The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Blizzard Zero G 95 Review

Light, big mountain skis for human powered skiing in all conditions; you won’t ski like a movie star, but you will ski it all efficiently and easy on your wallet.
Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $700 List | $639.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Light, all around downhill performance
Cons:  Wobble in longer radius powder turns, slow down in tough snow
Manufacturer:   Blizzard
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 11, 2018
  • Share this article:
75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 12
  • Weight - 25% 8
  • Stability at Speed - 15% 7
  • Firm Snow - 20% 9
  • Powder - 20% 6
  • Crud and Poor Snow - 20% 7

Our Verdict

We skied the Blizzard Zero G 95 more than almost any other ski in our test. It is just that versatile, and our test team, truth be told, prefers light skis. That it delivers these appealing attributes at a relatively affordable price point is a real bonus. The only ski that performs better overall, and that we reached for even more often is the Editors' Choice Kastle TX 98.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Blizzard Zero G 95
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $639.99 at Amazon$949 List$699 List$559.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$480.00 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
75
100
0
86
100
0
80
100
0
79
100
0
76
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Light, all around downhill performanceLight, well-balanced downhill performanceAll around ski performance, hit what we consider to be the weight ‘sweet spot’Solid all around downhill performance, compatible with excellent Dynafit SpeedSkinsLight and versatile
Cons Wobble in longer radius powder turns, slow down in tough snowExpensive, ski “short”Grabby firm snow performance, expensiveHeavier than averageLimited poor snow performance
Bottom Line Light, big mountain skis for human powered skiing in all conditions; you won’t ski like a movie star, but you will ski it all efficiently and easy on your wallet.Excellent, all around backcountry skis for human powered adventures in nearly all conditions.Excellent backcountry skis for the majority of applications.Touring skis for he or she that prefers downhill performance to uphill efficiency.All around choice for beginner to advanced backcountry skiers on a budget.
Rating Categories Blizzard Zero G 95 Kastle TX98 Volkl VTA 98 Dynafit Beast 98 Fischer Hannibal
Weight (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
Stability At Speed (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
5
Firm Snow (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
Powder (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
Crud And Poor Snow (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Specs Blizzard Zero G 95 Kastle TX98 Volkl VTA 98 Dynafit Beast 98 Fischer Hannibal
Tested length 178 178 184 184 183
Actual Length 176 177 185 183 183
Weight Per Pair (lbs.) 5.9 lbs 6.2 lbs 6.4 lbs 6.8 lbs 6.2 lbs
Available Lengths 164, 171, 178, 185 168, 178, 188 156, 163, 170, 177, 184 170, 177, 184 162, 169, 176, 183
Claimed Dimensions 128/95/111.5 128/98/117 133/98/116 136/98/117 126/96/114
Actual Dimensions 123/94/110 122/97/116 132/98/111 126/97/116 127/97/113
Weight Per Ski grams 1340g, 1347g, average: 1344g 1394g, 1400g, average: 1397g 1454g, 1449g, average: 1452g 1541g, 1553g, average: 1547g 1421g, 1388g, average: 1405g
Weight Per Pair grams 2687 2794 2903 3094 2809
Weight per Surface Area Ratio, g/cm^2 0.7 0.71 0.69 0.75 0.69
Construction Type Sandwich Sandwich Cap Hybrid Sandwich Cap Hybrid Sandwich Sandwich Cap Hybrid
Core Material Paulownia wood, Carbon Drive Technology Karuba Wood Beech, poplar & paulownia Ash/poplar wood Paulownia wood with carbon stringers
Waist Width 95 98 98 98 97
Radius (meters) 21 22 22.3 21 21
Rocker/Camber Tip and tail rocker, camber underfoot Low camber Tip rocker Double Ellipse Rocker Tip rocker

Our Analysis and Test Results

These are good times in the ski world. This Best Buy winner is somewhat inexpensive, with high-end performance, with the backing and pedigree of a long-time ski manufacturer. The greatest testament to the quality of these skis is that our lead test editor (and IFMGA ski and mountain guide) chose these for two different ski mountaineering guiding trips to Canada in the winter of 2017-18. Travel ski guiding like this, with diverse clients and rowdy terrain, is demanding and one never knows what one is going to get. When Jed reported that he had reached for these skis, of all he had to choose from in this year's test roster, we were mightily impressed.

