The Best Men's Carving Skis

Gear Institute’s ski test is held annually at Snowbird, Utah, in conjunction with Mountain Magazine and Outside Magazine. The 2017 test was held in late March, with more than 20 testers, several of who work in the snowsports industry as ski instructors, ski patrollers, professional athletes, and magazine editors, as well as one former member of the U.S. Ski Team. Other testers included former NCAA Division 1 ski racers, some hard-charging beer league skiers from the East Coast, and local rippers from Alta, Snowbird, Jackson Hole, Vail, Taos, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Initial product testing was also conducted in January 2017 at Copper Mountain, Colorado, during the SnowSports Industries America tradeshow.

Snowbird offers the kind of world-class terrain, including everything from expertly groomed hardpack to tight trees, windswept bowls, big bumps, steep chutes, endless cornices and all-around mixed conditions that allow us to test skis in almost every imaginable condition. With many top name ski manufacturers—Armada, Atomic, Dynastar, DPS, Rossignol, Salomon, etc…—having their headquarters in Utah (including several, such as Blizzard, with satellite offices in the Beehive State), we can also easily coordinate with the brands to ensure that we test products in exactly the kinds of conditions in which they were designed to excel. We don’t test Powder skis on hardpack, and we don’t test Frontside skis when the Wasatch is experiencing one of its legendary storms. Each day of our test we check the weather conditions, and test the right skis for those conditions accordingly.

We do test skis head-to-head, one after the other, rating them on the same criteria that we feel is most relevant to each specific category, with an emphasis on top of the line products for advanced to expert skiers who know how they want a ski to perform. The five major Classifications we focused on while testing each ski in the Carving Category were the Overall Classification, which measured how well the ski performed in almost exclusively hardpack on-piste conditions, but also including Responsiveness, Stability, Edge-hold, Carving Pleasure and Turn Shape Variability.

Below is a summary of the overall results of our test, including which ski scored the Best in Class, and how each ski scored in each specific test classification.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Volkl RTM 84
91
Best in Class
2018
Overall 8
Responsiveness 8
Stability 9
Edge-Hold 9
Carving Pleasure 9
Turn Shape 8

Great control and feel

Rock solid on edge

Perfect carving ski

Well balanced

Endless grip

Less lively than damp

Could be a little more responsive

Might be too stiff for some carvers

Needs to be in a turn

MSRP
$1,125.00
BEST DEAL
$1,059.00
evo
Blizzard Quattro RX
90
Overall 8
Responsiveness 8
Stability 9
Edge-Hold 9
Carving Pleasure 9
Turn Shape 7

Very stable

Smooth

Great Edge-Hold

Damp

Rock GS Turns

Not lively

On-piste only

Better at mid to long radius turns

Pricey

MSRP
$1,320.00
BEST DEAL
$1,091.95
Fischer RC4 The Curv GT
88
Overall 8
Responsiveness 9
Stability 8
Edge-Hold 8
Carving Pleasure 8
Turn Shape 7

Short- to medium-radius turns

Big sweet spot

Responsive

Powerful

Precise carve

Long turns

Some testers felt the tail was too stiff

Did not own any single classification

Likes to stay in an arc

MSRP
$1,099.00
BEST DEAL
$1,049.95
Elan Amphibio 14 TI
87
Edge Hold 8
Responsiveness 8
Turn Shape Variability 8
Stability 7
Carving Pleasure 8
Value 8

Smooth ski

Really good edge hold

Easy to initiate

Great frontside ski for a wide variety of skiers

Responsive and stable even at mid-speeds

Gets pushed by anything that isn't groomed

Have to stay centered

On-piste only

Needs to be on edge

Not for race ski fans

MSRP
$950.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Fischer The Curv
87
Best in Class
2016
Edge Hold 9
Responsiveness 8
Turn Shape Variability 6
Stability 9
Carving Pleasure 7
Value 8

Super damp

Speed hungry

Loves long arcs

Fantastic edge bite

Very solid underfoot

Not versatile

Doesn't do slow turns

Or short

Requires your full attention

Prefers to fly down every slope

MSRP
$1,200.00
BEST DEAL
$1,200.00
Kastle MX84
87
Overall 8
Responsiveness 7
Stability 8
Edge-Hold 7
Carving Pleasure 8
Turn Shape 9

Stable

Good turn shape variability

Solid edge-hold

Damp

All-mountain capability

Not as lively

Feels sluggish at slower speeds

Needs to be pushed to perform

Experts only

MSRP
$1,299.00
BEST DEAL
$1,039.00
Nordica GT Speedmachine 80 EVO
86
Overall 8
Responsiveness 8
Stability 8
Edge-Hold 7
Carving Pleasure 8
Turn Shape 7

Stable

Responsive

Fun to ski

Race ski performance without all the work

Exciting

On-piste only

Prefers medium-radius turns

Some testers felt they could overpower the tips

Needs to always be on edge

MSRP
$1,099.00
BEST DEAL
$999.95
Dynastar Speed Zone 12 Ti
86
Overall 8
Responsiveness 8
Stability 7
Edge-Hold 8
Carving Pleasure 9
Turn Shape 6

Quick turns

Easy to initiate

Rewards a light touch

Good edge-hold

Smooth feel

Doesn’t do long turns as well

Can be over-driven

Needs to be steered with both feet

Overpowered by some other skis in this category

MSRP
$1,000.00
BEST DEAL
$549.99
Rossignol Hero Elite LT TI
85
Overall 8
Responsiveness 7
Stability 9
Edge-Hold 9
Carving Pleasure 8
Turn Shape 4

Powerful ski

Strong Edge-hold

Stability

Perfect medium radius turner

Easy to initiate

Less lively

On-piste only

Needs to be on edge

Not as great turn shape variability

MSRP
$1,100.00
BEST DEAL
$999.95
Volkl RTM 84

The Volkl RTM 84 is one of the most versatile skis in the Carving Category, with the ability to quickly lock onto short swing, medium, and long-radius turns with exceptional grip – as well as an ease of initiation that few carving skis can match. Featuring an exquisitely constructed mix of tip and tail rocker with traditional camber underfoot, along with Volkl’s 3D.Ridge construction, which moves denser, power-transmitting materials underfoot and lighter materials to the shovel/tail and edge, results in a ski with easy to access performance and effortless arc. Ranked as their “Favorite” ski in the Carving Category by 25 percent of our test team, and “Excellent” by everyone else, this is an advanced- to expert-level carver that also features some strong off-piste performance.

