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Coalition SOS Review

Not the powder-puncher we hoped for given the dimensions, but still a good tool for the task
Coalition SOS
Photo: Coalition
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Price:  $749 List
Pros:  Wide underfoot, massive tip rocker, quality powder and crud tool
Cons:  Unpredictable at speed, very large turn radius
Manufacturer:   Coalition
By Renee McCormack ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 20, 2021
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42
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 13
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 3
  • Carving Ability - 20% 3
  • Powder Performance - 20% 7
  • Crud Performance - 20% 6
  • Terrain Playfulness - 15% 2
  • Bumps - 5% 2

Our Verdict

We had been excited to ski something from this forward-thinking female-led company for some time. While it didn’t win any awards, we think there’s something to be said for supporting a progressive local (here in the Sierra) business such as this. The Coalition SOS is a big, burly ski with a huge turned-up tip that is built for powder and crud; it is less appropriate for on-piste groomers and high speeds. The stick-straight side-cut makes the turn radius feel even bigger than 25 meters, and we didn’t love the feel of this ski at those giant slalom race speeds. However, for those with a keen love for fresh snow, this ski is a reliable partner in the deep and choppy.

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Coalition SOS
This Product
Coalition SOS
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $749 ListCheck Price at Backcountry
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$679 ListCheck Price at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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77
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71
Star Rating
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Pros Wide underfoot, massive tip rocker, quality powder and crud toolCrud blaster, dependable, great one-ski quiver option, good for every ability levelAwesome powder tool, fabulous fun factor even for light skiers, affordable priceGreat stability at high speeds, good on hard snow and crud, more affordable than othersSuperbly stable at high speeds, great edge hold
Cons Unpredictable at speed, very large turn radiusNo wow-factor, not a lot of reboundGets bouncy in crud, slight tip flap, doesn’t carve perfectlyOnly for shallower pow days, needs strong skier to guide themToo burly for lighter gals, not nimble
Bottom Line Not the powder-puncher we hoped for given the dimensions, but still a good tool for the taskA great all-rounder ski that we think is the most versatile option for a one-ski quiverA fun and responsive toy for powder days, groomer antics, and bumps, with a value-oriented price tagThis model will do great in everything but the deepest powder and is ideal for an aggressive skierA good choice for hard-charging speed demons that still performs decently off-piste
Rating Categories Coalition SOS Nordica Santa Ana 98 Elan Ripstick 94 W Faction Dictator 2.0X Volkl Secret 96
Stability At Speed (20%)
3.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Carving Ability (20%)
3.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Powder Performance (20%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
5.0
7.0
Crud Performance (20%)
6.0
9.0
5.0
9.0
7.0
Terrain Playfulness (15%)
2.0
6.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Bumps (5%)
2.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
3.0
Specs Coalition SOS Nordica Santa Ana 98 Elan Ripstick 94 W Faction Dictator 2.0X Volkl Secret 96
Waist Width (mm) 105 98 96 96 96
Shape (Tip-Waist-Tail) (mm) 126-105-120 132-98-120 136-96-111 127-96-117 135-96-119
Available Lengths (cm) 157, 166, 173, 180 151, 158, 165, 172, 179 154, 162, 170, 178 155, 163, 171, 175, 179, 183, 187 149, 156, 163, 170
Length Tested (cm) 173 172 178 171 170
Radius (m) 25 16.3 16.2 18 27-16-22
Rocker Style Tip and tail, mild camber underfoot Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail, cambered inside edge Amphibio tech Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail, camber underfoot
Weight Per Pair (lbs) 8.8 8.1 7.4 7.9 8.5
Construction Type ABS sidewalls Energy Ti W SST sidewall Sandwich Full sidewall
Core Material Birch wood Performance Wood & Metal Tubelite wood Paulownia & Poplar Beech and poplar
Intended Purpose All-Mountain, Big Mountain All-Mountain All-Mountain All-Mountain, Big Mountain All-Mountain
Ability Level Intermediate-Advanced Expert Intermediate-Advanced Advanced-Expert Advanced-Expert

Our Analysis and Test Results

We definitely hoped for just a bit more from this ski, as we think the company’s mission statement is a worthy one, and we love the idea of them making skis built just for women. They’re onto a good thing in the realm of powder performance; the SOS just needs some tweaks in other areas to make it truly versatile.

