Faced with a steady market of loyal skiers who ski a lot—there are fewer occasional skiers left in the sport—most ski manufacturers today chase quality above all else. The idea? Better skiers appreciate better skis. And once you hook them on performance they’ll keep coming back.
Atomic took a different approach. Instead of chasing the ultra-premium market, it wants to own value across all categories. As reported below, it succeeded. But not—and this is the surprising part—at the cost of quality or performance. In short, the Vantage 100 is one of the best buys in skiing.
The Good: The Vantage 100 CTI skis as well as any ski we tested, and better than most, for up to $350 less.
The Bad: In theory, a less expensive ski might not hold up as long as, say, the higher-priced Kästle, but even if that were the case, you’re still getting way more than your money’s worth.
The Verdict: Our testers, who ski upwards of 60 days per year, run the Vantage almost all the time. On the hill, it’s fluid, fun, and easy when you want, but push it on morning ice and it only inspires more confidence. “So balanced,” wrote one tester. “It handled everything I threw at it.”
- Price: $850
- Category: All Mountain
- Intended Use: 50 percent off trail, 50 percent on trail
- Dimensions: 139.5/100/126.5
- Length Tested: 180 cm
- Turn Radius for Size Tested: 18 meters
- Weight in 172 cm: 1,950 grams per ski
The 100-millimeter waist is the modern benchmark for do-everything versatility. When paired with rocker and taper, 100-millimeter skis are fat enough for most real-world powder days at resorts and skinny enough that you don’t have to dislocate your hip to set an edge on groomers.
They work out West for all but the weirdest of deep snow, and they work back East on all but the hardest of ice. Read: they perform exceedingly well for 95 percent of ski days.
Much of that is due to advancements in taper and rocker, which make skis more manageable both on and off trail. Atomic has been on the leading edge when it comes to the reshaping of modern skis, but what’s less apparent from a glance is that a full 70-percent of the Vantage 100 is cambered. That means the ski transitions from off-trail powder hunter to on-trail carver with nary a hitch. An 18-meter sidecut and a damp ride (see The Build) means you won’t be bored riding groomers all day.
The Vantage line was a tester favorite for years thanks to innovative shaping, but this year the build was overhauled with new materials. That speaks to a larger trend across the industry, as companies figure out how best to blend new developments like rocker, taper, and elliptical sidecuts with old technology like camber, and then exploit the use of new materials.
That's where Atomic’s Carbon Tank Mesh comes in. Designers have played with carbon for years, but if they use too much of it, the ski feels glassy and hollow—euphemisms for skittish and harsh. By using carbon in an open weave mesh, Atomic was able to dampen the ski without deadening it, boost the edge hold without losing a subtle ride, shave weight without injecting that hollow feel, and basically jack the performance up a level without adding excessive metal—and weight. A smartly milled Titanium Backbone—more of a spine than a full sheet of metal—adds power.