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2016-2017 Blizzard Bonafide

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Blizzard Bonafide for Blister Gear Review.

Blizzard Bonafide

Ski: 2016-2017 Blizzard Bonafide, 180 cm

Available Lengths: 166, 173, 180, 187 cms

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 178.1 cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 133-98-118

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 132.5-97.5-117.5

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2167 & 2199 grams

Stated Sidecut Radius: 21 meters

Core Construction: Poplar/Beech + Titanal (2-Layer) + Carbon Tips/Tails + Fiberglass Laminate

Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): ~55mm / ~8mm

Recommended Line: ~11.25 cm from center; ~77.8 cm from tail

Mount Location: Recommended Line

Boots: Fischer Vacuum RC 140 & Tecnica Mach 1

Bindings: Marker Jester (DIN at 11)

Test Location: Taos Ski Valley, Arapahoe Basin

Days Skied: 15

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 15/16 Bonafide, which was not changed for 16/17]

The Bonafide has been tweaked.

Blizzard has integrated carbon into the tips and tails, in the attempt to increase “structural integrity” in those sections.

Did it work?

How does the new Bonafide stack up to the previous Bonafide? And how does it compare to other directional, all-mountain skis?

Glad you asked.

I spent this spring at Taos A/B-ing the 180 cm, 13/14 Bonafide (which was unchanged for 14/15), and the new 180 cm 15/16 Bonafide—and also the Nordica Enforcer, Volkl Mantra, Line Supernatural 100, Parlor Cardinal, etc…). And I just returned from Arapahoe Basin, where I put in a few more days on the new Bonafide. So it’s time to weigh in.

Some Comparisons: 14/15 Bonafide (180 cm) vs. 15/16 Bonafide (180 cm)

Our measured dimensions of these two skis are identical. Their length is identical. Their recommended mount point is identical.

But the 15/16 Bonafide is actually 80-100 grams heavier per ski. (Carbon doesn’t always = weight savings, nor is saving weight always the reason why you’d add carbon to a ski.)

Our pair of 15/16 Bonafides has a slightly reduced amount of tip and tail splay (15/16 = ~55mm / ~8mm; 13/14 = ~60mm / ~13mm), and our 15/16 Bonafides have a tip rocker line that is 1-2 centimeters shorter than the our 13/14s.

Note: It’s possible that the amount of tip & tail splay has increased on our 13/14 – 14/15 Bonafides as we’ve skied them (which could also have the effect of increasing the 13/14’s tip rocker line by 1-2cms). But our review of the 13/14 Bonafide was conducted on a brand new pair of those skis, so even if these numbers have changed a bit from when we pulled them out of the shrink wrap, my thoughts on that ski haven’t changed from the first time I’ve skied them (when they were brand new) to the last time I skied them. (See my review of the 13/14 – 14/15 Bonafide.)

Flex Pattern

I would rate the new Bonafide’s tail as a “Medium+” or Medium / Stiff. The tails are a touch stiffer than the 13/14 Bonafides—not by much, but it’s noticeable when hand flexing the two skis.

The shovels of the 15/16 Bonafide are a solid “Medium”. The shovels are slightly stiffer than the 13/14 Bonafide, but the difference is even more subtle than the difference between the tails of the 15/16 and the 14/15.

Point is, for those of you who don’t like the trend of skis seemingly getting softer and softer, the new Bonafide doesn’t. It’s similar but slightly stiffer overall.

The Old Bonafide

On a few days in the middle of March while on the 13/14 Bonafides at Taos, it was full on spring skiing: soft, groomers, and by the afternoon a LOT of thick, chunky, choppy snow, the sort of stuff where a stiffer ski that’s ~110-115mm underfoot really shines.

But I was impressed with the (13/14) 180 cm Bonafide. I was still able to push them quite hard, despite the fact that I don’t consider that ski a phenomenal crudbuster.

But they were very fun to carve, held an edge well on soft groomers (it was icy groomers where I felt the old Bonafide didn’t show tenacious edgehold), and the skis were still pretty substantial while being quick enough in very late afternoon bumps that had begun to firm up again.

