2018-2019 Elan Ripstick 106

This past season Sam Shaheen and I spent time on both the 181 cm and 188 cm versions of the Ripstick 106. I already talked about my initial impressions in my Flash Review, but we’ll now both go into more detail about how the Ripstick 106 handles different types of conditions, which length will likely work best for you, and how well we think the ski could work as a 50/50 option for both the backcountry and the resort.

Oh, and spoiler alert: we both really like this ski.

Groomers

Sam Shaheen (5’10”, 140 lbs): The 188 cm Ripstick 106 only weighs about 1900 grams, so it’s quite light for an inbounds ski. And as we consistently find to be true of lightweight skis, the Ripstick 106 does not feel nearly as damp as much heavier skis. But while the Ripstick 106 isn’t a damp, quiet, high-speed missile, it does feel very intuitive, easy to put on edge, and very energetic out of a turn.

The more active / dynamic your skiing style, the more I think you’ll get along with the Ripstick 106 across the board, but especially on groomers. When providing strong, deliberate input, I could keep the Ripstick 106 pointed where I wanted (especially on smoother snow) and fully utilize all of the energy and pop from the ski.

Near the end of the day when the groomers got a bit more roughed up, the Ripstick 106 gave me two options: (1) easily snake between the piles of snow and carve quick, variable-radius turns, or (2) use the pop in the tails to jump off all of the piles of snow. Pick your poison.

Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs): I agree with everything Sam said above, and I also want to add that I thought the Ripstick 106 felt less harsh and twitchy than some other skis in its weight class. For its weight, I think the Ripstick 106 offers pretty good suspension.

That said, Sam’s definitely correct in that you can’t expect this ski to just blow through variations in the snow. It prefers a much more energetic and finesse-oriented technique.

And while plenty of light skis require such a skiing style, the Ripstick 106 felt like it didn’t just require this style of skiing, it felt like it rewarded it. It has a really fun and cohesive combination of (1) low weight, (2) a fairly round, snappy flex profile, and (3) a good stability-to-weight ratio that makes picking your way down the mountain and jumping off stuff really fun.

To put this into perspective, I think it’s worth talking about the fact that good skiers can ski “aggressively” in different ways. On one side, you have skiers who prefer not to make a lot of turns and instead like to go fast and blow through anything in their path, kind of like a wrecking ball. And those skiers benefit from heavy, stiff, and very damp skis that absorb and / or blast through the snow or small children that dare to get in their way. (Just kidding about the kids thing. Respect those SLOW signs, people!)

Then you have other aggressive skiers who also like to ski fast, but who pick their lines a bit more deliberately, make more (and often smaller) turns, and who are looking to get their skis off the ground. The Ripstick 106 works very well for this second type of skier. It’s light, predictable, and intuitive, but also feels like it has a degree of tenacity that encourages this kind of active, aggressive skiing.

The last thing I noticed with the Ripstick 106 was that it felt very comfortable both while on edge and when sliding turns. I’m not ready to attribute this solely to the Ripstick 106’s unique “Amphibio” asymmetrical rocker profile, but all I know is that this ski initiates and holds carved turns well, but is also easier to break free than some more traditional skis that feel similarly comfortable on edge.

Variable Conditions / Chop

Sam: This is not the strong suit of the Elan Ripstick 106. This ski is just too light to plow through chop or variable snow. In soft chop I found that the Ripstick 106 tended to bounce over heavier snow piles rather than slicing through them. With a bit of finesse, it is certainly passable — just don’t expect the Ripstick 106 to compete with heavier, metal-laminate skis when it comes to stability in variable snow.

Luke: The Ripstick 106 felt most in its element when the snow was soft, and ideally, smooth. But as Sam noted, when I could deliberately pick my line, find places to check my speed (and, preferably, also something to pop off of), and take more of a finesse approach, I still had a good time on the Ripstick 106 in soft, chopped-up snow.

I had a few days on the Ripstick 106 at A-Basin when the temperatures dropped in the afternoon and the typically slushy, rough groomers started to firm up. This is where I felt the Ripstick 106 struggled the most. On firmer, choppy snow, I definitely had to dial back my skiing, slow things down a bit, and look for smoother lines that avoided the denser patches of pushed-around snow. If I tried to ski recklessly fast in these conditions, the Ripstick 106 got knocked off track pretty easily, reminding me that it is not a heavy, damp ski.

Moguls

Sam: With a supportive, super poppy tail, a sidecut radius that isn’t super tight, and a lightweight construction, I really liked the Ripstick 106 in zipperline bumps. Because the ski is so light, it takes very little effort to make extremely fast turns. And in zipperlines I’m generally pushing my skis pretty hard, so it’s easier to keep a light ski on-line in those tight spots than it is in open spaces where it’s easy to get lazy and let the ski get knocked around by the snow.

On steeper, less consistent bumps (where the skiing is more about navigating variable terrain than bashing through well-made bumps), the Ripstick 106 suffers from the same issues as it does on roughed-up groomers — it feels too light and gets knocked around at higher speeds. But since it’s quite intuitive and easy, when skied at moderate speeds or with a very active style, the Ripstick 106’s low weight can be very fun.

Luke Koppa and Sam Shaheen review the Elan Ripstick 106 for Blister

Sam Shaheen on the Elan Ripstick 106.

I personally like light skis and going very fast, so I get along really well with light skis that can still be pushed hard, such as the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, Atomic Bent Chetler 120, and now, the Ripstick 106. The more your bump skiing is light-footed, quick, and balanced, the more I think you’ll get along well with the Ripstick 106 in moguls.

