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2015-2016 SkiLogik Howitzer

Review of the Ski Logik Howitzer, Blister Gear Review

14/15 Ski Logik Howitzer

Ski: 2015-2016 SkiLogik Howitzer, 186cm

Dimensions (mm): 137-110-131

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 184.2cm

Sidecut Radius: 22 meters

BLISTER’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 1,978 grams & 1,997 grams

Boots / Bindings: Nordica FireArrow F1 & Fischer RC4 130 Vacuum / Marker Jester (DIN at 10)

Mount Location: Factory Recommended Line

Test Location: Taos Ski Valley; Summit County and Monarch Mountain, Colorado

Days Skied: 9

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Howitzer, which was not changed for 13/14, 14/15, or 15/16 except for the graphics.]

In his review of the SkiLogik Powderball, Jonathan Ellsworth gave kudos to the brand for doing something all too uncommon: providing a description of a ski that’s clear and pretty accurate. The same could be said for the Howitzer, so here’s another +1 to SkiLogik for their on-point characterization of the ski:

“The Howitzer combines SKILOGIK’s very best big ski technology in a 110mm waist shell that has won performance awards. Rocker Logik geometry kills crud yet provides a conventional effective edge for turning performance and features proportionately less surface area behind the boot for deeper pow. Double layers of Carbon Fiber keep the weight down for quickness and skinning. Positive camber keeps it simple and versatile. The Howitzer is a stable ride that blasts the back bowls and the backcountry, tearing off vert like a missile.”

Conventional, simple, stable, fast, (relatively) quick, reliable, predictable; all very appropriate words to use to describe the Howitzer.

With those in mind, the ski fits in a very distinct class of 105-110mm underfoot, directional skis along with the 187cm Moment Belafonte and 185cm Blizzard Cochise. However, each ski offers a little different flavor of the damp and directional big-mountain feel. I’ll try to make the most important comparisons I can think of (mainly to the Belafonte, but some to the Cochise) throughout the review.

Flex Pattern

Given its name, I expected the Howitzer to have a flex and heft similar to something like the 191cm Völkl Katana, or any full-on stiff, heavy, and damp comp ski. But that’s not entirely the case. Even if that’s what you were expecting, too, you should still read on, just know that the ski’s name is meaner sounding than the ski itself, and that there are big-mountain skis markedly stiffer, burlier, and heavier than the Howitzer.

I would characterize the Howitzer’s on-snow flex / feel as a strong medium—or maybe medium-stiff—from the tip through the tail. It’s certainly not a jibby noodle.

Like the Cochise, the Howitzer is well suited for the charging expert skier, but could be a good option for a progressing advanced skier, too.

Groomers

The Howitzer has a 22m sidecut radius, which I’ve been very happy with. In my mind, if there’s one thing that really hinders a ski’s ability to handle crud and resort chop well at high speeds, it’s a sub-20m turn radius.

But while the Cochise’s relatively long 28.5m radius, or the Belafonte’s 27.4m sidecut, require some real speed to engage and rail well on groomers, the Howitzer is a little livelier when it comes to carving—yet it can still handle chop well, which I’ll get into later.

The Howitzer is a touch wider (110mm) than the 106mm-underfoot Belafonte or 108mm-underfoot Cochise, but it is still willing to get up on edge fairly easily. Carving high-angle GS turns down Taos’ backside groomers was no problem at all. Again, the ski requires some speed before it’ll really set into a carve (you’ll still know you’re on a 110mm-underfoot ski), but not as much as I had expected. If your days in between storms usually involve more groomer laps than hardpack bump skiing, it’ll be easy to have some fun on the Howitzer.

As far as feel on groomers is concerned, there definitely are quicker, lighter, and snappier powder / wider all-mountain skis out there, like the super-nimble Armada TST, heavily cambered Fischer Big Stix 110, or versatile DPS Wailer 112RP. The Howitzer would feel heavier and probably somewhat lifeless / damp compared to those skis.

Compared to the Belafonte and Cochise, though, I think the Howitzer is the friendlier, more reactive ski on groomers. It’s a little wider, has a slightly softer flex underfoot and through the tail, and a tighter turn radius that lets you arc the ski across the hill quicker and at a bit of a lower speed. While I can set down some strong carves on the Belafonte, I’m more likely on the Howitzer to take my time with more sweeping arcs, rather than rage my way back to the lift on the Belafonte only hinting at turns.

If you want the option of making full, complete carves on a ski (and would rather not need to be totally maching to do so), the Howitzer’s sidecut radius is just short enough to make it possible, but not so short that its high-speed stability is compromised. Just like the Belafonte and Cochise, the Howitzer is happy going very, very fast on hardpack, remaining totally predictable and dependable.

