2024 Men’s Big Mountain Skis

2024 Men’s Big Mountain Skis

It wouldn’t be unfair to lump all skis over 100mm at the waist into a giant bucket labeled, “Powder,” and leave it at that. Obviously, the fatter the ski the better the flotation, so pick a ski based on how high you want to ride on new snow and you’re good to go. We decided to divide the powder pie in two because there are big behavioral differences between the Big Mountain bundle of skis (101mm-113mm) and the cluster over 120mm.  

The very fact that most manufacturers make (at least) one model in each genre verifies that there are reasons to make two distinct models to serve the Big Mountain and Powder categories. The best of the Big Mountain brotherhood are everyday skis for strong riders on – you guessed it – big mountains.  But there are also easy riders in the Big Mountain corral; skis that will help the less talented whip their powder skills into shape.

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The split personality of the Big Mountain genre is a result of the evolution of the fat ski phenomenon as a whole.  Twenty years ago, when the concept of powder skis was still in its infancy, fat boys were conceived as learning aids for the uninitiated. Experts initially avoided the budding category as if they were badges of ineptitude – until they tried them.   When Shane McConkey straight-lined a legendary couloir on a pair of 90mm Volant Chubbs, the collective attitude of the elite was tweaked.  Suddenly a new mini-market emerged for high-octane athletes seeking first descents on previously unskiable pitches.  Movies from Matchstick Productions and Teton Gravity Research showcased a new frontier in adrenaline sports, and the race was on to see who could make the best tool for these new school, big mountain athletes.

Flashing forward to today, both communities – those who want to maintain their speed in new snow and those who want to maintain their dignity – are being over-served by a brilliant buffet of options.  Whether you tear into powder or tiptoe in, the right Big Mountain ski will make slicing knee-deep fresh snow nearly effortless.

People in the market for a powder ski tend to think bigger is better, that if a little flotation is good, massive flotation is better.  It’s true that there’s no substitute for surface area, but flotation isn’t the only quality required for off-trail conditions.  Some aptitude for moving quickly edge to edge is useful in moguls, which inevitably develop where sno-cats fear to tread. Edging accuracy comes in handy on steep traverses, and short-radius turns are de rigeur in pucker-tight couloirs.  Point being, the slightly narrower chassis of a Big Mountain ski is probably a better powder ski for most skiers than the super-wide models that qualify for the Powder club by being next to useless anywhere else.

Every Big Mountain ski pries the tip and tail off the snow to some degree because there’s no better way to motor through crud – powder’s wicked stepbrother – than with a tip that won’t catch and a tail that won’t hang up. Some Big Mountain models are cambered underfoot, some aren’t. The biggest behavioral chasm in the category is the separation of models that can be trusted to hold just a ribbon of edge on hard snow and those who do their best work in the worst conditions, drifting over rubble like it was made from ice cream.

There are two major provisos that need to be shouted from the rooftops: one, acquiring an everyday ski that is too wide poses an increased risk of joint fatigue and even injury to the skier, even if he or she never falls; and two, skiers charging full speed on skis with huge girth but little effective contact area and perhaps no capacity for clean edging pose a danger not just to themselves, but every other person in their flight path.

Please pay attention, because this is why our test criteria are more important today than ever.  Heavily rockered skis in the Big Mountain waist width zone of 101mm to 113mm can easily inspire the illusion that their owner suddenly has skills. After all, he can now kill it in the freshies, charging like an off-the-rails locomotive.  When he rolls his act out on the groomers, still hauling, still squatting over the middle of his skis, his ultra-rockered tips and tails wildly slapping the snow, his ability to change trajectory and avoid the downhill skier is perilously close to nil.

This is perhaps the most important slope safety issue of our time. Please, people, restrict your use of Big Mountain skis to the off-trail terrain for which they were designed.

The 2024 Men’s Big Mountain Field

Two principal phenomena contributed to last year’s cornucopia of new Big Mountain models.  Part of the surge in new models could be attributed to a fluke: several brands’ development calendars just happened to call for renewal of their Big Mountain models in 2023. The second major factor was the huge influence of the backcountry market, which drove marketers to slice the burgeoning BC market into ever finer tranches, multiplying the number of model families devoted to skiing powder.

