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Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Review

Dependable and forgiving in softer snow, but unstable and chattery when things get firm
Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition
Credit: Elan
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Price:  $850 List
Pros:  Lightweight, good floatation
Cons:  Brittle, nervous at speed
Manufacturer:   Elan
By Bobby Garrett ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 24, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
52
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 9
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 4.0
  • Carving Ability - 20% 5.0
  • Powder Performance - 20% 7.0
  • Crud Performance - 20% 6.0
  • Terrain Playfulness - 20% 4.0

Our Verdict

Elan's new Ripstick 96 Black Edition performs best in soft and forgiving snow. Designers crafted this ski with a considerable amount more carbon material compared to the normal Ripstick version. This input of carbon serves to keep the overall weight down while adding stability and torsional rigidity for more high-performance skiing. Despite the improvements over the base Ripstick, the Ripstick 96 Black Edition earned lower than average scores in most of our performance metrics. Our testers found the most success with this ski on higher edge angles and in more predictable softer terrain.

Editor’s Note: We updated this Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition review on February 23, 2022, with an unbiased take on product value and a direct comparison to similar products, just in case this isn’t the best ski for you.

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Pros Lightweight, good floatationStable, confidence inspiring, magnetic ride qualityStiff, explosive, carving machinePowerful float, stable at speed, can arc or smear turnsPlayful, responsive, versatile
Cons Brittle, nervous at speedDamp, heavyHeavySome vibration, sometimes feels softVibrates at high speeds, overly soft tip
Bottom Line Dependable and forgiving in softer snow, but unstable and chattery when things get firmWith these on your feet, you'll be ready for anything the mountain has coming at youA combination of raw explosive power and stability puts this ski well ahead of the competition for carving and is ideal for even the firmest snow daysThe unique rocker/camber profile and wider 102-millimeter waist width promote versatile performance wherever your powder stash may bePlayful and adventurous, this ski is also manageable and forgiving. It encouraged us to explore the changing terrain over the whole mountain
Rating Categories Elan Ripstick 96 Bl... Volkl M6 Mantra Nordica Enforcer 94 Blizzard Rustler 10 Faction Dictator 2.0
Stability at Speed (20%)
4.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Carving Ability (20%)
5.0
9.0
10.0
5.0
7.0
Powder Performance (20%)
7.0
8.0
5.0
10.0
7.0
Crud Performance (20%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
Terrain Playfulness (20%)
4.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Specs Elan Ripstick 96 Bl... Volkl M6 Mantra Nordica Enforcer 94 Blizzard Rustler 10 Faction Dictator 2.0
Waist Width 96 mm 96 mm 94 mm 104 mm 96 mm
Sidecut (mm) 136-96-110 135-96-119 127-94-115.5 133-104-122.5 127-96-117
Available Lengths (cm) 164, 172, 180, 188 163, 170, 177, 184, 191 165, 172, 179, 186,191 164, 172, 180, 188 163, 171, 179, 187
Length Tested 180 cm 177 cm 179 cm 180 cm 179 cm
Turn Radius 18 m 18 m 17.1 m 17.5 m 19 m
Camber Profile Amphibio Profile Tip-Tail Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker Tip-Tail Rocker Tip Rocker/Freeride Flat Tail
Manufacturer Claimed Weight 7.6 lbs 9.4 lbs 8.9 lbs 8.9 lbs 8.2 lbs
Core Material Woodcore/Carbon Inserts Poplar/Beech/Double Titanal Wood/Double Titanium/ GR400 Carbon Glass Multi-layer Woodcore/Carbon /Fiberglass/Titanal Poplar Woodcore/Double Titanal

Our Analysis and Test Results

Elan introduces their Ripstick 96 Black Edition to improve upon the well-established Ripstick 96. This high-performance version includes Elan's VaporTip, Carbon TubeLite Woodcore, TNT Technology, and SST Sidewall. Combined with Ripstick's Amphibio profile – specialized sidecuts on the left and right skis – we expected a lot from the technology included in the Ripstick 96 Black Edition. Our testers were overall disappointed, and this ski's overall scores reflect that. There were at least a few high points to note for the die-hard Elan fans out there.

