2018-2019 Salomon MTN Explore 95

Paul Forward reviews the Salomon MTN Explore 95 for Blister Gear Review.

Salomon MTN Explore 95

Ski: 2018-2019 Salomon MTN Explore 95, 184 cm

Available Lengths (cm): 169, 177, 184

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 183.1 cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 130-95-116

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1543 & 1565 grams

Stated Sidecut Radius (184 cm): 18.8 meters

Core Construction: Poplar + Carbon & Flax Fiber Laminate

Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): 65 mm / 5 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Factory Recommended Line: -10 cm from center; 81.5 cm from tail

Mount Location: Recommended Line

Boots / Bindings: Salomon MTN Lab 27.5, Atomic Backland Carbon 27.5 / G3 Ion

Days Tested: 12

Test Locations: Chugach / Kenai mountains, Alaska; Porters Ski Area, Craigieburn Valley, and Mt. Cheeseman backcountry, NZ

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 16/17 MTN Explore 95, which wasn’t changed for 17/18 or 18/19, except for the graphics.]

Introduction & Sneak Peek: Our Lightweight Touring Binding Test

We first skied the MTN Explore 95 a few seasons back, and a few seasons later this ski continues to stand out to us in the category of ~95mm-wide touring skis.

And that’s why we’ve chosen it as the benchmark ski that we’re going to use for our ultralight touring binding comparison test we’re conducting this spring. We’ll be releasing more details soon, but what we can say now is that it will be similar to what we did in our AT Binding Shootout, but with some of the lighter touring bindings that will be on the market for the 18/19 season.

Salomon describes the MTN Explore 95 as having, “the best ratio between climbing efficiency and downhill performance,” and they list a variety of features including a lightweight “Carbon and Flax core,” and a rocker and sidecut profile that they claim “increases edge grip while skinning and traversing.”

I’ve put time on the MTN Explore 95 both in New Zealand and in Alaska, and other Blister reviewers have spent time on the Explore 95 in Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, etc, and we have all come away impressed by how fun they are to ski in a wide variety of conditions.

Flex

The MTN Explore 95 is no noodle. The tails are stiff (call them medium stiff), and that stiffness carries through under the bindings and just in front of the ski. The front 30 cm of the ski then goes a bit softer through the shovels and tips.

Handflexing the ski, here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern:

Tips: 6
Shovels: 6.5-7
In front of the Toe Piece: 8-9
Underfoot: 9.75
Behind the Heel Piece: 9-8.5
Tail: 8.5

The MTN Explore 95 is notably stiffer than the 185 cm Blizzard Zero G 108. I have not been able to compare the the MTN Explore 95 to the Zero G 95, but to my recollection, the Zero G 95 is a little stiffer than the Zero G 108.

I am typically wary of stiff skis that are also quite light, and have learned that the combination of light and stiff can be a liability—especially in firm, bumpy conditions. As I’ll elaborate below, the MTN Explore 95 does well in these conditions despite its light & fairly stiff makeup.

Weight

It is interesting that Salomon built a ~1550 gram dedicated touring ski in a world where 95mm skis are routinely coming in around 200 g lighter per ski (e.g., the 185 cm Blizzard Zero G 95 has a stated weight of ~1340 g per ski). There are skiers and applications for which 200 g per ski could be a significant difference but, as you’ll read below, it seems obvious that Salomon intentionally went a bit heavier to gain certain characteristics on the descent.

Paul Forward reviews the Salomon MTN Explore 95 for Blister Gear Review.

Paul Forward on the Salomon MTN Explore 95, Mt. Cheeseman Backcountry, NZ.

Mount Position

We mounted these with G3 Ion’s right on the recommended BSL mark, and were quite happy with the result. In the past I have found Salomon’s recommended mounting points to be a bit too far forward for me (I moved back 2 cm from recommended on both the Rocker 2 122 and the Quest 115) but I wouldn’t change a thing about my mount position on the MTN Explore 95. The Explore 95’s recommended line comes in at 10 cm behind true center, which is a very common / traditional location for a directional ski like this.