All in all, I was impressed again and had fun on them, and the conclusions I’d reached the prior season in my review of the Bonafide all held true: this is a pretty capable all-mountain ski that rarely feels wildly out of place. It isn’t the crud buster that is the 14/15 Cochise or the 14/15 Bodacious, and it isn’t the carver that the skinnier Blizzard Brahma is. But the 13/14 Bonafide works, skis predictably, and can be pushed pretty hard.

The New Bonafide: Groomers / Carving

The 13/14 – 14/15 was a nice ski on groomers, especially soft groomers. But the more firm those groomers got—or the more roughed up those groomers got—the less the Bonafide felt like the best tool for the job, particularly at high speeds.

The 15/16 Bonafide is a clear improvement here, both on firm and on roughed-up groomers. The new Bonafide provides more “bite,” and better handles a more powerful, aggressive skiing style than the previous iteration.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Blizzard Bonafide for Blister Gear Review.

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Blizzard Bonafide, Kachina Peak, Taos. (photo: Kurt Schmidt)

Finishing turns on the Bonafide now feels less vague than on the previous Bonafide. And while the difference is relatively subtle, it’s a good improvement if you want to carve hard on your 98mm ski.

Importantly—and impressively—I don’t think the new Bonafide is more demanding than the old one. It might be slightly less forgiving, but (1) if that’s true, it’s in a very limited way (see below), and (2) given how much harder I can push this ski, even if it is slightly more demanding, it is absolutely worth it in my book—you’re getting a noticeably higher performance envelope at the expense of a tiny bit of forgiveness. And for a directional, all-mountain ski like this with a very traditional mount point, that is a no-brainer.

Those New Carbon Tips & Tails (and Other Stuff)

But let’s go back for just a minute, before we heap all the praise on those fancy new tips and tails.

The new Bonafide has less tip & tail splay, a shallower rocker line, a stiffer overall flex, and a heavier weight. And while each of those changes is subtle, every single one of them is a move in the direction toward making this ski feel more powerful and more precise. The previous Bonafide is a nice all-mountain ski, but if you ever found yourself being a bit underwhelmed by the Bonafide, you need to check out this new version.

NEXT: Moguls, Trees, Open Bowls, etc.

30 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    Big K June 4, 2015 Reply

    Damn, no Mad Cow graphic like the freeride series! Great to hear this ski has not only kept its backbone but matured in strength. Stay healthy Jonathan so you can keep up the excellent work.

    • Author

      Thanks for the well wishes, Big K. And “kept its backbone but matured in strength” is a nice way of putting it. It’s also a beautifully finished ski, and while the 14/15 Bonafide, Bodacious, Cochise, and Brahma are some of my favorite topsheets ever … these look great, too – always love to see great graphics on good skis.

  2. Dan June 5, 2015 Reply

    Like this and all the reviews. Since you put up your 2 quiver ski choice with the under 100mm ski as the X-drive 8.8 wondering how you would compare this ski? It didn’t come up but in your review but you rave about the x-drive as a great all mountain ski in non-powder conditions so I’m curious on any comments for comparison.

    • Author

      Thanks, Dan. And to be clear, where the X-Drive 8.8 absolutely stands out for me is in nasty conditions – thick, super grabby spring snow; very steep ice; death cookies, etc. I.e., the X-Drive 8.8 is great in barely soft / pretty firm stuff — but so are a number of 88-98mm skis — including the 15/16 Bonafide. But you know those times when you’re standing at the top of a line and it’s so firm, icy, or refrozen that you think, “Why am I about to ski this?” The ski I want to be on – and still want to be on – is the X-Drive 8.8. And again, my old answer was the 13/14 184cm Volkl Mantra.

      As I hope my review made clear, the new Bonafide feels to me much more capable / confidence-inspiring than the previous one. Compared to the X-Drive 8.8 (and keep in mind I’ve only skied the 184cm X-Drive, not the 179cm that would be the better comparison to the 180 Bonafide), the Bonafide has a softer flex overall, and MUCH softer shovels than the 8.8. The Bonafide doesn’t have the absolutely incredible top end of the X-Drive 8.8, but it has a good top end (as I reported) and it is probably the more accessible / easier-going ski. So the Bonafide may be the easier recommendation to make to a wider group of skiers – it’s very good. But the X-Drive 8.8 is best-in-class for difficult conditions, so I really hope (1) more skiers check it out this season, and (2) that damn ski doesn’t go away. (Might help the cause if the graphics weren’t so underwhelming compared to the Brahma or Bonafide…)

      • Dan June 8, 2015 Reply

        Thanks for the extra info. Think I’ll get the x-drive.

