Expert Review: Völkl Kendo 88 Skis · 2022-2023

Published on 09/21/2023 · 7 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I tested in March of 2022.
By Ski Expert Rob G.

All photos courtesy of Rob G.

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in March of 2022.

My take

The 2023 Volkl Kendo 88 is an excellent choice for an advanced to expert skier who wants a stiff, responsive, narrow all-mountain ski featuring a “3D turn radius” that helps the ski excel at both short and medium to long radius turns in conditions ranging from Eastern “hardpack” to boot-top powder.

About the gear

  • Model: 2023 Volkl Kendo 88
  • Size: 184cm

About me

  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 210 lbs
  • Experience 45 years of skiing, and I’ve been teaching off and on for the last 25

Test conditions

  • When I bought these: March 2022
  • Days tested: 1 day
  • Mount position: On the line
  • Boots: 2018 Tecnica Mach1 130 LVs
  • Boot Size: 27.5
  • Bindings: Marker Griffon Demo bindings
  • Terrain I've used it on: A mix of on- and off-piste terrain in varied spring conditions; from refrozen hard pack (that reminded me of the East) to softening corn at Powder Mountain in Utah

How they perform

High Speed Stability
Turn Ease

What I was looking for

Volkl emphasizes the Kendo’s 3D turn radius in its marketing. Aware of that, I wanted to put the Kendo through its paces and see how it compared to other narrow all-mountain skis I own or have tested. I was expecting the ski to be stable and damp, and to hold an edge in firm snow. I was not expecting (and was very pleasantly surprised) by the energy it showed in the transition between turns.

Why I chose this gear

This ski is a fantastic choice as an all-mountain, East ski for any advanced to expert skier who sees firm snow conditions as an invitation to lay trenches and carve. The carving performance of the 88mm-waisted skis rivals much narrower skis. The energy coming out of the turn reminded me more of race-derived carvers than other damp, almost-90mm-wide ski, (like the Blizzard Brahma 88 or the K2 Mindbender 90Ti

What I love about them

  • Speed: Not surprisingly for a relatively stiff all-mountain ski, the Kendo 88 thrives on speed. I was unable to find the Kendo’s speed limit as I drove it through high-speed, carved turns down the fall line, and the ski behaved predictably and maintained its composure no matter how hard I drove it.
  • Edge hold: The edge hold of the Kendo 88 was fantastic. Whether driving the ski through the tips, or turning with a centered stance, I felt confident — in very firm conditions — when railing turns.
  • Turns: The Kendo 88s live to turn. In medium- to longer-radius turns, they were composed and predictable. In short-radius turns, the energy in transition from turn to turn was a very pleasant surprise that I did not expect in a ski of this width. I think the short-turn performance is helped by the “3D” turn radius and the “Tailor Carbon Tip,” a web of carbon in the tips of the skis. Whatever the cause- they are a joy to make short, carved turns on - and that is not usually true for skis as predictable in medium-to-longer radius turns. Groomers: I skied these on mostly groomed terrain and loved them. These are great all-mountain skis for an advanced to expert skier who likes to drive his skis through turns in firm conditions.
  • Moguls: While there are other skis, like the Salomon QST 92 or the Atomic Maverick 86c that are more forgiving in bumped-up terrain, the edge-to-edge quickness and solid edge hold of these skis make them a good choice for a skier who does not need a super-forgiving ski in the bumps. I would not want to learn how to ski bumps in these. But skiers who love bumps already won’t have their minds changed by the Kendo 88.
  • Durability: I was only on these for one day, but the Kendo 88s felt solid. The construction of the skis suggests that they will be durable all-mountain skis.
  • Weight: The Kendos aren’t featherweight skis, but they never felt heavy. At under 2kg per ski, they are relatively light for all-mountain skis. Especially compared to heavier pure carvers, they are going to be easier to flick around in the trees and bumps.
  • Stability: Volkl The Kendos are very stable at speed, thanks in large part to the Titinal Frame Construction. They are damp enough to absorb vibrations from the firm conditions in which I was skiing without sacrificing energy out of the turn.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Powder: I did not have the opportunity to ski the Kendo 88s in anything resembling deep pow. Skis that are a centimeter or two wider underfoot, and/or have more rocker will offer better float in deep snow. That being said, their 88mm width means they should do better in pow than just about any other ski that carves this well. I would be very happy to ski them in the four to six inches of fresh snow that us Eastern skiers consider ourselves lucky to get.
  • Trees: I did not get to ski the Kendo’s in trees. But given their versatility, I think they would be great for someone who skis aggressively and with confidence in the trees — although not in very deep powder. For somebody just starting to explore in the trees, a better choice is a ski that is more playful and forgiving, like the Salomon QST 92.
  • Park: These are not park skis. Not even close. The titianal frame, flat tails, and overall construction of the ski suggest that skiers who spend most of their time in the park should look elsewhere. But, I would still hit a tabletop jump or occasional side hit with the Kendo 88s.
  • Backcountry: The Kendo 88s are not designed as touring skis. They are significantly heavier than you would want for uphill travel and narrower than ideal for skiing in deep snow.
  • Switch riding: With their flat tail, the Kendo’s are not constructed for switch skiing. Can I ski backwards on them? Sure. But that’s not what they are built for.

Favorite moment with this gear

On my first run with the Kendo 88s, I was exploring how responsive they would be at lower speeds. I was impressed, but I felt as if the skis were asking me to open up a bit, and trust them in the fall line. Next run I found a steep pitch and decided to push the skis — skiing aggressively through the tip of the ski and carving a variety of turn shapes down the fall line. The Kendos responded with a mix of stability and rebound energy that far exceeded my expectations of how an 88mm-waisted ski was supposed to perform in firm conditions.

Value for the money vs. other options

The Kendo 88 is not cheap. But they are a great choice for skiers who want one ski that will perform exceptionally well carving in firm snow conditions AND not feel out of place in boot-top powder or off-piste.

Final verdict

The Kendo 88s are a fantastic choice for an Eastern skier who wants a single ski that can handle Eastern conditions ranging from ice coast hardpack to boot-top powder. These skis would be worth traveling with on trips out West. And for a Western skier who primarily skis groomers or wants a fun all-mountain carving machine for low-tide conditions, they are a great option as well. If you wanted a ski that sacrificed some of the energy out of shorter turns for even more dampness and stability at speed, you might consider the Blizzard Brahma 88. Or, for a somewhat more budget-friendly choice, the Salomon QST 92 would be a very solid choice for significantly less money.

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Rob G., Ski Expert
Rob G.
Ski Expert
I’m a fully certified ski instructor & ski-nerd who loves helping friends and clients -- of all ages and abilities -- find the right ski equipment and accessories for their ski adventures!.I’d love to help you find the right gear for the skier you are and want to be.
267 Reviews
3204 Customers helped
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Written by:
Rob G., Ski Expert
Rob G.
Ski Expert
I’m a fully certified ski instructor & ski-nerd who loves helping friends and clients -- of all ages and abilities -- find the right ski equipment and accessories for their ski adventures!.I’d love to help you find the right gear for the skier you are and want to be.
267 Reviews
3204 Customers helped

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