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The Best All-Mountain Skis of 2019

Grabbing some style-y air on the Pinnacle 88 TI. It is not the most playful ski we tested  but we continuously took to the skies with them.
By Andrew Pierce ⋅ Review Editor
Friday November 8, 2019
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Looking for the best skis for blasting down snowy slopes in 2019? We evaluated 50+ all-mountain skis before testing the best for three months. Our testers encountered all types of conditions from incredibly firm human-made ribbons of snow to dumps of fresh powder from Mother nature and everything in between. Seeking the holy grail of truly all-mountain planks, our team of testers put every ski through the same rigorous testing process to ensure fair and accurate reviews. Through extensive skiing, we discovered which model charges the hardest, carves the gnarliest, and floats in pow the best. We also took them through the moguls and off every single feature we could find to check their agility and playfulness. Compiling experience and expertise, we carved out each ski's unique details to guide you to the right pair to match your downhill style.


Top 14 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 14
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Awards Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $650.00 at Amazon
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$799.95 at REI
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$699.95 at REI
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$1,098.95 at Backcountry
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$639.96 at Amazon
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Pros Fast, solid, consistent, large sweet spotHard charging, fun, easy to skiGreat all around ski, great pop, easy to swingSuper stable at speed, hard chargingExcellent carving ski, quick
Cons Minor chatterSlight chatter at high-end speedSometimes feels soft, skis shortExpensive, geared towards experts only, unforgivingChatter in the tips, poor powder performance
Bottom Line 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.A hard charging ski that likes to go straight and fastThis contender has superb edge hold and energy through turns.
Rating Categories Volkl M5 Mantra Black Crows Daemon Blizzard Rustler 10 Kastle FX96 HP Nordica Enforcer 93
Stability At Speed (20%)
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Carving (20%)
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Crud (20%)
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Powder (20%)
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Specs Volkl M5 Mantra Black Crows Daemon Blizzard Rustler 10 Kastle FX96 HP Nordica Enforcer 93
Intended Purpose All Mountain All Mountain All Mountain/Soft Snow All Mountain All Mountain/Firm Snow
Ability Level Intermediate-Expert Intermediate-Expert Intermediate-Expert Expert Expert
Shape 134 - 96 - 117 mm 132 - 99 - 120 mm 135.5 - 104 - 125.5 mm 133-96-119 mm 126 - 93 - 114 mm
Available Lengths 170,177,184,191 170, 177, 183, 188 164, 172, 180, 188 172, 180, 188 169, 177, 185, 193
Waist Width 96 99 102 96 93
Radius 21.2m 20m 14.5m, 16m, 17.5m, 19m 18.1m 15.5m, 16.5m, 18.5m, 20.5m
Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker Full rocker, reverse camber Rocker/Camber/Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker
Weight Per Pair 4252 5265 4126 3817 4464
Core Material Beech, poplar Poplar wood Multi-layer wood Poplar/Beech/PAULOWNIA/Carbon/Fibergalss Beech and poplar wood
Tested length 184 183.6 188 180 185

Best Men's All-Mountain Ski


Volkl M5 Mantra


Editors' Choice Award

$650.00
(7% off)
at Amazon
See It

90
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 9
  • Carving - 20% 9
  • Crud - 20% 10
  • Powder - 20% 9
  • Playfulness - 15% 8
  • Bumps - 5% 8
Ability Level: Intermediate-Expert | Turn Radius: 21.2m
Fast
Solid and consistent
Large sweet spot
Minor chatter

The Volkl M5 Mantra is precisely what our testers imagine when dreaming about a true "one ski quiver." It absolutely charges through crud, yet is remarkably lively in the powder. It holds an edge extremely well in all snow conditions and speeds but also releases turns easily in choppy snow. It is lightweight enough to be comfortable in the air and when navigating mogul troughs. This ski is just as at home on an East Coast groomer as it is in blower champagne powder in Utah as it is in steep chutes and big drops in the Sierra Nevada. Volkl recently brought the M5 back to its Mantra roots and reintroduced camber underfoot. Although some people enjoyed the version of the Mantra's with a unique full rocker profile, most of our testers were pleased with the pop and energy the camber delivers. The M5 also has a much larger sweet spot and is more forgiving than previous models, which makes it more accessible to a wider range of skier abilities and put it back on top our the men's all-mountain ski lineup.

