2020 Nordica Navigator 85

The 2020 Nordica Navigator 85 is a surprising ski that is a great option for a huge range of skiers. Unchanged for this year, the Nav 85 is now the widest of the collection, with the Navigator 90 being phased out/morphing into Enforcer 88. Built with a poplar/beech core and a titanium hex bridge, the Navigator 85 has a great blend of snap, pop, and stability. The shape of the ski has always set it apart, with its Enforcer-inspired tip and Dobermann-like tail, the Navigator 85 is an awesome blend of playfulness and power. At 85 mm underfoot, the skis absolutely rail turns on groomers. At 179 cm length, the skis have a 16.5-meter turn radius, so these things really turn on a dime. That tail is stiff enough to hold strong carves from advanced and expert skiers, but they are also suitably forgiving for intermediate level skiers. They really do hit a broad range of the skiing population, and they’re really well-built and designed skis.

Michael Rooney skied the 186 and found it to be the proper length. He gave out a ton of high scores, with 5’s for stability, quickness, playfulness, versatility, and overall impression. His score of 3 out of 5 for forgiveness indicates that Michael thought it was a pretty stiff ski with fantastic stability. “The Navigator 85 is a great advancing intermediate to expert level ski. It loves to turn and on edge it carves easily. It handles bumpy stuff well too. It is a fun ski!” It’s nice to hear that a ski with precision and stability can also be fun. That’s what Nordica was aiming for with the shape of this ski, and it’s nice to see that it actually works.

Tad Lamell liked his 179 cm test length, scoring the ski 5’s out of 5 for quickness, playfulness, and versatility. Tad “enjoyed the length to width ratio! Easy turn and good edge hold. Stable enough for me at high speed. Good for all-mountain groomers.” As our second tester to comment on the easy-turning nature, Tad picks up on the smoothness of the ski, and how responsive it is for how light it is.

Also on the 179, Rick Randall found it to be appropriate. He scored the skis all 4’s, right down the line, and this usually means that the ski is truly well-rounded and has a ton of different strengths. Rick was “really surprised by how well this ski held an edge, was quick from turn to turn, and stable at speed.” Rick did notice, whether he would have had the same experience with the 186, we’re not sure, but that the “only thing is tip flat from the rocker profile on hard-pack snow.” He finishes by stating that the Nav 85 is a “really fun and lively all-mountain ski that can also rip carves.”

Dave Marryat skied the 179 and liked the length, the forgiveness, and the edge hold of the Navigator 85. All 4’s and 5’s for Dave, including a 5 for overall impression. This ski really does surprise a lot of different skiers. Dave calls it “an excellent daily driver. Light and easy edge to edge. Holds a turn nicely. It has a big sweet spot.” And in terms of the ski’s broad appeal: “Anyone could hop on this ski and have a good day.” That’s a really nice thing to say about a ski!

As a Dad, I somewhat take offense to Parker Herlihy’s comment that the Navigator 85 is the “best all-mountain dad stix!” But if you’re going to have all-mountain skis, might as well get the best!

But yes, the Nordica Navigator 85 checks a ton of boxes for a ton of skiers, Dads included. The carving ability puts them over the edge in comparison to some competitors, and they’re just really well-constructed skis.


Brooks Curran

Age: 24Height: 6'2"Weight: 170 lbs.

Ski Style: Ex-racer, now backcountry freerider

Parker Herlihy

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

Ski Style: Freeride fun with big air on the brain

Dave Marryat

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

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

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

Michael Rooney

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

Ski Style: Fast and precise with a racing background

18 Comments on the “2020 Nordica Navigator 85”

  1. Hi SE!
    Looking for new pair to explore offpiste in northern europe. .6’6 ~200-210 lbs, hard charging on piste, but complete beginner in woods & bumps.
    Previous skis were head power instinct ti pro 184cm 2017, loved the edge hold and stability at any speed, but i just couldnt handle them offpiste (paired with 130 flex boots).)
    I’ve considered navigator 85/90 , volkl kanjos, brahma 82/88 (might be too much for offpiste), new qst92

    1. Hi Ragnar!
      I think for off-piste adventures you should look to the ~90 underfoot skis like the Navigator 90, QST 92, and Brahma 88. While I agree that the Brahma can be a handful in the bumps and trees, it’s still a very competent ski. I’d also add the Blizzard Rustler 9 to your list as a slightly wider option at 94 mm underfoot. The Navigator and the Brahma are more at home on the groomers versus the QST 92, which is a great option for an all-around ski. If you’re looking to improve and advance in woods, bumps, and softer snow, the QST is the way to go. The Rustler 9 is a bit stiffer than the QST, which for someone your size, is probably at least worth a look. Have fun!

