2020 Ski Comparisons: Men's Powder Ski Guide

Ski Comparisons - Ski Reviews

2020 Ski Comparisons: Men's Powder Ski Guide

Our 2020 Men’s Powder Ski comparison is a fun one.  On the surface, these skis are all fairly one-dimensional, but within that dimension, there are notable differences in shape, construction, and profile that give them all unique character.  This list of skis starts at 110 mm underfoot with the Nordica Enforcer 110 and goes all the way up to the 127 mm Armada Magic J.  From low-slung tip taper and swallow tails to dual-metal laminate and carbon construction, this collection of skis is built for the deepest snows and biggest lines on Earth.  We were able to review some of these skis at our 2020 Ski Test, but most companies don’t regularly have these models as demos, so if you have a specific question, please reach out to a skier here at SkiEssentials.com and we’ll be happy to assist you.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Armada Magic J




AVAILABLE SIZES

180, 190 cm

TURN RADIUS

20m @ 180 cm

SIDECUT

138 / 143 / 126 / 140 / 134 mm

CORE

Poplar / Ash

STRENGTHS

Playfulness, Flotation, Freestyle Influence


Overview:

It seems fitting to start with the widest ski on the wall.  The Armada Magic J is the signature ski of Tanner Hall, one of Armada’s co-founders.  If you’ve ever seen Tanner ski, he embodies the big-mountain freestyle spirit like nobody else.  As such, the Magic J is a big and burly twin-tip with massive amounts of rocker, taper, and symmetry.  This allows the ski to be used in almost an infinite amount of ways, making it one of the most playful skis on the planet when it comes to bottomless snow.  Due to the taper, Armada notes a pretty pure five-point sidecut shape that ultimately results in a 22-meter turn radius.  Built with a Poplar and Ash wood core, Armada adds their Laminate Matrix to bolster the performance, giving the ski some much-needed strength for landing huge jumps and loading the ski up with energy.  From a rocker perspective, Armada uses the EST (Elf Shoe Technology) Freeride Rocker to get some good bounce and float in the deepest of snows.  It’s actually got some good camber underfoot, giving the ski a fair amount of pop and nimbleness for such a gargantuan shape.  Oh, and the graphics are pretty sick, too.

Who it's For:

Backcountry freestyle skiers looking for the ultimate in playfulness, flotation, and performance. 

AT A GLANCE


2020 Blizzard Bodacious




AVAILABLE SIZES

186, 196 cm

TURN RADIUS

30.5m @ 186 cm

SIDECUT

142 / 118 / 132 mm

CORE

Wood / Dual Metal Laminate

STRENGTHS

Speed, Stability, Stiffness


Overview:

Legends may die, but they’ll never be forgotten.  To aid in this effort, Blizzard pays tribute to the late Arne Backstrom by making him the signature athlete of the Bodacious.  In true high-energy form, the Bodacious is a burly ski with one of the least versatile builds and shapes on our wall.  Built with a wood core and two sheets of metal, these skis are hefty beyond compare and have a very serious nature.  At the 196 cm length, the skis have a 31-meter turn radius, making it a very straight shooter.  The flat tail has minimal taper, which makes the ski want to hold on to the turn for as long as possible, virtually eliminating playfulness from its character.  This is your dedicated Alaska ski—built for the highest speeds on the steepest slopes.  At 118 mm underfoot, it’s right up there with the widest skis in this comparison, but the build, profile, and the overall shape really set it apart from the rest.  Whatever tail rocker that they claim isn’t the playful kind, but rather the necessary kind, as a ski that has this build without the tail rocker would be pretty much impossible to turn.  Then again, at 60+ mph, you’re going to end up at the bottom of anything pretty darn quick.