This year's version is unchanged, and as a result, there is still not a whole lot to complain about. Our testers did notice some minor chatter when flying down the mountain at speed, but it wasn't enough to compromise performance or lower its rating scores. All of the positive features found in these planks more than make up for this small flaw. Because of this we have once again awarded the Mantra M5 the esteemed title of best Men's All-Mountain ski of 2019-2020.

Read review: Volkl M5 Mantra

Best Bang for the Buck


Head Kore 93


Best Buy Award

$449.99
(31% off)
at Amazon
See It

80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 8
  • Carving - 20% 8
  • Crud - 20% 7
  • Powder - 20% 8
  • Playfulness - 15% 9
  • Bumps - 5% 8
Ability Level: Beginner-Expert | Turn Radius: 17m
Lightweight
Snappy
Fun
Some chatter

The Head Kore 93 is one of the few skis that we tested in the men's all-mountain Ski category that was highly rated, but does not have metal inside. The Kore is a super fun and snappy ski that handles most every snow condition easily. Because it was such a close contender with our current AND former Editors' Choice award winners and retails for a lower price, the Head Kore 93 wins our Best Buy award. Feel confident in picking this ski for your one ski quiver. It will reward you with smiles all the way down.

The Kore falls behind our other top contenders because it can't keep up in the crud that you will inevitably encounter on the mountain, more specifically, in refrozen conditions. While the Kore 93 might be a little more soft snow oriented than other skis in this category with a similar width underfoot (93mm), it is an excellent ski in most conditions.

Read review: Head Kore 93

Best Soft Snow Ski


Blizzard Rustler 10


86
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 8
  • Carving - 20% 8
  • Crud - 20% 8
  • Powder - 20% 10
  • Playfulness - 15% 9
  • Bumps - 5% 8
Ability Level: Intermediate-Expert | Turn Radius: 19m
Soft snow oriented but can handle it all
Easy to swing around
Great pop
Skis a bit short

We think the Blizzard Rustler 10 is a perfect option if you tend to find your way to the mountain when the snow is fresh. It is an incredibly close finish between the Daemon, theM5 and the Rustler, with the Rustler being a clear favorite of our testers in powder. This ski has a slight soft-snow bias, but that should not dissuade you from buying this ski no matter where you live. The Rustler is effortless in the powder and can make any turn you want, but still snappy and responsive on the hardpack. It's also super playful and loves to be hucked off of rocks, logs, and park features.

This ski suffers a bit of tip chatter when the conditions firm up but still performed at a high level when our testers pushed them through the crud. The Rustler really is a do-it-all ski that will have most skiers feeling like heroes, especially in soft snow.

Read Review: Blizzard Rustler 10

Best On-Piste Carver


Nordica Enforcer 93


Top Pick Award

$639.96
at Amazon
See It

80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 8
  • Carving - 20% 10
  • Crud - 20% 8
  • Powder - 20% 7
  • Playfulness - 15% 7
  • Bumps - 5% 7
Ability Level: Intermediate-Expert | Turn Radius: 18.5m
A carving expert
Speedy
Great price point
Narrow for powder days

The Nordica Enforcer 93 wasn't the only model to earn high marks in the carving testing category, but it was the one that stuck out to our crew of testers. It hung in there with very stiff competition and blew away others designed for on-piste superiority with much smaller waists and more traditional profiles. The early rise tip and tail make it super easy to initiate turns and release out of them. The two titanal layers sandwich a wood core, which creates the power, consistent flex, and rebound our testers raved about while riding them. Despite all that, it is still relatively forgiving, and even an intermediate skier would be able to harness its power.

