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

107 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 Ryan!
          For me, at 6/3 230, yes. They have a full sheet of carbon as opposed to the partial one in the 2021 96, so it's a better fit for heavier or more aggressive skiers. How 'bout you?

    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. Wondering how the Ripstick 106 Black edition compares to the Nordica Enforcer Free 104? I know the enforcer has metal for dampening.... Would the Ripstick have the same dampening/edge hold as the Nordica? I imagine the Ripstick would also be "livelier" then the Enforcer? Is one better than the other for deep snow/crud?



    1. Hi Mark!
      The Ripstick achieves much of the same performance characteristics as the Enforcer 104, but at a much lighter weight. I don't think it's as good of a floater, but I am very impressed with how it carves--more of a sweeper than a driver like the E104, but for most skiers who are a bit less aggressive, I think this is a good thing. Very good edge hold for no metal. I still think I'd rather have the Enforcer in deep snow and crud, for me, at 6/2 220 pounds. Have fun!

  12. What a great looking ski and thanks very much for the comparison with the 2021 edition. Two questions, is the black edition available now? And I am 5 9" 175lbs, I assume the 172 is the best choice in length?

    1. HI Christopher!
      It's a limited run, and we didn't get any 172's in that batch. Likely we'll see more in the late summer/early fall. I do think the 172 is a good choice. Have fun!

    1. HI Val!
      2020 had one full layer of carbon while the 2022 has a 3/4 sheet over the inside edges as well as two additional carbon rods that run in the center of the ski--one in the forebody and one in the tail. More carbon rods=more fun!

  13. I’ve got a pair of 2018 K2 Pinnacle 95’s at 170 that have suited me well as my first set of skis. After putting a number of winters in Colorado I’m now looking for a one quiver ski that allows me to ski off piste and enjoy the resort as well. I’m 5’11 and 190lbs. I like to ski aggressive down groomers but spend quite a bit of time playing in the trees as well. Curious if these would be a solid upgrade and if you would go for 180 or 188?

    1. Hi Joel!
      We're big fans of thee Ripstick 96 Blacks. If you're aggressive, you should go with the 188. They measure a bit short, so the 180 is more like a 178.5. Very light and maneuverable still, so the longer ski won't be too demanding. Have fun!

  14. 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???

    1. HI Kevin!
      I would. Nothing wrong really with the Maverick, but everything is right about those Ripsticks. Likely won't see more 180's until our pre-season order comes in this summer/fall. Have fun!

    1. They are sick, Lee,
      We will get more for our pre-season order, likely showing up in the summer or early fall.

  15. Hi. I posted a comment in your review of the 2021 Elan Ripstick 96, but it disappeared and then came across this new review. So I’ll post the same comment here but with an addition related to the black edition.Hi! First up, great review, thanks! My wife has the Elan Ripstick 94 and is loving them, and my envy is getting the better of me. I'm 185cm tall and 85kg, intermediate skier and i've been doing more touring and backcountry/freeride these days (due to all the current restrictions) and these skis seem to suit the desire for something lightweight and fun that will cope with any conditions, that i can use in resort or when i'm playing in powder. I live in the French Alps so that's where I mostly ski. The question in my mind is 96 or 106, i'm leaning to the 96 but opinion welcomed? (assuming 180cm would be best length). And with the black edition now coming in, would you recommend this over the standard 96, it looks to cover a slightly broader range of conditions?

    1. HI Lyndon!
      The regular 96 still has a good amount of strength to it, and for one ski that can do it all, the 180 in that is a great choice. The Black Edition is more stable and damp for sure, with more power, so if you're looking for something more aggressive, it's a better choice. Have fun!

  16. For an advanced level east coast skier 5'11" 190lbs looking for a one ski quiver that will primarily be on piste ripper that can handle everything from 3-5" of fresh to iced over hard pack. Remain stable at speed, damp, hold a great edge, not chatter, but still have ample energy and pop. Would you lean towards wingman 86 cti or ripstick 96 black edition?


