Finding the fall line and blasting through days-old crud will come easily on these versatile sticks, the best big-mountain skis of the year. Reinforced with stiffer materials like Titanal, skis in this category easily transition between hardpack and fresh snow without an ounce of hesitation.
Faction Agent 3.0
The Agent series from Faction offers lightweight satisfaction for your downhill desires. Across the line, lightweight karuba wood cores bolstered with a full carbon weave give each ski an incredible strength-to-weight ratio, and the Agent 3.0 offers up a versatile 106-millimeter waist width that can be skied in any conditions. The ski features Faction’s Elliptical Sidecut—longer radius underfoot with shorter radius in the tip and tails—for easy turn initiation and a flat tail to help power through your biggest carves. All-in-all, the Agent 3.0 is an approachable yet strong ski that will perform beyond your expectations.
Head Kore 105
The Kore 105 is a slayer from top to bottom. With its high-tech construction combining elastic Koroyd (for energy absorption), Graphene inserts in the tips and tails (for responsiveness) and a lively, lightweight karuba wood core (for playfulness), this mid-waisted ski was considered by our testers one of the most versatile on the rack and one of the best big-mountain skis this year. Skiers looking for one pair of planks to carry them through every condition imaginable should consider clicking into these 105-millimeter offerings from Head—they’re sure to maneuver through, crud, groomed and fresh snow with feather-like, easy-to-control performance.
Rossignol BlackOps Sender Ti
Rossignol is redefining its presence in the freeride category with its extensive BlackOps series. Among them, the Sender Ti is a siren song for aggressive skiers. Rossignol incorporated 15-percent recycled materials into the topsheets, 30-percent in the bases and the edges are 100-percent recycled steel, a win for environmentalists. But the real catch here is the all-mountain performance derived from camber underfoot (with slight rocker in the tips/tails), “Damp Tech” inserts (that reduce chatter) and a stiff flex pattern created by a combination of Titanal underfoot and a layer of race-inspired Diago Fiber. From mid-season storm days to spring corn harvests, the Sender Ti is sturdy yet playful enough to hold up through it all.
Elan Ripstick 106
Back again for 2021, the Ripstick 106 continues its evolution as one of the best big-mountain skis. Elan’s trademark freeride series is built with carbon tubes running through the wood core to maximize weight savings and increase stability while Amphibio technology—right- and left-specific skis—make the outside edge profile unique for each ski, easing turn initiation and increasing edge grip. Designed to charge at high speeds, the name says it all—these are some versatile, stable, rippin’ planks. No wonder they’re Glen Plake’s favorite ski for tackling big lines in the Alps to bashing bumps at Mammoth Mountain.
Line Vision 108
Now in its second year of production, this directional ski from the longstanding freestyle brand is meant to carry you across the mountain with a confident feel. Inside, a combination of paulownia and maple wood create a balanced, sturdy ride while the multi-radius sidecut allows the rider to engage in a variety of turn sizes and shapes. Utilizing Line’s heady, proprietary THC Construction—a combination of Aramid, carbon and fiberglass layers through the core—that provide a stiff yet playful feel underfoot, the Vision 108 will have you skiing for miles and miles, seeing clearly the entire way.
With an effective edge that runs entirely tip to tail, the Sakana is meant to dip, duck, dodge and dive around the mountain in undeniable style. At first glance, the shape—inspired by longtime pro Eric Pollard and his quest for the perfect ski experience—will catch your eye, but it isn’t until you click into this ski that you realize its true potential. You’ll notice that it skis longer than the billed length, which helps maintain outrageous edge-to-edge performance while keeping maneuverability at the forefront of your mind. For skiers looking to add a uniquely exhilarating set of planks to the garage, look no further than the Sakana.
Armada Declivity 102 Ti
The Declivity 102 Ti is the new champion of versatility and one of our best big-mountain skis of the year. The ski is fine-tuned to carve up the front side with Armada’s Articulated Titanal banding—a combination of Titanal and an elastic compound to build energy through turns—and wide enough to blast through fresh snow and chunder on the back side. A Caruba wood core and triaxial fiberglass weave keep things lightweight and sturdy while tip rocker keeps float and turn initiation on point. A great daily driver in the East or West.
