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Hands-on Gear Review
Elan Ripstick 116 Review
Cons: Hooky, asymmetrical
Bottom line: Nimble pow-slayer that also likes to lay it down on the groomers.
Showing off Elan's patented Amphibio Technology, the Ripstick 116 is an intuitively-shaped big-mountain powder board meant to shred top-to-bottom with ease. With a cambered inside edge and a rockered outside edge, the Ripstick is shaking things up with specified left and right ski construction. It has got all the bells and whistles: a Tubelite woodcore to increase dampness and stability in addition to Vaportip Inserts that absorb vibrations in fore and aft without extra weight. All that plus classic fatty dimensions with tapered SST sidewalls and you've got a fully dialed powder ski.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Our testers had mixed reviews of the Ripstick 116. Regarded as both "light and plinky" and "beefy enough to stomp", it's clear that funky design yields nuanced performance standards. Additionally, we were skeptical of this skis construction; foam is widely regarded as a chincy core material. That being said, the Ripstick was subject to the same criteria for testing and stood up to the challenge fairly well. The variability of user experience is perhaps explained by a steeper learning curve due to asymmetrical construction.
Stability at Speed
On groomers, the Ripstick is considerably easier to turn at speed and is both predictable and smooth. However, when taken off piste, the same rules don't apply. Fused with elastofoam, the Vaportip Inserts seemed to lack the necessary backbone to avoid deflection when skiing hard across the fall line. Models with metal reinforcement or carbon stringers seemed to perform better than the Ripstick in this metric. This contender just barely scored above average in this metric, earning a 6 out of 10. Models like the Blizzard Spur, Moment Bibby and Volkl Confession were top scorers, taking the cake for stability at speed.
With camber running from tip to tail on the inside, this ski had the longest effective edge in the lineup. In this case, the dedicated downhill edge of the Amphibio design was instrumental to downhill carving performance. The Ripstick was quick edge-to-edge, responsive when laid over, and had energetic rebound out of each turn. Both on and off piste, this ski was one of the more aggressive carvers, earning an 8 out of 10 - the highest in our testing. Other models like the Rossignol Soul 7 HD and Volkl Confession performed similarly, while all others were outperformed.
The tip deflection we noticed when letting the Ripstick run was also evident when skiing through bumps. While capable of cruising over soft, sluffy leftovers, our testing proved that Ripstick was less reliable on re-frozen bumps or hard contours, and earned a 6 out of 10. Again, we'd attribute this to the lack of structural reinforcements. If you're looking for a pair that will plow through the crud, we would recommend the Volk Confession or Blizzard Spur.
Even though it isn't the widest ski available, the Ripstick 116 has commendable float abilities in all kinds of fresh snow. The lightweight woodcore and rockered outside edge let the skier float with minimal effort while the gradually tapered shovel caters to a wide variety of turn shapes in powder. A quick swing weight and short sidecut radius make it a nimble option for those tight, surfy hero turns. This model offered high performance in the float metric, earning an 8 out of 10, on par with the Editors' Choice Moment Bibby, the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, the Atomic Backland Bent Chetler, and Dynastar Cham 2.0 117. Other performers, like the Line Pescado, earned a perfect 10 out 10, while the Blizzard Spur trailed closely behind, taking home a 9 out of 10.
Even though this is a directionally focused, carve-friendly powder ski, it still managed to put a grin on our testers faces. The traditional camber and stiff tails of the Ripstick give it a poppy acceleration out of each turn, but it's not so stiff that you can't butter out the finish of an arc. It's not a stunt-noodle, but this pair of planks is downright fun to ski, and it earned a 7 out of 10, comparable to the Dynastar Cham 2.0 117, but outperformed by the Moment Bibby, Atomic Backland Bent Chetler, and Line Pescado, which all earned near perfect 9 out of 10s in this metric.
The dual edged Amphibio Technology is great for skiing both freshies and hardpack without much compromise. But the Ripstick was challenged by many of the crummy conditions found anywhere between beautiful blower and manicured surfaces. Due to its inability to manage chop with finesse, we found this to be an overall less versatile ski, and it earned a 7 out of 10. Highly versatile skis include the Moment Bibby, Rossignol Soul 7, Atomic Backland Bent Chetler, and Volkl Confession, while the Dynastar Cham offers comparable versatility.
The Ripstick is best suited lift-access powder skiing when you expect to encounter mostly soft, untracked snow. The tails were obviously designed for climbing skin compatibility, though we'd expect many backcountry skiers to be happier on a more tour-friendly setup.
Gram for gram, there are better overall performers in the powder ski category. And seeing that the price is above average, a budget-conscious ski bum would get better bang for their buck elsewhere, like in the Best Buy award winning Rossignol Soul 7 HD.
There is no doubt about it, the Ripstick can certainly rip. Its large sweet spot and intuitive turn shapes made it a very comfortable ride on both groomed surfaces and deep snow. It was preferred by testers who liked a solid inside edge and more aggressive turn shapes—but also enjoyed by intermediate skiers. Whether soft and deep or firm and steep, the Ripstick will stand up and deliver.
Other Versions and Accessories
We tested the Ripstick 116 in the 185 cm length. This powder specific width is also available at 193 cm. Also utilizing the Amphibio Tehnology, Elan offers the Ripstick in a 106 mm and 96 mm waist width.
— Rob Woodworth
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