Expert Review: Völkl Blaze 106 SkisPublished on 07/13/2022 · 7 min readThis review is my own honest opinion of the skis, which I bought with my own money in March 2021.
Enjoying a nice summit view from Alaska during a beautiful spring day! All photos courtesy of Benjamin Bialek
About this Review: This review is my own honest opinion of the skis, which I bought with my own money in March 2021.
The 2021/2022 Völkl Blaze 106 skis are the perfect single-set quiver for backcountry skiers dealing with variable conditions. Völkl combines its powerful core compositions with lightweight tech for an approachable ski that crushes every day.
About the gear
- Model: Völkl Blaze 106 (2021/2022)
- Size: 179cm (also tested in 186cm)
- Height: 5ft 10in
- Weight: 160lb
- Experience: 15+ years
- When I bought these: March 2021
- Days tested: 50 inbounds days and 150 touring days
- Mount position: +0 (recommended)
- Boots: 2018 Scarpa Maestrale
- Boot Size: 27.5 (318BSL)
- Bindings: 2022 Duke PT 12
- Where I’ve used it: Mostly Southeast Alaska; also all over Alaska
- Terrain: Groomers, wet chop, powder
How they perform
What I was looking for
I needed a lightweight touring setup that wouldn’t break the bank and could be used 10 months a year! Carrying around my old and heavy touring setup might have made me look like a champ, but as a ski professional, I wanted to ease my pain in the backcountry without sacrificing too much on-piste.
Why I chose this gear
To be honest, my shop works very closely with Marker/Völkl so I’m really familiar with their tech, and it’s the most available to me as well. I wanted to try the new Duke PTs, and absolutely love the concept of all-wood but also high-performance skis hitting the market again.
I was pretty set on wanting to try out the Duke PTs over the Shifts, but I did look very seriously into some DPS Wailer (C106s) as well. DPS has been creating absolutely beautiful skis for years now, and their price point is easily matched by the performance. The problem for me was the price, as the Blazes are more affordable out of the gate but also much easier to find (and find deals on). Turns out most of the things I love DPS skis for, I found in the Blazes as well, so no buyer’s regrets at all for not spending the extra cash!
What I love about them
- Edge hold / turning: Even on a rocker-forward, backcountry ski, these still keep the Völkl tradition of having spectacular edge hold. Even in the icy stuff, the camber and metal underfoot keep the skis strong and able to handle all the power you put into them. They use their grip to push through turns and even make long, GS-style turns possible on a ski that I’d never have thought to put on a race course.
- Powder: While the Blazes have never left me disappointed on-piste, they REALLY shine in the powder, trees, and variable backcountry terrain. The lightness helps keep the skis nimble no matter how heavy the snow or rider are. These same qualities are part of the reason why I chose the 179cm version over 186, and would encourage other riders who are in-between sizes to size down despite a powerful rocker profile. What’s unique about these skis are their tip-to-tail wood core, which helps create that smooth gliding feeling while skiing.
- Durability: Holy moly, I don’t know how these bases are so tough, but it takes a lot to get through them. I skied over some serious ice chunks and branches, and still, there’s nothing I need to even base grind off!
- Weight: These aren’t going to be your super-light skimo skis, but they are assuredly a backcountry ski with the appropriate amount of weight reduction. Keeping a 100% wood core with minimal metal has allowed Völkl to go back to the basics and keep things light. These skis are absolutely wonderful no matter what bindings are put on them, allowing skiers to choose whether to reduce some weight with a pin binding or throw a frame/combo binding on them for superior inbounds performance.
- Stability: As I mentioned earlier, even without a ton of metal in them, they manage to stay stable in almost all conditions. However, what I’ve loved most about these skis is their ability to transition between different skiing conditions. In the backcountry and in the spring, you’re constantly being tested by ice in the morning and slush in the afternoon, but the Blazes will keep up all day. Inbounds, I don’t think I’ve ever taken the same run twice in a row, and most of the time I’m in and out of the trees and on a completely different run halfway down than where I started! Yet these skis don’t miss a beat. They’ll run off groomers into icy chop or straight into a powder pile, and every turn you make will keep you smiling as much as the last!
- Other: There are pre-cut skins for these (which I have) that are pretty good. They’re not the best value for money, but it’s really nice to have stick-and-go skins to put on if you’re uncomfortable cutting them or don’t have a shop nearby.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Durability: If you’re someone who just loves to send it all the time, these might not be the skis for you. You’d probably love the performance, but because of the lightweight wood and simple fiberglass topsheet, they do chip and wear easier than a lot of other skis with more burly sidewalls and topsheets. I’m a pretty careful skier—I mean, I ski hard and have fun—but I like to take care of my equipment. Even after one season, I found myself doing quite a few simple epoxy spots on the skis—nothing major at all, but worth mentioning.
- Switch riding: While there is some tail taper, because of the skin compatibility, they aren’t particularly great skiing switch.
Favorite moment with this gear
As a ski-industry professional, we’re oftentimes exposed to all the top-of-the-line gear, but rarely able to afford the ‘really nice’ stuff. Ever since moving to Alaska (where gear is even harder to find), I’d been using a quiver of secondhand skis, which worked just fine and forced me to hone my skills even more, but rarely gave me the pure-bliss feeling of effortless skiing. With five-plus years in the Alaskan backcountry under my belt and some shop deals available, I finally ‘bit the bullet’ and grabbed a new pair of Blaze 106s with Völkl skins and Duke PT12s hopefully as an affordable one-pair-of-skis solution.
Within just a few days, I knew they would be perfect. I’ve skied hundreds of carving skis, and dozens of ‘powder skis’, but had never found a good balance between the two. Here in Southeast Alaska, it’s especially important to have good carving and initiating power, as the snow is insanely dense even in February/March. While I wasn’t able to get out much within the next few weeks, I never felt uncomfortable or like I was having to ‘learn’ the skis. Within one run, all the rust comes off and the Blazes do everything they can to keep you stable and playful all the way down the hill. Their simplicity makes them easy to pick up and ski a few times a year without any hesitation, but their build allows them to hold up on long ski trips no matter where you’re taking them or how hard you plan on skiing.
It’s not quite one specific memory that makes the Blaze really stand apart for me, but instead it’s their overall skiability that makes them special. Many skiers, including myself, aren’t sure if they’re going to get three runs on a given day or a dozen, and they don’t know whether they’ll get out 10 days a year or 100. The Blaze are the perfect skis for these situations because of their easy-to-ride attitude and serious performance package inside. While I recommend them as both an inbounds and out-of-bounds ski, they’d be just fine staying inside the resort with an alpine binding as well.
Value for the money vs. other options
Völkl has been pushing the new Blaze series like crazy, meaning it’s somewhat easy to find a good deal on these! Even at MSRP, they perform right alongside or ahead of similarly priced models and keep up with many of the more boutique ski makers (DPS, Black Crows, etc.).
Whether you’re looking to get into the side and backcountry or you’re a veteraned 12-month-a-year skier, the Blaze 106 are a great ski to thin out the quiver or provide an affordable solution to all your problems. Take care of them, and they’ll be your favorite skis for the next 5-10 years!