Happy gear launch season. This is the time of year where brands introduce their lineup for the ’23-’24 season, and the ski media talks about what new men’s products will be on the market next year. I am not a man. Neither are the women who tend to be on the other side of my gear conversations or product advice. Gear innovation really loses its luster when the sizing precludes you from actually bringing those advancements into your quiver. So I write my own preview ferda girls.
Now, I’m not the kind of writer that gets invited to gear shows (for now. Shoutout to some editors working to give women a space at the table). So I read all the articles, stalk all the retailers, comb through all the forums to gather all the hints and crumbs about what’s happening on the women’s side of the aisle. If the content’s not there, I go full Carmen Sandiego, trying to decipher zoomed in, pixelated images from gear shows and translating dealer guides from foreign languages. But women buy gear. Women research gear. This is the only gear preview that’s wholly dedicated to making that happen.
Starting with some heavier, directional offerings with metal:
- Blizzard Sheeva 9, 10, and 11: Blizzard is overhauling their Sheeva and Rustler lines (the latter goes down to a 162, so most women will be able to choose between the two). Both lines have changes to the metal underfoot. The old versions had wall-to-wall metal in the binding zone, and it tapered into points in the tips and tails. Now, the metal runs along the edges, from tip to tail. Then there’s a fiberglass (Sheeva) or titanal (Rustler) insert in the binding zone. The Sheevas will be a little lighter and softer. The Rustlers will be a bit more stiff, heavy, and stable. The size increments also shorten from 8cm jumps to 6cm jumps so you’re more likely to find the perfect size for you. In Blizzard’s diagram below, the Rustlers are on the left, Sheevas on the right:
- Nordica Unleashed 108: This ski existed last year in men’s sizes, but for 2024, it’ll get additional sizes down to a 162 and a feminine topsheet option. This will replace the Santa Ana 110. The Unleashed will likely be a bit more maneuverable, thanks to a lighter weight, more forward mount point, and more softness in the tips and tails.
- Volkl Secret 102: Gets a minor update with a tighter turn radius. This mirrors changes to the men’s Mantra from last year so they will now be the same ski with different names, sizes, and graphics.
- Salomon Stance: You might see some comments about a “new” Stance, but the men’s line will take on the women’s construction. If you try one at a demo event and see a prior version on sale, just know that they’re consistent year-to-year on the women’s side.
Moving on to some playful, poppy, park inspired skis:
- Armada ARW: The Armada ARW is getting an update, most notably with slanted sidewalls instead of the cap / sidewall combo they’ve run in the past. Widths will also shift a little, but none of the existing documentation is in agreement for which waist widths carry into women’s. The ARW 106 UL and ARW VJJ 116 UL will stay the same.
- Elan Playmaker:This is an all new, truly unisex freestyle ski. Waist width options are 91mm and 101mm. It’s lighter, softer, and poppy. The 91 is likely similar to the Black Crows Captis Birdie or K2 Reckoner 92. The 101 likely pairs up well with the Volkl Revolt 102 or K2 Reckoner 102 – neither of which really come in size offerings for women.
- Line Bacons: These were previously known as Sir Francis Bacons. They become a unisex offerings with the 108 sizing down to 166cm and the 115 dropping down to a 168cm. These are pretty much center mounted and a symmetrical flex (where they ski similarly whether forward or switch). But that mount point and flex pattern also will make the Bacons an easy and nimble powder ski. Only downside? If they had made it a gendered line, they could’ve named the women’s version after Sir Francis Bacon’s mother: Lady Cooke Bacon.
- Atomic Bent 110: New size addition at a 164 makes this line a little more unisex.
And lastly, some moderate flex, democratic (in the crowd-pleaser, vanilla kind of way) directional skis:
- Volkl Blaze 82: This is a new width for the Blaze lineup that caters to beginnermediates.
- K2 Mindbender 96C? I put a question mark because K2 literally forgot they had women’s skis in their lineup. Men’s will get this model and I guess we’ll wait to see what’s happening for women once retailers set up their fall assortments. Edit: confirming women’s is getting a 96 C. It’s from a Swedish YouTube video so that’s as much as I’ve got.
- Head Joy: This piste oriented line gets a few subtle updates, particularly to the turn radius.