Salomon QST 106
Here is a classic, do-it-all ski from Salomon—and it returns slightly tweaked for 2021. The 106-millimeter width underfoot will carry you anywhere on the mountain and the updated, more forgiving flex pattern ensures a nimble ride. Inside, a carbon fiber/flax/basalt weave layered atop a poplar wood core and cork inserts in the tip and tail help this ski stay lively yet damp, shining in piste-style terrain. This year’s QST successfully builds on years of design to bring back a ski for skiers who want to blend freeride and freestyle tendencies.
4FRNT MSP 107
The highly versatile MSP 107 returns for 2021 to dominate both the front and back sides of the mountain, making it one of the best big-mountain skis for this winter. Underneath that beauty of a topsheet is a vertically laminated poplar wood core sandwiched between Titanal laminates, creating a torsionally rigid ski that romps through the cruddiest of crud yet still floats atop freshly fallen flakes. Tip and tail rocker provide easy pivoting and turn initiation while camber underfoot let you rail trenches. All together, when you put yourself in the driver’s seat and really take these skis for a ride, the MSP 107 places all-mountain aptitude at your finger…er, toe tips, and you’ll be grinning ear-to-ear.
Nordica Enforcer 100
The Nordica Enforcers have always been known for their powerful, hard-charging character—but could they get any better? Nordica re-worked the Enforcer 100 for 2021, trimming out ABS from the tip and extending the wood core, allowing for a boost in playfulness and nimbleness, without any loss of pedal-to-the-metal power. The Enforcer 100 also features a carbon-reinforced chassis that weighs 35-percent less than traditional fiberglass, for further weight savings while maintaining that same trademark muscle. The new Enforcer 100 is a smooth ride with serious grit, and will appeal to any skier that enjoys maxing out the speed limit.
K2 Mindbender 108Ti
Three words: Big. Mountain. Sender. Just like Springsteen, the Mindbender 108Ti was “Born to Run” thanks to K2’s Y-Beam—a Y-shaped layer of Titanal that runs from the tip to the tail—and a solid core made of fir and aspen wood. The combination of those two add up to a healthy turn radius—just a smidge under 23 meters—in a ski that can bust through any conditions. A long and gradual tip rocker keep you atop the deep stuff while a short, low-rise tail enables you to throw it sideways but, ultimately, provides a powerful backing when charging down the mountain.
Black Crows Justis
Fresh for the 2020-21 season, the Justis debuts as a versatile charger, one of the best big-mountain skis on the market. First off, the 100-millimeter waist width makes this ski capable of performing on any surface, in any condition. Testers were excited about the Justis’ stability at higher speeds, thanks to a double dose of Titanal, and yet found it quite nimble when it came time to make some tight turns; a hearty tip rocker and an early rise tail enable that performance. All-in-all, this is a solid ski that can handle anything you throw at it.
Blizzard Cochise 106
The Cochise is back with a fresh look for 2021 instilling it as one of the best big-mountain skis in the Buyer’s Guide. Blizzards engineers tweaked the shape of the ski after extensive testing and vetting from the brand’s athletes. The result is a 106-millimeter-waisted ripper with Flipcore technology, two sheets of metal and a rocker-camber-rocker profile that lets you pivot as you please. But rest assured, you can still lay into carves with this sucker and rely on the powerful tail to drive through the end of your turn.
Fischer Ranger 107 Ti
The 107 Ti is one of the widest skis in Fischer’s freeride-focused Ranger lineup. Rivaled only by the wider 115 FR, 107 Ti aims to please a slightly more aggressive skier with its directional orientation. It features sandwich sidewall construction which is bolstered by Titanal to create a stable and hard-charging platform that’ll plow through variable snow like a locomotive. While the included layer of metal adds a touch more weight to the ski, a carbon shovel offsets the extra heft, ensuring you’re light on your feet as you to jump in and out of moguls, trees or wide-open terrain. Former racers and skiers who want strong-like-an-ox performance, here’s your match.
Renoun Citadel 106
After three years of development, the Citadel 106 is ready for its big debut. Burlington, Vermont-based Renoun is a budding brand in the ski world, utilizing proprietary, non-Newtonian polymers in the core of each ski to create a downhill experience that seamlessly adapts to the conditions. As the ski is exposed to faster speeds and bumpier snow, the high-tech “VibeStop” core material actually hardens, effectively dampening the ski and decreasing chatter; in other words, the faster you ski, the stiffer the ski becomes. It’s unlike anything else on the market and will certainly pique the interest of tech-oriented riders.
