2020 Elan Ripstick 96 Black

The Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition is the premiere version of their Ripstick 96 all-mountain ski. What does premiere entail? Well, Glen Plake is wearing a black and white tux in the catalog right next to it, but that doesn’t mean much. The important stuff here is that it uses the same TNT construction technology seen in the Ripstick 96, but enhances it with additional carbon fiber. The 3-dimensional carbon tubes used in the TNT construction have a unique feel, providing a smoother feel with more vibration damping than 2-dimensional carbon applications. That’s a key ingredient to the overall performance and feel of these Ripstick skis, and their shape is too. Amphibio technology uses more rocker along the outside edge and camber along the inside edge. Elan has determined this technique provides a more intuitive, balanced feel, while also creating easier turn initiation.

James Stewart tested the 181 cm length and gave the Ripstick 96 Black high scores across the board. James referred to it as a “super energetic carver. Very stable at speed for how light it is, and it doesn’t take a lot of speed to come to life.” That’s one of the best characteristics of the Ripstick models. They can handle fast, aggressive skiing, but they also feel great and are a lot of fun at slower speeds too. “There is some high-tech stuff going on with this ski. Milled cores and carbon tunes and all… and it works. This ski is underrated.”

Annie MacDonald couldn’t resist the opportunity to test a 181 cm Ripstick 96 Black and absolutely loved it. She basically drew a line through the 5 column for every criteria, with only flotation dropping to 4 out of 5. “So fun! Really playful, easy turning, and light, but torsionally stiff too. You can stomp out GS turns, but through quick snappy turns in and it responds! Great overall ski for a variety of conditions and abilities!” Versatility is easily one of the highlights of both the Ripstick 96 and the Ripstick 96 Black.

“What is in a name?” asked David Wolfgang after his test runs on a 181 cm Ripstick 96 Black. “When it comes to the Ripstick, everything. This ski can rip.” We saw high scores from David for quickness/maneuverability, stability, torsional stiffness/edge grip, versatility, and overall impression. “Extremely quick edge to edge, while still maintaining great stability. A real winner!”

Josh Wolfgang, David’s son, also skied the 181 cm length and “thought it was a great all-mountain ski,” proving that the Ripstick 96 Black appeals to multiple generations! “Super fun on a ton of different terrain. I think when you put this ski up against something like an Enforcer 100, it’s a lot of fun.” That’s an interesting comment, suggesting that the Ripstick 96 Black is a little easier to ski than some of the heavier competitors out there, but based on the feedback from our testers, it can handle aggressive skiing too.

Brad Schauerman has emerged as a big fan of the Ripstick series, and the 96 Black was certainly no exception. “This ski is very quick and nimble. Very fun, very playful. Lots of life and energy in the core of the ski. The carbon helps to stabilize at speed.” Brad gave the Ripstick 96 Black high scores across the board, with no criteria dropping below 4 out of 5.

If you value a lightweight feel, but don’t want to sacrifice power or torsional stiffness in your all-mountain ski, the Ripstick 96 Black is a fantastic choice. It feels energetic, it can play and maneuver through trees and tricky terrain, but it can also lay down fast carving turns and hold an edge on firm snow. As a bonus, it looks super sleek with the blacked out graphics, and we’d venture a guess you’ll get a lot of questions and comments in the lift line.


Brad Schauerman

Age: 28Height: 5'9"Weight: 160 lbs.

Ski Style: Trees, trees, and more trees just like a squirrel

Josh Wolfgang

Age: 23/24Height: 6'1"Weight: 190 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast and carvy with a love for the fall line

James Stewart

Age: 30Height: 6'2"Weight: 170 lbs.

Ski Style: Energetic, playful, and fun to follow

David Wolfgang

Age: 67Height: 6'3"Weight: 230 lbs.

Ski Style: Strong, deliberate, and smooth

Annie MacDonald

Age: 56Height: 5'7"Weight: 118 lbs.

