Especially considering the bias some of our testers had against this ski from the get-go (they weren't particularly curious about a ski that sounded like it was named for a feminine hygiene product), this ski quickly overcame assumptions and blew us out of the frozen water.Each new environment we took the Secrets into, we loved them more and more. These are at the top of the charts in every one of our metrics, tying with the Rossignol Soul 7's for the Editors' Choice award and making them some of the most versatile skis we know. The Volkl Secrets come recommended for skiers of any ability, but they are perhaps the most exceptional choice for those in search of a one-ski quiver in a more traditionally sized vein. If you're in the market for a ski that can do it all well, but you don't plan on skiing fresh powder constantly, or aren't into the whole fat-ski craze, this Volkl is the secret to your success.
Volkl Secret 92 Review
Cons: Not the perfect powder partner
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Secrets are in some ways a replacement in Volkl's line for the ever-popular Aura, but they've really upped their game with this design. Unlike the full-rockered Aura of the past, the Secrets have regular camber underfoot and rockered tips and tails. Volkl managed somehow to blend their renowned stability with something more pliable and spirited. This combination creates a ski that excels across the board in our testing metrics, and with which our testers all fell in love. We knew at once this ski needed an award, and in the debate over which one to give it, one tester suggested "Worst Name, Best Ski!" We all agreed. You just have to get over the name and ski it to get in on the Secret!
Stability at Speed
Given the manufacturer's penchant for stiff, burly skis, it isn't at all shocking to find most Volkls to be quite stable at high speeds. The Secret is no exception, but what did surprise us was the relative ease with which it bent (totally within the bounds of an upper-intermediate skier) while still maintaining impeccable edge hold and security. All our testers, at a variety of ability levels, were able to feel not only secure in this ski's embrace, but were also able to make the ski flex and engage, which can often be a tricky feat on a Volkl ski. The Titanal Frame construction provides just enough rigidity to be reliable in the steeps and flying down hard-pack, but remains soft enough to be accessible to a wide range of skier. It seems that Volkl has finally found the secret to this balance.
The Secrets inspire confidence at any speed - whether leading your kid down a green run, blasting down a groomer to the chairlift, or hop-turning above cliffs. One tester commented that on these skis, she would feel as confident on a sheet of ice as on a bed of roses. Even on early-morning hard snow, we never felt these skis chatter or slide out from under us; every turn was as smooth as the surface we were skiing on. In steep terrain, where gravity causes our speeds to increased naturally, we felt totally confident that the these skis would carry us through the cruxes, never faltering at any point in the turn. Whenever we needed a little self-assurance, these skis cradled us and gave us unwavering support. We would take these skis off cornices, in race courses, and through the trees at high speeds secure in the knowledge that they would keep their end of the bargain.
At every turn, literally, the Volkl Secrets had surprises for us, and carve turns were not excluded. Thanks probably to the lighter Titanal Frame technology, we noted that the Secrets were easier to bend than we commonly feel on Volkls. Because we could flex them with greater ease, they were more gently coerced into making a turn which felt much tighter than their 17.9m turn radius would suggest. These skis love to hold an edge, and they grip the snow with amazing bite-force just long enough for a quick short radius turn before pinging you back the other direction for the next turn. The wonderful rebound they provide at the end of the turn, combined with the sensible 92mm width underfoot, allows for rapid edge changes and turn transitions. One tester said they were "a joy to carve" thanks to the edge hold and fun kick-back.
The Secret is a ski that definitely prefers to carve rather than to skid, but it is primarily an attribute rather than a hindrance. For instance, in the trees, when you might prefer to be buttering a flatter ski to maneuver more quickly, the Secret's agility and quickness from edge to edge makes up for its preference for carving. However, these skis are certainly very much at home on hard-packed snow or groomers, and they love to arc a clean turn.
In yet another metric, the Secrets astonished us with their prowess. We did not anticipate such skinny little skis (relatively) to make us soar through the fresh snow with such grace, but they did. One tester was certain the company had made a mistake recording their dimensions, as she was sure she must have been on something at least 100mm wide. Especially for boasting such a comparatively conservative width, they are shockingly potent in powder and float very well. They do have rockered tips with carbon structures which lends itself to greater flotation, but still, they're so little!
The Secrets will dive down beneath the snow for a moment during a turn, but then they porpoise back up to the surface like a spinner dolphin on catnip. Even when they're underneath the surface, they seem to have some kind of magical ability to maneuver easily against the resistance. Like Aquaman, this ski is powerful no matter what element it's grappling within. On a day with boot top powder but a breakable crust on top, a tester who isn't 100% confident in that type of snow was ready to buy this ski for themselves. This metric is, however, the only one in which we felt these skis were less than perfect; they are simply not the giant boats that some of our other skis are, but they still performed wildly above expectation for their size.
We found ourselves tiptoeing around the idea of skiing the Secrets in the crud, because we were all of two minds regarding our expectations. On one hand, Volkls are generally stiff, solid crud-munchers; however, this ski is not the burly beast that the Aura once was, and we were nervous it wouldn't be able to hold its own. The lightness and flexibility we'd found on the Secrets was not necessarily going to be an attribute in chopped up snow. And then, once again, they threw us a curveball. In rough conditions following storms, these skis dominate. They have a unique way of being powerful yet nimble through the crud. After skiing another lesser pair of skis in the same conditions, and feeling a bit weak and vulnerable, one tester was surprised to find that she not only survived on the Secrets, but she may have even made the snow look better than it really was!
These skis certainly know the secret to skiing in choppy conditions; at times, they plow the snow out of your way, and at others they launch themselves skyward, simply skimming over the top of the undulating terrain. Whatever you need, they give you. These Volkls have an unfettered combination of strength and grace that allows them to cruise through tricky conditions.
When we've skied Volkls in the past, "fun" is not the adjective that usually came to mind. "Powerful,""Stiff", and "Stable,"certainly, but not exactly fun. The Secrets are SO. MUCH. FUN! They have fantastically easy access to springy rebound, sending you romping around the mountain like a high-alpine pika in the summertime. They feel super light underfoot, and it's effortless to get them airborne. They want to fly!
It's impressive to find a ski that is so hard-charging - such a powerful workhorse - that also can make you feel lighthearted and free. The feeling of indomitability also contributes to making us laugh and smile on these skis - what could go wrong? Even at the end of May, as the ski season is nearing its end and we have other [warmer] activities on the brain, these skis inspired us to keep skiing. We wanted to make as many turns as we could on the Secrets before our time was up. We'd say that makes them pretty darn fun!
With their narrower waist and preference for short tight turns, these Volkls are bump-busting machines. The specs of this ski are much closer to what professional mogul skiers use than are those of most of the other skis in our review. They respond quickly to a skier's demands, and can stay on course with ease in soft slush bumps, firm morning moguls, or a tight zipper line. They are sturdy enough not to get ejected from your route but soft enough to absorb a prominence when necessary.
Even if you don't love bump skiing, give it another try on these skis and you may change your mind. You'll be feeling like Hannah Kearney before you know it!
Sitting mid-range in terms of cost, the Secrets are a solid investment that will earn you the joyous dividends of skiing your best all over the mountain, any day, in any snow. While certainly more expensive than many other skis on the market, if they're still in your price range, the Secrets will pay you back tenfold in happy turns.
One of the best all-mountain skis on the market this season, the Volkl Secret manages to thrive in every snow condition with minimal width underfoot; it thrills and impresses at every turn.
— Renee McCormack