Ski Reviews

2020 Elan Ripstick 88 Ski Review

2020 Elan Ripstick 88 Ski Review: // Ski Reviews

The ~90 mm all mountain segment is arguably the most popular and potentially the most important category in skiing. These all mountain skis offer tremendous versatility, and you see more people out on the slopes on skis around this waist width than anything else. We've already looked at a lot of 2020 skis that fall into this category, and there are some impressive new contenders like the Kendo 88 and Enforcer 88. This week, we're looking at another new ski in the ~90 mm all mountain range, the Ripstick 88 from Elan. Elan essentially took the design and construction of the wider Ripstick models, which carry over from 2019, and put it into this new Ripstick 88. The new 88 replaces the Ripstick 86, which did not have all the technology found in the rest of the Ripstick line.

Back in January we were lucky enough to meet up with Glen Plake for an afternoon of skiing at Pico here in Vermont. Closed to the public for an industry demo day, the slopes were relatively empty, which made for an excellent day of testing skis. If you're unfamiliar with the Elan Ripstick collection, you're really missing out, as these skis offer a unique option within their respective waist width range (there is now a Ripstick 88, 96, 106, and 116). While other skis are designed to deliver the most power, responsiveness, edge grip, weight savings, etc, the main focus of the Ripstick line, and Elan in general these days, is fun. That's right, fun. It's hard to quantify a ski's fun-factor. It's much easier to say this ski is the lightest, this ski is the stiffest, this ski has the best vibration damping, etc. Elan is reminding all of us that above all else, skiing is supposed to be fun, which is a very refreshing mindset.

2020 Elan Ripstick 88 Ski Review: Ski Spec Image

Thus, the Elan Ripstick 88 isn't the stiffest, most powerful ski in this width range. It's not the lightest, it doesn't have the best edge grip, but there's a good possibility it's going to be the most fun for a whole lot of skiers out there. Let's take a look at shape and construction. Elan's unique Amphibio profile positions more camber along the inside edge of the ski with more rocker along the outside edge of the ski. There is specifically a right and left ski because of this, which is relatively rare across the entire industry and a concept Elan has been the leader of for quite a long time now. It's designed to boost edge grip on your inside edge, while giving the ski an overall extremely-maneuverable feel. This is further enhanced and supported by subtle early taper in both the tip and tail, corresponding to the rockered portions of the ski. Construction is also quite unique compared to other skis in this category. Elan's TNT construction is designed to provide strength, stability, and responsiveness, but also fun and accessibility. There is a wood core with tip to tail carbon tubes running through it, as well as Vapor Tip inserts. Plake talked a lot about these carbon tubes and the differences between 3-dimensional carbon fiber and the 2-dimensional sheets we see in most carbon applications. These tubes deliver more vibration damping and a smoother feel than most carbon skis. You don't get the same overly-responsive, twitchy feel that can come along with carbon.

2020 Elan Ripstick 88 Ski Review: 3D Angle Image

So, how does the Ripstick 88 compare to the other skis in this width range? Simply put, compared to most competitors' skis, it's more playful, has a more even, natural flex pattern, and is more fun and easier to ski than most. Its flex pattern feels perfect for so many applications. It's not too stiff that it feels demanding, but it's not so soft that it feels unstable. Aggressive skiers have shied away from the Ripsticks from what we've seen over the past year, but they don't necessarily need to. Again, skiing is supposed to be fun, and the Ripstick 88 will remind you how much fun you can have on a pair of skis. On groomers they have such a smooth, predictable feel. You can carve turns with great finesse, you can release the tail edge and pivot the ski very easily, and overall you can make a whole bunch of different turn shapes. You can also ski them fast and aggressively if you want to. No, they don't have the power of skis with 2 sheets of titanal, but it's far less fatiguing than skis that fall under that description. Something we talked about in great depth with Plake is the average skier's desire to be on the stiffest, most-badass, highest-ranked-by-magazine-tests skis. This isn't necessarily the right thing to do for most skiers. A ski like the Ripstick 88 will satisfy experts, but is hands-down more appropriate for intermediates or advanced-intermediates than the heavier, stiffer skis in this category. It'll make you ski better, instead of feeling like you're fighting a ski that's too much for you.