It fell behind compared to the others in our review when Mother Nature delivered the white goods. We attribute that lack of float to the relatively narrow waist and relatively narrower tip and tail. This is not to say the Enforcer 93 cannot handle a powder day, BUT, if you prefer on-piste and tend to run into firmer conditions, this may be the all-mountain choice for you. This is especially true if you like to roll skis over on their edges and pull some Gs while arcing beautiful turns.

Read review: Nordica Enforcer 93

The Head Kore 93 is a prime example of what our testers are looking for in a true men's all-mountain ski. It is forgiving enough to be playful and surfy  but has enough backbone to power through crud. The Kore 93 is lively and fun  whether on or off-piste.
The Head Kore 93 is a prime example of what our testers are looking for in a true men's all-mountain ski. It is forgiving enough to be playful and surfy, but has enough backbone to power through crud. The Kore 93 is lively and fun, whether on or off-piste.

Why you should trust us


We sought out expert opinion from three primary testers who were tasked with trying out these skis day-in and day-out, and comparing each of them in as many different conditions as a drought year would allow. Our testers come from different backgrounds, have unique styles, and differ in their taste. Many other friends and colleagues provided input for each test model to temper the strong opinions of our lead testers.

Andrew Pierce, Lead Test Editor

  • Age: 28 HT: 6'1" WT: 185lbs
  • Occupation: Professional Ski Patroller, Heavenly, CA

At the age of 15, he wandered from the plains of Kansas into the mountains of Colorado and slid down the mountain on two pieces of wood for the first time…and was hooked. Andrew spent 9 winter season ski patrolling in Lake Tahoe. He is now an Avalanche Forecaster and Control Specialist in Washington and spends his free time, you guessed it, skiing.

During the summer months, he continues his hunt for snow in South America where he works as a ski patroller and heli-ski guide in Chile. There, he throws explosives, skis the steeps, and takes guests to some of the best terrain in the summer hemisphere. Andrew has dedicated his life to finding the best snow on earth and then skiing it.

Ryan McPartland, Collaborating Tester

  • Age: 35 HT: 5'8'' WT: 185 lbs.
  • Occupation: Ski Patroller, Heavenly, CA.

Ryan McPartland takes the first word of his job title (SKI Patroller) seriously. He can often be seen railing turns on the groomers on his way to help an injured guest or blowing through the powder on his way back from morning avalanche control. He somehow manages to find the time to successfully an entire staff of professional ski patrollers AND shred all day long.

Ryan's favorite models in this review are the Blizzard Rustler 10 and Blizzard Bonafide. His first day on the Rustlers happened to be a two-foot powder day (where the Rustlers shine the most), but he made sure to ride them through all sorts of conditions. When the snow firmed up, he trended towards an expert level charger on-piste charger, the Bonafide. He must have some Blizzard in his DNA…

Jason Scott, Collaborating Tester

  • Age: 35 HT: 5'11'' WT: 185 lbs.
  • Occupation: Professional Ski Patroller, Heavenly, CA.

Jason Scott, better known in our crew as simply "J", was born and raised local on the south shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe. His parents got him on skis at the age of two, and he was sending 360s at the age of 7. He also competed in freestyle skiing all over the country. J is our go-to tester for truly evaluating the playfulness of a ski because you rarely find him on the ground. He was constantly sending our less playful skis off cliffs and, of course, putting them through his "tip-press test." During our photoshoots for the skis he was always on the lookout for the perfect nature feature to huck a huge backflip off of. Soon. J would also like you to know that he enjoys sunsets and long pow runs on The Face.