At Realskiers, we keep our focus on lift-serviced, Alpine skiing.  We don’t pretend to cover the touring market for the simple reason that it requires an entirely different methodology and set of test criteria to go along with its specialized gear. For much the same reason, we keep our mitts off of Pipe & Park skis, including those with waist widths that would land them in the Big Mountain genre. 

I mention what we don’t cover because the backcountry boom has inspired the creation of new model families that fit somewhere along the ever-expanding Alpine-Backcountry spectrum. K2’s 3-model Dispatch series includes two big Mountain entries in 101mm and 110mm widths, along with a 120mm. In K2’s ski pantheon, Dispatch fits between the all-climbing-all-the-time Wayback family and the in-resort, all-terrain Mindbender clan. The Dispatch skier is descent-oriented and powder obsessed. Alas, the Dispatches were members of a large and distinguished community of skis we were never able to get on snow, much less in appropriate conditions.

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Another relatively new series meant to find a home between the worlds of in-resort and ex-resort skiing is Nordica’s Unleashed, which bear little resemblance to Alpine Enforcers and likewise don’t fit in with Nordica’s Unlimited AT series. We got just enough of a taste to assert that they have a strong bias for snow soft, with spatulate tips meant to support a rear-facing descendant. Not our cup of tea.

I’ll get to what’s new among the 21 Big Mountain unisex models we did ski, I promise, but first I must mention a couple of other unexplained absences.  We’ve never recorded enough data to rate the Völkl Katana 108, Kästle ZX108, Dynastar’s M-Pro 108 Ti F-Team or K2’s Mindbender 108 Ti; all are excellent and deserving of recognition. Also absent are any and all K2 Mindbender C models, including the Big Mountain 106C. We made several attempts to get on Rossi’s new Sender Free 110 Ti Plus, but alas, the stars never aligned.

Last season saw a significant infusion of new and upgraded Big Mountain models, far more than any other genre, despite the fact that for the vast majority of skiers, a Big Mountain stick would be a second (or third) ski. This year, the buffet of new models is far more modest.  Aside from the aforementioned Rossi we missed, there were only three new entrants of note: Blizzard made major changes to its Rustler 10 and Rustler 11, which moved up to a podium position in our rankings; and Salomon tweaked the construction of its Stance 102, substantially elevating its Finesse attributes and its overall score.

If you’re currently flailing in new snow, you’re on the wrong gear. Powder is the one condition in which the choice of ski can actually improve your skiing experience, without actually requiring you to improve your skiing, if you catch my drift.  A properly sized and selected Big Mountain model will make you a better powder skier a lot faster than a great Technical ski will turn you into a proficient carver.

Power Picks: Killing It

The defining difference between our Power Picks and Finesse Favorites can be summed up succinctly: how fast are you willing to go before you steer out of the fall line? If you tend to ride the brakes and the gas at the same time, you’ve overshot your category: you should be searching among the Finesse models.

But if you love to let it rip, sending up geysers that almost engulf you as you go headlong downhill, this is your dating pool. Chances are, every one of these skis is better than you are, which is a good thing when you’re pushing the edge of the envelope. If your skills are commensurate with our Power Picks, you’ll have a partner for powder days that won’t ever let you down.

I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t remind my Dear Readers that there’s one model that eluded our coverage that would otherwise be among the elite Power skis in the Big Mountain genre. The Völkl Katana 108 is a gem worthy of any strong skier’s consideration.

Völkl Mantra 102

Don’t let the model name fool you:  Völkl still calls this ski the Mantra 102, but the addition of Tailored Titanal Frame, Tailored Carbon Tips and a tweaked sidecut has totally transformed its personality. Last year’s Mantra 102 was a barely tamed beast, subduing all in its path; the new incarnation is a pussycat that readily bends to its pilot’s will. Among 2023’s new models, only K2’s revamp of its Mindbenders made as big an improvement in Finesse properties as the Mantra 102. It behaves like a different ski.

