After writing my First Look at the Nomad 105 Lite, I was excited to get them on snow. I’ve been searching for a do-it-all touring ski all season, but have been mostly thwarted by the fact that I like jibby skis with twinned tails and more centered mounts — even in the backcountry — which in the past has meant that I’ve toured quite a bit on inbounds skis. But the Nomad 105 Lite’s shape and Icelantic’s comments about the ski’s intended use looked to be perfectly aligned with my goals.
On touring skis, even more than inbounds skis, I really value a more centered mount. It makes jump turns easier on tight lines, it helps when navigating tight brush on exits, and it is more forgiving when I’m skiing softer boots with a more centered stance.
That personal preference combined with the Nomad 105 Lite’s twinned tails and very playful shape made me skeptical of the -9 cm recommended mount point. That’s a pretty traditional mount, and I was worried that I might have trouble driving the 105 Lite with lightweight touring boots given that the ski is pretty long, pretty stiff, and doesn’t have much tip taper.I also knew that at that -9 mount point, jibbing and playing as I like to do would be out of the question. So with all that in mind I ended up mounting at -5 cm from true center. I’ve really liked the ski at -5, and wouldn’t consider moving the mount. But I also don’t think this is the sort of ski that’s going to be incredibly sensitive to mount point — it’s got a consistent flex pattern that provides a solid platform along a large part of the ski that should work with a range of mount points.
Chalk / Windbuff
On my first day on the Nomad 105 Lite, I skied a zone in Togwotee Pass that I hadn’t visited since last season. As you’d expect, I was a little tentative bringing the Nomad 105 Lite, especially since last time I skied this zone, I ended up taking a pretty scary fall in a couloir.
When we got on top of the line I had in mind, the coverage was drastically different from last season, and there was a blind rollover awaiting us below. We almost didn’t drop into the line, but the snow stability was good, so I made a few tentative turns past the rollover.
And then when I realized that the snow was the best chalk I’ve ever skied and that the line went all the way, I opened it up and immediately realized how perfect the Nomad 105 Lite was for these conditions. I found myself making big, powerful turns, going much faster than I expected to. The ski was happy to run, and its stiffer flex and long length kept it stable even though I wasn’t yet ready to trust my new Roxa R3 130’s. At the bottom when I needed to shut down speed, it was easy to break the tails loose and slarve around while slowing down.
In those firm but edgeable conditions, the Nomad 105 Lite performed very well. The ski was stable and promoted confidence at speed, and was comfortable making a variety of turn shapes.
Slush / Soft Snow
After we’d booted and skinned back up, we dropped a line across the ridge from our first run. The sun had been on this snow a lot longer and things were getting slushy. Here the Nomad 105 Lite was a blast.
It was easy to make quick, powerful turns up high, and when I let go of the brakes lower down, the ski was once more happy to run fast and remained stable. It’s not as soft and playful as most inbounds jib skis, and it’s harder to pop off the tails, but the tradeoff is that you get a very stable ride.
After my first two days on the Nomad 105 Lite, I was pretty smitten; I’d been very impressed with its performance in more open terrain in soft snow. The ski felt intuitive and easy to control, yet still stable. And it’s light enough that I have no reason to complain on the way up.
But when I skied a run of tight trees on Teton Pass, the Nomad 105 Lite’s lack of tip and tail taper, longer length, and stiffness really began to show. There was about an inch of fresh snow on top of firmer old snow on a pretty low angle slope, and I had a hard time turning the ski through tight trees. It felt like I had a lot of ski in front and behind me, and both ends had a tendency to catch.
In tight terrain, the ski also felt very stiff, and I had a hard time bending it into turns. Of course, that’s all to be expected — this is a pretty long, stiff ski after all. This run was when I most appreciated my decision to mount the Nomad 105 Lite closer to center; I would have struggled even more with the extra tip in front of me.
Once I got out of the tight trees and skied a more open bowl in the same “fresh-on-firm” snow, that length and stiffness were an asset. It was easy to make big, strong turns on the open terrain, and it was easy to keep the ski up and off of the more firm layer.
I haven’t yet gotten a chance to ski powder on the Nomad 105 Lite, and I’ll update this review once I have, but judging from the length, width, shape, and rocker profile, I think this ski is going to be a blast, especially in more open terrain. I think it will still be more of a handful in tight terrain, but I’ll put up with that for the added stability it provides when things open up.
Jibbing (181 cm vs. 191 cm Length)
Thanks to spring conditions, I haven’t done on the 105 Lite as much of the pillow-popping, tree-well-hopping, and cliff-flopping that I usually like to do. But I’ll update this review once I’ve gotten more time in the air.
But so far, I have found the ski to be very balanced in the air, and it’s not hard to ollie, although the stiff tails do make it harder to pop of small features and side hits. For skiers looking for a backcountry jib ski, I wouldn’t recommend mounting any further back than I did. And if you’re planning on mostly spinning and jibbing off smaller features, I’d recommend going with the 181 cm model; the 191 cm version is more ski than a lot of jibbier skiers will need, although I’m still excited to have that extra length for bigger landings.
NEXT: More on Length, Who’s it for?, Etc.