        I ski mostly SF and Taos on occasion so I find your reviews really helpful because majority of time is spent on hard pack in trees and long bump runs. Think I can justify the move from a single ski and upgrade to a two quiver ski. Your reviews really nail down the capabilities in a way I can narrow down my choices.

  3. Blister Member
    George June 5, 2015 Reply

    Jonathan
    I demoed the 2014/15 Volkl Mantra this spring and liked it a lot. Its seems to be a great all mountain ski….good in bumps, powder, hard pack and trees. I had planned to purchase the Mantras for the upcoming ski season, but am now wondering, based on your review, whether I should also try to the new Bonafides? I demoed the 2014 Bonafides last year. While I liked them, I found them not as versatile as the Mantras…not as good on hard packed (edge hold and rebound) and not quite as quick in tight icy bumps (eastern skiing).

    Should I wait a demo the 2016 Bonafides before making a decision? What differences did you notice between the 2015 Mantras and 2016 Bonafides?

    Keep up the great work…best ski equipment web site ever!!

  4. Bob June 5, 2015 Reply

    X drive definitely sounds like a ski to try. A lot of people who ski firm conditions like the 14/15 kendo (89 width) as well. But I understand it has been changed for 15/16. In the 98 underfoot don’t forget about the kastle mx-98. I got a pair last year and have my eye on another pair for 50% off but I’m not saying where.

    • Author

      We haven’t skied the 15/16 Kendo yet – we will down in New Zealand – but the 184cm X-Drive 8.8 is WAY more ski than the 14/15, 184cm Kendo. To me, the 14/15 Kendo is a really nice frontside ski for groomers and bumps. But I don’t regard it as a highly capable ALL-MOUNTAIN / any terrain ski in firm / nasty conditions. To me, the 184cm X-Drive 8.8 is that ski.

  5. Stuart McKinney July 17, 2015 Reply

    I have just demo’d the 2016 Bonafide 180cm at Porters Ski area in NZ, I could not be more impressed! I am replacing my Volk Allstars 168cm with the Bonafides welcome to the All Mountain revolution.

  6. Greg September 6, 2015 Reply

    Great review. I’m looking for a replacement for my Nordica Hell And Backs and the new Bonafide could be the closest ski available. How do the two compare. The Bonafides are hard to find in Australia and even harder to demo. I did get a short demo of the X drive 8.8 and found them similar to my Nordicas even though they are 10mm narrower.

  7. Rod September 16, 2015 Reply

    Hi Jonathan. I’m looking for a pair of skis after 11 or 12 years not skiing because my winters have been taken up with my daughters sport. The skis I own are 210 K2 5500’s which were a great all mountain/conditions ski for NZ (ice to slush, wide or narrow trails). Now my wife and I are getting back to it I demoed the Bonafide 180’s on groomed medium and steepish slopes with a mix of icey and built up puddles of heavier spring snow and felt the love instantly. My problem is only the 187cm is available. I’m 186cm tall and about 98kg (216lb) male who was a reasonably good skier (could get most places without too high a heart rate) who is getting back into skiing and while not where I was, I believe with mileage I’ll get it back together. My question is, will the 187 length Bonafide be much different to ski on than the 180? I loved the 180 and thought on the hard pack that longer would be good, but in the softer built up stuff I thought hmmm maybe not. I don’t want to spend the money and then regret buying the longer ones. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. P.S. I hope you enjoyed skiing in Kiwi (NZ).

