2020 Volkl Kenja 88

The 2020 Volkl Kenja 88 is a new ski for this year, and it has lady skiers all jazzed up. The Kenja of years past had a fairly planky feel, but the new version is a lot livelier. By implementing the Titanal Frame construction that the Mantra M5 and the Secret use, they’ve kept the edge precision and power intact, but have added a snappier and quicker character. When you get on them, you’ll know that they’ve really stepped up their game, and as the narrowest ski with Titanal Frame, it’s super-quick and fun to ski. Our testers were pretty unanimous in their attitude towards the new Kenja 88, and loved the power and versatility of this great new stick.

Lauren Lepage skied the 163 and found the size to be just about right. She scored all 4’s out of 5 with the exception of forgiveness, which garnered a 3 in her mind. As a stiff ski, this is not a shock. The 4’s in versatility and overall impression are telling of her favorable experience on the ski. Lauren calls it “bomber, playful, super-stable. I felt very comfortable at high-speed. The edge control was there and I felt confident on this ski.” While the Kenja 88 is certainly more of an advanced and expert-level ski, it can surely boost confidence in the advancing intermediate crowd as well.

Kristi Brown’s got a colorful description of the 170 that she skied: “The new Kenja is a fanny pack full of fun! Equipped and ready for anything!” Kristi checked all the 5’s on her scorecard, so it’s safe to say she’s a fan of this fanny pack. She goes on to call them “super-versatile and energetic and I love the playful personality, the finesse in bumps, crud, and corduroy.” Great to hear the versatility shows through with this great new ski.

The 163 treated Shelby Parenteau quite well. Her top marks of 5 for stability and torsional stiffness show that the titanal frame construction is the real deal. She calls it the “best ski for cuttin’ through crud. One of the stiffer skis I tested, it was very stable and liked to go fast. The maneuverability was ok, but you’ve got to be on this ski or it will ski you. I would not say it’s a forgiving ski, but if you can handle the Kenja, it is a lot of fun!” Great point by Shelby here, that it does require attention; it is not a lazy ski by any stretch of the imagination.

Ali Berlin skied the 156 and found it to be just the right size. She drew a line right down the middle of the 4’s on the score sheet, leading us to believe that the Kenja 88 is a high-performance, well-rounded ski that is capable of pretty much anything. Her quotes echo that sentiment: “Wow! An extremely versatile ski for whatever you’re looking to do. I found that any turn shape, whether carved, skidded, or smeared, these skis responded. They were stable and quick to move. I felt the skis gripping the snow with an easy release out of the turn.” Very nice summation by Ali here, noting the versatility and the responsive nature of the Kenja 88.

Sometimes new skis kind of fall flat, but the Kenja’s heritage combined with the Titanal Frame construction created a lively, new ski that is poised to set itself apart from the rest of the ~88 underfoot ladies ski crowd.

Testers

Ali Berlin

Age: 42Height: 5'"Weight: 110 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast frontside, free spirit.

Shelby Parenteau

Age: 27Height: 5'2"Weight: 130 lbs.

Ski Style: Snowboarder

Katrine Wolfgang

Age: 49+Height: 5'5"Weight: 160 lbs.

Ski Style: Smooth carving

Ariel Aidala

Age: 27Height: 5'3"Weight: 124 lbs.

Ski Style: Adventurous and fun with a fall-line mentality

Danielle Nichols

Age: 42Height: 5'4"Weight: 150 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast fall line ripper

Shannon Walton

Age: 37Height: 5'3"Weight: 145 lbs.

Ski Style: Carving-oriented with some tricks up her sleeve

Kelly Carroll

Age: 24Height: 5'7"Weight: 135 lbs.

Ski Style: Adventurous and playful with a love for exploration

Elise Magnant

Age: 26Height: 5'6"Weight: 135 lbs.

Ski Style: Sleek and smooth, with a penchant for clean carves

Catherine Ferguson

Age: 26Height: 5'2"Weight: 130 lbs.

Ski Style: Freeride and freestyle oriented with a flair for fun

Kristi Brown

Age: 49Height: 5'9"Weight: 133 lbs.

Ski Style: Energetic, precise, very smooth and skis with a lot of finesse

Lauren Lepage

Age: 28Height: 5'5"Weight: 145 lbs.