2020 Elan Ripstick 88 Ski Review: Wide Action Image 12020 Elan Ripstick 88 Ski Review: Wide Action Image 2

Off groomers, their playful attitude really shines. It's easily one of the best mogul skis in this category thanks to the quickness achieved by its shape and construction. It's exceptionally easy to make quick pivoting turns, which in turn gives it a super-confidence-inspiring feel in moguls and tight terrain. Again. It's going to make you feel like a better skier. Here in Vermont, it rips through our tight trees. I found myself taking more direct lines and finding more little natural hits to pop off than I did on just about any other ski I've tested over the past year. They're just that much fun and that easy to ski. This Ripstick 88 doesn't have the most float in deep, soft snow, but there are 3 wider options for those that need the float-factor. Still, in soft snow, this shape is a dream. It's never catchy and it carries its smooth feel through just about any terrain and any kind of snow condition. Its shape is directional, but it loves to do little tricks along the way. Picture ripping your favorite bump line, then throwing a quick spraffy at the bottom. That's basically what this ski is all about: making the most fun out of whatever you encounter.

If you haven't already, we strongly encourage you to watch the video that goes along with this review. Glen Plake played a big roll in the design and production of these skis, and hearing him talk about them really gives you a good sense of Elan's direction and goals. The idea that skiing should be more about fun than anything else carries through to some of their other models as well, perhaps most notably the new Wingman series. We'll have some reviews of the Wingman skis down the road, but for now, if you're in the market for a ~90 mm all mountain ski, the Ripstick needs to at least be on your initial list of potential skis. Maybe you'll want something heavier, maybe you'll want something with less rocker. It is, of course, totally fine if you do, but this Ripstick 88 reminded a lot of the staff just how much fun skiing is supposed to be.

2020 Elan Ripstick 88 Ski Review: Available Soon Image


Written by Jeff Neagle on 05/09/19

23 thoughts on “2020 Elan Ripstick 88 Ski Review

  1. Great review, as always.
    I would like to know how the Elan Ripstick 88 compares to the Blizzard Brahma or the K2 Mindbender 90 ti.
    I am looking forward to your reply

      1. Hi Hansjorg!
        Closer to the K2 than the Brahma in terms of performance. It's quite a bit lighter feeling than the other skis, with the Brahma being the burliest and stiffest. The K2 is weighty, but feels lighter due to the construction, while the Ripstick is the most quick and nimble of the three. Hope that helps!

  2. Hey SE, I've been back and forth on what to buy for months. I'm 6'2" 260# athletic build. I'm definitely intermediate and pretty much stay on the groomers unless I get talked in to snowplowing down some blacks by my buddy. Mostly ski Big Sky. I was thinking the Brahmas might be good for my weight but are the too stiff for my skill level? 180cm? Thanks

    1. Hi Will!
      For only your skill level, they are too stiff, but you have to take your size into account as well. You do need something stable, so while they're on the high end of the skill level, they're the tool that you need. I'd definitely stick to something that has two sheets of metal like the Brahma or the Volkl Kendo. I'd say 180 for the Brahma and if you look at the Kendo, the 184 in that model. Also check out the Nordica Enforcer 88 for another comparable model. Have fun!

  3. I would like to get your advice.
    I am skiing on a K2 84ti and a Brahma 88, I like them both.
    I ski mostly on Groomers and Chop/Crud, not much in deep powder.
    I am looking for a ski that is a little bit more forgiving and fun in Moguls but is still a solid, stable performer on
    Groomers and Chop/Crud.
    MB 90ti, Ripstick 88 (Black Edition?) or any other you would recommend?
    I am looking forward to your response.


    1. Hi Hansjorg!
      I guess I'd recommend something wider than an 88, especially if you plan on keeping and skiing the K2. I'd look at mid-90's skis such as the Fischer Ranger 94 FR, Rossignol Experience 94, or a K2 Pinnacle 95 (if you can find one). This wider platform will give your 2-ski quiver a bit more of a differentiation and you'll be able to ski more terrain and snow conditions.
      If you want to stay in the 88-90 mm underfoot category, the Ripstick is lighter and more maneuverable than the MB 90, but not quite the carver at speed. Also in this category, check out the Rossignol Experience 88 and the Liberty Evolv 90.
      Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Tom!
      Not quite as good. More heft pretty much always means more stability, and with the metal laminate in the K2, it's more powerful than the Ripstick, and this definitely shows in crud and chop. But for a light ski without metal, we're pretty impressed with the Ripstick's off-piste performance. Hope that helps!

