2021 Ski Comparisons: Men's Mid 90mm All Mountain Ski Guide Lead Image

Ski Comparisons - Ski Reviews

2021 SKI COMPARISONS: MEN'S MID 90 MM ALL MOUNTAIN SKI GUIDE

In this week’s ski comparison, we’re diving into the popular category of men’s all mountain skis in the mid-90 mm waist width range. This might very well be the most popular category in all of skiing. It’s home to a lot of skis that could be daily drivers, or even the illusive one-ski-quiver. There’s also a lot of variety in this list, with some skis focused more on firm snow performance and others geared towards off-piste terrain and in some instances even backcountry touring. We’re switching things up this week by listing these skis in order or most expensive to lease expensive, so of course we’re kicking off with a Kastle and Stöckli.

AT A GLANCE


2021 Kastle FX 96 HP Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

164, 172, 180, 188 cm

18.1 m at 180 cm

133 / 96 / 119 mm

Carbon and Fiberglass Wound Core with Poplar, Beech, and Paulownia

Versatility, Stability, Maneuverability


Overview:

This is the second year for the redesigned FX96 HP. The FX line in general has always been about blending off-piste capabilities and the potential for alpine touring with a relatively stable ski that you can ski aggressively. In developing the new ski, Kastle took out all the metal, which worried some skiers, but drastically reduced weight. To retain its stability and responsiveness, Kastle gave it a flatter, more squared-off tail. They also took the center portion of the wood core and wrapped it in fiberglass and carbon. The result is a ski that feels lighter and quicker than ever before, and is even better in off-piste and backcountry situations, while still giving you enough confidence at speed to let ‘em run. Certainly a candidate for a touring ski, but would also function really well as a versatile all-mountain ski within the resort.

Who it's For:

Adventurous skiers who enjoy seeking out soft snow and exploring new terrain, but you don’t want a ski with a floppy rocker profile and still value responsiveness and edge grip.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Stöckli Stormrider 95 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

166, 175, 184, 193 cm

19.4 m at 184 cm

131 / 95 / 123 mm

Wood Core with Metal Topsheet

Smoothness, Edge Grip, Stability


Overview:

The Stormrider 95 from Stockli might share the same price as the FX96 HP, but the performance and intended use is a little different. The Stormrider 95 is one of the smoothest skis in this comparison. It’s also relatively light, most notably among skis that use metal. Stockli achieves this by using a relatively lightweight wood core with a metal topsheet. The flex pattern isn’t as stiff as some skis in this category, but it doesn’t lack an ounce of edge grip or stability at speed. That softer flex pattern just increases its smooth feel and allows you to access the ski’s full potential without going Mach 5 down a groomer. You can really get the ski to flex into different radius turns, which is a very rewarding skiing experience. Because they’re a little lighter and softer than some, among skis that achieve this level of power, it’s quite versatile too. In other words, it won’t beat you up if you take it off trail, yet absolutely rips when you stick to the groomers.

Who it's For:

Skiers who value firm snow performance, vibration damping, and power, but don’t want a ski that’s jarringly stiff.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Line Blade Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

169, 176, 181 cm

~15m

154 / 95 / 124 mm

Aspen Wood Core with Gas Pedal Metal

Responsiveness, Quickness, Versatility


Overview:

A brand new ski for 2021, the Line Blade is perhaps the most unique ski in this comparison, and maybe the most unique ski on the market right now in general. Line basically made a wide slalom ski that actually performs really well as an all-mountain ski as well, much to the surprise of many people who’ve skied it. You get a huge tip and a relatively short turn radius. Line’s Gas Pedal Metal laminate is an interesting shape that delivers strong torsional stiffness, but allows for smooth longitudinal flex. When you’re linking turns with a high edge angle, the responsive, quick carves are incredibly fun and rewarding. When riding a flatter ski, the Blade will actually make a variety of different turn styles. You can slash and smear turns on it thanks to a decent amount of rise in the tail and its nimble feeling in trees is something that’s pretty surprising after a quick glance at its shape.

Who it's For:

Skiers who value carving performance, but have a more playful skiing style than your traditional carving enthusiast. We’re seeing a lot of ex-freestyle guys picking up the Blade as a directional ski and loving it.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Blizzard Bonafide 97 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

165, 171, 177, 183, 189 cm

17 m at 177 cm

136.5 / 97 / 118.5 mm

True Blend Wood Core with Two Titanal Layers

Power, Stability, Edge Grip


Overview:

The Bonafide is back for 2021 with some tweaks to its construction and shape. Most notably, Blizzard’s new True Blend wood core allows their engineers to dial in the flex pattern in each length, so the longer lengths are stiffer than the shorter lengths. Sounds obvious, but that’s not typically the case with traditional ski construction. We get slightly softer tips and tails, but less rocker, so you get the same precision and responsive feel we’ve always loved about the Bonafide. There’s still 2 full sheets of metal too, plus a new partial sheet underfoot. All in all, the Bonafide 97 is just as powerful as it’s always been. It has no speed limit and will respond well to the most aggressive skiers in the world. This new version, however, is a little bit more forgiving, a little bit more versatile, and a little bit more compliant at slower speeds. Still, the takeaway is the same as it’s always been, the Bonafide 97 absolutely rips, but would be a handful for an intermediate.

