2023 Nordica Enforcer 104 Unlimited Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2023 Nordica Enforcer 104 Unlimited Ski Review

The ski industry as a whole is in a pretty funky place right now. Companies are trying to grasp on to the latest trends, hoping to capture their intended audience through a combination of marketing, engineering, and design. Sometimes, their work falls a bit flat, and other times, it pops. In the case of the 2023 Nordica Enforcer 104 Unlimited, we’re seeing quite a bit of pop. We’ve done an introduction on the Unlimited series from Nordica as a whole, but this was the first opportunity we got to ski and test one of the marquee models of this new lineup, and suffice to say, we are impressed.

As alpine touring and backcountry skiing continues to proliferate, ski companies are heeding the call and responding in kind. With the advent of more hybrid-style boots and bindings that can cross over between the resort and the backcountry, skis are the latest pieces of hardware to follow suit. The challenge is to build a ski that is light enough to be efficient on the climbs while remaining fun and engaging on the way down. Where a lot of these skis have come up short in the past is in the stability and energy departments, so Nordica decided to do something about that. The question then becomes, for the manufacturer, how much of an existing model to we use to inspire the lighter-weight version of an already successful ski? For Nordica, the answer is the shape. We’ve loved and sang praises of the Enforcer shapes in the past, and have found a lot to like, specifically, about the quality and character of the Enforcer 104 Free. To our delight, they’ve taken the same footprint, both shape and profile, and incorporated it into the Unlimited. Gone are the two sheets of metal, to nobody’s surprise, dropping the weight of the ski from 2137 grams per ski in the 179 cm length to 1693 grams in the Unlimited. This 444-gram reduction equates to a 21% weight loss per ski—a pretty significant slimming of the 104. Now, to be fair, there are still other “alpine” skis out there that weigh less than the 104 Unlimited, and straight-up touring skis will still come in at far less weight, but for a combination of uphill efficiency, downhill performance, and Enforcer 104 shaping design, this new stick is pretty darn impressive.

AT A GLANCE


2023 Nordica Enforcer 104 Unlimited Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

WEIGHT

165, 172, 179, 186, 191 cm

18.5 m @ 186 cm

135 / 104 / 124 mm

1700g @ 186 cm


Before we dive into the skiing performance, how did they do what they did? As per most skis, it all starts with the core. While the alpine Enforcers have a denser performance wood core with more, narrower stringers, the 104 Unlimited starts with a macroblock poplar core. This is a lighter wood to start, and when the stringers are wider (macro), this alleviates the need for more epoxy to hold narrower stringers together. This shaves weight while keeping the ski smooth and predictable. It’s not quite as light as paulownia, so we’re already seeing Nordica lean to the more performance side of the spectrum to start. On top of that core, incorporated into the fiberglass laminate, sits Nordica’s Carbon Chassis LT. These vertically-oriented carbon stringers are woven into the glass to create a cohesive and responsive character. On the bottom of the core sits another carbon laminate to boost power even further without adding heavier materials. In addition to the Carbon Chassis that filters forward into the Unlimited, the Enforcer’s True Tip tech also follows suit. The engineers trim the fat (heavier ABS sidewall material) in the tip of the ski by replacing it with an extension of the light weight wood core. This not only reduces mass, but also swing weight, creating a more maneuverable and playful feel, especially in softer snow.

2023 Nordica Enforcer and Santa Ana Unlimited Early Product Launch: 2023 Nordica Enforcer 104 Unlimited Camber Profile Image

A good build is nothing without a shape and profile to back it up, and here’s where Nordica is setting a new bar. The funny thing is that Nordica has created something unique, but without changing anything. They’ve used a tried-and-true formula and made it lighter, different, and dare I say, better? In our 186 cm test length, the skis generate an 18.5-meter turn radius, using a 40% underfoot camber, 25% tail, and 35% tip rocker profile. These dimensions, at this weight, with this build really combine to generate a wonderful vibe. You’re still getting the same flotation as the 104 Free in terms of surface area, but since the skis are lighter, they’re going to stay on top of the snow better. By keeping things the same, in terms of the overall footprint of the ski, while making it different with the energy and weight, Nordica has opened up the Enforcer 104 to a whole new demographic of skier.

We mounted a Marker Duke PT 16 on our test pair of 186’s, so we didn’t go for lightness so much as stronger alpine performance. We were not disappointed in that regard. Sure, you can put more of a minimalistic binding on this ski and it will certainly increase the uphill efficiency, but we were slightly more interested in a more confident downhill character, which we believe we got. It’s like clicking into a Jester 16, so it feels like you are in a rugged alpine binding. Our general philosophy is that all skis basically tour the same except for weight. If you want the best touring ski, get the lightest one. When you want something to blend the ups and the downs, then the needle’s got to move to the middle. This setup that we had definitely pushes the needle to the downhill/resort side of the spectrum.

