Women’s Ski Gear Preview – 2023

It’s new gear season! This is the time of year where brands introduce their lineup for the ’22-’23 season, and the ski media talks about what new men’s products will be on the market next year. I am not a “get invited to gear shows” caliber of influencer, so I read all of the articles, stalk all the retailers, and listen to all of the podcasts to collect the sentence or two that *might* be included about women’s gear. If the content’s not there, I zoom in on show photos to see if I can make out a name or sizes in the blurry pixels.

I took some notes, so you don’t have to.

Now, before moving on, I do want to give some special recognition to Evo, and more specifically, their copywriter Sammi Bushman who has been doing the bulk of the work for their 2023 preview. It’s the only time I’ve read a seasonal preview and didn’t end it with more questions than answers about changes in the women’s market. I’d like to make a motion to give her a raise. Seconded?

But now back to mine. This is the only women’s-specific list for 2023. It includes women’s gear, as well as truly unisex styles in comprehensive size runs. I also organize it differently. Most outlets list the gear by brand. But we don’t shop that way. Instead, I like to group things into product categories so it’s easier to find the gear that’s relevant to you.

Skis are up first. Boots will come later next week. More details and early reviews will be added throughout the spring. To stay up to date on additions, follow @femignarly. Writer / evo Bootfitter Alexandra Malloy also onboard and providing mini reviews from her industry demo days that will also get linked here. With that, let’s get this party started:

INBOUND SKIS

Starting with some heavier, directional offerings with metal:

  • Fischer Rangers – Fischer traditionally had 2 ranges of Rangers (say that 3 times fast). They had the Ti collection, which were more directional and stiffer, with a full sheet of titanal covering all but the tips. Then they had the FR (freeride) series, which had a more twin-tipped tail, more forward mount point, and a more playful flex. They alternated between titanal and freeride for each model: 92Ti, 94 FR, 99Ti, 102 FR. It’s hard for the customer to quickly understand the line, so they’re pulling a Hannah Montana and offering us The Best of Both Worlds. Each Ranger comes with a partial sheet of metal to provide stability at speed and in crud, but also the playful flex that makes them poppy and easier to ski. Narrower options will have more metal for groomers and firm snow. Wider options will have less metal so they bend in low density powder. These should definitely be on your list if you’re considering a Santa Ana or Sheeva. Only downside? Their smaller sizes are getting nixed, making this unisex line less female-friendly.
  • Volkl Kenja and Secret 102 – These two skis get the “Tailored Titanal” and “Tailored Carbon” that debuted with the Secret 96 this year. Essentially, they’re doing more to scale the flex to the length of the ski so that smaller skis are softer and longer ones are stiffer. The Secret 102 and Kenja have had a reputation with badass women with a long ski resume and technical precision but proved a little too much ski for many – including lifelong recreational skiers and lightweight experts. These tweaks will make the skis more accessible to more skiers. They’ll still sit with the advanced and expert skiers, but Volkl will be able to resonate with a bigger subset of that market.
  • Elan Ripstick 94 Black Edition – The stiffer “Black Edition” Ripsticks have existed on the men’s side of the aisle for a few seasons, and they’re moderately unisex-friendly, with sizes dipping down to the mid-160s. But the new women’s version will likely mirror the changes for women’s regular Ripsticks (same ski, slightly more forward mount point) and will extend the size run down to a 147.
  • Scott Pure – Scott debuted the Scott Pure Pro 109 in long lengths (182cm and up) in 2022. It’s been a 50/50 weight with carbon and titanal laminates. It’s been built for aggressive and advanced skiers with a design that favors more fall line, long radius turns compared to their Scrapper lineup. For 2023, they’re building out a full line of Pure skis for men and women in a larger variety of lengths and widths.
  • Nordica Santa Ana – The Santa Ana’s are getting tweaked again. The 110 has gotten the chop, so scoop up the clearance models if it’s been on your radar. Then the remaining models get a 2nd layer of their partial metal laminate: terrain specific meta. Reports on the metal layers are conflicting (accurate gear info isn’t for girls), but it would make sense to create differentiation with the new Unleashed series. Stay tuned.
  • Mindbender W – The Mindbender is getting tweaked with more tail rocker and some adjustments to the Y-beam for better edgehold. They’re also dropping the “Alliance” from the name and switching to a W to indicate women’s skis.
  • Faction Dancer – Same ski as the old “Dictator” line, but with a new name. It’s a badass directional ski, but the brand felt that the Dancer name was more indicative of the ski styles it encouraged. I also suspect “Dancer” carries a more positive sentiment with customers, especially on the women’s side of the aisle.

