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2013-2014 ON3P Wrenegade

ON3P Wrenegade, Blister Gear Review.Ski: 2013-2014 ON3P Wrenegade, 181cm

Manufacturer’s Dimensions (mm): 141-113-128

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 141-114-129

Sidecut Radius: 28.5 meters

Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 182.0 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2181 grams & 2187 grams

Days Skied: 5

Test Location: Taos Ski Valley

[Editor’s Note: We published a First Look of the Wrenegade back in October. Now, with a handful of days on the Wren, it’s time to see how on point or off base my speculation was. The new additions to the First Look begin with “***“.]

We published a First Look of the ON3P Wrenegade for two main reasons:

(1) We’re jerks, so we wanted to further complicate the super fun / remarkably draining process of trying to figure out your ski quiver for the upcoming season.

(2) I really want to talk about this ski. Again. I’m psyched for it, psyched for what it might be able to do, and I want it to be on your radar.

In the 3rd* Annual Blister Awards from SIA this past January, we gave the 181cm our Dying To Try It award, and I wrote:

We ski Taos a lot. And at Taos, we ski Reforma a lot. And if you love Reforma, I don’t think it’s possible to look at the 181cm Wrenegade without thinking, “this ski was born to ski Reforma.”

The top of Reforma can get bumped up pretty big, so you don’t necessarily want to drag a ton of ski through there. The Wrenegade is 181 centimeters long, but it has a flat, subtly rockered tail. And it’s stiff—but not ridiculously stiff. It looks perfect to negotiate the top of Reforma, then open it up to make medium-sized turns through the middle of the run, then rage down and straightline the bottom section through the runout. It’s the only ski I saw at SIA that made me think, “I am dying to ski this down one very specific run.”

So yes, we’re dreaming of Reforma, and the 181 Wrenegade looks to be the perfect tool.

Furthermore, the ski looks to be an excellent variable-conditions and powder charger. Not an either / or, but both.

If that previous sentence didn’t get you to sit up straight, then the Wrenegade might not be the ski for you.

[*** I’ll say more below, but over the five days I’ve skied the Wren, I kept saying to myself, “Resort Powder Charger.” There is no more accurate description I can think of for this ski.]

Here’s what ON3P has to say about the Wrenegade:

“After approaching perfection this season, the Wrenegade returns for 13 / 14 largely unchanged. Its gradual tail rocker allows for maneuverability in soft snow and trees, while its tip shape provides excellent float and stability in variable snow. This ski is for those who enjoy nothing less than bombing down the mountain as fast as possible. With its larger turning radius and stiff flex, the Wrenegade demands a strong skier who has the ability to ski them the right way.”

Having stared at, flexed, weighed, and broken out the digital calipers on this ski … we’re inclined to believe ON3P’s description.

[*** I’ve had a very fun five days on this ski, and I’ve had it in a wide variety of snow conditions, and all over Taos’ wide variety of terrain. My speculations about this ski were pretty accurate, but the biggest surprise to me—still—has been just how good of a pow ski it is.]

Important Note: Weight

On their website, ON3P lists the weight of the 181cm Wrenegade at 2350 grams per ski. That sounds like a bit of a bulldozer for a 181cm ski.

But our pair didn’t feel heavy in the hand, and when we weighed them, the skis came in at 2181 and 2187 grams, respectively.

Awesome.

The weight and length seem perfect for what we’re hoping for: a pretty stiff ski that will still feel fairly quick while excelling at high speed in big bumps, tight trees, variable conditions, and pow.

I contacted the president of ON3P (check out our 20 Questions with Scott Andrus) to ask him about the weight. He said it was just a mistake on their website, and that their average weight per stock Wrenegade is 2180 grams, right in line with ours. 

Again, awesome. These don’t feel too light (like they’ll be twitchy), nor do they feel like huge planks. In a word, they seem quite manageable.

[*** At my height and weight, “manageable” is very much the key word. These skis are substantial, but they are not a chore. But if you like dead-easy, super quick skis, you should probably look elsewhere, unless you’re about 15-20 lbs. heavier than me and you know that you like shorter skis. In that case, the 181 Wrenegade might still fit the bill.]

