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Elan Ripstick 94 W Review

A fun and responsive toy for powder days, groomer antics, and bumps, with a value-oriented price tag
Elan Ripstick 94 W
Photo: manufacturer
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $600 List | Check Price at REI
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Pros:  Awesome powder tool, fabulous fun factor even for light skiers, affordable price
Cons:  Gets bouncy in crud, slight tip flap, doesn’t carve perfectly
Manufacturer:   Elan
By Renee McCormack ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 22, 2021
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 13
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 7
  • Carving Ability - 20% 7
  • Powder Performance - 20% 9
  • Crud Performance - 20% 5
  • Terrain Playfulness - 15% 9
  • Bumps - 5% 8

Our Verdict

Between its ability to drift atop the surface of fresh snow and its unceasing knack for rebound, the Elan Ripstick 94 W is a strong competitor in soft snow and on the fun-o-meter. We awarded it a Best Buy Award for its great price and excellent performance in powder, but its skills are not found only in one type of terrain. It was also the most playful ski we found this year, and that quality transferred all over the mountain. We wished it had been a slightly smoother ride in the crud, and that it had just a little more dampness in the tips when going fast, but overall we were smiling on this ski. If you’re a west coast girl who gets out on storm days and likes a nimble ski, this is your pick.

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Elan Ripstick 94 W
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Elan Ripstick 94 W
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
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$679 ListCheck Price at REI
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$679.00 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Awesome powder tool, fabulous fun factor even for light skiers, affordable priceCrud blaster, dependable, great one-ski quiver option, good for every ability levelGreat stability at high speeds, good on hard snow and crud, more affordable than othersSuperbly stable at high speeds, great edge holdVery lively, makes pivoted tight turns, twin tips, beautiful artwork
Cons Gets bouncy in crud, slight tip flap, doesn’t carve perfectlyNo wow-factor, not a lot of reboundOnly for shallower pow days, needs strong skier to guide themToo burly for lighter gals, not nimbleNot built for taller women
Bottom Line A fun and responsive toy for powder days, groomer antics, and bumps, with a value-oriented price tagA great all-rounder ski that we think is the most versatile option for a one-ski quiverThis 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-pisteA fun ski that likes to pivot and get airborne, but lacks high-speed stability, especially for larger women
Rating Categories Elan Ripstick 94 W Nordica Santa Ana 98 Faction Dictator 2.0X Volkl Secret 96 Icelantic Riveter 95
Stability At Speed (20%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
4.0
Carving Ability (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Powder Performance (20%)
9.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
7.0
Crud Performance (20%)
5.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Terrain Playfulness (15%)
9.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Bumps (5%)
8.0
7.0
5.0
3.0
9.0
Specs Elan Ripstick 94 W Nordica Santa Ana 98 Faction Dictator 2.0X Volkl Secret 96 Icelantic Riveter 95
Waist Width (mm) 96 98 96 96 95
Shape (Tip-Waist-Tail) (mm) 136-96-111 132-98-120 127-96-117 135-96-119 130-95-117
Available Lengths (cm) 154, 162, 170, 178 151, 158, 165, 172, 179 155, 163, 171, 175, 179, 183, 187 149, 156, 163, 170 155, 162, 169
Length Tested (cm) 178 172 171 170 169
Radius (m) 16.2 16.3 18 27-16-22 16
Rocker Style Tip and tail, cambered inside edge Amphibio tech Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail rocker, camber underfoot
Weight Per Pair (lbs) 7.4 8.1 7.9 8.5 7.3
Construction Type SST sidewall Energy Ti W Sandwich Full sidewall Durasurf 2001 P-Tex sidewall
Core Material Tubelite wood Performance Wood & Metal Paulownia & Poplar Beech and poplar Poplar
Intended Purpose All-Mountain All-Mountain All-Mountain, Big Mountain All-Mountain All-Mountain
Ability Level Intermediate-Advanced Expert Advanced-Expert Advanced-Expert Intermediate-Advanced

Our Analysis and Test Results

The new iteration of the Elan Ripstick 94 W doesn’t have quite the same magnitude of rebound that the old version did, but our testers still loved the feeling of kickback and agility it lent. The "Amphibio" design of this ski is a little complicated and might be understood better by reading the "Rocker Profiles" explanation in our Buying Advice article, as well as our analysis below in the carving metric.

Performance Comparison


The Ripstick had our testers smiling all over the mountain.
The Ripstick had our testers smiling all over the mountain.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Stability at Speed


While we weren’t exactly unimpressed by the Ripstick in this metric, if all you want to do is go fast and make large radius turns on groomers, there are other skis that might suit you better. For a ski that performs so well in other diverse categories, this model provides a solid ride when you want to haul for a while.


On firm, steep snow, our testers found that the edge held adequately, and there was steadiness along most of the length of the ski. The tips, however, do get a little flaccid even though the rest of the ski feels stable. Elan has added a carbon line technology since our last test which is intended for high-speed stability; it feels like it was successful in our experience of the ski underfoot, but that dampness did not reach all the way to the tip of the ski.

The Elan feels relatively stable along the length of the ski but...
The Elan feels relatively stable along the length of the ski but gets a little floppy in the tips.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Carving Ability


The Ripstick has both negative and positive qualities in this metric. If we could only just carve on the outside ski, this model would be phenomenal. Unfortunately, when it came to laying down TWO clean tracks in the snow, the Amphibio profile disappointed us, not surprisingly.


