Gear

Gear Guide 2018: Men's All-Mountain Narrow Skis

Just wide enough for soft-snow fun, still narrow enough to carve almost like a race ski. Bring it all on.


gear guide 2018 mens all mountain narrow skis
Keri Bascetta

Who: Eastern Rippers looking for versatility.

What: Medium-wide all-conditions generalists.

Where: Groomers, bumps, tight trees.

Looking for a breakdown on how each of these skis performed in various conditions? Look no further than this scoresheet for everything you want to know.

Head Kore 93 (BEST IN CATEGORY)

None

“Biggest surprise of the day,” said one tester. Head often dominates carver category, but has never put it all together in a wider, all-mountain, freeride-flavored ski like this. The 93, which demolished its competition, is by far the testers’ favorite in Head’s new Kore series, which ranges up to as wide as 117 mm. It’s noticeably lightweight, making its high-speed calm all the more amazing. Megroz: “Ripping ski. Never nervous or bouncy at high speed in crud. Rails the groomed too.” More info about the Head Kore 93 here

Strengths: Crud Performance, Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity. Average Score: 4.28

$750 Flat

Dimensions: 133-93-115, Radius: 16.4 m (180), Lengths: 153, 162, 171, 180, 189

Blizzard Brahma

None

The beloved Brahma continues to camp out near the top of the rankings. Its combination of dense solidity with rockered smearability has been pleasing testers for years. And as usual its balanced blend of attributes sets it apart. Two sheets of metal, sturdy vertical sidewalls and a reassuring overall heft give it the hard-snow skills Eastern carvers will love, but it’s an adept floater/smearer in soft snow as well. Gleason: “Amazing balance of frontside precision and backside agility,” Gleason said. More info about the Blizzard Brahma here.

Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity, Versatility. Average Score: 4.09

$780 Flat

D: 127-88-111, R: 17 m (180), Lengths: 166, 173, 180, 187

K2 Pinnacle 95

None

Past Pinnacles seemed one tweak away from greatness. Whatever K2 did this year did the trick. The whippy swing-weight is there, thanks to K2’s perimeter weighting (dense stuff over the edges, lightness down the middle). Now there’s a reassuring cohesiveness to the whole thing. Don’t expect miracles on ice. Just find the soft stuff and enjoy its easy, playful spirit. “Light fun, flickable and smeary,” Schiller said. “A weekend party skier’s dream.” More info about the K2 Pinnacle 95 here.

Strengths: Playfulness, Flotation, Forgiveness. Average Score: 4.01

$850 Flat

D: 132-95-115, R: 17 m (184), Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191

Nordica Enforcer 93

None

An Enforcer that doesn’t win its category? Weird. The 93 did last year, but clearly the testers were digging its wider brothers more this year. For Eastern freeriders, there’s plenty to recommend it. Vertical-sidewall, metal-reinforced edginess combines with a perfect blend of rocker and taper for a performance that’s either knifey or smeary as needed. And while it’s a powerful ski, it’s not an exhausting one. Gleason: “A superb multi-tasker. Loves being good at everything.” More info about the Nordica Enforcer 93 here.

Strengths: Hard-Snow Integrity, Stability at Speed, Crud Performance. Average Score: 3.85

$749 Flat

D: 126-93-114, R: 18.5 m (185), Lengths: 169, 177, 185, 193

Atomic Vantage 90 CTi

None

Yes, it’s rockered tip and tail, cambered underfoot, and reinforced with lightweight carbon, but the Vantage’s signature technology is its metal: a single sheet, rather than two, tapered tip and tail, and not quite full-width underfoot. The result offers the high-speed calm you get with metal but is less edgy and difficult, with mellower turn entries and exits. Light-touch experts, especially, loved its versatility and exuberance. Britt: “Rip it high-speed or dial it back and play. Kick-ass fun all day.” More info about the Atomic Vantage 90 CTi here.

Strengths: Quickness/Maneuverability, Crud Performance, Versatility. Average Score: 3.85

$725 Flat

D: 133.5-90-117, R: 17.8 m (184), Lengths: 161, 169, 176, 184

K2 Pinnacle 88

None

Notice that the testers show a clear preference for the 90-plus waists in this category. Too wide for you? Here’s the highest-scoring of the 80-somethings. The Pinnacle 88 not only bests its big brother but all other skis in the category for sheer agility and ease of use. It’s built the same as the Pinnacle 95, just narrower. Testers loved its easy-to-pivot quickness, which suits it well to a dynamic expert or to an aspiring ripper who needs something manageable. “A loose-feeling vibe to it,” Dyer said. “Gave me confidence from turn one.” More info about the K2 Pinnacle 88 here.

