Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing Women's All Mountain Skis in the 90mm Range - 2019 Edition // Helpful Hints
You may have seen our ski comparison articles in the past. We often have skiers asking us to compare a certain set of skis, and one of the most common requests is women's skis. Women make up a big percentage of the total skiers. In fact, skiing is growing faster with women than any other category. As we're expanding our range of comparison articles, we thought it was important to include a few women's comparisons. First, we'll look at all mountain skis in the 90 mm waist width range, followed by a comparison of 100 mm skis in the coming weeks. Let's start, however, by talking about women's skis in general.
There are essentially two schools of thought for women's skis. Perhaps you've heard them before. On one hand, you get the "women ski just as well as men, so their skis should be the same as men's skis" concept. On the other hand, you also get the "women are physiologically different than men, so their skis should also be different." Now, take a moment to think about those two claims. Neither one is wrong. Yes, women skiers can absolutely shred. Also, yes, women's bodies are different than men's bodies. So, we don't feel that either theory is necessarily wrong, rather it's interesting to see the varying opinions among brands. Women have a lot of choices for skis these days, whether they're the same as the men's models or not. With that said, let's jump right into this comparison, and we'll come back to this concept a few times throughout the article.
2019 Elan Ripstick 94 W:
The Ripstick 94 W is a super versatile all mountain ski. Elan's construction is relatively unique, with their Tubelite wood core and carbon rods along the edges of the ski. The result is a ski that's impressively lightweight, but still remains quite stable. You'll notice the weight as soon as you pick up a pair. When they're on your feet, you'll notice the combination of the light weight and the ski's relatively pronounced rocker and early taper gives it a distinctly maneuverable feel. The flex pattern of the Ripstick 94 W is relatively soft too, although consistent from tip to tail. This allows you to manipulate turn shape very easily, whether in a carving turn or if you're pivoting or smearing the ski. While the flex is relatively soft, it will still hold up to some aggressive skiing. It might not be the burliest ski on this list, but not too many women will find it lacks stability.
Who it's For: You like to ski the whole mountain and don't want to feel held back by your equipment. You don't feel like you need a super-stiff ski, and value maneuverability and a fun overall feel more than pure power.
2019 Nordica Santa Ana 93:
The Nordica Santa Ana 93 is an interesting ski as it's very similar to the men's Enforcer 93, but uses a lighter weight core. In addition to reducing overall weight, this also gives the ski a slightly softer flex. Sure, there are some women out there who might prefer the stiffer, heavier Enforcer 93, and that's okay. For most advanced to expert women, however, the Santa Ana 93 provides a perfect mix of stability and maneuverability. The two sheets of metal give it excellent vibration damping and stability, while the flex pattern and shape makes it easy to release your tail edge when you want to. Heavier than a ski like the Ripstick 94 W, but that means it will track better through choppy snow conditions. It's definitely another ski that likes to do a little bit of everything, and performs really well in soft snow, but it does it all with a distinctly smooth, stable feel.
Who it's For: Like the Ripstick 94, It's best for a skier that likes to do a little bit of everything. With the Santa Ana 93, however, you're going to want to be a relatively aggressive skier who values having metal laminates in your skis.
2019 Volkl Secret:
While the Nordica Santa Ana 93 differs from the men's Enforcer 93 in construction, the Secret is the same as the men's M5 Mantra. The difference here, however, is that it's narrower. Again, it's very interesting to see how different companies perceive and present the difference between men's and women's skis. Compared to the Santa Ana 93, the Secret is a little more focused on firm snow performance. It uses less rocker, and its Titanal Frame construction is designed to transmit energy and power straight to the edges of the ski. In terms of edge grip, it's one of the best skis in this comparison, but its 92 mm waist width also allows you to take it into some softer snow conditions. By not linking the metal on the top of the ski underfoot, the Secret lets flex the ski into shorter radius carving turns relatively easily. Maybe not as forgiving as the Santa Ana 93 or Ripstick 94 W, but a little bit more precision.
Who it's For: You don't want to sacrifice too much firm snow, groomer performance, but you also want to be able to ski softer snow conditions too. You should have relatively accomplished technique and shouldn't be a timid skier.
2019 Salomon QST Lux 92:
The QST Lux 92 from Salomon is the same width as the Volkl Secret, but its construction and shape gives it a more freeride-inspired feel. Salomon uses unique construction that relies on a wood core, carbon, flax, and metal. There is only a partial metal laminate, so the ski feels lighter than the Secret and Santa Ana 93. The Lux 92 uses quite a bit of rocker and early taper, in a very smooth design. It transitions through different snow conditions impressively easily, and has a very intuitive overall feel. It has enough torsional stiffness to hold an edge through relatively aggressive skiing on firm snow, although it doesn't have quite the vibration damping or power as the Secret or Santa Ana. On the other hand, it's a little easier to maneuver than those skis thanks to the lighter swing weight. Light enough to even justify mounting it with a touring binding, but also perfectly appropriate as a dedicated resort one-ski-quiver.
