2023 Elan Ripstick Tour 104 Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2023 Elan Ripstick Tour 104 Ski Review

Ski season is underway here in Vermont and that means we’re back to testing and reviewing skis! Typically, this time of year we start with some current-season products. This season, however, as you may be aware, we have a couple early product launches already. One of those launches was the Elan Ripstick Tour collection, which includes the new Glen Plake signature ski, the Ripstick Tour 104. Elan graciously shipped up a pair of each of the new touring skis (from the men’s collection) for our line preview article and video. Having that Glen Plake ski in our headquarters, we couldn’t resist slapping some bindings on them and putting them to the test as we transition into winter here in Vermont.

For a binding, we chose the Shift. Elan has a complimentary binding for the Ripstick Tour skis in the C-Raider 12, which is considerably lighter than the Shift. We’ll talk more about binding choices towards the end of this review, but with a ski like this, we thought it was appropriate to call out the binding we used for testing. For more background info, we tested the 180 cm length and Jeff, who did most of the testing thus far, is about 5’10” and 160 lbs.

In our Ripstick Tour Preview article, we went through the construction and design of these skis, but let’s summarize them here as well. If you want more details, go check out the previous article. The ski starts with a poplar and paulownia wood core, which is impressively lightweight, mostly thanks to that paulownia. Then we get Elan’s Carbon Bridge Technology. A single carbon rod is embedded into the core of the ski running longitudinally down the middle. In the fore and aft sections of the ski, you can see that rod about half-embedded into the core and the rest jutting out above it. Underfoot, the core thickens, and that rod actually goes through the core portion of the ski. It’s pretty darn cool just to look at, and works well too, which we’ll get to shortly. We also get 360-degree sidewalls in a trapezoidal shape to further shed weight and two additional sheets of more traditionally-applied, horizontally-laminated carbon fiber.

AT A GLANCE


2022 Elan Ripstick Tour 104 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

WEIGHT

166, 173, 180, 187 cm

23 m @ 180 cm

129 / 104 / 122 mm

1540g +/- 50g @ 180 cm


The shape of the ski is interesting too. This 104 has a pretty long 23-meter turn radius in the 180 cm length. We get smooth rocker and early taper in the tips and tails, but it’s a little straighter cut than what we’re used to seeing in existing Ripstick models. Amphibio Technology applies to the shape of the ski as well, and it follows the same method we see in other Elan skis. The outside edge has more rocker while the inside edge has more camber. It’s designed to give the ski a more intuitive feel when linking turns and works great in a wide range of snow conditions—you just have to remember to put them on the right feet.

Alright, let’s get to performance. First and foremost, this is a touring ski. I think that’s an important place to start. It’s about 1550 grams in the 180 cm length, which isn’t the lightest thing in the world, but it’s still 2-300 g lighter than even what we consider to be a “lightweight” resort ski. This puts it in a similar category as normal Ripsticks, Atomic Mavericks, and other skis like that. Those skis are all relatively lightweight, but this is noticeably lighter. I think the next thing to consider about these skis is their intention. Elan has an awesome video of Glen talking about his skis, and certain things in that description really stood out to us. When you’re touring, you’re often very tired on the descents. Because of this, Glen wanted the ski to do everything easily, but more specifically, easy for the skier. Not too demanding, not too tiring, just easy. He also wanted it to be confident in any terrain and adapt well to changing conditions.

2023 Elan Ripstick Tour Early Release: 2023 Ripstick Tour 104 Camber Profile Image

We did the vast majority of our testing within the resort setting, mostly for efficiency, but we were lucky to get a variety of snow conditions too. Some firm, some re-frozen chunder, some death cookies, some fresh snow, and even some relatively deep powder. All things considered, that’s pretty representative of what you’ll find in the backcountry, which is where most people will be taking these skis. The first thing we noticed is their quickness. With the rocker profile, taper shape, lightweight feel, and the long turn radius, you can throw these things sideways incredibly easily. They’re one of the quickest skis I’ve ever experienced when you’re keeping them relatively flat and pivoting. Even in deeper snow, they’re not catchy at all. They also have an incredibly high wiggle factor, which makes a lot of sense to me considering how Glen Plake skis. Quick, agile, but precise too. In fact, they’re so quick, I almost fell a couple times as I just honestly did not expect the ski to react how quickly it did. It took me a couple runs to adapt to that.

At higher speeds on firm snow, they can get a little twitchy, but not unstable. This is where you feel the biggest difference between these and the other Ripstick skis. The Carbon Bridge Technology does do a good job quieting the ski and keeping it relatively stable, but it’s not as damp as the Ripstick 106 or especially the Ripstick 106 Black. Those skis feel very smooth, which we’ve talked about a lot. I think it’s a combination of not having carbon rods or tubes along the edges, combined with the fact that it’s a lot lighter. These will get deflected more easily than a normal Ripstick, but that’s a perfectly reasonable sacrifice in performance considering what these skis are intended for. Their intention also becomes obvious when you carve. With a 23-meter turn radius, they don’t feel particularly responsive when carving. The normal Ripsticks have much smaller turn radii, so they come across the fall line more easily. The Ripstick Tour 104 will carve, and actually holds an edge impressively well to be honest, but it makes really big turns and kind of feels like a constant reminder of the “this isn’t a carving ski” mentality.

