Elan Ripstick 96 ReviewDecember 6, 2017
- Turns are automatic
- Giant sweet spot
- Wicked grip
- Lots of energy
- Won’t let go of a carve
- Not so much float
- Lost some performance at higher speeds
- Prefers short to medium-radius turns
- Some testers wanted a beefier ski
When it comes to carving, the Elan Ripstick 96 absolutely rips. Elan’s Amphibio Technology, asymmetrical skis with dedicated left and right skis featuring camber on the inside edge for grip and control, and rocker on the outside edge for ease of initiation, results in a ski that simply dives into a turn with authority and finesse. For people who like to carve, this is the best pure carving ski in the All Mountain Category. Lightweight, responsive and wonderfully predictable – particularly in short to medium radius turns – the Ripstick 96 convinced even our hardest chargers to slow down just a little and enjoy how good it feels to make the perfect arc.
Elan’s “Tubelite Woodcore,” featuring two carbon tubes inserted into a laminated woodcore, also provides a lightweight flex with power that is easy to access. In the shovels, Elan also adds what the brand calls “VaporTip Inserts,” to absorb vibrations and reduce weight. Elan refers to these two design features as TNT Technology, which is key to creating such lightweight performance. That same superlight feel, though, had some testers wanting a beefier big mountain ski when they felt it was time to test the speed limits. The ski also lost some performance at higher speeds when testers pushed it outside of its comfort zone, which is carving at a short- to medium-radius. The ski does have decent float, but prefers hard snow from groomers to bumps. Overall, one of the best pure carving skis we’ve ever had the pleasure to test.
Overall classification scores for the Elan Ripstick 96 ranged from 10s (out of 10), to 8s, with one sole tester disappointed in the ski’s high speed, hard snow performance, giving it a 6. The majority of testers were completely blown away by how well this ski carves, how easy it is to ski, and how much fun they had skiing it., The Ripstick 96, like the Dynastar Legend X88, does feel like it may be more at home in the Frontside because of its penchant for hard snow performance, the ski more than held its own in the All Mountain Category of the Gear Institute Ski Test.
The Elan Ripstick 96 also earned top scores for its Responsiveness. The Amphibio Technology shows its quality in groomed and hard snow carving, where the asymmetrical skis make getting into and out of a turn absolutely automatic. The TNT Technology (see Full Review) also ensures a smooth, even shovel flex, with a lightweight feel arc after arc.
Stability is the only classification where the Ripstick 96 got varied results. That’s because in a carve, the ski has unshakeable grip, a damp feel, and a rhythmically methodical ability to go from edge to edge. Try to go very fast – and straight – on the hardpack, or try to get the same dreamy carve in powder or crud, and you’ll not only take the ski out of its comfort zone, you won’t get to experience the kind of consistent arc that is the 96’s strong suit.
Despite the Amphibio Technology, with its mix of rocker and camber in the tip, the Ripstick 96’s Resort Float ratings were OK, but this is still a ski that performs best on hardpack conditions, where it excels, and loses some of its unique “carveability,” when it has to rely on float and deflection rather than arc and finesse.
Bottomline: The Elan Ripstick 96 is the best pure carving ski in the All Mountain Category. Once you start angling this ski into a series of satisfying arcs, you won’t want to stop.Continue Reading
Peter Kray- Publisher
Peter Kray is a co-founder of the Gear Institute, and a longtime specialist in the testing of skis, snowboards and outdoor equipment.