 One measure of a ski’s steering facility is the skier’s perception of width. In its first incarnation, the Mantra 102 was notable for feeling wider than it measured; the 2023 version “skis narrower than indicated, making it very easy to turn,” according to veteran tester Theron Lee.

The combined effect of its triad of new features is what makes the Mantra 102 suddenly so tractable. Like every Big Mountain ski in Christendom, the Mantra 102 is double rockered, but it feels like it has tip-to-tail contact.

Read the full review here

Rossignol Sender 106 Ti+

It was only a couple of product generations ago that a Rossignol model dominated the Big Mountain genre like no other ski before or since. The Soul 7 was an almost perfect powder ski, its behavior dictated by its high and long camber line that ended, as all Big Mountain skis do, in a tapered and rockered tip and tail. Its high arch was primarily fiberglass, making it a coiled spring just begging to be compressed.

The Sender Ti was clearly made to win back experts disenchanted with its predecessor’s over-the-top popularity.  Titanal was added to the construction formula, and the baseline was flattened out to improve snow connection. The Sender Ti was a Soul 7 with teeth, giving it a higher performance ceiling and much improved hard snow grip.

The primary character traits that derive from the “plus” features are smooth shock absorption all along the ski, largely attributable to Carbon Alloy Matrix, and firmer edge grip, a function of extending the Titanal underfoot sideways, all the way to the edge.  These additions are what make the Sender 106 Ti+ a premium Power ski, while the rest of the Sender Ti clan are Finesse models more suited to slower or less skilled skiers.

Read the full review here

Blizzard Cochise 106

The Cochise 106 knows how it should be skied, even if you don’t.  It’s well aware that it won’t be able to carve a short turn at minimal speed, so it keeps close to the fall line until it can shift into third. Once it reaches cruising speed, it dons its dancing shoes and shows just how indifferent to heinous crud a ski can be.

The Cochise 106 is one of the few Big Mountain models that doesn’t get the heebie-jeebies on hard pack. Its imperturbability where other skis literally tremble is due in part to its classic, wood and Titanal construction and in part to its Flipcore baseline.

The Cochise 106 represents a return to its traditional values by cutting back on some of the beefier elements in its previous incarnation without scrimping on the 2 ½ layers of Titanal that give the Cochise its indomitable determination to teach crud a lesson it won’t soon forget.

To get the Cochise 106 to feel more like the original, Blizzard tinkered with several possible core changes.  Blizzard attempted to modify its new TrueBlend core for the Cochise, but its added width meant more mass, inhibiting the maneuverability the R&D team was trying to augment. So, the current Cochise core added Paulownia to its matrix, lightening the load and improving its responsiveness.

Read the full review here

Stöckli Stormrider 102


Read the full review here

Finesse Favorites:  Kicking Back

The original idea behind making a ski as fat as 110mm underfoot wasn’t to open previously unskiable terrain to world-class athletes, but to allow those without such skills to be able to navigate less forbidding pitches when the snow is knee deep.  

Our Finesse Favorites fulfill this mission by bringing a sense of playfulness to the business of floating and smearing through powder.  They prioritize ease over accuracy, allowing the less proficient powder skiers to more easily access this exciting terrain.  The ulterior motive behind manufacturing such models is, of course, to sell you a second pair of premium skis.  We warn you: once you go fat, you never go back.  Which means, once you ski the deep on one of these plump beauties, you’ll never again foray into the pow without fatties on your feet. 

Head Kore 111

Last year, Head didn’t consider the addition of a urethane coating sufficient to qualify its 2023 Kore models as new, and in the case of the Kore 111 – the widest 2023 Kores we essayed – we concurred. But answering the question of whether the 2023/24 version is a noticeable improvement over its near-clone predecessor isn’t as interesting as the fact that both ended up in the top spot in our Finesse rankings. What is it about the latest generation of Kore models that sets them apart from the rest of the pack?

