Finding the fall line and blasting through days-old crud will come easily on these versatile sticks, the best all-mountain skis of the year from 101-109. Some of these more freeride-focused skis are reinforced with heavier materials like Titanal, skis in this category easily transition between hardpack and fresh snow without an ounce of hesitation. Others in this category have more of a freestyle flavor and are ready to butter and play in deeper snow. They’ll make you see the mountain in a new light, seeking out every roller and windlip.
Fischer Ranger 102 FR
If you’re going to make a ski as eye-catching as the Fischer Ranger 102 FR, it has to rip. This versatile ski has been turning heads for four seasons now, a powerful machine that can rally groomers with enough agility to billy goat through rocky entrances, pop off pillows and snake through bumps… Read the full review in our Deep Dive into the Ranger 102 FR.
Nordica Enforcer 104 Free
Another entry into the playful all-rounder category that has a serious big-mountain backbone, the Enforcer 104 Free is an excellent addition to Nordica’s stalwart series. The forgiving shape, with plenty of tip and tail rocker and some decent tip taper, will allow you to smear your turns and make mistakes without smacking you down, but the extended poplar-beech wood core with a carbon layup and two layers of Titanal will let you to ski as fast as you want. The big buzzword among all our testers for this ski was how reliable it was. It carves, smears and blasts with a predictability you can depend upon. And while it’s not the poppiest or quickest ski in the quiver, it’s going to please a lot of skiers.
Rossignol BlackOps Sender
A more versatile layup of Rossi’s newest flagship ski, the Sender is rocket ship-ready for any intermediate-to-advanced skier looking to up their game. Built with a full poplar wood core with fiberglass laminates, the Sender is full of pop and is a quick and lively ride, perfectly suited to our testing grounds on Ajax Mountain. While there’s no metal in this version of the ski, our testers were pleasantly surprised how hard they could push the Sender, and its round-yet-solid flex pattern provides a damp ride in variable snow. With extremely little tip and tail taper, the ski is lightning quick to initiate a turn, and the dependable tail will power you through to the finish without being too demanding.
DPS Koala 103
A new addition to the Foundation line, the Koala 103 will challenge any preconceived notions you might have about DPS. Known for engineering advanced tools made to slay deep snow in the White Room, this ski adds a level of freestyle-focused versatility yet seen out of the Salt Lake City manufacturer. To make it come to life, DPS heeded the call of its team riders… Read the full review in our Deep Dive into the Koala 103.
Zag Slap 104
Zag be nimble, Zag be quick! Our testers were blown away by this freetouring plank. For a zippy, tapered, soft snow-loving touring weapon, this 104-waisted ski slaps on-piste. One thing we kept coming back to in Aspen was how damp it was when slarving through rougher snow, but how lively it was when you dug into your edges and leaned into the front of the boot. Born in the mountains of Chamonix, the Slap 104 is more than capable at munching all the in-bounds terrain you can throw at it. But made with a poplar/paulownia core, you’ll never tire short-turning your way between trees, chutes and bumps. It won’t make you ski like Pierre Tardival, but it’s the tool to start your steep skiing journey.
K2 Reckoner 102
You ever cruise down a cat track like Snowbird’s Road to Provo and dream of whipping cork 10s into the steeps like Karl Fostvedt? Well this is his weapon of choice. K2’s super-popular Reckoner series’ flagship ski is the 102, and our testers had a riot on it. Whether skiing switch, popping side hits or laying down butters, the Reckoner 102 just wanted to play. Built on a fir and aspen core and reinforced with K2’s Spectral Braid Technology with Carbon Boost—a special weave of fibers that intersect at variable angles—this twig is soft in all the right places, but stable enough to handle big landings and fast run-outs. Equally at home in the park or the trees, this is the kind of ski that will make you want to huck the nose into Corbet’s.
Liberty Origin 101
Liberty added a new width to its Origin series this year in the ever-popular 100-mm-plus category and Liberty’s construction has the secret sauce to make it stand out from the competition. The bamboo and poplar wood core with a whisper of aluminum alloy—a technology called VMT 1.0—delivers a surprising combo of dampness and liveliness at a way lower weight than we expected. The tapered tips and tails added to the freestyle looseness we’ve come to expect from the Avon, CO brand. The rocker profile enabled easy pivoting and serious quickness in tight and technical terrain. The new Origin 101 is a great freestyle option for skiers who are still looking to go fast and carve clean turns.
Völkl Revolt 104
The Revolt 104, back for its second year on the roster, continues to fill a gap in Völkl’s lineup. While the German giant excelled at making big-mountain skis and jib skis, it had been a while since it built a ski that crossed over into both territories. The Revolt 104 remains unchanged for 2021-22, maintaining its place as a stout, freestyle-forward ski with wicked deep rocker lines. Those details made it a fun ski to mach around on, especially when the soft snow got chopped up. While we knew it would excel as a versatile, all-mountain player, what we didn’t guess was how fun it’d be to carve and play around on blasting off side hits and rollers. Völkl took the best elements of its 121-mm powder monster and made it in a more accessible size.
Salomon Stance 102
Salomon had been out of the metal-laminate ski game for a while, so when it reentered, it had to make a big splash. The Stance series delivered on a metal laminate ski for the modern skier, with a tailored flex pattern and a lively construction that feels light years away from the dead, glued-to-the-snow feeling of yesteryear’s metal skis. Our testers were wowed at how versatile the Stance 102 was on snow: Sure it rages on-piste, but once you get it into a wide open bowl or some serious steeps, the Stance starts to feel like a true game-on kind of ski. This ski wants you to open it up and put the pedal to the metal. Racers, start your engines.