Performance Comparison


Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition all mountain skis - the ripstick 96 black edition liked higher edge angles when sliding...
The Ripstick 96 Black Edition liked higher edge angles when sliding in soft snow.
Credit: Scott Rokis

Stability at Speed


Unfortunately, we could not find the Ripstick 96 Black Edition offering any of the familiar stability or dampening qualities that we found in other skis that utilize carbon in their construction. Testers described the ski as "nervous at speed." While the infused carbon helps keep the weight down, we found that the skis bounce and chatter at higher speeds or on firmer snow.

Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition all mountain skis - the ripstick 96 black edition struggled to provide consistent...
The Ripstick 96 Black Edition struggled to provide consistent results for our testers.
Credit: Scott Rokis

Carving Ability


Our crew noted that the Ripstick 96 Black Edition had an inconsistent, "brittle" flex. We also found that even with this ski being so light, it wasn't as quick as expected. This sluggishness was surprising, especially compared to similar width but heavier skis. As far as groomers go, this ski performed best in fresh-packed powder conditions where the snow is more receptive to the ski's edge.

Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition all mountain skis - get the ripstick 96 black edition in its element and there are...
Get the Ripstick 96 Black Edition in its element and there are moments of greatness.
Credit: Scott Rokis

Powder Performance


Absolutely where the Ripstick 96 Black Edition shines the most in the steep and deep stuff. Elan's laundry list of technologies comes together and delivers a strong floating sensation in a lightweight package. While we still couldn't feel much assistance from Elan's Amphibio Profile – where the specific left and right skis have slightly different shapes – we noted the nervousness from on-piste was gone, and the ski felt nimble and athletic. Again, the Ripstick 96 Black Edition prefers a somewhat longer turn radius at a medium-type speed.

Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition all mountain skis - big slashes on the ripstick 96 black edition result in big snow...
Big slashes on the Ripstick 96 Black Edition result in big snow sprays, whether in powder or springtime slush!
Credit: Scott Rokis

Crud Performance


A surprising metric for the Ripstick 96 Black Edition was how it dealt with crud. Especially considering how difficult different crud situations can be, we gained some of our smiles back after adventuring off the groomed. Other skis still scored higher in this metric, but the Ripstick 96 Black Edition might be a ski to look at if lower weight is a top consideration for you.

Terrain Playfulness


The one-word description of the Ripstick 96 Black Edition was "brittle." Within the moments of greatness steering through trees on ridges and venturing through natural gullies, there was a constant inconsistency with the ski flex. This inconsistency was especially alarming when lining up to air over an obstacle or moving through soft, then firm, and then more soft snow.

Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition all mountain skis - bumps on the smaller side were manageable at times on the ripstick...
Bumps on the smaller side were manageable at times on the Ripstick 96 Black Edition.
Credit: Scott Rokis

Should You Buy the Ripstick 96 Black Edition?


To be frank about it, probably not. The Ripstick 96 Black Edition has some things going for it – like a lightweight, nimble feel in the deep and fluffy stuff – but at 96 millimeters underfoot, this would be an interesting choice for a powder ski. We’ve heard the argument that skinnier skis do make for more face shots, so if you live in a place where light and dry snow is common and you enjoy “skiing the bottom” on a powder day, then this is a niche ski for you.

What Other All-Mountain Skis Should You Consider?


Even though the Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition can be considered a specialty powder tool within the all-mountain category, other skis like the Blizzard Rustler 10 are more fun to ski in powder, and more versatile. We recognize that weight savings can be a major factor. Still, at the same waist width of 96 millimeters underfoot, the Faction Dictator 2.0 is marginally heavier and much more playful on a wider variety of terrain.

Bobby Garrett
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