Who it's For:

Aggressive skiers who value power, stability, edge grip, and strength over other characteristics, but do plan on going off trail into ungroomed terrain as well.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Black Crows Camox Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

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CORE

STRENGTHS

168.1, 174.2, 180.4, 186.5 cm

20 m at 180.4 cm

130 / 97 / 118 mm

Poplar Wood Core

Versatility, Playfulness, Energy


Overview:

There’s no metal in the Camox, just a relatively simple poplar wood core, so we’re not getting the aggressive feel or stability at speed as a ski like the Bonafide 97, but what we’re getting is a much more playful, more versatile ski. The key to the performance of the Camox lies in its shape. It uses high camber underfoot with a good amount of tip rocker and a twin tip shape. There’s tail rocker too, but it’s less noticeable than the tip. That camber and the wood core provides pretty darn good edge grip on firm snow for a ski without metal. It’s very energetic and feels snappy and quick when linking turns. It’s also quite playful thanks to a softer flex pattern and the rockered, twin tip shape. Edge release is easier than any of the skis we’ve looked at so for, which makes it a fun option for skiers who like to slash, smear, and play around with turn shapes. You could use it in the terrain park too, although we think it’s actually better as a directional all-mountain ski than a park ski.

Who it's For:

Playful skiers who want a good mix of performance characteristics for skiing the whole mountain. Good groomer performance, fun in the trees and in soft snow, and also loves to play.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Nordica Enforcer 94 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

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SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

165, 172, 179, 186, 191 cm

17.1 m at 179 cm

127 / 94 / 115.5 mm

Wood Core with Two Sheets of Metal and Carbon

Power, Versatility, Stability


Overview:

The Enforcer 94 is another ski that received some tweaks for the 2021 season, much like the Bonafide. It’s now, obviously, 94 mm underfoot rather than 93, but that’s far from the biggest change. We get more lengths now with a smaller difference between them, which makes it easier to determine the correct length. We also get the technology used in the Enforcer 88 and 104 Free, True Tip and Carbon Reinforced Chassis. Swing weight is a little lighter now, although we still get two sheets of metal and it’s still relatively heavy overall. The tip shape also changed a little bit, giving us quicker engagement and a better connection to the snow overall. Other than that, it’s pretty similar to the Enforcer 93. It’s versatile for different terrain and snow conditions, can handle really aggressive skiers, and feels like one of the most playful, well-rounded skis among those that achieve this level of stability at speed.

Who it's For:

Aggressive skiers who want a tool for the whole mountain and skiers that don’t like to feel stuck in one particular turn shape or style.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Volkl M5 Mantra Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

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SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

170, 177, 184, 191 cm

21.2 m at 184 cm

134 / 96 / 117 mm

Multilayer Wood Core with Titanal Frame

Edge Grip, Precision, Stability


Overview:

The M5 Mantra is back for another season and continues to be one of the most precise skis in this category. We’ve already talked about some powerful, aggressive skis, and the M5 Mantra certainly fits into that category. Its shape and construction gives it a ton of responsiveness and edge grip, and it’s arguably one of the best carving skis in this category. It might be the best, although we feel like Stockli would want to argue against that, which is fair. Of course, as we get more of one category, we typically get less in another area. It’s reasonable to say that the M5 Mantra is a little less versatile than a ski like the Enforcer 94, or at least that if you’re taking it off trail, you need to have really good technique. The Titanal Frame construction delivers all the on trail stability and vibration damping you could ask for, but allows for a little lighter ski overall and a bigger sweet spot, which makes it a pure pleasure to ski.

Who it's For:

Skiers who really value carving performance and precision and are willing to give up some forgiveness and versatility in favor of responsiveness and edge grip.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Salomon Stance 96 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

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SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

168, 176, 182, 188 cm

20 m at 182 cm

132 / 96 / 114 mm

Poplar Wood Core with Metal Twin Frame

Stability, Edge Grip, Versatility


Overview:

The Stance 96 is a great ski to talk about after the Mantra as it shares a lot of similar characteristics. The application of metal is similar, although there’s more of it in the Stance. On the other hand, you get more rocker and a slightly softer flex pattern. That takes away some of the precision of the Mantra in favor of a little more soft snow compliance. They’re equally powerful and it’s hard to pick a winner in overall edge grip, but you can definitely feel the difference. Edge release is going to be a little easier on the Stance, however, which gives it a slightly more smeary feel. Keep in mind that all these differences are pretty marginal, as realistically these two skis are very similar. It’s nice to have both, however, as you can choose subtle differences in how they interact with the snow.