Performance Comparison


While we didn't feel much spring on this ski, it gave us a...
While we didn't feel much spring on this ski, it gave us a dependable landing zone.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Stability at Speed


Our testers had trouble finding the sweet spot of this ski; we thought we were in tune with it, and then it would suddenly buck us out of balance. There is such an incredible amount of rocker in the tips — it's as if the entire front half of the ski is not in contact with the snow. This feature allows the SOS to stay afloat well in fresh snow, but it does not create a feeling of steadiness along the length of the ski when moving at higher speeds. Perhaps because we were skiing such a small effective edge, we often felt thrown off balance with nowhere to recover fore and aft. This limited edge meant there was less gripping power when we were on firmer snow, leading to a challenging ride on hard-packed steeps or ice.

It was difficult to get used to the very large turn radius, and we...
It was difficult to get used to the very large turn radius, and we often found our outside ski diverging.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Carving Ability


The sidecut of the SOS is almost imperceptible visually, and the published radius is 25 meters, which is quite a bit longer than most skis in the all-mountain range. A 25-meter radius creates a giant slalom-shaped and speed turn (that’s pretty big and fast for anyone without Mikaela Shiffron’s quads and glutes), and since we didn’t love how this ski performed at those speeds, we were not often fully comfortable laying them over into an arced turn. When we did, we noticed that we had to remember to focus pressure for longer on the outside ski, rather than moving inside earlier as we might on a ski with a tighter turn radius. Otherwise, the outside ski would barrel down the mountain on its natural trajectory away from us when we thought we were moving sideways. This ski is quite stiff, but with an unusual flex pattern, and so it doesn't have much rebound to speak of.

A 25-meter turn radius makes for a very long, high-speed turn.
A 25-meter turn radius makes for a very long, high-speed turn.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Powder Performance


This is the environment in which the SOS is most at home. Its supremely rockered tip profile was a liability on hard groomers, but it works like a charm for flotation in deeper snow. The SOS buttered and pivoted easily on the surface of both light freshies as well as denser Sierra cement. We had hoped that it would be a full-on powder machine, staying perfectly atop the snow at every turn. It wasn’t exactly the infallible beast we’d imagined, perhaps because there isn’t the distinctive wide shovel to plow a pathway for the rest of the ski.

The extremely rockered tips nearly always stayed above the surface.
The extremely rockered tips nearly always stayed above the surface.
Photo: Scott Rokis

The extreme rocker in the tips, plus the wide 105-millimeter platform underfoot, provided more than adequate buoyancy for us to feel confident landing medium-sized drops in deep snow.

The tip of the ski comes off the snow pretty far back, making for...
The tip of the ski comes off the snow pretty far back, making for great flotation but also a smaller usable edge for grip and stability.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Crud Performance


Generally, the SOS’s heavy-duty plank-like nature served well in chopped-up snow conditions. Only occasionally did the unpredictable flex pattern knock us off track this type of snow. We appreciated the stiffer qualities of the SOS; one of our testers commented that it was like a “big burly snowcat pushing the chunder around”.

The SOS is a crud-busting machine.
The SOS is a crud-busting machine.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Terrain Playfulness


We didn’t find much levity of any kind in this ski. Even just skating or walking around on the flats near the chairlift, it felt stiff and land-bound. The SOS felt heavy to get airborne, but there was definitely some joy to be found in the solid platform it provided for a landing. In terms of rebound, we received little to no feedback from this ski when we pressured and released it; any kickback we got was too unpredictable to find enjoyment in it.

Bumps


This ski is too stiff and heavy-footed to make the agile movements necessary to be successful in a mogul field.

Value


If you’re looking to put your money where your ski tips are and support a female-oriented independent ski company, purchasing this ski could be an avenue to buying small and local (if you’re in the western U.S.). You need to be planning to ski primarily fresh snow or chopped-up powder to make this a worthwhile investment.

Conclusion


Not a reliable performer on-piste or in the bumps, the SOS is built for powder and crud.

We hoped the tropical-themed topsheets weren't calling forth a warm...
We hoped the tropical-themed topsheets weren't calling forth a warm winter.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Renee McCormack

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