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.
Elan Ripstick 96 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, easy to ski
Cons: Can't handle the crud
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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