Ski Style: Lots of style, grace, and power

33 Comments on the “2020 Elan Ripstick 96 Black”

  1. I will be 71 years old this coming December and am 5’6″ tall and weigh 147 lbs. I have been skiing since 1960 and am an advanced skier ,having raced a bit as a teenager,but aren’t as strong as I once was. I ski mostly groomers but sometimes venture off into new snow. My all around skis are 177 Nordica Enforcer 100s which I love, and I also have Head iRallys in a 163 for a carving ski, which I also love.I also have a pair of 181 Soul 7s in a 181, which I hate, as they wash out on any firm snow. (In fact, I stopped using them once I got the Enforcers, even though the Soul 7s are in mint condition.) My local ski shop may be willing to give me good money for the Soul 7s on a trade-in and have suggested the Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition in a 174. (I am familiar with the Amphibio skis, having a pair of those, too in a 78 width.). My questions are would I be wasting my money to get the Ripstick Black Edition since I already have the Enforcer 100 and love them, as they do what the Ripstick Blacks would do, or does the lightness and softness of the Ripstick make it a good alternative? Also would you recommend the 174 or 181 in the Ripstick, if I decide to get them?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Myron!
      They’re pretty similar in terms of overall shape, but that’s about where it ends. Definitely the different construction makes for a widely different feel, as they Enforcer is heavier, damper, and even has a bit more of a floaty personality thanks to the rocker profile. The carbon of the Ripstick Black makes it stiffer and stronger, so it’s more in line with the E100 versus the regular Ripstick 96. At the end of the day, I feel that they’re different enough to have both, as you’ll get a lighter performance from the Elan. I’d go with the 174 in that model. Have fun!

      1. Thank you for your quick reply. What appeals to me about the Ripstick Black is the lightness of the carbon (I skied for two years on Volkl VWerks RTMs. which are also carbon fiber.) as well as the flexibility of the tip for when I hit some bumps. Now if you think it will hold as well as the Enforcer on hard pack, I would probably get them. Then my only problem would be figuring out how to pack three pairs of skis for my trips. 🙂

    1. Hi Brian!
      A different feel for sure, given the metal laminates of the Kastle versus the Carbon construction of the Ripstick. Heavier and more aggressive skiers will tend to gravitate towards the Kastle, as it’s more business-like than the Ripstick, which is on the more playful side. The Kastle has a more high-end feel to them, hence the pricier tag, but the Elan is no slouch either. Have fun!

    1. Hi Rob!
      I’m pretty heavy, so I’d rather have the Rustler. The metal plate in the Rustler gives a lot more underfoot stability. The Ripstick is very consistent tip to tail, but I like the partial metal laminate of the Rustler 9 for mixed terrain and bumps.

  2. i have one more week do deside between

    Stöckli Stromrider 88 2020
    DPS Wailer A100
    DPS Cassiar A87
    Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition

    I want a light ski that response quick to inputs. My speed is not the fastest but i like long turns the same as short turns if the terrain gets more bumpy.
    Im 1,94m Tall with almost 100kg. 38yo and i’m not the fittest guy.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Thomas!
      It sounds like you’re looking more for the narrower skis on your list like the Cassiar 87 and the Stormrider 88. Of those, the Stormrider is one of the smoothest and stablest skis on the market. The dual carbon layer of the DPS gives it a unique feel as well, and is better suited for slower speeds while the Stockli has no speed limit. I’d say the Stockli has a better overall build for what you’re looking for, but they’re both fantastic skis. Also, if you’re sticking to the ~88 underfoot and still like the sounds of the Elan, the Ripstick does come in an 88 as well, so hopefully that doesn’t muddle your decision any further, but I thought it best to point it out. Have fun!

      1. Thank you very much for your advise.
        The Stöckli 88 was on top of my list for a while but what about short turns on this ski? I’m a little bit scared is need to much force to release the tail if the terrain gets to difficult for me.

        Dose it really need much force for short turn or is it whining at a high level?