During shorter, skidded turns or long, blistering slarves, the ski’s full, traditional tail feels a little softer and less punishing than the Belafonte’s, yet not quite as snappy as the Cochise’s. Get backseat a little, and the full effective edge will make the ski try and run on you—you’ll need a confident, forward stance to drive the ski well—but to me it never felt difficult to manage. In short, the Howitzer doesn’t present any surprises on hard snow. The flex is stiff enough to provide some real stability and support, but soft enough to be more damp than rigid and somewhat forgiving of backseat slip ups or sloppy turns.

Powder

The Howitzer is not all that asymmetrical in terms of dimensions (with the widest point in the tip only 6mm wider than that of the tail). These dimensions, combined with a more rearward, traditional mount and a fairly conservative tip rocker profile give the ski the same directional, dependable and intuitive feel in fresh snow.

Skilogik Howitzer, Blister Gear Review

Will Brown on the SkiLogik Howitzer, Taos Ski Valley.

Most of my time on the ski in fresh powder was off Taos’ Kitchen Wall on the Highline Ridge. Hopping off the cornice into some wind-affected but still cold, soft snow, the Howitzer provided a stable, easy landing platform and a really nice cooperative feel through every turn below.

Skilogik Howitzer, Blister Gear Review

Will Brown, Highline Ridge, Taos Ski Valley.

The Belafonte is a little more demanding in powder; you need to be deliberate about smearing the ski’s tail out, as it prefers to run straight down the fall line and gather speed. Perhaps thanks to having a little more sidecut and a wider waist, the Howitzer feels a bit more relaxed and more at home in fresh conditions.

The tip rocker on the Howitzer is minimal, as I’ve said, and the flex in the tips feels nearly identical to that in the rest of the ski. This gives it a nice, smooth turn initiation at slow speeds in powder—one that certainly requires some input, but not so much that you can’t make some surprisingly easy, bobbing turns.

At the same time, the conservative rocker in the tip maintains a good amount of effective edge and surface area in the forebody of the ski, so the Howitzer makes smearing out fast longer-radius turns very easy, comfortable, and balanced. You can do this on the Belafonte, of course, but as it is a little narrower and stiffer, the ski requires a more speed and input to maneuver precisely in soft snow.

(And if you’re looking for a less directional / more centered, initially surfy feel in powder, and want a ski in the ~110mm underfoot range, take a look at the 190cm Moment Deathwish and the 190cm Salomon Rocker2 108.)

26 Comments

  1. Jeff Lorenzen March 29, 2013 Reply

    Will, thanks for the writeup. Do you have any commentary on the construction of this ski (or skilogik skis in general)? Thanks again

    -jeff

    • Will Brown April 2, 2013 Reply

      Hey Jeff,

      The construction of these skis seems on par with any other reliable indie manufacturer (ON3P, Moment), and have an artisan aesthetic of their own, I think. The Howitzer’s (and all skis in the line) wood veneer topsheets are gorgeous, and the wood sidewalls are a great touch – they’re made of Black Locust, an extremely hard, heavy, rot/water-resistant hardwood. So far the, topsheets seem very durable, as do the bases. SkiLogik’s construction looks on point to me.

      WB

  2. Blister Member
    Jack G April 6, 2013 Reply

    Thoughts on Howitzer vs Bibby pro? Both are on a killer sale right now. I’m looking for a good all around ski for Summit County. Expert skier but not quite pro comp level charging, 5’10”, 160#. I have 100mm tele and alpine skis for the below average days / seasons around here so really looking for something to handle varied terrain and variably soft snowpack.

  3. Blister Member
    Jack G April 6, 2013 Reply

    Cochise would also be an option, but probably looking for something a little more playful.

    For comparison. I have 186 Gotama (2010, tele) that I enjoy in softer snow, but not big on the full rocker. Also have 176 Fatypus I-rock, which are fun, but a little short for going fast / big.

    • Will Brown April 8, 2013 Reply

      Hey Jack,

      If you’re not too stoked on the full rocker of your Gotama’s, then I’d stay away from the Cochise (they’re practically the same shape/camber profile). The Bibby will definitely be more playful than the Howitzer, which is relatively docile but decidedly very directional. It’s going to be quicker to pivot, but wont be quite as fast edge to edge on groomers and not as locked down through the tail.You could ride the Bibby on hardpack days, but for something still playful, but a touch narrower than the Bibby for all-around, everyday skiing in between storms, you might take a look at the 190cm Rocker2 108 and the 190cm Moment Deathwish. Hope this helps!

      Will

  4. Gordon July 21, 2013 Reply

    Hi Will, I sure would like you guys to do a review of the Ski Logik Rockstar 188. I am looking hard at buying these, but there are very few reviews. Exotic skis has a review but that is pretty much it. Not sure why there is so little feedback available on these skis. I have been on your site before on the review of the Moment Bibby Pro 184. I have these skis too (which are great).