Analysis and Test Results


The one-ski quiver may seem like a unicorn, especially when searching through the plethora of options out there, but the top-rated products in this review can handle any conditions, performing well no matter the snow quality or terrain. The skis that score well across the board are the most versatile, and this is the most important characteristic of a true all-mountain ski. The models that are the best for a broad range of terrain and conditions are consequently our two highest scorers — the Volkl M5 Mantra and Black Crows Daemon.

Some of the models in our test fell into sub-genres. They are slightly less versatile but excel in specific conditions. There are several that are stiff, quick edge-to-edge, and carving powerhouses, like the Rossignol Experience 88 TI. Then there is the surfy soft-snow specialist, the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, and the all-business hard-charging Kastle FX96 HP.

We rated each product on its stability at speed, performance in powder snow and crud, playfulness, and even its bumps performance. Instead of rudimentary kick-the-tires sort of tests (i.e., hand flexing and fondling), we tested these models throughout a variable snow season by having a team of testers with a wide variety of skills and abilities put in as many days as possible on each pair.


Value


If you're looking to build a one ski quiver, chances are that value is an important factor in deciding on your next pair of boards. There is plenty of bang for your buck in this ski selection. The Head Kore 93 offers excellent all-mountain performance for a middle of the road price, which earns it our Best Buy award. Of course, for a relatively small price increase, you could buy the even more versatile Volkl M5 Mantra, our Editors' Choice. If price is no issue and you want the highest quality materials put into a handmade ski, the Kastle FX96 HP could be your go-to.

The Head Kore 93 is a fantastic value  and won our Top Pick award for Best Bang for the Buck. AT $600 retail  the Kore 93 is a very reasonable price for modern skis  especially when you consider how well it performed in during the testing of our men's all-mountain skis. This ski delivers incredible performance all over the mountain and leaves some cash in your pocket to grab a beverage at your favorite apres party.
The Head Kore 93 is a fantastic value, and won our Top Pick award for Best Bang for the Buck. AT $600 retail, the Kore 93 is a very reasonable price for modern skis, especially when you consider how well it performed in during the testing of our men's all-mountain skis. This ski delivers incredible performance all over the mountain and leaves some cash in your pocket to grab a beverage at your favorite apres party.

Stability at Speed


A ski's stability is particularly important at speed. A ski is stable when it stays on the ground, doesn't chatter too much in a turn, and remains in control. We assess stability by testing in steep terrain where edge hold is critical, by going fast where a product is challenged to hold an edge and not chatter, and by testing on firm and icy snow where vibration can sometimes shake you enough to limit your confidence.


A ski's stability is related to many factors, including its rocker/camber profile and its construction and stiffness. Stiffness is measured torsionally (think twist) and along the length of the ski, particularly in the tip and tail. Stiff models take more energy to flex and drive, but the result is better edge hold and stability at speed. Stiff models like the Kastle FX 96 HP handle speed and firm snow with ease and can punch through variable conditions. Stable models like the Volkl M5 Mantra, Rossignol Experience, and our highest scoring Kastle FX96 HP, which take some of the highest stability scores, can hold an edge at high speeds and feel damp, suppressing vibration on firm and icy slopes.

The Blizzard Bonafide is not a ski that shy away from speed. In fact  the Bonafide actually performs better the faster and harder you pus it.  This ski is responsive and damp and performs as we would expect in a men's all-mountain ski from Blizzard.
The Blizzard Bonafide is not a ski that shy away from speed. In fact, the Bonafide actually performs better the faster and harder you pus it. This ski is responsive and damp and performs as we would expect in a men's all-mountain ski from Blizzard.

Softer models like the Rossignol Soul 7 HD and even the burlier Fischer Ranger 94 FR chatter more at speed and struggle to hold an edge on hard-packed snow. They prefer to dance through harsh, bumpy snow rather than plow through it. Some of the chatter does come from the rocker, but the soft flex and lack of a metal laminate do not help them when things get firm and steep. The Rossignol Soul 7 HD is one of our lowest scorers for this metric. They are playful and easy to use but are nothing short of spooky at speed, especially on firm snow.