Who it's For:

A similar skier to one who would choose the M5 Mantra, although you’re willing to give up some of the Volkl precision for a touch more versatility.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Atomic Vantage 97 Ti Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

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SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

172, 180, 188 cm

19.1 m at 180 cm

131.5 / 97 / 120.5 mm

Power Wood Core with Titanium Tank Mesh

Stability, Responsiveness, Quickness


Overview:

The Vantage 97 Ti can hang with all the skis we’ve talked about so far in terms of overall edge grip, but what’s interesting about it is it’s quite a bit lighter than the metal-clad skis we’ve looked at before. Atomic’s Prolite construction is similar in concept to the Mantra and Stance, but that concept is taken to a whole different level. The middle of these skis is exceptionally thin, with the denser materials positioned in raised portions along the edge of the ski. That’s how Atomic is able to keep the weight so low, yet this construction results in a ski that’s incredibly stiff. In fact, it might be the stiffest ski in this category. When you have a ski that’s this lightweight and this stiff, it’s highly, highly responsive. These skis respond to skier input with lightning quickness, which an expert skier will love. On the other hand, an intermediate might find that that responsiveness magnifies their mistakes, so it’s not the most forgiving ski in the world.

Who it's For:

We’ve found high-level, lighter-weight skiers really enjoy the performance of the Vantage 97 Ti. You should value precision, responsiveness, and firm snow performance over versatility or playfulness.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Armada Tracer 98 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

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SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

164, 172, 180, 188 cm

18 m at 180 cm

132 / 98 / 123 mm

Karuba Wood Core with Ti Binding Reinforcement and Adaptive Mesh

Maneuverability, Versatility, Forgiveness


Overview:

Setting itself apart from the last few skis we’ve looked at, the Tracer 98 is designed for more versatility and is geared more towards soft snow, off-piste performance. Armada uses a relatively lightweight wood core with their Adaptive Mesh technology and a partial metal laminate underfoot. It’s lighter than most skis in this comparison, has a relatively soft flex pattern, especially compared to a ski like the Vantage 97, and it has more rocker and early taper than most. Add all that up and you’ve got a ski that’s tremendously maneuverable and a whole lot of fun in off-piste terrain like trees and bowls. It loves to maneuver through tricky, technical terrain, and does so without feeling overly fatiguing. It’s perfectly appropriate for a resort skier who ideally spends more of their time in the trees than anywhere else, but we also see a lot of skiers choosing it as a hybrid resort/AT ski as it’s a fantastic match for the Armada Shift binding.

Who it's For:

Playful, adventurous skiers who value off-piste maneuverability, forgiveness, and playfulness over firm snow performance.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Elan Ripstick 96 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

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SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

164, 172, 180, 188 cm

18 m at 180 cm

136 / 96 / 110 mm

Tubelite Wood Core with Carbon Rods

Versatility, Playfulness, Responsiveness


Overview:

Perhaps one of the most well-rounded skis in this category, the Ripstick 96 can do a lot. Elan updated these skis for 2021 with a slightly more aggressive tip shape for quicker engagement and more carbon along the inside edge. They still use their signature carbon rods, which provide a unique feel as they utilize carbon in a 3 dimensional way. The Ripstick 96 feels light on your feet, it has a playful flex pattern and lets you release the tail edge at a moment’s notice, yet it also has impressively good edge grip and a highly responsive feel when linking carving turns. The vibration damping is better than most skis this lightweight too thanks to the unique application of carbon. The result is a ski that performs really well no matter where you take it. Playful for trees and soft snow, but can still rip some carving turns. The only limitation we’ve found in the Ripstick line is really heavy skiers may find it flexes more than they want in the tip, but that’s only going to happen for really big skiers that are very aggressive.

Who it's For:

Skiers looking for a fun, rewarding ski that they can take anywhere on the mountain without feeling out of place or overly fatigued.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Head Kore 93 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

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SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

153, 162, 171, 180, 189 cm

16.4 m at 180 cm

133 / 93 / 115 mm

Karuba Wood Core with Grapene, Carbon, and Koroyd

Versatility, Quickness, Maneuverability


Overview:

The Kore 93 is somewhat similar to the Ripstick 96. It’s lightweight, its shape is geared towards versatility and good soft snow performance, although they do feel quite a bit different. The Kore 93 is very stiff, similar to the Vantage 97 Ti in that sense. If you recall from that ski, a lightweight and stiff ski is going to be incredibly quick and responsive, and that’s certainly the case here. Unlike the Vantage 97 Ti, however, it uses more tip and tail rocker and a lot more early taper. That makes edge release easier and gives it a less catchy feel in terrain like moguls and trees. Because of that, it’s more versatile and more forgiving in challenging terrain than the Vantage 97 Ti, while still being very quick and responsive. You do give up some precision on firm snow, however, as the Kore 93 does have a shorter effective edge, but it’s nice to have a choice in shape among these stiff, lightweight skis.