      1. Hi again, thanks for answering.
        What to think about adding vantage 90 ti (might be too piste oriented) and Fischer Ranger 92ti in addition to that list stated above?
        Also big thanks for the reviews on site & youtube, really appreciate

        1. Ragnar,
          The Vantage is a very stiff flexing ski that I fell lacks the all-mountain ability of the Ranger. I love the Ranger 92 for your application, as it’s a bit more well-rounded than the Navigator. Definitely check out that Ranger.

  2. Hi guys, a couple questions:

    First, I couldnt quite get my head around Rick’s quote saying “only thing is tip flat from the rocker profile on hard-pack snow.” What did he mean by this?

    Also, what do you guys think are the limitations of this ski when it goes off piste? Im looking at it for a one ski quiver for Washington DC area skiing. Does the tail make it difficult to ski in soft snow/trees? Im aware other skis would be better for off piste, I’d just like to know whether the Nav 85 can get the job done.


    1. Hi Matt!
      Sounds like that one slipped past our editors! Rick meant “tip flap” not flat. So on ice and firmer snow, Rick thought the tip of the Navigator 85 was a bit soft. The tail is on the stiffer side, and the ski does want to carve, so it’s not quite as playful as a similarly shaped ski with no metal in it. That said, it’s a great all-around ski that I think would work well for your applications. Have fun!

  3. Hi,
    I’m a 42 yr, 5’9″, ~130lbs keen intermediate currently skiing on a Rossignol Experience 75 Carbon 168 cm. I’m debating between the Nordica Navigator 85 165 cm and Rossignol Experience 88 Ti 166cm as my next skis. I’m skiing primarily groomed Blue terrain in the Northeast at the moment and would like to expand my terrain with the next as I progress. Which ski would you recommend?



    1. Hi Ravi!
      Two great options, there! I like the snappiness of the Nordica and the versatility of the Rossignol, so if you’re spending most/all of your time on groomed blue terrain, I’d go Nordica, but if you’re looking to add a different dimension like bumps or trees in the Northeast, I think the Rossi is a stronger choice. Length sounds good on both!

    2. Hi

      First time writing a comment. I absolutely love your reviews and have been studying them while locked up dreaming of end to quarantine and next years ski season.

      I’m 5’10 185lbs live in Montreal. Ski all over east hunting snow from mad river to Le massif.
      I’m an advanced intermediate? I ski every run. Harder the better. Not necessarily with expert precision
      I ski 70% in trees and bumps. Like steep and challenging. Blacks double blacks. I like to jump of natural features but have no park experience. When I do, I like to rip groomers as fast as possible. I’m pretty athletic and fearless but need to improve technique.

      I own Rossi pursuit 800 for hard/Icey in a 177cm I find slightly long but grip like hell
      J skis the metal 180 for pow days. They are my first wide soft flex. Love these skis!
      *Rossi experience 88 hd 180* I want to replace. Great ski but hard to turn in what I like. Too Heavy and stiff

      I’m looking for a 85-90mm daily for up to 4” days but honestly Usually will be less. Something like the metals. Quick turning, nimble, playful something I can ski in trees and bumps but frontier as well. I don’t need them to be super locked in for groomers as I have the pursuits

      I’ve set apart by what I see as comparable:

      Navigator 85 vs bushwhacker; Light snappy skis with frontside in mind

      K2 pinnacle 88 vs Salomon qst 92; playful mid range with versatility up to 6/8” snow?

      More park: (not opposed to adding with one of above)

      Nordica soul rider; sound similar to the metals but narrower (I like what I’ve read)
      Armada arv 86; too soft for crud?
      Armada Invictus 89ti
      Line Tom Wallisch pro

      Sorry for the essay
      Really would appreciate any opinions
      Thanks guys

      1. Hi Brad!
        Speaking from personal experience, I love the Soul Rider 87. I’m 6/2 220 so I can overpower a bunch of skis out there. I always felt the Soul Rider was balanced and poised, save for the highest of speeds and the hardest of carves. I originally bought them to ski with my kids on, but they quickly became my favorites. The other skis on your list that make the most sense are the QST 92’s. Generally I’ve found that if a skier has that ski on their list and they get it, they’re immeasurably happy with it. Easy to turn, floaty, and fun for day, the QST 92 is one of the most versatile and well-rounded skis out there. Not as quick or playful as the Soul Rider, it’s still a total blast. I’d narrow focus to those two, and then decide if you want more performance/versatility (QST) or more playful/quick (Soul Rider). Take care!

