The Elan Ripstick 94 W Rips. Period. They are the most fun ski in our test group, thanks to their gnarly kick-back and elasticity, and therefore took the prize for Best in Playfulness. Their shape and profile make them a pro in the powder, and they crush in the crud. The Ripstick's minor pitfalls in carving and stability still keep them near the top of the pack in these categories. They're a hoot in the bumps, and for the cost, they're an incredible buy. We highly recommend them.
Elan Ripstick 94 W Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: A blast to ski, easy to turn, relatively stable, fantastic in powder
Cons: Not perfect carvers, some deflection in crud
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Elan Ripsticks rip. Every woman who skied these (and even some men!) loved how alive they were under their feet, and couldn't get enough. Everyone wants a pair.
Stability at Speed
The Elans felt unexpectedly secure, particularly underfoot, when we pushed them to go fast. They aren't exceptionally stiff, so we were pretty stoked when the only fluttering we felt was that of our hearts as we blasted down the run.
There is a slight flap in the tips at the highest speeds, but even then, the skiable edges under our feet were calm and adhered firmly to the snow. Regarding edge hold, we were again surprised at how well the Ripsticks performed, given their tendency toward the softer side. We did find they tended to chatter slightly on steep firm snow, but as long as we could keep them turning (and not stall out) the shudder was minimal.
This is the only area in which we felt we had to mark these skis down. If we could only just carve on the outside ski, they would be phenomenal! Unfortunately, when it came to laying down TWO clean tracks in the snow, the Amphibio profile disappointed us, not surprisingly.
The outside ski (with its inside edge of regular camber) loves to grasp the snow and dig in, whereas the inside ski (with its more rockered outside edge) just wants to skitter and slide. True, the outside ski is the one we're most reliant on, and it's the one we're putting the most pressure on, but some of our testers like the feeling of getting both skis engaged and tracking simultaneously. It's a difficult enough task to get your inside ski to carve appropriately on any pair of skis, and the Ripsticks did not make that goal any easier to attain. However, the incredible feeling of the outside ski in a carve turn was almost enough to make up for any shortcomings! That outside ski locks onto the snow like a pitbull's jaws, and it feels easy to bend.
Therefore, Ripsticks were only outdone by the Head Great Joys and the Rossignol Soul 7 HD Ws in the carving metric. They have more natural ability in this sphere than both the Blizzard Black Pearl 98s and the Atomic Vantage WMN 95 C. The Ripsticks have one of the shorter turn radii of the group, at 16.2m, and we thought they were a riot to coil up and then release the pressure, feeling them launch back into action for the next turn. One of our testers felt like the 170cm Ripsticks skied a tad shorter than the 169cm Icelantic Oracles 88s, and some others agreed that perhaps it would be worth trying the longer 177cm Ripsticks, especially for those who enjoy higher speeds and larger turn shapes. The Ripsticks feel incredibly quick edge-to-edge, partially thanks to their amazing rebound which flings you from one turn to the next. The upside of the rockered outside edge is that while they can be coerced to carve, they can also very easily be convinced to smear, and the outside edge does so with style.
The Ripsticks are a dream in powder: A vision in magenta sailing through the soft snow, their bright color seeming to reflect and splash up onto the flying fluffy stuff which is streaming over their very happy skier's head.
Their slightly spatula'ed tip shape and rockered tips keep them perfectly afloat in even deeper snow, and while they aren't quite as powder-specific as the Soul 7s, they are a close second, along with the Great Joys. At the 170cm length, the Ripsticks actually have a waist width of 95mm (though the name suggests they're only 94 — that's only for the shorter lengths), so that offers a little added lift in fresh snow. If you really want the extra fatness, get the 177s and have 96 underfoot!
Powder is where their "amphibious" nature shines; the rockered edge has an easier time staying on top and helps you butter around in the deep. We loved smearing through powdery trees on these babies!
The Ripsticks absolutely ripped through all varieties of cruddy snow, either demolishing or cruising on top of all the junk.
Their mini-spatula tips seem to diminish the surface area which might be deflected in chunky conditions. It's possible that their Vapor Tip Inserts are providing stability to the otherwise floppy rockered tips, and giving them the power to blast through lumpy terrain. While any ski would have a hard time competing with the pure brute force of the Volkl Aura in crud-busting capability, the Ripsticks definitely impressed us, along with a good "chunk" of the skis in our test, including the Blizzard Black Pearls and the Dynastar Legend W96.
These sticks RIP!!! Everyone we've met, official tester or not, has talked about how much darn FUN these babies are to ski, men's and women's versions alike.
They knock this classification out of the park (although they're also quite enjoyable within the park, so to speak), becoming the first ski ever in the OutdoorGearLab review to be accorded the Top Pick for Playfulness award. We absolutely loved how light on our feet we felt with these attached, and they were wonderfully zippy in the bumps as well as on steeps and in the trees. They are the second lightest ski in our review at 6.725lbs, after the Icelantic Oracles.
Every turn we made, we were sling-shotted exuberantly into the next. We felt like kids in a candy shop, or rather, kids on a very springy trampoline! If you want to throw these things into the air and spin them, they will fly and twirl with effortlessness and panache. We felt immediately in tune with the Ripsticks; the response time between our movements and the skis was close to instantaneous. The Soul 7s are the ski to come closest to this competitor in regards to their spiritedness, the next down the line being the Great Joys and the Icelantic Oracles.
While none of the skis in our review could be called a bump-specific ski, the Ripsticks surpass all the others in this type of terrain.
Their sprightliness and flexibility allow them to either move fluidly over the dynamic landscape or to pop up and simply soar over a section they don't like! The Ripstick's ability to move sinuously between sharp carved arcs and velvety smeared turns provides a versatility we appreciated in varying terrain. We relished their plasticity through the troughs and high-points, and their agility between the moguls.
The Ripsticks are a phenomenal choice for an advanced to expert skier who can appreciate their qualities. Even if you are an upper-intermediate skier looking to delve into the foreign world of off-piste skiing, these skis would be a superb chaperone. They are, relatively, not hard to bend, and therefore no one is far from experiencing the pure elation (Elan-tion?) which comes from their dramatic rebound at the end of a turn. If you're looking to have an absolute blast being whipped around over the snow, especially in powder, bumps, or even on-piste, these rippers are for you.
If you're looking for something a bit tamer, which still performs well in many conditions, but without the (sometimes breathtaking) spring-back stimulus, seek out the Blizzard Black Pearls. Skis that performed well in "Playfulness" but also excelled in other arenas are the Soul 7s for their powder performance, and the Great Joys for their carving.
At a retail value of only $600, these skis are an absolute steal! They are incredibly versatile, and we would be ecstatic to pay much more for the pleasure they gave us. If you buy them, go ahead and let your friends ski them, and "play" it forward. Elan has been in the business for a very long time, and they know how to make a durable and lasting ski. We're just so grateful they've now made one with such spunk!
With a reasonable price point, and an amazing ability to achieve in every metric we tested, the Elan Ripstick is a thoroughly pleasing ski. If you want to tip and rip, get out on the Elan Ripsticks.
Other Versions and Accessories
The men's version of this Ripstick, at 96mm underfoot, is made of virtually the same materials and dimensions. Elan has capitalized on the idea with the entire Ripstick line, which includes the variety of width in women's versions of 86mm underfoot and 102mm.
— Renee McCormack