It’s not very often that a ski’s performance takes you by surprise but Elan’s new Ripstick 106 Skis were so impressive after just one test run that I decided I had to get my hands on a pair to review. While the top sheet design of the retail version of the Ripstick 106’s is bright and colourful I was sent a pair of stealth black pre-production skis to put through the paces. Besides attracting much more snow on the uptrack this toned down top sheet was just as appealing as the regular version. Cosmetics aside however, these sticks most definitely rip.
Good looks only go skin deep, luckily the Ripstick 106 Skis can back it up with solid performance.
Available in a 116 for deep pow days, 106 for all-mountain skiers, 96 for east coast carvers and a 94 for women, Elan pretty much have everyone covered. I chose to put the Ripstick 106 Skis through their paces as I am always on the hunt for that elusive ski that can rail groomers and also tour without compromise. At 6’1” I chose the 181cm length but if I could do it again I’d go for the 188 length as I found I needed some extra length for stability in challenging snow given the early tip rise on the Ripsticks.
Tips and tails with early rise and relatively flat, respectively.
All skis in the Ripstick line feature Elan’s TNT Technology which is a fancy term for their Tubelite Woodcore construction and Vapor Tip Inserts. Both of these technologies are described below and combine to make a lightweight versatile ski. At just 3.36kg for the 174 length ski, the Ripstick 106’s are lightweight considering their 140/106/122mm dimensions. With a medium turn radius of 17 meters they transition from turn to turn and edge to edge quite quickly due in part to their ‘Amphibio profile’. This is Elan’s unique combination of rocker and camber profiles in a single ski with more camber on the inside edge and more rocker on the outside. Hence why there is a left and right ski, so be sure to put them on the correct feet or else you may not enjoy what happens next. This dual profile allows the Ripstick 106’s to have impressive rebound on groomers with easy turn initiation. They pop out of each turn and when laid on edge track exceptionally well. You’d swear you were on a much heavier ski based on the Riptsick’s performance, but once you head out of bounds you’ll appreciate their light weight status. Their flat tail design not only finishes each turn but also facilitates easy kick turns in the backcountry which only cements their reputation as a one quiver ski.
A modest amount of camber underfoot for just the right amount of snap.
This is Elan’s term for their TubeLite Woodcore and VaporTip inserts which are explained below in more detail.
In order to allow the Ripstick 106 Skis to absorb vibrations and yet still be lightweight and responsive, Elan has inserted two lightweight Carbon tubes into the ski's laminated wood core. At just 5mm in diameter, these hollow tubes run the length of the ski following the arc of the side cut. They provide material reduction and save on weight while increasing torsional stability.
Vapor Tip Inserts
Lightweight composite Vaportip inserts are found in the tips and tails of the Ripstick 106 Skis to help reduce swing weight and vibration which improves the skis stability and provides a smooth ride on hardpack conditions.
SST Sidewall construction
Vertically oriented ABS material above the edges from the tip to tail of the ski increase torsional stability for improved ski control. This SST Sidewall construction helps channel power transmission from the skier to ski and provide fast edge to edge turns.
Elan has combined rocker and camber profiles in a single ski with each ski featuring a cambered inside edge for grip and stability, and a rockered outside edge for easier turning. This Amphibio profile is unique and the reason why there is a left and right ski to the Ripstick’s construction.
Ok, full disclosure. Having never before skied on an Elan ski I was not expecting much from the brand. I suspect I had just always unfairly associated the brand with making run-of-the-mill skis with marketing claims that wouldn’t be backed up by the performance of the ski. Since starting this web site 9 years ago I have had the opportunity to ski pretty much every brand of ski out there, but Elan was never on my radar. The opportunity to get a pair of Elan skis under my boots came at the Whitewater Coldsmoke Powder Festival which this site sponsors. I chose to demo the Elan Ripstick 106 Skis, along with several other skis that day. The conditions were hardpack groomers and none of the other skis except the Ripstick 106’s and the Volkl 100Eights could handle the hardpack snow with grace and stability. All the other skis simply skidded and chattered their way down the mountain. The Ripstick 106’s however, devoured these less than ideal conditions (what I’d call normal for an east coast skiers) and they loved to ski fast and carve it up. I was literally blown away by the Ripstick 106’s and decided that I had to get a pair for a review so I could see how they’d perform in other conditions and the backcountry as well. Were they just a one trick pony perhaps?
Having now put plenty of vert on the Ripstick 106’s, in all kind of conditions, on and off the resort, I can confidently say that they qualify for ‘one quiver status’. Not only do they hold an edge on hardpack, but they are light and fat enough that they are effortless on the up track and powerful on the down. At 106cm underfoot, you’d expect the Ripstick 106’s to weigh closer to 4kg than they do. At just 3.36kg for the 174 length, these skis are by no means ultra light, which is a good thing. If a ski is too light it simply gets deflected off every obstacle that it encounters and makes the skier's job much hard to control them. Thanks to the TubeLite Woodcore the Ripstick 106’s really are light for their dimensions, yet still ski like a heavier ski. The VaporTip inserts have something to do with this as they are found in the tips and tails and help control tip vibrations which is no easy feat considering their generous amount of early rise.
Not only are the Ripstick 106’s playful and able to rail on groomers but their fat shovel, minimum camber and generous early rise tips make them super floaty in powder. The Amphibio profile while subtle if you look for it, must have something to do with the Ripstick’s success in these very different snow conditions as they really have no weakness. I found them able to recover in variable snow and terrain and hold an edge even when the snow isn’t optimal. My only complaint was that I found I was front seating a little in deeper, non-uniform pow but I think this was because the 181 length was a little short for my 6’1” frame and aggressive skiing style. The 188cm length would have likely rectified this and provided the added stability I was looking for when things got spicy.
If you are looking for a single ski that can do it all with ease and you like a fun, snappy ski that can handle crud to pow then you have to give the Elan Ripstick 106 Skis a try, I sure am.
Be sure to also read our review of the Elan Ripstick 106 Black Edition and the all-new 2020 Elan Ripstick 106 Skis.
Price: $699.95CAN / $520US
Weight: 3.36kg / 7.2lb (174cm length)
Lengths: 175, 185cm
Turn Radius: 17.0m
Warranty: 2 years
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