2022 Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2022 Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Ski Review

This time of year is always very exciting at SkiEssentials.com. We’re smack-dab in the middle of ski season, conditions are starting to get really good, and we get a lot of new skis to play with. This one is special in the sense that it’s also an early release that you can actually buy starting today: the 2022 Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition. Elan has been leaving their mark on the industry over the past few years and the Ripstick collection is a big reason why. If you follow along with our content, you may already know that Elan took a break from the Black Edition versions of their Ripstick skis for 2021. A lot of us expected we’d see them return for 2022, and that’s exactly what has happened.

In general, the Black Edition skis have been positioned as the premium versions of the Ripsticks. That trend stays true for 2022, and Elan has achieved an impressive, unique feel in these new skis. In previous iterations of the Ripstick Black Edition skis, we got a full extra sheet of carbon fiber compared to the regular Ripsticks. For 2021, they changed the Ripstick shape and construction to further enhance their asymmetrical Amphibio concept. If you’re unfamiliar with those changes, go check out our review of the 2021 Ripstick 96. We loved the changes to the shape and performance of the Ripsticks, but it left us wondering what might be in store for a potential new Black Edition.


2022 Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Skis






164, 172, 180, 188 cm

18 m at 180 cm

136 / 96 / 110 mm

Carbon Line Technology and Quad Rod

Versatility, Smoothness, Playfulness

Let’s start from square one and talk about shape. The Ripstick 96 Black Edition shares the same shape with the Ripstick 96 non-Black. Camber underfoot is paired with tip and tail rocker, which isn’t exceptionally pronounced, but is relatively significant. They also utilize early taper in both the tips and tails, which is essentially matched with the length of the rocker. Unique to Elan is their Amphibio profile. The inside edges have more camber, while the outside edges have more rocker. We’ve talked about this concept before and how it helps a ski feel more intuitive, and we’ll get to that in more detail when we talk about performance. In the 2021 Ripsticks, and these new 2022 Black Editions, we get construction that supports that profile more than anything they’ve done in the past.

Elan’s Carbon Line Technology combines multiple applications of carbon to achieve a balance of a lightweight feel with power and performance. In the 2021 Ripstick 96, we get a partial carbon laminate along the inside edge in the forebody of the ski. In the 2022 Ripstick 96 Black Edition, that layer of carbon is also used in the tail and is fused to a full width sheet of carbon underfoot. Elan has a really good visual, which you can find in this article for clarification. The other application of carbon is in their Carbon Rods. We’ve talked about these a lot over the past few years and how this 3-dimensional use of carbon acts differently than carbon sheets or stringers, providing much more vibration damping and a smoother feel than we’ve come to expect out of skis that rely on carbon for their performance. In the new Black Editions, we now get QuadRod construction. The two Carbon Rods along the edges are still there, just like the Ripstick 96, while the Black Edition gets two additional rods in the center of the ski, one in the forebody, and one in the aft section of the ski. Basically, to dumb it down, it’s significantly more carbon than the normal Ripsticks, which is reflected in the price, $150 more than the normal Ripsticks. We also get Elan’s Vapor Tip Inserts and SST Sidewalls--technology that carries over from existing Ripstick skis.

2022 Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Ski Review: Core Build Image

Alright, so what does this all mean for performance? If you follow our reviews, you know we already think highly of the Ripstick collection. They provide a level of playfulness and versatility that’s lost on other high end all-mountain skis. While doing so, they also have impressive edge grip and, as mentioned above, better vibration damping than just about any other ski that relies heavily on its use of carbon. The new Ripstick 96 Black Edition thankfully retains all of those characteristics. It’s still playful and maneuverable, but holy heck, how did they make it this smooth? The QuadRod construction is the real deal, and the extended and widened sheet of carbon helps a lot too. The stability and vibration damping these skis achieve is outrageous when you consider how light they still are (the 180 cm length comes in at 1710 g) and how maneuverable they are. Even with weightier demo bindings on our test pairs, they still feel insanely light. The first turns we made on these skis basically blew our minds. I don’t think any of us really expected to get this level of vibration damping, and we all felt like the skis were glued to the snow as we made our first carving turns on them.

