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2014-2015 4FRNT Hoji

FIRST LOOK

Jason Hutchins reviews the 4FRNT Hoji, Blister Gear Review

14/15 4FRNT Hoji

Ski: 2014-2015 4FRNT Hoji, 187cm

Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 185cm

Dimensions (mm):

(179cm model): 128-112-120mm

(187cm model): 130-112-121mm

(195cm model): 132-112-122mm

Effective Edge Length:

(179cm model): 109cm

(187cm model): 112cm

(195cm model): 126cm

Turn Radius: 30 meters for all lengths

Weight Per Ski:

(179cm model) = 4.6lbs

(187cm model) = 4.9lbs

(195cm model) = 5.4lbs

Boots / Bindings: Nordica Enforcer 28.5 / 4FRNT Deadbolt (DIN) 13

Mount Location: Factory Recommended Line

Test Location: Niseko, Japan

Days Skied: 5

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Hoji, which is unchanged for 13/14 and 14/15, except for the graphics.]

4FRNT skier Eric Hjorleifson has been producing a pro model (well, two pro models) for a few years now; first came the EHP, then the Renegade.

The EHP retained the same name through a number of refinements over the years, but for 2012/2013, both the name and the ski have been retired. In its place comes an all-new ski to take its place: the Hoji.

According to 4FRNT, the Hoji is the product of everything Eric has learned from creating both the EHP and the Renegade. In fact, the Hoji shares many of the same design features as the Renegade, including the interesting sidecut matching rocker profile, which 4FRNT is calling Reflect Tech.

While the EHP certainly developed a cult following, the new Hoji is being marketed as being both more versatile and user-friendly than the EHP. 4FRNT believes they have accomplished this by reducing the EHP’s 40-meter turn radius down to 30 meters, slimming the waist from 116mm to 112mm, giving the ski a full-length rocker profile, and putting both the 179 and 187 Hoji on a diet: each ski is a third of a pound lighter.

So after five days of skiing the Hoji in Niseko, I have to come clean and admit that I’m going to have to finish up my “versatility” testing once I get back to Utah. For the past five days, Niseko has been hammered by a large, Siberian-originating blizzard.

I’ve definitely had my share of fun on the Hoji, but the limited visibility has kept us out of big, open runs; instead, we’ve been shredding pow in the trees and playing on small spines and pillows. So I haven’t been able to get the ski in a variety of terrain or snow conditions to give a proper, in-depth review. And this is especially important since 4FRNT is positioning the Hoji as a potential western resort, everyday ski.

But in five days on the Hoji in Niseko, I ended up with a pile of notes on the Hoji because it is so refreshingly different than everything I’ve been on for the past few years.

So here is what I’ve got to say so far. Let’s call it Part 1: Powder and Trees.

Of all the pro models I have skied, if I was given a blind test and forced to identify the athlete behind the design after a few laps, most correct answers would be little more than lucky guesses. Not the Hoji.

After rallying down through my first stand of trees littered with rollers and small pillows, there was no question I was riding a ski designed by Eric Hjorleifson. It was immediately apparent that the characteristics of Eric’s fast, playful, fall line style were also the defining characteristics of the Hoji.

Jason Hutchins, on the 4FRNT Hoji, Niseko.

Jason Hutchins, Strawberry Fields, Niseko Hanazono.

The Hoji needs a little bit of space and some speed to deliver its full charm; this isn’t a “fun shaped,” S7-style tool for super tight trees, but that is not to say that it won’t work there. It’s just that the Hoji needs a little more speed to come to life than large shoveled skis with skinny tails require.

The Hoji likes to keep it pointed down the fall line, but in a very quick, dynamic, and playful way. This is very different than a big, metal, super long sidecut beast like, say, a Volkl Katana. Instead of feeling like a ski that allows you to ski fast by steamrolling variability in terrain and snow, the Hoji allows you to ski fast by being incredibly quick and agile, yet not excessively turny.

Jason Hutchins, 4frnt hoji, Niseko.

Jason Hutchins, Strawberry Fields, Niseko Hanazono.

In fact, the more terrain abnormalities I could find along my line, the better, and skipping down the mountain from feature to feature was where the Hoji absolutely ruled.

15 Comments

  1. krick February 14, 2012 Reply

    Good review. One thing I’m puzzled by however is the statement that “When it came to skiing through chopped up snow, the Hoji again had very few limitations. The lack of sidecut—and more importantly the lack of a huge, oversized shovel—made flying down through soft crud feel like a hot knife through butter.” I keep on hearing about stability and crud problems with oversized shovels, but taking a quick look at the various skis you guys have tested that are roughly around the 112 mark for width, and most if not all of them have larger or much larger shovels than the Hoji (Bibby Pro, Cochise, Katana, Girish, Zealot, Influence 115. . .), and if memory serves me correct the Blister reviews of those skis have generally praised their stability and crud performance. I don’t mean to say that shovel size is irrelevant, but from your own reviews it does seems that it’s not nearly as important a factor as the above referenced statement would suggest?

  2. slashy February 16, 2012 Reply

    what is your weight / height ?

    • Author
      Jason February 20, 2012 Reply

      I’m 6′ and 160 to 165 lbs. You can find that info, as well as more about the background and skiing style of each reviewer by clicking on the author’s name at the top of each review, or checking out the “contributor bios” under the “about us” tab.