Who it's For:

Skiers who value responsiveness and edge grip but want a ski that’s versatile for softer snow and technical terrain like moguls and trees.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Fischer Ranger 94 FR Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

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SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

153, 161, 169, 177, 185 cm

17 m at 177 cm

126 / 92 / 117 mm

Aeroshape Wood Core with Titanal Binding Retention and Carbon Nose

Playfulness, Quickness, Versatility


Overview:

The Ranger 94 FR is another lightweight all-mountain ski and it’s hands-down one of the most playful skis we’ve looked at so far. Fischer’s Carbon Nose construction gives it tremendously light swing weight, while still retaining good torsional stiffness. It has longer rocker than a lot of skis in this comparison and more of a twin tip shape than most. Because of this shape and the lightweight feel, it’s incredibly agile and nimble. It’s one of the easiest skis to maneuver through moguls and trees and does so with a distinctly playful and energetic feel. We also see some skiers using this as a combination all-mountain/park ski due to the twin tip shape and that lightweight feel. That said, it can still lay over turns on groomers thanks to reasonably good torsional stiffness and snappy camber underfoot. It’s also a perfectly good choice for a touring ski, which just adds another application to its impressive list of capabilities.

Who it's For:

Playful skiers who want a fun-loving ski for the whole mountain. You don’t necessarily need to want a twin tip, but it’s great for skiers that like having that option.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Nordica Soul Rider 97 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

169, 177, 185 cm

16.5 m at 177 cm

134 / 97 / 124 mm

Wood Core with Carbon Stringers

Energy, Playfulness, Responsiveness


Overview:

The Soul Rider 97 has more freestyle influence than any other ski we’ve looked at so far. That means its shape is more symmetrical, which is supported by the fact there’s a true center mount point option. That said, it can still be a rewarding all-mountain ski too. There’s high rise camber in the Soul Rider as well as carbon stringers. That gives it good edge grip on firm snow and a very energetic, poppy feel coming out of a turn. The tips and tails don’t use any early taper, just some subtle rocker, so you get really long edge contact too, which results in better edge grip than most twin tips in this category. Those wide tips and tails do take away some smearing, pivoting performance, but accomplished skiers will have no problem whatsoever if they decide to take the Soul Rider 97 into the trees. There are others that have easier edge release, but those skis don’t match the Soul Rider’s precision on firmer snow.

Who it's For:

Playful skiers who still enjoy ripping carving turns on firm snow. You probably spend a little time in the terrain park, or maybe a lot, or at least have a preference for a twin tip shape.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Rossignol BLACKOPS Escaper Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

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SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

156, 164, 172, 178, 186 cm

19 m

128 / 94 / 118 mm

Paulownia Wood Core with Diago Fiber and Damp Tech

Versatility, Quickness, Forgiveness


Overview:

The Escaper is part of the new, or rather expanded, BLACKOPS line. In a lot of ways, this ski replaces the Sky 7 that’s been around for almost a decade now. It is, however, quite a bit different. First, it’s a little narrower at 94 underfoot. Second, it uses less rocker and much less early taper than the Sky. Similarly, however, it’s lightweight, highly maneuverable, and relatively forgiving too. The paulownia wood core and Diago Fiber is pretty similar to the construction we saw in the Sky, so it has a similar flex pattern and a lot of energy. Rossignol still uses an air tip too, so the swing weight is still nice and easy. Because of the extended sidecut, you get better edge grip, especially at a high edge angle, but when you’re riding a flatter ski you still get the maneuverability and forgiveness that we loved about the Sky 7. In other words, it’s more versatile and more well-rounded than the Sky. Another way to think about it is it’s kind of like a lighter Enforcer. The shaping concept is similar, but it’s easier to ski and not as aggressive.

Who it's For:

Skiers who don’t feel like they need a particularly aggressive, powerful ski and rather want something that feels well-rounded for the entire mountain. Reasonably stable and good edge grip, but more forgiving and less tiring than most in this list.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Liberty Origin 96 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

171, 176, 182, 187 cm

17.5 m at 176 cm

130 / 96 / 118 mm

Poplar and Bamboo Wood Core with Carbon Stringers

Playfulness, Quickness, Versatility


Overview:

The Origin 96 is a superbly playful ski that has all the characteristics we expect from Liberty. It’s light, it’s energetic, it’s snappy and responsive, and it’s versatile for a wide range of snow conditions. The shape of this ski kind of blurs the line between tail rocker and twin tip, but regardless of what title you want to give it, the result is the same. Edge release is incredibly easy, which gives it a super nimble, agile feel in tight terrain. The tip rocker also really helps boost its float, making it one of the better powder skis among this comparison. It’s really all about having fun, and you’d be hard pressed to spend a day on it without grinning from ear to ear. Some aggressive skiers would likely wish for more stability at speed and a longer effective edge, but that’s okay, Liberty has their V series and evolv line to satisfy those skiers. This ski is all about playfulness, energy, and responsiveness, and it’s a very rewarding experience.