You can ski these faster and more aggressively than any Ripstick to date. The edge grip and confidence they provide takes what we love about the Ripstick 96 to another level. The shape also gives them such a smooth, intuitive feel when linking turns. It’s partly the Amphibio shape, and it’s partly the smooth early taper/rocker combination in the tip. They initiate a turn incredibly easily. They’re not crazy-stiff, which I think really helps achieve that smooth feel. This is probably a good time to point out that there are definitely stiffer skis out there that feel heavier and more powerful, but those skis can’t touch the playfulness and versatility of these skis. Even Bob, a heavier skier who can ski with a lot of power rarely felt like he was pushing them past their limits. Ski performance is all about balance. If Elan had made them stiffer, it would’ve taken away from their fun-factor and overall appeal, and I can confidently say that there won’t be many skiers out there who think they’re too soft for aggressive skiing. As Bob falls into that heavier category, I thought it would be beneficial to get some direct feedback from him:

2022 Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 1 2022 Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 2

As a heavier and more aggressive skier, I really appreciate the extra carbon rods and larger carbon laminate in the new Ripstick Black. It's not that they've invented the use of vertically placed rods or tubes or struts in the central chord of the ski, but they've certainly added their mark to the technique. You could always feel the tubes running along the sides of the ski, but now with them in the middle, it adds yet another dimension of performance to these already entertaining skis. The 96 remains as quick as ever, but the additional carbon rods and the wider Carbon Line laminate are very successful in making the carbon feel and behave more like titanal laminates in competing skis. This is probably the most effective use of carbon as I've seen in a ski, and since it does so at a fraction of the weight, this ski should appeal to a lot more skiers, especially of the advanced and expert ilk.

More stable at speed, more vibration damping, a more powerful feel, more edge grip… All sounds pretty good, right? That would all be moot if Elan couldn’t retain the other side of the Ripstick appeal, their playfulness. We’ve often talked about the energy that these Ripstick skis achieve. They have tremendous pop and feel lively and fun. The Ripstick 96 Black Edition does sometimes feel like it’s just glued to the snow, like when you’re linking pure carves, but when you take them into variable conditions, technical terrain, or just start swinging shorter, skidded turns, that Ripstick playfulness shines through. Edge release is so incredibly easy, and the Amphibio profile really helps in softer snow conditions. Despite having a damper and quieter feel than the normal Ripsticks, you can still load them up and achieve a lot of energy while they still feel maneuverable, easy, and forgiving in technical terrain. Add in the fact that they’re relatively lightweight, and we think the Ripstick 96 Black Edition would be a very valuable ski for a lot of skiers. The shape even works well when conditions get deeper. You might not even be reaching for your powder skis if you have a pair of these in your quiver. The tip shape gives them a ton of float and they have a smooth taper that never feels catchy.

Stable at speed, strong edge grip, easy maneuverability, a lightweight feel, and still a playful Ripstick attitude. That’s a lot of boxes to check, and the Ripstick 96 Black Edition is easily one of the most well-rounded all-mountain skis we’ve tested recently. Sure, there are skis that will “beat” it in singular performance characteristics… like there are skis that are stiffer, and there are skis that are lighter, but when it comes to versatility and having an even mix of performance characteristics, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Their performance is reflected in their price. This is a premium ski at $799 and that makes a lot of sense to us. In testing it, we also talked about how these stack up against the normal Ripstick line. Overall, the Ripstick 96 still has a lot of these same characteristics. The Black Edition is noticeably better when it comes to vibration damping, stability, and edge grip, but I think it’s important to remind everyone that the Ripstick 96 is still darn good at all of those things, and feels like a really good value at $649….

Well done, Elan, well done.