        1. Good question, Thomas.
          Although it is a high-end ski, it has “only” one sheet of metal which is the top sheet, and the rest of the ski is a light wood core. As such, it isn’t overly demanding like a Blizzard Brahma or something with two sheets of metal. The shape of the tail keeps it engaged, but the build allows the skier to exit when necessary. I think you’ll be just fine. Have fun!

  3. Hey Guys,

    I have a question.
    I used to ski a lot and was a pretty aggressive skier. It’s been quite some time since I’ve skied but recently got the family involved and the kids absolutely love it. So my barreling down the hill days are over but I will enjoy the speed (when I get a chance) and exploring new terrain. I’m looking for some thing that I can have fun with the kids, but also tear it up when the opportunity presents itself. My skies are Salomon Xscream 7 and I’m looking at getting into some new skies. What skies would you guys recommend?
    I’m 41, 6’1″ and 180lb

    Here’s a list of skies that I’ve been looking at:

    Elan Ripstick 96 black or 88
    Ranger 92 Ti
    Ranger 94 FR
    Rustler 9
    Volkl M5 Mantra


    1. Great list, Stephen!
      I like it when skiers put the Ranger 92 on their list because it’s a wonderful ski that seems to have a marketing problem. They’re simple and easy, but still have an engaging personality. The Rustler 9 should also be at the top of the list, and I’d peg it to be more playful than the Ranger, but without that higher gear. Same can be said for the Ranger 94. Ripsticks are interesting skis, and are on the lighter end of the spectrum. If you’re valuing maneuverability and quickness, I’d keep these on the list, but if you’re really looking for stability at speed, you have better options. The most demanding and highest performing is the Mantra. You have to put in more work, but the reward is pretty great. I’d leave it off your list for now, as it sounds like you have higher priorities for exploration and fun versus straight-up performance. I’d look to either the Ranger 92 or the Rustler 9. Have fun!

  4. Hi,
    I am 18 years old and am very intrigued by these. I am an aggressive skier, who likes skiing colorado powder and east coast ice, and am looking for a ski that is capable in both of those fields. I am 5’9″, and looking for a ski that handles bumps as well as it handles cruising down groomers. I ski everything on the mountain, but am wondering if these are the skis for me.


    1. HI John!
      Sounds like a great choice–certainly something in that ~95mm area is ideal. The extra carbon makes it a capable carver without adding weight for softer snow. Also check out the Rossignol Experience 94 Ti for a slightly more aggressive ski that still has a ton of versatility. Have fun!

  5. Hello,

    What length of Ripstick 96 Black would you suggest for me?
    Looking for All- Mountain East Coast ski – often hard groomers and a lot of ice.
    I’m 5’10” 170lbs, solid upper intermediate. I tried and liked regular version of Ripstick 96 in 181 on soft snow but felt it would be too soft for ice/hard pack + I have Atomic Automatic 109 in 182 for West or lots of fresh here in the East (so easy to ski). In general stiffer skis in 180 were always too much for me but liked mid 170s (like Fischer Pro Mtn 86 in 175). Ripstick 96 Black Edition in 174 is more like 172 – kind of feel like I’d miss that extra 3-4 cm ,but not extra 8-10 cm 🙂

    Thank you,

    1. Hi JP!
      You’re right in noting that the Elan’s measure short. I was thinking the 181 is the right size for you for sure. Probably measures more like a 179. Have fun!

  6. Hi, I am 66 and 172cm. I was 72kg and now 66kg. I have Elan Ripstick 96 in 181 with telemark Meidjo 2.1 bindings which I thoroughly enjoy. Ski quite aggressively for telemark. And only telemark now.
    But my old legs find it quite weary and with the reduction in weight think I’d be better changing to 174.
    I’ve also found 174 Black Edition and thought I might give those a whirl.
    Wondered what you might think??

    1. Hi Colin!
      I love the asymmetrical skis for a telemark application–just makes sense! The Black Edition is stiffer, and a bit heavier, but not so much compared to other skis that perform like it. Perhaps not as “skidable” as the regular 96, but a better performing ski overall. I think the 174 is a better length for you–still about head-high, so I think that’s fine, if not better than the 181. For weight, I don’t have exact numbers, but it might be kind of a wash going from the 181 regular to the 174 Black? If I have a minute today, I’ll to a little weight comparison and get back to you, now I’m interested!