Performance Comparison


As compared to the bulk of touring skis, these are remarkable. The ski mountaineering and all-around performance are downright impressive. The smaller stature and super stiff construction lean away from powder performance, but in all other conditions, they almost excel. That they can do this at such a low weight and at a reasonably affordable price point is quite remarkable.

Lead test editor and IFMGA mountain guide Jed Porter halfway up Alberta's Aemmer Couloir. This 50 degree line was perfect testing for the Blizzard.
Lead test editor and IFMGA mountain guide Jed Porter halfway up Alberta's Aemmer Couloir. This 50 degree line was perfect testing for the Blizzard.

Weight


A pair of all around touring skis under six pounds is very rare. Skis that perform this well at that weight are virtually unheard of.


When we correct for surface area (a metric that doesn't really matter but helps paint a picture), the weight is a little less remarkable. In the end, in absolute terms, these skis will enable efficient climbing, whether they are on your back or your feet. When you consider downhill performance and price, this is an amazing product.

Light skis are a joy to tour on. When the travel is firm and the kit is light  watching the scenery is your most strenuous move.
Light skis are a joy to tour on. When the travel is firm and the kit is light, watching the scenery is your most strenuous move.

The only skis in our test that weigh less are very specialized. Both earn Top Pick awards, and both are really only recommended for narrow niches. The DPS Wailer 99 Tour1 is .2 pounds lighter for the pair, but is only suitable for excellent, powder snow conditions. The Atomic Backland UL 78 is more than a pound lighter than the Best Buy Blizzard, but has ski performance across the board that is way, way lower than that of the Blizzard. Of course, upgrade just a little bit in weight, and you get much better downhill performance. Our Editors' Choice Kastle TX 98 is hundreds of dollars more expensive, .3 pounds heavier, and skis much better than the Zero G.

When the up gets tough  lighten up your ski kit. The Blizzard Zero G is light for steep booting and technical scrambling.
When the up gets tough, lighten up your ski kit. The Blizzard Zero G is light for steep booting and technical scrambling.

Stability at Speed


We don't expect lightweight skis to be super stable at speed. As soon as we pick these up, we lower our expectations further, as super light skis like this are notoriously twitchy. Our testers who made that cliche "hand flex" test were even more skeptical. These are downright rigid in flex. When we compare that flex of all our tested skis, these are the stiffest. Light and stiff isn't necessarily a recipe for hard-charging stability. Nonetheless, these exceed our expectations at higher paces. We can't call them super stable, but they do better than we thought they would. In fast couloir apron exits in the Tetons and on the wide open glaciers of Alberta's Mount Hector, we could open it up as if we were on bigger rigs. We say this only about situations in which the surface was smooth and predictable.


The Kastle 98 was far more forgiving than the Blizzard, but the Zero G 95 held its own better than the Atomic UL 78 and the wobbly G3 Findr 102. Big gun and Top Pick Black Crows Corvus Freebird rocket with confidence that the Blizzard could only dream of. Close cousin Black Diamond Helio 105 is bigger, wider and just all around better at speed, as long as the snow is good.

Route finding down Alberta's Mount Hector on the Best Buy Blizzard Zero G.
Route finding down Alberta's Mount Hector on the Best Buy Blizzard Zero G.

Firm Snow


The narrow profile (relatively speaking) and super stiff longitudinal flex combine with other attributes to make a tenacious ice grabber. On steep and firm descents in Wyoming and Canada, our test team found inspiring and reliable grip. Some light skis grab well, but chatter before settling in. Something about the construction of the Blizzard (and we're not going to pretend to attribute this to any one construction or geometry attribute; ski performance is definitely more than the sum of its parts, no matter how other reviews are worded) dampens that chatter to dig in with authoritative stability.