Ski Style: Half snowboarder, half skier, all fun!

21 Comments on the “2020 Volkl Kenja 88”

  1. I have the 2015 version of the Kenja and love it. Eventually I know it will need to be replaced. This seems like the obvious choice since the width of the Kenja is now down to 88 so close to the 87 undefoot that my 2015s are. How do the two compare. I really like everything about the 2015 so hoping that this is just a newer version of it and who knows maybe a little better?

    1. Hi Kimberly!
      Definitely a great choice. I feel they’ve made all the right improvements for sure. The new model retains all the performance of the older version, but is more lively and quick. They’re lighter and less planky but with no loss of performance. They’re more accessible for different turn shapes and styles, and in my mind, that makes a ski more versatile. You’ll love it I’m sure. Have fun!
      SE

  2. I am very interested in the kenja 2020. I have skied for the past 8 years on the kenja 2012 and they have been amazing. I Like to go fast and found the 2012 would start to vibrate and once they went out from under me. . Are the 2020 so light that this might be a problem or will they actually be better with the new construction.

    1. Hi Diane!
      We’ve found them to be less planky and more refined than the older versions. Most of our staff who ski on the newer Kenja and Kendo models love the titanal frame build. They are lighter and more maneuverable, but I don’t think they lost any stability at all. Have fun!
      SE

  3. What size do you recommend. I’m an advanced skier, 53 years old, 5’10, 140lb. I have the old 2013 Kenjas in 163, which I really do not like anymore now that Ive been skiing the billard Sheeva 10s, 172 size, and have fell in love with the rocker. I’m looking for an all mountain ski for those hard packed/icy days with lots of edge hold. I tried the Secret and loved the edge hold, but maybe skied too long a ski? The Secret is an incredible ski, but the 170 felt too powerful, heavy and FAST for me…maybe just the wrong size? Do you think that the newer Kenjas might be a better fit or try the Secret in a smaller size? Since I love my Blizzard Sheeva in 173, would I get the Kenja in 170 or shorter? Thanks!

    1. HI Jill!
      I think you’ll have a similar experience with the Kenja in the 170, as the build is the same as the Secret, and only 4 mm narrower, so you’re not gaining back a lot of material by going down a width. Perhaps you’d really enjoy the 163 in either of those skis, as it is quite a different animal versus the Sheeva 10. While your stats put you in the 170 size, it sounds like your experience does not mirror that. I’d give the 163 a shot, and I’d also push to the kenja over the Secret, just to vary up your quiver even more (even it it’s only 4 mm). Have fun!
      SE

  4. I’ve got the 2015 Auras 170cms. While I love them, they are a lot of work. I had tried the Kenjas back in 2015 and they skied beautifully at 170cm, I just have a need for speed and didn’t feel like I could push them as hard as the Auras. But now, I’d like to have an alternate ski that I can ride on days where I’m wanting to cruise, ideally without sacrificing too much in speed or stability. What do you think of these?

    1. HI Angela!
      I think the new Kenja 88 is a big improvement over the Kenja’s and Aura’s of old. Also check the Secret 92 for a good mix of the two if you’re interested in a bit wider. Same build, just a slightly wider shape. Have fun!
      SE

  5. Hi!

    What size for the 2020 VOLKL KENJA 88 do you recommend? I am about 5’3 / 5’4 and weigh about 135lbs. I am an intermediate / advanced skier and enjoy all mountain skiing

  6. Hi I’m an intermediate skier 171cm 70kgs. I’m torn between the Yumis and Kenja. My partner is advanced skier and I’m keen to improve and expected to keep up. We ski mostly in Australia. Stability is mostly what I’m looking for. Any suggestions on which ones and length. Thanks xm

    1. HI Michele!
      Stability goes to the Kenja for sure. Yumi’s are great for progression, but they’re not as stable as the Kenja. I’d go with that one in the 163. Have fun!
      SE

  7. Hey!

    I’m demo-info a pair of the Kenja 88s and I like them! However, they only had 156s . I’m 5”11, 145-150lbs, an advanced skier who likes bumps and playful agility, yet skis mostly out East and needs a ski that has a good edge for crappy, icy days! Would you recommend a 170 or 163? I’m craving length, but don’t want to loose agility. Will the 170s help with ice and hard pack corduroy?? Thanks and love your site!