2022 Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Ski Review: Coming Soon Image

Written by Jeff Neagle on 01/19/21

50 thoughts on “2022 Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Ski Review

  1. What's the differences between the 2020/21 Black Ripstick 96 and the non-black Ripsticks? Thanks. Great reviews!

    1. Hi John!
      2022 Ripstick has two additional carbon rods that are found in the middle of the forebody and the middle of the tail as well as a wider and longer carbon line laminate than the regular Ripsticks for 2021, but not the full sheet of carbon of the 2020 Black Edition 96. The additional carbon rods and the carbon line laminate are burlier than the carbon laminate in the previous version. Have fun!

  2. Great review guys, thanks!
    Question: how would you compare them to Black Crows Camox, especially when it comes to versatility (groomers, trees, moguls, pow), fun-factor, stability at speed, edge grip? And if there is a difference in the level of skier who would enjoy each?
    Many thanks and keep the great reviews coming!

    1. HI Jan!
      The Camox is a bit more consistent from tip to tail, and the higher camber give it a snappy feeling for sure. I'd put the ski level at about the same. I'd rather the Ripstick for carved turns, moguls, and trees, as they are pretty darn stable for how quick they are, but I might have a bit more confidence at speed on the Camox, even without the carbon. I've had a lot of fun on both, but the Ripstick's use of carbon makes it so incredibly stable and fun for its weight, the heavier Camox can't quite keep up in terms of quickness.

  3. I watched your video with great interest on the 2022 Ripstick 96 black edition. I’m currently skiing Volkl Kendo 90, 184 length. I consider myself advanced, they ski well for me - but would not call them a playful ski. 6’3” 190 lbs, age 63 (don’t know if tthat makes any difference!). Would love to try the ripsticks out sometime - given above what would be your recommendation for length 180 or 188 on these Elans?

    1. Hi Stephen!
      I think the 188 is a good choice. They're still lighter and more maneuverable than the Kendo, so I think the 188 makes the most sense. Have fun!

  4. I’m also on a kendo 170 I do feel I could use a bigger ski. What do you think of the 180 for a 5,11 in hieght for this ski and where can I buy them.

    1. HI Marci!
      Not specifically, but their regular Ripstick skis are built the same regardless of gender, just different widths and sizes. They make one women's Black Edition ski, but it's the Wildcat 86 C Black Edition, so not a Ripstick. The 96 and 106 will both be available down to a 164 cm length. Have fun!

    1. Hi Mark!
      I'm not high up enough yet where I can just get my pick of the wall, but if I had to start over from scratch and get one ski for my current use, budget, and application, from skiing at work, to my friends, to my kids, east to west, I think I'd go with the Soul Rider 97. 96 Black is right there, though.

    1. HI Eric!
      Yes, but with different personalities and flex patterns. The Ranger has a carbon nose which is stiff, while the Ripstick has Vapor Tip in the shovel, which is soft. This affects the entry to the turn as well as performance in softer snow. The Ranger's tip can feel chattery sometimes, especially by lighter skiers, while I, at 220 pounds, found the shovel of the Ripstick to want to dive in and flex earlier than I'd like. Small problems, to be sure, as the other 99.9% of the ski is fairly flawless. Through the middle and the tail, the Ripstick is about as smooth as it gets, with the Ranger only slightly behind in terms of stability and power, but you do get more playfulness out of the tail of the Ranger, making it easier to release turns, especially in bumps and trees, but again, not by much. Have fun!

  5. I love your video on the 2022 Black 106...literally ready to buy now based off of that video alone. I also watched the video on the Ranger 102 FR and they both sound like what I'm looking for, so what would your suggestion be? I'm 6'2 / 240...big guy. I consider myself advanced-intermediate wanting to get clearly in the advanced realm. I currently ski the 187 Woodsman 108 and find it a bit too heavy and not as agile as I'd like. I ski on the west coast...right now we are getting tons of snow, so would like the wider, lighter and more playful ski. I play in trees, look for fresh snow mainly in the resorts, but wanting to start exploring outside more and more. My son lives in Utah so heading there to ski with him soon.

