The Ripsticks have always been an amazingly fun and versatile ski and now there is a lightweight touring specific version called the Ripstick Tour 104 Skis that does its namesake justice. Stable at speed, impressive edge hold, lots of float and super fun in deep snow—that sums up why the Ripstick Tour 104 impressed us so much. And now it's also a Gear of the Year Award winner. Congrats Elan!
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
Straight from the mind of skiing legend Glen Plake, Elan has launched the Ripstick Tour in a 104, 94 and 88 versions. As Elan ambassador and freeskiing pioneer, the creation of Plake’s first signature ski was a natural progression in the development of the Ripstick line of skis. I know we here at Backcountry Skiing Canada have been waiting with bated breath for the release of this new touring version of the Ripstick, having reviewed pretty much every other Ripstick that has proceeded this one and been totally impressed each and every time. If you want to dig into those reviews before hearing all bout the new Ripstick Tour 104 Skis, please do: Ripstick 106, Ripstick 106 Black Edition Skis, Ripstick 102 W Skis, and Ripstick 106 Skis.
The new Ripstick Tour 104 Skis blend together the maneuverability, agility and freeride prowess of the previous Ripstick Skis and package it into a new lightweight construction that makes climbing efficient without sacrificing any of that legendary Ripstick performance. Elan of course maintains the Ripstick’s Amphibio Profile and Tubelite Wood Core construction and with an all-new Carbon Bridge Technology to maximize stability and vibration damping in the new Tour 104 Skis.
At 104mm underfoot the Ripstick Tour Skis are ideally suited for deep backcountry pow and their smooth rocker helps them float in the deepest of snow while the early taper in the tips and tails creates a little straighter cut ski than what is found in other Ripstick models. With a turn radius of 25.4m for the 187cm length skis, the Ripstick Tour 104’s are more stable at high speeds, especially on firmer snow.
Elan uses a poplar and paulownia wood core in the Tour 104 Skis to ensure they are lightweight. Over this, they longitudinal embed a single carbon rod into the middle of the core to provide stability, dampening, and vibration absorption through the ski. Elan calls this their Carbon Bridge Technology and you can see this rod half-embedded into the core at the tips and tails, underfoot the core thickens and this carbon rod goes more directly through the core itself.
As with all Ripstick Skis, the new Tour 104’s use Elan’s Amphibio Profile which is an ingenious design that combines 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 unique Amphibio profile really works and is the reason why there is a left and a right ski.
Elan has used 100% green energy in the production of the new Tour 104 Skis with more than 70% of the ski volume being made from natural and recycled materials. Elan didn’t stop there, however, they also use an environmentally friendly digital printing technology for the top VOC-free.
The Elan Ripstick Skis have been a favourite of mine for years and a staple in our ski reviews for good reason—they just rip no matter the terrain or conditions. What I’ve been secretly waiting for, however, was a pair of Ripsticks light enough for ski touring for more than just a side country lap or two. Thankfully the wait is over with Elan’s new Ripstick Tour 104 Skis. To take advantage of the Ripstick Tour’s light weight I mounted them with the Alpinist 12 bindings from Marker. At just 700 grams for the pair with brakes, this setup tips the scales at an impressive 3900 grams or 8.6lb.
Given their weight, the Ripstick Tour 104 Skis are pretty effortless on the climb, and since they are Ripsticks they are still responsive and quick on the down. With less mass comes less swing weight so turn initiation and edge-to-edge linking of turns is impressive for a ski of this width. They have a very smooth turn entry and exit thanks to their profile and the camber underfoot provides a playful rebound.
The Ripstick Tour 104 Skis hold a firm edge on hard-pack and are proficient at skiing in bounds but their lightweight does mean that they can be easily deflated when challenged by variable snow conditions. Harder snow conditions can create some tip chatter but given their overall dampness it does not resonate down the ski and they remain fairly quiet and in control. With softer flexing tips than their non-tour version 102 and 106 cousins, the Tour 104’s skis are more similar in the back half of the skis.
With a lightweight ski like the Ripstick Tour 104’s you cannot expect an all-mountain skiing experience and some performance must be traded for weight savings, but thankfully with the Tour 104’s, it’s minimal. This is not to say that this is a one-quiver ski as it is much more attuned to skiing backcountry pow—but it can handle the occasional resort lap or firm snow if required without too much pushback or complaint. Given that they’re not the dampest skis they don’t really enjoy skiing super fast on firm snow.
The 25.4m radius on the Tour 104’s is fairly long and does hamper their responsiveness a tad but this also makes them stable at high speed, especially on firm snow. Keep in mind that this isn’t a carving ski, nor was it intended to be. With a long effective inside edge thanks to their Amphibio profile, the Tour 104 Skis maintain their composure on firm and even icy snow while the outside edge’s extended early rise provides a little more float when in deep snow.
While not designed for lapping the resort you could definitely do it with the Tour 104’s but if that's your playground then the Ripstick 106s are better suited for the job. Their heavier weight enables them to plow through more challenging conditions whereas the Tour 104’s are more adept on deep pow days often found in the backcountry.
The one thing that striked me immediately with the Ripstick Tour 104 Skis was their colourful top sheet design, this is something that Elan has been successful with throughout the Ripstick’s evolution, their top sheets are always beautiful. But, looks aside these new touring Ripsticks are a ski you mustn’t overlook if you are in the market for a lightweight confident touring ski.
Price: $949.95CAN / $799.95US
Lengths: 166, 173, 180, 187cm
Weight: 3200g (187cm length per pair)
Radius: 25.4m (187cm length)
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