(Photo: Courtesy Salomon)
2023 Winter Gear Guide

2023 Salomon MTN 86 W Pro Review

Featuring a slim waist and lightweight construction, this backcountry ski is for those who need quick sticks to tackle big, technical terrain

Courtesy Salomon
Lily Krass

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The Scores (out of 10)

  • Crud Performance: 5.5
  • Responsiveness: 7.5
  • Stability at Speed: 5
  • Flotation: 5
  • Playfulness: 7
  • Forgiveness: 6
  • Versatility: 6
  • Quickness: 8

The Specs

  • Price: $800
  • Lengths: 156, 164, 172
  • Dimensions: 118-86-104
  • Radius: 18
  • Weight: 1,140g
  • Level: Intermediate, Advanced

In a Nutshell

  • Pros: Quickness, Playfulness
  • Cons: Stability at Speed, Versatility

Buy Now

Sure, you need a light ski if you want to bust out big climbs, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for something that’s going to be less fun on the downhill. The redesigned Salmon MTN series adds some much needed fun to ski mountaineering sufferfests with skis that are stable high-alpine crushers that you can also trust on technical descents.

Related: Our gear editor’s favorite tools for waxing her skis at home

Changes to the uphill-oriented MTN series include the new chatter-killing cork damplifier, a caruba wood core, and a sustainable approach to construction, utilizing recycled materials in the sidewalls, top sheet, bases, and core.

On the women’s side, the 86 W Pro is the slimmest of the bunch and more geared towards springtime or East Coast touring than the wider 96. Thanks to the slimmer waist, the 86 W Pro is a zippy little ski that makes the uphill a breeze while serving up confident edge hold in the steeps. For a ski that seems laser-focused on conquering high peaks, the MTN 86 W Pro feels remarkably playful when linking hop turns and threading the needle between tight trees. It’s a bit more forgiving than the traditionally stiff ski mountaineering sticks thanks to the springy poplar and caruba core topped with cork damplifier in the tip to smooth out chatter.

Read more: Learn How the Salomon MTN 86 W Pro Stacked Up Against the Competition

Given its slim silhouette, testers were expecting a twitchy ski without much of a backbone, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. “For an 86mm-waisted ski, this had incredible crud-blasting ability,” said tester Jordan Garrett, a dedicated Colorado backcountry skier who knows a thing or two about skiing crud. “Turning on a dime couldn’t be easier, and in the run-out of steeper runs, the ski holds an edge well.”

That being said, it’s not the chargiest backcountry ski, favoring quickness and rebound over stability at high speeds. But for those looking for precision in technical terrain, the MTN 86 W Pro is incredibly reliable. Spring missions are where this ski flourishes—don’t reach for this one when there’s new snow on the ground. Also consider this sub-1,200 gram touring ski for resort fitness laps where you’re looking to lessen your effort while knocking out some serious vert.

Because this ski is so easy to maneuver, testers agreed that both beginner and advanced skiers could find a place for this ski in their quiver. “If you’re a beginner looking for a fitness ski at the resorts, the softer tip allows for easy turn initiation and is super solid underfoot,” said Garrett. “If you’re an advanced skier looking to travel deep into the backcountry, the low weight of this ski will keep your legs fresh for effortless jump turns.”

Lily Krass is a freelance ski journalist based in Jackson, Wyoming with work featured in SKI Magazine, Powder Magazine, Freeskier, Teton Gravity Research, and Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal. She spends winters backcountry skiing in Grand Teton National Park and riding lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with the occasional trip to the Alps (for the food, obviously). While she’s been in ski boots since she learned to walk, Lily has been professionally writing about skiing, gear, and all things outdoors for the past seven years. In addition to an all-consuming addiction to powder skiing mixed with heavy doses of Type II fun, Lily takes snacking seriously, and when she’s not writing or sliding on snow, she’s likely deep into a baking project in her tiny kitchen. She is the co-author of Beyond Skid: A Cookbook For Ski Bums, a collection of dirtbag-friendly recipes inspired by life in a mountain town.

Lead Photo: Courtesy Salomon

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