The Rossignol Experience 88 ti likes to go fast! While it feels a bit clunky and heavy when skied a slower  when you really push the Experience 88 ti to its speed limits it performs like a race specific ski.
The Rossignol Experience 88 ti likes to go fast! While it feels a bit clunky and heavy when skied a slower, when you really push the Experience 88 ti to its speed limits it performs like a race specific ski.

Weight can also be a factor in stability. Weight is primarily determined by the materials used and the ski's dimensions. Heavy models like to stay on the ground and can be more stable at speed. Lightweight versions, like the Fischer Ranger 94 FR tend to be easier to use and more maneuverable but may dance around more. However, high weight doesn't mean stiffer, and lightweight ones aren't always soft. Testers who enjoy being light on their feet and playing with the terrain tend to prefer lightweight models. Friends that push their gear hard and shred aggressively, plowing through bumps and going fast, liked heavier, stiff models.

The Volkl Mantra M5 performed well in nearly every category  and carving was no exception. The redesigned version for 2018-2019 increases the sidecut and decreases the turn radius. Volkl also widened the sweet spot on the ski and made it easier for even intermediate skiers to tame. All of this combines to make a ski that can carve any turn shape  is super quick edge to edge  and has incredible edge hold. The M5's carving abikity is one of the many reasons this ski won our Editor's choice award in our men's all-mountain ski category for 2018-2019.
The Volkl Mantra M5 performed well in nearly every category, and carving was no exception. The redesigned version for 2018-2019 increases the sidecut and decreases the turn radius. Volkl also widened the sweet spot on the ski and made it easier for even intermediate skiers to tame. All of this combines to make a ski that can carve any turn shape, is super quick edge to edge, and has incredible edge hold. The M5's carving abikity is one of the many reasons this ski won our Editor's choice award in our men's all-mountain ski category for 2018-2019.

Carving


Resorts are well-maintained playgrounds. Groomed terrain accounts for most beginner and intermediate trails at the majority of resorts. For the expert, groomed slopes are opportunities to open it up, make big turns, and push your limits in a more controlled environment. For this metric, we scored each model based on its edge-to-edge quickness, carving ability, and edge hold. There were quite a few top contenders for the best carving ski of the bunch this year. With plenty of groomers at our ski tips this season, and were able to really lay each and every ski over on edge.


All-mountain skis that have a more traditional design, like camber underfoot and a slightly narrower waist, are usually preferred for carving and on-piste performance. The Nordica Enforcer 93, and the Rossignol Experience 88 TI all standout as skis with designs that seem to lean towards carving and groomed snow, and they do it well. But skis like the Volkl M5 Mantra and the Head Kore 93 handle a carve nearly as well, or even better, and they are much more versatile.

The current design of the Nordica Enforcer 93 has been around a few years and developed quite a reputation for being a destroyer of pistes. The Enforcer was built to carve groomers  and won a Top Pick award in the men's all-mountain ski category of 2018-2019 for Best On-Piste Performer.
The current design of the Nordica Enforcer 93 has been around a few years and developed quite a reputation for being a destroyer of pistes. The Enforcer was built to carve groomers, and won a Top Pick award in the men's all-mountain ski category of 2018-2019 for Best On-Piste Performer.

Rocker/Camber — Many all-mountain skis have a certain amount of camber under the foot. This arching shape when it rests flat on the snow gives a ski pop and energy. When compressed, it helps create the shape of the turn. Rockered designs are the opposite. They form a bowl shape when resting flat and pull the snow contact point toward the center of the ski. This shortens the ski's effective edge length. Less edge contact with the snow can make for quicker and easier turn initiation. With a more turned-up tip, rockered skis are more likely to float in soft snow without adding width underfoot. Many models feature any combination of camber underfoot, early-rise tips (rocker tip), or rockered tails.