2023 Elan Ripstick Tour 104 Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 1 2023 Elan Ripstick Tour 104 Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 2

That reminder was really beneficial for me. There were multiple moments when I was just making big, sweeping carves when I thought to myself “what am I doing? This isn’t what this ski is designed for.” Slowing things down and making more slarvy, smeary turns, the ski absolutely comes alive. It’s incredibly well-balanced and totally intuitive when making turns like that. I started thinking to myself “how would Glen ski these?” My response was relatively upright, freestyle-inspired skiing. I even started skiing them switch a little bit, trying to do some fun little tricks on the sides of trails, and even some ski ballet. Not that the ski is designed for things like that, but I felt like it put me in the right mindset of how it wanted to be skied. Playful, smeary, fun-loving, do some tricks here and there… It’s not really a charger, which is totally fine in my opinion.

So, what’s this ski going to be best for? Simply put: touring. To expand on that, I think it will ultimately be best for skiers who have a relatively playful attitude. Whether you live on the east coast, west coast, somewhere in between, or somewhere completely different, if you love seeking out technical terrain, finding your own line, and wiggling your way through trees, chutes, and whatever else you can find, you’ll love this ski. Its edge release and quickness in soft snow is basically unmatched in anything else I’ve ever skied. It’s going to be a weapon for Vermont trees, but just as suitable for longer tours above tree line in Europe, western terrain, and other open zones.

I don’t really think it’s a 50/50 ski, and I don’t think that will surprise anyone either. We’ve talked about the touring potential of the normal Ripstick skis quite a bit. Those actually feel closer to a 50/50 ski than these. That’s why I think it’s really best for someone who will be using it mostly for touring. That’s how I’ll use mine (yeah, I’m gonna keep ‘em), although I do think I’ll grab them for the occasional Vermont powder day if I want to get into Smuggler’s Notch and ski some challenging lines.

As a final thought, let’s talk mount point. The recommended mount point on these skis is further forward than we expected. I, with my silly park background and preference for centered skis, actually went to the +2 mark, which is only like 3-4 cm back from true center. I wouldn’t recommend that for most skiers. Even if you want a more balanced ski for airs and tricks, I think the 0 line is going to be best for most skiers like that. If you’re more of a traditional skier who prefers directional skis and isn’t doing tricks or anything like that, it might be worth considering going -1 or -2 as that’s going to put you at a more “normal” 7-8 cm back from true center. It’s something to think about, at least, and we’re here to help answer any questions you might have.

All in all, I think this ski rounds out the Ripstick collection really nicely. There is definitely a spectrum of performance from these, to the Ripstick 106, to the Ripstick 106 Black that helps identify what they’re for, who they’re for, and the benefits and limitations of each ski. The Ripstick Tour might be more of an outlier than the comparisons between the Ripstick and Ripstick Black, but it still has the same overall attitude: fun, playful, but strong and trustworthy too.

2023 Elan Ripstick Tour 104 Ski Review: Buy Now Image

Written by Jeff Neagle on 12/02/21

6 thoughts on “2023 Elan Ripstick Tour 104 Ski Review

  1. Interesting to hear you struggle with mount point, too, Jeff. I recently picked-up a pair of skis (Fischer Ranger 92 Ti's) which lack a mark for the boot center mounting point, so I went with something 1 cm further back than recommended for the Ranger 94 FRs. (I don't recommend this, as they skied a bit like an El Camino looks.) One day was enough to tell me to remount them another 2 cm further back. All this is to say that a video on binding mounting and ski and skiing styles would probably be a popular one. (If you happen to have a recommended mount point for skiing the 92Tis as a directional ski, that would be helpful, too.)

    1. Patrick,
      I like that idea for a video--a lot of people have questions, and for the most part, we recommend what the manufacturer does, as they've had engineering input. But personal preference goes a long way as well, and even per different skis. On the 92 Ti, there's a triangle on the sidewall right near the size that serves as the mount point. For a directional ski, I'd stick to that mark. Have fun!
      SE

      1. Huh. Thanks. That's the point I used, but the skis felt so weird, I decided the mark was probably just a logo and that I had probably mounted the skis at +1, rather than per Fischer's recommendation. Maybe I'll give them another day at the recommended mount point and see if I'm suddenly inspired to jib about and ski switch as if I were half my age before I go putting another set of holes in my brand new skis.

        1. Patrick,
          Tune? Just a thought, mostly because we've found that mark to be pretty unoffensive. Also, don't fret too much about re-drilling skis--not the best nor the worst, and you've got metal there as well.
          SE

  2. Now that you've had the Ripstick 104 tours for a couple of months and you've tested the Nordica 104 Unlimited, which one would you prefer to take into the backcountry on a regular basis?

    1. HI JB!
      While I've found the Nordica to be a more complete ski, the Ripstick is still lighter and more efficient on the uphills. That's really the only spot where I'm taking the Elan over the Nordica. The Nordica just skis better.
      SE

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