  4. I currently ski the Nordica Enforcer 93 in 185 length. What length would you recommend in the Elan Ripstick 88?

  5. Love your reviews guys! I'm trying to decide which ski to buy and am considering the Nordica Enforcer 88 & 93, Atomic Vantage 90 and the Elan Ripstick 88. I'm a 5'11" 185lb 55 yr old Advanced Intermediate and ski probably 90% on piste on the front side although I live in Colorado. I grew up in the midwest so really never learned how to ski powder well so am content to stay front side although I would like a ski that will perform at least reasonably well on powder days and even more so in the crud at the end of the day. If I decide to tackle big powder days I would probably rent wider skis anyways. My skiing style over the years has been fairly aggressive and I enjoy skiing fast although I would have to admit I'm not the speed demon I was a few years ago, plus I ski with the kids fairly often which keeps me on the blues or easy blacks when with them. I did demo the Enforcer 93 & 100 plus the Atomic Vantage ti last year and liked the Enforcer 93 the best out of them with the Vantage 97ti ranking but didn't like them in the crud. I'm leaning towards the new Enforcer 88 or 93 but am very intrigued by the Elan Ripstick as it just looks like a fun ski. I currently ski on a Atomic Vantage 90cti 169cm (with Nordica Promachine 110 boots) but they seem to ski just a bit short for me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated and thanks again for the best reviews and advice online!


    1. Hi Byron!
      Thanks for the kind words! It sounds like you're in the right ballpark with the 88-93 underfoot skis. The Enforcer 88 is a pretty sweet ski, and if you're 90% on-piste, I'd put those over the 93--better edge grip and pop out of the turn. Between the Enforcer 88 and the Ripstick, they're pretty different animals for sure. The Enforcer is more like a Porsche, while the Elan is kind of in the high-end Lexus range. They're very nice, but more built for real-world driving/skiing scenarios. More skiers would be better served on a ski like the Ripstick, as it's light, quick, and stable when on edge, but due to the lack of metal, doesn't quite have the same fine-tuning as the Enforcer. If you're toning down the speed and skiing with kids more, I think that Elan is the better tool for your application. I'd look to the mid 170's in terms of length in either model. Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks so much for the advice and pretty much spot on what I was thinking as well. Those are the two skis I was leaning towards and I guess I'll have to decide how much I want to tone things down. I like the idea of the Ripsticks being a bit easier to ski though and really am only worried if they're hefty enough to bust thru the crud at the end of the day. Thanks again and I'll be ordering them soon.

    1. Hi Mike!
      The Elan is more lively than the Kore, mostly due to the narrower shape, but also because of the build. Elan's use of the carbon tubes that run the length of the ski makes them impressively stable and damp for their weight. They're less stiff fore/aft than the Kore, but more torsionally stiff. I was super-impressed with the edge hold of the Elan despite no metal. For mostly on-piste skiing, I'd go with the Elan while the Kore would be a better choice if you're more 50/50 and dealing with soft snow a lot of the time. Hope that helps!

      1. This site is awesome guys. I’m at a standstill on which ski to buy between the Ripstick 88 and the Rustler 9 . I ski the East Coast with variable conditions. Thanks

        1. Hi Jason!
          The Ripstick is softer and lighter overall, while the Rustler has light tips and tails but is more solid and stable underfoot. I'd say that even though the Rustler is a bit wider, it still carves and holds an edge better on super-hard snow. In medium types of snow, the Ripstick holds up great, but for eastern skiing, I'd think you'll want some metal underfoot. Both are great choices, at the end of the day.

  6. Great review Jeff, very helpful. I am an expert skier, but getting older, spend 80% of my time in mostly mogels, some trees, some steeps and some carving. 45 to 50 mph is my very top end. I enjoy a ski with nice rebound energy. I'm 5'5" and 145 lbs. I live in Colorado and have skied on Nordica Tempest 80's 162 cm for a long time - obviously time for new skii's this season.
    Looking at Head Kore 93, Elan Ripstick 88, Nordica Enforcer 88, and Rossi Experience 88 from the reviews. Thoughts and recommendations please. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Mark!
      If you're looking for rebound and energy, it's hard to go wrong with the Rossi Experience 88. It's a bit shorter of a turner than the others on your list, so that's where the rebound comes from. The Elan and the Kore are lighter than the others, and although they're very fun and capable, the lack of metal does make them a tad less stable at speed versus the Enforcer and the Experience. But given your size, that might not be as big of an issue versus a larger skier. At the end of the day, for your application, I'd say the Experience is the way to go--a very well-rounded and accessible ski with a ton of upside and a high-performance ceiling. Have fun!

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