Who it's For: You want a fun, maneuverable all mountain ski that you can take anywhere. You don't want two sheets of metal or a heavy, demanding ski, but still want it to be able to hold an edge. Overall, you have a little bit more of a playful, freeride-inspired skiing style.
2019 Blizzard Sheeva 9:
The Sheeva 9 from Blizzard is very, very similar to the Rustler 9 for men, although they take a little bit of weight out of the core of the ski. It uses pronounced rocker in both the tip and tail, along with fairly substantial early taper. The metal in the ski is focused underfoot and ends before it reaches the tip and tail. The Sheeva 9 is another ski with a freeride-inspired feel, but it feels a little more precise on firm snow than the QST Lux 92. There's some noticeable Austrian-heritage in the way it feels underfoot, but the shape lets you release its tail edge more easily than what we've traditionally seen from Blizzard. You can feel the metal in the Sheeva 9 a little more-so than you can feel it in the QST Lux 92, which has both positives and negatives. It's not quite as easy to throw around in terms of swing weight, but it's still a very maneuverable ski that feels at home in both firm and soft snow conditions.
Who it's For: Like some of the other skis we've looked at so far, you want a versatile ski for all different types of terrain. You don't, however, want to give up the ability to lay down some powerful carving turns.
2019 Head Wild Joy:
Head is a company who devotes a ton of R&D into their women's skis, and the result is a completely different design and construction compared to men's skis. The Wild Joy is somewhat similar to the Secret in its shape, as it doesn't use a ton of rocker or early taper, but its construction makes it much lighter than the Secret. Head uses a material called Graphene in their skis, which is the lightest and thinnest element we've discovered as a human race. While it doesn't have quite the same level of vibration damping and stability as metal, it's way lighter and still provides a stable, confidence-inspiring feel. Its 90 mm waist width feels at home both in firm snow and soft snow, although it's not quite as easy to pivot and maneuver the Wild Joy as some of the skis we've looked at with more pronounced rocker. It's not exceptionally challenging, but it does have a longer effective edge compared to skis with more rocker.
Who it's For: Realistically you probably spend most of your time on groomers, but you don't want a ski that feels like it's pigeon-holed to that terrain. You want a lightweight ski that won't wear you out, but still like to ski fast and hard sometimes.
2019 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti:
The Atomic Vantage 90 Ti, as opposed to the Wild Joy, is exactly the same as the men's ski in design and construction. This is a unique ski in the sense that it's very light, but also very stiff. Like the Wild Joy, its shape is a little more geared towards firm snow performance than anything else. Atomic positions denser materials and metal along the edges of the ski, somewhat similar to the concept behind the Volkl Secret, although the Vantage 90 Ti is significantly lighter thanks to an abundant amount of material removed in the center of the ski. The stiff flex, high levels of torsional stiffness, and the light weight makes it super responsive. It doesn't have quite the same damp, smooth feel as heavier skis with more metal, but on the other hand it responds to skier input quicker than heavier skis. Some skiers will love this feel. It feels exceptionally energetic when it's linking carving turns, and has so much responsiveness that it demands a relatively high-level skier.
Who it's For: Skiers who spend most of their time on groomers and have strong, accomplished technique. If you lay it over on edge and power it up, it responds immediately with incredible precision.
2019 Blizzard Black Pearl 88:
While the Sheeva 9 is relatively similar to the men's Rustler 9, the Black Pearl 88 is quite a bit different than the men's alternative. Instead of metal, the Black Pearl 88 relies on wood and carbon for its performance. Its shape is more geared towards firm snow than some of the more-rockered skis we've looked at, yet it's still a very versatile all mountain ski. The Black Pearl 88 sets itself apart from some of the skis on this list in the sense that it's relatively approachable for intermediate skiers, but still can be enjoyed by experts. This is, perhaps, why it's become one of the most popular women's skis in the world. It doesn't have super high levels of stability or vibration damping, but it responds really well to skier input on groomers and links carving turns very well. You don't have to be the most aggressive skier to get the most out of it. Some ultra-aggressive skiers will want more stability and vibration damping, but tons of women love the overall feel of the Black Pearl 88. Holds an edge, will maneuver through moguls and trees, and does it all with a fun feel.
Who it's For: A similar skier to one who would choose the Head Wild Joy. You realistically probably spend most of your time on groomers, you're not super aggressive, but you still want a high performance all mountain ski.