Who it's For:

AK extreme line seekers who value straight-line performance over backcountry playfulness.  Ski weight is not an issue for you.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Blizzard Rustler 11




AVAILABLE SIZES

164, 172, 180, 188, 192 cm

TURN RADIUS

23m @ 192 cm

SIDECUT

143 / 116 / 123 mm

CORE

Wood / Carbon / Shaped Titanal

STRENGTHS

Versatility, Playfulness, Lightness


Overview:

The widest ski in the Rustler series, the 11 is one of the more user and resort-friendly powder skis in this comparison.  With a similar build to its smaller siblings, the 11 retains versatility and playfulness while still providing a high-octane experience.  The main structural difference is the shorter DRT Titanal sheet.  This allows for more flexible and playful tips and tails for softer and deeper snow performance.  The metal spans the width of the ski underfoot and tapers to the middle towards the extremes, so you still get a good amount of edge grip and response from such a maneuverable ski.  Additionally, the longer tip and tail taper in the 11 versus the 9 or 10 allow it to cut through fresh snow with smoothness and efficiency. The 188 cm length has a 21-meter turn radius and can lay down some sweet arcs and trenches on the softer groomers.  It feels a bit more business-like than something like the Enforcer 110, even without full metal laminates.  As a nod to its versatility, it comes in a good amount of length options, ranging from 164 to 192 cm.

Who it's For:

Mainly resort skiers looking for a versatile powder ski that excels in a variety of snow conditions and terrain.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Blizzard Spur




AVAILABLE SIZES

192 cm

TURN RADIUS

28.5m @ 192 cm

SIDECUT

140 / 124 / 150 mm

CORE

Wood / Carbon / Shaped Titanal

STRENGTHS

Flotation, Smeariness, Smoothness


Overview:

This burly freeride ski has a lot going on.  As one of two skis on our list to have a designated right and left ski (the other being the Elan Ripstick 116), the Spur is a unique ski with a distinctive look and character.  Available in only a 192 cm length, the Spur is built with a Rocker/Flat/Rocker profile perfect for staying afloat in any depth snow.  The 150 mm tip and the 140 mm tail combine with the 124 mm waist to make a 28.5-meter turn radius.  That’s pretty straight, but the turned-up tail as well as the asymmetrical tip and tail shape, the Spur has a fair amount of playfulness.  The whole point of the tip and tail shape is to create a smoother transition from turn to turn, as this technology is borrowed from a more rounded, snowboard-style look.  They will not hook up, but rather smear and slarve turns with the best of them.  Raised ridges over the edges give more power to the ski, as the wood core Spur is a great choice for big mountain skiers and deep snow seekers. The same titanal plate that’s found in the Rustler 11 carries through to the Spur for extra stability underfoot. If you can handle the length and the turn radius, the Spur is a pretty sweet stick.

Who it's For:

Big skiers looking for big skis for big mountain lines.

AT A GLANCE


2020 DPS Wailer 112 RP Alchemist




AVAILABLE SIZES

168, 178, 184, 189 cm

TURN RADIUS

15m @ 184 cm

SIDECUT

140 / 112 / 127 mm

CORE

Wood / Dual Carbon Laminate

STRENGTHS

Quickness, Liveliness, Precision


Overview:

This is a throwback to the original DPS shape and style ski.  The shape and color are very reminiscent of a banana, but the build is truly something else.  DPS’s theory with their RP shape is that each ski and length carrying that moniker must have a 15-meter turn radius.  This means that the shape is beholden to the rocker profile and the taper in order to generate that radius.  This leads to a funky looking ski, especially in the longer lengths.  Our 189 on the wall ends up with measurements of 141/112/129 and weighs 2080 Grams.  While on the lighter side thanks to the wood core and carbon laminates, it’s still got some heft to it, but won’t feel bulky due to that shorter radius.  These skis are very nimble for their shape and size, and at 112 mm underfoot, will stay on top of very deep and soft snow.  The tip and tail rocker profiles end up being very pronounced, and the tapered shape is unmistakably DPS, as this is what must happen in order to give a wide, long ski a short turn radius.  It ends up being very surfy and smeary in the deep snow, and while not the fastest or hardest charging on our wall, it’s arguably the most poised and predictable.  DPS makes a high-quality product, and although it comes with a respectfully high price tag, the build quality and engineering that goes into it is reflected in the performance and feel.