- Salomon QST 106 Echo: Salomon is adding a lighter version of their beloved QST series that sits right on the line between a heavy-ish touring ski and very light 50/50. This strategy is similar to Nordica, Blizzard, and Elan’s efforts to make a lighter, more touring-friendly version of their best selling inbound skis. But unlike those brands listed above, the QST Echo is truly unisex sizing on a mid-fat ski with sizes dropping down to 157. Someone hug the ski developers at Salomon for me. I’ve always felt like the Salomon MTN lines were really strong offerings on the touring front and my expectations for the Echo are high. I also hope there are some additional widths in the works for future seasons.
- DPS Kaizen: The 50/50 friendly Pagoda line is replaced by the Kaizen line. Instead of their “RP” and “C2” indicators, their more playful shapes will be labeled “Rocker” and the more directional ones will be labeled “Directional.” They’re still the classic DPS shape, so I don’t imagine any drastic changes.
- Nordica Santa Ana Unlimited 104: After a season and a half of resenting Nordica for denying women a 100+ touring ski in the Unlimited line, they’re finally adding the 104 to the Santa Ana Unlimited series. It comes in sizes down to a 158.
- Head Kore Tour: Like the Echo mentioned above, Head is also trying to get on the “touring version of an inbound ski” train. Their lineup is quite narrow with the 87,93, and 99 widths. But those waist widths also scale down with length. I.e. the Kore Tour 99 actually only measures 95 in the smallest length. All models size down to a 163. Given how heavy these are for the width, I think there are much better volcano skis out there. But I hope that a Kore 105 is on the docket for 2025.
- Dynafit Radical 97 W: This ski looks like the current Free 97 and the weight matches pretty closely too. There’s very limited information released thus far.
- Armada Locator: This line was new last season, but they’re adding secondary topsheet options in more “feminine” pastels.
- Dynastar M Tour 108? Very limited information on the M Tour 108 at this point, but the M Tour 99 is an incredibly well-rounded ski and a 108 could be a bomber mid-winter setup.
- Updated Waybacks? Like I mentioned, K2’s committed to making the women’s shopping experience as painful as possible with almost no information. The Waybacks are getting additional rocker to make them a more well rounded ski (in the past, they’ve favored consolidated snowpacks). No word on if the Wayback W line will get the same updates / if the Wayback W line is collapsing into a unisex series / if the shorter, women’s sizes are getting cut all together. Love this for us.
- New / Updated Fischer TransAlps? The Fischer TransAlps will increase their lineup, with waist widths from the low 80s up to 105. No word on if the Hannibal is impacted, whether sizing will be unisex, or any other specs.
- Discontinuing Liberty Genesis 106 Backcountry: Liberty is dropping their Genesis and Origin Backcountry models. They were pretty heavy for a touring ski, but they were 50/50-friendly and one of the few brands that offered powder-friendly touring skis in short sizes.
- Dalbello Cabrio LV: The Cabrio series replaces the existing Dalbello Chakra. This boot will also move from a 98mm last to a 99mm last.
- K2 Anthem: These boots are redesigned with a BOA.
- Lange Shadow: The Shadow replaces the Lange RX lines with both an LV and MV fit.
- Salomon S/Pro Supra: These are also getting a BOA closure on the 2 stiffest women’s flexes.
- Tecnica Mach1 MV and HV: These lines are adding a 105 and 115 flex, making them the stiffest options for women with high volume feet.
- Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD: This boot gets some slight tweaks and comes with or without BOA closure.
- Dalbello Cabrio Free: This lineup replaces the Lupos and the tongue stays in the boot to simplify transitions and limit the risk of missing parts.
- Dynafit Tigard 110: The Tigard replaces the Hoji Free line. The Hoji Free 110 was kind of unisex (smallest size was a 24.5), but there is not information at this time for the Tigard. This line also gets GripWalk soles to create more distance from the Radical series. GripWalk soles also means they’ll work with more inbound binding options.
- K2 Mindbender: These also get a BOA closure. (I should’ve turned this into a drinking game).
- Nordica Unlimited: This is a new line of boots that replaces the Strider. Similar specs but at a lower weight.
- Tecnica Cochise HV:The burly, hybridCochise line adds a high volume option for women with a 105 and 95 flex.