Between its ability to drift atop the surface of fresh snow and its unceasing knack for rebound, the Elan Ripstick 94 W is a strong competitor in soft snow and on the fun-o-meter. We awarded it a Best Buy Award for its great price and excellent performance in powder, but its skills are not found only in one type of terrain. It was also the most playful ski we found this year, and that quality transferred all over the mountain. We wished it had been a slightly smoother ride in the crud and that it had just a little more dampness in the tips when going fast, but overall we were smiling on this ski. If you’re a west coast girl who gets out on storm days and likes a nimble ski, this is your pick.Editor’s Note: We updated this Elan Ripstick 94 W review on March 6, 2022, to include more information from our in-depth testing process, an unbiased assessment of value, and a size-up against other comparable skis.
Elan Ripstick 94 W Review
Cons: Gets bouncy in crud, slight tip flap, doesn’t carve perfectly
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Elan Ripstick 94 W
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|Pros||Awesome powder tool, fabulous fun factor even for light skiers, affordable price||Crud blaster, dependable, great one-ski quiver option, good for every ability level||Great stability at high speeds, good on hard snow and crud, more affordable than others||Superbly stable at high speeds, great edge hold||Very lively, makes pivoted tight turns, twin tips, beautiful artwork|
|Cons||Gets bouncy in crud, slight tip flap, doesn’t carve perfectly||No wow-factor, not a lot of rebound||Only for shallower pow days, needs strong skier to guide them||Too burly for lighter gals, not nimble||Not built for taller women|
|Bottom Line||A fun and responsive toy for powder days, groomer antics, and bumps, with a value-oriented price tag||A great all-rounder ski that we think is the most versatile option for a one-ski quiver||This model will do great in everything but the deepest powder and is ideal for an aggressive skier||A good choice for hard-charging speed demons that still performs decently off-piste||A fun ski that likes to pivot and get airborne, but lacks high-speed stability, especially for larger women|
|Rating Categories||Elan Ripstick 94 W||Nordica Santa Ana 98||Faction Dictator 2.0X||Volkl Secret 96||Icelantic Riveter 95|
|Stability at Speed (20%)|
|Carving Ability (20%)|
|Powder Performance (20%)|
|Crud Performance (20%)|
|Terrain Playfulness (15%)|
|Specs||Elan Ripstick 94 W||Nordica Santa Ana 98||Faction Dictator 2.0X||Volkl Secret 96||Icelantic Riveter 95|
|Waist Width||94 mm||98 mm||96 mm||96 mm||95 mm|
|Available Lengths (cm)||154, 162, 170, 178||151, 158, 165, 172, 179||155, 163, 171, 175, 179, 183, 187||149, 156, 163, 170||155, 162, 169|
|Length Tested||178 cm||172 cm||171 cm||170 cm||169 cm|
|Turn Radius||18 m||16.3 m||18 m||16 m||16 m|
|Camber Profile||Rocker tip and tail, cambered inside edge, Amphibio tech||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot|
|Weight Per Pair||7.4 lbs||8.1 lbs||7.9 lbs||8.5 lbs||7.3 lbs|
|Construction Type||SST sidewall||Energy Ti W||Sandwich||Full sidewall||Durasurf 2001 P-Tex sidewall|
|Core Material||Tubelite wood||Performance Wood & Metal||Paulownia & Poplar||Beech and poplar||Poplar|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The new iteration of the Elan Ripstick 94 W doesn’t have the same rebound magnitude as the old version, but our testers still loved the feeling of kickback and agility it lent. The "Amphibio" design of this ski is a little complicated, and it may help to read the "Rocker Profiles" section of our Buyer's Advice article.
Stability at Speed
While we weren’t exactly unimpressed by the Ripstick 94 in this metric, if all you want to do is go fast and make large radius turns on groomers, there are other skis that might suit you better. This model provides a solid ride for a ski that performs well in many other metrics.
Our testers found that the edge held adequately on firm, steep snow, and there was steadiness along most of the ski length. The tips, however, do get a little flaccid even though the rest of the ski feels stable.
At only 7.4 pounds per pair, the Elan Ripstick 94 is on the featherweight side of the skis we tested and is noticeably lighter than other skis at 96 millimeters underfoot. Often lightweight skis tend to bounce around, but that's not exactly the case with the Ripstick 94.
Since our last test, Elan has added a carbon line technology to improve high-speed stability. It feels like it was successful in our experience of the ski underfoot, but that dampness did not reach the ski's tip.
The Ripstick 94 has negative and positive qualities in this metric. This model would be phenomenal if we could only carve on the outside ski. Unfortunately, when it came to laying down two clean tracks in the snow, the Amphibio profile disappointed us, not surprisingly.
