Expert Review: Line Vision 98 Skis · 2022
This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2021.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2021.
The Line Vision 98 are a backcountry-specific, freeride ski with an unusually fun design. This ski weighs in at under 1500g and is a blast in most conditions; it has a softer-than-usual flex, and with its deep rocker, fun is unavoidable.
About the skis I own
- Model: Line Vision 98 2022
- Size: 179cm
- Height: 5’9”
- Weight: 160 lbs
- Experience: 20 years of skiing
- When I bought these: November 2021
- Days tested: 35
- Mount position: Recommended
- Boots: Roxa R3 130
- Boot Size: 26.5
- Bindings: 2020 Salomon Shift 13
- Where I’ve used it: Oregon/Washington backcountry, summer volcanos, spring powder and slush, frozen crust, deep powder
How they perform
What I was looking for
I wanted to find a light backcountry ski with a playful design and flex. I wanted to avoid stiff, rigid, directional skis that prioritized stability and edge hold above all else. Instead, I sought something that encouraged me to be creative and allowed me to pop and spin off natural features.
Why I chose this gear
Line created a very unique ski with the Vision series. These skis are softer than the average backcountry ski and are designed to be surfy and playful. I considered too many skis to list here, but some notable mentions are: the Icelantic Nomad 105 Lite, Line Vision 108, and Armada Tracer 98. Ultimately I chose the Vision 98 because it was far lighter than all of these skis and remained playful and forgiving.
What I love about them
- Powder: For a ski that is only 98mm underfoot, these punched above their weight. I was blessed with an April dump at Broken Top mountain in Oregon, I woke up to a fresh three feet and these skis didn't let me down. The deep rocker lines in both the tip and tail, coupled with the minimal taper, allows these skis to hold their own in powder.
- Trees: Needless to say these are very light skis, which translates to an extremely agile feel on snow. I have done a fair bit of “adventure skiing” (I took a wrong turn and had to ski my way out of dense trees), and I am impressed by how easy it is to pivot and flick the tips around.
- Moguls: Are these a mogul ski? No. Are these skis fun on moguls? Yes. Given the weight and agility of these skis, moguls can be quite fun. But once I get going fast, things can get unstable (and honestly scary) very quickly. These are, by no means, a resort ski.
- Park: I haven’t (and probably won't) ski these in the park, they are not a park ski by any means. I do, however, love to do some light backcountry freeriding; I love to pop off natural terrain and butter off windlips, and these are really well suited for such activities. Line has created a ski that makes me want to jump off small/medium features and spin. Taking big drops can be a hazard considering these are a softer-flexing ski, but for someone who is lighter than me (<160lbs) these skis can be plenty supportive on landings. They have a decent amount of pop in the tails and can be buttered easily with a softer flex in the tips.
- Backcountry: This is the Vision’s home turf; they were designed as a backcountry freeride ski, and that's what they do best. They are crazy light (under 1500g). Which is usually reserved for stiff, grippy, skis meant for challenging descents in consequential terrain where there is no room to be playful. These are a challenge to that trend; many other skis that fill this niche are several hundred grams heavier.
- Durability: Skiing in the Pacific Northwest during the spring and summer has made me acquainted with volcanic rock—a particularly sharp and unforgiving type of stone that is prone to causing core shots. I am happy to report that my skis have held up well after a few close calls with sharp rocks, tree branches, and a roof box full of skis. My edges and bases have held up really well and there is minimal chipping on the topsheet.** **I was happy to see a sidewall construction on these (another feature often dropped to save weight), though they are missing Line’s legendary Fatty Base & Edge. Overall, after a few seasons of year-round touring I have had no issues with durability.
- Weight: I'll be honest. I skip leg day. So saving weight on my skis is a big priority, especially when my pride is on the line. With a weight of around 1450g (at 179cm), these are on par with some seriously light skis like the Salomon MTN Explore 88, and the Black Diamond Helio Carbon 105. Despite the comparisons, the Vision remains a very different ski from everything else in this weight class (more on this later). This is definitely a ski I can hike all day in without tiring myself out too much.