  3. feinman February 19, 2012 Reply

    Hey there Jason-
    First off, thanks for the review. Well done. I read your stuff often. Blister is turning into a great source of info. Much appreciated. On another note, I know the hoji is the big ski for 4frnt in 2013, but I’m much more interested in the Cody. It looks to suit my needs and location (colo). I was wondering if you’ve skied them and if so, If you’re going to write a review. I’d love to hear more about them from an independent source. Specs look sick for a daily driver. Thanks again-

    • Author
      Jason February 20, 2012 Reply

      Thanks for your support!

      I haven’t ridden the new Cody yet. I’m currently on my way back home to Utah from Niseko, and the immediate plan is to get a little more time on the Hoji to wrap up this review. Once that’s done, it looks like the Cody will be the next ski I test from 4FRNT.

  4. mm March 3, 2012 Reply

    How did this ski compare to the Wootest?

    • Author
      Jason March 11, 2012 Reply

      I haven’t been able to ride the Wootest yet, I’m sure it will happen soon.

  5. AG March 21, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for the review. I had a chance to demo this years EHP and had almost the exact experiences you had on the Hoji–really fun and poppy in the bowls with fresh powder but sketchy on hard pack and groomers. My current all-mountain /powder ski is a 2008 line SFB 182(no rocker) and my groomer/skiing with the family ski is a 2010 4frnt Turbo 175. I’ve been searching this year for a ski to replace the SFB–I liked the playfullness of the ski but it’s very hooky and sometimes scary in thick chop. I also tend to overpower it in powder and have to fight to keep the tips up sometimes. The turbo, on the other hand, charges groomers great, turns quickly, is stable on ice and flats, has decent float in soft snow, but the soft tips tend to get deflected in heavy crud. I guess I’m looking for a fatter turbo that can plow through heavy snow (I live in WA) and can be used as an everyday/powder ski. I’m 5’11 and 180lbs and an advanced skier. Any thoughts? The EHP just didn’t fit the bill. I also demoed the bibby pro 184, but conditions weren’t all that great and I wasn’t totally sold.
    Thanks.

    • Author
      Jason March 28, 2012 Reply

      Just out of curiosity, have you considered a longer Turbo? At your size and weight you could definitely be on a bigger ski than 175. That being said, I’m not sure if the 189 (actually 186ish) Turbo would crush the thick chop like you are thinking, but they would feel way better in those conditions than the 175.

      As for skis I would recommend for you; Rossi Sickle, BD Zealot, Blizzard Cochise, and perhaps the Line Influence 115.

      • Ag March 28, 2012 Reply

        Yeah I was thinking of just getting the longer Turbo because the waist width goes up with each size. I bought the 175 to ski with my little kids in the tight trees, etc, so I went a little short. Was considering the blizzard gunsmoke as an option. Your review of the Rossi Sickle has me thinking that could be a good replacement for my old Sir Francis Bacons.

  6. Blister Member
    Steven August 28, 2013 Reply

    Have you had chance to ski the 195 version?

    It seems I’m a similar skier to you (same height, a little heavier maybe) and I skied the 187s in March this year and absolutely loved them. They are top of my list for this coming season but I’m unsure whether to go up to the 195s? My reaction is to go to 190s because I ski them, but the current skis I’m on (AKJJs) I’ve fallen out of love with, so I’m nervous that going to a 195 on the Hojis would cause me not to like them as much too.

    I’m looking to use the Hojis day-to-day (I’m also off to Japan for the winter) and then get hold over another fatter ski (maybe the Renegade or Opus) in a 190 length for the real deep days.

  7. Garret Curtis September 27, 2013 Reply

    Hey great review!
    I am stuck between choosing either the Soul 7, Moment Exit World, DPS Lotus 120 or the 4frnt Hoji as a devoted backcountry touring ski. I am wondering which ski is best for; turns in the trees, hitting cliffs, some open powder skiing, touring, and playfulness. Im 5″11 and 160 lbs. Just wondering which one you would choose??
    Also I was trying to decide on a tech binding for the ski… I tour medium distances and hit 20-40 foot cliffs constantly. Which tech binding would be the best for hard impact and a quality release??

  8. rikos November 15, 2013 Reply

    Im stuck on 4frnt Hoji and Moment Exit World to, would be great for any compare..

    • Bill February 1, 2014 Reply

      I have been wanting an all mountain / slack country ski with some underfoot width. I had a chance to ski the hoji for two days on hardpack and mixed chop for two days then a week later got a set of exit world to try in light powder over icy crud. Both skis carved well. The hoji was impressive on hard pack (really hooked up in a hardpack carve) and and pounded through chop really well. The the exit world were equally as stable but seemed to be far more flickable and light in all conditons. Was tee’d to buy the hoji with a light marker tour binding but have to admit i am now leaning toward the exit world. They blew me away how fun and versatile they were (even quick turns in moguls). For A 115 uf , the exwrld control and stability in all conditions was fantastic and did not seem to beat me down. Intermediate/advanced 5’10” 185 lb. skier snowboarder.

  9. Kieran March 26, 2014 Reply

    Hi Blister thanks for another in-depth review!

    Just wondering about the flex profile on this ski. You mention that it has a “softer shovel flex” and a “medium-soft, progressive flex…” I tend to worry about skis buckling in the heavier coastal snow (BC) that I ski. I have always associated charger skis as being rather stiff. I am planning on using this as my backcountry “big lines/high speed” ski. Just wondering how the flex of the Hoji matches up to other charging skis.
    Thanks!!

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