2021 Volkl Blaze 106 Men's and Women's Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2021 Volkl Blaze 106 Men's and Women's Ski Review

Way back in October, we met with the product development team from Volkl to chat and preview the new 2021 Blaze collection. If you haven’t watched it, go back and check out our interview with Andi Mann, Lead Product Manager for all Volkl skis. In that video we talk a lot about what the goals were for developing these new skis, how they are built, and chat in depth about what sets them apart from other skis. As promised, we’re following up that introductory video with a full review of the widest Blaze for men and women, the Blaze 106.

To summarize, or if you haven’t watched the interview with Andi, these are designed to be lightweight, intuitive freeride skis. The Blaze 106 that we’re going to talk about here is replacing the 100Eight. Although it has a similar goal as that ski, its design, performance, and overall feel is quite different. Let’s take a moment to look at the shape and construction of the Blaze 106.

The transparent topsheet reveals lots of construction detals, which is pretty cool. Volkl developed a new Hybrid Wood Core for the Blaze skis. You can easily see the vertically laminated strips of wood running through the ski, and they extend all the way through the tips and tails, matching the actual shape of the ski all the way to the end. Right in the center of the ski there is actually a strip of synthetic material as well, which doesn’t just reduce weight, it actually adds specific performance attributes to the ski like energy and responsiveness. Underfoot, you’ll find a rather interestingly shaped sheet of metal. It’s full width where your toe and heel piece will go, but a little thinner in the middle, then tapering and ending just before and behind the bindings. It’s easy to assume this is just for binding retention, but it actually is important to the ski’s performance too, which we’ll get to.

The shape of the Blaze 106 is very interesting. It might not catch your eye among a wall of banana-rockered skis, but when you start to look more closely, there’s a lot going on. The camber height is very low underfoot, but there is camber, which is a significant change if we’re comparing it to the 100Eight. The rocker profile is long, but low. There are undeniably some similarities between its shape and that of the 100Eight, but camber underfoot and the 3D.Radius really sets it apart. We’ve talked about 3D.Radius before in skis like the Kendo 88 and Mantra 102, but it’s further enhanced in the Blaze 106. The 186 cm Blaze 106 has a 40 m radius in the tip, 19 m radius underfoot, and 30 m radius in the tail. That’s a huge range, not to mention 40 m is a huge radius. So, the recipe of the Blaze 106 is a shorter radius underfoot paired with metal and camber, then long radii in the tips and tails paired with long rocker and a huge turn radius, oh, and not much early taper at all. It’s a very unique shape, and how straight the Blaze 106 is in its tips and tails, especially in longer lengths, sets it apart from just about anything else out there.

2021 Volkl Blaze 106 Men's and Women's Ski Review: Full Camber Image

The idea behind this design is to retain the precise feel that Volkl has developed a reputation for, and give the ski a more intuitive, easy-going feel with the ability to make a wide variety of turn shapes. It’s pretty darn cool. When I first saw this ski and sat with Andi to talk about it, it all made sense in my head, but it was a rewarding experience getting to ski it for myself. The ski just works really well. First, it’s incredibly light on your feet. As Andi mentioned in his interview, it should be one of the lightest freeride skis on the market for 2021. We’ll have to see if that holds true as we get a chance to weigh more skis, but I’ll be surprised if many skis are lighter. Making my first turns on the Blaze 106, I noticed the shorter radius underfoot. When you’re not in super deep snow and when you’re making relatively traditional turns, the ski feels precise, responsive, and energetic. It’s snappy, loves to pop in and out of turns, and it’s just a lot of fun to ski. It’s pretty amazing how responsive it feels considering how little camber it is, but that blend of metal, camber, and a shorter radius underfoot really works. It’s super nimble through trees, moguls, and other tight terrain. It also holds an edge quite well for a ski this light when linking carving turns.

2021 Volkl Blaze 106 Men's and Women's Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 1 2021 Volkl Blaze 106 Men's and Women's Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 2

When you get into deeper, softer snow, you really start to feel that long radius in the tips and tails. A ski with a long radius lets you do a lot of different things in powder. Short radius powder skis can feel too catchy and unstable when you throw them sideways. Remember when Shane McConkey side-slipped that spine in Alaska? You couldn’t do that on a short radius ski, it just wouldn’t let you. You could, however, do it on the Blaze. I knew it was going to happen, or at least I expected it might happen, but the way you can release the edge on this ski and get it to smear or surf in soft snow is crazy. I started laughing out loud with I first felt it. I normally expect to get that feeling on skis with a ton of rocker, like the old Volkl Two, but the Blaze is a way different shape. I think of this type of skiing as going straight, then completely sideways, then back to straight again. The Blaze 106 supports this style of skiing very well, and arguably better than any other ski that can also make short, round turns. It’s super cool, and it’s not something I had ever experienced in a ski with a profile this flat.

