2019 Salomon QST 106 Ski Review: // Ski Reviews
The Salomon QST line has emerged as one of the most versatile collection of skis on the market with waist widths ranging from 85 mm all the way up to 118 mm. They all have some freeride influence in their shape and performance and their construction is quite unique to Salomon. For 2019 Salomon has updated the construction of the QST line with a new version of their C/FX 3 material and the 99 and 106, which we're going to talk about here, also get a layer of basalt under the core of the ski.
We've done full reviews of both the 99 and 118 in the past, so check back to those reviews if you're unfamiliar with the collection, but we wanted to take some time to highlight the 106 and discuss its changes and the effects on performance. The QST 106 uses a full length poplar core and a strip of titanal that runs through the center of the ski that Salomon calls a Ti Power Platform. It also uses their proprietary blend of carbon and flax fibers woven both transversally and longitudinally. This material has been updated for 2019 and is designed to give the ski a little bit more power and stability. This is further supported by a new basalt layer that lies under the core of the ski. Only the 99 and the 106 get this new basalt layer, while all the QST skis get the new version of C/FX. We really like this construction, especially for a ski in the 106 mm waist width range, because it's impressively lightweight while still providing the support and performance needed for aggressive skiing. It doesn't result in a ski that's quite as damp as one that uses two full sheets of metal, but the blend of carbon and flax combined with the Ti Power Platform gives the ski a quieter feel than a lot of other skis that focus on carbon. We talked a lot about it in our review of the QST 99, and that feeling carries over to the 106, but now it feels a little more powerful and a little more energetic too.
The shape of the QST 106 is specifically designed to perform well in a variety of snow conditions. It uses camber underfoot with tip and tail rocker. The tip rocker is longer than the tail rocker by a fairly substantial amount, which really helps with float in deep snow. It also has quite a bit of early taper, which again is slightly more pronounced in the tip. This early taper isn't abrupt, however. It's rather smooth and gradual, which really seems to translate to a smooth, gradual, predictable feel in soft snow, which we'll get to more when we discuss performance. It's not super high-rise rocker profile either, so the ski doesn't have a drastically short effective edge.
We've tested the 2019 QST 106 in a variety of conditions now. You may have noticed us skiing on it when we reviewed the new Salomon Shift AT binding. We had a couple pairs of the QST 106 with the Shift binding, and also a pair with a special see-through graphic where you can really see the details in construction that was mounted with a Warden 13. We've been on it on firm groomer days, choppy skied-out conditions, and most recently on a very deep powder day at Stowe. The performance is impressive across a wide variety of terrain and snow conditions, but something that keeps arising in the ski's performance is its smooth, predictable, freeride feel.
On groomers that Ti Power Platform, the wood core, the C/FX, and the new basalt layer all work together with the ski's camber profile to deliver somewhat surprising performance. For a ski that's relatively lightweight and 106 mm underfoot it can link carving turns really well and holds an edge quite well too. No, it's not a carving ski by nature, but its performance on groomers is pretty darn impressive. We mentioned the same when reviewing the 99, but the basalt and new version of the carbon and flax weave really does seem to make a difference in terms of power, edge grip, and overall torsional stiffness. It also boosts the ski's responsiveness and energy. It's a more enjoyable experience skiing the 106 on firm snow now. Not that the old version wasn't fun, but this new construction really takes it to the next level. Some of our testers thought it was practically night and day from 2018 to 2019, even though the ski largely remains the same. That basalt and the new carbon and flax construction really have made a significant difference.
In un-groomed terrain and softer snow conditions it's still an absolute blast, just like the previous version. Because it's relatively lightweight it's easy to maneuver. We recently skied the QST 106 at Stowe during this crazy 3-day storm we're experiencing right now. There was about 18 inches of fresh snow to start the day, although Stowe does get tracked up pretty quickly. To start the day I was skiing a longer, wider, heavier powder ski, but after the first two runs I switched to the QST 106 in a 181 cm length. For reference I am about 5'10" and somewhere in the 150-160 lbs range. While it was fun skiing deep snow on my heavier, wider, longer skis, the QST 106 was way easier to ski for me, much more maneuverable, and allowed me to ski some tighter trees than I wanted to on my other skis. It feels so quick for a ski this wide, especially in soft snow and tight terrain. I found it super easy to flick the ski side to side, which is really valuable here in Vermont because our terrain is steep and technical at times. Although things were getting a little tracked out by the time I got on the QST 106, there were still pockets of deep snow to be found. I really like the way the QST 106, and the rest of the line for that matter, reacts to deep snow. The 106 in particular lets you sink a little bit into the powder, but does it in a very gradual, predictable way, which goes back to how I described the tip shape. You may be able to see it on some of the POV footage in the video that goes along with this article. You can change your weighting to get the tip to dive or float pretty much on command, which gives it a really confidence inspiring feel in tricky terrain.
Because it feels so lightweight I also wanted to test the ski's stability and its ability to ski fast through choppy snow conditions. I was pretty impressed by the QST 106 when skiing more aggressively in open terrain. It definitely surpassed my expectations for stability. At times if I hit something really firm when going fast one of the skis would get deflected a little bit, but it was really easy to recover from those situations, which I think is a good way to think about this ski in general. It performs at a high level, can rip and go fast when you want to, but is also pretty forgiving if you happen to find your weight in the backseat or make a mistake. It doesn't punish you, but there's enough feedback from the ski to let you know when you're skiing poorly. It's not the heaviest, most powerful ski for charging down choppy snow conditions, but it certainly can do it.
We think the QST 106 would make a great choice for a lot of skiers. For some people it could even be a dedicated powder ski. It's definitely approachable for a pretty wide range of skiers. You don't need to be an expert to enjoy skiing it, although experts certainly will appreciate its maneuverability and lightweight feel and I can pretty much guarantee you'll be surprised by its stability at speed and power on firm snow. Something that came up in conversation during our testing was how versatile this ski with a Salomon Shift binding would be. Definitely light enough to tour on, but when you're skiing a resort it just feels like a high performance all mountain freeride ski. We expect to see quite a few skiers next season on a combination of a Salomon QST and a Salomon Shift. Always deep snow? You could bump up to 118. Not much soft snow where you live? The 99 would be an excellent AT/resort ski as well.