    1. HI Eli!
      We're pretty impressed with the Ripstick Black 96. It's not quite the power tool that the Wingman is, but still holds its own. Your statement that this will be primarily an on-piste ripper makes me lean to the Wingman, though, as the Ripstick will chatter on ice and will not be as stable or damp at speed as the Wingman. For its weight and width, though, the Ripstick is pretty awesome, but your description sounds like a Wingman 86 to me. Have fun!

  17. Hey guys, thanks for the great reviews. Man, these look incredible but are out of my price range.

    Could I get your expertise between the 2020 Ripstick 96 Black edition and the 2021 Rustler 9?
    I'm 5 ft 9, 165 lb 27 yo M skiing mostly groomers, some powder at Tahoe. Currently intermediate but hoping to become advanced. Looking for something fun/playful but that I can also grow into. I'm guessing I should probably get a length in the 170s.

    1. HI Elias!
      If you're in the int-adv range, these Rustler 9's will be a great ski for you to advance and progress on. Really what you're missing out on, and ultimately paying for with the Ripstick, is the lower weight. Similar performance and stability, but lighter. I think you'll love the Rustler 9 in the 172. Have fun!

  18. HI Elias!
    One of the big differences I've noticed is that the Elan likes to be on edge, and the higher the edge angle, the better. The Rustler is strong underfoot for sure, but is a bit more playful when at shallower edge angles. The Ripstick Black is still lighter than the Rustler, and with certainly a different feel to it, but not quite as powerful overall. I think the Elan is a better choice--so fun and inviting! If you can't find the 2020 Black, the 2021 regular 96 is almost as stiff. Yes, 170ish is proper. Have fun!

  19. 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?

    1. One characteristic of the Black Edition 96 is that it is totally fine on the frontside. Low edge angles or high.
      It's light weight. And I say that as someone who has logged lots of miles on Elan Amphibio 88s. If you are into
      ramming crud and bumps, the Amphibio 88s are great. If you are into darting, finessing, smearing, and railing
      the Black Edition 96 will give you a lot of options. Trouble ahead? Just up-unweight and you will sail over what
      you don't want to ski into.

  20. 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

  21. 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.

      1. Thanks so much SE... I was afraid you would say that, but I'm kinda glad you did !!! My heart has always been set on the Ripstick BE and this helps me confirm my original thought process. I love it when someone else makes up my mind for me 😉!!!

        One last question, what would I be giving up/gaining if I were to drop from the 172 to the 164 ? Again, mid-40's, 5'8 in ski boots 😉, 165lbs and trying to keep it that way !!!

        Thanks again and keep up the AMAZING work !!!


        1. Awesome, Ben!
          Not sure if I mentioned, but they do measure a bit short, so the 172 is more like a 170.5 and the 164 would be more like a 162.5. With that in mind, and the overall maneuverability of the ski, I'd lean to the more stable 172. 164 might feel too short.

  22. Great review! How do these compare to the Fischer Ranger 99ti, Dynastar M-Pro 99, the Liberty Origin 96 (and the new 101), and the new Salomon 98 QST in terms of forgiveness in softer snow, bumps, crud and tree skiing? I'm a advanced-intermediate that is looking for a fun 96-100mm waist 50/50 ski that will allow for exploring off trail in Tahoe when there is fresh snow. Seems like on paper they have less rocker in the tail and may grab more in softer and deeper stuff off-piste than similar options and require more skill at carving on groomers, but Bob crushed it with them in moguls?

    1. Hi Jeff!
      They are a bit less rockered in the tail, but they're also on the flexible side, so we haven't really experienced them hooking up or anything like that. The Ranger and M-Pro will be stronger through the tails, while the Origins and QST 98 are more playful back there. The QST 98 is coming with a 16-meter turn radius, so that's going to be a quick turner, while the M-Pro is longer and more of a straight-shooter with a surprisingly high speed limit. QST prefers shorter turns. Ripsick lies somewhere in the middle, with a broad range of attributes and applications. Very impressive use of carbon in this ski--as it feels stable enough to be called a Ti, but without the weight. Origin's fall on the playful side of the spectrum, and while they're really good in the bumps and trees, they're not quite the on-trail performers of these more directional sticks on your list. Have fun!