No matter what is trendy, narrow skis grab firm snow better, and firm snow is a big mountain ski reality. If you're going to ski ice, do so on narrow skis, all else equal. 95mm isn't the narrowest available, but it does seem to be a sweet spot for all-around performance. Now, narrowness isn't the only issue when it comes to firm snow. Skis need to be constructed well too. We found that the Blizzard, for instance, grabs firm snow way better than its cousin (Black Diamond and Blizzard are rumored to use the same ski factory in Austria) Black Diamond Route 95. Interesting. The hard snow performance of the Editors Choice Kastle TX 98 was very good, despite a much softer longitudinal flex profile.

Powder


Powder snow is enjoyable, no matter what modern skis you are on. Don't believe those that all you that you need big monsters for deep powder. That being said, bigger skis are a little easier and a little more fun than little ones. The Zero G 95 that we tested are shorter than we might have liked in deep powder. We were mostly confined to shorter radius powder turns. We predict that, were we to size up with the Zero G, the longer ones would track a little better, but nothing like a fatter ski.


You won't buy these skis for pure powder touring. You will buy these skis for all-around backcountry skiing. And, the fact is, all-around backcountry skiing even in the best climates and seasons, is a lot of non-powder skiing. When you are blessed with powder, they won't let you down. If you have the good fortune of a higher than average proportion of perfect powder (Rogers Pass? Tetons?), steer clear of the Zero G 95 and lean towards something bigger like the Volkl VTA 98 or the Black Diamond Helio 105.

In real deep snow on the Blizzard Zero G we wished for a little more length and girth. We could still enjoy the fluffy  but would have also used a little more speed.
In real deep snow on the Blizzard Zero G we wished for a little more length and girth. We could still enjoy the fluffy, but would have also used a little more speed.

Crud/Poor Snow


On sloppy exits, breakable sunset couloir aprons, and suffer-fest ski traverses we had ample opportunity to ride tough snow on the Zero G 95. No one enjoys this. (well, some of our test team is a little sick…) However, everyone has to endure this in the backcountry. We look for even tracking skis that pop up out of the toughness for an edge change. Bigger, heavier skis can power through some things, but these lighter touring skis need to take a more nuanced approach; again, first impressions can mislead. One might expect that stiff and light skis would push through things, but get deflected in the process. That's sort of the case with the Zero G 95, but not as bad as you might fear. Careful, centered skiing gets one into at least slightly bad snow conditions without requiring survival techniques. When the snow is really past your comfort zone, even the best of skiers will have to resort to wedge and christie turns.


For the weight, we were impressed with the tough-snow performance of the Zero G 95. The lighter skis get pushed around far more; the Top Pick DPS Wailer 99 Tour 1, in direct comparisons, requires the skier to resort to survival turns well before the Blizzard does. Same can be said of the Atomic Backland UL 78. At the other end, the Editors' Choice Kastle TX 98 skis slop and breakable with more reliable tracking than the Blizzard.

Lead tester Jed Porter captured this elaborate selfie on a solo mission (accompanied by the Best Buy Blizzard Zero G) to his namesake peak. Mount Jedediah Smith in the Tetons held miles of tough snow. Bigger skis handle the breakable and the slop better than the Blizzard.
Lead tester Jed Porter captured this elaborate selfie on a solo mission (accompanied by the Best Buy Blizzard Zero G) to his namesake peak. Mount Jedediah Smith in the Tetons held miles of tough snow. Bigger skis handle the breakable and the slop better than the Blizzard.

Best Applications


We can heartily recommend these skis for all-around ski performance. From the steeps of Alberta's Aemmer Couloir to the slogs of Teton westside peaks, our testers literally covered the full spectrum on the tested version of the Blizzard 95.

Value


These are great, all around, lightweight touring skis for anyone on even the slightest budget. Older models of the same thing are available for significantly discounted prices, but they were also made differently. It is this latest version that we really stand by.

For all around high country ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing  the Blizzard is a value-oriented  all-purpose choice.
For all around high country ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing, the Blizzard is a value-oriented, all-purpose choice.

Conclusion


As a quiver of one for dedicated, human-powered skiers, the Blizzard Zero G is great. The uphill efficiency is almost unmatched by any all around ski. The downhill performance demands attention, but will truly serve in any conditions.


Jediah Porter