Ski: Icelantic Nomad 105 2023
Reviewer height/weight: 5’9, 150lbs
Ski weights: 1880 & 1891g per ski
Length skied: 181
Actual length (with straight tape): 178.5
Quoted Dimensions: 140-105-130
Measured Dimensions: 145-111-135
Mounted: -3cm from true center
Bindings: Tyrolia Attack 14/Salomon Shift
Locations: St. Luc, Saas-Fee, Picos De Europa
Conditions skied: Powder, slush, deep slush, park, steep lines
Days Skied: 10
The Nomad 105 is Icelantic’s top-selling ski. When you go skiing in Colorado, that makes perfect sense, you see a lot of them around. The interesting thing is the apparent versatility of these sticks. You see them center mounted on the feet of park skiers and mounted way back on the feet of their dads. The Nomad 105 is one of the skis I always felt was missing in our Roofbox Review collection and I’m stoked to have been able to get on a pair this season to give my $0.02.
The first thing you notice about the Nomad 105 is it’s pretty light thanks to the paulownia/poplar core, despite not particularly being advertised as such… and the existence of a ‘lite’ version of the ski. 2.2mm edges and Sintered 4001 bases round out the construction and give the option to use these as a fat park ski.
The 95 supposedly has the least rocker of the Nomad line but my 95s had more tip/tail splay than my 105s. The rocker on the 105 is a little flatter but the rockered length is longer, which is in keeping with its intended purpose. However, two things really surprised me about the 105. The first, small surprise is that it’s pretty stiff. Not crazily, but it’s a stout ski, probably in the ballpark of the Bentchetler 100 (without the soft nose) or K2 Poacher. The tail in particular, is pretty solid. But the biggest surprise is in a 181 length, it isn’t even close to a 105mm ski. I measure them to be 111mm underfoot and 145-111-135 overall which puts them more in powder ski than all-mountain ski territory…
When I did some digging, I found out that was a fairly widely known piece of information, but it isn’t something mentioned by the brand themselves and I didn’t measure the skis until after I’d skied them. As such, I was expecting a performance more akin to an ARV 106 or Sir Francis Bacon. So when I first tried them, I thought the Nomad 105 was pretty disappointing on groomed snow. They gripped fairly well but they felt slow and unresponsive. In general, as you move from a ~105mm width past 110mm, that is something that tends to be the case and with the 111mm width in mind, it isn’t surprising. But with false expectations, the skis felt slightly underwhelming.
After measuring the skis and with the wider footprint in mind, I think they actually ski fairly well on the piste, with the solid flex holding up well at high speeds despite the pronounced rocker. They don’t have a lot of camber or energy, but they are solid. They are less maneuverable than tapered skis in similar widths, like the Bent 110, and ski more like a traditional freeride ski to me, recalling a more playful QST Blank in some regards.
On the flip side, because they are 111 underfoot, they float much better than the ‘105’ moniker would suggest. They had no trouble handling any depth of pow that I skied, and the long rockered length makes them bounce up really nicely when landing in deep snow. While the full sidecut shape is pretty old-school these days, and the skis don’t go sideways as naturally as most skis these days, they provide a stable, supportive platform when skiing fast. The stiffer-than-some flex makes them more work to ski overall than most ‘backcountry freestyle’ skis but it rewards that work with some powerful performance, particularly in the…
The Nomad 105 took me way off the beaten track
I really enjoyed the Nomad 105 for skiing steep and challenging terrain. The stiffer, slightly less rockered tail definitely helped here and gave a good amount of support when pushed into the backseat. The shape of the ski really seems to work really well, with the rocker/minimal camber combo allowing pivoting but the stiff flex and full sidecut provide pretty good stability when skiing fast.
Again, I liked these skis a lot in slush and crud. I took these on my end-of-season touring adventure to the Picos De Europa in Northern Spain and they performed exactly how I’d hoped. They cut through bumpy, crud pretty nicely, and powered through the (deep) slush. A more pinned shape on the same flex pattern would do even better but for me, the Nomads had plenty of backbone to ski mixed snow. In addition, they were stiff enough even when skiing with a 20kg plus backpack which was essential on that trip.
