Ripstick 88. Michael found it held an edge really well on hardpack, and also that it “handles bumps and choppy snow well. Turns easily regardless of what type of snow and terrain.” That’s where the shape of the Ripstick 88 really comes into play. Its unique rocker profile paired with substantial early taper in the tips and tails gives it a very intuitive feel and allows for easy turn initiation in a huge variety of situations. It also lets the skier make different style turns on demand. It will hold an edge and finish a true carve, but it will also pivot, slip, smear, and slash when you want it to.

Tad Lamell admitted he was a little turned off by the right and left ski concept, but after testing the 179 cm length, he was impressed by its feel and performance. He thought it was a “good shape,” as it provides that versatility we just talked about. Tad also really enjoyed the feel of initiating turns, ‘I was impressed with the ease of turns,” which is a recurring theme on any Ripstick model.

Dave Marryat is known more for his prowess on a snowboard than his skiing chops, but that actually makes him a great ski tester as he has a different perspective and less experience than some of our seasoned vets. “Ripstick 88 rips! I purposefully grabbed the 172 cm and found it quick through the turn and confidence-inspiring in mixed conditions.” Between Parker and Dave, we’re covered two ends of the skiing ability spectrum. Parker easily falls into the expert category, and Dave squarely into the intermediate realm. They both loved the Ripstick 88, which really says a lot about the ski.

The Ripstick 88 from Elan provides tremendous all-mountain versatility for a whole slew of different skiers. It’s approachable for intermediates and even timid skiers, while experts will appreciate its versatility, responsiveness, and the fact you can ski it really aggressively if you want to. It performs well in all but the deepest snow conditions, suggesting that it could be a good one-ski-quiver for a lot of skiers, especially those who don’t encounter deep snow conditions very often.


Parker Herlihy

Age: 21Height: 6'4"Weight: 190 lbs.

Ski Style: Freeride fun with big air on the brain

Michael Rooney

Age: 72Height: 6'0"Weight: 155 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast and precise with a racing background

Rick Randall

Age: 45Height: 5'10"Weight: 190 lbs.

Ski Style: Efficient and technical with a love for speed

Tad Lamell

Age: 73Height: 6'2"Weight: 220 lbs.

Ski Style: Experienced and precise with a love for early-morning runs

Dave Marryat

Age: 30Height: 5'11"Weight: 180 lbs.

Ski Style: Snowboarder trying to make the most of these skinny things

Jeff Neagle

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

Ski Style: Aggressive freeride with freestyle background

26 Comments on the “2020 Elan Ripstick 88”

  1. Hi Ski Essentials / Pinnacle Team, This is def one of the most difficult choices to make. Like picking that perfect new car.

    One of my most fav ski’s in my quiver (K2 Amp Rictor 90xti) unfortunately is going into semi retirement due to not much metal left too sharpen, so I have decided to park them in the rack. I was thinking of replacing them with (2) pairs of skis so that I then had really the best of both worlds; an everyday driver for the typical East Coast days (hard pack in the morning) (crud and pushed around mounds in the afternoon), but also have another pair of skis that handles the deeper stuff when it comes + spring conditions as well as really shine on my trips out West or someday to Europe. My Amp Rictors are my current widest pair and are fabulous but on those heavy, heavy snow days could not float as much as I wanted them to though I have managed for this long.

    My skis seasons are spent at combinations of these resorts depending on the multi pass we choose. (Stowe, Tremblant, Sunday River, Sugarbush, Killington, Okemo, Loon, Sugarloaf, Cannon, Bretton Woods, Jay Peak). With (1) planned trip out West per season which is a new experience. Last year was Whistler BlackComb. This year will be Deer Valley / Park City.

    Out of all of the ski’s I demo’d last season, I really walked away really enjoying the RipStick 96 for it’s do everything nature. Everyone is correct; it’s just FUN.!! With that said I am still in search of something that does an even better job ripping on the Hard Pack but still is as playful, in the trees and moguls but damp and stable enough at speed and laid back when I want to be.
    For my All Mountain everyday do everything ski and with not demo’ing either of these my thoughts are to try out the RipStick 88 and Enforcer 88.

    Coming out from left field; having really enjoyed how Blizzards perform when I had chance to try other models on a demo day, my other thought is to give the Rustler 9 a try. If I really liked it would you think this throws out even needing a Ripstick 96 or will I still beg for something that has a more float on bigger snow days and out West (just trying to understand how tip width plays into float performance)?