What that means is you can do a lot of different things on the Blaze, and it can work for a lot of different skiers. I personally love that I can ski it with two distinctly different styles. I can ski with a more traditional style and link fun, responsive turns when skiing with friends, co-workers, family, etc. On the other hand, I’d feel perfectly comfortable taking it on a deep mission into the backcountry with the plan of skiing waist deep snow and making a whole bunch of modern-freeride slashing and smearing turns. That versatility also makes it a really, really good choice for a backcountry or sidecountry touring ski. It feels lighter than the 100Eight it replaces, and although that ski had a similar smearing/slashing ability, it didn’t have nearly the responsiveness or quickness of the Blaze 106. We expect a lot of people will be mounting the Blaze 106 with a binding like the Kingpin 13 or Duke PT.

Volkl set out to make a ski that complements their existing Kendo/Mantra/Katana line and I think they did a phenomenal job. When I sat down to talk with Andi, we spoke about the importance of retaining the Volkl feel, but in a freeride/soft snow package, and I think they did just that. This ski can do a lot of different things, and you could say it has two different personalities, but its quality, precision, and overall performance feels very worthy of the Volkl name.

2021 Volkl Blaze 106 Men's and Women's Ski Review: Buy Now Image
 

Written by Jeff Neagle on 02/19/20

31 thoughts on “2021 Volkl Blaze 106 Men's and Women's Ski Review

  1. Right on. I tested the Blaze 106 at Mt. Norquay in January on hard pack, some light snow on top, through some moguls on Black Diamond runs and these were phenomenal. I could not believe how quick they moved edge to edge on short turns and how they held at fast speeds turning. They cut through snow like nothing. Wow.
    It is a M5 mantra with no weight.

  2. The one thing that worries me about these is 146mm tip! That’s almost a snowboard! I’m sure it helps the ski plane up in deep snow, but didn’t you feel it made it hard to fit though the troughs of moguls?

    1. Hi Slim!
      Right, you kind of have to know what you're getting into--not quite the zipper line ski! The lightness and flexibility do make it fun in bumps, so yes, you can get them around, it's not like a 106 with two sheets of metal and how prohibitive that can be in terrain. Have fun!
      SE

  3. Thanks for the review. I am an intermediate skier looking for a one ski quiver for 50/50 resort/backcountry touring. Planning to mount a Duke PT on it. Do you think this is a ski that is forgiving, stable & damp under moderate speed and easy to handle in trees/moguls? How does this compare to K2 Mindbender 108? Is blaze much softer? Have you get a chance to test it on ice? Thanks.

    1. Hi John!
      Sounds like a fantastic setup for your application!
      Versus the K2, the Blaze is quite a bit more flexible, but still has a ton of energy for how light and maneuverable it is. I skied the Blaze 106 on a pretty firm day and it worked just fine. Have fun and take care.
      SE

  4. Hey guys, love your reviews. I’m looking for a playful ski for soft conditions that still has plenty of pop on the groomers as well. I’m 5’11 190 advanced skier. Like to ski everything: groomers, bumps, trees, side stash and bowls. My east coast ( home) skis are blizzard Brahma 180’s and they’re a ton of fun when you’re hammering and overall great east coast ski. I demo’ed some rustler 10 180’s out west this year on a powder which were great, good float in bowls, easy to release in trees and forgiving in bumps. Talked to a local shop guy who recommended Blaze 106 over rustler 10’s. What’s your thoughts on comparing blaze 106 vs rustler 10?

    1. Hi Matt!
      Certainly more about personal preference, as those skis are pretty similar. I'd say you'll get a bit better float out of the wider and lighter 106 while the narrower Rustler 10 has a longer metal laminate that will provide better stability in all-mountain resort conditions. I'm 6/2 220, and I'd prefer the 106 to go along with your Brahma--gives a bit more of a difference between skis. Take care!
      SE

    1. Hi Boris!
      I think the 106 is softer than the 100Eight. The lighter wood, especially in the forebody and through the tail, is more flexible than the 3D Ridge found on the 100Eight. Take care!
      SE

  5. Thanks for the review. I have demo ed Atomic Bent Chetler 100 last season which is around similar weight as Blaze 106, also full wood core. I enjoyed the playfulness and it is easy to turn anywhere, but it got knocked around a lot by chopped up snow. How does blaze compare to it under variable conditions?