The Nomad 105 has pretty much no camber underfoot and plenty of rocker, which makes it feel a bit like an OG pow ski (Hellbent etc) in the park, in terms of feeling surfy. The big difference is the flex pattern. They are pretty stiff so they are decent on jumps and the low weight translates to fairly low swingweight for a 111mm ski, despite the wide tips/tails. They have enough rocker to butter but I don’t think of them as a particularly ‘easy’ ski to play around on because of the flex. There’s not really anything they won’t do, but they aren’t the perfect ski for the park either, being a bit on the heavy side and they have a slightly dead flex which isn't the most fun to me.
Good for a couple of park laps too...
Like the Nomad 95, which I skied harder in the park, I think the build on these skis was pretty good. They feel light but solid and the edges seemed as good as most without being remarkable. I didn’t get any edge cracks but I wouldn’t expect them because I only hit a few rails.
The one thing that lets them down a bit is the topsheets, which aren’t as solid as what many brands are using these days. The way the sidewall is profiled doesn’t do anything to reduce chipping and the topsheets themselves seem fairly thin. I noticed this most where bad pole placement when switching modes on my Shifts left plenty of dings right on top of the ski. I don’t think the skis will blow up, but I do think they started to look scrappy pretty quickly.
The ~110mm backcountry freestyle ski space is a pretty busy one, so there are a ton of skis you could compare these to. I’ve picked two that I feel help place the Nomad in terms of other products, but feel free to hit me in the comments for other comparisons! As a general rule, these are one of the stiffer skis in that space though, and a much more chargy ski overall than skis like the Faction Prodigy 3.0 and Line Sir Francis Bacon.
Faction Candide 3.0:
To me, the closest ski to the Nomad 105 is the CT 3.0 (now called Mana 3.0). It’s about the same width and has that same ‘lightweight ski’ feel… It’s hard to describe but it’s kind of a slight brittleness to the flex. They will flex and they actually do ok in crappy snow, but they don’t feel like they should which isn’t always confidence-inspiring. Both float great and are, to me, on the more charging, less turning end of the backcountry freestyle spectrum.
Atomic Bent 110:
The Bent 110 is the ski I was skiing back to back with the Nomads and I liked the Bent more in soft snow and found them more fun and playful but they didn’t have the same stability as the Nomads. The flex is fairly similar in my books, but the huge amount of tail rocker on the Bents makes them wheelie way more easily. The Bent is more versatile but the Nomad is a better charger and line skiing ski.
Like the Nomad 95, I think the Nomad 105 could be due an update. There are little things, like a touch of taper and tougher/more profiled topsheets that could definitely elevate the ski. That said, the Nomad 105 is a top-selling ski for a reason. It's a super predictable and accessible ski that looks stunning on the rack. Compared to many ‘freestyle’ backcountry skis, I think these are more of a charger. They aren’t particularly quick edge to edge but they have excellent stability and there is nothing that I could ski that I wouldn't feel confident taking these down. And there's plenty of tail rise for all the freestyle maneuvers you could wish for too.
The relatively low weight makes them pretty easy to spin and while they aren't the most energetic ski, there is really nothing I can think of that they are 'bad' for. I may not have fallen in love with the Nomad 105 but I enjoyed my time on them and found them incredibly versatile. They never felt like the wrong ski no matter what I threw at them and I skied everything from park to a multi-day touring adventure. For me, they were a useful stiffer addition to my roster of mostly soft skis. I think they have a lot to offer as a one ski quiver, as part of a quiver as the stiffer ski for a freestyle-focused skier, or as a freestyle ski on the west coast or elsewhere for a more chargy skier. I also think they are a great freestyle touring option with their low weight and stiffer profile, they crushed it on my trip to Picos De Europa in Spain.
Finally, a note on mounting point. I think you could mount these pretty much anywhere to be honest, from true center all the way back to the recommended line. I found -3 a little too far back in the park but it was nice everywhere else. If I were to go again, I'd probably go -2, because that's where i tend to like my skis best.