Who it's For:

Skiers who look at the whole mountain as their personal playground. You love darting through the trees, jumping off of stuff, and don’t want to feel stuck in certain turn shapes.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Volkl Blaze 94 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

165, 172, 179, 186 cm

17 m at 179 cm

134 / 94 / 116 mm

Hybrid Multilayer Wood Core with Titanal Power Plate

Maneuverability, Versatility, Quickness


Overview:

One of the lightest skis in this comparison, the Blaze 94 was designed to complement the existing performance of the M5 Mantra, and it’s the perfect ski to do so. Playful directional skiers will absolutely love this thing. It’s incredibly agile and super easy to throw around thanks to the lightweight feel and relatively long rocker. It allows for a wide range of turns shapes thanks to the shape and Volkl’s 3D.Radius technology. A little bit of camber underfoot is paired with a partial metal laminate as well, giving it better edge grip and more responsiveness than you might guess if you were to just pick one up off a ski wall. It might be lightweight and playful, but it still has that Volkl precision when you want it, especially when you get it to flex on firm snow. On the other hand, it’s one of the best skis in this comparison to match with an alpine touring binding like the new Duke PT for 50/50 resort/touring application.

Who it's For:

Adventurous skiers who want a lightweight, versatile ski that they can ski within the resort, in the backcountry, and everywhere in between.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Dynastar Menace 98 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

169, 175, 181, 187 cm

20 m at 169 cm

132 / 98 / 120 mm

Poplar Wood Core with Springblade

Playfulness, Versatility, Forgiveness


Overview:

The Menace 98 is similar in a lot of ways to the Soul Rider 97. It blends freestyle influence with all-mountain capabilities. It does, however, feel a little different. The flex pattern is softer in the tips and tails and there’s a more directional taper angle from the tip to tail. That makes it a little more maneuverable and more forgiving in tight terrain and softer snow conditions. There’s still a center mount point option too, so it’s also a good option for park skiers who want to center mount a wider ski. There are a lot of similarities to the BLACKOPS Holyshred we’ve referenced in other comparisons, although the Menace feels lighter and softer flexing in the tips and tails, so it has more playfulness than the Holyshred. That’s at the cost of some stability at speed, but that’s okay, and the Menace 98 is certainly no slouch on firm snow. Overall, it’s just a ton of fun to ski and feels super versatile for the whole mountain.

Who it's For:

Playful skiers who want some freestyle influence in their skis. Whether you’re mounting it center or traditional, you can’t ignore its playfulness and the ski’s preference for a modern skiing style.


AT A GLANCE


2021 K2 Poacher Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

163, 170, 177, 184 cm

19 m at 184 cm

124 / 96 / 118 mm

Fir/Aspen Double Barrel with Carbon Boost Braid

Playfulness, Balance, Versatility


Overview:

Another versatile all-mountain twin tip, although the Poacher is starting to lean more towards park use than most of the twin tips we’ve looked at so far. That said, it’s shape is still really good for all-mountain use too. Camber underfoot is paired with rockered tips and tails and some early taper too. We know skiers who’ve used the Poacher as a fun all-mountain ski, and then there are guys like Colby Stevenson winning X Games medals on it. Realistically, it’s probably best for someone who at least is spending some of their time in the terrain park, or maybe you used to ski in the park a lot and now you spend more time around the rest of the mountain. What we’re saying is it’s hard to ignore the freestyle influence in its performance and the fact that it’s a relatively symmetrical shape.

Who it's For:

Playful skiers who want to spend a good amount of time in the terrain park, but want to be able to use their skis around the rest of the mountain too and even on some powder days.


AT A GLANCE


2021 Armada ARV 96 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

163, 170, 177, 184 cm

19 m at 177 cm

125 / 96 / 117 mm

Poplar and Ash Wood Core

Playfulness, Balance, Versatility


Overview:

Just like the Poacher, the ARV 96 is a playful all-mountain ski with significant freestyle influence in its design. You see a lot of these in the terrain park. In fact, the ARV 96 skier is best friends with the Poacher skier. They ride the lift together, they blow by you on groomers skiing switch, then you see them posted up at the top of the terrain park planning their tricks for this run. If that sounds like you, it’s a fantastic ski. On the other hand, like the Poacher, we see a reasonable amount of skiers choosing it as more of a fun, playful all-mountain ski rather than a dedicated park ski. That’s a good application for it, but you still have to remember that it’s more symmetrical than most skis in this category. That can feel weird to someone who’s only ever been on directional skis, so something to consider if you’re considering the ARV 96.

Who it's For:

Playful skiers who are going to follow their Poacher friends into the park, but then go rip some groomer and tree runs later in the day.