The Nordica Enforcer, the top carver in the test, has a rockered tip for easy turn initiation, a bit of tail rocker for easy turn release, and camber underfoot, which results in lots of pop and energy. This ability helped the Enforcer 93 earn a top pick for its on-piste abilities. Conversely, the Black Crow Daemon has a fully rockered design that looks like a smooth, gradual bend from tip to tail. Though convention suggests that a fully rockered model would not carve well, this is not the case. The Daemon carves excellent turns.

The Black Crows Daemon does not have the typical profile that you might associate with great carving ability. It has full rocker (no camber  what?) and a pretty mellow sidecut with a large turn radius. Despite these design characteristics  the Daemon carves right along side the best skis in the 2018-2019 men's all-mountain ski category.
The Black Crows Daemon does not have the typical profile that you might associate with great carving ability. It has full rocker (no camber, what?) and a pretty mellow sidecut with a large turn radius. Despite these design characteristics, the Daemon carves right along side the best skis in the 2018-2019 men's all-mountain ski category.

Rocker technology is found in most of the skis reviewed here and is becoming more common in general. Skeptics are critical of this rocker shortening the effective edge and resent that newer designs are skiing short. Rockered tips don't make contact with the snow unless you are railing turns, and they can appear to be and feel a bit floppy when carving (see the Rossignol Soul 7 HD or Fischer Ranger 94 FR for an examples). On the plus side, rocker profiles enable skiers to use longer models and help wider versions perform better on firm snow and groomed terrain. Overall, we believe that designs that feature some amount of rocker are more versatile for most people.

The Volkl Mantra M5 slays the fresh powder in this photo. The M5 is fun in all conditions  and despite being thought of as a burly  hard-charging ski  it is quite nimble and floaty in pow.
The Volkl Mantra M5 slays the fresh powder in this photo. The M5 is fun in all conditions, and despite being thought of as a burly, hard-charging ski, it is quite nimble and floaty in pow.

Powder Performance


Once you wander off the groomed trails, the mountain can throw any condition your way. While testing, we encountered a generous amount of powder, but also wind-buff, bumps, corn snow, breakable crust, boilerplate, and everything in between. The variability is immense, and we're asking a lot for a ski to shine in pristine to tough conditions. Because of this, we rate each competitor on its performance in different snow conditions. We begin this by evaluating everyone's favorite: powder. We scored this based on each ski's ability to float through powder and stay on top when the snow gets deep. We looked for a surfy and floaty feel. Almost every model is fun in perfect powder because perfect powder is fun and easy to ski! There were, however, some notable differences in their performances in the soft stuff.


Among the competitors, the Blizzard Rustler 10 shows the clearest preference for soft snow. The Rossignol Soul 7 HD is not far behind. With wide waists, big shovels, and lots of rocker, they were the obvious favorites in powder conditions. The less obvious favorite was the Volkl M5. Once again, the M5 impressed in this category keeping up with the very best and providing fun and float in the fluffy.

The Rossignol Experience 88 ti is definitely not revered for its pow slaying abilities  but the 2018-2019 version performed better in fresh snow than previous iterations. It has enough tip rocker and surface area to handle small powder days  but look to other skis in our men's all-mountain ski category if you looking for a soft snow oriented all-mountain ski.
The Rossignol Experience 88 ti is definitely not revered for its pow slaying abilities, but the 2018-2019 version performed better in fresh snow than previous iterations. It has enough tip rocker and surface area to handle small powder days, but look to other skis in our men's all-mountain ski category if you looking for a soft snow oriented all-mountain ski.

The Elan Ripstick 96 and Dynastar Legend X96 are also impressive in fresh snow, though both may struggle on truly bottomless days. From there, the skis are a little narrower or have a bit less rocker, and they don't float as well.

Most of the models in this review are a bit on the narrow side for a powder ski, ranging from 88mm to 102mm underfoot. In general, wider waists perform better in softer snow and struggle on-piste and firm conditions. But modern designs are changing that paradigm. Rocker designs help to keep ski tips float above softer, deeper, and more variable snow conditions.