    1. Hi John!
      You'll have some of the same experience with the 106--perhaps a bit more stable due to the metal plate underfoot and just increased material, but still not going to give you the stability of a ski with full-metal laminates. In variable conditions, the extra surface area of the the 106 will be helpful, but not a total game changer. Take care!
      SE

  6. Great review
    Thinking about this versus the sick day 104 as a touring setup with kingpin bindings. I’m 6 ft and 160 lbs advanced to expert skier for use in tahoe. Thoughts on either and length?

    1. Hi Perk!
      Better powder performance with the Blaze. The Sick Day has a bit more heft to it, so for an uphill application, it's not quite as efficient. In the crud and mank, the Sick Day will slightly outperform the Blaze, but overall, I'd go with the Volkl--pretty impressive ski, and you're not too heavy, so I think you'll do great with the lighter ski. I'd say 179 is the right size for you in that ski. Take care!
      SE

  7. Hi
    I ski mainly in Whistler and for the past ten years I have been only on Rossi Super 7s. Last year I bought a set of Kendos to do instructor training and really loved them. They made me realise what fun I had been missing out on when wielding my big powder skis on piste for all those years. So that got me thinking that I'd like to pick up something in-between the two for next season. A set of go anywhere, do anything skis. I don't ski park but I'd use them for everything else. Powder, steeps, trees, bumps and piste, usually all in the same day. I like to ski playfully rather than straight line charging. Your reviews are great and through them I've narrowed my choice down to three options: Rossignol Sender, Volkl Blaze 106 and Volkl Revolt 104. Which of those three do you think would be best for my requirement? I know that it's going to be down to personal preference at the end of the day but I'd be really interested to hear your opinion never the less.

    1. HI Andrew!
      I think the Sender fits your application the best. Revolt is better for park, Blaze for powder, and the Sender is the most well-rounded of the three. I think if you're dabbling in a bit of it all, the Sender fits the bill the best. I'd go with the 186 in that ski for your size and application. Take care!
      SE

  8. What's your suggestions to complement a 173cm Blizzard Bonafide for a 2 ski quiver that can be used for 75/25 resort/backcountry/pow (mainly for out west CA/CO/OR/Canada)? Want to mount shifts or Kingpins for dual personality as I'm 5'6" 160lb advanced skier. I typically like a short(er) turn radii and am looking at these for freshies:

    Volkl Blaze 106, Rustler 11, Nordica 110, Atomic Bent Chetler 120 others?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Greg!
      I think if you're looking for a ski that you can use in an uphill and downhill application, I'd look to the Blaze 106. The Rustler and Enforcer are pretty heavy to lug uphill, and I'd say the BC 120 is a bit too specific for pure pow, unless you're looking to do exclusively that, in which case, they'd be sweet. Along the lines of the lighter skis, I'd also add the Elan Ripstick 106, Line Vision 108, and Armada Tracer 108. Those, along with the Blaze, fall into the category of "lighter alpine skis that can also be used in a touring format" while the others would be more resort-specific skis. Have fun!
      SE

  9. I have been riding a Soul 7 HD 180 for 4 seasons and have loved them only complaint is the hold on firm and icy conditions. My soul7s need to be replaced they are falling apart and are glued back together currently.
    I'm 6ft and 190lbs. I mostly ski BigSky and ski just about anything there so I guess that puts me at an expert level?... Pre and post season I uphill at RedLodge and in the Beartooth Pass. My bindings are shifts.
    Considering the Blaze 106, Sender and maybe the Sender Ti, Sick Day 104, and the Russler10.
    What suggestions do you have for me?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Aaron!
      If you liked the Soul I think you'll love the Blaze. Same light weight and good maneuverability as well as float, and the Blaze has a leg up on the Sould when it comes to that firm-snow performance. Rustler 10 is another top-option, with a bit more heft and performance due to the partial metal laminate. Sick Day and Sender fall somewhere in the middle as heavier skis without metal, and the Sender Ti is more in line with the Rustler. For a similar ski to the Soul and with a strong uphill potential, I'd look squarely at that Blaze. Have fun!
      SE

  10. Thanks for the detailed review! I’m curious what the difference is between the men’s and women’s Blaze 106. I’m looking for a 172 so could go either way, but I prefer the color of the mens and would go with that if differences are negligible.