Length: 181 vs. 191

We admit that we’re having a little bit of a goldilocks problem here: 191cm on a ski like this with a relatively flat tail seemed like it could be a bit of a handful for where we wanted it to shine, especially at the stated weight of 2480 grams (we’re awaiting confirmation on that number). It seemed like while it would clearly deliver all of the stability we were looking for, it might not deliver the relative quickness.

But 181cm—or the straight tape measurement of 182.0 cm—feels a touch short, like it will deliver the quickness we want, but perhaps feel slightly lacking in the stability department?

Is the ski stout enough, with enough effective edge, to permit going a little shorter than normal to keep things quick in tighter trees and deep mogul troughs, while still providing adequate stability to fly?

Given the gorgeous, fat tail of the Wrenegade, and the very subtle tail rocker, we still think this shorter ski won’t ski that short. The stiffness is there, and the rocker line + splay combination looks like it’s just enough to allow the tails to release when you want them to in deep or variable snow.

[*** The 181 Wrenegade has been fun almost everywhere at Taos, and most surprisingly, in some very deep snow off of Highline Ridge. Yes, I’ll admit that 187cm Wrenegade sounds basically perfect—at ~185 lbs., I didn’t need more float out of the 181 Wrenegades, and I was surprised how much fun I had in bumps and trees on the 181s. But for making very fast, off-piste, big, open turns through variable conditions … I think I’d really like the 191s. Ergo, a 186 or 187cm Wrenegade would feel like the perfect porridge for me.

Lighter skiers looking for a ski like this ought to love the 181s. And bigger guys will probably like the 191s just fine. I’m definitely not here saying what I said about the 192cm Belafonte, that I doubt too many people really need more than a 187 Belafonte. If I spent less time in chutes, trees, and steep bumps, I might opt for the 191s myself.

While the comparisons I made in the First Look were to the Volkl Katana and the DPS Wailer 112RPC (see below), I’d also been thinking about how the Wrenegade would stack up to the Moment Belafonte and the Blizzard Cochise—non-pow skis that are great crud & chop skis.

At my weight, I would much prefer to ski pow / deep pow on the 182 Wrenegade, than on the 182 or 187cm Belafonte, or the 185 or 193 Blizzard Cochise. The Wrenegades planed beautifully in deep snow, and felt very much at home in the deep in ways that the Belafonte and Cochise do not.]

Flex Pattern

Handflexing the Wrenegade reveals a stiff tail and a softer shovel. The very tips of the skis are quite stiff, and then things soften up so that the forebody of the ski actually isn’t all that stout. But this reminds me a bit of the 182 and 187 Moment Belafonte, which don’t handflex all that stiff, but that pretty much never feel lacking when skiing hard and fast through crud.

[*** Again, the Wrenegade is a pretty substantial ski, but I wouldn’t call it a burly ski. And those shovels that I’d described as “not all that stout” have a lot to do with why the Wrenegade feels so at home in untracked pow and soft, cut up pow. The flex pattern felt spot on for resort powder charging.

But the flip side to this is that, while the 181 Wrenegade was easily a better pow ski than the 185 Cochise, 187 Belafonte, and 191 Katana, those other skis are better at raging down lines of firm, bumped up snow. Having said that, I have little doubt that the 191 Wrenegade would close that gap a bit.

So the “184.2cm” (true length) Cochise and the “185.4cm” (true length) Moment Belafonte get the nod over the “182cm” (true length) Wrenegade in very fast, firm, bumped up conditions, but the Wrenegade beats all of them in pow.]

Crud Buster + Powder Charger Revisited, Part I: ON3P Wrenegade vs. Volkl Katana

As I said at the top, the thing about the Wrenegade is that it looks like a ski that might truly be both, and that is easier said than done. The 191 Volkl Katana is one of our favorite crud and chop skis of all time, but I don’t view it as some out-of-this-world deep pow ski. All that metal doesn’t aid flotation. (And before we go any further, if anybody at Volkl is thinking about ditching the metal of the Katana, please don’t. Leave the Katana alone. Please.)

