Big updates for a best-seller
When Blizzard originally released the Rustler series in 2018, the skis instantly changed the game. At that point they were arguably the best all-mountain skis yet for blending playfulness with aggression. For scads of skiers, they took away the choice between a “fun” ski and a stable ski. Instead, they gave you both! And so, the Rustler 10, at 102mm underfoot, dominated.
Fast forward, and the first Rustler overhaul has arrived.
Blizzard Rustler 10 Review: Field Notes
While some other brands have tended recently to make small refinements to popular models (ie the latest Nordica Enforcer 100 update), Blizzard went deeper with the new Rustlers. Note: They also overhauled the Sheeva line, and Alex wrote about the new Sheeva 10 here.
The Rustlers bring a new shape, construction, profile, and lengths (plus New Graphics Technology, of course). While the original Rustler featured a sheet of metal underfoot that tapered out to carbon and wood in the tips and tails, the new version moves the titanal around. You still get a full-width sheet underfoot, which runs just ahead of and behind your bindings. But a la the “metal where you need it” approach you’ve seen from Volkl (Titanal Frame) and K2 (Y-Beam), that titanal now wraps the perimeter of the skis. Visible in the topsheet, it extends through (though not around) the tips and tails. Blizzard’s calling the tech FluxForm, in case you’re into the nitty gritty.
Speaking of tech: Blizzard also brings its TrueBlend wood core to the new Rustler 10. TrueBlend, which has already showed up in the rest of the Blizzard collection in notable skis like the Brahma and Bonafide, consists of a cocktail of strategically placed wood stringers. In the Rustlers, those woods are beech, poplar, and paulownia. The goal with TrueBlend is to improve the skis’ suspension, strength, and ski-ability without adding a bunch of weight. Blizzard pulled that off: The new Rustler 10 weighs in at 3870 grams/pair in the 180cm size—a couple hundred grams lighter than the previous version.
As for sizing. I spec at 5’7″ / 160 lbs, and I tested a 180cm Rustler 10. The full size range, also slightly updated this year, measures 162, 168, 174, 180, 186, and 192.
Adding metal around the edges of a ski and into the tips, especially when you do it without making the ski clunky, is a pretty sure-fire way to keep folks happy on groomers. That checks out in the new Rustler 10.
While the original version of this ski carved with snap and energy while holding a reliable edge at high speeds, the new Rustler 10 ups the ante. More stability and better suspension on firm snow mean even greater comfort at speeds upwards of Mach Loony. I enjoyed carving the previous version at high speeds, but when you pushed it hard through the shovels, you noticed where that titanal sheet ended. Not so in the new version. You get the same energy and rebound—maybe even more, honestly—with added grrrr. And considering that this comes without extra weight or a clunky/planky feel, this elevates the Rustler 10 into the upper echelon of wider all-mountain skis when it comes to speed, stability, and aggressive skiing.
Note: You can still slide the Rustler 10 around rather than carve it. Rocker through the tips and tails gives you that versatility (and the light-ish weight doesn’t hurt either). So folks who slarve rather than carve need not shy away. But more on that later.
Bumps and Trees
When you get the Rustler in tight places, you unlock another side of the new skis. Whether or not you like it depends on your ski style.
What does that mean? Well, more casual, more playful, and less aggressive skiers all enjoyed the original Rustler 10 in part because of its soft-ish tips. Stout and supportive underfoot, but forgiving, slide-able, and easy to pivot. The new Rustler 10 feels like more of a fall-line hawk. You can still throw it sideways, but it requires more dynamic skiing and more input to do so. The trade-off is a smoother, more stable ride that you can push harder. I loved the way the Rustler 10 felt glued to the fall-line on steep, chalky bumps; it felt stable and chargey without feeling like a two-by-four. When I did slip into the backseat, it didn’t feel as forgiving as the original Rustler 10. But it also allowed me to recover quickly (again…it’s not a heavy ski).
So as someone who likes to attack the fall line and appreciates even suspension/flex and smoothness through all types of snow—I got along well with the new Rustler 10.
Powder and Mixed Snow
In chop, mank, crud, chalk, crust, buff, variable, even “machine groomed loose granular,” the FluxForm metal and TrueBlend wood core show that they’re more than empty/flashy marketing gimmicks.
The Rustler 10 held up well and stayed planted down multiple steep faces at Crested Butte—a place where you want to feel solid about the ski under your feet—in a wide variety of snow types. It tracked well through fresh snow and busted through piles of sun-baked nonsense. I enjoyed skiing it forward with an aggressive stance and also more centered where you let things come to you. It gets deflected less than the original Rustler 10, yet like I mentioned, it does want to be driven harder, proving less forgiving to tired quads and lackadaisical steering.
As a pow-hunting freeride ski, the Rustler 10 still holds serve. The taper and rocker profiles allow it to smear, float, and link turns intuitively, and you won’t be disappointed when you find soft snow. It does feel less playful than the original, though. So if butters, pow slashes, and airs are your reason for skiing, you can find skis that better facilitate a playful style. Including the original Rustler 10. Compared to heftier options in this category, the new Rustler 10 does still feel more fun (less weight, more energy). But it’s not going to make you feel free and loose next to more freestyle-oriented all-mountain freeride skis.
The gains the Rustler 10 makes will appeal to skiers on the more aggressive side of the spectrum. The FluxForm metal, the added suspension and stability, the higher speed limit. Yeehaw!
But compared to the original, and several other skis in this category on the more playful side, the new Rustler 10 is a bit more demanding a bit less “loose.” So skiers who want to color outside the lines or value forgiving rides may be better suited with other options.
The new Rustler 10 immediately levels-up the Rustler collection. Aggressive skiers, namely advanced and expert fall-line hawks, will love the updates. It’s still a top-shelf all-mountain ski for a wide range of skiers—and I’d include athletic/stoked intermediates in that—but it now leans slightly more toward the chargier and more directional side of the spectrum.
The new version may not be as universally splashy as the original Rustler 10 when it dropped in 2018. And that has as much to do with this being a deeply saturated category of skis as anything else. But interestingly, it still manages to occupy its own niche. The 2023-2024 Rustler 10 is lighter and more energetic than some full-blown chargers around 102mm underfoot. Yet it’s substantially more stable, smoother, and more capable in various conditions than a slew of other freeride-minded options. That versatility will continue to make the Rustler 10 a top choice for lots of skiers hunting for a wider all-mountain ski.