    • Rod December 31, 2016 Reply

      Hi Jonathon.
      Just to update, I needed skis and couldn’t wait for your reply and bought the 187’s. Love them. Good stable platforms when pointed downhill and lovely in GS turns, Also quick and easy to turn in slalom turns. Good edge hold and no wash out in ice. I found them very easy to ski. I did 5 days in a row on Ruapehue (NZ) and can remember way back when I was younger and fitter and on straight skis (K2 5500’s) by the 4th day I’d be wanting a bad weather day so I could rest up. Not on these, 5 days and feeling good! I’m very happy with my choice. Cheers.

      • Blister Member
        Orest January 2, 2017 Reply

        Hi Rod. I too am trying to decide on sizing for the Bonafide, something that I would use for a daily driver in the PNW. I also demoed the 180 cm for a few runs and loved it, better than the similarly-sized Brahma, for heavy 3D snow. No chance on trying the 187 cm anywhere here. What are your dimensions? I am 6’1″ and 185 lbs so wondering how much maneuverability I would be giving up with the longer ski, ie. using in trees and moguls. I did notice that the Bonafide, even in 187 cm has less edge (a bit longer tip rocker) when decambered than its cousin Nordica 100 in the shorter 185 cm, so it might be a bit more maneuverable.

        • Rod Albrechtsen January 2, 2017 Reply

          Hi Orest. Firstly I should say that skiing in nz is more open slopes or narrow guts, valleys and shutes rather than trees. There are some runs that are good for moguls however the snow here is probably heavier than the US because we are an island nation and it’s not as cold. So for me the extra length of ski isn’t a problem. I’m 186 cm or about 6’1″ and heavier at 216lb. (I’m the right weight for my height but a foot too short.) Anyway because of that and that I’m used to the old straight skis I’m used to weighting and unweighting skis aggressively to turn and I find the 187’s easy to turn quickly when I need to. Or alternatively they’re so stable to just let them go and cruise down the fall line or in big lazy turns. Personally I’ve found they do all I want of a ski easily and without stress. I think however I would struggle in tight moguls but I would anyway. Bumps kill me. Hopefully this is helpful. I enjoy the 187 more than the 180’s and I have no regrets getting them. Have a great 2017. Cheers – Rod

  8. Blister Member
    Laurent October 3, 2015 Reply

    Hello,
    Thanks for this great review!
    Would it be possible to make a comparison with the new 98mm Völkl 90Eight? Also how would you compare the new Bonafide with the Atomic Alibi from previous season?
    Thanks for your answer.
    Great job at Blistergearreview!

    • Author

      Hi, Laurent – I’m afraid that I haven’t skied the 90Eight or the Alibi, so my apologies. I will say, however, that I would be shocked if I found the 90Eight to feel all that similar to the Bonafide. The intention behind the 90Eight was to go light — with a shape similar to that of the V-Werks lineup. So while the 90Eight could be / probably is (?) a very nice ski, I can’t imagine it having the variable-snow performance of the Bonafide. I’m happy to stand corrected on this, but the two skis seem far more different than similar to me.

  9. Blister Member
    bladerunner October 2, 2016 Reply

    Great review. Have you got a chance to ski 187cm Bonafide? I’ve purchased 180cm (still in plastic) and debating if 187cm would be more appropriate as my daily driver. Any comparison would be appreciated. Basically, how much stability is gained by 7cm vs the loss in quickness for trees and moguls.
    (6’0″ -180lb – Colorado – like to ski fast but spend considerable amount of time on small/medium moguls and in trees; currently using SN100 as a daily driver and Bibby Pro for deeper days)
    Thank you!

    • Blister Member
      bladerunner October 2, 2016 Reply

      Let me add the length: Line SN100 186cm and Bibby Pro 190cm.

      • Author

        Honestly, I am inclined to tell you to stick with your 180s. Basically the entire gist of the update I need to write to this review could be called, “An Ode to the 180 cm Bonafide.” It is just such solid performer, and it is not a difficult ski to ski. So you get a powerful platform but with all the advantages of a shorter length ski. At a super moguled up ski area, that is a great combination. I liked the 180 so much, I made my good friend Mike get on our 180s. Mike weighs around 240, and he skis hard, and he never skis on anything this short. And he came back and couldn’t believe how capable the 180s felt. And again, I’ll stress: capable without ever feeling difficult. So that’s just 2 guys’ opinions, but if you are at all concerned or on the fence about which length to get … this is a time where I feel fairly confident that you can go shorter and end up with a solid, stable — and quick — ski. I love this ski. (Having said that, I really would like to check out the 187s. Maybe this season?)