  7. Considering the Ripstick Black Edition (thinking about taking advantage of your great sale price!) as a gift for somebody who’s 5’11”, 210lb. They are high intermediate to low advanced. They want an all-mountain ski that they won’t grow out of too quickly as they advance in their abilities. They are a west coast skier (mostly Idaho) who will probably be 60/40 on/off piste. What do you think of the Black Edition for a person like that and what length would you suggest? Other skis on the list are regular Ripstick 96, Blizzard Bonafide, Liberty Origin 96, Armada Tracer 98, Black Crows Daemon–any thoughts on those or perhaps others that might be an even better choice? Options that have been considered and dismissed are M5 Mantra, Enforcer 100, and Sky 7. Thanks!

    1. Hi PC!
      I think the Ripstick skis are the best on your list for that application and skier size. Origin and Tracer are a bit too light and flexible for 210 pounds and the Bonafide and Daemon have the opposite problem, especially in terms of a high-intermediate skier. Between the Ripstick and the Black Edition, the Black has that extra layer of carbon, so will serve a heavier skier a bit better, and certainly when it comes to advancing and progressing. I think the Ripstick Black in the 181 is the way to go. Have fun!

  8. Heyo! I am a 22yo 5-10 165ish advanced to expert skier looking to get into a 50/50 setup. I was wondering if these would work better than the 2021 Ripstick 96’s for that purpose, especially out east. I am also considering the armada tracers for this purpose. I’ve been skiing on Nordica enforcers for the past few years and am looking to get into something a little more playful in the trees (especially for backcountry shenanigans. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi George!
      There’s more of a difference between the 2021 Ripstick 96 and your Enforcers versus the Black and your Enforcers, so if you’re looking to widen the quiver gap, I think the 2021 Ripstick is the way to go. It’s a blend of the 2021 normal Ripstick and the Black edition, although I couldn’t tell a whole lot of difference in weight between the two. The Black felt heavier and damper, but still not like the Enforcer (regardless of width). Tracer is lighter still, with I’d say a heavier focus on shenanigans versus on-trail/resort performance (I think we might add “shenanigans” to our scorecard for next year’s test, and you’ll get all the credit). That does, however, put the Tracer into more of a 40/60 vs. 50/50, where I think the Ripstick really shines. After all that, I think the 2021 Ripstick 96 is the way to go, offering a lighter and more playful option, but not the stiffness of the Black, which I feel might overlap too much with the Nordica. Have fun!

  9. Great reviews as always…thinking of replacing my 2019 QSTs 99 in 181. Actually very much love the QST skis, so in no rush to jump, but looking hard at these and the 92 Armada Declivities.

    I ski advanced, but cautious. Happy to ski open off piste and frontside though. No interest in serious bumps other than to practice, no serious steeps since the body says no.

    6’2, 175lbs…

    wondering about length too of various options. Reviews suggest Elan Black skis short.

    Thanks for being the best ski-shop site out there.

    1. Thanks, Mike!
      I think it makes sense to go a bit narrower, making the turns a bit quicker to come by, which sounds like a priority for you. You’ll find a fairly similar overall character with the Ripstick Black, perhaps a bit stiffer in the Elan. The Declivity adds metal to the equation, so they are a bit heavier, but also damper and more stable, so it’s all a trade-off. In terms of sizing, I’d stay as close to the 181 as you can find, and with the Elan, they don’t ski short, they actually measure short–about 1.5 cm shorter, so the 181 is really more like a 179.5. Probably not enough to warrant the upsize to the 188. 180 for the Armada. Have fun, will get to your other comment shortly!

  10. Hi,

    I’m looking for 1 ski to take me everywhere that I can get on a mountain (tree runs, side county, not back country).

    I Love the trees, but spend lots of time in hard pack old snow, due to the CA weather, and only get real powder on occasion.