With its inside edge of regular camber, the outside ski loves to grasp the snow and dig in. The inside ski just wants to skitter and slide with its rockered outside edge. The outside ski is the one we're most reliant on when carving a turn, and it's the one we're putting the most pressure on. But some of our testers appreciate 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 Ripstick 94 did not make that goal any easier to attain.
The incredible feeling of this ski through a carved turn makes up for any shortcomings.
That outside ski locks onto the snow like a pitbull's jaws, and it feels easy to bend. The astounding rebound felt in a carved turn after releasing the edge is pure joy, which bumped its score up a tad in this metric.
This ski technically sits in the middle of our test group in terms of its turn radius at 18 meters, but our testers felt that the Ripstick 94 generally wanted to make a shorter, tighter turn. We thought it was a riot to coil up and then release the pressure, feeling it launch back into action for the next turn.
This ski feels incredibly quick edge-to-edge, partially thanks to its amazing rebound, which flings you from one turn to the next. The upside of the rockered outside edge is that while the ski can easily carve, it can also very easily be convinced to smear, and the outside edge does so with style.
The Riptick 94 is a dream in powder: A vision in purple sailing through the soft snow; the color seems to reflect and splash up onto the fluffy flying stuff which is streaming over the very happy skier's head. It wins an award not only for its great price but specifically in this metric for its capacity to make every type of fresh snow fun to ski, even the tough stuff.
The ski's slightly spatula-shaped and rockered tips help keep it perfectly afloat in even deeper snow. Powder is where this ski's "amphibious" nature shines; the rockered outside edge has an easier time staying on top and helps you butter around in the deep. We loved smearing through powdery trees on this model. The Amphibio design helps the ski stay afloat and offers an easier turn initiation, adding to the already spry sensation it lends.
The extremely rockered tips and 94-millimeter width underfoot make this adventure-focused design made this ski a life-saver in the deep and dense. In snow that would otherwise turn around all but the most hearty of powder-hounds, this ski kept sending us back into the lift line for more.
Even in challenging fresh snow conditions – heavy and deep Sierra cement – the Ripstick 94 more than just survived. It turned snow that would otherwise be barely sufferable into a legitimately fun experience, and that is saying something.
Unfortunately, the elements which make this such a joyful ski in other terrain were to its detriment in heavier, chopped-up snow. The lightweight nature of the Ripstick 94makes it feel so fun in the air and makes it bend and rebound easily, making it limp in the crud.
When we kept it on top of the chunky layer, it made for an irritatingly bouncy ride. If we tried to dig it down deep into the chop, it just didn’t have the tenacity to bust through it. The large rockered tips, which allow it to perform so well in powder, deflected in the crud and threw us off balance. The only real highlight is their lightness: it is easy to get them airborne, and in the air, there’s no bumpiness. But you can’t stay airborne all the time.
This ski knocks this classification out of the park (although it's also quite enjoyable within the park, so to speak), with previous iterations winning awards specifically for its playfulness. While we chose not to honor it in the same capacity this season, we still got a huge kick skiing it, and it scores the highest in the test group for this metric.
We loved how light on our feet we felt, and it was wonderfully zippy in the bumps and on steeps and in the trees. The Ripstick 94 is also one of the lightest skis in our review at 7.4 pounds per pair. 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 this thing into the air and spin it, it will fly and twirl with effortlessness and panache. We immediately tuned into the Ripstick 94; the response time between our movements and the ski was close to instantaneous.
The characteristics which made the Elan Ripstick 94 a playful powder ski also allowed it to impress us in the moguls. Because it is easy to bend, we never felt stunted or stuck in a trough. Its lightness meant we could move it quickly and get it into the air if we wanted.
The Ripstick’s kick-back at the end of the turn popped us right over towards the next bump, and the rockered outside edge helped us smear and pivot our way down the run. Even our smaller testers on this longer version we skied were pleasantly surprised by how nimbly they navigated a mogul field on this ski.
Should You Buy the Ripstick 94 W?
Not only is the Ripstick 94 one of the most fun skis we tested, but this specially-designed pair is very reasonably priced. For those who are lucky enough to enjoy regular powder skiing, this ski floats much better than its 94-millimeter width suggests. That narrow waist adds versatility to play in everything but the chunkiest snow all over the mountain. Flexible, nimble, and outrageously fun, the Ripstick 94 is all but guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
What Other Women's All-Mountain Skis Should You Consider?
The Elan Ripstick 94 W is a great option for an all-mountain ski, especially for those who love powder skiing. But it is lively and is geared towards intermediate-advanced skiers. For those looking for a bit more stability – especially on groomers – the Nordica Santa Ana 98 is a much more reliable option. If you always miss those fresh turns and show up just in time to hop into the chop, a more powerful ski like the Faction Dictator 2.0X is a much better crud-buster.
— Renee McCormack
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