      1. Thanks for the thoughtful response, I'm pretty sold on the Ripstick 96 BE as I'm a directional skier even off-piste. Thinking at 5'11" and 180lbs, the 180cm should give me a good balance of quick turns in the trees and chutes and float in fresh and tracked out powder. The only other ski I'm thinking of as an alternative is the DPS Wailer A100 RP. Since it is also a carbon-based construction, how does it compare?

        1. Jeff,
          The big difference there is the shaping, with the DPS RP sticking strong to the 15-meter radius. The ski certainly prefers shorter turns, even at longer lengths, so the 184 keeps the arc the same, but has more tip and tail rocker and taper. It's interesting, because on paper, I'm not really an "RP" skier, but I do love that Wailer 100--another fantastic application of carbon. Personally, I would rather own the Ripstick, but I do have a good time on the Wailer when I get on it, it just doesn't have the turn variation capabilities of the Elan. And yes, I'd think the 180 would be the proper size for you in that ski.

  23. Thanks for reviews, excited about the changes to the Ripstick 96 Black for a great all-mountain ski. I typically ski a 170'ish and have heard with the rocker that I might want to get the 180 in this ski. Do you agree, and does that make sense?

    1. HI Derick!
      I'd stick to the 172 in that ski, even with the rocker, if that's what you're currently skiing. I'd say the 180 would be on the long side. Have fun, great skis!

  24. First, i want to say I love the reviews and all of the information that you have on this site. I ski Alta / Snowbird 5-7 days a year and then Michigan or Holiday Valley another 5 days. I got a killer deal on some Fischer Ranger FR 102's and I love them, but I made the mistake of demoing (b/c of your review) these 96 Black's and loved them. If I were to add a second set of ski's should I go with the Elan Black's or the Ranger 94's?

    1. Thanks, Ryan!
      With the Ranger 94, you are getting consistency, and I believe you'll have an easier time deciding which skis to use on a particular day. I fear that the Ripstick Black 96 will throw a wrench in that system, causing an overlapping issue with the 102. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and they do perform differently, but you might start just leaning on the 96 and forgetting about the 102. Is it possible to live on one pair of skis? Good problem to have there, Ryan! Have fun working it out.

  25. I’m a bit torn and hoping for some guidance. 38 years old. 6ft/190lbs. Just getting back into it with my kids (6 and 4) after taking my post-college years and 30s off. Regressed back to intermediate moving towards advanced with each day out, though I do spend half the day with the kids. I’m looking to get a ski that I can grow into as I become solidly advanced, but that will be forgiving and not require too much of me now, especially since I’m with the kids part of the day. Though I grew up skiing Northern Idaho, I am now East Coast, mostly Loon, Bretton Woods and Cannon. Almost all frontside groomers currently, though I did do trees and bumps when I was younger so would like to get back to that next season - these COVID-shortened lessons are killing me!

    I demoed the Declivity 92s and think that might be too much ski for me. It felt a bit like I had to be “on” to enjoy it, and that just isn’t the reality of how I will be skiing all of the time, especially with the kids for next few years. This seems to disqualify AM skis that are more powerful than the Declivity, Brahma, Enforcer, Mantra, etc., and has me leaning more towards the Ripstick. I like that it is light and more forgiving, which I think will help me in the next year or so as I progress and later on when I am with the kids in the afternoon. I’m not sure I need a 96 compared to an 88 underfoot, necessarily, but am wondering if the Black Edition in the 96 will help me out more when the conditions aren’t great at Cannon, for example, and I might need more grip; in essence will it get me a bit closer to the performance of the Declivity while being a bit more user friendly?

    Are there others that I am missing here? Kore 87s? Rustler 9s? QST 92s? Kanjo 84s? Thanks so much for all your reviews. They have been super helpful to me.

