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Elan Ripstick 96 Review

This is an all mountain ski that doesn't stand out in any particular category, but handles most conditions well.
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Price:  $650 List | $649.00 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, easy to ski
Cons:  Can't handle the crud
Manufacturer:   Elan
By Andrew Pierce ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 15
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 7
  • Carving - 20% 8
  • Crud - 20% 7
  • Powder - 20% 7
  • Playfulness - 15% 7
  • Bumps - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The Elan Ripstick 96 is a ski with a racing backbone that was designed for use across the entire spectrum of snow conditions in a true all-mountain sense. While it does not perform exceptionally well in any one particular rating category, it also does not flounder. You are not required to be an expert skier to be able to control and fully appreciate its design features. The Ripstick 96 is best suited for an intermediate to advanced level skier who is comfortable ripping it up on the groomers but is also looking to start exploring what the rest of the mountain has to offer.


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Elan Ripstick 96
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, easy to skiFast, solid, consistent, large sweet spotHard charging, fun, easy to skiGreat all around ski, great pop, easy to swingExcellent carving ski, quick
Cons Can't handle the crudMinor chatterSlight chatter at high-end speedSometimes feels soft, skis shortChatter in the tips, poor powder performance
Bottom Line This is an all mountain ski that doesn't stand out in any particular category, but handles most conditions well.The new Mantra, now called the M5, is more user friendly than previous versions but is still a powerful and consistently fun ski.The Daemon is a hard charging ski that can be tamed.Fantastic all around ski that will for perform for skiers of all abilities.This contender has superb edge hold and energy through turns.
Rating Categories Elan Ripstick 96 Volkl M5 Mantra Black Crows Daemon Blizzard Rustler 10 Nordica Enforcer 93
Stability At Speed (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Carving (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
10
Crud (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Powder (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
7
Playfulness (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Bumps (5%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Specs Elan Ripstick 96 Volkl M5 Mantra Black Crows Daemon Blizzard Rustler 10 Nordica Enforcer 93
Intended Purpose All Mountain All Mountain All Mountain All Mountain/Soft Snow All Mountain/Firm Snow
Ability Level Beginner-Expert Intermediate-Expert Intermediate-Expert Intermediate-Expert Expert
Shape 134-96-113 mm 134 - 96 - 117 mm 132 - 99 - 120 mm 135.5 - 104 - 125.5 mm 126 - 93 - 114 mm
Available Lengths 167, 174, 181, 188 170,177,184,191 170, 177, 183, 188 164, 172, 180, 188 169, 177, 185, 193
Waist Width 96 96 99 102 93
Radius 18m 21.2m 20m 14.5m, 16m, 17.5m, 19m 15.5m, 16.5m, 18.5m, 20.5m
Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker Full rocker, reverse camber Rocker/Camber/Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker
Weight Per Pair 3212 4252 5265 4126 4464
Core Material Carbon Tubelite/Wood Beech, poplar Poplar wood Multi-layer wood Beech and poplar wood
Tested length 181 184 183.6 188 185

Our Analysis and Test Results

Elan is by no means new to the ski industry and has been a leading innovator of ski technology since its foundation in the 1940s. They really came onto the American scene in the 1990s and were known for aggressive sidecut and shaped skis. One of their most recent innovations of adding camber to the inside edge and rocker to the outside edge of the ski, called Amphibio, can be found in their all-mountain ski, the Ripstick 96.

We tested the Elan Ripstick 96 in a 181cm length, which comes with 134-96-113 dimensions, an 18m turn radius, and a rocker-camber-rocker profile. All this to say, that the Ripstick has the classic design of an all-mountain ski, but with a few innovations unique to Elan that make it a ski that can be used with ease by nearly every skier type comfortably in most snow conditions.

Performance Comparison



The Elan Ripstick 96 does not require an expert skier to reap the benefits of this middle of the pack all-mountain ski.
The Elan Ripstick 96 does not require an expert skier to reap the benefits of this middle of the pack all-mountain ski.

Stability at Speed


With a name like the Ripstick 96, you'd expect to be able to tear up the mountain with reckless abandon on these planks, and the majority of average skiers can. Only our strongest and most extreme testers felt instability in the Riptstick, and even then only felt a lack of edge control and chatter when maching down the steepest of runs in subpar conditions.

In all but the worst conditions at the highest speeds  the Elan Ripstick 96 felt relatively stable. Most skiers will feel confident opening it up on these skis  especially on their favorite groomers.
In all but the worst conditions at the highest speeds, the Elan Ripstick 96 felt relatively stable. Most skiers will feel confident opening it up on these skis, especially on their favorite groomers.

The vast majority of our testers found the Elan Ripstick 96 to be sufficiently stiff and damp, despite the lack of metal inside, at nearly any speed. In fact, the lightweight wood core gave our testers confidence in their ability to maneuver and direct this ski no matter the velocity. We attribute some of the confidence-inspiring nature of this ski to the flex pattern, which is softer and more forgiving to intermediate skiers than some of our hard-chargers in this category.