Liberty Evolv 110
The Evolv110 is a low-profile, directional ski that’s ready to charge. Inside, Liberty’s VMT core sandwiches vertical (yes, vertical) metal struts and carbon stringers between bamboo and poplar wood for a highly stable chassis. Up front, you’ll find a slight tip rocker for easy turn initiation and in the rear is a flat tail for long-radius turns and clean rides away from those stomped landings. If you’re a carving aficionado looking for a weapon to battle the entire mountain, look no further. Hold on tight and let ‘em rip, bub.
J skis The Hotshot
The Hotshot is an all-new offering from J skis, replacing The Metal as the brand’s most badass, heavy-hitting ski, constructed for big drops, big dumps and big attitudes. The updated “sweet spot” underfoot is immediately noticeable, allowing for more intuitive slashing and scrubbing—presenting a much friendlier ride than its predecessor. Here, a maple wood core ensures liveliness and long-lasting durability; Titanal metal sandwiches the core to enhance dampening, stability and edge grip; full-height sidewalls compliment edge-to-edge riding; and woven fiberglass layers provide lightweight rigidity. For skiers with a grizzly approach to the downhill, this is one of the best big-mountain skis in the list.
The ZX108 is a blend of directional construction with a freeride-oriented rocker/camber profile for jumping off-piste or off cliffs. Catering to advanced, hard-charging skiers, the ski has an early-rise tip and tail instill a catch-free ride but a touch of camber underfoot adds that extra touch of drive you’ll want on-piste, enabling massive, race-inspired carves. Inside, a poplar-beech wood core and Hollowtech 2.0 construction—a dampening insert in the tip that reduces the ski’s overall weight and energy absorption—produce a ride with next-to-none chatter.
Skis in this category, the best big-mountain skis of the year, blur the line between on-edge maneuverability and off-piste powder hunting. Aggressively playful, these models are constructed with significant rocker profiles, a balanced flex and low swing weight. FREESKIER staffers and testers often consider these as daily drivers around the Rockies.
Nordica Enforcer 110 Free
The Enforcer 110 Free returns to ensure powder days are an absolute dream. This ski is one of the most powerful yet playful skis in the test—yes, you’ll feel like a stallion nimbly maneuvering through the wildest terrain. It’s light, made possible by a balsa wood core, yet sturdy, thanks to layers of carbon fiber and two sheets of metal sandwiched around the core. And it’s smooth and damp with virtually no vibration. With high-rise rocker tip and tail profiles, you’ll be bashing your way to freeride eminence on this ski, one of the best best big-mountain skis around. Charging skiers will be hard-pressed to find something the 110 Free can’t dominate.
Völkl Revolt 104
Designed with hands-on input from Völkl’s freeride athletes, the Revolt 104 is all-new for this season and fills a mid-waisted gap in the German brand’s lineup of freeride skis. This finely tuned plank is built for skiers who want the playfulness of a freestyle ski: The recommended mounting point is just two centimeters back from center and it boasts notably rockered tips and tails. Combined with the tried-and-true downhill performance Völkl has honed over nearly 100 years of ski-making, even big-mountain backcountry riders should take this middle ground, athlete-inspired ski for a spin.
The all-new Stranger is an aptly named ski because it seems to be in a class by itself, and that’s what we love about Armada’s Zero Series—truly unique ski design. In the blink of an eye, you can transition from laying 15-meter trenches with the 100-millimeter waist to boosting off a side hit that your buddy just pointed out. The rockered, edgeless nose allows you “butter up” everything in sight and the one-of-a-kind Springboard Tail is soft enough for you to wheelie the whole way down—something you gotta try for yourself. If you’re out to dominate the resort while having more fun than everybody else, this might be the ski for you.
Nordica Enforcer 104 Free
Here’s the scoop: The Enforcer 104 Free offers tremendous versatility and is constructed with tried-and-true Nordica expertise, and it’s one of the best big-mountain skis available this fall. It pairs a balsa woodcore with a carbon fiber layup and two sheets of Titanal to maximize stability and reactiveness; features a high-rise tip and tail rocker for float in powder and a playful feel around the mountain; and, it’s slim enough to lay trenches. New for this year, reduced ABS plastic in the tip sheds grams, lowering swing weight for when you want to get corked, and provides a touch more versatility on the downhill. This ski does it all.
Line Sir Francis Bacon
One of the pinnacle skis in the Line program, the Sir Francis Bacon continues to be a freeride favorite for jibbers of every skill level. Updated with 3D Convex tips and tails—contouring that promotes buttering, switch maneuvers and planing through deeper snow—this Eric Pollard design is specifically built to let your imagination run wild on the downhill. Complimented by a directional sidecut for on-piste performance and an evenly distributed, forgiving flex pattern, this ski is equally adept at bashing moguls and popping over crusty wind-lips. Get a whiff of the pan, there’s Bacon in it.