    Looking for: Stable and mostly damp at medium/faster speeds...I'm not a speed demon. Playful and easy to maneuver in tight trees, look for softer snow where ever I can, but usually not real deep most of the time. Son plays in the park a lot and I'm the Go Pro cameraman, so I need something I can keep up with him tight there. I do small jumps, but not launching of the big boys. Also, something I can flip side to side on steeper/tougher blacks.

    Sorry long, but really curious on your recommendation. Or any other thoughts outside of 2022 Black Ripstick or Ranger 102 FR?

    1. HI Derek!
      We were pretty impressed with the 106 Black for sure, but if you watch our 102 video, we're on board with that ski too! I do think the 102 offers a bit more in terms of versatility, and while the 106 is a really smooth and stable ride, keep in mind that the Vapor Tip inserts do make the shovel softer than the carbon nose in the Ranger. At 6/2 220, I did still find the shovel of the Ripstick to be on the soft side for my preference. The flip side to that coin is that the stiffer shovel of the Ranger can get deflected in the crud and chop while the softer Ripstick shovel will wiggle through that stuff. One's no better or worse, just a different feel. A lighter skier might gravitate to the Ripstick while us heavier skiers might get better results from the Ranger. I'd be irresponsible to leave the Enforcer 104 Free out of this discussion as a stiffer option, as that ski will certainly give you the stability and dampness at medium to faster speeds. A bit more work, yes, but also more reward. Really great options here--no way to go wrong. Have fun!

  6. Hi,
    I was wondering if you had any input into whether spending the extra money on the 2022 ripstick black was worth it versus the the 2020 ripstick black. I am interested in the 180 length(which doesn't seem to be available on your site right now for the 2022 model), but I can wait until they are restocked.
    - Oliver

    1. HI Oliver!
      That early release stock went fast. We will not be getting more 2020 Black Edition skis, for what it's worth, so if you're looking to pull the trigger, we have a sweet deal on those now--about half of what you'd spend on a 2022 as we're running a 20% off sale on 2020 and earlier gear. Is the 2022 twice as good? I don't think so. Have fun!

    1. Hi Mark!
      I asked them that after my first run on the 96's. It did not seem like it's in the works. Sad face.

  7. Hi
    I skied the Elan Ripstick 96 back in 2018 and really enjoyed it particularly in softer snow and light powder conditions. Being a rental I was only able to ski it in the 181cm length which seem to ski shorter than the stated length. Regardless 181 cm is 3 - 5 cm shorter than I prefer for a ski of this width and rocker and camber profile. Other reviews of the ski that I have read have revealed that the straight tape tip to tail measure is between 3 - 4 cm shorter than the stated length for these skis. I am a fit 61 year old, solid advanced skier 185 cm in height and 80 kg in weight. Would the 188 cm version of the black edition be my best choice given that I want to be able to ski all over the resort and the side country?

    1. HI Rick!
      I've found they measure about 1.5 cm shorter, so that 188 is more like a 186.5. If you're used to skis in the mid 180's range, I think the 188 is the way to go, and the Black Edition is such a fun ski!

      1. Thanks for the confirmation. It sounds like the gap has closed in terms of Elan's claimed de-cambered lengths. 180 cm would definitely be too short for me, 186.5 sounds like a doable length for this type of ski. Cheers.

  8. As always, another great review by you two! So I am looking for my next backcountry ski and the 106 Black Edition is creeping up to the top of my list. I don't just want a lightweight touring ski and gravitate to a more resort oriented ski, that tours well. The only thing is that I am a little hesitant getting the 106 @180cm as a touring ski. I am an aggressive skier at 5'10 175 but tend to keep my bc skies a little shorter than my resort skis. You mentioned this measure/ski shorter than they state, is that the case in the 180 as well?

    If so would you recommend this ski for east coast bc applications? Maybe mounting it at +1?