    1. Thanks, Lee!
      The Ripstick 96 Black certainly has a lot of grip to it for the width, and while that could be considered wide for mostly NH skiing, it's not absurd, and gives you a good platform for balance and slower-speed compliance. Kore is another great ski--we've been on the 93's and 99's lately, as they're getting a bit of a refresh for 2022. I think the 87 is a very useful ski--light and easy to turn, but also very grippy. I think the narrower ski is a better fit for your application and terrain. Perhaps the Kore 93 is a good compromise here between the Ripstick 96 and Kore 87. Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks guys! Given that the narrow ski may be the better fit for me, how would you compare the Kore 87 to the Kanjo 84 in terms of my application? Is one more forgiving than the other? Have more grip? Thank you.

        1. Lee,
          Kanjo is more forgiving, Kore has more grip. There's a higher ceiling on the Kore, while the Kanjo does have more of a limit.

  26. Hi Ski Essential crew,

    I’ve been looking for the one quiver ski. I’m 60 yrs old, 5’10, 165 lbs, skiing in the West, Idaho and Utah. In my mind, I still ski aggressively, but physically, I’m sure I’ve slowed down. I just skied the Rip Stick 96 Black Edition. I loved them…light and playful. I’m ready to pull the trigger for purchase; however, I’m seeking guidance if there is another ski I should try. Specifically, the mindbender? Just from research, I like the Rip Stick and can’t see anything beating them for my style of skiing.

    In addition, the ski technician here in Idaho was pointing me towards the Salomon STH2 WTR 13 or Warden MNC 13, instead of the Tyrolia Attack 13 or Marker Griffon 13. I reviewed your binding’s video, but you didn’t address the Salomon STH2. I know it’s a mouth full, but do you have any suggestions.

    1. HI Farren!
      In that mid-90's range the K2 is certainly heavier and more stable, but also less playful. It's hard for me to argue against that Ripstick, as I think we've all had very positive experiences on it. The bindings, when you're in a 13-DIN range, come down to more preference than performance. The Attack's are nice because they are on a metal track for the heel while the Griffon and Salomon's are both on plastic tracks. Not a huge difference, and at 225 pounds, I'd happily ski any of those bindings. Until you get to Look Pivot 15/18, at which point I become a big binding snob, but they're pricey and not as user-friendly. Have fun!

  27. Thanks for the great review. I'm 47 5'8" and 165# and live in the Pacific NW and ski in a wide variety of conditions. I'm currently skiing a pair of Line Influence skis from 2011 that are beasts and have been fun but I'm looking for a more forgiving ski that is lighter and more playful. I've been looking at the Ripstick 96 vs Blizzard rustler 10s. any suggestions on what might be the better fit for me? thank you.

    1. HI Justin!
      Lighter, more playful, and forgiving all fall squarely into the Ripstick category. The Rustler is great, but versus the Ripstick Black, it's heavier, stiffer, and more business-like. Sounds like you should lean to the Elan. Have fun!

  28. What an impressive review! I was also wondering about this ski versus the Wingman 86cti but you dispensed with that question. Care to compare this with the Salomon Stance 96? You also praised that ski for its frontside prowess and versatility.

    1. Hi Doug!
      Thanks! Very much the same capabilities, but with the caveat that the Stance is heavier and more stable, especially so in the shovel. The Ripstick is incredibly stable for its weight, but I don't think there'll ever be a time where carbon can totally substitute for metal in skis. Until that day, the Ripstick is the closest I've experienced. Good comparison!

  29. I have been looking to replace my 5 year old Nordica enforcers 100's with a new pair of the same. curious what your thoughts on comparing the enforcers with this new 2022 ripsticks. I am 5'7" and 145 pounds living in the CO Rockies so a ski that excels on the front side as well as in the powder is critical

    1. HI Todd!
      The Ripstick is softer in the shovel for sure. While it doesn't have the same energy or dampness of the Enforcer, it is pretty close, and does so at a much lighter weight and in a more maneuverable package. So if you're looking for similar performance to the E100, the RS96 Black is a very fair comparison, and in an easier to use format. I'd still rather have the Enforcer on hard snow and deep powder, but for everything in between the Elan is a sweet ski, and we've been very impressed overall. Have fun!