2023 Nordica Enforcer 104 Unlimited Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 1 2023 Nordica Enforcer 104 Unlimited Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 2

Here at Stowe, we had mainly early-season skiing, and that was fine with us. From the moment we pushed off, it was clear that Nordica had a very interesting combination here. They hook up and bring you into the turn just like the 104 Free, but they do it easier. They grip surprisingly well on the firmer hardpack that we had, just like the 104 Free, but it does it easier. They provide excellent energy and rebound out of the turn, and here’s where the interesting part comes into play. The 104 Free is not as snappy or energetic as the Unlimited — it is stabler and stronger, but not more poppy. The new Unlimited uses its carbon laminates very effectively—generating metal-like grip and power without the weight. This was the most surprising thing about the ski for me, reminding me of the way the Elan Ripstick 106 Black Edition uses carbon to mimic metal. It’s quicker than the 104 Free, too, allowing for more maneuverability and agility in tighter spots. On the sides of the trails and in the woods, this is a huge benefit to most skiers, making it easier for more people to enjoy the shape and profile of the 104. In crud and choppy snow, it gets deflected more than most skis with two sheets of metal, but that’s on the “expected” list, and especially so for a ski that’s ~1700 grams. Is it going to rip top-speed, long-radius turns down a wind-blown face as well as 104 Free? No. From a strictly downhill and resort perspective, however, this 104 Unlimited performed way above expectations, carving clean and round turns on hard-packed snow, while remaining light, playful, and freeride-oriented for any and all softer snow adventures that you can conjure. It lacks the high gear of the 104 Free, and other skis with similar weight and characteristics, but that’s not the whole point.

This is where the downhill performance, as well as the overall intention of the ski, really brings up some interesting questions and scenarios. Did Nordica make a touring-specific ski that just so happens to share the footprint with one of their most popular models? How often do skiers really need two full sheets of metal in a 104? I hope I’m not sounding like I’m bashing the 104 Free, because that’s an amazing ski, but after skiing the Unlimited, it’s just so hard to discount it as an everyday, everywhere ski. The Latin phrase “Cui bono” comes to mind, as in, “who benefits.” Who benefits from a lighter Enforcer 104 Free that skis like the dickens? Who benefits from having a rugged yet playful touring ski? Does Nordica benefit by making a softer and more user-friendly Enforcer 104? This is an interesting one, because intent aside, this is objectively a wonderful ski. There are far more skiers out there who can ski and access this Unlimited version of the 104 versus the Free, whether touring or not, and that’s a huge advantage for both skiers and the industry as a whole. The more I think about it and ski it, the “Unlimited” name of the 104 really says it all, and I don’t really care if they meant it that way or not, it’s a pretty perfect way to describe the new Enforcer 104.

2023 Nordica Enforcer 104 Unlimited Ski Review: Buy Now Image

Written by Bob St.Pierre on 12/16/21

23 thoughts on “2023 Nordica Enforcer 104 Unlimited Ski Review

    1. Thanks, Grant!
      Jeff and I were both pretty darn impressed. From top to bottom, there's not a lot they can't do. I'm interested in seeing how the 88 and 94 stack up--sometimes the builds of these "lighter" skis work well in the wider shapes, as there's just more material there to deal with. Also haven't gotten info as to why there's no 100 Unlimited--I know you were dying to ask. $849.99 and they're yours. See you soon, either Santa or otherwise!
      bob

  1. If you had to choose between the 104 Unlimited vs the DPS Wailer A100 RP for west coast all mountain one quiver what would you say?

  2. Realized I didn’t provide enough background to earlier question. Comparing these to the DPS Wailer A100 RP for a primarily resort all mountain daily west potential one ski quiver for 75 off piste. 52 years, 220 lb 6’4”, average advanced, not an expert, not a super hard charger, like to play around in the trees, bump and bowls mostly, medium speed more on the turnier side but still like to open it up occasionally in a big open bowl. Thanks.

    1. Hi Joe!
      While the 104 and it's 18.5-meter radius feels turny, it's still not quite like the 15-m arc of the Wailer. The Wailer is a bit heavier with more dampness due to the more rugged application of carbon, to go along with the denser wood core, so it might have more of a high-end feel and potential. I'm 6/2 225 and did not feel like either ski lacked for performance. If you're looking for a lighter ski that does great in all conditions, I think the Enforcer is a really good choice. If I had to choose, I'd take the Nordica, but it's closer than I would have thought as of two weeks ago!
      SE

        1. Joe,
          The Wailer is a bit stiffer, and it's also heavier. I'd think that would help the Enforcer in the quickness department, even with the longer radius.
          SE

  3. Awesome review. I picked up the 94 unlimited paired with the shift bindings. Only 2 days on them but I can truly say they’re amazing. They hook up, easy to maneuver and comfortable off the bat.

  4. This ski is very intriguing. I am always looking that perfect one ski to take out west. I ski fast and aggressively, but as a lighter skier (165) I tend to not like overly stiff skis. I was a huge fan of the Patron, so this seems similar. I am currently on a K2 Pinnacle 105. Like the ski for forgiveness and stability, but would like a little more playfulness. I wonder if the perfect ski is a child of current Enforcer 104 and this new unlimited.