Who it's For:

Resort-oriented powder skiers who value precision above all else.  Powder 8 competitors.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Elan Ripstick 116




AVAILABLE SIZES

185, 193 cm

TURN RADIUS

20.3m @ 185 cm

SIDECUT

143 / 116 / 132 mm

CORE

Wood / Carbon Laminate

STRENGTHS

Accessibility, Lightness, Fun-Factor


Overview:

The Elan Ripstick line is centered on the fact that skiing should be fun.  Crazy idea, right?  The widest offering, the 116, is arguably the lightest and most maneuverable ski in our comparison, and well suited for resort powder skiing for a wide variety of ability levels.  You can be an expert skier and enjoy the Ripstick 116, but intermediates looking for a wide and fun ski will find it accessible.  As the Elan skis move up in shape, the rocker, camber, and taper all increase, leading to more flotation and a smoother overall experience in soft snow.  The Ripstick 116 sets itself apart in a few ways, and it starts with their Amphibio rocker profile.  With a right and left-specific ski, Elan features a cambered inside edge and a rockered outside edge.  This gives the ski a ton of smoothness in turn transitions, as that uphill ski never hooks up, but rather tracks evenly with the downhill ski.  Second, the tubelite wood core is light and flexible, thanks to the lightweight carbon tubes that run the length of the ski following the arc of the sidecut.  These 3-dimensional tubes flex evenly to accommodate both longitudinal and torsional forces.  It gives the ski a lively feel while reducing overall weight. 

Who it's For:

Resort-oriented powder skiers looking for a light and fun ski to rip through any amount of fresh snow.

AT A GLANCE


2020 K2 Mindbender 116 C




AVAILABLE SIZES

179, 186, 193 cm

TURN RADIUS

22.9m @ 186 cm

SIDECUT

143 / 116 / 133 mm

CORE

Wood / Carbon

STRENGTHS

Lightness, Consistency, Playfulness


Overview:

One of the sharpest looking skis in our comparison, the all-new K2 Mindbender 116 C has the guts to back up its good looks.  The Mindbender series uses either carbon or Titanium to bolster the wood core, and in the 116, carbon us used to control torsional as well as longitudinal stiffness.  The carbon is criss-crossed tightly towards the tips and gets wider at the tails.  This gives the ski a playful and surfy feeling while still retaining a stable forebody.  The flex is on the softer side, giving the Mindbender 116 a playful personality and a fun-loving character.  There’s a fair amount of tip and tail taper and the relatively squared-off tip lowers swing weight for quicker turns.  Due to its lighter weight and overall design, it makes for a great touring and backcountry ski for a wide variety of skier types.  It’s not as burly as some of the other skis in our comparison, but it is one of the most useful and versatile for fresh and soft-snow conditions.  At the 186 cm length, the skis have a 22.9-meter turn radius which adds to the playfulness of the ski.  It likes to go straight, but the build is perfect to vary up that turn shape and fit it to your whims.

Who it's For:

A wide variety of skiers who are looking for a softer powder ski for resort and backcountry conditions.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Line Pescado




AVAILABLE SIZES

180 cm

TURN RADIUS

19.5m @ 180 cm

SIDECUT

158 / 125 / 144 mm

CORE

Wood / Titanal Tail

STRENGTHS

Flotation, Smoothness, Uniqueness


Overview:

The 2020 Line Pescado is easily the most innovatively shaped ski on our wall.  Loosely based off of the fish concept in snowboards, the Pescado is a powder-specific ski with a one-track mind.  From Alaska to Alta or Japan, the Pescado’s driving forces are the super-wide tip, the shorter overall length and turn radius, and the swallow tail.  The tail is the most interesting place to start, as the cutout allows snow to flow through leading to a smooth and catch-free sensation.  It’s pretty impressive how stiff the tail is (and has to be in order to stand up to skier forces), and it cuts right through any amount of snow regardless of density.  There’s a lot more tip rocker than tail rocker in the Pescado as the directional nature of the ski really comes through in the profile.  Massive dimensions of 158/125/144 are found in the ski’s only length of 180 cm, and this leads to a 19.5-meter turn radius.  The shorter length and radius of the ski make it a great turner, capable of clean, round turns in any depth snow.  It’s got the widest tip of any ski on our wall, ensuring complete and total flotation and fun in the fresh.  If you can find snow deep enough to submerge this ski, please let us know where it is.