    I know that it sounds like I’m all over the map but I have been doing a ton of research and was really waiting to see what this seasons line-up had to offer. Your input greatly appreciated and needed so that I can make a sound decision.

    Specifically in search of my replacements I have demo’d the following: K2 Mind-bender – (It’s a K2 -solid performer but did not really do it for me. And I wanted to really luv that ski), Head Kore 93 – (not enough edge grip for me on hard pack, very nice in the soft stuff though, but best at speed), Atomic Vantage 90 ti – (Did everything well but in a very bland way. Not lively at all). Rossi Experience 88 – (not for me).

    Lastly whichever ski(s) I choose I will be interested in getting the DPS Phantom Base coating done. Is this recommended and will I or should I still get ski’s waxed ever? And what happens when skis are tuned and bases are grounded and smoothed out with this treatment?

    Looking forward to working with the team. At store level everyone is always such a great help.

    Preferred Ski Length: 177 – 181
    Height: 5′ 11″
    Weight: 240lb’s

    1. Hi Willie!
      Glad to help!
      As I understand, you’re pretty much down to Enforcer 88, Ripstick 88, and Rustler 9. If you get the Ripstick 96, I’d take the Rustler off the list and focus on the 88’s. Definitely try that Rustler, though, as it’s a surprisingly snappy ski for a 92 underfoot. Of the 88’s the Enforcer is certainly the stronger and more stable performer of the two, but is also more demanding. The Ripstick 88 has the same general personality as the 96, which is all about fun, and if you found that to be true about the wider version, the narrow one will follow suit. But, different conditions require different skis, and for groomer performance, the Enforcer is superior. For firm conditions, you will be better off with stiffer skis. At 240 pounds, you’ll probably appreciate the dual metal laminate construction of the Enforcer while on ice and hard pack versus the wood/carbon build of the Ripstick. In fresh and soft snow, the more forgiving build is better at absorbing and floating, but for a hard snow ski, you need some substance to stand on. It’ll be interesting to see what you like!
      In terms of Phantom, it’s a good product and it works well. I have it on my K2 Pinnacle 105’s, and I don’t wax otherwise, and they glide along just fine. You can still wax your skis, and that is recommended especially in warm snow conditions. It’s not really a “coating,” the treatment permeates the entire base of the ski, so you can get them ground and tuned until you get to the core and the performance remains the same. This was only our first year doing it, so we don’t have the long term data to support all of our claims, so it’ll be interesting to see who says what this year. I expect it to work the same this year as last. Hope that all helps!

      1. Thank so much for your input. Yes it does help. I now understand that even though a ski may show it’s stiffness on hard snow ski the depending on if it’s a forgiving construction build it to can support my weight in turn helping with float. Am I on the right track? If so now I see why it is so difficult to find a ski that is also playful if it happens to be stiff.

        All that said, would a ski like the Stormrider 88 fall into characteristics that may fit my needs. My only concern is if it is a highly demanding ski, more so that the Nordica? Or if there is just too much power there? From the review many say that it is playful.

        Or on the more forgiving front do I go back in time and look at ski’s like the K2 Pinnacle 88 or even Nordica Navigator 90 (if any are left in your stock)?

        Lastly, regarding rigidity, for my Ripstick 96 would you recommend the Standard version or Black Edition understanding the typical conditions we receive here in the East? Also understanding I would typically bring this this ski on weekends when more snow was in the forecast and def on all of the Spring condition days.

        Other skis in my quiver:
        ** Volkl – VWerks Code w/ UVO (These things just rail and hold ice and hard pack like and F1 car to a road. I use these on the coldest and hardest icy of days when you know that most will be ski’d off).

        ** Dynastar – Powertrack 84 (I use these mostly for my early season rock skis. They do punch through alot of crud and hold a very nice edge because of the long tail. But that long tail makes them not much fun in moguls or trees).

        Thank you again for your help.

        ~ Willie H.

  2. I was just about to to hit the confirm order button on my Head Kore 93s…until I saw the review for these Ripstick 88s!

    As a bigger skier (188cm / 220-ish lbs) who will be on piste in the Swiss/French alps 90% of the time, Im looking for a fun ski that I can cruise around with all day but definitely do not want some super beefy, two metal laminate monster that will leave me beat up at the end of the day.

