Expert Review: Fischer Ranger 102 Skis · 2023Published on 04/06/2023 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in February of 2023.
All photos by Craig Piefer
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in February of 2023.
In the category of “One Ski Quiver for the Rockies”, the 2023 Fischer Ranger 102 is one of my top five. It has just enough metal to carve at speed and enough pop and playfulness to really enjoy days with fresh snow.
About the skis I own
- Model: 2022/2023 Fischer Ranger 102
- Size: 184cm
- Height: 5’8”
- Weight: 165 lbs
- Experience: 35 years of skiing
- When I bought these: February 2023
- Days tested: 15
- Mount position: Factory Suggested Boot Center +/- 0
- Boots: 2022/2023 Fischer Ranger Pro 130
- Boot Size: 26.5 (Performance Fit)
- Bindings: 2022/2023 Tyrolia Attack 14 (Branded Fischer)
- Where I’ve used it: Copper Mountain, Monarch Mountain, Colorado
- Terrain: All mountain, on piste, off piste, terrain park, powder, greens to double black diamond
How they perform
What I was looking for
As a Ski Expert, I am somewhat spoiled with several options on a ski day. But this year, I wanted to live like the rest of the skiing public. So I sold my quiver and went to one backcountry ski and one resort ski. I wanted a ski that could handle going really fast on days when fresh snow was scarce ,and a ski that floated well enough to handle everything but the deepest pow days.
Why I chose this gear
I skied a bunch of skis in the 98–104mm waist; in my opinion that waist width floats fine in single-digit snowfalls, but the width doesn’t slow one down in new turn initiation. I wanted something that, on the precise/playful spectrum, leaned toward playful but could still handle high-speed carving. I considered The K2 Mindbender 98 and the Volkl Mantra 102. I skied both of those and really like them. The Mantras were just tanks, great for blasting through cut up snow, but were not playful at all. The Mindbenders were more playful and skied a lot like the Rangers, but I wanted more float and the Ranger 102 offered more surface area.
What I love about them
- Speed: The Ranger 102s handle speed quite well for not being a “full metal” ski. The tip of the ski is softer than the tails, which allows them to perform well in soft snow, but I do get some vibration and chatter up front at high speeds on hard snow. It does not take away from the performance or edge grip, it’s just a little annoying.
- Edge hold: The edge hold is excellent on the Ranger 102. It is not a race ski, but I have no complaints on how these skis hold their edge and carve with very little effort.
- Turns: The ski turns intuitively and with little effort. I need to make sure I ski with good form and engage my shins to make the ski perform at its peak. The stiff tails push me back forward if I get out of position, and encourage an athletic, downhill stance.
- Groomers: These skis are fun, fast and smooth on groomers.
- Trees: The low swing weight and the ski’s overall quickness makes them an ideal ski for someone who likes to ski glades and trees.
- Moguls: I don’t just love moguls, but I make sure I do them every time I ski. The Rangers didn’t make me better at moguls—no ski really can—but they did not make me worse. If I didn’t nail a turn in the moguls, the skis would deflect easily and push me off line, unlike heavier, full metal skis.
- Park: I ski the park with my teenage boys here and there. I have a couple “dad tricks” I throw out there. A shifty, a mute grab, and every once in a while: a 360. The Rangers are just fine for those lame tricks.
- Backcountry: I have not taken these into the backcountry, but I think they would be a good candidate for a 50/50 resort/backcountry setup. Though a ski over 2000 grams is hefty to lug up a hill.
- Durability: Their simple top sheet design hides nicks and scrapes, and the bases and edges have held up nicely while skiing rough and rocky terrain.
- Weight: At 2240g per ski, I can feel and see the weight of the ski is in its center, not the tip and tail. At high speed, the tips will chatter a little due to the lack of metal up there. But for my style of skiing, the weight/metal are where they need to be for great edge grip while still being playful and fun.
- Stability: The ski is stable and damp at any speed. The tail of the ski transfers energy nicely as I initiate my next turn. I don’t do a lot of buttering, but these skis are easy to throw sideways into a hockey stop or controlled later drift with the right amount of buttering without fear of catapulting oneself onto the next run.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Powder: I was able to ski the Ranger 102 in an 11-inch powder day in early March. I would not call it “blower pow”, but closer to “mash potatoes”. I did not have to lean back to get them to float, but could charge and really enjoy the soft stuff. They floated nicely for a 100ish mm waist. But on deeper days, I often wish I had a 110ish-waist ski. I rated the flotation as average because the Ranger 102 performs “as expected” for the width it is.
Favorite moment with these skis
I have some really great days on these Rangers, but one of my favorite moments with them came a couple weeks ago. My 15 year old son and I have the same boot sole length and so we switched skis after lunch. He normally skis a more freeride, park oriented ski. He got on the Rangers and just ripped. I have never seen him carve with such ease or handle such tough terrain with confidence. He LOVED them, I’ll be ordering another pair soon.
Value for the money vs. other options
The Fischer Ranger 102s are at the mid- to top-end range of ski pricing. That’s because they are a top-end ski. Considering last year I had two different skis and two different bindings to do what this one ski does easily, I’d say they are an excellent value. For riders who are more of hard chargers and really want a ski that busts through terrain rather than a ski that plays with terrain, I would suggest the Volkl Mantra 102. It is similar in price, surface area, and shape, but has a lot more metal and heft to it. Where the Rangers may deflect or have a speed limit, the Mantras blow though chopped up snow and feel really solid at any speed.
The Fischer Ranger 102 is a great ski for those who live out West and want one ski to grab everyday no matter what the conditions are. All the metal in the middle of these skis keeps the swing weight down and allows them to pivot easily in the trees and on bump runs. Plus, the suspension from the abbreviated metal somehow carries out to both tip and tail, making them a hard-charging ski on chewed up groomers.