The outside ski (with its inside edge of regular camber) loves to grasp the snow and dig in, whereas the inside ski (with its rockered outside edge) just wants to skitter and slide. True, the outside ski is the one we're most reliant on when carving a turn, and it's the one we're putting the most pressure on, but some of our testers appreciate the feeling of getting both skis engaged and tracking simultaneously. It's a difficult enough task to get your inside ski to carve appropriately on any pair of skis, and the Ripstick did not make that goal any easier to attain.

In this photo, Hilary shows us how the downhill ski holds the edge...
In this photo, Hilary shows us how the downhill ski holds the edge while the uphill ski prefers to skid.
Photo: Scott Rokis

However, the incredible feeling of the outside ski in a carved turn was almost enough to make up for any shortcomings. That outside ski locks onto the snow like a pitbull's jaws, and it feels easy to bend. The astounding rebound that is felt in a carved turn after releasing the edge is pure joy, which bumped its score up a tad in this metric.

This model has dedicated left and right skis, an unusual...
This model has dedicated left and right skis, an unusual characteristic, in order to accommodate its Amphibio technology.
Photo: OutdoorGearLab Review Team

This ski technically sits in the middle of our test group in terms of its turn radius at 18 meters, but our testers felt it generally wanted to make a shorter, tighter turn. We thought it was a riot to coil up and then release the pressure, feeling it launch back into action for the next turn.

The Ripstick's rebound and agility helped us dodge the public on a...
The Ripstick's rebound and agility helped us dodge the public on a busy day.
Photo: Scott Rokis

This ski feels incredibly quick edge-to-edge, partially thanks to its amazing rebound, which flings you from one turn to the next. The upside of the rockered outside edge is that while the ski can be coerced to carve, it can also very easily be convinced to smear, and the outside edge does so with style.

Powder Performance


The Riptick is a dream in powder: A vision in purple sailing through the soft snow, the color seeming to reflect and splash up onto the fluffy flying stuff which is streaming over the very happy skier's head. It wins an award not only for its great price but specifically in this metric for its capacity to make every type of fresh snow fun to ski, even the tough stuff.


The ski's slightly spatula-shaped and rockered tips help keep it perfectly afloat in even deeper snow. Powder is where this ski's "amphibious" nature shines; the rockered outside edge has an easier time staying on top and helps you butter around in the deep. We loved smearing through powdery trees on this model. The Amphibio design not only helps the ski stay afloat, but it also offers an easier turn initiation, adding to the already spry sensation it lends.

Powder is where the Amphibio technology wins.
Powder is where the Amphibio technology wins.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Even in quite challenging fresh snow conditions - heavy and deep Sierra cement - the Ripstick more than just survived. It turned snow that would otherwise be barely sufferable into a legitimately amusing experience, and that is saying something. The extremely rockered tips, wide-enough waist, and adventure-focused design made this ski a life-saver in the deep and dense. In snow that would otherwise turn around all but the most hearty of powder-hounds, this ski kept sending us back into the lift line for more.

In both light and heavy snow, the Ripstick rips.
In both light and heavy snow, the Ripstick rips.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Crud Performance


Unfortunately, the elements which make this such a joyful ski in other terrain were to its detriment in heavier, chopped-up snow. The lightweight nature of the Ripstick which allows it to feel so fun in the air and make it bend and rebound easily makes it limp in the crud.


When we kept it on top of the chunky layer, it made for an irritatingly bouncy ride. If we tried to dig it down deep into the chop, it just didn’t have the tenacity to bust through it. The large rockered tips which allow it to perform so well in powder became deflected in the crud and threw us off balance. The only real highlight is their lightness: it is easy to get them airborne, and in the air, there’s no bumpiness. But you can’t stay airborne all the time.

We got a little thrown off balance at times in lumpy snow.
We got a little thrown off balance at times in lumpy snow.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Terrain Playfulness


This ski knocks this classification out of the park (although it's also quite enjoyable within the park, so to speak), with previous iterations winning awards specifically for its playfulness. While we chose not to honor it in the same capacity this season, we still got a huge kick skiing it, and it scores the highest in the test group for this metric.


We loved how light on our feet we felt, and it was wonderfully zippy in the bumps as well as on steeps and in the trees. This is also one of the lightest skis in our review at 7.4 pounds per pair. Every turn we made, we were sling-shotted exuberantly into the next. We felt like kids in a candy shop, or rather, kids on a very springy trampoline. If you want to throw this thing into the air and spin it, it will fly and twirl with effortlessness and panache. We felt immediately in tune with the Ripstick; the response time between our movements and the ski was close to instantaneous.

Taking a ride on the ripping Ripstick.
Taking a ride on the ripping Ripstick.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Bumps


The characteristics which made the Elan a playful powder ski also allowed it to impress us in the moguls. Because it is easy to bend, we never felt stunted or stuck in a trough. Its lightness meant we could move it quickly, and get it into the air if we wanted. The Ripstick’s kick-back at the end of the turn popped us right over towards the next bump, and the rockered outside edge helped us smear and pivot our way down the run.


Even our smaller testers on this longer version we skied were pleasantly surprised by how nimbly they navigated a mogul field on this ski.

The Ripstick easily flexing through a trough in the bumps.
The Ripstick easily flexing through a trough in the bumps.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Value


At practically the bottom of the price range, this ski provides very solid value and earns one of our Best Buy Awards. It is relatively adept across the board, and it excels in powder and responsiveness. If you don’t like skiing crud anyhow and don’t plan to do much of it, and you don't have that driving need for speed, this could be a great one-ski quiver.

Conclusion


A quality all-rounder, the Ripstick brings particular joy to those who love powder days and poppy rebound.

Renee McCormack

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