Written by Jeff Neagle on 11/11/20

27 thoughts on “2021 SKI COMPARISONS: MEN'S MID 90 MM ALL MOUNTAIN SKI GUIDE

  1. Hello,
    I'm 44 and I would say intermediate to advanced skier. I ski about 4-5 times a year. Most recent skis were Rossignol Sprayers that I had for years. I recently demoed Blizzard Rustler 9s and Meier Quickdraw. I liked the waist on the Rustler but liked skiing the Meier too. I ski mostly resort, north east like Okemo, Attitash, Killington and Loon, but want a good all mountain ski. I would say I am 90% on trails. Once in awhile go off trail, or trees but not often. So looking for that on trail ski than I can have fun with. Powder, ice, crud, etc...

    I have been looking at the following skis, but would love your opinions.
    Elan Ripstick 96
    Head Kore 99
    Blizzard Bonafide 97
    Blizzard Rustler 9 and 10
    K2 Mindbender 99
    Fischer Ranger 94 or 99
    Nordica Enforcer 94
    Vokl M5
    Salomon QST 92 or 99
    Libtech UFO 95

    Thank you!

    JK

    1. Hi Justin!
      I find that skiers like yourself, in that ability range, who spend most of their time on trail, and don't really know what to get, should look squarely at the QST 92. It's a very capable ski that has a huge range of terrain and snow condition capabilities. The Rustler 9 is another solid choice, just a bit more metallic versus the more natural feeling of the QST. Have fun!
      SE

  2. Hello,

    Looking for a daily driver. 50% Canadian Rockies, 50% East.
    I'm currently on '15 Rossignol Experience 84s, was out west just last week and got absolutely killed when it snowed 10" had to rent Rossignol Exp. 92 TI for a couple of days.

    Intermediate/Advanced skier, do enjoy carving groomers but also some fresh powder, however as mentioned above my 84s wouldn't cant it on the fresh snow.

    Looking for a recommendation, down to:

    Rossignol Experience 92 TI Basalt
    Volkl Mantra M5
    Nordica Enforcer 94

    Thanks,

    Dee

    1. HI Dee!
      Great spread of choices! Can't really go wrong with any of them. The E92, as you've likely learned, is a pretty sweet ski, and what sets it apart from the other two skis on your list is the short turn radius and the lighter tips and tails. You'll find no such reprieve in the lightness department from either the Mantra or the Enforcer. That said, you'll also sacrifice some stability at speed with the 92 vs. Mantra and E94, which both have seemingly endless speed limits. I found that the Enforcer has the feel and personality of a wider freeride ski, balanced with the precision of a more on-piste carver. The Mantra has more of a precise, metallic feel to it, and has the camber to keep the edges locked tight to any type of ice or firm snow. For soft snow and powder, I think the Enforcer is your best choice, and for ice and precision, the Mantra. The Experience is the lighter and more maneuverable of the three, with high camber underfoot for energy, but light tips and tails for quickness. I think if you're 50% in the Rockies, the Enforcer might be your best bet for a mix of all-mountain conditions and terrain. Have fun!
      SE

      1. Awesome, thanks a lot, genuinely appreciate your thorough responses.

        What length would you reco? I'm currently on 178cm, I'm 32, 6'2-6'3 205lbs, was thinking either 186cm or 191cm.

  3. Hi,
    Love your reviews and website. Looking for some help to get my son a new pair of skis to replace 2013 Volkl Bridges (full rocker). He loves this ski, but long overdue for an upgrade. Likes to go everywhere on the mountain but spends a lot of time in the park and trees. Intermediate/Adv. 6'2", 168. East coast mainly. Focused on the Dynastar Menance 98, Armada ARV 96, Nordica Soul Rider 97. Can you guys offer any insights? Thx.

    1. Hi Vinman!
      You're in the right zone for sure! I went from Bridge to the Slicer (now Menace) and love it. I also currently have a Soul Rider 87 which is one of the most fun and energetic skis I've been on, even for a 220 pound skier. The Soul Rider has more snap and pop than the Menace, which is a bit more on the damp/subdued side. The Armada is a close second in the energy department. I'm personally a Soul Rider fan because of that bounce, and it also translates well to park, although the flex and build of the Armada is more park-oriented than the other skis. Hope that helps!
      SE

  4. Hello guys,
    Like your reviews. I am from Central Europe, where isn't not often powder but I like ski off-piste. I spend 50% of my time off-piste, in soft snow in forest, 10% in powder and 40 % on slope. Currently I ski on Fischer Ranger 108Ti (2016), what are good in off-piste conditions, but on harder surfaces and at high speed aren't good. I am Intermediate/Advanced - 180cm (5'11") 82kg (180lbs) skier. I prefer width 95-100mm

    Looking for allmountain pair skis what most fullfill mix of this conditions:
    Versatility, - good performance on slope and also in soft/fresh snow
    Stability - at high speed and on moguls
    Maneuverability - in forest

    I have been looking at the following skis, but would love your opinions:
    Nordica Enforcer 100
    Blizzard Bonafide 97
    Völkl Mantra M5
    Salomon Stance 96

    Thank you!
    Maros.