  30. Hey guys love the reviews! Not to long ago I ended up picking some Ripstick 88s and have been loving them. I plan on going out west next year and I am looking for a wider one quiver ski. I’m 5’10 210lbs solid intermediate skiier. Would the rip stick 96 serve as a could powder ski as well or would that be the 106? I currently ride on 180cm length on the 88s but I am not sure that would be the right length on the 96s or 106s.

    1. HI Gary!
      I would take the 106 if you're looking to solidify a two-ski quiver. If you were to only have one, I'd think the 96 would be a great choice, but multiple skis are so fun! I'd stick to the same length in either wider version. Have fun!

  31. Another great review guys !!!
    I finally bought the 2022 ELAN RIPSTICK 96 BLACK EDITION 180 ,I will mount the Marker Alpinist 12 Alpine Touring

    Question: Would you recommend this ski for East Coast,West Coast and Andes South America applications?
    Maybe mounting it at +1 Ride -1 ?

    Thanks again for your awesome/reviews

    1. HI Albert!
      I would go right on the line, but if you must move it one way or the other, I'd move it -1. Have fun!

  32. Awesome review! I have been pretty interested in the ripsticks since someone mentioned them to be this season, but have never been able to try them out. I consider myself an intermediate-advanced skier but have never had my own pair. I usually rent demos which tend to be the mindbender 99ti 184cm which are fine but not exactly ideal. Just bought my own boots so I think its pointless for me to keep renting skis by themselves. That being said, I am 6'2 200 I ski in utah and colorado normally and looove to rip it in the trees. I saw Bob's comment about the soul rider 97 and am thinking those sound interesting since they come in 185 as opposed to the 180 in the ripstick? So I was hoping to get your recommendation for a one ski quiver mostly tailored to blue sky basin (S/O steep n deep!) type skiing. New to the site so I need to check out some more reviews but thank you guys!

    1. HI Michael!
      As fun as the Soul Rider is, I'd still think a more directional ski like the Ripstick 96 Black would be a better Blue Sky ski. We've also noticed that the Elan skis measure about 1.5 cm short, so the 188 is more like a 186.5, if that helps sway you more to the Ripstick. Nothing wrong with that Soul Rider though!

  33. So would you say the 2022 Blacks are a step from from the normal 20/21 21/22 Ripsticks in crud performance? Still accessible at slower speeds but more stable at higher speeds?

    Also, no review up yet, but Jeff mentioned in the video he started the day on the 106 Blacks. How smeary/slarvy are they compared to say a a Rustler 10 or Fischer Ranger?

    1. HI Brett!
      Yes. They achieve a much higher level of performance with a similar weight and range. While lighter skiers and less-aggressive skiers will not need the extra stability and performance of the 2022 Black Edition Ripstick, it's a pretty impressive upgrade in precision and power. Compared to a Rustler or Ranger, they are a bit more flexible in the shovel, so I prefer them in softer snow in a smeary turn, while the metal in the Rustler likes to grip a bit more, and the Ranger's stiffer shovel can get deflected a bit more than the more flexible Ripstick 106 Black. In the tail, the Rustler and Ranger are a bit more forgiving. Have fun!

  34. Thanks guys for the great reviews! You guys are smashing it. I currently have an enforcer 88 for front side carving and I’m considering the ripstick 106 black or an enforcer 104 free as an all mountain second ski. I am an expert skier that skis fast with race carving technique, 5’10, 190 lbs, 36 years old, skiing in Canadian Rockies. Really enjoy laying trenches on groomers but also like to get into tight trees or steep bowls for softer snow. Between the enforcer and the ripstick, which ski would handle that mix of high speed and soft snow performance best? 1st priority for me would be edge control at speed. 2nd priority would be tight tree playfulness.