    1. HI Adam!
      That's the amazing thing about the 2022 Black Edition 106 and 96--they accomplish the smoothness and stability but at the lighter weight--haven't been on much else like that. The 180 measures more like a 178.5, so I think that's right in your wheelhouse. I'd caution against the forward mount, only because the skis still have the vapor tip in the shovel, so I'd be wary of putting my foot closer to the front of the ski. But overall, I think it's an awesome ski for what you're looking for, and beyond!

  9. What is the biggest performance difference between the 2022 106 black edition and the 2020?

    5’10 170lbs and I plan to put a shift binding on these, should I go 174 (2020) or 180 (2022)?

    My resort ski is the 179 DPS pagoda piste 100. I was touring on the DPS A100 @ 171 and it was too short for my liking.

    Thank you!

    1. HI LostatJay!
      While we could always feel the carbon laminate in the 2020 version, the 2022 feels like metal, but without the weight. It's very impressive how they do that, and the smoothness, dampness, and stability all are more equal to something like the Enforcer 104 but at a fraction of the weight. The 2022 is a superior ski, I'd go 180. Have fun!

  10. I measured the 2020 Ripstick 96 Black Edition 188 cm skis at 184.0 cm with a tape pull. Blisterreview measured some non-black edition Ripstick 96 181 cm at 177.4 cm, so significantly more than the 1 to 2 cm short typical of many manufacturers. Maybe Elan has changed that for 2022?

    1. HI Ross!
      Not likely, as they're using the same shape molds for these skis. I'm 99% certain the non-black 96 will mirror the shape and size of the Black edition. SE

  11. Man I thought I was so set on these skis from everything that I have read and the fun factor you mentioned. I’m currently on a older gen kendo 90 under foot. While I thought I loved that ski I just tried my buddies enforcer 94s and wow. How do these compare to the 94s. Are they very different skis???

  12. Any chance Elan will ever make a Black Edition of the 88 Ripstick? Or should I just opt for the 96 version even if it will spent 90% of the time frontside?

  13. Great review as always. I’m looking for a new 96ish daily driver. How does the 96 Ripstick Black compare to the new Vokel Mantra M6? This would be mainly east coast driver and all condition west ski. Adding this to the quiver. Carver is a Head super shape and powder go to is an Icelantic Nomad. This would fit perfectly in the middle. I’m 5’7 , range from 165-170 lbs. 170ish length seems to be my sweet spot. Especially in bumps and trees. Thanks

  14. Thank you Jeff and the Ski Essentials crew for your amazing reviews !!! I am new to your platform and have thoroughly enjoyed watching/learning from your testing. Just when i think I have I it all figured out, you guys get your hands on something new and then the analysis paralysis cycle begins again 😉 !!! I am sold on Elan, so at least I have that part figured out. Love the brand purpose (Always Good TImes !!!) and how that translates into the tech and ultimately the feel/experience.

    My current dilemma is Wingman 86 CTI Vs RIpstick 96 BE. I've always loved the RIpstick, but started leaning Wingman as my playground is just north of you guys with 80-85% of my time spent front-side simply due to snow coverage realities of the East. That said, as soon as there is some fresh on the ground and in the tress, that's where I'll spend 100% of my time !!! But those days are few and far between.

    I was was 99% sure I was going Wingman, then I saw your review of the early drop 2022 Ripstick BE with QuadRod. It looks like the 2022 BE is closing the gap with the Wingman. I like to ski fairly fast/aggressive, but also value "nimbleness". I want the edge grip, but don't want to sacrifice the playfullness. Basically want my cake and eat it too and if money were no object, I'd get both !!!

    I am mid 40's, 5'8", 165lbs. You perspective along with a length recommendation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for your awesome/entertaining reviews !!!

    1. HI Ben!
      I could certainly make it easy for you and say get the 2022 Ripstick 96 Black in the 172. It's the most successful use of carbon in a ski that I've seen. I'd say the Wingman is a better choice if you're getting a second pair, but for one pair, the 96 is the way to go. Very capable and a ton of fun.

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