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2015-2016 Salomon Q-96 Lumen

Julia Van Raalte reviews the Salomon Q-96 Lumen for Blister Gear Review

2015-2106 Salomon Q-96 Lumen

First Look: 2015-2016 Salomon Q-96 Lumen, 170cm

Dimensions (mm): 131-96-117

Sidecut Radius: 18.8 meters

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 170cm

Boots / Bindings: Black Diamond Shiva / Salomon Z12 (DIN at 8)

Mount Location: Recommended Line

Days Skied: 4

Test Location: Alta Ski Area

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 Lumen, which was not changed for 14/15 or 15/16, except for the graphics. (The ski’s name was also changed from the “Lumen” to the “Q-96 Lumen” for the 14/15 season.)]

 

For the 2013-2014 season, Salomon is introducing their new Quest line, a series designed to provide a more versatile, all-mountain alternative to the more playful and powder-oriented Rocker2 series. All of the skis in the line feature what Salomon calls “Utility Rocker” (or full tip rocker), camber underfoot, five-point sidecut, and a flat tail. What varies among the skis is their width.

The Salomon Stella is the widest on the women’s side, at 103mm underfoot in the 172cm model (the 178cm Stella is 104mm underfoot), and the Lux is the narrowest at 88mm. The Lumen falls in the middle at 96mm.

Recently I had a chance to ride the Stella and the Lumen to get a better sense of the performance differences between these two similar skis: what you gain by going ~8mm  skinnier, what you give up, and where the other pronounced differences were to be found on snow.

Groomers

I noted in my review of the Salomon Stella that the ski blew me away on groomers. That day, Alta had offered up sunny skies and perfect, firm corduroy—great conditions for testing the ski’s speed limit. But after some fun, fast laps down Collins, I swapped them out for the Lumen.

Pulling into to the Collins lift after my first run on the Lumen, I was blown away all over again.

The Lumen felt just as stable, aggressive, and fun as the larger Stella, but initiating a deep carve was even more intuitive. The combination of a narrower width underfoot and flat tail made arcing small and large turns on the Lumen feel effortless, even on icy sections. As I lapped Collins and Extrovert at top speed, I had no problem skiing as fast as I had on the Stella, despite being on a shorter ski. I could also easily make smaller-radius slalom turns, and the ski responded with a playful energy throughout each turn.

Variable Hardpack

After several runs, I ventured out to Alta’s Ballroom area, where the snow had hardened into a sea of low, crusty bumps following a few days of sunshine. I cut down onto the face, and made a few slow, cautious slarve turns, unsure how the skis would react to the more demanding snow.

Surprisingly, I met little resistance and found that the Lumen, like the Stella, was easy to drive through the crud. Each turn inspired a little more confidence, and I was able to open things down the face with a fair amount of speed.

While both skis offered plenty of stability in these conditions, the Stella felt more capable of dampening and plowing through the snow, whereas the Lumen was easier to maneuver through the crud with strong, aggressive turns.

The Lumen required little effort to make quick hop turns through tight rocky sections, or in bumped-out zones, thanks to its shorter length and narrower waist. The ski is also built with a honeycomb tip construction, taking a little weight off the front of the ski and making it easy to throw around.

Although I didn’t feel too much of a difference in stability between the Stella and Lumen on groomers, I felt more comfortable charging down the fall line on the Stella than the Lumen over variable hardpack. The Lumen will also be offered in a 178cm length next season, which will likely provide a little more stability to those who want to push the Lumen further.

Powder

After a few days of sunshine, a storm system rolled into the Wasatch, blanketing Alta in 18 inches of fresh snow. The snow did not let up throughout the day, and even though it was late afternoon, I continued to find untouched stashes off Eagle’s Nest.

Salomon Lumen, Blister Gear Review

Julia Van Raalte on the Salomon Lumen, Eagle’s Nest, Alta Ski Area.

I was only able to ski several runs on the Lumen in powder, but given its narrower width, I was impressed by its ability to float. Of course, almost all of the wider skis I have ridden, particularly dedicated powder skis, felt more natural through untracked snow and could stay on top with little to no effort.