  4. I’ve narrowed it down now to the soul rider and bushwacker. I see you really live those skis!

    I like what they have to offer as far as ease of releasing tails in tight terrain. The metals are my first twin tips and I do love the feel.

    The bushwhackers seem to have great reviews in tight trees and bumps as well

    Being that unfortunately most days At Tremblant are Icey and hard pack. these skis will be my daily driver

    Would you still go with soul riders

    Thanks again

    1. HI Brad!
      Definitely more of a directional feel in the Bushwacker, with a shorter looking tail while the turned up tail of the Soul Rider is pretty dramatic. It took me a little while to get used to the tail of the Nordica, but I do love the ski overall. There’s not much better for eastern bumps and trees as far as I’m concerned, and it still makes clean, round turns with tons of energy. Neither excel in icy conditions, but I’d give a slight “edge” to the Bushwacker. Keep ’em sharp!

  5. Hi guys,

    Have been loving using your website for great reviews on skis. I would consider myself an intermediate-advanced skier. I skied a lot until I went to college, mostly took the four years off, and am now looking to get back on the slopes at 22. I am looking to buy a new pair of skis for the first time as an adult and wondering if you have any advice. I am stuck between the Salomon XDR 84 Ti skis and these 2020 Nordica Navigator 85s. They are roughly the same pricepoint where I have looked and was hoping you all could give me maybe some quick pros and cons to each. I’m 6’4 and about 210 lbs, I think the 186 would be my fit, but open to suggestions there too.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Michael!
      A bit more versatility in the XDR over the Navigator, but a stronger carver in the Nav. If you’re spending more time in the bumps and trees, I’d opt for the XDR, but for more time on groomers and in carved turns, go Nav. I’d say the 184/186 is the right size. Have fun!

  6. Hi there, coming from the slalom Redster, I am planning to get into the all-mountain world. The Redster is a very stiff and heavy ski that requires a lot of power and precision, but most importantly perfect snow conditions. Here comes the decision to take an all mountain set because throughout the day conditions are changing: hard packed groomer in the morning, then softer but still groomed terrain (best time of the day) and then horrid bumps, moguls, and ice in between. The slalom ski cannot handle this and it is very hard riding them. Furthermore, honestly speaking this Redster is above my level so I am searching for a softer, lighter, more forgiving ski. I am watching and reading your reviews and think that this Navigator 85 and probably Rossi Exp 84 would be the perfect ski. However, I do not want to miss the slalom precision and the higher speed GS turns. I am not going to use them off piste. My level is ambitious intermediate but far from expert. Are these ski going to handle all of these? I am 177 cm tall, which lenght is the best? Thank you very much in advance!

    1. HI Kaloyan!
      Very impressive carving performance from both skis, the Navigator does have a partial metal laminate do it does have more stability and a higher top-end. Very sturdy through the tail, while the shovel remains playful. I’d go with the Nav 85 in the 172. Have fun!

  7. Hello SkiEssentials,

    My name is Paul. I enjoy ready all your comments especially Ted Lamell and Michael Rooney since we are closer in age, weight and height not necessary in skills.
    I am 62 years old, 6’4″ 200 lbs, intermediate/advance semi-aggressive(not in the afternoon or after lunch, lol) and still learning how to carve. I am looking for a fun easy going ski almost a one quiver ski that I don’t have to work too hard and can last almost all day.
    I was torn between the Navigator 85 and the Rossi Experience 88Ti or 94 Ti. Which one would you recommend and what length 179 or 186cm or any other ski in this category? For powder, I love my Volkl Gotama in 183cm and Rossi Super7 in 188cm.
    Much thanks in advance.


    1. HI Paul!
      I like the sounds of the Navigator 85 for you. They’re great carving skis and not too difficult to manage. I’d think the 186 in that ski would be just about perfect. The others are slightly stiffer and heavier and I think the Navigator would make a great complement to your current skis. Have fun!

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