        • Blister Member
          bladerunner October 4, 2016 Reply

          Jonathan, I can’t thank you enough for such a valuable and quick feedback. When posted my question, I was not sure if someone would follow up considering that the main review was posted a long time ago. Anyway, you proved me wrong and helped me tremendously. If you get a chance to ski 187 and post your thoughts, that would be great.
          Keep shredding and sharing… the blister community will follow (to the best of our abilities)

  10. Blister Member
    Steve H. November 5, 2016 Reply

    I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts on the current Bonafide vs the previous Mantra, which was my main ski for 3 seasons.

    • Blister Member
      George January 3, 2017 Reply

      Dear Bladerunner
      I have both skis…the 2016 bonafides (180) and the 2015 Mantra . Here is what I think

      –Mantra is slightly better bump ski…softer shovel

      –Bonafides is better on ice. Mantra is a better ski if you are just skiing the east

      –Mantra is slightly better in softer snow and a little more forgiving.

      –Mantra is slightly quicker turning….better in the trees

      –Bonafide carves slightly better….best on hardpack

      Even though you can’t go wrong with either ski, I leave my Bonafides in Vermont and use them for my eastern skiing…and keep my Mantras for when I go out west.

      Hope this helps

      George

  11. Blister Member
    Orest December 31, 2016 Reply

    Jonathan, you often mentioned wanting to compare the 187 cm Bonafide with the 180 cm Bonafide that you have skied alot and really like. I think there are quite a few of the members who have expressed an interest in that comparison. Have you had a chance to try out and compare the 187 cm Bonafide? I have only been able to demo the 180 cm, no one seems to have the 187 cm demo in the PNW. I loved the 180 in the few runs I tried it, but would really appreciate your insight on the 187 before I take the plunge.

    If you don’t think you will be making that comparison, just a note to that effect would be appreciated.

  12. Christopher Gravel January 18, 2017 Reply

    Hello Jonathan,
    Fantastic review on both the Bonafide and Enforcer two skis I am trying to decide between but cannot demo.
    Do you feel the Bonafide in 180 gives up much in terms of maneuverability in tight places and fun factor compared to the enforcer? I have plenty of serious skis but looking to add a fun yet powerful ski for west coast skiing between storms. Something I dont have to ski fast all the time and that encourages me to send more time in trees and steeps but still has some punch. I have 2 great carvers and a 115mm pow ski.
    Was thinking about a Kastle MX95hp but have not been wowed by its performance on piste. It holds great and has power but the engagement is meh. Off piste its a weapon but more of a tool than a fun ski. Not how I feel about other Kastles I’ve owned.
    Any feedback welcome.

  13. Blister Member
    Orest February 18, 2017 Reply

    I’ve been looking for a daily driver for the PNW to replace a mix of aging to newer 79 to 105 cm width skis. I have previously tried the 180 cm Bonafide and loved it for a mix of heavier manky/wet and sometimes refrozen 3D snow (up to 6-8″ of depth. I wanted to try the 187 cm length and finally had a chance. I am 6’1″ 185 lbs and like to ski all over the mountain aggressively, but prefer off-piste and in the snow – I like to play in the moguls and trees and such but am definitely slowing down and not as aggressive as I was when I was younger (58 now) – healing from injuries takes longer. :-). While recently in Utah, I first skied the 180 cm and took it on the hardpack (slightly crusty) groomers as well as in refrozen (south-facing slopes) and softer (north-facing slopes) skied-out crud. On the hard-pack groomers, they did OK, but tended to skip hard a bit no matter my edge angle or if I was weighting the front or back. They were OK, but not nearly as smooth as my narrower 79-82 width ski. I realize that many refer the Bonafides as being stiff, but compared to my 183 cm iM82’s and 178cm Legend 8000’s, I would say the shovels of the 180 cm Bonafides are softer. But that might be because the Bonafides have some front rocker, but the other skis are fully cambered. In the partially refrozen crud, the Bonafides were great and much more applicable. I could ski them hard and fast on those south-facing slopes never having any doubts. When I hit the north slopes, even at 98 mm width, they floated sufficiently in fresh snow of up to 6″. The 180 cm Bonafides were plenty quick when I hit moguled narrow gullies; I never had an issue getting them to turn. They are light and short enough to get them to go where you want them to.

