The Evolv’s combination of features promised both grip while ripping down the groomers and a playful, poppy feel off-piste. The results? Super fun.
Years ago, I was lucky enough to demo a pair of Liberty skis on a cat-skiing trip. I came away from the day with the impression that I’d just ridden a seamless ski for the backcountry.
Then, a fellow ski instructor demoed a pair and insisted they come along for her next ski teaching exam. So, as I started browsing for a new all-mountain ski, my research turned me toward Liberty’s latest.
The compromise with an all-mountain ski often comes at the extremes. They’re not quite wide enough to stay afloat on deep snow days and not tapered tightly enough at the waist to truly carve.
But the Evolv 90W ($600) read as a ski that wouldn’t feel too grabby in the trees, but could still pull off precision maneuvers. I had to know how it held up.
In short: If you want a light, responsive ski that strides the middle ground between wood- and metal-core skis, this is a great option. It will easily carve on command but is not as demanding as a ski with a sheet of metal in it.
It’s also not quite as springy as a ski with an all-wood core. If you’re looking for a ski that has some heft, you may want to look elsewhere.
Liberty Evolv Ski Review
- Sizes: 151 cm, 158 cm, 165 cm, 172 cm
- Sidecut: 132-90-115 mm at 158cm length
- Turn Radius: 14m at 158cm
- Weight: 1,530 g at 158cm
- Ability Level: Intermediate to advanced
- Price: $750 (currently marked down to $600)
The big change in the Evolv for this season was an added layer of metal in its “Vertical Metal Technology” (VMT). VMT effectively creates a sideways layer cake of metal and wood in the ski.
A see-through patch in the Evolv’s top sheet shows thin metal struts like pinstripes running the length of the ski, plus the core of poplar and bamboo (a signature, sustainable material Liberty has used since its launch in 2003) and carbon-fiber stringers.
Other ski models have used one (like freeride-focused Origin and Genesis) or two strips of metal. The Evolv ups it to three.
The name “Evolv” invokes this “evolution,” which targets someone with a race background who might want a versatile, all-mountain ski that can take on bumps, trees, and occasional powder days, while still having the option to lay that ski over and carve through imaginary gates.
Poured polyurethane sidewalls also quiet the ski — “think like a skateboard wheel,” Doug McCaffrey, Liberty’s national sales manager, explained on a phone call as he set me up with a demo. “The gummy material is going to absorb the vibration.”
Initial Outings on Powder, Moderate Terrain
I first took the Evolvs out on a surprise powder day in New Mexico. A forecasted “dusting” went on for 7 inches. They floated through that new snow effortlessly, with an impressive ability to avoid getting bogged down for a ski that’s just 90mm underfoot. (Men’s models go up to 110 mm.)
The camber profile keeps most of the ski in contact with the snow while turning, so when I did sink through from dust to crust, I easily found a confident grip on that harder surface.
As someone accustomed to driving a heavier ski, the Evolvs felt a little squirrelly underfoot for the first few turns on groomed terrain. As in, they sent a clear signal if I slacked off.
But once they got my attention — and the right amount of pressure — I found them remarkably ready to carve. A 90mm ski waist can feel like a lot of ski to tip over, but that was never a fight on the Evolvs.
I took them to work teaching skiing, and they cooperated with a program of skidded turns for some mid-level students dialing in their bump skiing. So while these skis may have former racers elbowing in on them, I’d expect them to play nicely with intermediate skiers, too.
Pushing the Lines
When I shouldered the Evolvs 90W for a few laps on hike-to terrain, I found them generally ready to bound over bumps and flex into mid-sized troughs. There were moments in choppy moguls when I might have appreciated a little more heft to plow through the crud or just a touch more rebound out of the most cataclysmal mogul troughs.
But, when tight squeezes called for jump turns, that option felt almost too easy, given these skis relatively light base weight.
A few days in, I was spinning them through steep trees, enjoying the just-tight-enough 14m turning radius when twisting around obstacles and steering into the softest possible sloughs. As promised, they carved turns that ripped down the groomers back to the lift for more.