Who it's For:

Japow and Alta enthusiasts looking for a uniquely shaped and designed powder ski that just won’t sink.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Nordica Enforcer Free 110




AVAILABLE SIZES

169, 177, 185, 191 cm

TURN RADIUS

18.5m @ 185 cm

SIDECUT

140 / 110 / 129 mm

CORE

Light Wood / Two Metal Layers

STRENGTHS

Versatility, Stability, Playfulness


Overview:

Back for another year of fresh-snow versatility, the 2020 Nordica Enforcer 110 Free is the narrowest ski in our comparison.  It’s almost comical how skinny it looks next to some of the other skis on our wall, yet it still retains excellent float and amazing all-mountain versatility.  Built with a wood core and two sheets of metal, this ski has a traditional build and is on the burlier side of skis in this comparison.  At 110 mm underfoot, you’ll still get a ton of flotation, but the versatility of the ski really sets it apart.  With a turned-up tail, the hefty build feels quicker than it looks and also gives the ski a playful personality.  By sticking with Nordica’s Enforcer pedigree, the overall performance of the 110 is off the charts.  At the 185 cm length, the 110 has an 18.5-meter turn radius.  When paired with that build, the ski makes incredibly round and deep turns.  On softer groomers, it absolutely kills it in terms of turn shape, and with the sidewall construction, the edge grip is phenomenal.  Available in lengths ranging from 169 to 191, there are a lot of skiers out there who would love this as their powder ski.  It has arguably the best versatility out of any ski in our comparison and is definitely up there in terms of harder or more challenging snow conditions due to its build and shape.

Who it's For:

All-mountain skiers looking for their playful powder ski and Enforcer fans searching for a complementary ski for their narrower Nordica.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Nordica Enforcer Free 115 




AVAILABLE SIZES

191 cm

TURN RADIUS

21.5m @ 191

SIDECUT

143 / 115 / 132 mm

CORE

Light Wood / Two Metal Layers

STRENGTHS

Stability, Speed, Power


Overview:

The widest ski Nordica makes, the Enforcer Free 115 is a big mountain killer.  Available in a 191 cm length only, this ski is big, burly, and ready for high-speed freeride adventure.  Built with a thicker balsa wood core than the 110, carbon, and two sheets of metal, this ski is burly and stiff when it needs to be, but also has a playful and fun-loving side, just so long as you can handle the length.  The measurements of 143/115/132 combine to create a 21.5-meter turn radius which is still capable of making a variety of turn shapes and styles.  It’s got a fair amount of tip and tail rocker, so even with the dual metal laminate, it can still smear and surf with the best of them.  The sandwich sidewall construction gives the 115 (formerly the Enforcer Pro) a ton of edge grip for its size, making it a great choice for both resort powder skiing as well as backcountry excursions.  It’s a bit heavy for a touring application but the sacrifice on weight is likely worth the excellent downhill performance.  You’ll see these skis at the top of burly big mountain lines, and then you’ll see them at the bottom a very short time later.

Who it's For:

Skiers who are looking for a big, wide ski for huge lines and extreme terrain without sacrificing playfulness.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Rossignol Black OPS 118




AVAILABLE SIZES

176, 186 cm

TURN RADIUS

25m @ 186 cm

SIDECUT

146 / 118 / 141 mm

CORE

Woodcore

STRENGTHS

Playfulness, Buttery, Fun-Loving


Overview:

In the fun department, the Rossignol Black Ops 118 is at the head of the class.  Shaped and built for powder playfulness, the Black Ops 118 is a park and freestyle-inspired ski for backcountry booters, pillow drops, and big mountain lines.  Rossignol’s pretty hush-hush about the specs of the ski, but we’ve decoded a few things using a scale and a tape measure.  Weighing 2358 grams per ski at the 186 cm length, the skis are on the heavier side, especially for a ski without metal.  In addition to the poplar wood core, Rossignol adds rubber inserts in the tips and tails and an extra layer of material underfoot for binding retention and edge to edge stability.  The overall feel of the ski, with the addition of the rubber, makes for an extremely supple ride with minimal vibrations.  It’s a very damp ski for its width.  The spoony taper shape makes it tricky to get actual measurements, but in our estimation, the tips are about 142 mm while the tails are about 137.  Based on other ski’s dimensions, that’s going to put you in the 19 to 20-meter radius range which, combined with the more symmetrical shape, means this ski makes some clean, round turns.