    1. HI Jason!
      It's pretty awesome. Not just for a lighter ski, but for any ski. I am basically trading out my Pinnacle 105 for this ski and am looking forward to it.
      SE

      1. Follow up question. How would the Santa Ana 104 compare to the Enforcer Unlimited 104 and Standard 104? Does it sit in the middle between the two?

        1. HI Jason!
          I'd say that's a fair statement. Partial metal, still with carbon, so it's going to have a nice blend of power and quickness. I've thought that the Santa Ana skis for the past two years would make great Enforcer-minus options for a lot of skiers. Same great shape, slightly more forgiving performance. Have fun!
          SE

  5. I am coming off of Soul 7 HD. I loved them on soft snow but when it gets a bit cruddy was getting bounced around to much. I bought the 104 Free in 186cm this year and they are great on easier terrain but to much ski for me when things get difficult. I find I can't really pivot and move them where I need them on steeps and tight trees. I know the 104 free are awesome skis but just to much ski for my ability. Is the unlimited that much more forgiving and what size for a 6' guy around 200lbs. Thanks for the review and all the insights on this site. It is amazing.

    1. Thanks Ryan!
      Both Jeff (5/10 155) and I (6/2 225) were on the 186 and liked it a lot. I think that application, where a skier likes the float and shape of the 104, but wants an easier/more maneuverable ski will really gravitate to the Unlimited. It's easier due to the lightness, but it still has good responsiveness and snap because of the carbon. Hope that helps!
      SE

  6. I'm 6ft, 170lb 25yr old Colorado skier who spends 70% in trees, bowl and bumps, and 30% on groomers. I've been skiing for years on a pair of 2014 Line Sir Francis Bacon's, and I recently picked up a used pair of enforcer 93s for early season days just to rediscover how much fun I've been missing out on carving on groomers on the way back to the lifts. I've been really impressed with the 93s, so I'm thinking that these 104s will be a good upgrade this year to my old bacons, and I'm mostly hoping to add some more carving fun to my 70% freeride-ish days. My plan is just alpine bindings, no touring. From what you're saying, it sounds like the unlimited would be more maneuverable and playful in the trees than the free, without much difference in carving performance on a casual blue groomer. Is that true? Is there anything that would push me towards the free over the unlimited, considering that if I want to push my speed limits one day I could just take my 93s? Thanks! This review was very helpful.

    1. HI Adam! I feel like I pushed the 104 Unlimited pretty hard--not so casual--and it responded quite well. Definitely not the same sound/stability as the Free, but for its weight and the other things it does well, I was impressed. I'd go with the 104 Unlimited over a Free for most days and most speeds and conditions. Will that be true for everyone? Probably not, but I am preferring the lighter and snappier skis these days. Have fun!
      SE

    1. HI Daniel!
      Elan Ripstick 106, Volkl Blaze 106, Line Sick Day 104, and Armada Tracer 108 come to mind as having a nice blend of light weight and energetic performance--good for both uphill and downhill, but very impressive on the downs!
      Have fun!
      SE

      1. I got a pair of the Armada tracers last year as a touring ski and was/am very disappointed. The ski definitely likes to be driven with your weight forward, but the ski is to noodley upfront, bouncing around quite a bit at speed if the snow isn't very soft in a way that makes it hard to trust / push your weight into. Was very excited reading this review till I saw this comparison (since I'm looking to replace the tracers). How would you compare the 104 unlimited's to light resort skis like the fischer rangers, head kore, rosi sender, or solly QST?

        1. HI CJ!
          The Enforcer 104 Unlimited benefits from having the same shaping and profiling of an already fantastic ski, while the Tracer is kind of its own thing. I am a huge fan of the 104 and it's ability to do a lot of different things from carving on-trail to snaking through tight lines in the woods. I'd say the Sender is the most direct comparison, while the Kores are quite a bit stiffer, the QST is heavier, and the Ranger kind of splits the difference. Hope that helps!
          SE

  7. So many amazing skis to choose from these days! How would you compare the Ripstick 104 Tour to these? Based on your reviews, sounds like the Ripstick 104 tour is lighter and definitively on the tour side of the spectrum, where the 104 Free would be a light 50/50 ski. Does that sound about right? For a heavier skier (I'm 5'11" 215) looking primarily for an easy to ski touring ski, does one stand out more than the other. Am considering weight but mostly, just want something that will be easy to ski in all the conditions you find in the BC. Currently using the older heavier Tracer 98 but looking for a little bit more width/flotation.

    1. Hi JB!
      I have been loving my 104 Unlimited so far this year. The Ripstick 104 definitely felt like more of a touring ski to me, and I'd put an 80/20 split on that ski versus a 20/80 (tour to resort) for the Nordica. It's hard for me to look past the downhill capabilities of the Unlimited. The weight does make a difference in terms of uphill efficiency, it just depends on how much of a priority that is for you. I would say the difference in weight does not overcome the gap in downhill performance. Hope that helps!
      SE

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