Our testers have crowned the Volkl Mantra M5 the Unofficial King of Crud. This ski is able to blast through all sorts of cruddy snow conditions. It is incredibly damp yet agile and quick. The tips and tails do not get hooked up  and the rocker in front helps the ski rise to the top. The M5 outperformed all of the other skis tested in this category.
Our testers have crowned the Volkl Mantra M5 the Unofficial King of Crud. This ski is able to blast through all sorts of cruddy snow conditions. It is incredibly damp yet agile and quick. The tips and tails do not get hooked up, and the rocker in front helps the ski rise to the top. The M5 outperformed all of the other skis tested in this category.

Crud Performance


Variable snow is a challenge. Even though crud is not a desirable condition to ski, we all encounter it, and having the right tool to get you through it is key. Our crud/chop/poor snow metric highlights well-rounded models that can hold their own anywhere on the hill. We rated crud performance based on each model's ability to dance through chopped up powder and plow through variable conditions. Think refrozen choppy snow, breakable crusts, heavy slush, and any other unpleasant type of snow. We asked ourselves, do these skis like to hook up, or can they still turn smoothly in harsh conditions? Can they plow through crusts, or do they dive? Does the chatter from frozen snow reverberate through the ski to your brain?


Stiff models like the Volkl M5 Mantra punch through crud well. The M5 earned our highest score in this category and the unofficial crown as King of the Crud. It tracks well through chunder and is damp enough to keep you comfortable and confident. Rocker tips and wider waist widths provide a lot of surface area help keep you floating on top of the muck, like the design of the Black Crows Daemon or Blizzard Bonafide. The Daemon is a close second to the M5 in this test. But, in the cruddiest conditions, the Daemon can buck you around.

If you find yourself firm conditions more often than not  then you'll love the Nordica Enforcer 93. While it performs best on fresh groomers  the Enforcer will keep you steady and stable when you inevitably encounter crud on the mountain.
If you find yourself firm conditions more often than not, then you'll love the Nordica Enforcer 93. While it performs best on fresh groomers, the Enforcer will keep you steady and stable when you inevitably encounter crud on the mountain.

Conversely, softer models tend to get bounced around in uneven snow. They make you more likely to resort to survival skiing techniques instead of riding confidently over the chop.

If you're searching for a playful ski  the Volkl Mantra M5 may not come to mind  but don't overlook the newly redesigned Mantra. The 2018-2019 version is much more forgiving  and our testers found themselves seeking out any airs they could find rather than avoiding any big impacts.
If you're searching for a playful ski, the Volkl Mantra M5 may not come to mind, but don't overlook the newly redesigned Mantra. The 2018-2019 version is much more forgiving, and our testers found themselves seeking out any airs they could find rather than avoiding any big impacts.

Playfulness


Playful models are easy to use, responsive, adapt well to changing terrain, and are fun! Planks that are a little loose and quick-to-turn with lots of pop are a go-to choice for the all-mountain terrain park. Gullies, little airs, and bumps are playgrounds for those who are light on their feet and creative with their terrain choices.


The Blizzard Rustler 10 and the Head Kore 93 are the most playful skis we tested. Our testers loved their surfy and flexy feel. The Volkl M5 impressed as well with its playful pop into airs and forgiving flex on the landing, and the Fischer Ranger 94 FR showed an ability to be ridden switch. These skis encouraged us to keep eyes peeled for potential launch points when heading downhill. While we don't expect any of these skis to perform like a designated park ski, in order for us to truly test them, we have to take them all over the mountain, and that includes the park.