    I’ve heard Elan is one of the few companies with in-house manufacturing, while so many other top brands are really made in china. (not sure the facts. ?)

    I’m 5’8″, and ski around 165-175lbs, mostly aggressive, but I recently turned 40, and hope I don’t slow down too quickly.

    Can you give advice about Elan vs. other manufacturers, and about the Ripstick Black Ed (2019?) vs. the Wingman CTi, including the ideal size for me in both?
    I’ve been skiing K2 SideStash; I think the waist is 108 and the length is maybe 177, and I LOVE it.
    If Elan’s manufacturing isn’t as much better as I’ve been suggested, I am/was also thinking about Rischer Ranger Ti, Head Kore 98, Nordica Enforcer 100, and Sotckli Stormrider 95. (no need to comment on the entire giant list)

    THANKS for all the Great Info!!!!

    1. Hi Kurt!
      Based in Slovenia, Elan seems to make skis in factories all over Europe. You’ll see a lot of skis, Fischer included, that say something like “Engineered in Austria” but made elsewhere. Ultimately, we have not really found a huge difference in the longevity and quality of where skis are made, but certainly some people feel better about it one way or the other. Elan has come a long way over the past few years, with the addition of the Ripstick line, and the Wingmans not far behind. Asymmetric builds are the big thing separating Elan from more mainstream companies, and it makes a lot of sense, although some skiers don’t like the notion that you’re always using a right/left specific ski, as it does make for uneven wear. That said, the benefits might outweigh the limitations for you. Smooth rocker and more power over the inside edge are all huge selling points, and they’re not found in other skis at this point. The Ripstick Black is a cool ski, with carbon tubes, a full carbon layup, and the asymmetric amphibio rocker profile, it is highly versatile and a ton of fun without weighing much. The Wingman 86 CTi was one of the fastest and smoothest skis I’ve been on, and it didn’t seem to matter to the ski how fast it was going–I certainly had to put the brakes on because they’re so smooth and you can’t really tell how fast you’re going until your jacket starts really flapping. They tend to measure a bit short, so the 181 in the Ripstick Black is actually more like a 179.5. The 174 is more like a 172.5, so for that ski, I’d say the 181 is the way to go. Same for Wingman, although I think the 179 is the right length for you. Hope that helps!

  11. I’m 42, 5’11, and 250 lbs. I live and ski in the Northeast and used to ski every weekend when I was younger on all terrain. I’m getting back on the slopes more regularly now with my family. I want something that I can do the whole mountain with but I will not have to push the whole time and I will be skiing with my young kids sometimes. I want something that will be fun in the bumps and trees and maybe a little forgiving. I will be on the groomers too. Will this be a good ski for me? Is 181 the right size? My friends love this ski and the regular Ripstick but I’m a heavier guy. I’m on 2013 Volkl Kendo 170s now which I like.

    1. HI Todd!
      I’d say the 181 is a great ski for you. I’m 220 pounds and I do find the shovels a bit soft, but only when I’m driving the ski at high speeds, which isn’t a whole lot of the time. All other times, it’s great. Really good in the bumps and trees! Have fun!

  12. I’m looking at these and the 2020 ROSSIGNOL EXPERIENCE 94 TI. Mostly because they are on sale, but I’ve been following the Ripstick for a while. I’m advanced-intermediate, I like skiing all the mountain. I’m a bigger dude, 240 lbs. Is the Ripstick too light for me? The other ski I’m considering in the Kore 93. Thanks!

    1. Hi Tommy!
      I think the Ripstick is on the light side, and more importantly, is pretty soft in the shovel. The Kore is of a similar weight, but is stiffer, so will hold you up a bit better. And yes, the sales on the Experience 94 are fantastic, and you could use a ski like that effectively, but probably not as good of a fit as the Kore. Have fun!

  13. I like to ski groomers very fast and like the occasional skiing in some light 4-6″ of powder after a fresh snowfall. Any downside to skiing the 188s vs. a shorter ski?

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