The Best Men's Frontside 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 whom 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. Initial product testing was also conducted in January 2017 at Copper Mountain, Colorado, during the SnowSports Industries America trade show.

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
Head Supershape Titan Ski Test Results 2016
95
Best in Class
2015
Edge Hold 9
Responsiveness 10
Turn Shape Variability 9
Stability 9
Carving Pleasure 9
Value 9

Responsive at any speed

Best mid-radius turn in the category

Fun & playful

Excellent edge hold

Awesome carving ski

A little sluggish at short radius turns

Most rewarding for stronger skiers

Did not own any single category (other than overall performance, that is)

MSRP
$1,075.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Rossignol Experience 88
94
Best in Class
2018
Float 8
Stability 9
Edge Hold 9
Carving Pleasure 10
Turn Shape 8

Everything about this ski feels spot on

Very responsive, to a hard or light touch

Great turn variation

Also handles well off-piste

Great edge hold

A couple of testers would have liked a stiffer ski

And also felt medium radius turns were its strong

More damp, less pop

Needs to be on edge

MSRP
$800.00
BEST DEAL
Dynastar Course Speed Ski Test Results 2016
92
Edge Hold 8
Responsiveness 9
Turn Shape Variability 8
Stability 9
Carving Pleasure 9
Value 9

Fantastic edge hold

Handles variable speeds equally well

Excels at short and mid-radius turns

Very smooth feel

Pure carving ski

Very narrow waist width

Always in carve mode

Other skis were easier to initiate

MSRP
$900.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Nordica Fire Arrow 80 Ti Ski Test Results 2016
92
Edge Hold 10
Responsiveness 8
Turn Shape Variability 7
Stability 10
Carving Pleasure 9
Value 8

Excellent edge-hold

Superior stability

Good turn shape variability

Confident at high speeds

Rips on every hardback condition

For experts only

No auto-pilot--requires full concentration

Might last longer than you do

MSRP
$1,049.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Atomic Vantage 90 CTI
92
Float 6
Stability 9
Edge Hold 9
Carving Pleasure 9
Turn Shape 9

Smooth, seamless turns

Amazing edge hold

Quick edge-to-edge

Great versatility

Confidence inspiring performance

Absolutely rips at high speed

More carve than float

Performs better at higher speeds

Needs to turned all the time

MSRP
$725.00
BEST DEAL
Rossignol Pursuit 800 Ski Test Results 2016
91
Edge Hold 8
Responsiveness 9
Turn Shape Variability 8
Stability 9
Carving Pleasure 9
Value 8

Super damp

Strong under foot

Carving machine

Easy to initiate

Good hold

Not versatile

Skied short--think about sizing up if you buy this ski

Narrow underfoot

MSRP
$1,100.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Volkl RTM 84 Ski Test Results 2016
91
Edge Hold 10
Responsiveness 8
Turn Shape Variability 7
Stability 9
Carving Pleasure 9
Value 8

Loves groomers

Arcs on steep hardpack

Excellent at medium radius turns

Better at higher speeds

Excellent carver

Great grip

Not very playful

Not as versatile as other skis in this category

Very little room for error

MSRP
$1,150.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Salomon X-Max Ski Test Results 2016
90
Edge Hold 9
Responsiveness 8
Turn Shape Variability 7
Stability 9
Carving Pleasure 8
Value 9

Great short radius turn performance

Super grip on ice

Very stable

Responsiveness

Easy to initiate

Easy to over ski

Needs to be in a turn all the time

Better for skiers who like drive, rather than ride a ski

MSRP
$950.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
HEAD Monster 88
90
Float 6
Stability 10
Edge Hold 9
Carving Pleasure 8
Turn Shape 7

Incredible stability

Powerful

Carves with authority

Owns the carve

Excellent edge hold

Not nimble

More damp than pop

It's a lot of ski!

Needs to be pushed

MSRP
$800.00
BEST DEAL
Blizzard Power X8 Ski Test Results 2016
89
Edge Hold 9
Responsiveness 8
Turn Shape Variability 7
Stability 9
Carving Pleasure 8
Value 8

Explosively powerful

Endless grip

Very stable

Lots of pop

Awesome at mid to long range turns

Lots of work to make shorter turns

Not as exciting at moderate speeds

Needs to be driven

MSRP
$1,080.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Scott Black Majic Ski Test Results 2016
89
Edge Hold 8
Responsiveness 9
Turn Shape Variability 8
Stability 8
Carving Pleasure 8
Value 8