Tech guru and Start Haus owner Jim Schaffner pondered this question after a day test driving the 2023 Kore collection. “This model impressed me as did the other Kore models I skied. Does Graphene work? It’s pretty easy to feel the similarity in all the Kore models. The feeling is one of power, and traction, and smoothing out the ride. I am not usually impressed with skis over 110 underfoot.  Light and lively feeling, with strong feel on the edge. Very versatile,” the veteran gear tester concluded.

In last year’s review of the Kore 111, I shared the tale of my favorite run of the 21/22 season, cavorting in one of the few powder days of that sorry snow season. Last season, of course, was one of the most powder-choked ever, and on my annual hegira to worship at Snowbird the snow was uber-abundant, often shutting down all activity in Little Cottonwood Canyon. On one perfect morning, as soon as the inter-lodge closure was lifted, we were able to get on the first tram.  It was my first run on a fresh pair of Kore 111’s, but the idea of reining in my enthusiasm because I was unfamiliar with the ski never occurred to me.

Read the full review here

Salomon QST 106 

Salomon’s QST 106 was already pegged as a star product when it was introduced in 2016/17, and Salomon has been enhancing the QST flagship on a regular basis ever since.  The latest batch of improvements aim to boost power and grip while trimming a few grams off its total weight. First, the woven mat of carbon and flax (C/FX) that is the QST 106’s primary structural element now extends the entire length of the ski, for extra stability in heavy crud. To improve torsional rigidity and amplify force application, the 2023/24 QST 106 doubles up on its full-length sidewalls with extra strips of ABS underfoot. And the latest version has a lower rocker profile,  so it stays in better snow contact regardless of the conditions.

Two other innovations introduced during its previous make-over a couple of years ago contribute mightily to the QST 106’s remarkably quiet ride: Cork Damplifier at the tip and tail, and a Titanal binding platform underfoot.  The cork elements are reputed to be 16 times more effective at sucking up shock than the Koroyd honeycomb they replaced, and the Ti plate’s influence definitely extends beyond its mid-ski boundaries. Together with C/FX and Double Sidewalls, they give the QST 106 the stability on edge of a Frontside ski in a ski made for everywhere that isn’t groomed.

Read the full review here

Blizzard Rustler 11

I’m leery of recommending a Powder ski for all-terrain skiing, for if it’s equally adept at all conditions, why not ski it every day? A ski so polyvalent would not only render any notion of ski categories an absurd pretension, it would erode the very foundations of logic itself.  Well, the new Blizzard Rustler 11 comes pretty damn close to pulling down the twin pillars of logic and methodology, for it seems to transition from soft snow to firm without batting an eye.

If there’s a trick to this sleight of hand, it lies in the Rustler 11’s construction, beginning with its dimensions, which straddle the border between the Big Mountain and Powder genres, depending on which length one chooses from the five available sizes. The new Freeride Trueblend core ups the amount of Paulownia in its 3-wood matrix to keep the overall weight, and in particular mass beyond the binding area, from ballooning as the ski’s dimensions expand. To keep the Rustler 11 from feeling ponderous, Blizzard trims the percentage of Titanal used in its make-up compared to its skinnier siblings, the Rustler 10 and 9.

Aside from the Trueblend core, the biggest difference between this generation of Rustlers and the one that preceded it is how the new FluxForm design distributes its allocation of Titanal. A nearly full-length strip of metal rides over each edge, but stops short of rapping around the tip or tail. In the middle of the ski, a separate, disconnected swath of Ti fills the space between the outer bands, to lend additional strength and rigidity to the midsection. Fluxform creates a ski that feels secure on edge anywhere it travels, with just enough tolerance for twist at the tip and tail to allow the ski to flow over choppy terrain rather than fight it.

Read the full review here

Nordica Enforcer 110 Free

The Enforcer 110 Free is so good at motoring through crud that it jumped to the top position among Big Mountain models in its debut season. Its reign would have certainly continued had Nordica not fashioned an Enforcer 104 Free two years ago, which usurped the throne so briefly held by the model from which it was cloned.

