Women’s Ski Gear Preview – 2022

I’ve spent this past winter writing about how retail stores and ski media do a pretty shit job helping women feel confident about their ski purchases. So instead, I’ve noticed a lot of women reach out in their social circles, both online and IRL, and trust the recommendations from women they know who ski like them. (I swear so many of us imagine online reviewers being worlds ahead from a skills standpoint). I have groups of friends that pull down 4 pairs of Enforcers and Santa Anas from their roof rack when they’re at the resort. My friend Ali jokes about needing a commission for the number of Backland skis and Hemisphere bibs she’s recommended to friends. And the thing that convinced me to pony up for Zero G boots instead of Sparkles was feedback from friends.

But sometimes advice from the masses isn’t great. We don’t spend all fall training on product. Sometimes the things we love are no longer on the shelf, or have the same name on a different package. Are we really being helpful with a strong rec for a Volkl Kiku? It’s been 8 years since it was in stores. Its replacement has been replaced. So even if you’re not in the market for a new setup, keeping a slight pulse on the market helps us help others.

This post will be updated through the summer and fall with any additional announcements, and clarification for some that were really ambiguous about whether one or both genders were getting new additions. Likewise, where women’s lines are getting an extension or update that already rolled out to men, I’ve added links to the men’s reviews, and I’ll swap those out once women’s information becomes available. I’ve also done some guess work on the closest peer set and price points given some basic information from the brands, but don’t take it as fact, as I haven’t seen many in-depth specs at this point in the game. And lastly, whereas most previews list updates by brand, I’ve decided to organize things by product category so it’s easier to find information relevant to you, and I’ve trimmed the fat of beginner and piste-specialty skis that aren’t as relevant to my readership

BRAND NEW SKIS

Starting with some heavier, directional offerings with metal:

  • Armada Reliance series replaces the Victa as their traditional all mountain ski. There will be 5 models: 102Ti, 92Ti, 88C, 82Ti, and 82C. Ti models have titanal to make it stiffer and heavier. C notes models with a carbon layup that will be lighter and softer.
    • These will likely compete closely with the Nordica Santa Ana, Salomon Stance, Blizzard Black Pearl, and unisex Fischer Ranger lines.
    • The brother model, the Declivity series released last year. Blister has a great review of the men’s 92Ti, and generally Armada doesn’t change the women’s model dramatically.
  • Liberty also adds competitors to this group by adding their VMT 1 (a vertical piece of aluminum alloy) technology to the Genesis line. They’re also adding an option with a 101 width. The Gensis line overall is pretty easy to ski and forgiving, so I’d ballpark these will be a bit more like a Sheeva competitor than a Santa Ana.
  • Volkl also adds a Secret 96. The existing Secret 92 is confirmed to phase out. The main DNA is the same, but they’re scaling the metal sheets more across the line so that the longest skis will be much more demanding, and the shorter skis get softer. The turn radius also tightens in a touch. The rest of the lineup (Secret 102, Kenja 88, Yumi 84, and Yumi 80) stay the same.
  • Nordica adds a Santa Ana 84 to their lineup.
  • Salomon adds a Stance 84 W to their assortment (and the Myriad 85 will go away).
  • Head’s Kore line may only feature small updates on their men’s side to make them more playful and more durable, but on the women’s side, the line is expanding with a 103 W. They’re also fixing their odd naming convention. The Kores have scaled widths for each length, but in women’s it was incredibly confusing since, using the Kore 93 as an example, none of the women’s skis were actually 93mm in width. So they’ve right-sized the women’s names to Kore 103, 97, 91, and 85. Those widths will apply to the longest size for each ski and scale down from there.

Moving on to some playful, poppy, park inspired skis:

  • Armada adds a new ARW 106 UL to their lineup as a twin-tip freeride options. This is a sister ski to the ARV 106.
    • I haven’t seen stats on these, but I imagine these might be a competitor to a Pandora 110, Sheeva 10, or ON3P Jessie, depending on their mount point and weight.
  • K2 adds the Reckoner 92 Alliance as their first women’s all-mountain twin in a few seasons.
    • The brother line is the Reckoner line (Alliance indicates a women’s ski) that launched last year.
    • Likely a competitor to the Armada ARW line, which straddles the Reckoner Alliance at 86 and 96 underfoot

And lastly, some moderate flex, directional, and value price point skis:

  • Atomic replaced their Vantage line with the Maven series. Widths are 86 and 93 for women, and the 86 comes in versions with and without carbon. Blister’s published their first look review for paid subscribers of the 93 C. The change also comes with a massive price hike as the Vantage 97 C was priced at $499, and the Maven 93 C jumps to $649.
  • Black Crows has added the Divus Birdie, a really poppy and energetic 82mm frontside ski. Extra insight to the Orb’s review here.
  • Volkl adds to their entry price point, metal free Blaze line with a Blaze 86 underfoot option. With the Blaze 94 at $550, I’d bet that the 84 will likely be $399 and compete against the Mindbender Alliance 85, Pandora 84, and Myriad 85.