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

  • Nordica Unleashed 90W and 98W – The Unleashed series is replacing the men’s-only Nordica Soul Rider. The Soul Rider was a park / park-inspired ski, and I imagine the Unleashed will hold a similar spot in their lineup. The Soul Riders were designed to either be mounted traditionally for all-mountain skiing, or at true center for switch skiing and spinning tricks in the park. Tips were softer, whether you were using that to ski switch or have a more playful, forgiving all mountain ride. The 98W gets a partial sheet of metal with the same terrain specific metal design of the Santa Anas. While the Santa Anas are a little more “business” and compete against skis like the Black Pearl 97, metal Mindbenders, and metal Volkls, the Unleashed 98 will be compete against skis like the Sheevas and Black Crows Captis, Camox, and Atris Birdies. The 90W contains no metal and will be more of a budget / beginner / tweener ski like the K2 Reckoner Alliance. The women’s and men’s skis are also confirmed to be made with the same construction.
  • Atomic Bent Series – I’ve been asking for some women-friendly Bents for eons (that come with the signature topsheets. Those Bent 100s don’t count). Atomic’s delivering. Their new lines has a variety of widths from 85 to 110. The narrower ones replace the Punx park skis, and the wider ones ski more like the Bent Chetler 120. Their bottom sizes are 150 (for the Bent 85), 157 (for the Bent 90), 164 (for the Bent 100), and 172 (for the Bent 110). I love that the smaller sizes get artwork on par with the “big Bent.” The 100 has been such a snoozefest in comparison over the past few seasons.
  • Black Crows Captis, Camox, and Atris Birdie – The playful skis in the Black Crows line are getting tweaked to reduce the amount of rocker in the ski and give them a softer flex. The Atris Birdie also slims down to a 105 width and sizing gets adjusted. Same story on the men’s side of the line.
  • Faction Mana – These replace Candide Thovex’s CT series. Like the CTs, it looks like there’s an alternative topsheet for the women’s “x” line. Not a lot of details yet, but I’ll add notes once I know more.

And lastly, some moderate flex, democratic (in the crowd-pleaser, vanilla kind of way) directional skis:

  • Salomon QST Lux, Lumen, and Stella – The Salomon QST Blank came out last year as the widest ski in the QST range, replacing the old 118. I got a message from a woman saying, essentially, “What the hell? Women want cool collabs too!” And Salomon’s delivering. The Stella 106, Lux 92, and their brothers in the unisex line are all being modeled after the Blank construction, or as Evo’s calling them: Baby Blanks. The changes should make the new skis a little more playful and smeary than the previous version. Meanwhile, the Lumen 99 becomes the 98, just like the men’s QST changed last season. The 98 is more playful, less demanding.
  • Rossignol Rallybird – Rossignol finally wised up that having a 5 word, 10 syllable ski name did them no favors from a branding perspective. The ski stays pretty much the same (just a slightly lighter core), and the Black Ops Star Gazer Lazer Beamer Dreamer names are out. Instead, they’re naming them the Rallybird 90, 92, 102, and 104Ti. The 98mm wide “Blazer” (which was the OG BlackOps W) is kind of getting nixed. Instead, Rossignol is going back to the original 2 BlackOps widths (98 and 118) and doing 2 options of topsheets each. I suspect that at least the 98 will come in unisex sizing, but that’s not confirmed.
  • Dynastar – The M-Pro W is becoming the E-Pro, but no changes to design. You did this for what?
  • Line Pandora – These aren’t changing… yet. But they’re probably in their last season (at least in their current state as a 50/50 ski). The Sick Day series is being replaced by a metal laminate “Blade Vision” that’s the Vision shape with a metal backbone. Snatch’em up while they’re still here.

TOURING SKIS

Before diving into these, a note on major shifts in the industry. When the latest Line Pandoras and Volkl Blazes came out, they shifted the 50/50 weight for a mid-90s ski in the mid-160s for sizing would weigh under 1500g. Many of these brands are saying “we’ll see your weights and cut off another 100 grams.”