    • Will Brown July 23, 2013 Reply

      Hi Gordon,

      At the moment, we don’t have a review of the Rockstar 188 lined up officially, but we’ll add it to our hit-list. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading! (Glad to hear you’re a fan of the Bibbys)

      WB

  5. John August 12, 2013 Reply

    So which of the 3 do you prefer and why? I’ve read a lot of the reviews here and see a lot of praise for the cochise and belefonte, do you feel the same way about the howitzer as well ?

    • Will Brown August 20, 2013 Reply

      Hi John,

      I think the “Final Comparison’s” section answers that question pretty well. In short, no one of those skis is absolutely better/preferable than the other. The Belafonte is most similar to the Howitzer, but as I say, I see the Howitzer as “a narrower powder ski rather than a wider all-mountain ski” – it’s geared toward softer conditions and slightly less aggressive skiing. The Belafonte is less suitable for powder and is better able to perform in firm, variable conditions than the Howitzer is (not that it can’t do decently well there though). So which one is “best” really depends on what kind of conditions you’re most concerned with.

      Will

  6. Liam November 26, 2013 Reply

    I own and have skied the Howitzers for a year and my assessment of them mirrors Will’s. Great soft snow ski. It has some guts, but it is pretty easy to ski for a wide board. I think it is the best ski SkiLogik makes. And I have skied the Occam’s Razor (which I own), Rave TT, Ullr’s Chariot TT and RL, and the Rockstar.

  7. jpd January 6, 2014 Reply

    Hi and thanks for all these great reviews. I just broke my howitzer after hitting a hidden tree and I am looking for a replacement. I was extremely happy with the howitzer as they were very good on pow providing soft landing, quite forgiving, and exceptional on crud and carving when giing fast. The only condition they were very poor was on steep windblown frozen hardpack where they were rattling too much. Hard bumps were not their best place (soft bumps were fine as it just ski through them).
    What ski in the 110-120mm range will be as fast as the howitzer but possibly more easy to turn in tight trees?
    I never tried any all rocker ski and I am afraid to see tips rattling at speed.
    Thanks!
    Jp

    • Will Brown January 12, 2014 Reply

      Hi jpd,

      Unfortunately what you’re looking for is a somewhat difficult to accomplish in a ski design; that is, a ski that’s good in crud going fast and stable and damp on hardpack (but more so than the howitzer), but also more maneuverable than it in the trees. But given what you’ve said, I would check out the Blizzard Cochise (which I offer comparisons to in the review).

      Hope this helps you.

      Will

      • Liam January 13, 2014 Reply

        I would recommend the Icelantic Shaman, Not quite as fast as the Howitzer, not quite the same float, but better in tight trees and delightful on hard surfaces. Especially if you are hesitant about tip flapping or full rockered skis.

  8. Dylan February 6, 2014 Reply

    What are your thoughts on 189 Norwalks v. 186 Howitzer? Planning on mounting with Duke/Guardian for mostly back/sidecountry, with some inbounds.

    • Will Brown February 15, 2014 Reply

      Hey Dylan,

      Hmmm. That’s a tough one. The Norwalks are probably going to feel a little quicker and lighter in terms of turn initiation, in powder and elsewhere, as the huge amount of rocker in the skis’ shovels reduce the effective edge in the front of the ski quite a bit. The Howitzer’s no barge in powder, but I do think they’re going to feel a little more conventional/traditional there – not quite as playful. I think the Norwalk would also feel a bit more stable in deep, soft chop (though if you’re going to be in the backcountry most of the time, that wouldn’t matter as much), and offer a little more float in powder particularly at slower speeds in trees. The Howitzers might feel a little more predictable in firmer chop, crud, and variable snow, however, because they have a more balanced camber/rocker profile. (My one real criticism of the Norwalk is that the shovel of the ski can start to feel a little squirrelly in cruddy snow).

      And for what it’s worth, if I were going to pick between the two as an everyday resort ski, I would probably pick the Howitzer. Both skis can rail groomers well, but the Howitzer, while it’s not a star in bumps, is probably preferable over the Norwalk as it is a little narrower underfoot. The Howitzers are also a tiny bit lighter, but I don’t think you’d notice the difference on a skin track, honestly.

      Both could be nice skis for day-tours with a Guardian on them. Those are the main differences I can think of – hope it helps!

      Best,

      WB

    • Blister Member
      Jack February 15, 2014 Reply

      Moment Exit World? I went back and forth between howitzer and last year’s Bibby and have been psyched with the Bibbys.

  9. jpd February 7, 2014 Reply

    Hi Will
    I purchased a pair of BD Zealot 182 as I found an excellent deal and I am very happy with.
    Looks like they were what I was looking for.
    I added comments and comparison with Howitzers in the Zealot comments (Jonathan’s review).

