Salomon's new redesigned QST106 is the slightly smaller, more playful sibling to the hard-charging QST Blanks. | Salomon photo.
Salomon’s QST line of skis has been a common sight in lift lines (and the backcountry) for a few years now, gaining a reputation as reliable daily drivers for advanced to expert level skiers that want a damp ride for charging through all manner of snow conditions. Last year, we tested the all-new QST Blank, a 112 underfoot big-mountain ripper that quickly became one of my favorite skis of all time. The Blanks simply ate up whatever was in front of me, making even marginal conditions pure fun. This year, that same construction was brought over to the re-designed QST 106 – a slightly narrower and more maneuverable shape that looked to be the perfect companion to the bigger 112s for resort days when you couldn’t remember the last time it snowed. We tested the new QST 106 in 181cm, mounted with Salomon’s new Strive GW 16 alpine binding during a persistent high-pressure system in the Tetons that gave us a chance to throw them around in pretty much any condition imaginable, and here’s what we think of the skis!
The new QST 106 shares the same construction as the QST 112, blending Salomon’s C/FX carbon stringer backbone with a poplar wood code, double sidewalls and cork “damplifiers” in the tip and tail. The ski’s directional shape is very different from the 112, and even the older QST 106. The new model now has much more dramatic rocker lines, more tapered tips and tails and a slightly shorter turning radius (now at 19 meters). The rocker and taper lines aim to make the ski quick and maneuverable without compromising too much stability at speed. The tip is quite soft, while underfoot the ski is as stiff as can be, before becoming slightly softer again in the tail. Salomon’s claimed weight for the ski comes in around 2100 grams. It wouldn’t be my first choice as a ski-mountaineering ski, but could be a good candidate as an everyday touring ski for Teton Pass or places with smaller amounts of vert per lap - especially for skiing chopped up pow.
Also new this year is the Strive GW16 binding, taking some tech from the Shift and implementing it into a dedicated alpine binding. | Salomon photo.
The Strive GW16 are Salomon’s newest freeride bindings. The 16 uses the existing heel piece from the Warden/STH2 and combines it with a new toe piece that takes cues from the Shift. The new Strive puts the binding closer to the ski, increasing power and response from your skis. It offers 47mm of elastic travel, GripWalk compatibility, 7-16 DIN, and automatic wing and toe adjustments, which should make swapping boots faster and easier. The binding weighs in at 2220g a pair.
Yep, you guessed it, I tested the QST 106 lap after lap at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. While most of the winter so far presented some of the most persistent high pressure I have ever seen, it actually created ideal conditions to test skis – everything from chopped-up recycled pow, windbuff, hardpack, and slushy bumps.
Dropping in, my first impressions on the QST 106 was how nimble and quick they felt. 106 isn’t necessarily a narrow waist width but rolling the skis over to carve a turn produces an immediate response. On edge, the ski turns like on rails, and despite the soft tips, it tracks predictably through crud. Its not the most trustworthy ski for the high speed big radius turns on hardpack thanks to the bigger tips and more pronounced shape, but is fun for lots of quick turns in those conditions. Like in its bigger sibling the 112, the cork in the tip and tail does an absolutely incredible job in dampening vibrations.
On groomers, I found that the short effective edge means that it’s happening while actively turning, but it holds an edge like a race ski and rockets you right into your next turn. However, it’s not the kind of ski that requires you stay committed to a turn and will happily break free to pivot and smear to your heart’s desire. That character is especially fun in tight steep terrain, like JHMR’s Tower 3 chute, where the QST106 feels incredibly agile and able to make sudden changes to turn shape. Mobbing down the apron of T3, there’s plenty of stuff to jump off and the ski provides a predictable and stable platform for stomping airs.
At 6 feet 185 lbs, I felt that the 181cm size was a little bit short for my taste, and wonder if the 188cm would have given the skis a slightly more speed-hungry character, especially in firm conditions.
A quick note on the Strive bindings. I’m usually a bit hesitant to try out new bindings, especially if they are made almost entirely out of plastic but have pretty much forgotten that these are on my feet when I take them out – and that’s a good thing. They work great, feel noticeably lighter than the STH2, and are easy to adjust between boots. What more could you ask for?
Compared to similar skis I’ve recently reviewed, I think the QST106 is a bit more playful than Atomic’s Maverick 100Ti, which advertises similar intentions but is more of a ski for going fast on hardpack. Compared to a more freestyle-oriented ski like K2 Reckoner 102, the QST106 is better suited for skiing fast through cut up snow.
The Bottom Line:
I liked the ski best for the kinds of days where you’re not quite sure what’s in store on the mountain. If it’s definitely going to be deep, I’ll bring the 112s, but for most days these are a much better choice. At 106mm underfoot, it’s not too much ski for all-day hardpack, but still wide enough to float through the stashes you’re lucky to find. Some of my favorite laps were skiing the upper mountain on chalky wind-buffed days and dropping into techy Granite Canyon lines a few weeks after a storm, or just racing friends down corduroy on sunny mornings. Salomon’s QST106 is an excellent daily driver if breaking the sound barrier isn’t your goal every time you board a chairlift. If you’re looking for a directional freeride ski that’s forgiving enough to let you ski all day every day, but won’t hold you back when the skiing gets gnarly, the QST 106 is an excellent choice.
Find out more about the new binding and skis at Salomon.com.