2023 Vӧlkl Rise Above 88 W Review

If you have your sights set on long backcountry tours even during low tide, this ski may be just the ticket

Photo: Courtesy Völkl

Brand: Völkl

Model: Rise Above 88 W


Tip / Waist / Tail (mm)


Lengths (cm)

149, 156, 163, 170

Radius (m)


Waist Width (mm)





Intermediate, Advanced


Quickness, Responsiveness


Floatation, Forgiveness

Stability at Speed

7 / 10

Quickness / Maneuverability

8.6 / 10


7.2 / 10


6.8 / 10

Crud Performance

7.6 / 10


7.4 / 10


9 / 10


5 / 10

For the 2022-’23 season, the Völkl Rise Above 88 W sees a new topsheet, but otherwise remains unchanged, bringing the reliability and solid feel of Völkl skis to long backcountry tours. The Rise Above 88 W is light and efficient on the ascent, yet slices through crud and hardpack like a butter knife. The narrow 88mm waist makes this ski shine in firm, variable conditions.

Völkl’s 3D radius sidecut design provides a shorter radius in the center of the ski for short swing turns, and a longer radius at the tip and tail for big sweeping turns at high speed. Since no two backcountry runs are the same, testers appreciated the Rise Above’s willingness to respond to a variety of conditions and make the most out of a low snow season (or year). “A great backcountry ski for Colorado skiers who rarely get fresh, awesome snow,” said tester Jenny Wiegand. “Ideal for skiers who get out no matter what, even when it hasn’t snowed in a while.”

Learn more: Understanding the basics of backcountry ski gear

Combined with Völkl’s hybrid multilayer wood core, a combo of strategically placed poplar, Paulownia, and beech wood translates to a confidence-inspiring ski for big missions. Its low swing weight makes the Rise Above lively and easy to whip around, with camber underfoot delivering stability and edge hold you can count on in steep chutes where precision is non-negotiable. While the wide 130mm shovel and early rise tip do a valiant job of keeping the ski from sinking like an anchor in a few inches of fresh, the flat tails boost stability as well as making it easier to plunge your skis into the snow to create a makeshift snow anchor.

Testers touted the Rise Above’s capabilities and trustworthiness in a variety of terrain, but agree that it’s definitely not a one-quiver ski. Unsurprisingly, it falls short in deep snow, although the wide shovel allowed it to float better than some of the other 80-something underfoot skis we tested, like the Black Crows Ova Freebird and the Salomon MTN 86 W Pro. “Versatile and fun!” noted tester Kianna Lauck. “I’m an intermediate skier and I felt comfortable and confident.”

You’ll want to leave this ski at home on a real pow day, but  for resort fitness laps, spring objectives, and areas that see lots of high pressure, it’s a blast to rip around on and a good reminder that wider is not always better. “I truly think anyone from an intermediate backcountry skier to an accomplished ski mountaineer could have an insanely fun day on this ski,” summed up tester Jordan Garrett, who logs a lot of vert in the Colorado backcountry. “Beginners will find the turn initiation a breeze, and advanced skiers will be able to jump turn and zip through all types of terrain.”

Compare the Völkl Rise Above 88 W to the other best backcountry skis of 2023

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