The Head Kore 93 are an incredibly playful ski. The lack of any titanal layers  which are popular in most of the skis in the men's all-mountain that we tested. This ski is super lightweight and poppy  as well as forgiving  and that makes for a ski that is incredibly fun to bounce around the mountain on.
The Head Kore 93 are an incredibly playful ski. The lack of any titanal layers, which are popular in most of the skis in the men's all-mountain that we tested. This ski is super lightweight and poppy, as well as forgiving, and that makes for a ski that is incredibly fun to bounce around the mountain on.

Some models, like the Blizzard Bonafide and the Like Sick Day 95, felt a little dead and less forgiving than the top performers in this category.

the Volkl Mantra M5 is obviously not a traditional bump ski  but it performed at the top of the men's all-mountain ski category of 2018-2019 in the moguls. It is quick and lightweight enough to maneuver easily in tight spaces  and sports a flex that combines well with a bit of tip rocker that makes it easy to zipper through your favorite line.
the Volkl Mantra M5 is obviously not a traditional bump ski, but it performed at the top of the men's all-mountain ski category of 2018-2019 in the moguls. It is quick and lightweight enough to maneuver easily in tight spaces, and sports a flex that combines well with a bit of tip rocker that makes it easy to zipper through your favorite line.

Bump Performance


When commuting around the mountain to find the best snow, you'll inevitably find skied up snow that is set up into seemingly endless mogul fields. These aren't the fun zipper lines that have some rhythm to them, they're more erratic in shape and spacing. There are some sacrifices to be made for a contender to handle the bumps well. They are a bit softer, to shape themselves to the terrain with plenty of pop to bounce quickly. Pairs with consistent flex and that are quick underfoot handle this terrain best. Sizing down to shorter skis makes them more nimble in the bumps as well.

One of our testers having a blast in the bumps.
One of our testers having a blast in the bumps.

While none of the products in this test are designed specifically with moguls in mind, skis like the Volkl M5 Mantra and the Head Kore 93 handled all sizes of bumps well. Neither of these skis, despite their length, felt like too much ski to maneuver quickly in tight bumps. The Kore 93 is incredibly light, which also helps. The tip rocker and slight tail rocker in both of these skis ensure easy turn initiation and release and do not hook up when bashing bumps. The Black Crows Daemons benefit from their full rocker profile in a very similar way. .


Skis like the Rossignol Soul 7 HD are too wide and hooky. As a result, we felt worked after a lap through the bumps on them. Find something less prone to holding you hostage in the turn if you seek out bump lines.

The Volkl Mantra M5 defintitley deserves the Editor's Choice award for the best men's all-mountain ski of 2018-2019. Every single one of our testers absolutely raved about the M5. It was super fun and capable in any and every condition we took it in to. Volkl has really raised the bar in terms of what a true all-mountain ski is capable of.
The Volkl Mantra M5 defintitley deserves the Editor's Choice award for the best men's all-mountain ski of 2018-2019. Every single one of our testers absolutely raved about the M5. It was super fun and capable in any and every condition we took it in to. Volkl has really raised the bar in terms of what a true all-mountain ski is capable of.

Conclusion


We've all been there, looking for a new pair for the season, but unsure of where to start and not wanting to dump your life savings into buying several pairs of skis. We hope we've been able to help you decide which pair of planks to spend your dough on. For the all-mountain review, we sought out products that are wide enough to handle soft snow but have dimensions and design features that allow them to rip up the hard-packed snow as well. Rest assured that there is a pair out there for everyone, and we've made it our mission to help you find them.

We keep our testers of the men's all-mountain skis happy with a few key ingredients: sunshine  pow  tons of skis to play on  beverages  and food. All of these ingredients plus a crew of RIPPING skiers make for what is arguably the most stringent  fair  and accurate testing criteria for men's all-mountain skis.
We keep our testers of the men's all-mountain skis happy with a few key ingredients: sunshine, pow, tons of skis to play on, beverages, and food. All of these ingredients plus a crew of RIPPING skiers make for what is arguably the most stringent, fair, and accurate testing criteria for men's all-mountain skis.


Andrew Pierce