(Photo: Courtesy Salomon)
2023 Winter Gear Guide

2023 Salomon MTN 96 Carbon Review

This fast and light backcountry ski doesn’t skimp on downhill performance

Scott Yorko

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The Scores (out of 10)

  • Crud Performance: 8
  • Responsiveness: 8
  • Stability at Speed: 7.5
  • Flotation: 7.25
  • Playfulness: 8.25
  • Forgiveness: 8
  • Versatility: 9.25
  • Quickness: 8.5

The Specs

  • Price: $800
  • Lengths: 166, 174, 182
  • Dimensions: 129-95-115
  • Radius: 18m
  • Weight: 1,390g
  • Level: Intermediate to Expert

In a Nutshell

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

Buy Now

Testers expected such an uphill-focused ski to feel flimsy when the terrain got weird, but those in Sun Valley, Idaho, were pleasantly surprised. “For how lightweight it is, I thought it was just going to fold up in choppy stuff,” admitted Aspen Snowmass patroller Mike Britt, who goes to work in plug boots. “But it held up and skied strong. This would be great for the expert skier looking to get off the resort and explore new lines.” Scoring high points for nimbleness and energetic return, the easy swing weight in the tips made tight spots a non-issue, while the ski handled enough force for testers to let it run.

Related: Ski straps have many unexpected uses in the backcountry. Here are a few of them.

The Cork Damplifier technology borrowed from the MTN 96 Carbon’s freeriding QST cousin elevates the damping effect while decreasing weight. So, despite its featherweight nature, testers in Sun Valley reported that the ski can absorb a significant amount of vibration, handling all the mank and crusty snow they could throw at it and making terrible conditions a lot of fun.

“This ski has an amazing amount of performance packed into a very lightweight package, with no sacrifices,” said Luke Larsen, co-owner of Utah’s Lifthouse Ski Shop. “It’s been the biggest surprise so far. You need it!”

Related: See how the Salomon MTN 96 Carbon stacked up against its competition

The MTN 96 Carbon also borrows the full caruba wood core from Salomon’s Stance all-mountain line, putting lightweight paulownia on the sides and poplar under the binding mounts with titanium inserts to beef up stability and confidence underfoot. Combined with full-length sheets of blended carbon fiber, flax, and basalt for power, the balance of these elements earned this ski the highest versatility score in our test, at 9.25/10. Testers were impressed with the all-mountain rocker shape and sidecut, which maintained reliable edge grip but could still release quickly from a turn.

For travelers who pack light for long tours, chasing objectives more than deep powder, the uphill performance on this ski will take you to places where it shines in steep, technical terrain.

Lead Photo: Courtesy Salomon

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