    1. Hi Anne!
      I think the 163 is a good compromise. You liked the shorter size, but are unsure of the longest, and I get that. They’re very stable skis, so even at your height and ability, the 163 should have enough power to get you through without compromising quickness. Have fun!
      SE

  8. Hi!

    After skiing the 2012 Kenjas for, well, nine years, I just bought myself some new skis. I LOVED my old skis. So, I decided to stick with what was working. I’m on the 2020 Kenjas now. I just skied on them for the first time out west, on open, mostly groomed runs and felt pretty good. I’m just now back to skiing what I usually do, which is ungroomed smaller mountain conditions – way more crud, moguls, ice, etc. I’m on them for the first time in these conditions and am feeling quite discouraged. They don’t seem to be finding a side edge when I back off the front a bit. They feel way less stiff and more bouncy. I’m wondering if this seems like it makes sense? If so, do you have any suggestions on other options that might be more comparable to the 2012 Kenjas?

    Thank you!

    1. HI Kay!
      The 2012 Kenja was one planky ski, and these new ones are trying to be more lively, so what you’re feeling is appropriate, you just don’t like it, and that’s fine. What size are you on? If you’re looking for something similar to the Kenja of old, the Blizzard Brahma (men’s ski) goes down to a 165, and is built and shaped much like the older Kenjas. Kastle MX 88 also fits that description, or an older (2020) MX 89 if you can find one. Hope that helps, good luck!
      SE

  9. Hi there! Ready to take the leap to new skis – Kenja 88 are at the top of my list. Getting mixed messages about length – 163 vs 170. I’m 5’8, 150-155, advanced to expert skier. Mostly East Coast skiing. Love to carve and go fast, but also enjoy some powder and trees when available. One ski quiver. Currently on a 2010 Atomic D2 VF 75 at a 156 – heavy, but stable and carve well. Thoughts?! Or anything else I should be looking at instead? It’s so hard to know what’s ‘right’! Thanks!

    1. HI Kelly!
      I’d go with the 170. They’re pretty maneuverable and a lot lighter than they used to be, and if you’re looking to go fast, I think the longer ski is the way to go. There are so many good skis out there, it’s actually much more difficult to make a wrong choice than a right one, so rest assured that you’ll love these new Kenjas. Have fun!
      SE

  10. I am 52 (5’3”, 135) and have been on Volkls since the 1980s. I just spent four days on the Kenja 88 (145) and had a pretty good time on them on the front side and back bowls of Vail. I was anticipating problems because the last pair I rented 2 years ago sent me into trees or off cliffs. WAY too much rocker. (may have been another Volkl model). I thought my need for carving and using my edges was the issue. I grew up skiing and instructing outside of the fingerlakes, now I ski Stowe, Sugarloaf and Jay Peak. These Kenjas took good care of me, especially in the deep Vail powder and tree skiing. The light was flat in the bowls and I closed my eyes at times and the skis and I kept making our fall line turns. I am not positive I will trade in my Attiva’s while skiing the East. We will have to see. I would love to try them out here and other Volkl models back home. I find that I am being asked by all my family and close friends to recommend skis and boots for them. It is quite the responsibility. Colleen in MHD.

  11. I am looking to replace my 2019 Rossignol Experience 80 Ci 158cm skis. I ski in the North East primarily and would consider myself an advanced skier although not as aggressive as I once was, and mostly stick to the frontside of the mountain and love to carve. I have been happy with the performance of my Rossignols but I do not like the “laminate” on top of the ski. Not sure if that is the correct term. Been dealing with some chipping and separating (my kids were learning to ski/snowboard when I got these and they took a beating), which is the reason I am looking to replace them. I am wondering if the Volkl Kenja would be a good fit and easy transition from my Rossisgnols. Thanks for your insight.

    1. Hi Betty!
      Probably not an easy transition, but certainly an upgrade! The Yumi 84 might be the next logical step? You’re more than welcome to skip that step if you wish, but the Kenja can be a fairly demanding ski. Have fun!
      SE

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