Faction CT 2.0
Designed by Faction’s engineers in collaboration with legendary athlete Candide Thovex, the CT 2.0 has the figure of an all-mountain ripper but embodies the soul of a park skier. Built with a poplar and beech core, the ski stays light while Thovex’s Signature Flex—stiff and rockered tips and tails—eliminates off-putting vibrations and provides an inspiring dose of pop and play. Updated construction offers an elliptical radius sidecut for more of that quintessential, surfy Thovex style, and a combination Titanal-rubber “stomp pad” underfoot ensures every landing is confident. The CT 2.0 can be compared a good ‘ol mullet: Riding it is one big party but it knows how to get down to business, too.
The Devastator lost some weight this year and comes back a touch more gingery than its previous self, marking it as one of the best big-mountain skis at Ski Test. The weight reduction is mostly due to a new, lightweight aspen wood core complemented by carbon fiber stringers, allowing you to throw the ski around with greater ease. The ski also now includes 4FRNT’s longstanding, acclaimed Reflect Tech profile—a multi-radius rocker and sidecut—that makes it highly predictable as you lean in and out of turns at different speeds. In plain terms, the updated Devastator is a more agile version of its predecessor, making the skiing that much better. Ski it with a centered stance and let’r rip.
J skis The Slacker
For the sidecountry hustler or the skier who wants a true one-ski quiver, J skis’ brand-new The Slacker is your ticket to glory. Weighing just 2,000 grams at its longest length and designed with a subtle tail notch (on a twin tip) for latching skins, the aspen wood core with maple stringers instills a damp ride while carbon fiber stringers further enhance stiffness and pop. After years of ski shaping, The Slacker is Levinthal’s first foray into a backcountry-focused ski—and it’s a mongrel that blurs the line between uphill capability and everyday performance. And the topsheet is an ode to keep skiing fun, because… duh.
DPS Alchemist Wailer 100 RP
The Alchemist Wailer 100 RP may be the best of example of a do-it-all ski in the widespread DPS lineup. Alchemist construction features two sheets of aerospace-grade carbon, layered above and below an aspen wood core, for a lightweight yet responsive feel. A friendly, 15-meter turn radius combined with tip and tail rocker make the ski easy to maneuver while a bit of stiffness in the tail keeps you honest. But, be warned: Stay out of the back seat! If you’re looking for a blend of playfulness and hard-charging capability, you’ve come to the right place.
K2 Reckoner 102
K2 introduces the all-new Reckoner lineup this year, aimed squarely at freeriders. Knowing that the ski needs to maintain stability while also being playful, K2 has strategically mixed a handful of purpose-built materials. The Double Barrel core places dense fir wood along the outer edge of the base while more forgiving aspen wood runs down the center. Carbon stringers extend from tip to tail and an interesting fiber weave, dubbed Spectral Braid, focuses a tight pattern underfoot for torsional rigidity and then gradually opens up toward the tip and tail for more maneuverability. The result is a solid, yet lighthearted, ski that is ready to romp all over the hill.
Atomic Bent Chetler 100
Everyone needs a handyman, a real jack of all trades—someone to call upon no matter the scenario. For skiers, the flexibility of a one-ski quiver has the same effect. The Bent Chetler 100 answers the call with confidence and is one of the best big-mountain skis of the year. The 100-millimeter waist will carry you through unpredictable snow while HRZN Tech tips and tails—inserts that add horizontal rocker—make the skis extremely maneuverable and bodaciously floatacious in deep snow. Modeled after its fatter namesake, this skinnier Bent Chetler model maintains a directional sidecut and its swing weight is balanced with a lightweight, poplar wood core for skier who adopt freestyle approach to the downhill.
Fischer Ranger 102 Ti
The 102 FR is an all-mountain romper that has gained a steady following since its introduction just two years ago. Versatility is why this ski shines, providing race-inspired performance that the Austrian ski maker is known for while retaining a modern, playful attitude that matches the needs of many of today’s freeriders. But how do these skis perform so well? Sandwich sidewall construction—that you might not find on all skis in this category—ensures balanced and explosive energy transfer from your legs to your skis. Pair that with a beech and poplar wood core and a lightweight, carbon shovel, and you’ve got a high-performance freestyle tool.