2019 Dynastar Legend W 88:
The Legend W 88 from Dynastar uses very pronounced early taper and rocker. This gives it easy maneuverability in un-groomed terrain. The effective edge is a little shorter on firm snow than some of the other skis we've looked at, so if your focus is groomers the Legend W 88 might not be for you. On the other hand, it absolutely loves to ski moguls, trees, and other off-piste terrain. It's a super versatile ski overall, but if anything it prefers to be off trail. That doesn't, however, mean that it's going to feel totally worthless on firm snow, just keep in mind that the effective edge will be shorter. Some skiers will really like this feel, as tipping it on edge will just take you into a turn without much skier input. It's also insanely easy to release your tail edge, which allows you to make different turn shapes and styles super easily. Definitely one of the most maneuverable skis in this list.
Who it's For: You love moguls and trees and value maneuverability over stability and edge grip. You do ski some groomers, but if you have an opportunity to head off-piste, you're going to take it.
2019 Rossignol Experience 88 Ti:
The Rossignol Experience 88 Ti is another ski that matches shape and construction with the men's version. It's also another ski that's very versatile, with an even mix of performance characteristics. Rossignol's new Line Control Technology gives it good stability and vibration damping when you're skiing fast on groomers, while the new shape allows for more versatility than we saw in previous versions of the Experience (old women's Temptation) line. It can handle aggressive skiing on firm snow, but it also feels maneuverable and relatively forgiving in soft snow and un-groomed terrain. Without a doubt, it's the best Experience collection yet from Rossignol. It's also similar to skis like the Black Pearl 88 in the sense that it's relatively approachable for a wide range of skiers. The flex pattern is a little stiffer, however, thanks to vertical metal in the center of the ski. On the other hand, however, the tip rocker makes turn initiation exceptionally easy.
Who it's For: Skiers who are looking for a true one-ski-quiver. Whether you live in the east, west, or somewhere in between, an Experience 88 Ti can take you anywhere on the mountain and is appropriate for a wide range of ability levels.
2019 K2 Alluvit 88 Ti:
The K2 Alluvit 88 Ti is relatively similar to the Experience 88 Ti. It uses quite a bit of tip rocker and tail rocker, which also aligns with early taper. This boosts the ski's maneuverability in softer snow conditions and un-groomed terrain. When you're on firm snow, K2's Konic construction techniques help deliver good stability and edge grip. Like we saw in some other skis in this list, K2 positions denser materials and metal along the edges of the ski. When you're locked into a carving turn you get the benefits of metal: stability, vibration damping, and power. The center of the ski, however, uses lightweight materials. Combine the relatively light overall weight with the ski's pronounced rocker and early taper gives it a very maneuverable feel in soft snow. It's a blast in moguls and trees, like we've said about other skis in this list. It's another one of those skis with a relatively even mix of performance characteristics, and one that feels comfortable in any and all snow conditions.
Who it's For: You might not be the most aggressive skier on the mountain, but like the Experience 88 Ti, you still want a high performance all mountain ski. Carves turns, pivots and maneuvers easily, and is a whole lot of fun.
2019 DPS Uschi 87 Alchemist:
The DPS Uschi 87 Alchemist is one of the lightest skis on this list. Firm snow performance is a new focus for DPS, and the Uschi 87 is a perfect example. Their innovative Alchemist construction is impressively lightweight, while still retaining good torsional stiffness. This means the Uschi 87 will hold an edge really well, and because it's light it's also going to respond to skier input very quickly. Longitudinal stiffness, on the other hand, is a little softer than the Vantage 90 Ti we looked at earlier (another very lightweight ski), so it's not going to feel quite as demanding. The slightly softer flex also makes it more forgiving in moguls and other un-groomed terrain compared to a ski like the Vantage. You give up a little bit of edge grip and power, but it's still a ripping ski when you want it to be. It's a carving ski with DPS attitude. It's light, maneuvers well, yet can hold an edge really, really well (especially considering its weight).
Who it's For: Skis in the 90 mm width or above seem a little wide to you, yet you still want a versatile ski. You like laying down carving turns, but you don't want a ski that's going to feel fatiguing over a long day of skiing.
2019 Armada Victa 87 Ti:
If you just glance at it, you might think the Victa 87 Ti is a soft-flexing, easy ski because of its topsheet graphics. Don't be fooled, however, because this ski absolutely rips. It uses titanal in its construction, as well as Carbon Kevlar struts. The result is a ski with excellent vibration damping and stability. Remember when we started this article with those skis with metal? The Victa 87 Ti has the same performance benefits, but its narrower waist width gives it one of the highest levels of torsional stiffness. It links carving turns really well, and its wide tail lets you finish a carving turn with significant power. The tip rocker helps smooth out turn initiation, so it doesn't require expert-level skier input to get it to carve on firm snow. It does, however, feel more at home on firm groomers than anywhere else on the mountain. That makes sense, as Armada has a lot of other skis that are more focused on soft snow, maneuverability, and playfulness.
Who it's For: You spend most of your time on firm snow and love linking carving turns. You might even have a race background and want a ski with some metal, but one that's also a little easier and more forgiving than traditional carving skis or race skis.