    Im big but want to enjoy myself and not be flying down the piste all day, so I was looking at the Kore 93s as a wider, more stable and intuitive ski for my size that I could have fun with and not think too much about while im skiing. However, having seen your reviews and videos on the 88s, im close to changing my mind!

    How would you compare the two skis? Based on my desire for something light, stable with good front-side performance that I can occasionally take off the sides of the piste on good powder days, would the RS 88s or Kore 93s be better for me?

    I also think the 88 underfoot is much better width for what I’m looking for instead of the slightly more off-piste oriented 93 underfoot on the Kores.

    Also, since Im a heavier, advanced-intermediate skier, would I be better off getting the longer options in either ski (189cm Kore or 186cm RS)?

    Thank you so much once again gents!

    1. Hi Kris!
      You would have been fine with the Kore 93, if you do come back to it, but it does sound like you’re more of a Ripstick 88 skier to me. The Kore is great, and for how light it is, is remarkably stable, but the Elan’s build is a bit more sophisticated, and quite a bit more lively, especially given the narrower waist. On the front side, the 88 underfoot gives you better edge grip and torsional stiffness for carving. Additionally, those carbon tubes that run the length of the skis actually work, and since they’re tubes, have 3 dimensional strength and flex–not just gimmicky technology. Off-piste, you’ll get better flotation out of the Kore, but if you’re on-piste 90% of the time, that’s not such a big issue. Given your size, I’d go with the 186 in the Elan. Hope that helps!

      1. Amazing, i’m sold on the RS 88s! Thank you once again!

        Lastly before i click order, just once more on the length – considering that I dont like to ski hard and fast down-hill most of the time and prefer to vary my skiing (mainly on the cruising side), Im slightly worried the 186 length will be too much for me as I measure out to 188cm in height.

        Is this a valid concern? Or will my weight simply be too much for the 179 length, irrespective of my skiing style?

        Much appreciated guys!

  3. Amazing, i’m sold on the RS 88s! Thank you once again!

    Lastly before i click order, just once more on the length – considering that I dont like to ski hard and fast down-hill most of the time and prefer to vary my skiing (mainly on the cruising side), Im slightly worried the 186 length will be too much for me as I measure out to 188cm in height.

    Is this a valid concern? Or will my weight simply be too much for the 179 length, irrespective of my skiing style?

    Much appreciated guys!

  4. Hi from Australia
    I’m tossing up between a Stockli storm rider 88 and elan ripster 88 as a single quiver all mountain ski with a bit of a focus on the front side. Like to ski fast so I need something that grips very well but is also up for a bit of back mountain and powder, snow permitting. Any any thoughts welcomed.

    1. Hi David!
      The Stormrider will respond better to speed than the Ripstick due to the metal laminate. At slower speeds, the Ripstick is a ton of fun, but if you’re looking to go fast, I’d go with the Stockli. Have fun!

  5. Hi from Colorado! Thanks in advance to replying.
    I am 5’9″ and 160 lb – so a medium sized skier. I have been skiing for several decades and so grateful to still be able to do what I am about to describe to you. A typical ski day for me and my crew (at Mary Jane) is to do a cruiser or two (groomed, or powder on a powder day) to warm up, an then start hitting the bumps off of C-lift, working our way up to a big line run above treeline in Parsenn Bowl (groomed, powder, or crud depending) leading to some tree skiing, and then over to hit the very steep trees in Eagle Wind for several runs (or late in the season maybe we just start there!). Maybe we find a quick lunch break in the middle of all that. So bumps and trees and both at the same time most of the time, but some cruising at sort of high speeds. I know you are jealous 🙂 Currently riding K2 Mindbender 99 Ti which just kills it in the pow, groomed, crud, but IMO kind of sucks in the tight trees and steep bumps (reasonably fun in easy soft bumps).

    So I am looking for something that is a better fit with what I spend my time doing. In looking at many (but not all) of the reviews for all mountain skis (which I have defined as those having width from 87 to 99 mm) only three sets of reviews seem to specifically mention that the ski is good in bumps and trees: Elan Ripstick 88, Dynastar Legend X88, and Nordica Enforcer 88 (there seems to be a consensus here on ski width!). Reading ski reviews is sort of an exercise in reading between the lines, so while other reviews mention easy turning, short turn radius, maneuverable, playful, nimble, etc – these three reviews specifically say bumps and trees.