  10. Jimmi_Lee December 2, 2014 Reply

    Follow up:
    I have skied the Howitzers for a season and a half and my review of them would mirror Will’s. My ski style is pretty light and not very aggressive, mostly touring, and consider myself an advanced skier. I am 5’11” and 160lbs. They are an amazingly balanced ski in a wide range of conditions.

    Too wide for steep icy shoots but have the edge hold to atleast see you through them (I toured down a steep, blue ice covered water shoot at Ski Bowl on Mt Hood late last season and could at least stop and control speed). At Vail, skiing through bumps was about the worst they have ever felt. Just not quick enough.

    Everything else, be it groom, steep, hard, heavy and wet, deep, sloppy refrozen chop, trees… the Howitzers are responsive and intuitive and my daily driver.

    Other skis I have: BD Voodoo & Justice
    Others skis I have skied: Rossi Sickle, ON3P Wren (2013) & Steeple, Volkl Nunataq

  11. bena December 23, 2014 Reply

    Any thoughts on the Howitzer vs Praxis Concept or Line Sickday for a one ski quiver for travelling in Europe, day tours and sidecountry 50% of the time? No switch skiing, playing off small drops and in the trees common. Groomers cannot be miserable but I’m generally focussing on the softer stuff.
    This would be a replacement for a wailer 112rp which I found to be fine on groomers, fun in pow (if a little turny) but got a bit kicked around in crud. Also found the big tips and rocker unwieldy in places. Very much looking for a difficult balance of something that would be a bit more accomplished in crud while still being fun in the pow and not too much of a burden in the trees. I’d like to add the Line Supernatural to the list but it is probably too heavy for the touring :( Generally sizing around 176-180.

    • Author
      Will Brown January 8, 2015 Reply

      Hi Bena,

      For what you’re looking for, coming off the Wailer 112, the Howitzer is definitely a good option, but my hunch is that the Sickday 110 could be too. With a touch of tail rocker, and effectively the same weight as the Howitzer, the Sickday might be a little more playful / smeary.. I’m going to be putting time on the Sickday 110 in the next week, so check back in here I’ll let you know how the two compare!

      – Will B

  12. bena January 12, 2015 Reply

    Will, definitely interested in your feedback on the Sickday. I’d half come to the conclusion that they’d be too similar to the Wailers for what I’m after. I’ve been on the Praxis Freeride which is a lot closer to what I’m looking for but I lose the tips if I’m not concentrating in the deep. Hence thinking that the Concepts might give just that touch more versatility in the soft. Ben

  13. bena January 14, 2015 Reply

    … basically what I’m looking to answer is, will the Sickday be more wailer or Freeride? If they are more wailer then I might look again at the supernatural – the 108 is only 150g / ski more than the sickday in 179, and I could even consider the 100 rather than the 108….

  14. Don February 17, 2015 Reply

    Will – you skied the Howitzer in Summit. Would you say it’s a good one ski quiver for places like A basin/Loveland…or is it a little too soft-snow oriented?

    • Will Brown March 9, 2015 Reply

      Hey Don,

      No, not necessarily. If you’re looking to ski a lot of big, firm bumps fast & aggressively when it hasn’t snowed in a while, then the Howitzer’s width might feel a little cumbersome, but I’m not sure if that applies to your skiing style. In lower, soft bumps, I’d say it’s quite manageable.

      WB

  15. Alex December 29, 2015 Reply

    Hi Will,

    Considering picking up these 186 Howitzers since I can get a ridiculous deal on a brand new pair. I’m a lighter (~150lbs), aggressive former racer who loves to rail slalom to gs turns and rebound out of turns on the groomers. I’m looking for a ski that can rail on groomers, but could also be bobby and medium radius in powder without being surfy.

    I currently own some Nordica El Capos, which I find too damp and surfy for my style of skiing in groomers and powder respectively, and require quite some speed and radius for my small weight to rail them on groomers. Would the Howitzers be an improvement, or are there other options that you think will suit me better? I’ve already tried Q-98, Supernatural 92 Lite, and the revised Kendos, which I think are all fantastic and suit me much better than the El Capos, but I’d like something wider (in the range of 105-115 underfoot) for bigger resort skiing as a one ski quiver for travel.

    Have a great New Year!

    • Will Brown January 4, 2016 Reply

      Hey Alex,

      Given your weight, skiing style, and what you want out of the ski (and what you say you don’t love about the El Capos), I’d say the Howitzers fit the bill really really well. Simple as that. Only other relevant ski I can think of that’s just a little narrower (105 mm underfoot), is the Liberty Helix – it’s very, very similar to the Howitzer otherwise. But if you can get a great deal on the Howitzers, I can’t think of a reason not to jump on ’em.

      Cheers,

      Will B

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