TWEAKED SKIS

  • Season adds a 158 to their Aero and Nexus skis. Previously bottoming out at a 165, these new sizes make the line truly unisex and differentiate it from the men’s skis that drop into the mid- to high 160s.
  • K2 renames their MissConduct park ski and calls it the Midnight. Feminists everywhere rejoice.
  • Blizzard’s Black Pearl 82 gets the same TruBlend update that was applied to their 88 and 97 last season. These updates made the skis a little heavier and more amenable to aggressive skiing.
  • Rossignol gives makes an update to their Experience W line and it looks to be a touch heavier than the 20/21 model and new widths.

TOURING SKIS

  • Liberty Genesis 106 Backcountry is the ski I’m most excited about of the season. The “normal” 106 is known as a super accessible, maneuverable, forgiving option that’s the perfect gateway tool for off piste skiing. As I see a lot of progressing intermediates chomping at the bit to get into the backcountry, there aren’t a ton of options that provide that sort of package at a light weight, and the more affordable ones (like the Atomic Backland 102 and 102 FR) are no longer with us. I’d ballpark this as a competitor for the Icelantic Mystic 107 or Maiden Lite, or the DPS Zelda Alchemist, but knowing Liberty and how the traditional Genesis 106 is priced, it’ll be a more compelling price point. Blister has a review of the traditional Genesis here.
  • Volkl is launching their first women’s specific touring ski series with the Rise Beyond 96 W, Rise Above 88 W, and Rise Up 82 W. The 96 comes in at 1262g for a 170, so these stack up well against the Atomic Backland 98 W, Salomon MTN Explore 95, or Zero G 95. Other than the Backlands, the rest are unisex lines, so I’m excited that this is a ski that’s guaranteed to have substantial testing and feedback from women skiers. Note that the Rise Beyond existed for the 20-21 season, so there are reviews that may be helpful.

ALPINE BOOTS

  • K2’s higher volume BFC boots get a total overhaul with a lighter weight, better performance, GripWalk soles and a more modernized aesthetic.
  • The Hawx Ultra S lineup gets a makeover that adds some extra weight and a slightly less progressive, more immediate flex. Fit will be the same. Blister goes in depth on the changes with the Atomic team at the beginning of this podcast.
  • Atomic also adds the Hawx Ultra 115 Professional, where they use their new Mimic liner. This liner is foam injected and pumped into the boot to perfectly fill the space around your foot, similar to the Zipfit cork injection liners that cost a pretty penny, but get rave reviews.
  • Lange’s RX and RX LV lines get slight updates and Gripwalk soles, but no changes to fit.
  • Salomon adds GripWalk to their S/Pro and S/Max lines.

50/50 Boots

  • Dalbello’s lower volume Chakra line gets a 115 flex, which will feature tech inserts and GripWalk soles to make it an option for short tours, and the entire Chakra line will get some small updates for fit and performance.
  • Tecnica’s Cochise line is adding the LV Pro Cochise W with a 115 flex. From my experience with the 120 Mach1 LV Pro that didn’t flex an bit under my weight even at room temperature with bolts taken out, I’m betting this is your burly boot if you do a lot of lift accessed touring and hiking. Blister has a first look live on their page.
  • Head Kore W will feature GripWalk soles starting 2022.

TOURING BOOTS

  • Lange adds a lightweight, unisex (EDIT: HA. Hardly. Sizing starts at a 25.5) version of their popular 50/50 XT3 series called the XT Tour. At 1300g, this will compete with the ZeroG, Hawx Ultra XTD 115, Gea RS, and comparable boots.
  • Dynafit’s Hoji Pro Tour line is getting renewed as the Radical boots. Rumor has it, it’s gettin some extra volume through the instep and will no longer have the Speed Nose design that makes it more limiting for binding options. Dynafit also increases boot warranty to five years.
  • The Scarpa Gea and Gea RS get a updated from Grilamid to Grilamid Bio, a plastic made from castor beans that is gentler on the environment.
  • Dalbello adds the Quantum lineup, expanding on their Quantum Asolo experiment from this year. These include a women’s version. The men’s versions come in around 1000g, so think of these as competitors to ultralight boots like the TLT8 or Atomic Backland 2 buckle boots.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

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