Strengths: Quickness/Maneuverability, Playfulness, Forgiveness. Average Score: 3.84

$800 Flat

D: 128-88-110, R: 15 m (184), Lengths: 170, 177, 184

HEAD Monster 88

None

HEAD fans have a tough choice in wider waist widths: The light and techy new Kore models (93-117 mm), which did, after all, win this category, or the classic Monsters. No proprietary composite core technology here; just metal-reinforced wood, prized by purists. Testers said the Monster 88 felt a bit softer this year, but it’s still a beefy, edgy hard-charger with a greed for speed. Elling: “What a beast. A smooth all-mountain super-G destroyer. The real deal.” More info about the HEAD Monster 88 here.

Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity, Crud Performance. Average Score: 3.79

$800 Flat

D: 133-88-114, R: 17.4 m (177), Lengths: 163, 170, 177, 184

Stockli Stormrider 88

None

Plenty of dudes really do enjoy a ski this burly. Not the ones who are interested in new-schooly skidding and smearing. Rather, those who know how to stand on an edge and bend a ski at speed. Testers warn that the Stormrider requires a strong, capable skier, with tons of energy. That said, they were awed by its power, responsiveness, and reassuring heft. “Strong and smooth and likes to run,” said Larsen. “If you like speed, this is your ski.” Find more info about the Stockli Stormrider 88 here.

Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity, Crud Performance. Average Score: 3.76

$999 Flat

D: 127-90-110, R: 22.2 (184), Lengths: 168, 177, 186

Völkl Kendo

None

If you’re looking for something loose and playful, check out Völkl’s 90Eight. But for stability, precision, and locked-in carving power, nothing beats a Kendo. A Völkl-lover’s Völkl, the Kendo is a classic wood-core, metal-laminate, full-sidewall layup—ideal for high-speed arcing on soft groomers. Yet tip and tail rocker give it surprising quickness and agility for off-piste applications. Britt: “Holds the snow like a fridge magnet. A true tip-and-ripper for strong, athletic skiers.” More info about the Völkl Kendo here.

Strengths: Quickness/Maneuverability, Hard-Snow Integrity, Stability at Speed. Average Score: 3.75

$775 Flat

D: 127-90-110, R: 22.2 m (184), Lengths: 163, 170, 177, 184

Rossignol Experience 88 HD

None

The 7 Series gets all the attention, but the Experience line has quietly earned tester respect year after year. With a little more heft and effective edge to it, the Experience is certainly a more versatile ski for everyday resort ripping—even when the groomers get a little firm. Its metal-free layup doesn’t make huge demands or wear you out, but there’s a still an exciting high end to its performance. Gleason: “A comfy SUV. Steady and assured, with nice round turns.” More info about the Rossignol Experience 88 HD here.

Strengths: Quickness/Maneuverability, Forgiveness, Playfulness. Average Score: 3.73

$800 Flat

D: 135-88-124, R: 17 m (180), Lengths: 156, 164, 172, 180, 188

Armada Invictus 89 Ti

None

If Armadas of the past always seemed either too park- or powder-specific for your purposes, the Invictuses will surprise you. The 89Ti, middle sibling in a family that runs from 85 to 108 mm, is a balanced and capable all-mountain ski, slarvy in soft snow, carvy on hard stuff. Ex racers won’t be disappointed (there’s metal in there), but there’s still a playful side that you’d expect from Armada. Testers admired its blend of new-school and big-mountain character. “Very well rounded for a large segment of the skiing population,” said Dyer. More info about the Armada Invictus 89 Ti here.

Strengths: Hard-Snow Integrity, Quickness/Maneuverability, Stability at Speed. Average Score: 3.71

$700 Flat

D: 131-89-121.5, R: 18 m (187), Lengths: 163, 171, 179, 187

Kastle FX 95 HP

None

That Kastle feel—smooth and luxurious, underpinned with mellow strength—shines through in the FX 95 HP. Buyers get a choice in this waist width (as well as in the FX 85): “HP” versions are metal-reinforced for a little more oomph; regular versions are lighter, livelier, glass-reinforced. Testers loved the HP’s fluid power and the way its cutaway-lightened tip adds a dash of slash to its turns. “Strength and power blended with the agility to attack in tight spots,” said Gleason. “Burly but not difficult.” More info about the Kastle FX 95 HP here.

Strengths: Quickness/Maneuverability, Crud Performance, Flotation. Average Score: 3.71

$1,199 Flat

D: 126-95-115, R: 20 m (181), Lengths: 157, 165, 173, 181, 189

Fischer Pro Mtn 86

None

Don’t buy this ski if you’re going to skid it around all day—that’d be a criminal waste of it skills. Testers loved the way the Pro Mtn’s huge tip puts down fat, round, trench-digging arcs on the groomed. That’s where it shined—no surprise, given its narrowest-in-class waist width—but its edge-to-edge quickness lends itself to bumps as well. Which makes it a capable choice for Eastern all-mountain skiers especially. Elling: “Nice pull into the turn. It wants to roll deep to the inside.” More info about the Fischer Pro Mtn 86 here.

Strengths: Quickness/Maneuverability, Playfulness, Stability at Speed. Average Score: 3.63

$799 Flat

D: 128-86-116, R: 16.5 m (175), Lengths: 161, 168, 175, 182