Updates to the Vantage Line
Atomic told us they redesigned the Vantage line this year to be lighter weight and more stable. They are no longer offering the 95 size we tested. The closest replacement is the Vantage 97 C. See that new ski below, left, followed by the 95 C we tested previously.
Hands-On Review of the Vantage 95 C
The Vantage 95 C is truly a ski that can take you anywhere on the mountain with confidence. It carves up the groomers and loves to float through soft snow, and comes at a reasonable price tag too. Its 95mm waist puts it in the narrower end of the pack for waist width, but it has enough rocker in its tips to keep you afloat in powder. Our testers love skiing this responsive, versatile ski in all conditions and terrain. It loves to carve peppy turns on the groomers as well as plow through slush and turn around the bumps.
We had a lot of fun skiing in the trees on cold, soft powder with the Vantage.
Stability at Speed
Although the Vantage is not the stiffest ski we tested, it is not the floppiest, either. The K2 FulLuvit 95 was probably the floppiest of the bunch. The Vantage can hold its own at moderate speeds, but will start to chatter when it gets going. It has gotten slightly heftier with the addition of full carbon mesh throughout the ski last year, whereas previously it only had carbon tines running lengthwise through the ski. The mesh seems to make this ski slightly less floppy, adding torsional tension. The Blizzard Black Pearl 98's torsional tension is also impressive with the addition of carbon. The Vantage 95 C feels a little bit more like a big girl ski, skiing slightly longer and less responsive and plank-like.
The Vantage can hold its own at moderate speeds but will start flopping when at high speeds. We think it is slightly less stable than last year's Elysian.
Since the Vantage is a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, it does not particularly stand out in this arena. It can hold its own on the corduroy and hard pack, but it has a medium-sized turn radius and is not particularly snappy when railing turns. The Dynastar Legend W 96 has a similar size turn radius but has a more dramatic sidecut that makes it really snap in and out of the turns when carving up the piste. This ski can hold an edge with its full sidewall construction and will get you through most firm conditions easily. It may start to falter when you get it on really steep and icy conditions — just make sure your edges are sharp!
The Vantage does decently well on corduroy and hard pack, but it has a medium-sized turn radius and is not particularly snappy when railing turns.
This contender has decent edge to edge quickness but feels a bit more sluggish than the Elan Ripstick 94 W. The Head Great Joys have fun edge-to-edge quickness on the groomers and have a more conducive shape and turn radius for carving.
Even the lowest scoring skis in this review, the Volkl 90Eights are fun to ski in perfect powder, and the Vantage 95 C is no exception. When the snow is dense and fresh, these skis can hold their own and float on top of the surface. We enjoyed skiing these on a powder day with a foot of fresh. We were disappointed when we got them in the knee-deep cold-smoke powder of Canada, and they tended to dive down under the surface, and we had to get into the backseat to pull the tips up.
Jessica Haist, taking ad-Vantage of the powder skiing.
That said these are not "powder skis," so for an all-mountain ride they did decently well. Out of all the all-mountain models we tested, the Rossignol Soul 7s and the Elan Ripstick 94 W were the ones we reached for on a powder day. The Vantage has less rocker and a slimmer tip than the old Elysian, and as such seem to perform slightly poorer in the fluff. The waist is a substantial 95mm in width, putting them in the lower end of the pack for fatness. The Rossignol Soul 7 has the widest waist underfoot in this test at 106mm.
The Vantage's crud performance is middle of the road and dependent on what type of crud you're dealing with. Overall, they are an easy ski to turn, and you can bring them around in most conditions, without feeling like they would hook up on anything. The Vantage tends to prefer soft, chopped up powder versus heavy elephant snot.
Because they're easy to ski, the Vantage's can help you maneuver through the bumps.
Once the snow gets warm and heavy, the Vantage loses its spunk, and we prefer the Blizzard Black Pearl to get us through. It performs well on steep, off-piste terrain and we have fun carving down chalky bumps and soft wind buff on the Vantage. But it takes a lot of work to plow through the type of spring-like crud from the coastal snowpack that often shows up on Mammoth Mountain after a big snow storm. When we skied these on soft, cold, chopped up powder in British Columbia, they performed like a dream. The best crud busting skis we tested were the Volkl Aura.
These skis are pretty playful! They are easy to ski, and our testers have lots of fun skiing on bumped out runs and hopping off little airs. They have great edge-to-edge quickness and are relatively light, enabling hop turns when in a pinch. Since they are reliably "turny" they are fun and easy to ski on steep terrain, as long as it's not too firm. Although these skis are relatively soft, they can adapt to the changing conditions that come with skiing at the resort for a day — starting out with fresh powder and ending up with bumped out crud, or wind scoured firm snow.
We had fun trying new things on the Vantages.
Bumps Skiing Performance
As mentioned above, this ski is very easy to turn in most conditions, and the bumps are no exception. They prefer firm, chalky bumps where the crud doesn't get in the way of a smooth turn. If the moguls are in the forming stage, the Vantage is more difficult to ski, feeling soft and we get bucked around instead of being able to bust through or over the moguls. We would reach for the Elan Ripsticks or the Icelantic Oracle 88 over the Vantages if we anticipated bumps.
Though not as versatile as the Rossignol Soul 7, the Elan Ripstick, and the Head Great Joy, the Vantage is a solid ski for someone looking to dabble in off-piste terrain. This ski would be a great choice for any lady skier who wants to up their game with a fatter all-mountain ski. An intermediate skier can take charge of this ride, but can also grow in their terrain choices with the Vantage. You can take this ski anywhere from bumps to hardpack, powder in the trees to wide open steeps. Although this year's version seems to ski slightly longer, it still feels a little on the short side and ladies may want to size up if they're on the edge of one size.
We skied the Vantages up in the Great White North and had a ton of fun in varied terrain.
Depending on where you look, this pair of skis retails for $500 and is a great deal for such a relatively versatile ski. If you are an advanced or expert skier looking to up your game, you may want to drop the extra $150 for the Blizzard Black Pearl, a tool that will take your skiing to the next level.
We appreciate Atomic's choice to keep this versatile ski's price tag low. We think the Vantage 95 C is a great value and performs well all over the mountain. Whether you're carving up the zipper sounding corduroy or testing your limits in the steeps off the top, you can depend on the Vantage for a reliable ride. These skis will turn when you want them to and can handle their own in firm bumps. We would recommend sizing up if you feel like you may be at the edge of a length as they ski a bit short, and if you want a stiff ski, check out the Volkl Aura.
You can expect a fun day out when you reach for the Vantage 95 C.
In the women's Vantage line, from skinniest to fattest there are the Vantage WMN's 85, 90 CTI, 95 C. The WMN's 90 CTI has a "Carbon Tank Mesh" As well as a titanium backbone. We think this may make the Vantage 90 a slightly stiffer, more on-piste grooming specific ski. The 95 C comes with the "Carbon Tank Mesh" but not the Titanium. The WMN's 85 comes with neither, indicating that this ski will be a lot softer and meant for a beginner skier.
Atomic makes the Vantage line for men (unisex) as well. These come in the 85, 90 CTI, 95 C, and 100 CTI models.