Expert Review: Atomic Bent Chetler 120 Skis · 2022
This review is my honest opinion of the skis which I purchased with my own money in November 2020.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis which I purchased with my own money in November 2020. For information on the latest model of this ski, check out the 2023 Expert Review.
The master of slashing deep powder, the Atomic Bent Chetler 120 skis, are for the advanced- to expert-freeride skier needing to add a fun powder ski to the quiver. They are meant for those deep or backcountry pow days, hitting pillows or slashing between the trees.
About the gear
- Model: 2021 Atomic Bent Chetler 120 (same construction as 2022 and 2023)
- Size: 176 cm long, 120 mm under foot (143-120-143 mm)
- Height: 5’7”
- Weight: 145
- Experience: Skiing for 20 years
- When I bought these: November 2020
- Days tested: 60 days
- Mount position: Recommended (close to center)
- Boots: 2020 Nordica Strider 130 Pro
- Boot Size: 24.5
- Bindings: 2020 Atomic Shift 10 MNC
- Where I’ve used it: Hakuba (Japan), Hokkaido (Japan), Mt. Hood (Oregon), and Alpe D'huez (France)
- Terrain: Powder, Groomers, Slush, Moguls, Park, Corn, and Backcountry
How it performs
What I was looking for
While in Japan I needed a backcountry powder ski. So I looked at multiple options because I needed a fairly lightweight ski that can handle hucking cliffs, pillows, and deep powder. The Bent Chetler fit in all the categories I needed, weighing 1800 grams at 184 cm, and having the incredible top sheet and bases, it was a no-brainer.
Why I chose this gear
The Bent Chetler 120 was a no-brainer because the construction is more trick-friendly in the form of a powder ski. Along with the lighter weight for touring purposes, the HRZN tips, and overall playful stiffness of the skis, they met all my needs.
I considered options such as Vector Glide, Black Crows, Line (Outline), Extrem, Blizzard (Rustlers), and many more but the Blizzard Rustler 11s, Line Outline, Line Pescado, and Black Crows Nocta were among the top. All of these powder skis are good options but don’t quite fit into the checks of lightweight, playful, aesthetic, and more trick-oriented mount point.
What I love about them
- Speed: The Bent Chetlers are made for powder days, and when I want to slash around in the powder, or straight line down a face, I can. I would not consider them speed demons, but they get the job done. They have a light wood core with a carbon backbone but are not super stiff and straight skis that will crush everything and anything under thee. The softer tips and tails with a lot of taper can get chattery at speed, but not in powder. I wouldn’t give them a great speed rating, and I will continue to see that outside of their main purpose, they are not the greatest.
- Edge hold: The Bent Chetler 120s have decent edge hold overall, and good edge hold for a powder ski. They can actually carve and hold an edge when pushed. However, they are not slalom skis that will get on edge easily; they’re 120mm underfoot, so I will need to do some work. With the understanding that these are not carving or groomer skis, the carving ability is good and will get me from the lift line to the powder spots and back down. These guys are about the deeper snow, and can get me there and back no matter the conditions.
- Turns: Turning is actually great because of rocker/camber/rocker construction, 19-meter radius, and softer flex allows for great nimbleness in between the trees, on the groomers, and dodging rocks. They are really great in the trees, and laying down some nice big powder turns in an open bowl is almost heavenly. I couldn’t be happier with how they perform in powder; anywhere else leads to some frustration, but that’s to be expected.
- Powder: Now we are talking; this is what we live for, this is what we go to the mountain for! The powder performance of these skis is superb and for those who are not really looking for high speed and straight-lining down a face and would rather slash and turn, go through the trees, jump off some cliffs or throw some tricks, these are the skis for that. The HRZN tips, soft flex, 120mm underfoot, and construction all combine to create my personal favorite powder ski that I have ever owned.
- Trees: Great tree skiing; the easy maneuverability and playfulness allow for great powder tree skiing especially.
- Backcountry: In addition to powder skiing, the Bent Chetler 120s are great for backcountry touring because of the lightweightedness and easy maneuverability for all kinds of situations I get myself into. The edge hold is not perfect, but they get the job done. Another aspect is the fact that they are twin tips, so attaching the skins to the tails led to some difficulty, but it was something I could deal with because I go up to ski down.
- Durability: Atomic’s Dura Cap sidewall makes the sidewall and topsheet well protected. I have experienced no issues with durability, as I have had minimal base damage, topsheet damage, or edge damage. Consider that this is coming from someone who has broken three skis in the past 5 years, and has put them through the rigors of backcountry tours, hucking anything, and skiing over some rocks and grass in the spring. These are durable skis that I’ve had no issues with, which is great especially when I need them to perform in the backcountry.
- Weight: Weight wise the Bent Chetlers are pretty light for a powder ski because of the carbon inserts in the wood core. The overall experience is a sturdy ski in powder but a savior while touring in deep snow as the width and weight make touring easier and more fun before the downhill. Brand weight: 1800 grams at 184 cm. Measured weight: 1712 grams at 176 cm
- Switch riding: Great at switch riding because of the mount point, twin tip, tail rocker profile, and softer flex. I would say they are the best switch-riding powder skis I have ever ridden.
- Topsheet & Base: The topsheet and bases are sick, bar none. I love these skis in and out, from the construction to the painting of the mountain, to the sublime bases that stand out.
- Stability: Stability-wise the skis are in the middle of the pack. I have encountered a lot of chatter in bumps, groomers, and chopped-up snow, but it is nothing ridiculous, just not great. Otherwise, in the powder, they are stable, fun, and poppy. I can easily butter these, which is great and a lot of fun, especially in a wide-open bowl.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Groomers: Again these skis are not meant for the groomers and I don’t want to keep repeating myself so I’ll keep this short. They will be fun and playful on the groomers but they won’t be some carving ski that I could lay down a fat turn and explode out of it.
- Moguls: I was able to ski a bit in the moguls with them, but I wouldn’t recommend it as they are a little wide and can be cumbersome. Definitely doable, but I wouldn’t buy these for mogul skiing.
- Park: A little bit too wide for the park, although the construction allows for the ability to use them in the park. I did a few park laps, but it was not as much fun when compared to being on actual park skis.
- Any workarounds? My biggest workaround was the tail clip for skins when I was touring, along with them fitting in the gondola ski storage. Both situations are not bad to deal with, and I would gladly be bothered by these things if it means I’ll be skiing powder.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment(s) with these skis is anytime I’m in the backcountry with them on a tour looking for powder. These skis have allowed me to experience powder in a new way and helped me improve my tricks, especially in the backcountry. Throwing backies and 360s is a joy as they are weighted pretty evenly and the mount point is perfect for that (I mean these are Chris Bentchetler’s skis so I would hope so). If I had to single out one favorite moment it would be when I did a tour with some friends on the backside of Cortina Hakuba, Japan, where it was dumping all day. I felt like I was floating and flying at the same time! The Bent Chetlers made skiing effortless and incredibly enjoyable.
Value for the money vs. other options
I would say the value for money is good, but not amazing. The $900 price tag is a little high but within range of other skis in the same category. I would still buy a new pair in a heartbeat if mine falls apart, but for now, I would also like to try a new type of powder ski, because I can always add to the quiver.
The Bent Chetler 120s are an angel that lets me unlock powder heaven – I couldn’t be happier. They are the best powder ski for playful skiers, and can also handle the backcountry with ease.
For information on the latest model of this ski, check out Daryl and Brandon's 2023 Expert Review.