    1. Hi Maros!
      I've been quite impressed with my Enforcer 100's for the past year, as they do a little bit of everything, but truly ride the on-piste with smoothness and stability. Slightly narrower, I did enjoy the Stance 96, as kind of an Enforcer-minus. All the things I like about the Enforcer, but in a quicker and easier to ski package. Not quite as heavy, but still quite stable. I peg the mantra as more of an on-trail specialist, with the power and precision of a race ski, but not quite the versatility of the Stance or Enforcer. Bonafide needs some speed to get it to act correctly, so if you're not looking to go top speed all the time, I'd stick to Stance or Enforcer, and between those, I'd choose based on width. Have fun!
      SE

  5. Hey guys, great site!
    I'm in the market for some new skis. I'm 42, 5' 10" 185lbs. I've been skiing or snowboarding most of my life in the northeast. Now that I have kids I've been focused primarily on skiing. I went to my local shop and grabbed an affordable pair of skis - Blizzard Rawhide @162cm and 82mm under foot. I am shocked at how easy it was to get skiing again after mostly snowboarding the last 20 years. I've been skiing them for the last 3+ years now. We ski mostly Stowe these days but also day trip sunapee and visit Wildcat as well. We spend time on mostly groomed runs like lift line and nose dive at stowe but also certainly run the many blues off the forerunner quad or the gondola. We Occasionally sneak into the glades and mogul runs as well (blacks and blues). I'm starting to feel like I'm ready to get into a new pair of skis.

    I like how quick the blizzards turn but I'm guessing they are a bit too short for me and I'm ready to try something new. I demoed a pair of parlor cardinals last season but I didn't really like them. They felt like a lot of work to turn. I've read your blog articles so I have some ideas of stuff to try, but I'm wondering if the 82mm on my current ski is going to make other skis feel like the parlors. Ultimately, I feel like I should setup some demos (not sure if you guys do that) and try something out before making a decision. From reading it seems like the enforcers, the ripsticks, and the declivitys may be something on the short list, but honestly I have no idea. I'm a little worried that jumping from the 82mm waist into the 90s will make for a big difference, but I'd love some feedback. From all the reading I've done I'm really leaning towards the ripsticks or the declivitys. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Sean!
      Check out our retail store Pinnacle Ski and Sports on Mt. Road in Stowe, they house our demo fleet. I don't think the jump to the 90's is a huge one, as they're all getting so good and accessible these days. In addition to Ripstick 88 and Declivity 92, check out the Rossignol Experience 88, Stockli Stormrider 88 (pricey, but amazing), or the K2 Mindbender 90 Ti. Lots of good stuff out there! Have fun!
      SE

  6. Hi guys,

    I’m an advanced alpine skier transplanted from the west. I decided to begin tele skiing, here in the east, which ski would you recommend for a beginner tele skier with NTN bindings strictly for groomers? I was thinking something light for easy turns but also holds it edge well. The ranger seems like a good choice but any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Hi Joseph!
      Yup, Ranger is a great choice for sure. I'd also look to the K2 Mindbender 90 Ti or the Nordica Navigator 85 for a bit narrower of an option. Have fun!
      SE

  7. Hey Guys, really enjoy your reviews!
    Appreciate your advice.
    60 year old - 5'10, strong 260#s
    coming back to skiing after 20 year break, previously skiied 50- 65days/ year. Consider my current self out of ski-shape intermediate that will ski myself back into advanced intermediate (and beyond hopefully)
    Primarily ski Colorado- eldora, winter park, (10 days so far this year). Front of mountain 80% mostly groomed right now and 20% getting into calf deep powder. Probably will not get back into any serious bumps. I ski in Nordica HF110s.
    Looking for one ski quiver, have been renting volkl RTM 8.0- 177, stinks in powder and seems to wash out at speed. Just swapped for Rossi EXP 94-187, no idea just yet who they will work. That's all the ski shop had left in seasonal rentals.
    Folks have suggested Brahma 88, rustler 9s, your thoughts, ski and length? I'm gonna spend a week up at winter park next week and plan to demo a bunch of your suggestion, thanks in advance and keep up the good work.

