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All-Mountain Skis

These 10 Skis With Big Personalities Are All About Having Fun

Just like people, skis have different personalities. These skis are the extroverts in the all-mountain category.

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Some skis are designed to be steady, rock solid performers on the hill. These skis are usually heavier, include at least a little bit of metal in the core, are stiffer in their flex profiles, and feature bomber sidewall constructions to assure you that there’s plenty of support underfoot. We’re talking about skis that put intermediates at ease because they’re predictable and smooth (we tend to describe them as “damp”), as well as skis that excite experts because they’re made for cruising fast and arcing on edge.

And then there are skis that are a little bit more of a wild card. These skis seem to buzz with energy and a life of their own. They’re poppy, agile, and built to accommodate a variety of skiing styles. These skis are what we describe as “playful” when we review skis in our annual Gear Guide, and they’re the ones that make skiing particularly fun and exciting.

Related: These forgiving skis won’t punish your (occasionally) sloppy skiing habits

When assessing a ski’s playfulness, our testers look for a ski that transmits energy and feels lively from turn to turn. Skis that are particularly damp or feel like lifeless planks underfoot score low in our Playfulness category.

On that topic: How we rank and review skis for our annual Gear Guide

It’s hard to pinpoint what makes a ski lively, because skis with heavy constructions can be as lively as skis built with lightweight materials. It just comes down to that secret sauce in a ski design—the perfect blend of core materials plus that extra something.

If you’re the type of skier who gravitates towards a ski with some personality, check out these all-mountain skis that scored the highest marks in the Playfulness category of SKI’s 2020-’21 ski test. And if you’re in the market for brand new skis for next season, be sure to check out SKI’s 2022 ski reviews, available in our October Gear Guide.

Join Outside+ to get early access to next season’s ski reviews

2021’s Most Playful Men’s All-Mountain Skis

2021 Elan Ripstick 96

  • Playfulness score: 4.06/5
  • Overall score: 3.75/5
"2021 Elan Ripstick 96 Men's All-Mountain Ski"

Tester comment: “The most fun Elan I’ve skied. Not sure what it is about it, but it just works. Responds to whatever language you speak to it. Very versatile, easy to jump on and just go.” —Mark Elling

Read the full review: 2021 Elan Ripstick 96

2021 4FRNT MSP 99

  • Playfulness score: 3.94/5
  • Overall score: 3.72/5
"2021 4FRNT MSP 99 Men's All-Mountain Ski"

Tester comment: “Couldn’t find enough fun terrain features to zoom these around and over. Super fun!”  —Todd Casey

See how it stacked up against the rest of the field: The Best Men’s All-Mountain Skis of the Year

2021 Rossignol Black Ops Holyshred

  • Playfulness score: 3.89/5
  • Overall score: 3.98/5
"2021 Rossignol Black Ops Holyshred mens all-mountain ski"

Tester comment: “Yeehaw! The Holyshreds are a hoot. Fun at speed, quick enough to ski bumps with confidence, and playful enough to want to take them up into the air. A fun ski that would do well for an intermediate to casual advanced skier. On firm snow they might get a little chattery, but the groomed and chalky off-piste terrain was no issue for the skis.” —Jon Sexauer

2021 J Skis Masterblaster

  • Playfulness score: 3.85/5
  • Overall score: 3.46/5
"2021 J Skis Masterblaster Men's All-Mountain Ski"

Tester comment: “This ski was so fun! I think every skier from intermediate to expert will enjoy this ski. Hard-snow integrity was awesome. Playfulness was unsurpassed. But if you buy this ski, be ready to make a lot of turns and be in shape. Your legs will be on fire. But you won’t notice until the day is over because you’ll be having too much fun.” —Mike Britt

Learn more: What we love about the J Skis Masterblaster

2021Fischer Ranger 99Ti

  • Playfulness score: 3.85/5
  • Overall score: 3.97/5
"2020 Fischer Ranger 99 Ti"

Tester comment: “Quick edge to edge, smooth transitions, and held on firm snow like a train on rails. Playful and agile in the bumps at slower speeds, but short, quick turns on steep hardpack felt a little chattery. An ex racer would enjoy this as an all-mountain ski.”  —Mike Britt

Read the full review: 2021 Fischer Ranger 99Ti

2021’s Most Playful Women’s All-Mountain Skis

2021 Stöckli Nela 88

  • Playfulness score: 4.25/5
  • Overall score: 4.01/5
"The Stöckli Nela 88 Women's All-Mountain Ski"

Tester comment: “Rainbows, unicorns, and glitter everywhere I took them. Smaller-radius carve turns deliver energy and a delicious pop into the next turn. Like that best friend who can make you smile on your worst day. For the ski pro who is looking for that turn mastery.” —Georgie Bremner

Read all about it: 2021 Stöckli Nela 88

2021 Armada Trace 98

  • Playfulness score: 4.25/5
  • Overall score: 3.91/5
"The 2021 Armada Trace 98 Women's All-Mountain Ski"

Tester comment: “This ski is FUN. It is stiff enough to nuke turns, but also playful in soft snow and crud. It’s a stiffer ski, so you have to stay on top of it, but as long as you do, this ski will do whatever you want it to.” —Courtney Harkins

See how it stacked up against the rest of the field: The Best Women’s All-Mountain Skis of the Year

2021 Head Kore 93W

  • Playfulness score: 4.22/5
  • Overall score: 4.20/5
"2021 Head Kore 93 W Women's Best in Test All-Mountain Ski"

Tester comment: “Smiles abound while riding this ski. You don’t need to think about anything but having fun and laughing. Transitions from off-piste to on-piste without missing a beat. All-mountain from bell to bell.” —Erika Northrop

Read the full review: 2021 Head Kore 93 W

2021 Elan Ripstick 94 W

  • Playfulness score: 4.20/5
  • Overall score: 4.17/5
"The 2021 Elan Ripstick 94 W Women's All-Mountain Ski"

Tester comment: “Like the best mullet: Serious in the front, party in the back. They’re called Ripsticks because they rip. Very fun, versatile ski.” —Kelli Gleason

Get all the deets: 2021 Elan Ripstick 94 W

2021 Dynastar M Pro 90 W

  • Playfulness score: 4.15/5
  • Overall score: 3.77/5
"The 2021 Dynastar M Pro 90 W Women's All-Mountain Ski"

Tester comment: “Extremely explosive when carving. Launched me from turn to turn and I had to step up and pay attention. Loved them in the bumps as they held a great arc and a smeared slide. Top marks, but not for the faint hearted. For those who love that old school pop feel.”  —Georgie Bremner

Read the full review: 2021 Dynastar M Pro 90 W

 

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