    1. Hi kimberly!
      No structural difference between those skis, just available sizes and colors. If you find the color you like in the size you want, fire it up!
      SE

  11. Thanks for this - very helpful. I'm pretty convinced this is what I want for my back/slack country ski (only on piste to/from slack country) in the Whistler area. I was hoping that your review would give me some info on length, but I'm still not clear whether I should go with the 165 or the 172. I am 5' 5 1/2", 130lb 55 year old female and a strong skier. Wondering whether the 172 will be more work than fun on aging hips and knees? 🙂

    1. HI Sarah!
      I think the 165 is a better choice. You'll have more surface area on the 172, and therefore more flotation and stability, but I think the 165 is a better choice for your size and application. Have fun!
      SE

  12. Thoughts on how these stack up to the Icelantic Nomad 105 (my current skis)? Love the Icelantics and was going to replace with upgraded model but the Blaze 106 caught my eye. Demoed a set of the 100Eight last season and was impressed, but your review on the Blaze sounds like they ride similar to my Nomads.

    1. HI Cary!
      Very similar in terms of build, Icelantic has a pretty comprehensive diagram on their site of the construction, and it's very much like the Blaze. I would say that there's more fiberglass in the Nomad, making it a bit heavier than the Blaze, as well as more of a twin-tip shape with a more dramatic rocker profile. I'd say this makes the Nomad more of a playful floater while the Blaze has more of a directional personality. The metal mounting plate on the Blaze is somewhat structural, so it does give a nice underfoot feel, while the lighter and more maneuverable tips and tails are perfect for floating and soft-snow performance. Different animal than the fully-rockered 100Eight, and the 3D Ridge on those skis made them more stable in the crud. Blaze is more of a dancer. Have fun!
      SE

  13. Thanks for the review -- sounds like a well-designed, fun ski. I'm looking to replace my 2015 Volkl Yumis, which have served me well in these post-partum ski years. Previously I had the Auras, which I didn't love for they're a**-kicking stiffness. As I've regained my strength and fitness, I'm looking for a one ski-quiver to chase kids on but also push hard in the bumps, crud, trees and deeper snow all over the mountain. I'm not necessarily looking to go faster, but to ski stronger and with more flow. At 5'7", 140lbs, I'm a lifelong skier (never raced) who skis in Alberta and BC -- bullteproof groomers at Nakiska to pillowy joy at Whitewater and everything in between. Any thoughts on the Blaze 106 (or 94) vs. 2021 Santa Ana 93 (or 98) vs. Ripstick 94 for my needs? Open to other suggestions as well.

    1. Hi Simone!
      I think you've got it covered pretty well with those choices! I think the mid 90's is the place to be for your application, so you can narrow to Santa Ana 93, Blaze 94, and Ripstick. Between those, the Santa Ana is going to be the stiffest with the Blaze and Ripstick pretty comparable on the lighter side. I'd actually say the Ripstick is the mid-range choice of the three, with the Blaze being the most forgiving. Even so, the Santa Ana is nowhere near where that Aura was of a few years ago, it'll feel like a blend of the Yumi and the Aura. If you're still looking for that high-performance ceiling, I'd stick to the Santa Ana 93. Have fun!
      SE

  14. Thanks for your review!
    I am interested in the women's version of this ski. I'm looking for a ski to get into backcountry skiing. I would like it to be great in powder and stable at speeds, but would like it to perform well in trees, bumps, and crud.
    I'm an advanced/expert skier and ski aggressively, but I'm very lightweight (height ~154 cm, weight ~105 pounds). I'm interested in this ski but I'm unsure wether I should take ski the 158 or 165 cm? I'm concerned that with the rocker 158 might be too short. Would 165 cm be better? Currently my piste skis are 154 cm.
    And if you have other skis to suggest, I'd love to hear your suggestions!

    1. Hi Marian!
      I think you'll have more fun overall on the 158. I'd worry the 165 is too long, jeopardizing the maneuverability and quickness. Have fun!
      SE

  15. Great insight. Where would you rate the Fischer Ranger 102s in versatility and stiffness/aggressiveness compared to the Santa Anas?

  16. Hi. Thnks for the review! How does it compare to the BMT 109? I have the first generation BMT 109 186 cm and I love them. Amazing skis. But they have been around for a while and not least the bindings (first gen. G3 Ion) are beginning to make a lot of noise :). So looking to replace them. Obviously the logical choice would be another pair of BMT 109... But considering how much more expensive they are than the Blaze 106 I'm getting second thoughts. Should I maybe go Blaze 106 instead? But if I do: would I get a totally different ski? I do realize that Blaze 106 is more of a 50/50 back-country/resort whereas the BMT 109 is a 90/10. What's your take on the how these two ski in comparison to each other? Some info: expert level skier with a racing past but now mostly touring (but with the going down in focus 🙂 ). I would use them for say 80/20 back-country/resort since I have a pair of Kendo 88 and a pair of Mantra 102 as well. (Plus the first gen BMT 122 that unfortunately doesn't come out often enough 🙂 )
    Thnks / Andy

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