Fun to ski

Easy to initiate

Reliable hold

Versatile enough to ski in some off-piste conditions

Little bit of extra rocker makes it accessible to wider range of skiers

Not for ex-racers

Bigger skiers can overpower it

That extra rocker benefits West Coast skiers the most

MSRP
$900.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Fischer Pro Mtn 86 Ti
89
Float 6
Stability 8
Edge Hold 8
Carving Pleasure 9
Turn Shape 8

Great edge hold

Super responsive

Feels energetic and damp at the same time

Seamless transitions

Exciting ski

Loses a little performance off-piste

Needs to be driven all the time

Some testers over-powered it at high speeds

MSRP
$799.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Volkl Kendo
88
Responsiveness 8
Float 6
Versatility 7
Stability 9
Carving 10
Value 8

Super carver

Quick and stable

Easy to turn

Can really load up the end of a carve

Unshakeable torsion

Not as forgiving

More damp than lively

Less float

Better on piste than off

Needs to be on edge

MSRP
$825.00
BEST DEAL
Salomon XDR 84 Ti
88
Float 7
Stability 7
Edge Hold 8
Carving Pleasure 9
Turn Shape 7

Confident, energetic feel underfoot

Effortless to initiate

Great edge hold

Quick turner

Fun, super round turns

Not as damp

Not as good at big turns

Some testers didn’t like it at high speeds

Needs to be driven all the time

MSRP
$725.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Kastle MX89
88
Float 5
Stability 9
Edge Hold 9
Carving Pleasure 9
Turn Shape 6

Solid feel underfoot—damp and beefy

Stable

Great edge-hold

Master of the GS turn

Charges the fall-line

Needs to be driven

Loses performance at slower speeds

And in shorter turns

Demands your full attention

MSRP
$1,299.00
BEST DEAL
Blizzard Brahma
88
Float 5
Stability 10
Edge Hold 9
Carving Pleasure 8
Turn Shape 6

Super stability

Great edge control

Loves to go fast

Super damp feel

Powerful carve

Not very versatile

Loses performance off-piste

And at slower speeds

Have to be on your toes

Intermediates need not apply

MSRP
$780.00
BEST DEAL
evo
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
Dynastar Legend X84
87
Float 6
Stability 7
Edge Hold 8
Carving Pleasure 9
Turn Shape 7

Great turn variability

Super edge hold

Responsive

Easy to ski

Nice progressive flex

Felt short—larger skiers will want the 184 length

More lively than damp

Best on softer surfaces

There are a couple better carvers in the class

MSRP
$700.00
BEST DEAL
Atomic Redster DD XT Ski Test Results 2016
86
Edge Hold 10
Responsiveness 7
Turn Shape Variability 6
Stability 10
Carving Pleasure 7
Value 6

Impeccable edge hold

Loves speed--the more, the better

Super carving machine

Rewards hard chargers

Stiff tail

Does not go slow

For experts only

Not maneuverable

MSRP
$1,200.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Fischer Progressor F19 Ti Ski Test Results 2016
86
Edge Hold 9
Responsiveness 7
Turn Shape Variability 6
Stability 9
Carving Pleasure 8
Value 7

Good edge hold

Solid carver

Damp feel

Very stable

Little bit of work to ski

Not versatile

Too stiff for anything but GS turns

MSRP
$1,050.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Elan 84 XTi
86
Float 4
Stability 7
Edge Hold 9
Carving Pleasure 9
Turn Shape 7

Very responsive

Edges well

Easy to Initiate

Versatile turn shapes

Smooth feel

Lost a bit of performance at higher speeds

And on early spring hardpack snow

Better at short to medium radius turns

Not as much flotation

Some people still don’t like dedicated “left” and

MSRP
$899.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Armada Invictus 89TI
86
Float 8
Stability 7
Edge Hold 7
Carving Pleasure 6
Turn Shape 8

Great edge hold

Damp feel—really connects to the snow

Easy to initiate

Stable and predictable

Big sweet spot

Better performance at higher speeds

Not very lively

Better off-piste than on groomed

A few testers would have preferred less tip rocker

MSRP
$700.00
BEST DEAL
Elan Amphibio 16 Ski Test Results 2016
84
Edge Hold 8
Responsiveness 7
Turn Shape Variability 8
Stability 6
Carving Pleasure 8
Value 7

Lightning quick

Easy initiation

Damp hold

Smooth turns

Quickness comes at some cost to stability

Felt limited to medium radius turns

And moderate speeds

MSRP
$1,100.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Line Supernatural 92
84
Float 7
Stability 8
Edge Hold 7
Carving Pleasure 7
Turn Shape 5

Damp

Good hold on hardpack—even refrozen slush!

