One Quiver All Mountain Men's Skis Review winter 2023-2024
In search of the Holy Grail, the one quiver ski for powder and piste? Check out STYLE ALTITUDE's reviews of the best men's All Mountain skis for winter 2023-2024The STYLE ALTITUDE crew were at the annual SIGB Ski Test in La Clusaz in France, where our Backcountry Editor, Ken Reeve, was on a mission to find the one quiver ski. He has a garage full of skis but if he could only choose one for all mountain skiing next winter, what would it be?
The test centre was at La Balme at the bottom of the gondola lift in La Clusaz, gateway to a great freeride area. We decided to stick with a consistent descent for each ski consisting of around 1200m vert, mostly red runs with some tracked off-piste to the sides.
We were also using the CARV system to compare the on-piste capabilities of each ski as well as our finely honed testers instincts! Gav's reviews of All Mountain skis under 100mm and how they carved up the piste is here.
My mission was to find, if possible, a one-ski quiver in the 85-100mm underfoot range and also 90-105mm for heavier skiers or for those with more bias to off-piste skiing, to satisfy those who only want one ski because of either cost reasons or travel constraints.
In the STYLE ALTITUDE garage there are around 20 pairs of skis, so on any given day, whether it's piste or pow, touring or freeride, we just have to select our weapons of choice, not an option for many folk!
But, to choose one ski that carves on the piste, swerves through trees, crushes the crud and still floats in powder? Read on...
VOLKL M6 MANTRA 96mm
With Titanal in the core for stability, the Mantra was never going to feel superlight underfoot (2040g), but the 3D radius (18m) makes up for that somewhat.
The damp construction means this is a ski that grips on piste really well, charges through crud and with early tip rocker works very well off-piste for its 96mm waist. The noticeable stand-out feature is smoothness and stability, a typical Volkl trait, the only weak spot is mogul performance.
The M6 Mantra would be a great choice in the upper end of the 80-95mm category.
VOLKL KENDO 88mm
We didn't have the opportunity to test any of these skis in fresh powder, but for the lighter skier the Kendo will perform well.
A great all-round ski for the lighter skier or more resort oriented.
BLACK CROWS MIRUS COR 84mm
Wow, this ski really stands out visually from its neighbours in this test with its bright orange colourway, pyramid tip and swallowtail.
It's light, too (1800g) but still manages to include a Titanal layer underfoot for torsional stability.
The standout of this ski is its pop, the rebound out of turns is fantastic and makes the ski a joy on the piste.
It holds both long and short turns really well despite its 13m radius and gave one of the better CARV scores on test.
To the side of the piste it was playful enough, but still steady though the chop, however we're getting to the lower end of the width spectrum here, so I wouldn't choose this ski in anything less than 'nice' powder.
The only negative is the price, but hey, it's a one-ski quiver!
SALOMON QST 98mm
With both classic camber and a good amount of tip and tail rocker, this shape is super versatile. Turn initiation is a piece of cake, the flex and rocker allow for slarving in tight spots and the width is ample for all but the deepest of powder days.
The only downside of the QST 98 was I felt it a bit lacking in edge grip and stability on piste in comparison to some of the other skis on test, but the looseness made up for it overall.
SALOMON STANCE 84mm
Gav was raving over the Stance 84s when he skied them, so I nabbed them straight off him when we came down.
He was certainly right, these are a great piste ski, almost as hard-charging as my own Volkl SC carvers, but more forgiving.
To the side of the piste, the light weight (ca 1700g) and the double rocker make for easy turns on cut up powder and in the trees, 84mm will do ok in good powder, but it's never going to be a true all-rounder except for a light skier.
SCOTT PURE MISSION 98mm
The Mission is a lovely-looking ski, directional in shape, which works for me as I only ever ski forwards.
Light (ca 1700g), 19m turn radius and 98mm underfoot all stacks up for a true all-rounder.
In fact, not one aspect of this ski stood out, which is pretty much what goes to make a ski trustworthy in all conditions, at home on the groomers as much as it is to the side and with a waist of 98mm it's going to perform when the white stuff falls!
BLIZZARD RUSTLER 9 94mm
For a ski with a fair heap of rocker, it still managed to generate a good amount of edge hold on piste with plenty of pop between turns.
To the side of the piste it was more of the same, playful but controllable, at 94mm underfoot it wouldn't be the first ski I'd pick up on a pow day, but I'd be more than happy to go out on it otherwise.
LINE BLADE OPTIC 96mm
Another very attractive looking ski. Line do a great job with their graphics.
If it's a hard-charging, crud-busting beast of a ski you're looking for, then keep scrolling.
If you're after a playful, slarvy quick-turning light (1780g) ski with 'Gas pedal metal overdrive' (yes, really!) that holds its own with most of the skis in this test, then the Blade Optic 96 is worth serious consideration.
Thanks to a wood core plus Titanal reinforcing in the centre the ski delivers plenty of edge grip on the piste while keeping a high degree of playfulness to the sides.
Not as grippy on the groomers as the M6 Mantra, but more playful off.
ELAN RIPSTICK 106mm
I've been wanting to test this ski for years because I've heard so many positives about it, but never got the chance.
Finally! Only the regular model Ripstick, not the beefed-up Black Edition with four carbon tube rather than two on the tested version, which suits me as I'm not looking for out and out power.
A unique feature of the Ripstick series is the Amphibio construction, where the inner edge has a longer running length and the outer edge has more rocker, hence left and right skis.
This potentially allows for a shorter ski length while retaining edge hold and it certainly seemed to work, giving a piste score among the highest and without a doubt the best off-piste score of the test.
If the thought of 106mm underfoot directional ski with 18m radius is maybe a bit much, then you could always downsize to the Ripstick 96 with all the same attributes.
This could also work as a Freetouring ski with a light binding on as its weight of 1800g isn't overly heavy for this category.
DPS WAILER 106 C2
This ski wasn't in the test, but it's my personal one-ski quiver.
It's not the lightest ski, but by no means the heaviest. It is quite stiff overall, but the traditional camber plus early tip rocker and a decent amount of flattish tail rocker make it pretty manouevrable.
It's rock solid on the piste, shrugs off crud and chop and, being a 106, is happy in the deep stuff too, just lacking some playfulness in tight situations in the trees.
Did I buy the right ski?
So, in conclusion, is there such a thing as a one-ski quiver?
Of course there is, but you may have to make some sacrifices along the way, either edge grip on the groomers, float in the pow or stability in the chop.
In the 85-100mm category it was pretty tight, but my vote goes TO the Volkl M6 Mantra due to its all-round stability on the groomers and to the side.
In the 90-105mm category it's a really close call between the DPS Wailer 106 C2 and the Elan Ripstick 106, but I have to say Elan have nailed it here with most of the positives of the Wailer, with added manouevrabilty.