Who it's For:

Backcountry jibbers, butter fans, and smeary, surfy skiers.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Rossignol Super 7 HD




AVAILABLE SIZES

172, 180, 188 cm

TURN RADIUS

20m @ 189 cm

SIDECUT

140 / 116 / 130 mm

CORE

Wood / Carbon / Air Tip

STRENGTHS

Quickness, Liveliness, Precision


Overview:

We’ve covered the Super 7’s narrower siblings in earlier comparison videos, and now it’s time to give the bigger one its due.  There’s also a Super 7 RD that only comes in a 190 and is pretty burly, but we’ve chosen to focus on a more resort-oriented powder ski that’s more approachable and friendly than the Race Department version.  The Super 7 is built with a light wood core and a carbon layup that adds a ton of power to this maneuverable chassis.  The mix of these materials makes the ski feel very consistent over a wide range of conditions and snow types.  With a 116 mm waist, the skis are pretty floaty.  When that width is paired with Rossignol’s five-point sidecut, the skis generate a 19-meter turn radius at the 180 cm length.  By moving the widest parts of the ski closer to the middle, the elongated taper makes the ski maneuverable and quick—especially for its shape.  Rossignol’s use of Air Tip 2.0 further lightens the swing weight, making the Super 7 act and behave like a playful slasher, capable of both high-speed arcs and short swing powder eight style turns.  Super responsive, the Rossignol Super 7 is a fantastic powder ski for the resort and beyond.

Who it's For:

Pacific Northwest and Sierra tree skiers.  If you like making shorter turns and not sinking, these skis are for you.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Salomon QST 118




AVAILABLE SIZES

171, 178, 185, 192 cm

TURN RADIUS

26m @ 185 cm

SIDECUT

139 / 118 / 126 mm

CORE

Wood / Carbon / Basalt / Flax

STRENGTHS

Flotation, Lightness, Smeariness


Overview:

The widest of the QST series, the 118 remains unchanged except for graphics from last year.  You still get an incredible amount of tail rocker and the tip rocker profile is long and low-slung.  It’s a very gradual rise in the tip, and this gives the ski excellent planing properties as it feels like the ski is just skimming along the top of the powder.  For pure, fresh snow, the rocker profile combined with the directional nature of the ski put it at the top of its class.  At 118, they’re not the widest in our comparison, but that rocker profile surely makes it one of the smoothest and most consistent floaters out there.  The ski’s measurements of 142/118/129 at the 185 cm length create a 26-meter turn radius.  This is pretty straight for skis in this category, and it allows the skier to really control the direction and duration of the turn. Additionally, the straighter shape is less likely to be catchy or hooky, resulting in a smoother overall ride.   Constructed with the same wood core with carbon and flax as the other QST models, the 118 has a great blend of light weight and high-performance.  Pair this with a Salomon Shift binding for unmatched touring capabilities.

Who it's For:

Fresh powder seekers in both resort and backcountry settings.  The deeper the better.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Volkl Confession




AVAILABLE SIZES

179. 186, 193 cm

TURN RADIUS

23.8m @ 186 cm

SIDECUT

144 / 117 / 133 mm

CORE

Wood / Carbon / Titanal Band

STRENGTHS

Burliness, Fast, Straight


Overview:

The Volkl Confession returns unchanged for 2020 except for a minor cosmetic refresh.  For fans of the Confession, this is a good thing.  When it was first released a few years ago, skiers were skeptical of the underfoot camber, as the previous Volkl powder skis were mainly full rocker.  Those fears quckly waned, as the camber eventually proved itself necessary for steeper terrain and firmer snow.  When you want edge grip, there’s no substitute for camber underfoot.  The 186 cm’s sidecut reveals a 23.8-meter turn radius—pretty straight for skis in this comparison.  The longer the radius, the more comfortable the ski is at speed, so we’re looking at a ski that has some amazing stability at higher velocities.  Built with Volkl’s multi-layer wood core and a titanal band, the Confession has all the traits that loyal Volkl fans have loved for years.  By locating the metal laminate along the central portion of the ski, you get all the vibration damping you’ll need without the weight of a full (or two) sheets of titanal.  Also, by generally leaving the area over the edges alone, the skis are a lot more playful versus skis that have edge to edge metal (or a frame style laminate).  Carbon stringers add a bit more stiffness to the mix without weighing it down so high-performance and expert skiers will get the support they need for hard-charging big-line shredding.

