Playful Powder Ski

While there’s nothing new about Atomic’s Bent Chetler 120, no one is asking for any changes. These stable, symmetrical powder canoes give any other so-called “best powder ski” a run for their money. Erring forever on the playful, freestyle-oriented side of the ski spectrum, this widest version of the Chetler is equally at home hopping off your chairlift or out of a helicopter.

It’s rare to find a ski that rewards good skiing just as much as it rewards bad skiing. During my testing period I couldn’t find a “wrong” way to go down the hill. I felt comfortable driving my tips for long, arcing turns through fields of chopped up snow as much as I did wheelie-ing over drifts and pillows of unconsolidated powder.

Though they’re built for powder first, their on-piste performance was admirable. There are inherent limitations to skis this big underfoot. And though the Bent Chetler 120 was unable to completely subvert these built-in limits, it still performed well enough to merit taking them out for the week following a big storm cycle to play in the chop and softer groomers.

The Bent Chetler 120s are best suited for advanced to expert skiers who see powder as a license to go fast, take risks, and push their limits. 

Notable Features

Carbon Backbone: Lightweight carbon laminate runs from the tip to the tail of the ski- aiding in stability and edge hold at speed and in variable snow conditions

HRZN Tech Tip and Tail: Beveled inserts at the tips and tails of the ski create more surface area while reducing the total weight of the ski

Note: We conducted our testing on an older version of the Bent Chetler 120, the ski build has remained the same, just with updates to the topsheet

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:


Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Fun focused all mountain skis
  • check-mark
    Lighter than most of the competition
  • check-mark
    Proven powder powerhouse

Things we don't like:

  • check-markDoesn’t handle hardpack as well as other powder-oriented models

Where to buy:


Bent Chetler 120

Specs & Features

  • Waist: 120 mm
  • Length: 176-192 cm
  • Rocker Profile: Powder Rocker
  • Core: Poplar
  • Tail: Twin Tip
  • Turn Radius: Medium
See the complete list of the best Atomic Skis here!

Overall Impressions

Length Tested: 184 mm

Showing impressive staying power in an often capricious industry, Atomic’s Bent Chetler 120 is a longtime favorite for powder hounds across the planet. So pervasive is its influence, that they’ve spawned an entire “Bent” family of skis which has effectively subsumed all previous models in Atomic’s freeride lineup.

Resisting the temptation to pick up one of the shiny, less tenured of the Bent models, we took the classic 120 out to play for a big Northwest storm cycle and came away hungry for more. This powder ski was incredibly fun to ride in soft snow, and surprised us with its versatility in variable conditions.

While we don’t feel like it should be the only ski in anyone’s collection, this much-heralded, long-beloved contemporary classic is an easy choice for playful skiers seeking a lightweight soft snow ski for use in the resort or out of bounds.


The Ski

The way that the Bent 120’s look in hand easily translates to the way they feel on snow. Their huge beveled shovels, exaggerated rocker, and underfoot width are upfront about the soft-snow focus. But that’s not the whole story.

The Bent’s have the camber profile and sidecut radius that you’d expect out of an all-mountain ski. This “all-mountain” attitude reads true when you inevitably find the bottom of the last storm cycle or when wind beats you to your favorite run and leaves it scoured clean.

They’re big skis with what I’d call a “sensibly symmetrical” build- at least for a powder ski designed for switch landings. With the tip shovel a modest 9 mm wider than the tail, the ski planed out evenly in powder and I had plenty of float even while skiing switch in soft snow. This was particularly true when you consider the centered recommended mount point.

Moving on to the actual materials in the ski, the Bents are built with Atomic’s “Light Woodcore”. This poplar core is reinforced with a central carbon insert to add stability while keeping the total weight down.



Seeing as we’re dealing with what is predominantly a powder ski, it feels appropriate to open up with how it deals with deep snow. It absolutely slays, not to put too fine of a point on it. Between the low weight and the considerable amount of material underfoot, the Bent 120s have uncommon float.

As stated above, we did our testing on the 184 version of the ski. Given my weight, I think I would’ve been happier on the 192. But with that said, it speaks volumes about how well the ski planes out when given the opportunity.

I definitely had to make some adjustments to my skiing style to avoid burying my tips and taking a ride over the handlebars. Taking a more centered stance helped, and wasn’t too much of an issue given the mount point. I found myself riding pretty far in the back seat on low angle terrain because the conditions were right, and still felt like I had plenty of support in the tails.

My favorite part about riding the Bent 120’s in soft snow was the same thing I loved about riding them on firmed up hardpack. I loved the way they could pivot, slip, and spin in the snow with ease. I had no trouble throwing them sideways when I needed to dump speed in a hurry, and felt comfortable pushing butters harder than I normally would on different skis, in less forgiving conditions.