Just because the narrower and lighter Enforcer 104 Free feels more maneuverable than its stouter big bro doesn’t mean the Enforcer 110 Free suddenly morphed into a lugubrious tanker. It’s still remarkably agile for its girth and its camber pocket delivers a lively turn finish that makes it ski lighter than it actually weighs. “This is the most versatile wide profile ski I have ever used!” gushed Boot Doctor Bob Gleason. “An uncanny blend of big ski float and directional fortitude, with a quickness and rebound that will have you tap dancing in the tight spots.”

Some of the best powder skiing of any winter is going to happen on storm days, when visibility is often poor and occasionally non-existent. On days like this, you have to trust what you have on your feet to be your eyes.  You won’t see a change in snow conditions until it’s upon you, so you need a ride whose stability can be relied upon when you’re skiing in a milk bottle and the terrain underfoot is constantly changing consistency. That’s when the Nordica Enforcer 110 Free proves it’s one of the best powder skis ever made.

Read the full review here

Dynastar M-Free 108

It was only a few product cycles ago that Dynastar transformed its brand identity with the debut of the Cham series. It was a bellwether moment, both for Dynastar and the burgeoning freeride market segment. The Chams were the first collection from a mainstream brand that used what was then referred to as a “5-point” sidecut, the two extra points indicating the ski’s widest points, which were pulled back from their traditional location at the tip and tail.  What came to be known as tip taper has now been universally adopted by every Big Mountain model in the known world


Flash forward to today, and Dynastar’s signature powder ski, the M-Free 108, retains a few strands of the Cham DNA, but in several respects it’s the exact opposite of the Cham 117.  The key carry-over features include the obligatory double-rockered baseline and tapered forebody and tail, both magnified to the max. The biggest difference is the overall sense of snow connection. Despite its shape and baseline, the Cham 117 was trying to maintain the sort of snow connection one gets with an all wood-and-metal laminate. The connection of the baseline of the M-Free 108 feels as solid as soup.

Read the full review here

Salomon Stance 102

When Salomon launched the first edition of the Stance series in the 20/21 season, they were well aware that they were entering all-mountain categories already brimming with options. Most of the established image leaders in the pivotal All-Mountain West genre were Power models loaded stem to stern with dual Titanal laminates. To create some space for Stance in this crowd, Salomon had to both match what the category leaders were doing yet somehow be different from them. The solution was to replace swatches of Ti in the top sheet with its proprietary C/FX fibers, so the Stances would feel a bit less ponderous than the competition.

The changes instituted in the new Stance series took this effort at differentiation a step further, slightly disengaging the Ti top layer from the core, creating the sensation of a softer-flexing ski that’s still torsionally rigid enough to bite into boilerplate. Sally also lightened up the core by adding Karuba to what had been an all-poplar affair.  The net effect is a high octane ski that is simplicity itself to steer. As incarnated in the Stance 102, the new changes transformed what had been a back-of-the-pack wannabe into one of the very best Finesse skis in the over-served Big Mountain market. Its nickname should be Crud Lite, for it excels in soft snow, where it maintains a mellow, fall-line orientation through thick and thin.

Read the full review here

Blizzard Rustler 10

There are three balancing acts that a Big Mountain ski needs to pull off in order to rise to the top of the ranks. One, it has to make the transition from firm snow to soft and back again feel so smooth it’s barely perceptible. Two, it has to execute short turns and long turns without an obvious bias for one or the other. And three, the ski itself needs to feel balanced, with a round, even flex that allows the skier to always feel on center. I’m sharing this nugget of wisdom here because if the essence of the new Rustler 10 could be distilled to a single word, it would be “balanced.”

The testimony of a couple of our elite testers allude to this attribute in their rave reviews. Level 3 instructor Lara Hughes-Allen found the 180cm Rustler 10 to be “light and playful, especially off-piste. A well-balanced ski that makes for fun short turns and bump skiing. For a 102cm underfoot ski, it’s fairly quick edge to edge. Overall, this is a very comfortable ski that performs well in a variety of conditions.”