    In the afternoon, I switched to the 187 cm Bonafides and tried to do the same runs. On the hardpack groomers, there was no difference compared with the 180 cm version, ie. skipped a bit the same. On the south-facing refrozen crud, I did not feel like the 187 cm provided any added advantages. If anything, I might have felt even a bit less stable, i.e more likely to get deflected. But, it might have also been that I was a bit more tired in the afternoon and more likely to get in the back seat at which point they would rocket out from under me. As a sidenote, I would not say that the 187 cm are any stiffer than the 180 cm, they are just a longer version. (In reality, I have always wondered how often manufacturers actually make the longer lengths stiffer with more metal, or is it something we all too often assume incorrectly). On the north-facing slopes (deeper snow), I did not notice any advantage in float at my weight. In the narrow moguled chutes, I found the 187 cm a bit more unwieldy, I had to concentrate more on staying on the shovels to get them to turn quickly. Again, I might have been getting a bit tired.

    In summary, at my weight and how/where I like to ski, I don’t really see the advantage of the 187 cm Bonafides. I don’t believe they are any more stable than the 180 cm, just longer. OTOH, I am not sure now if the 180 cm are the best solution for me for a DD in the PNW. I might want to consider something with a bit longer cambered edge length which would give me a hair better performance on the groomers. The other annoying thing about the Bonafides is that the topsheets tend to chip really easily, although that is probably just cosmetic.

    • Rod February 19, 2017 Reply

      Hi Orest. Good to see you had a go on the 187 Bonafide. I found your report very interesting and it’s particularly that there’s not much difference between lengths. Also that we are the same age, so clearly you’d recognize the difference between the old straight skis and these new ones. We are just getting back to skiing after about 12 years away due to winters being about our daughters sports, and I’m thrilled with the Bonafide, I’ve found them easy to ski and a nice way back onto the snow. I’m intending to be a little more adventurous and get back to some of the old runs I used to happily do on these skis. Although I’m thinking this winter I’ll take out my old K2 5500’s for a run as a object lesson in how different the Bonafide are. One question, what does “PNW” mean? Thanks again for your report. I appreciate finding out that it didn’t really matter which length I got in the end, and I’m happy with what I got, because at the time there was no choice. Have a good rest of the season. Cheers – Rod.

  14. Blister Member
    Orest February 20, 2017 Reply

    Hi Rod. PNW = Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, British Columbia). Glad you found my blurb a good read. I was really expecting the 187 Bonafides to ski significantly different than the 180s on either the 3D snow or on the groomers. Granted, it was just one comparison and I might have felt different on another day. It would have been interesting to compare the actual edge length of the two decambered ski lengths to see if they were significantly different or if the difference in length was mostly in the rocker portion. I will let you know if I ever get a chance to compare. I am still considering getting the 180 cm Bonafides as a daily driver but am also toying with a few others such as the Monster 88 (length again could be an issue) or an old pair of the Motive 95 in 180 cm. Worried that might be a bit short due to the longer rocker. My search continues. :-) Enjoy the snow – Orest.

  15. Bo Tomkiw March 17, 2017 Reply

    Have you skied and tried the newly redesigned Blizzard Bonafides for 2017/2018?When do we get a review

    • Scott August 15, 2017 Reply

      +1 for comparisons between 16/17 and 17/18 Bones. Other reviews suggest Blizzard have made concessions to broaden the target audience; softening the flex, and shortening the turn radius. Very interested in your take on the impact (if any) of these changes on the stability of the ski.

      • Author

        Hey, guys – just an update to say that our initial review of the 16/17 vs. the 17/18 Bonafide will be dropping in a few days. Would have been sooner, but then things got a little interesting around here. Stay tuned, it’s coming.

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