Carving Performance


Make sure you have these skis on the right feet! Camber on the inside edge of the Elan Ripstick 96 is unique to this brand. Our testers had a hoot laying these skis on edge.
Make sure you have these skis on the right feet! Camber on the inside edge of the Elan Ripstick 96 is unique to this brand. Our testers had a hoot laying these skis on edge.

Elan really made its name by being one of the first companies to develop skis with lots of sidecut that were carving machines, and the Ripstick 96 obviously has the DNA of those early Elan designs. While we found them to be a bit slow on edge to edge transitions, once on edge, it was hard to hold in our hoots of joy.

The Amphibio profile is truly unique and quite apparent, especially if you put the skis on the wrong feet. The camber on the inside edge of the ski allowed our testers to really drive the ski through the apex of their turns, and the rocker on the outside edge made for super easy turn initiation and release. And while the Ripstick does not seem to have the pop and energy of the top performers in this category, our testers had a whale of a time of them when setting them on edge.

Crud


The Elan Ripstick 96 performed similarly to most of the other skis that we tested that claim to be lightweight; poorly. The company claims that "vaportip reinforcement" reduce vibration, improve stability, and save weight, but our testers found the tips of the skis to be prone to chatter and deflection when the snow was firm or refrozen.

The land of the crud! A little wind board  a little refrozen chunder...maybe even some weird manmade snow or ice in there. Although the Elan Ripstick 96 were not our favorite skis in the variable snow  our testers put them through the wringer just like every other pair in the lineup.
The land of the crud! A little wind board, a little refrozen chunder...maybe even some weird manmade snow or ice in there. Although the Elan Ripstick 96 were not our favorite skis in the variable snow, our testers put them through the wringer just like every other pair in the lineup.

Now, not all crud is created equal, and during the months of daily testing of these skis, our testers did find that the Ripstick handled softer types of crud (chopped pow, schmoo, etc.) with a little more grace. But in the end, we found ourselves escaping back to the groomers when conditions were really variable.

Powder


When mother nature blessed of with a fresh coat of white natural goodness on the mountains, the Elan Ripstick 96 quite well, and had our testers measuring the ski underfoot to see if it was really on 96mm. In all powder conditions, except for deep blower, we felt like this ski had plenty of float.

We did find the tail of the ski to be a bit stiffer and less lively than top performers in this category. But, the large rockered tip kept the skis on top, and the soft flex, combined with a low swing weight, allowed our testers to glide nimbly through the fresh.

Though no powpow was had during this photoshoot  our testers got their chance on the Elan's on a multitude of powder days. The large rockered tip  highlighted in this photo  was the main reason our testers attributed to this ski having so much float.
Though no powpow was had during this photoshoot, our testers got their chance on the Elan's on a multitude of powder days. The large rockered tip, highlighted in this photo, was the main reason our testers attributed to this ski having so much float.

Playfulness


While we don't think anyone would buy the Elan Ripstick 96 if they were going to be spending lots of time hitting big booters and throwing double corks in a superpipe, they can handle your average skier's side hits and small jumps.

For a company that is more known for making skis with on-piste shredding and carving abilities  Elan made their Ripstick 96 pretty fun to play around with. While not scoring at the top of our testing metric  our testers still had a blast.
For a company that is more known for making skis with on-piste shredding and carving abilities, Elan made their Ripstick 96 pretty fun to play around with. While not scoring at the top of our testing metric, our testers still had a blast.

The stiffer flex through the mid and tail of this ski doesn't do it any favors when trying to get sendy, but our testers did find it easy to maneuver skis in mid-air when doing shifties and 360s. All in all, not bad results from a company known more for it's on-piste shredding, but we feel there are definitely more playful skis that we tested.

Bumps


If you've checked the dimensions of the Elan Ripstick 96, you may have already written off this ski's performance in the bumps. Normally, a big shovel up front with a wide waist underfoot does not equate to much fun in moguls, but the Ripstick proves otherwise.

One of our testers is seen here navigating a mellow mogul field on the Elan Ripstick 96. The Ripstick 96 is definitely not a true bump ski but will give you a smile or two if you venture into some.
One of our testers is seen here navigating a mellow mogul field on the Elan Ripstick 96. The Ripstick 96 is definitely not a true bump ski but will give you a smile or two if you venture into some.

Our testers found this ski's soft flex in the tip of the ski as an advantage in tight bumps. That, combined with the skis light swing weight, allowed us to absorb the energy coming into the trough of a mogul and quickly pivot the skis into a position to navigate the next. The skis large dimensions aren't doing it any favors and our testers noticed a bit of hooking in the tail, but we enjoyed the Ripstick zippering moguls together more than anticipated.

Value


This pair of skis falls right in the middle of the pack in terms of prices of men's all-mountain skis. In our opinion, this is totally fair, given that it scores almost exactly average compared to the other skis in this review in nearly every rating category.

Conclusion


The Elan Ripstick 96 is a quality ski with a low entry fee. Meaning, that it is incredibly easy to ski, but also delivers a high level of performance. It does not excel in any one type of snow, but it handles all of them well. Unlike some skis that we tested, the Ripstick will not leave you feeling abused at the end of the day if you're not on top of your game. In fact, it may have you thinking you conquered the mountain. ALL of the mountain.


Andrew Pierce