2023 Fischer Ranger 96

SkiTalk Test Team

Testing skis so you don't have to.
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Philpug:
Size tested: 180
Location tested: Loveland Colorado
Conditions tested in: Fresh groomers/chalky off piste

Welcome to the new world of Fischer Rangers! I will say emphatically, I like what they have done. I was never a fan of the previous generation of Rangers; they were by no means a bad ski, just not a ski for me. I never melded with the elongated tips of the outgoing collection because they just didn’t have the tip initiation that I prefer. The new Rangers, from top to bottom, have been completely redesigned. I really believe the new ones will attract many more fans than the outgoing collection without alienating the loyalists. I don’t think you can ask more of a model that has been totally reimagined.

With a broader tip and less rise, the on snow feel is much more engaging at all speeds and really without any loss of off piste prowess, which is where the older Ranger excelled.
  • Insider tip: This will be a part of SkiTalk's long term test fleet.
  • One thing I would change: I am all for subtle graphics, but these are a little bland for my taste.

Tricia:
Size tested: 173
Location tested: Loveland
Conditions: Chalky groomers, wind buff

The Fischer Ranger lineup has been through a few evolutions. During these iterations I’ve been a big fan of their offerings, in part due to the accessibility of their off piste tenacity. This new construction pleases the side of me that enjoyed the previous construction while giving me a little more to love. Like comfort food with an added bit of spice, you keep coming back for more.

It will be difficult for me to separate the reviews of the Ranger 96 and Ranger 102 because they felt familiar. I like them equally and could easily find a place for both of them in my quiver. Today I’ll try to concentrate on the strengths of the Ranger 96.

Foremost, let me say that I skied the Ranger 96 first thing in the morning when the groomers were fresh, but were dressed up with a dusting of cold delightful snow. The ski engaged like a girl whose boyfriend dropped to his knee with a diamond ring in his pocket. When asked to get into moguls and off piste where things were a bit less predictable, it responded with ease and inspired more adventure.
  • Insider tip: If you want more of a powder oriented ski, look at the Ranger 102.
  • One thing I’d change: Hmmmmm.

Draghtguy Kevin:
Size tested: 180
Location tested: Loveland, CO
Conditions tested in: Fresh groomers, off piste chalk, moguls

A broader tip and new construction for this model of the venerable Ranger series increases the 96's versatility. Plenty of feedback makes it easy to feel the ski underfoot on and off piste. Groomer performance was predictable and sporty for a mid-90s ride and is improved over the previous generation. The 180cm length is one notch shorter than I'd prefer off piste and I struggled a tad to stay on top of it when the conditions got challenging. The even flex pattern made this ski a snap in the moguls. I'd like to have another go on a 188cm model.
  • Insider tip: If in between sizes, go long.
  • One thing I would change: A touch more color would add visual excitement to the Ranger 96.
Stephen:
Size tested: 180
Location tested: Loveland, CO
Conditions tested in: Fresh groomers, off piste chalk, moguls

I somehow have not been on the Ranger series at all before so I went into this test with no preconceived ideas of what to expect. At first look the new Ranger is a bit plain with the solid grey top sheet on the men’s ski. (A solid bright mustard yellow on the women’s version). However, I was somehow drawn to the cool grey look.

Carrying them up the hill to the lift, clicking into them for the lift line, and riding the lift, I was excited about how the ski felt. Light and bright so far. For me that was as far as it went. I was surprised at how cumbersome it felt to ski in comparison to its weight. The opposite of nimble is what kept coming to mind. It felt acceptable on the groomer and moderately acceptable in some crud wind buff. I feel like in really soft powder I could’ve enjoyed this ski a lot more. The softer tip gives a generous amount of feedback while still holding its own. I can imagine this ski feeling robust to a smaller skier without the excessive weight of a burlier ski.
  • Insider tip: Versatile. Jack of a lot of trades, master of none.
  • One thing I would change: a slightly damper feel.
Andy Mink
Length tested: 180
Location tested: Mammoth Mountain, CA
Conditions tested in: Soft cut up groomers, more piles, getting warmer and a bit heavy.

Having never skied any of the outgoing Ranger models, I came into this test without any comparisons. Sometimes I think that's a good thing. I found the Ranger 96 handled the variable on piste conditions at Mammoth quite well as long as I didn't push too hard. It skis very easily from a centered stance but can be driven a bit when desired. Get too pushy and a bigger skier will take it out of its comfort zone.

Through the building piles of scraped off chalky groomers the skis exhibited little deflection as the snow depth increased and decreased across the hill. When confronted with scraped off spots there was little excitement; the Ranger just hooked up until the next pile. I found that, at 96, the skis pulled into turns nicely and were easy to slip around. They are a fun, undemanding ski.
  • Insider tip: The color palette of the Rangers is not boring, it's understated.
  • One thing I would change: A bit more backbone would broaden the appeal.
 