Luke: While I don’t ski bumps as aggressively (the right word here is actually “violently”) as Sam does, I also really liked the Ripstick 106 in moguls. I found its low weight to be a big plus since I’m not typically hitting very high speeds in bumps (and therefore don’t need a super damp ski), and instead prefer something that’s easy to pivot and flick around. The Ripstick 106 is great in this regard, and it has a surprisingly low swing weight.

I also really liked the Ripstick 106’s tail. It felt supportive and poppy (just as Sam said), but it also never felt harsh or punishing to me. Combine that with how easy it is to pivot and slide the Ripstick 106, and I think it could be a great option for intermediate bump skiers or, as Sam noted, more advanced bump skiers who ski with a lighter touch and don’t prefer a super stiff or damp ski.

Playfulness

Luke: With its recommended mount point of – 10 cm, the Ripstick 106 is a directional ski, and it felt best when I was driving it through the shovels. But it’s also a light, poppy ski that’s easy to slide around. So while it definitely doesn’t feel like a freestyle ski, I’d say the Ripstick 106 is one of the more playful skis I’ve used that has such a traditional, set back mount point. If you want a directional ski but don’t want it to feel dull or one-dimensional (like some heavy, directional chargers can), then the Ripstick 106 could be a good option.

Length: 181 cm vs. 188 cm Ripstick 106

Luke: The 181 cm and 188 cm Ripstick 106 feel very similar overall, with a few subtle differences.

The 181 cm Ripstick 106 feels slightly less stable at speed, is a bit easier to turn in tight spots, and feels lighter in the air. The 188 cm Ripstick 106 stays a little more composed at higher speeds and encourages slightly longer turns, but if you were hoping that the 188 cm Ripstick 106 would feel like a drastically burlier or more stable ski, that’s not the case.

Personally, I ended up preferring the Ripstick 106 in the 181 cm length, which was surprising, since I usually like skis in the 184-190 cm range (for reference, I’m 5’8”, ~155 lbs). But since the 188 cm version didn’t offer that much more stability, I had more fun embracing the light, poppy, and easy nature of the 181 Ripstick 106 than I did on the slightly heavier and more sluggish 188 cm version. The Ripstick 106 — in both lengths — feels best when skiing with more finesse, and, to me, the lighter 181 cm version just seemed to make that kind of skiing more fun since it’s so easy to turn, get in the air, and flick around in tight spots.

Luke Koppa and Sam Shaheen review the Elan Ripstick 106 for Blister

Sam Shaheen on the Elan Ripstick 106.

And it’s important to keep in mind that all the Ripsticks we’ve reviewed have measured a few cm shorter than their stated lengths. The 181 cm Ripstick 106 we tested is 177.6 cm long, the 188 cm Ripstick 106 is 184.1 cm long, and the 181 cm Ripstick 96 is 177.4 cm long.

So when deciding on length, I’d think about two things: (1) you can expect the actual length of the skis to be a few cm shorter than the stated length and (2) don’t expect a major bump up in stability by going with a longer length.

As a 50/50 or Backcountry Ski

Sam: I think the Ripstick 106 would make a great 50/50 ski for use in both the resort and in the backcountry. At ~1900 g for the 188 cm, it’s a bit heavier than most dedicated backcountry skis in its waist width. But with a Salomon / Atomic Shift MNC or Fritschi Tecton 12, I think the Ripstick 106 would be a killer 50/50 ski — especially in lower-snow areas (e.g., Colorado) where you’re more likely to have a 6” pow day than a 20” one. The Ripstick 106 feels a bit like a more touring-oriented Soul 7 HD, and coming from me at least (the Soul 7 HD is one of my favorite skis), that is very high praise.

Luke: Yep, I think the Ripstick 106 could be a really good 50/50 ski. It comes in at a very reasonable weight for moderate tours (especially in the 181 cm length), it’s proven to be predictable across a wide range of conditions, and it’s performed well on both firm and soft snow. For a 1-ski quiver for the resort and backcountry in a place like Colorado, the Ripstick 106 would be near the top of my list. And it’s worth noting that the Ripstick 106 has slots in its tails for skin tail clips, which is a bonus.

Who’s It For?

Sam: I think the Ripstick 106 will work well for intermediate to expert skiers — particularly if you prefer skis that are light and that have energetic tails. If it isn’t clear by now, skiers who want a super stable ski for nuking through rough snow should look elsewhere.

Luke: I think people who prioritize low weight, easy turn initiation, and a poppy flex over high-speed stability will most appreciate the Ripstick 106. It’s easy to ski at low speeds but also responds well to an aggressive, active style, which is why I agree with Sam in that I think the Ripstick 106 could work for intermediate to expert skiers. And as we noted above, if you’re looking for a ski that you’ll use inside and outside the resort, then the Ripstick 106 becomes an even more compelling option.

Bottom Line

The Elan Ripstick 106 is a snappy, energetic, and lightweight all-mountain ski that performs pretty well across the wide spectrum of conditions that you will likely encounter over the course of a season. And for an all-mountain ski, that sort of versatility is great. It’s intuitive and easy, yet it still holds up to a dynamic, aggressive style; it can carve clean turns on groomers while still being easy to slide around; and it rewards a driving stance, but is still very poppy and light in the air.

The Ripstick 106 is far from the dampest or most stable ski out there, but Sam and I both agree that it was one of our favorite lightweight all-mountain skis we got on this past season, and we think a lot of skiers will get along well with it, too.

Deep Dive Comparisons: Elan Ripstick 106

Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber and check out our Deep Dive of the Ripstick 106 to see how it stacks up against the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, Line Sick Day 104, Salomon QST 106, Atomic Bent Chetler 100, Blizzard Rustler 10, Renoun Citadel 106, and Liberty Origin 106.

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