Faction Agent 3.0
Building off the shape and success of the Dictator series, the Agent 3.0 is a lightweight touring/freeride machine. If you’re wondering who this ski is for, think about Faction athlete Sam Anthamatten, hiking and skiing steep open faces in the Swiss Alps. But it’s not just for devotees like Sam: the bit of early taper and sturdy flex pattern make it a dream for anyone with alpine ambitions, and its flat tail with extended camber gives the Agent that extra bite on the steeps. It’s noticeably light on the feet—that’s thanks to a full carbon layup and karuba wood core—but that didn’t stop our testers from ranking it best in class in this downhill category.
Icelantic Saba Pro 107
Colorado born, Montana-based Parker Norvell honed his skills in the park, but now seeks soft snow in the backcountry. These days, whether he’s venturing out of bounds or lift skiing at Bridger, Norvell’s daily driver is the Icelantic Saba Pro 107. “It rips… it’s pretty much my dream ski,” he says. And he can take some credit for that. The Saba Pro 107 was collaboratively designed… Read the full review in our Deep Dive into the Saba Pro 107.
J skis The Hotshot
Whoa nelly! We were huge fans of The Metal, the predecessor of the new Hotshot from J skis—and we’re always a little hesitant when brands mess with a favorite—but Levinthal really proved us wrong on this one. Subtle tweaks to the taper profile and sidecut work magic on this ski: it’s both more stable on firm and rough snow due to the extended sidecut, and surfier on wind lips. The heavy maple core delivers smooth and powerful turns and becomes a massive stomp pad for big landings where a little extra weight is your friend. Lev made The Hotshot for showing off under the chair, so point ‘em and hop into the spotlight!
Our testers loved the Devastator so much that one of them wrote a page-long romantic epic dedicated to it. Its full rocker shape has gone through a number of changes over the years, but it’s back and ready as ever to rip the whole mountain. Lightened a bit to pivot with the quickness, the stiff platform underfoot is still ready to rage. Built for those who like to spin and send in soft snow, the Devastator can be driven from an upright or forward stance and likes to schmear and surf at very high speeds. But tip it over a little (or a lot) and the Reflect-Tech multi-radius sidecut delivers a strong carved turn. The Devastator is one of the more versatile full-rocker skis we’ve ever tested.
Faction Dictator 3.0
The big brother of Faction’s Agent series, the Dictator has staged a coup d’etat and is ready to rule. Originally a bit slimmer on the scale, the new Dictator carries more heft and taper than its predecessor, which makes for a much friendlier—and faster—ride. Don’t be fooled, though, its flat tail and metal construction will buck you if you don’t stay on top of it. The Dictator 3.0 is built for the steep faces and the ample snowfall of Snowbird, Jackson Hole and Zermatt. Dictators don’t respond to subtlety, so make sure you’re on point driving this despot. If speed is your game, this ski should be on your list. Kapeesh?
Völkl Blaze 106
The Völkl Blaze 106 returns with a renewed focus on soft-snow versatility. A smart and sleek pairing of taper lines and rocker profile delivers float well above its 106-mm waist. The insanely light weight all-but demands you slap a 50/50 binding on the suckers and take ‘em on a hike. Pillage and plunder pow stashes beyond the gates and you’ll hardly be happier than on the Blaze, especially when the snow is a little sunbaked or wind-crusted. The shock-absorbing Suspension Tips really calm things down when snow doesn’t cooperate, a huge boon for those seeking snow off-piste, knowing that variable snow is always a possibility. What are you waiting for? Strap on some hybrid boots, a set of Duke PTs and let ‘er rip.
K2 Mindbender 108Ti
A stable charger that’s actually fun and surfy? Sign us up. K2’s Mindbender 108Ti is a soft snow skier’s dream. Think about the deep, heavy stuff at Mammoth or laps in the woods at Bachelor. What sets the Mindbender apart is its all-terrain rocker profile—gradual rise in the tip, camber underfoot and short rise in the tail—which can be bent into a variety of turn shapes without straining your quads to oblivion. This means easy turn initiation and stellar suspension thanks to its beefy layup. These babies are more Cadillac than Maserati, but that doesn’t mean they don’t rip; they just smooth out rough snow while you’re kicking it into the next gear. The longer sidecut likes wide open spaces, but the extended tip rocker will allow you to pivot when you need to avoid that old-growth pine. Like speed? Treat yourself.
Elan Ripstick 106 Black Edition
Freeriders have long marked the Ripstick 106 as a versatile weapon that possesses a friendly and maneuverable feel with enough girth to float through a surprise snowstorm. But, a few years ago, Elan was looking to give skiers a little extra boost of power. Instead of reinventing the wheel with an entirely new ski, it beefed up the chassis of the already beloved Ripstick 106. The result?… Read the full review in our Deep Dive into the Ripstick 106 Black Edition.
Armada Declivity 108 Ti
When you think “directional charger,” Armada doesn’t necessarily spring to mind. But under the guidance of Tof Henry (the fastest man in Chamonix) and Todd Ligare, the most iconic brand in freestyle basically perfected it with the Declivity 108 Ti. Like its bigger namesake, the Declivity X, the 108 is shaped with a perfectly matched rocker and taper profile that excels in soft snow. But the metal backbone of this ski is where it starts to get interesting. These things charge like skis that weigh almost a pound more than they do, but have the quickness of lighter freeride sticks. Made to carve wide trenches in open bowls and boost the biggest airs you dare to hit, Armada took its freestyle spirit and gave it a big-mountain foundation.