I don’t want to say that these skis reward bad form, rather they just encourage a creative and freewheeling approach to skiing. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a “wrong” way to ride these skis; and I was continually surprised with what I was able to get away with. The only issue I consistently ran into was wheelie-ing out of backseat landings, but I think this might’ve been remedied had I been on a longer model.


Variable Snow

It’s hard to be too objective about how I feel about these skis because the conditions I rode them in were so great. Not the deepest or the lightest snow that I’ve ever ridden, but a pretty above average storm cycle for the mountain I frequent most. That said, there were plenty of opportunities to see how the Bent 120 performs when conditions are less than all-time.

Given its notable low weight, I was surprised with how well the ski performed in firm, sub-optimal snow. Rest assured it didn’t work any miracles and blast through horrible debris fields like a metal laminate charger would, but bad conditions felt more manageable than they would on most any other carbon ski I’ve ever ridden.

I’d attribute this in part to Atomic’s HRZN tips and tails. These beveled shovels allow the ski to swallow up unseen hazards rather than be outright deflected by them. I happened to hit a buried chunk of debris from some inbounds bombing at considerable speed. If I’d been on my daily driver twin tips (Liberty Origin 106), this would have almost certainly resulted in a catastrophic double ejection and downhill tumble. Instead of coming to a dead stop, I felt the ski slip up and over this buried depth-charge before I had time to properly brace for impact.

Beyond hidden horrors, I felt that the Bent 120 excelled in chopped-up late day snow and sluff. I’m not much of a freestyle skier, but I was excited to charge into lumped up afternoon mogul fields and get these skis off the ground. Transitions felt smooth and easy, and they rode an edge with little buckling or complaint going entirely too fast on landings.

To this point I felt like I could really open up and point the skis directly downhill. I’m a pretty anxious skier when it comes to going fast off-piste outside of pristine powder fields. The Bent 120 felt like a license to take risks, and like I could trust it not to plow through, but to eat up anything in my path.

The only place where I really ran into issues was refrozen snow and iced over slopes. Overtly firm snow is the natural enemy of carbon skis everywhere, and the Bent 120’s are no exception. Factors like edge hold and stability at any speed suffered greatly when there was no soft snow to be found.

Conditions like this are rarely any fun to ride on any ski, and it makes sense that a lightweight powder model would suffer on inconsistent, frozen slopes. Softer, groomed slopes, on the other hand, were a different story.



I would never expect a ski this wide underfoot to wow me on groomed slopes. While I wouldn’t say that I was blown away by the way the Bent 120 skied freshly groomed runs; I can certainly say that I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s not the kind of ski I would take out for a day of skiing purely on-piste, but I was able to have fun riding along cattracks and open slopes between steeper and deeper runs. Again I think we have the all-mountain attributes incorporated in the ski to thank for how well-rounded it feels.

It was much easier than expected to drive the tips of the ski into the snow and hook the edges than what I’ve experienced riding other powder skis. I felt confident my edges would hold as I made high-speed, arcing turns down toward the base area to catch my next chair. With its relatively soft tips, I was able to bend the ski into pretty tight turns at low to moderate speeds.

While we’ve proven the Bent 120’s have uncommon traction on open groomers, using your edges is totally optional. I think I had the most fun taking advantage of the HRZN tips, blithely flipping the skis into switch and making haphazard, severely under-roated landings. It was very difficult to catch an edge, and believe me I tried. I couldn’t seem to find the speed limit sideslipping down the hill, and I had a grand time slashing, slarving, and pushing snow around the hill.



I didn’t have the chance to tour on the Bent 120s- but I’ve had the great misfortune of trying to keep up with people who are. Coming in at 1800g per ski (in the 184), these skis command respect on their way up the skin track as much as they do on the descent.

If you’re the type to get out for a lot of midwinter touring days and find yourself powder hounding in a race for fresh tracks- they make a lot of sense. Their forgiving nature and how easy they are to ride (relative to other pingy carbon skis) make them an easy choice for adventurous skiers who get themselves into hot water with their terrain choices.  The weight is alright for other conditions, but for my part I’d prefer something with less underfoot as a day-to-day touring ski.

Who They’re For

While there’s no doubt I enjoyed my time on the Bent 120s, I’d hesitate before recommending them to anyone without some pretty specific needs. They’re great as a lightweight powder ski, but their focus on a new school, freestyle informed ride might leave more directional skiers wanting. People looking for a powder-oriented backcountry ski will likely run into the same issue.

With this in mind, freestyle oriented skiers who want a good hybrid ski for soft snow will love everything about the Bent 120s. Between their superb soft snow performance, playfulness, low weight, and relatively well-rounded build, they’ll check a lot of boxes for a sizable demographic of freeriders.

Related Reviews

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:


Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Fun focused all mountain skis
  • check-mark
    Lighter than most of the competition
  • check-mark
    Proven powder powerhouse

Things we don't like:

  • check-markDoesn’t handle hardpack as well as other powder-oriented models

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