    1. HI Jeff!
      I think Rustler makes more sense than the Brahma--they have a good blend of performance and versatility, while the Brahma is a bit more pigeon-holed as a high-gear ski that is pretty heavy and stiff. Also check out the Fischer Ranger 94 FR and Rossignol Escaper. Have fun!
      SE

  8. Hi Guys,

    I’m an high level intermediate to advanced skier, 5’ 9” and about 170lbs. Looking to get a one ski quiver, all mountain ski. I ski mostly east coast (from Quebec). I am not overly aggressive, about 60/40 on piste/off. I like to do some tree skiing and moguls. Looking for a playful, versatile ski that is good on piste but that I can have fun with off piste. Nothing overly stiff or heavy. I considering the Black Crows Captis or Camox also considering the Armada Declivity 92Ti. What would you recommend? Any other suggestions that suit my needs? What length do you recommend? Currently skiing at 171cm.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Charlie!
      Captis seems to fit those needs of being lighter and more maneuverable. Camox and Declivity are very capable skis, but they are heavier and more aggressive. I think you'll appreciate the quickness and edge grip of the Captis, and it's a great tree and bump ski for sure! I'd stick to the same length if you can. Have fun!
      SE

  9. Hello! Great info on this site.

    I'm a shorter and heavier skier of 30 years (5'5" about 200lbs.) and am looking for a one quiver ski. Mostly ski Midwest, but get to Colorado/Utah ever other year or so. Mostly on piste, but some tree work and limited powder. I'm looking for a ski around 163 cm, give or take a couple cms.

    Looking at:
    Fischer Ranger 94
    Solomon QST 92
    Elan Ripstick 96

    Any thoughts as to what direction might be best? Really struggling as to what ski I should invest in. Also, if you have a different ski that would better suit me, I'm all ears, but wanting to stay in the budget of the skis listed.

    Thanks for all of you assistance.

    1. Hi Kevin!
      You're in the right spot with the mid-90's skis, and you have three good ones here. Ranger is probably the most responsive and energetic while the QST is a bit heavier and more stable. Ripstick is a fair blend of the two, with good energy coming out of the turn, but a playful shovel that's great for trees and powder. It might be on the light side for you, so I'd lean to the Ranger 94 at this point. More right than wrong with this list!
      SE

  10. Hey Guys - fantastic content and really love the reviews. Hoping for a recommendation.

    Quick background: 6’1” 195 lb athletic. Took a 15 yr break to snowboard but back on skis the last 3 years. Consider myself an advanced intermediate to lower advanced. 60/40 on vs off piste. Can go all over the mtn and can ski double blacks, bowls, etc. but still lots room to improve. Starting to really enjoy trees and the steeps. Don’t love bumps but would like to get better at them. I do love finding side hits all over the mountain and getting air whenever possible. Don’t spend much time in the park but will occasionally do a lap. Want to start dropping spend more time on expert terrain, finding small cliffs to drop, etc. I take 2-3 trips out west to CO or UT each year so that’s where I’ll be primarily skiing. I’ve demoed the QST 92’s in 177 in UT rustler 9’s in 180 and enjoyed both a ton. They felt really similar. I also tried the Mantra M5’s and didn’t like them. I could go super fast but they weren’t playful enough and just felt a little boring.

    I think I’ve narrowed it down to Rustler 9’s, QST 92’s, and the Fischer Ranger 94 FR bit haven't ben on the Rangers yet. I worry that I might outgrow the QSTs and I want something that I will inspire confidence but has a high ceiling. I think I should size up to 185 in QST 92 if I get them or the 184 in the Rangers. Is 188 too long in the Rustlers? Should I be looking at any other skis?

    Out of those three do you have a recommendation? I’m open to going wider since this will be my 1SQ but really like the mid-90 range. Thanks!!

    1. Thanks, Jim!
      I think the mid-90's is a great place to be for your only ski. I don't think you'll hit the ceiling of the QST 92 any sooner than those of the Ranger or Rustler. Both Rustler and QST have a bit more heft to them than the Ranger, which is a bit lighter. You could also check out the Ranger 92 Ti, which is a bit more of a directional ski than the 94 FR, and more similar on-trail qualities as the Rustler. We've also been pretty big fans of the Head Kore 99 and the Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition skis this year, so those might be worth a look as well. More right than wrong with any of these options. Out of those three on your list, I like the sound of the Rustler 9, as it has a good blend of playfulness and a high-performance ceiling. I don't think 180 is too short in that ski as it does have the titanal laminate for power and stability. Hope that helps!
      SE

  11. Hi Guys! Like Your site, very good content.
    I use to ski at the French alps in Les Trois Valles 70% on the groomed slopes and 30% off piste,
    I am advanced skier, 62 years have 1,80 meters and 63kg . My actual ski is on Dinastar Legend X 96, 1,78m lenght.
    I am looking for:
    Volkl M5 Mantra
    Stokcli Stormrider 95
    Black Crows Camox
    Volkl Blaze 94
    Would like tô know your opiniões Witherspoon Will be the best ski for me. Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Mario!
      It's hard to argue against the Stormrider 95. It's got the biggest range of performance, from low-speed compliance to high-end performance. The Mantra doesn't love the moderate skiing while the Blaze isn't a fan of the high end. Camox is a good mix, but doesn't quite have the precision or quality of the Stockli. If it's in your budget, the Stockli is simply a wonderful ski.
      SE

        1. Hi Mario!
          The Legend is a better floater than the other two, with the Vantage being the best on-trail ski in a carved turn. The Blaze is somewhere in the middle, with a light weight overall and a lot of versatility built in.
          SE

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