The erstwhile owner of Start Haus in Truckee, California, a longtime Realskiers Test Center, Jim Schaffner is also a world-class bootfitter and race coach. His thumbnail portrait of the Rustler 10 dovetails nicely with Lara’s assessment: “Balanced and very comfortable to ski in all conditions. It felt seamless to move from firmer to softer to broken pow. Predictable and smooth, with surprising power and rebound when you stomp on it.

Read the full review here

Head Kore 105

Last year, Head coated all its Kore models in a urethane top coat, primarily as a protective measure, but it definitely also dampened the narrower Kores.  On the Kore 105, the urethane and may have made the raised the ski’s overall performance range, as attested by veteran tester Jim Schaffner, who tried it in both its 184cm and 177cm lengths.

“In the shorter size, I felt the 105 to have even greater range and playfulness than the 184cm,” asserted the founder of Start Haus. “I must credit Head for delivering a ton of performance in the Kore line. With the exception of the 105, I skied all of the Kore models in the 177, and they all had amazing horsepower for a svelte 230 pounder like me.”

Schaffner’s experience underscores the importance of length selection. I, too, skied the 2023 Kore 105 in both a 184cm and 177cm, and found the shorter length to be substantially more maneuverable, playful and fun. Keep that thought in mind as you peruse the prose penned two years ago about the 2022 Kore 105, that embodied several important changes that carry over to this season’s iteration.


Read the full review here

Völkl Blaze 106

From a product standpoint, Völkl has very few problems. The avatars of its latest technologies – the Mantra M6, Kendo 88, Mantra 102 and Deacon 84 – sit atop their respective genres, a stunning display of dominance.  When one is so accustomed to winning, one wants to win at everything, and there was one arena where Völkl hadn’t made much headway: skis sold at lower price points.  Völkl had earned a reputation as the brand for experts; lesser lights need not apply.

It was partly to appeal to the greater swath of the market who shun the pinnacle of the price pyramid that two years ago Völkl launched the Blaze series. At a $599 street price, the Blaze 106 hoped to attract the economy-minded in the market for a lightweight, off-trail ski. To hit the lower price point, it reduced its use of Titanal down to a mounting plate and lightened up the core considerably: a 186cm Blaze 106 weighs in at a mere 1772g, compared to 2330g for a 184cm Katana 108.

While the lower price no doubt made the Blaze 106 more attractive, it was its super-light chassis that made it an overnight star. The demand for skis that would work both in-resort and in the backcountry has created a new sub-category into which the Blaze 106 fits neatly. The Blaze 106 waltzed into what was, until recently, a niche market, hoping for a warm reception, and instead encountered a firestorm of demand for its new hybrid.

Read the full review here

Nordica Enforcer 104 Free  

The Nordica Enforcer 104 Free and Enforcer 110 Free are both first-class Big Mountain Finesse skis – they’ve each recently held top billing in the genre – but they earn their high ratings for ease of use in different ways. The Enforcer 110 Free is inherently better at drifting and flotation, simply by dint of its superior surface area. These are critical properties for a Big Mountain ski, but they aren’t the only admirable attributes.  The Enforcer 104 Free out-finesses its bigger bro with easy-steering agility, able to hew to a tighter radius whether on edge or off.

The Enforcer 104 Free even feels quicker than the narrower 185cm Enforcer 100, because you don’t detect its extra 4mm of width as much as you notice its lively response to lighter pressure.  It seems to hover like a water bug over wind-battered crud, floating just above the havoc underfoot where it’s still able to move freely side to side. It smooths out the ruffles in the most ravaged terrain, turning a ratty collage of ruts into a dance floor.

Back-to-back runs on the 110 and 104 in 10 inches of partially tracked powder confirmed what one might suspect a priori – that the narrower ski was noticeably easier to steer no matter how you slice it. Whether pivoting your feet to make a short turn shorter or banking off a wind drift, the Enforcer 104 took less force to guide.  To the obvious question – is a 104-waist width really necessary in a line that already has cornerstone models on its flanks in the original Enforcer 100 and the 110? – we have an equally obvious answer: oh, yes.