    Do you think I am on the right track? Are there significant differences between these skis that I should consider? Am I missing something?

    1. Hi Robert!
      I think of your three, the Ripstick makes the most sense. It’s light and quick and great for bumps. No metal versus the other skis, so you won’t get bounced around as much. Great quickness so for groomers and tighter (packed snow) trees, the Ripstick is pretty sweet. I’d say in the 88 category if you want another option, look to the Rossignol Experience 88, as it doesn’t have two full sheets of metal like the other skis. Have fun!

      1. Thanks for this informative reply, I was not thinking about the metal but that makes sense. Just pulled the trigger on a pair of these (Ripstick 88)

  6. I am interested in the Ripstick 88. I am 5′-9″ 155 lbs. I do enjoy skiing in glades and soft moguls. What length would be good for me?

  7. How are the 88s in powder? I’m trying to decide between the 88s and 96s. Typically ski 5 weekends in Vermont (usually Stowe or Killington) during the season and do one or two trips out West. I don’t do any backcountry skiing. Would like a ski that still does well in powder, but I figure if it really dumps then I may just end up demoing a powder ski that day. I’m 6’0 205lbs.

    1. Hi Eric!
      Not as good as the 96 in powder! You’re on the bigger side to be using that ski in deep snow, I’d say–you’re probably better off on the 96. Still carves great and is super-quick, plus gives you extra versatility for terrain/snow conditions you’re entering. Have fun!

  8. Nobody had mentioned binding position on this ski,did all of the testers like the binding mounted on the , Ride. marking for boot center on this ski thanks

    1. Hi Scott!
      We’re pretty traditional when it comes to mount point, especially with directional skis like the Ripstick. For twin tips and freestyle skis, we’ll at least make a note if it felt forward or back, but not usually with the all-mountain category. Unless you know you like something specific about a mount, we pretty much always go with the recommended line. Take care!

  9. Interested in buying the Ripstick 88 as a playful frontside ski (5 11 about 180lbs). I have been on the Navigator 85 for the past two seasons and though I ilke a lot, especially its carving abilities, the swing weight always bothered me. Would the Ripstick be comparable in performance? Also considering the new Kore 87, Sick Day 88.


    1. Hi Andreas!
      I don’t think you’ll find the same stability as an aspect of performance, but if you’re looking to increase the playfulness and not lose too much on the carving, the Ripstick is a great choice–certainly a better ski in more conditions and terrain overall. Kore is a bit stiffer than the Elan and doesn’t offer as much versatility while the Sick Day is a bit bland but well-rounded. The 2021 Ripstick is a bit stiffer with additional carbon if you’re interested in that! Take care!

  10. Hello! As a careful consumer obsessed with research, I really appreciate your insights! I’m 5’11, 170 and an aggressive skiing intermediate/advanced skier (not expert) who spends most of his time on piste; however I live and ski in Austria and i want something that i can play with on those beautiful powder days! I also love hitting some random tree runs and jumps when i can and want to both imporove my carving technique and be able to explore the whole off piste mountain.

    I have my decision narrowed down to the: Ripstick 88, Line “Sick Day” and Dynastar Legend 84. I would greatly appreciate your insight the above! Thanks!

    1. HI Matt!
      The Ripstick is one of the most engaging skis out there. It has a softer shovel, but through the forebody and into the tail, it’s a fantastic carving ski–you just can’t really drive the tip of the ski when you’re carving, it’s more of a middle of the ski feel. But in softer snow and trees, it’s so incredibly fun and versatile. The Legend is a bit stiffer and more stable than I thought it was going to be. I like the five-point sidecut of the ski and it’s ability to make a multitude of carved turn shapes. The Sick Day lies somewhere in the middle. There’s really nothing that stands out about it other than its mediocrity (in a good way). It’s just a bit non-descript, while the other skis have certain traits that do make them stand out. Overall, it’s hard to recommend against the Ripstick for your application. Have fun!

  11. Hello,

    This one or Rossignol Exp 88? – advanced skier, 80% on piste, short to medium turns at moderate to fast pace. Need a ski that holds well but easy to initiate turns and not too fatiguing as I’m 60. Thanks,

    1. HI James!
      The Experience is a bit more precise while the Ripstick is more playful while still retaining solid edge hold. I think you’ll like the fun-loving nature of the Ripstick a bit more. Have fun!

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