Ski Performance

I’ll break down the MTN Explore 95 based on different types of snow conditions, but overall, I’ve mostly kept thinking how intuitive and predictable the ski feels. All things considered, it is one of the easiest skis to jump on and start skiing without any need for adjustment. It’s easy, predictable, reasonably stable, and always does what I want it to.

Firm, Smooth, Chalky Snow

New Zealand offered up a lot of fun, chalky, firm snow this year, particularly in some of the steeper and more featured terrain. In these conditions, the MTN Explore 95 excelled.

Paul Forward reviews the Salomon MTN Explore 95 for Blister Gear Review.

Paul Forward on the Salomon MTN Explore 95, Mt. Cheeseman Backcountry, NZ.

The sidecut radius and moderate tip rocker allowed the ski to hold an edge well both at speed and on slower, more deliberate turns. The camber underfoot adds a little extra pop that is also helpful when hop-turning in tight terrain, but also loans the ski a little extra rebound when arcing long turns in bigger terrain, or even on groomers.

Firm, Bumpy Conditions, Powder, Etc.

8 Comments

  1. Gogoi January 13, 2016 Reply

    Do you have any thoughts on the narrower version of this ski, the 88? How does it compare?

  2. cjgravel@telus.net January 14, 2016 Reply

    Sounds very similar to the design and performance of the Kastle TX97 which I own and love. Suspect from the comments the Kastle is a bit more of a charger than the Salomon which would fit most peoples expectation. I find the 95-100mm range in a more traditional style the most versatile in mixed conditions and they ski pow just fine, are good in firm considtions and still tour very well. By European std’s more than 100mm in a touring ski is rare and while I love your guys reviews it’s great to see more sub 100mm skis which are the meat of the overall market making it to your review list.

  3. SG April 5, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for the review, Paul. Cool site. I’m pretty sold on this ski as an all-arounder that I can use at the resort, but still light and versatile in the backcountry. I’m looking to use this as my middle ski in a quiver of 3 with an ultralight ski, for faster/longer efforts and a bigger powder board. I’m a little torn between the 177 and 184 length. I’m 6’2, 175, and I’d say I’m solidly intermediate, so having something a little shorter appeals for tighter couloirs/trees etc. Do you think 177 would be enough? I’m really into lightweight gear, and I’m still sort of intimidated by turning a longer ski in tight terrain, but I also know sizing is a little different with shapes of some of these modern rockered skis. Thanks!

  4. Blister Member
    Matthew December 12, 2016 Reply

    Similar question. Looking to use them mainly for touring, but occasional piste use. I’m 6ft1, 168lbs, intermediate skier. Have enjoyed skiing the synapse 92, but got very chattery on chopped up snow. I’ll probably look to get them mounted G3 ion 10s and have the tlt7 boots. Wondering between the 177cm or 184cm.

    Matt

  5. Blister Member
    Michael March 10, 2017 Reply

    What’s up with variation in camber between skis of the same model?

    You reviewed some nearly flat Blizzard Zero G 108s, and mine clearly have a decent amount of camber.

    I just picked up some MTN Explore 95s and mine have 17 mm of camber between skis when unweighted. 8.5 mm per ski. Way more than the 3 mm you list here. More than any backcountry ski I’ve seen in a long time.

    I enjoy the Zero G 108s. I don’t mind cambered skis, but this seems excessive. I’m worried they’ll be a more of a chore than necessary in crusty snow . Am I crazy?

  6. Blister Member
    Jack October 25, 2017 Reply

    Did you guys get a chance to compare these to the Zero G 95 any further? Thanks!

  7. Vinh December 22, 2017 Reply

    I have a pair of 177s. Do you think it is safe to drill rescue holes in the tips with the honeycomb construction?

  8. rod georgiu May 6, 2018 Reply

    I’m skiing the volkl carbon Katanas. Love them on descents, but I find them challenging skinning steep corn, firm or not.

    Probably because of the width.

    How much would I be giving up with the Salomon in challenging snow conditions on the descent?

    Wind affected, crust, slush.

    The Katanas excel in these conditions.

    Than you

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