Bigger turns are best

Easy to steer

Solid edge grip

Not lively underfoot

Some testers felt it had a speed limit

Especially off-piste

Mixed reviews on how it handles various turn shape

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
Liberty Origin 90
82
Float 7
Stability 7
Edge Hold 7
Carving Pleasure 5
Turn Shape 6

Good edge-hold

Forgiving flex

Loves off-piste, like windpack and bumps

Nice initiation

Easy-to-access performance

Not a pure carver

Hard snow is not its strong suit

Need to load the shovel

Struggled with short radius turns

MSRP
$725.00
BEST DEAL
Black Crows Orb
81
Float 8
Stability 6
Edge Hold 6
Carving Pleasure 5
Turn Shape 6

Great short turns

Good float

Very easy to initiate

Maneuverable

Fun wherever you take it

Better on softer snow

Not as precise a carver

Loses performance at higher speeds

Pronounced tip rocker can make it feel short

MSRP
$699.00
BEST DEAL
K2 Pinnacle 88
80
Float 7
Stability 6
Edge Hold 6
Carving Pleasure 6
Turn Shape 5

Fun ski

Easy to initiate

Good off-piste

Nice amount of tip rocker

Perfect for spring corn

Over-powered on hardpack

And at higher speeds

Not for hard chargers or ex-racers

Does not build confidence when driven

MSRP
$800.00
BEST DEAL
DPS Cassiar A85
80
Float 7
Stability 5
Edge Hold 6
Carving Pleasure 6
Turn Shape 6

Lightweight

Playful

Easy to Initiate

Performs well on softer snow

Predictable and balanced

Easy to overpower

Not lively

Lack of versatility

High price tag

MSRP
$1,299.00
BEST DEAL
K2 iKonic 80 Ti Ski Test Results 2016
78
Edge Hold 6
Responsiveness 7
Turn Shape Variability 7
Stability 6
Carving Pleasure 6
Value 6

Easy to turn

Forgiving

Performs in a wide variety of frontside conditions

Don't have to be an expert to ski it

Not as much fun at high speeds

Not as exciting for experts

Too soft for railing GS

MSRP
$1,000.00
BEST DEAL
Kastle CPM 82 Ski Test Results 2016
77
Edge Hold 7
Responsiveness 6
Turn Shape Variability 7
Stability 7
Carving Pleasure 7
Value 3

Predictable

Easy to initiate

Handled variable conditions at medium speeds

Makes silky medium radius turns

Took some work to get on a high edge angle

Many testers felt they had to adjust their style to suit the ski

More intermediate friendly

MSRP
$1,499.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Rossignol Experience 88

When one of your hardest grading – and grumpiest – testers says, “Anyone who tries this ski will find a way to own it,” you know you’re looking at a potential Best in Class. With “Excellent,” to Favorite,” rankings on the majority of test cards, and only two testers ranking it a mere “Good,” (“Awful” is our lowest, and least marked overall ranking), you become very curious to see how the numbers add up. Spoiler alert: They’re right at the top. This ski soars with its ability to handle all Frontside terrain, all speeds, and a variety of abilities with a clean, exciting sense of response. It is more damp than lively, and needs to be on edge, in a carve (preferably medium radius) to perform at its best. But unlike most of the other skis in the Frontside Category, it doesn’t just reward a hard or lighter touch. In this case, the ski does both, giving standup style foot turners quick edge-to-edge capabilities, and deep angulating carvers the kind of race style arc they love the most. How’s the Experience 88 HD? Really sweet!

Read the Full Review Shop Now at REI.com

Atomic Vantage 90 CTI

Atomic hit it out of the park with the Vantage 90 CTI, a ski that combines power, finesse, and lots of fun and excitement with a lightweight feel. It does prefer to be on edge all the time, and offers a little less float than some of the other skis in this class, but so what. The Vantage 90 owns lift-serve conditions and could easily be your go-to ski for all but the deepest days on the hill.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at REI.com

Elan 84 XTi

Elan’s 84 XTi features the brand’s Amphibio Technology, with dedicated left and right skis. Amphibio has more camber on the inside edge and rocker on the outside edge of each ski, creating really smooth turn initiation that rolls into a short to medium radius arc with a smooth, buttery feel. Testers found this ski incredibly responsive and versatile on Frontside conditions at all but the longest turns and highest speeds. It doesn’t have as much Flotation as some of the other skis in the category, like the K2 Pinnacle 88 or Line Supernatural 92, and on the flipside, also lost some performance on hardpack. Its overall responsiveness and constant ski-to-snow contact does make it a wonderfully damp ski with the kind of strong edge hold a wide variety of advanced and expert skiers will appreciate.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

