Welcome back to Newschoolers Editors' Picks for 2017-18. We're almost certainly last to the annual gear selections party, but I'd like to think that's because we actually spend at least a week on every ski we try rather than just a couple of runs at a gear test. Last week we announced our park ski picks and this week it's the turn of the all mountain planks.
The line between park and all mountain skis is definitely somewhat blurry, especially when you are talking about jibby all mountain skis. As with park skis, what 'all mountain' means to you is, to a degree, personal preference. The first of my own picks would be widely considered a park ski, but I actually like them just as much, if not more, outside the park. And for the first time ever, we've also got a non-twin in our choices because Tom Pietrowski, one of our long time gear editors, is moving more and more in the backcountry/touring direction. We're seeing lots of 'newschool' skiers using more directional skis, even for jibbing.
K2 Poacher - Twig
For the last ten years, I've been a fat ski devotee. Last year, I was surprised to be picking something as narrow as the Poacher as my park ski of choice, let alone an all mountain ski. Yet here I find myself picking a 90mm ski as my park ski of choice and the 96mm Poacher as my ski to jib all over the hill. I don't get to ski much pow these days and I'm sure that sentiment rings true for a lot of you reading this and as a result of that, narrower skis have been making much more sense. For charging groomers, spinning and buttering off cat tracks, taking some laps through the park and even in a little soft snow, I've yet to find a ski better than the Poacher. The fairly stiff flex and low rocker angle means they have plenty of power to cut through crud. They hold really well on groomers for a 'park ski' and the slightly tapered shape means they still have just a touch of surfiness about them for getting playful. I still really enjoy them in the park, but calling them a park ski is doing their versatility a disservice. You can ride them anywhere from indoor rails, to big jumps, to dropping cliffs and gunning through tight trees. For me, that is pretty much the definition of all mountain and that's why I picked them.
For our full, in-depth (Roofbox) review: Click Here
4Frnt Devastator - Matt Kretzschmar
As a pretty big dude (6’2 200lbs), I thought the softness of the ski would be terrifying when mobbing on groomers in terms of chatter but the 4FRNT “VIBEVAIL” technology seemed to do its job of reducing chatter. In soft, spring slush and pow I found the Devastator to be very playful. The large length of rocker kept the tips from diving, made buttering easier and their maneuverability was primetime. If you’re more of a jibby type skier, I would suggest mounting at -3 or -2 from center rather than the recommended 5.3cm. I'm stoked on the Devastator and they would definitely be a viable “one ski quiver” for those who only want to get single pair of skis this winter. - Matt K
Armada ARV 106 - Twig
The ARV 106 is still one of my favorite skis on the market at the moment. My journey towards narrower skis has meant I'm riding these as a powder ski that I can ski everywhere when required, rather than as a ski I'd consider a daily driver. That said, out West and in places it (normally) snows a lot (or if you just like wide skis), these would be a great one ski quiver. Despite the skinny edges you do see a lot of them in the park, they definitely do the job there too. They definitely aren't the stiffest ski on this page but they are stiff enough to handle most conditions. The tail in particular is pretty solid. They are nonetheless super easy to butter and wide enough to do so in all kinds of snow conditions. In the Alps we've had a pretty good start to the winter, so I've been riding these for the last week solidly and it's reminded me of just how good they are. All the fun of a rockered park ski but with a slightly chunkier waistline.
For our full, in-depth (Roofbox) review: Click Here
ON3P Kartel 108 - Brendan Walmer
The stiffest and most chargy of our 'all mountain jib' options, the Kartel 108 is a solid ski for doing it all. "This ski has quickly become my new favorite all mountain ski. They just rip, and they rip everywhere. An all mountain ski that is wide enough to handle pretty much any conditions, whether it's a foot of fresh or spring park laps, these will go anywhere. I've dropped cliffs, hit tight tree lines, skied knee-deep powder, and hit jumps with them, all with confidence that the skis under me won't wash out or fail to handle what I'm about to do. They give you the confidence to become a better skier because you know they can handle anything. If I had to pick one ski to ride for the rest of my life, it'd probably be the Kartel 108." - BWalmer
Armada Tracer 108 - Tom Pietrowski
For the longest time I would only really consider twin tips as a ski I wanted to ride. But recently I have been trying a lot of very good, yet still playful, directional skis. The Tracer is a perfect example of this. It felt stable in everything and yet never felt stiff or hard to move around. The Tracer was noticeably light, which is often not a good thing when it comes to downhill performance, but the tracer was different. It skied like a heavy ski apart from the weight. I know that makes no sense but imagine all the performance of a heavy ski with all the benefits, such as low swing weight, that a light ski offers. If these were my skis to keep I would stick a kingpin on them and have them as my touring/resort ski. - tompietrowski