Read the full review here

Fischer Ranger 102

The qualities that made the 102 FR the star product of the old Rangers were its smeary, playful baseline, its metal-free construction – making it lighter and torsionally softer – and the fact that it had the most distinctive snow feel compared to its competition in the Big Mountain genre. As Fischer made the transition to the new Ranger series that adds a dab of Titanal to every model, preserving the on-snow properties of its flagship Ranger was likely to be a high priority. Once you have an established fan club, you don’t want to disappoint it.

Devotees of the retired Ranger FR 102 can relax. If you loved the FR for its surfy attitude, you’ll be at least as enamored of the 2024 Ranger 102. This is still a decidedly soft snow ski, as several testers lamented who essayed the Ranger 102 in 2022’s skinny season. “In fresh snow, you’ll love this ski,” reassured Mark Rafferty from Peter Glenn. “Plenty wide and playful for first tracks. If no new fresh for a few weeks, the Ranger 102 will rip fast turns on the groomers. Strong for blasting through crud. A true marvel,” he raved.

All things considered, the 2024 Ranger 102 amplifies its forebear’s best assets without changing its fundamental character.


Read the full review here

Fischer Ranger 108

Now that the Fischer Ranger series share a common construction, they also share a similar behavioral profile. Nothing affects a modern ski quite as much as the addition or subtraction of Titanal, so when Rangers were made both with and without Ti laminates, their performance profile would change radically from one model to the next.  For 2023, Fischer homogenized the Ranger line by doling out a measure of metal in every model. By dint of its extra width, the Ranger 108 earns a mite more in its midsection, making it the smoothest Ranger in the new family.

The Ranger series has always been aimed squarely at off-trail skiing, where surface area dictates the degree of flotation which in turn has a direct bearing on how easy a ski is to swivel. News bulletin: skiing deep snow isn’t like skiing hardpack. Not just in the obvious way that snow you sink into and snow you can barely dent require different tactics, but in the subtle ways that deep snow affects stance and turn finish, which can’t be carved and therefore has to be swiveled to come across the fall line.

Read the full review here

Rossignol Sender 104 Ti

There are several clear signals that the Rossignol Sender 104 Ti isn’t meant for the same skier as its big brother, the Sender 106 Ti+. While the only difference in their sidecut is the 104’s narrower waist, that’s about where the similarities end. The first hint that they aren’t equals is the plus symbol attached to the fatter ski. It’s meant to imply that there’s an extra dose of Titanal in the slightly more expensive ($100) 106, as indeed there is. But the 106 Ti+ also sports other embellishments that make it preferable for an expert who knows how to charge the fall line.

As important as Titanal is to ski behavior, it only covers so much territory, as neither model runs its Ti laminates from tip to tail. The end-to-end element that governs both skis is a weave of carbon and basalt fibers; on the Sender 106 Ti+ the combination dubbed Carbon Alloy Matrix is richer in carbon, so the ride feels more cushioned throughout and remains calm at higher velocity.


Read the full review here

Kästle FX106 Ti

Any clear-eyed assessment of what transpires on a powder day at any popular resort would conclude that the “powder” part of the day begins around 9:00 and ends around 10:00. For the rest of the day, all accessible terrain devolves into something considerably less idyllic. The Kästle FX106 Ti is built to cope with this reality, for it wields its smear-ability like a weapon when deep snow switches from a fluffy texture to something closer to tapioca.


During the “powder hour,” any ski with approximately the FX106 Ti’s dimensions will spool out mid-radius turns with unconscious ease; once perfect conditions are in the past, the real work begins. It’s in the slop that the FX106 Ti’s stout, wood-and-Titanal construction proves its mettle, planing over afternoon porridge that would kick a lesser ski off course. With two full sheets of Titanal in its guts, the FX106 Ti isn’t one of those fat skis where the width isn’t noticeable; rather, its heft imparts confidence that in the battle against crud, its pilot is well armed.

Read the full review here