HEAD Monster 88

Head’s Monster 88 wowed testers with its power and stability, with many calling it out as the most stable ski in the Frontside Category, if not in the entire test. This is a ski that rewards people who push it, especially at faster speeds, where it also exhibits some of the most bomber edge-hold in the entire class. It’s a lot of ski to ride all day or even all season. It will overwhelm anyone looking for a more poppy, lively feel, and especially anyone who isn’t an expert and looking for a ski to help them progress. For aggressive skiers who want to sink into each arc with authority, this is a great bet.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Gear Coop

Black Crows Orb

The Black Crows Orb opened a lot of eyes on our test team with its ability to make effortless short turns both on and off-piste. A fun, eminently maneuverable ski in almost all conditions – especially cut up snow and bumps – the Orb’s ease of initiation and friendly progressive flex provided a welcome break from all the race style skis in this category that need to charge the hardpack. It’s not for skiers who want to test the speed limit. It is for skiers who want a fun all-mountain Frontside ski with easy-to-access performance

Read the Full Review Shop Now at REI.com

See All Men's Frontside Skis Reviews

Men's Frontside Skis Review Results

by: Last Updated:

Snowbird offers the kind of world-class terrain that allows us to test skis in almost every imaginable condition, from expertly groomed hardpack to tight trees, windswept bowls, big bumps, steep chutes, endless cornices and all-around mixed conditions. 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. In the Frontside Category, that includes a ski’s Carving Pleasure, for how accurately and consistently it maintains contact with the snow, Edge Hold for how confident the ski feels in an arc at a variety of speeds, Stability, Turn Shape Variability, and Float for how well the ski initiates a turn, particularly in off-piste conditions. We test Frontside Skis on groomers, moguls, in the trees, off Snowbird’s famous Cirque, and in some light powder/crud, cut-up snow to evaluate how well they perform in the kind of lift-served conditions skiers can typically expect to find throughout the season at their local mountain or home hill.

Carving Pleasure Overview

Elan’s 84 XTi is one of the best pure carving skis we’ve ever tested, but that could be said for many of the skis in the Frontside Category. A majority of the skis in this category use a mix of Titanal and wood in the core of the ski for equal parts power and flex. The result is, skis like Dynaster Legend X84, Atomic Vantage 90 CTI, Fischer Pro Mtn 86 Ti, Kastle MX89, Rossignol Experience 88 and Volkl Kendo all scored 8s, 9s, or 10s (out of a possible 10) in the Carving Classification.

Float Overview

Several skis earned higher scores in the Float Classification, such as the Armada Invictus 89TI, Black Crows Orb, K2 Pinnacle 88, Liberty Origin 90 and DPS Cassiar, but did not do as well in the Stability or Carving Pleasure Classification. We found that in general, the more tip rocker and ease of initiation — especially in off-piste conditions—  the less overall Edge Hold it had on the hardpack. The Rossignol Experience 88, which earned Best in Class in the Frontside Category, did also earn a score of 8 for Float (out of a possible 10), while the versatile Salomon XDR 84 Ti, also earned 7 while garnering a score of 9 in the Carving Classification. The majority of the top skis for Edge Hold and Stability in the Frontside Category, however, such as the Head Monster 88, Elan 84 XTi and Kastle MX89 received 5s or 6s for their relative lack of Float.

Turn Shape Variability Overview

Along with the Float Classification, Turn Shape Variability was where we saw some of the biggest discrepancies in the Frontside Category. Skis such as the Dynaster Legend X84, Fischer Pro Mtn 86 Ti, Rossignol Experience 88 and Salomon XDR 84 Ti showed remarkable versatility, often because of a progressive sidecut for better edge to snow contact in a variety of turn shapes, as well as a slightly softer shovel flex. Stiffer skis, such as the Head Monster 88, Blizzard Brahma and Volkl Kendo made great GS style turns, especially at moderate to higher speeds, but were difficult to move into shorter turns while still maintaining a round turn shape. Softer flexing skis, such as the K2 Pinnacle 88, made great short swing turns, but felt overpowered at higher speeds, especially on hardpack.

Stability and Edge Hold Overview

Thanks to the aforementioned use of metal and wood laminates in the construction of the majority of skis in the Frontside Category, along with a traditional sidewall sandwich in which the skis basically layered from the base up, Stability and Edge Hold were consistently good across the board. In stiffer skis such as the Blizzard Brahma, Head Monster 88, Kastle MX89, Line Supernatural 92 and Rossignol Experience 88, Stability Classification scores ranged from 8 (out of a possible 10) to as high as a 10 for the Head. Lighter weight skis, particularly cap/sidewall construction hybrids (in which a cap over the sandwich construction covers the laminates) exhibited slightly less Edge Hold and Stability, especially on the hardpack. Overall though, Stability scores in the Frontside Category were consistently above average.