Awards
Who is it for?
Skiers wanting a versatile ski that won't mix in surprises. A skier who liked the outgoing Ranger but is looking for a bit more. Skiers wanting a versatile ski that won't mix in surprises.
Who is it not for?
Those who like bold graphics. A skier who is looking for a powder pig.
Skier ability
  1. Intermediate
  2. Advanced
  3. Expert
Ski category
  1. All Mountain
  2. Powder
Ski attributes
  1. Groomers
  2. Moguls
  3. Off Piste
  4. Trees
  5. Touring/Backcountry
Segment
  1. Men
  2. Women

Specifications

Available sizes
159, 166, 173, 180, 187
Dimensions
128-96-119
Radius
17m @180cm
Rocker profile
  1. Camber with tip and tail rocker
Size Scaling
  1. Dimensions
Construction design
  1. All new
Ski Weight:
1950g
Binding options
  1. Flat
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Jim McDonald

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Anyone want to venture a comparison with the Salomon Stance 96?
 

Philpug

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Anyone want to venture a comparison with the Salomon Stance 96?
The Stance is much chargier of a ski, better in the hardback and crud and at speed. The Fischer will be better in softer snow, shorter to medium turns and trees/bumps. Graphics are laking on both ;)
 

Jim McDonald

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Thanks @Philpug. I plan to demo the Stance 96 next weekend; tried the Stance 90 last week and was very impressed.
 

Jim McDonald

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180 for me, I'm sure. Down to 70kg (155#) and it's getting harder to bend my 185 Enforcer :rolleyes:
 

Philpug

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Size tested: 180 cm
Location tested: Palisades Tahoe
Conditions tested in: 1' of cold smoke

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Long term update: Our long term Fischer Ranger 96's arrived while I was up in Big Sky and as soon as I returned I mounted them up with some Salomon Strive 13 Demo bindings and to quote our Michigander friends, I took them out for a rip! It is no secret that Tahoe has been dry of late, 42 straight days with no snow, but my first day back I was greeted with a foot of dry smoke. In complete transparency, if I knew there would be that much snow at Palisades Tahoe, I would have grabbed the Atomic Bent 110 but I had to suffer through the morning with "only" the 96mm Ranger ... and suffer I did.

When I tested the Ranger 96 previously, it had the nose bleed tall Tyrolia Attack 2 demo on it and I liked it even with that, but with the retail tall Salomon Strive demo, I like Ranger that much more. The new tip rose out of the snow reminiscent of the outgoing Ranger but it was when the snow got skied out that then new design shined. Fischer did not remove the Fischer-ness of the Ranger nor did they make it a "me too" ski like most of the other skis in the segment, the new Rangers hold true to thier heritage.
 
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DoryBreaux

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What I'm curious about is; who let Kevin ski a 180?
 

Philpug

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Long term update: I brought the Ranger 96 as my "wide" ski to the SkiTalk Gathering at Aspen and have skied it at both Highlands and Snowmass over a few days. The conditions have been typical (for this year in the west) chalky snow off piste and groomers. The new Ranger is a ski that so far in these conditions has performed stellarly. The gradual tip with a bit of taper in the tail has worked very well in the VW sized moguls that have built up in the off piste and trees but what has really surprised me is how well it has worked on the groomers, I haven't really missed the Siderals that I brought along to use for such conditions. The 18 m sidecut matched @Johnny Style's turns on his Blizzard WRT's yet easily bent into a tight turn when needed.
 

Johnny Style

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As a witness, I can attest to Phil’s review. The ski handled everything we threw at it. I told Phil a few times how impressed I was with his ease of carving. He just rolled his knees like Clement Noel and away he went. I’m not a one ski quiver kind of guy, but this ski could be that one.
 

Chickenmonkey

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It will be interesting to hear how these hold up to typical West Coast snow and Sierra cement.
 

Philpug

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Long term update: This was a fun ski to bring to Snowmass as a wider companion to my Sideral. Condtions weren't as soft as we would have expected for "Spring Skiing" and actually much firmer than they were in Feb/March when we had the Gathering here. Wit that said, the Ranger 96 was not phased at all by the mid season condtions. While I really should have been on the Siderals every day, the Ranger 96's skied well above what a 96 mm ski should have in these conditions.

I still come back to all the nay sayers that were so concerned that Fischer ruined the Rangers and they will never be the same ... well, they are right, it is not the old Ranger, it is ions better.
 

Chip

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Chapel Hill, NC
Similarities/differences to the Origin 96?

Skiing out west for 4 weeks this year really made me love my Rustler 10, 188's. But at times the ski was a little too long and not as turny as I would have liked in some tighter moguls/trees. So I'm thinking I need something a little shorter and I'm missing a ski in the mid 90 range.
 

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