    1. HI Dave!
      Thanks! Hard to go wrong with either of those choices. The amazing thing about the Ripstick is that it achieves similar performance to the 104 but at a lighter weight. Very stable and strong, and lighter so it's a bit better of a floater, especially in lighter snow. In softer groomers, it holds an incredible edge for a 106 without metal, but for true hard-charging, the dual-metal Enforcer 104 is a notch above. The 106 has better range, but the 104 has a higher top gear. In tight trees, I'd rather ski the 106. Have fun!

  35. Hey Fellas!
    Another really thorough review, well done! I'm replacing a 14 yo pair of Dynastar Legend 8000 and am a little confused on what waist width I should be looking for. I'm 5-9, 160#, Level 9 minus and ski equally in western US and east. Looking for an all mountain with off-piste/soft snow/bump/tree biased ski which still carves nicely on groomed. I usually ski groomed runs getting to and from off-piste style terrain, but sometimes the conditions dictate groomers. Been looking at 85-95 skis but am worried these might be too fat for eastern skiing. What say you? Also would you think my off-piste/bump bias would push me from the RS 88 to the 96? And at 160# what length do you think would be good. I don't know if I will be able to demo. Thanks!!

    1. HI Mike!
      Generally we lean on the 88's as being the most versatile shapes for front side and all-mountain skiing. The Ripstick is a great choice, and I don't think I'd go to the 96 on that ski if you're at all worried about them being too wide--the 88 will be just fine. I also happened to ski the Armada Declivity 88C today and really was impressed, and it checks all the boxes you just described. I only mention it because it's fresh in my mind, but it was a lot of fun! I'd be looking at skis in the low to mid 170's range for your stats and application. Have fun!

  36. Hi guys,

    Thanks for another great review - even being on the other coast, it's really helpful to get a read on how these skis do in the harder East Coast conditions. After looking at the Head Kore 93's as a 50/50 setup for on piste (local Vancouver mountains and Whistler on thinner days) and skiing with my young daughter as she learns to ski, I came across the reviews for the Elan Ripsticks and can't help but be incredibly enticed by their apparently damp (for their weight) yet playful characteristics - see Mael Ollivier ripping the 116's in Andorra helps sell them too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IWDyK0u1Z0&t=4340s & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPDhwpzrhWo&t=7964s). Unfortunately, I've never been able to try them out and am unlikely to get a chance until next season, but there are some smoking deals on right now.

    I'm hoping you can help guide me a bit. I'm 6', 225lbs, aggressive, advanced to expert skier looking for something fun on firm days, but able to enjoy the powder stashes too, especially with a bit of sidecountry skinning. I'm looking to mount a pair of Fritschi Tecton 12's for a bit lighter setup (also already have them), and am pretty set on the 188's given my size (also they seem to measure shorter). I have seen the skis in person and hand flexed them. While I think the ideal ski might be the 2022 106 Black's, I just can't justify the steep premium for them. By contrast, I've found a pair of 2021 106's for half the cost or a pair of 2022 96's for 2/3rds the cost. My question is how would you compare the flex of the 2022 106 Black vs the 2021 106 Black & the 2022 96 Black. From what I gathered, you feel that the 96 is amazing ski for East Coast, but probably a bit thin (especially for my size?) for the West Coast.

    With any luck, and with Whistler sadly closed early, again, I'm hoping to get these out on some Spring corn on the local mountains (loads of snow still, with another 20+cms tonight). Thanks again and hope you keep enjoying the snow for as long as it lasts.

    - Cal

    1. HI Cal!
      We just put out our 106 Black review last week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSqOtDsrhrY
      As a fellow larger skier, I would not really be interested in the regular 106 knowing that the Black Edition exists, not given finances. When money gets involved, another layer of scrutiny must be applied. Between the 2020 and 2022 black editions, the newer one has almost the same carbon laminate with two additional carbon rods, so it is quite a bit more stable. Additionally, since they replace the wood that they mill out and replace it with carbon, they're actually a bit lighter feeling as well. Actual numbers only vary by a few grams, but given the additional performance, it's a worthy upgrade. Hope that helps, and have fun!

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