(Another) Salomon QST 106
Since they introduced the QST 106, Salomon has enjoyed re-introducing the ski with fresh updates every couple years. Coming off the big releases of the QST 98 and the QST Blank for 2022, they’re rolling into the 2022-2023 ski season with a similar makeover for their flagship freeride ski.
2023-2024 Salomon QST 106 Review: Field Notes
First impressions matter less in skiing than, say, dating. But the new QST 106 did pique our interest from the get-go. The biggest reason? Like the progression from the 2021 QST 99 to the 2022 (and now 2023) QST 98, Salomon made the most notable changes to the skis’ shape and rocker profile. Namely, the bulbous tip taper and deeper rocker lines that were added to the 98 now come to the 106. We loved those additions a year ago—the new QST 98 was one of our top picks in the all-mountain category for 2022—so we were curious to see if we’d like them as much in that ski’s bigger brother.
Internally, the QST 106 mirrors the 98, and it’s not a huge deviation from the previous 106. Salomon’s C/FX (carbon and flax) plus poplar comprise the core, while cork inserts in the tips and tails dampen vibrations. Underfoot, the Double Sidewall tech that we saw in the QST 98 and the QST Blank also comes to the new 106.
For skiers vain enough to care about graphics (guilty), the new 106 gets color-pop bases (huge up-vote), and a new topsheet color.
Oh, and one more up-vote: The new QST 106 will be offered in a wider (unisex) size run, down to 157 cm, making it as much a women’s ski as a men’s ski. Ladies can still opt for the Stella 106, which features different graphics.
Past versions of the QST 106 have typically done a better-than-average job of skiing groomers for a mid-fat ski. Not the chargiest but plenty reliable on-edge down firm runs.
The newest edition follows suit. The skis feel stout underfoot, and I feel confident enough to lay into them at high speeds on most groomed runs, especially from a centered stance. And despite the more pronounced tip taper, you can drive the shovels hard without feeling like you’re going to fly OTB.
That said, the new QST 106 is not the most lively/snappy carver in this category. Nor is it the most stable on very firm groomers or frozen corduroy. That makes sense when you consider the updates—more taper, more rocker, more of soft-snow shape. In this category, I’d still rather ski something with metal and more rigidity, like the Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, down firm groomers. Slush, packed snow, wind buff, softer groomers—rest assured that the QST 106 is plenty at home in all that stuff. It’s just still a non-metal ski.
This will unlikely be a dealbreaker unless you prioritize firm-snow groomer performance in your mid-fat skis (which I do not). So, onto the rest of the mountain.
Trees and Bumps
In our review of the previous QST 106, I wrote that the ski “absolutely shines off-piste.” Well, I need to double-down on that comment for the 2023 version. Does that mean I should write absolutely-ly?
When you dip into chutes, bumps, or tree alleys, those aforementioned updates matter. The new QST 106 drifts and smears effortlessly, and it doesn’t punish you when you get kicked to the backseat. In steep, rutted bumps or those challenging bump-tree hybrid runs, I found the QST 106 to be one of the most intuitive and confidence-inspiring skis I’ve tested. Why? In addition to thriving in soft snow, it also holds up surprisingly well in dust-on-crust conditions or when your chute gets crunchy. There’s enough suspension to keep the 106 balanced. The progressive flex—from fairly moderate tips to stout center to semi-soft tails—helps you control your speed and stay on your line. And while the QST 106 weighs more than “lightweight resort skis” on the scale, it feels nimble on snow.
Powder and Mixed Snow
In case you couldn’t tell: I had a hard time making myself dislike this ski off-piste. Fast or slow, centered or forward, long turns or short turns—it’s well-balanced across the board. I had to straight-line some firm chop to feel sketched-out, another low-percentage circumstance where a burlier, metal ski will always prove to be more stable.
In mixed snow (firm chop, soft chop, heavy stuff, wind buff, etc) the QST 106 feels intuitive and smooth at slow and medium speeds. When you open the throttle, the skis reward a dynamic and energetic skiing style. If you like to charge through mixed snow and feel planted regardless of what crosses your path, there’s a chance you’ll want more stability. But for a ski that’s so nimble, maneuverable, and drifty, the QST 106 also can hold its own as a directional driver. That’s especially true for smaller skiers like me (5’7″ / 163 lbs).
One note on the directional/playful character of this ski: It runs a longer turn radius than the QST 98 and the wider Blank. Having skied each of these QSTs at length, I can say that I notice the difference in the 106. As a fairly directional skier, I like these skis’ ability to open things up.
In powder, I’ll say this: This is the first QST 106 that I’ve wanted to ski on the best days of the year. Like the much-loved Black Crows Atris, this ski floats and surfs wider than its waist width. Of course, on truly deep days, you’ve ideally got a QST Blank or other bonafide powder ski in your truck. But if the QST 106 is your widest option, the 2023 version will deliver the mail.
At this point, Salomon knows how to make a QST 106 that will get along well with a wide range of skiers. That said, though, a couple small groups of users may want to look elsewhere.
While this is, for sure, the loosest, driftiest, and most playful QST 106 to date, I still wouldn’t call it a freestyle-first freeride ski. There are more playful skis in this waist width category. Most of them compromise some of the balanced, all-around performance that the QST 106 brings, but you probably won’t care.
Likewise, particularly directional and technical skiers—those who prioritize a planted feel in all snow conditions or a more traditional ski shape—may want to look for a ski with more metal and less taper/rocker.
As someone who regularly gravitates toward directional skis with playful freeride flair, I’m a big fan of the new QST 106. While it may not be the most playful or the most chargey option on the market, it’s one of the most balanced skis you can find between 100mm and 109mm underfoot. For that reason, it will likely agree with a majority of people shopping for skis in this category.