  • K2 Dispatch – K2’s adding to their Wayback / Talkback touring line with a new Dispatch line. It comes in 3 widths 101, 110, and 120, and truly unisex sizing. No info on weights or shapes, but rumor has it, they’ll be a little beefier Talkbacks, but don’t quote me on that. Really excited to see smaller sizes in this line since the Talkbacks top out at a 96 and it’s particularly designed for powder.
  • Salomon MTN Pro and Carbon – The MTN series was the 88, 95, and 88W. The width options are pretty much the same, but they’re splitting into 2 lines. The Pro line is more affordable. Weight gets a small haircut (~100g) over the old version. The Pro line includes the 80, 86, and 86W. The Carbon series gets even lighter (~200g less than the OG MTN 88W) and will likely be a little more demanding.
  • Armada Locator – The Trace and Tracer lines are no more. They’re being replaced with the new, unisex Locator series. The Locator gets a big haircut (the 104 in a 178 clocks in at 1425g – 300g lighter than the Tracer 108 in a 180). This is not the 50/50 ski that the Trace or Tracer was. Downside? These bottom out at a 162 for the 104 and a 166 for the 112-. The 96 and 88 widths will likely come in shorter sizes, but short gals ski pow too, and finding touring skis that fit them is a challenge. No word on their mount point or flex profile, but keep an eye out.
  • Santa Ana Unlimited – Nordica dropped the touring version of the Santa Anas in the spring as an early 2023 drop, so no changes. These come in an 88 and 93. The 93 weighs in at 1350g in the 165, and Nordica designed this ski with a 50/50 binding in mind but notes it can also work with a traditional tech or alpine binding. The men’s line is a few grams heavier and has a bit more carbon in the tip of the ski, but otherwise, it’s the same.
  • Blizzard Hustle – This is the “touring” version of the Sheeva and Rustler, but I am very confused. They’ve only shared the weight of the 180s, and the Hustle 10 comes in about even with the Sick Day / Pandoras in a 104. Which felt odd, since the weight of the Sheeva has only been ~50g heavier than the Pandora. $150 feels like a lot of mony for less than a pound of weight savings. Strangely, the Sheeva 10’s stated weight has gone up since it’s launch, despite no announcements of a redesign. Hunting down some answers from Blizzard.
  • Blizzard Zero G – While the Hustle is quick and nimble, the Zero G is geared for speed. It was originally built to mirror their demanding inbound skis (Brahma, Bonafide, and Cochise). The Zero G has always had a reputation for its stiffness and speed capacity, but it was also known for being insanely unforgiving and jarring in variable conditions. Blizzard has updated the carbon layup and swapped in some fiberglass that’ll be a little bendier that that it’s a bit more accessible and can absorb more vibrations for a smoother ride.
  • Elan Ripstick Tour – This ski is another early release that hit the shelves mid-winter. This is another ski with confusing and inconsistent marketing messages. The line includes a 104, 94, 94W, 88, and 88W. But in the US, we only got the men’s models, but we still got all the marketing materials with all 5 skis, and female Elan athletes are skiing the women’s model. Will we ever get the women’s model? No clue. But I hope so, since that would add a 157 to the Ripstick Tour 94. On the sizing note, I’ve seen mixed info on the Ripstick Tour 104 about whether it’ll come in a 166. I’ll find out. Overall, the Ripstick Tour shaves off enough weight from the OG Ripstick to compete against the Backland 98 W or old K2 Talkback.
  • Rossignol Escaper W – The old BlackOps Escaper was a confusing ski. It was their only touring ski across both genders. It weighed 1600g in a 164, a pound heavier than “50/50” skis like the Blaze 94 or Pandora 94. It was marketed exclusively to men, despite going down to a 156. I literally just found out *today* that it was unisex-friendly, and I spend a lot of time researching skis. So they’re pivoting. They’ll have an Escaper and Escaper W line, both ranging from (really skinny) to 97mm in width. That’s a very European line plan, but at least more women in the US will buy it than the old Escaper now that we actually know it exists.

4 thoughts on “Women’s Ski Gear Preview – 2023

  1. What’s your view on gendered skis? I am listening to podcasts and looking up specs, and I’ve heard, “once you’re on the ski, the ski doesn’t know if you’re a woman or a man”. I tend to agree, but there’s got to be more nuance to that. Thanks for all you do!

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