Who it's For:

Thrill-seekers looking for a big and burly ski that still has good playfulness and maneuverability. 

2020 SKI COMPARISONS:


Men's Powder Skis


SKIS

RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

RETAIL PRICE

2020 Armada Magic J

20m @ 180cm

138 / 143 / 126 / 140 / 134

Poplar / Ash

$759.95

2020 Blizzard Bodacious

30.5m @ 186cm

142 / 118 / 132

Wood / Dual Metal Laminate

$799.95

2020 Blizzard Rustler 11

23m @ 192cm

143 / 116 / 123

Wood / Carbon / Shaped Titanal

$699.95

2020 Blizzard Spur

28.5m @ 192cm

140 / 124 / 150

Wood / Carbon / Shaped Titanal

$999.95

2020 DPS Wailer 112 RP Alchemist

15m @ 184cm

140 / 112 / 127

Wood / Dual Carbon Laminate

$1,299.00

2020 Elan Ripstick 116

20.3m @ 185cm

143 / 116 / 132

Wood / Carbon Laminate

$749.99

2020 K2 Mindbender 116 C

22.9m @ 186m

143 / 116 / 133

Wood / Carbon

$699.95

2020 Line Pescado

19.5m @ 180cm

158 / 125 / 144

Wood / Titanal Tail

$849.95

2020 Nordica Enforcer Free 110

18.5m @ 185cm

140 / 110 / 129

Light Wood / Two Metal Layers

$799.99

2020 Nordica Enforcer Free 115 

21.5m @ 191cm

143 / 115 / 132

Light Wood / Two Metal Layers

$799.99

2020 Rossignol Black OPS 118

25m @ 186cm

146 / 118 / 141

Woodcore

$699.95

2020 Rossignol Super 7 HD

20m @ 189cm

140 / 116 / 130

Wood / Carbon / Air Tip

$799.95

2020 Salomon QST 118

26m @ 185cm

139 / 118 / 126

Wood / Carbon / Basalt / Flax

$799.99

2020 Volkl Confession

23.8m @ 186cm

144 / 117 / 133

Wood / Carbon / Titanal Band

$749.00

2020 Men's Freeride Ski Test Results Image
 

Written by Bob St.Pierre on 11/08/19

3 thoughts on “2020 Ski Comparisons: Men's Powder Ski Guide

  1. I need more float.....
    Hello Skiessentials, I need some advice. I love everything about my Volkl 90Eight skis, but I need more float. I’d like a comparable powder or wider freeride ski that is fun, playful, snappy, responsive, light, with a tail that releases easily to smear turns in trees and bumps. Not interested in a hard charging turn locking ski. Thank you.

    1. Hi Greg!
      The easy answer is the Volkl 100Eight. 10 mm wider than the 90Eight and built with full rocker profile for extra-smooth float. Also check out the K2 Marksman or the Armada Tracer 108, but if you like the 90Eight, I'd recommend keeping it in the family. Have fun!
      SE

  2. Hi! Tahoe and Utah skier looking for a replacement for my Blizzard Rustler 11 188cm. Just haven't really figured them out and not quite jelling with them - they feel heavy and like I'm constantly wrestling with them. I currently have Nordica Enforcer 100s (185cm) as my all mountain skis and really love the way that they ski - so easy and smooth. Would the Enforcer 110 free be the natural pair to this? How about the Mindbender 116C? Or the Ripstick 116?

    I'm 5'11" 220 and fairly athletic. Like to play and vary turn shape as opposed to charging at mach looney. Probably my favorite "powder" ski of all time was the Volkl Gotama (Gold Budha edition).

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