For the most part, the Lumen stayed on the surface of the snow, but at times I needed to sit back and pull up the front of the skis with my toes in order to keep them afloat. (No big surprise, given the shape and width of the ski.)

The deep, light snow made for a close to perfect day, and I can imagine that I would have enjoyed skiing on just about any ski. That being said, ideally I would like to be skiing on something that requires a little less work and would probably choose a powder-specific option on deeper days. For shallower storms, however, the Lumen is still plenty capable in fresh snow.

Bottom Line

While it will be important to spend more time on the Lumen in moguls and in deep and shallow chop, it was valuable to take back-to-back runs on both the Stella and Lumen in the same conditions to get a sense of their similarities, differences, and their ideal audience.

The Stella feels like more of a big-mountain charging ski that can carve exceedingly well and tackle variable snow, too. The Lumen rips groomers better than any non-race ski I’ve ridden, but can hold its own through firmer, off-piste snow as well.

The Lumen is a outstanding in trees and on groomers, and would also serve as a great addition to a quiver for days when there’s not a lot of fresh snow on the mountain. And if you don’t often ski deep pow, the Lumen would be a great all-mountain option for all but the deepest days.

 

12 Comments

  1. Marcel June 15, 2013 Reply

    Did you have a chance to ride the Blizzard Samba? How would you compare with the Lumen?

    • Julia June 18, 2013 Reply

      Hi Marcel,

      I have not had the opportunity to ski the Samba yet so I can’t speak to how it compares to the Lumen. I hope to spend some time on it next season however, and will be better able to weigh in with a comparison . Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any other questions!

      Julia

  2. Blister Member
    Hans Karlsson October 9, 2013 Reply

    Hi! What length on the Stella and the Lumen do you suggest for My daughter?
    She is 165 cm and weighs 143 pound. //Hans

    • Julia October 10, 2013 Reply

      Hi Hans,

      I think this depends on what level skier your daughter is. Since 165cm is not too much shorter than me, and the Lumen isn’t the most demanding ski, she might enjoy the 170cm ski if she is an advanced, aggressive skier. However, if she is an intermediate skier, she might be better suited to the 162 length. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

      Julia

  3. Elaine October 10, 2013 Reply

    Hi, great review thanks! Can you please tell me your height? Am trying to figure best ski length for me. Thanks!

    • Julia October 10, 2013 Reply

      Hi Elaine,

      All of my “stats” can be viewed in my profile if you click on my name at the top of the review. But I’m 5’6″, or 167 cm. Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Julia

  4. Elaine October 11, 2013 Reply

    Hi Julia,

    Thanks, that’s perfect! I’m also 5′-6″ and am considering the 170cm length Lumen, so this gear review is super bang-on for me. Enjoy the ski season! :)

  5. James turner October 6, 2014 Reply

    Hi there I’m looking at skis for my sister and I can’t decide between the lumins or the rossingnol saffron 7 !
    I don’t suppose youve tested the rossies to compare them for me have you ?

    • Julia October 6, 2014 Reply

      Hi James,

      Thanks for reading! I haven’t reviewed the Saffron 7, but you can read my review of the Savory 7 here: http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/2013-2014-rossignol-savory-7 . The Saffron and the Savory are pretty similar, but the Saffron is a bit narrower, lighter, and probably a bit easier to ski than the Savory. I would say though that the Saffron and the Lumen feel quite different – what type of ski is your sister looking for? The Saffron will feel a lot better in soft snow, while I found the Lumen to be a great carver. If you have any more questions though, definitely let me know!

      Julia

  6. James turner October 24, 2014 Reply

    Hi Julia
    Thanks for the reply and info, I ended up buying the lumens which I think will best suit my sisters sking.
    Thanks again for your help

    James

  7. Chris November 21, 2014 Reply

    Hello,
    I am wondering how these compare to the Cham w 97?
    I already have temptation 88s and am looking for something that’s easier to maneuver in the trees.
    Really enjoy the intelligent reviews on Blister, thank you guys
    Chris.

  8. kristin January 24, 2015 Reply

    If you had the lumen as your all mountain ski but wanted to get powder boards, would the Stella be a good choice or a twin tip rocker? I am a lightweight (5’5″,115#) telemark skier and don’t too much underfoot. Thanks!

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