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Blizzard Quattro RX

The Blizzard Quattro RX is an amazingly smooth, accurate, hardpack-specific carver with grip, especially in mid to long-radius turns. Built with Blizzard’s Sandwich Compound Sidewall IQ, the ski features a layup of wood, titanium and carbon for damp, consistent ski-to-snow contact, that is at its best on groomed and hard to icy conditions. An even, forgiving flex makes it an absolute pleasure to load the shovel of the ski from turn to turn, especially at higher speeds where the overall stability of the RX is positively confidence building. This is a “groomers-only” ski that loses performance off-piste and does feel out of its comfort zone in tighter turns. We highly recommend it for carvers who make an art out of arcing the groomed.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Amazon.com

Fischer RC4 The Curv GT

As one tester wrote after putting the new Fischer RC4 The Curv GT through its paces, “Another great ski! There are no dogs in the Carving Category.” Which is true. The Curv GT is a great ski, with a nice mix of power, authority and finesse. It absolutely owns the short and medium carve, with an ability to drive right in to some remarkably solid edge grip. A big sweet spot, courtesy of a deep sidecut and an easy, rhythmic swingweight, invite you to transition cleanly and quickly from edge to edge. Some testers did feel as if The Curv GT’s tail was a bit too stiff and felt they had to step out of a turn a little at the finish, and the ski is better at shorter turns than it is in a long radius. Overall, it’s an exciting carver with great response.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Jans

Kastle MX84

The Kastle MX84 is a carving ski that has all-mountain capabilities. Built with the brand’s Hollowtech tip and traditional camber, it’s a GS-style ski that is easy to initiate with continuous sidecut that enhances how well the MX84 grabs – and keeps – hold of a medium-radius turn. Which is not to say the ski can’t also lock into short-swing turns with a precision, or better yet, start hauling down the fall-line with superior grip. The MX84 did earn some of the higher scores in the Carving category for its Turn Shape Variability, which increases its all-mountain capabilities. It is an experts-only ski that needs to be pushed to perform and can feel sluggish and bit planky at slower speeds.

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See All Men's Carving Skis Reviews

Men's Carving Skis Review Results

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In terms of Overall ratings, every ski in the Carving Category offered superior performance. The Volkl RTM 84 took top honors with an overall score of 91, earning nothing less than an 8 (out of a possible 10) in every classification, followed closely by the Blizzard Quattro RX with an overall score of 90, and the Kastle MX84 with a score of 87. The Rossignol Hero Elite LT Ti, which we ranked best for Stability, had the lowest Overall score—a very respectable 85—only because of need to make very fast, very precise big arcs (the LT does stand for “Long Turn”).

Responsiveness Overview

Fischer’s RC 4 The Curv GT earned top scores in the Responsiveness Classification, with a 9 (out of a possible 10) for its ability to quickly grab hold of an edge with a lively finess. The Dynastar Speed Zone Ti, Volkl RTM 84, Nordica GT Speedmachine 80, and Blizzard Quattro RX also scored high in this classification, all earning 8s.

Stability Overview

Rossignol’s Hero Elite LT Ti felt like the big gun in the Stability classification—despite the ski’s narrow profile—with a rock steady ability to feel calm and confident that fast and longer we made the ski arc. The Blizzard Quattro RX, Kastle MX84, Nordica GT Speedmachine 80, Volkl RTM 84 and Fischer RC4 Curv GT also scored well in this classification, earning scores of 9 or 8.

Edge-hold Overview

Edge-hold was high across the board in the Carving Category, with every single ski earning a 7 at the lowest, or 8s and 9s at the top. This is a hallmark of the category, with many of the skis exhibiting superior grip on groomed/hardpack conditions, with Rossignol’s Hero Elite LT Ti, Fischer’s RC4 The Curv GT, Nordica’s GT Speedmachine 80, and Dynastar’s Speed Zone Ti especially providing the kind of power and accuracy that would easily crossover to a slalom or GS course.

Carving Pleasure Overview

Ditto for the Carving Pleasure classification. While no ski earned a perfect 10 (out of a possible 10) for Carving Pleasure, every ski did earn an 8 or 9, as every model we test for carving provided excellent, continuous edging on hardpack conditions, with the Kastle MX84 and Volkl RTM 84 in particular also maintaining that performance off-piste.

Turn Shape Variability Overview

Turn Shape Variability was the classification in which we saw the most variation in scores, as skis like the Dynastar Speed Zone Ti got a 6 because of its preference for tight, short turns, while the Rossignol Hero Elite LT Ti scored a 4, because the ski is made specifically for arcing long and fast. Kastle’s MX84 and Volkl RTM 84 earned a 9 and an 8 respectively, with their wider waist widths transferring well from hardpack to cut-up snow off-piste, while every other ski we tested earned a respectable 7 (out of possible 10), for their overall ease of use.