Elan has been crushing it for several years now with their Ripstick line of skis and it's about time we acknowledge them for it. Not only do these skis have features coming out the wazoo, they also rip pretty awesomely in bounds and out. The essence of the one-quiver skis lives within the Ripsticks and their women's 102 version is no exception. Congrats Elan.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
If you haven’t heard about Elan Ripstick skis yet you may need to pull your head out of the snow for a moment. They’ve been around for over two seasons now and have a well-earned reputation for being smooth and playful whether you’re edging on hardpack or floating on pow. Our previous reviews of the Ripstick 106 Skis and their carbon upgrade the Ripstick 106 Black Edition ranked their skiability as pretty kick-ass which I am not at all surprised about given the last month I’ve spent with their sister model, the Elan Ripstick 102 for women.
Beauty is only top sheet deep they say but there is more than meets the eye with the Ripstick 102's.
The Ripstick 102 W’s (with the “W” standing for women) is an advanced/expert all-mountain ski in a width well-suited to the west coast softer powder conditions found here in British Columbia. Two additional women’s widths are available in the Elan Ripstick line-up, the 94 and 88—both weigh less than the 102’s and offer a little more adaptability and forgiveness on hardpack resort conditions. For this review, the Ripstick 102 W were paired with Marker Kingpin 10 bindings so I could get a feel for them on the up as well as the down and report on how these gals measured up as a 50/50 resort/backcountry ski, or possibly a quiver of one ski that wouldn’t leave me feeling compromised either in-or out-of-bounds.
At the heart of the Ripstick’s design is Elan’s TNT Technology, a combo of Tubelite Woodcore construction and Vapor Tip Inserts that make for an internally light, powerful and stable construction. (More on this below in the features section)
Where the Ripsticks get really sexy (and innovative) is in their shape, which uses Elan’s Amphibio technology to integrate unique rocker and camber profiles into each ski.
The Amphibio essentially means you will have dedicated left and right ski, fortunately, these are marked on the ski just above the TNT logo as their difference in shape is subtle and not obvious at a glance.
Elan’s Ripstick 102 W is not the only ski in the all-mountain 50/50 category that I have recently had the privilege of testing. This season I also reviewed and enjoyed the much-lauded Head Kore 105 skis. In comparison, I found the Elan Ripstick 102 W way more playful and better adapted to backcountry adventure. Whilst not the stiffest ski of their class, the Ripstick 102’s have enough mojo that you can ski aggressively if you want to. What I love about them is that they are low drama—snappy and energetic, yes—but never hard work except perhaps in crud where most skis on the lighter end of the scale such as these tend to get thrown around a little.
The Ripstick 102’s are in their element in soft snow and powder conditions where their broad waste, rocker geometry, and wide shovel tips allow you to float and surf. With their dynamic shape, you can pick a deliberate line and then change it on a dime. They’re also light enough to easily pop off features and turns. And here is the kicker, none of this means that they suck on groomers or hardpack. On the contrary, on a firm smooth surface, they are really confident on edge and they quickly initiate and hold a big or small carving turn well. For all these reasons I can confidently say that I would use the Ripstick 102 W (with an appropriate binding) as a one quiver 50/50 ski, and an affordable one at that! There is a disclaimer however, they won’t be the ideal one quiver for everyone, as some like a lighter ski for the backcountry so they can be über efficient, but this means you’ll likely have to give up a proportionate amount of performance as well.
The uptrack? I was surprised that they didn’t feel heavier given their dimensions, I am 174cm tall and I was skiing the 170cm length which measures in at 143/105/120—that’s a wide ski. Sure the width does compromise some efficiency but given the quality of skiing, I am willing to sacrifice a little on the up-track for quality of powder surfing on the way down. A lighter binding would help reduce weight or perhaps the Ripstick 94s could be worth a peek if you were keen to shave off a few hundred grams and give up a bit of float in pow. For multi-day traverses or lots of climbing, I would definitely prefer a lighter ski but I’m just not willing to give up the performance and fun that is found in the women’s Ripstick 102’s.
Price: $699CAN / $650US
Weight: 1730g / 3.8lb (per 170cm ski)
Dimensions: 136/102/115 (156cm skis), 138/104/117 (163cm skis), 143/105/120 (170cm skis), 143/105/120 (177cm skis)
Turn Radius: 15.0m (156cm skis), 15.8m (163cm skis), 17.0m (170cm skis), 18.1m (177cm skis),
Lengths: 156, 163, 170, 177cm
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