- Switch riding: The only ski in this weight class that is twin tip and has real switch riding capabilities. Landing switch in powder can be challenging (for more of that check out the Line Vision 108), but in anything under six inches switch riding isn't a problem.
- Stability: For a ski that is under 1500g, this is stable enough. I do not look to this ski to charge on, most skis in this weight class are meant to be skis conservatively. I would say this ski has above-average dampness for its weight. That being said, it can be punishing on frozen sun cups and tracked-out powder, and it most certainly has a speed limit. Line has found a really cool technology with their THC (Triple Hybrid Construction) of carbon, kevlar, and aramid. While these are all staples of lightweight ski construction, somehow Line has found a golden ratio of the three to create a damp and playful ski that is still light enough for all-day use.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Turns: The Vision 98 has an 18m turn radius, which is not exceptional for a ski in this size class; however the ski turns very easily and I immediately found the sweet spot. While the turning/carving capabilities aren't spectacular, this is a very easy ski to use—allowing me to relax more and have fun with my turns instead of focusing on controlling a fast, aggressive carve. Turns also don't have to be carved, smearing turns is a blast on these skis. Especially in powder or soft spring slush, the tips and tails release effortlessly, allowing me to surf my way around.
- Speed: This ski has a speed limit; no way around it. These are not charging skis—they don't want to race down the hill—and when I really push on them they can be unstable. I personally don’t ski overly fast and aggressively in the backcountry, so this is not an issue for me.
- Edge hold: There are lots of things to love about this ski, but edge hold is not one. The grip is lackluster, especially with a softer flex and deep rocker. They are chattery on hard/icy snow, and I have had some sketchy descents when skiing on such terrain.
- Groomers: This ski is not designed with groomers in mind. I would not recommend this as a resort ski at all, not even a 50/50 ski. There are just much better options available.
- Other: Odd issue to bring up but an important one: several of the iterations of this ski have an all-white/off-white topsheet, which is terrifying when I lose a ski in powder. Line, please stop doing this; they look cool but I don't want to lose a ski. I plan on adding some bright paint to my skis this year after a close call last.
- Any workarounds: I think understanding the limitation of this ski is key to unlocking its full potential. Knowing that this isn't a tool for consequential ski mountaineering objectives or going big on backcountry features will allow one to tune into what this ski does best: slowing things down and having fun surfing, slashing, and spinning on small- to medium-sized features.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with these skis is when I got to ski three feet of powder in April last year on a yurt trip. I had so much fun slashing and surfing. The conditions lined up for a safe snowpack with a healthy serving of fresh powder and plenty of great terrain right outside the door of my yurt. The light weight of these skis kept me hiking all day and even allowed me to lap an awesome cliff drop I had been eyeing for a few days. Many of the pictures seen here are from that trip.
Value for the money vs. other options
This is a tough question to answer for a few reasons. The first is that there are few skis to compare it with because of its unique design. Secondly the value in this ski doesn't come from its ability to perform any one activity well, but instead from its ability to perform a unique collection of things that combine to create a very fun experience. I believe this is a great value for a ski because it includes all the features and characteristics I enjoy. Many carbon-packed skis (this ski has some carbon added) that are very light can quickly climb above $800 or $900, and finding a very light and fun ski under $800 is a deal. Another great alternative is the Armada Tracer 98; it has a very similar shape but with a more robust (heavier) build that improves stability but retains a fun and playful feel.
I am going to describe a skier, and if it's the person reading this, then this may just be a unicorn of a ski. This skier loves to slash and spin, jump, play, and pick their way down a creative line. What this ski sacrifices in stiffness and edgehold, it makes up for in ease of use and pure fun. If one takes things a little slow and loves to find new features to hit, and are maybe a little goofy when they ski, then I recommend this ski wholeheartedly. I have used many skis in my life and this is the most unique. The only other ski I have considered replacing it with is the wider Vision 108, and that is because it was released in a bright-yellow topsheet.