The 184cm & 191cm Katana both come in at 143-112-132mm, and the 184 has a 25.8 meter sidecut radius, while the 191cm Katana has a 28.2 meter radius. Look at the dimensions of the Wrenegade—are we looking at a cambered Katana here? One that shines at speed in variable snow, but perhaps offers better flotation?

[*** Better flotation for sure, and it’s probably a tie in soft, cut up conditions. But the nastier / more firm the conditions get, the more the Katana has the edge.]

The tip shape of the Wrenegade seems like it could be a bit more pow-friendly than that of the Katana. But if it is a bit more pow-friendly, will the Wrenegade still destroy crud like the Katana? And will the Wrenegade’s camber make it feel a little more alive on groomers? Those are the questions.

[*** When the groomers at Taos were the least bit soft, I loved the Wrenegades. They definitely felt more alive on groomers than the Katana, and felt very much at home carving big, fast, clean turns. I’m not really into making a ton of small slalom turns at more controlled speeds, and that’s not really how the Wrenegade wanted to be skied (unlike, say, the Nordica El Capo).

On steeper, windscoured, icier groomers (Taos’ Zagava), the Wrenegades were a lot less able to bite and carve. So you won’t be breaking this ski out both to ski pow and to carve ice, but no surprise there.]

 

43 Comments

  1. Lambert October 15, 2013 Reply

    Looks a lot like the new Moment Governor, comparison review asap?

  2. Maz October 15, 2013 Reply

    Oooh, I was hoping you’d taken them to NZ Land. And yes, a Wren/Governor/GPO comparison would be a fine thing. Just saying…

    • Paul October 15, 2013 Reply

      Second the GPO review.. psyched to see what you guys think about that water creature. Seems like a directional bibby pro.

  3. Scooch October 15, 2013 Reply

    I’d probably be more interested in a Billy Goat/Governor/GPO comparison. Billy Goat, because the GPO has a similar looking profile in the tip and tail. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the real snow test results on the Wren since a ski like that might be god for those wet-coast-crud-and-chunder afternoons.

  4. Ryan October 16, 2013 Reply

    I have a pair of billy goats and they’re the most fun I’ve ever had on a ski. My friend has a pair of 2011 wrenegades and loves them, both in fresh snow and charging through crud. Your review seems pretty spot on, I’m jealous you have a pair to ski. Another thing you’ll notice overtime, hand-made skis are always the most durable

  5. Johan October 30, 2013 Reply

    I ski the 2012/2013 191 version with extra carbon to suit my tiny 203cm 130kg stature.

    These weigh in at left 2520g and right 2530g.. so the standard version will be a bit less.

    Awesome skis, bet you will have a blast on the baby 181 version!

  6. stuckathuntermtn on tgr December 4, 2013 Reply

    Please tell me I’m not the only one wishing for a 186.

    • Author

      I highly doubt you’re the only one. On a ski like this with a flatter tail, that 186-188cm range sounds pretty ideal. But we’re breaking out the 181 Wrenegades tomorrow at Taos, so we’ll find out in a minute here about those 181s….

      • Blister Member
        Andrew December 9, 2013 Reply

        So… first impressions? I’m a huge fan of the detailed reviews but would be very happy to see this one piecemeal!

        Andrew

        • Author

          First impressions? One day down, and I’m freaking psyched on this ski. Heading up the mountain with them again right now. So far, it seems that this ski is everything I hoped it’d be. P-s-y-c-h-e-d.

          BYE!

          • Blister Member
            Andrew March 10, 2014 Reply

            Wondering if any of the Blister Ladies have been on the 181 Wrenegade and what their impressions are? Also wondering if any of the Blister Ladies have been on the 184 Exit World (I know you reviewed the 190 but wondering)? My wife is a big fan of the 174 Belafonte and is having trouble going from the stability that ski offers on firm days back to the 172 Bella on pow days (especially when that pow gets cut up). She’s heard me sing the praises of the 190 Bibby Pro and we both think something along the lines of the two skis I’ve mentioned above might do this well. Please let me know when you have a chance.

            Thank you!

            Andrew

  7. Maz December 18, 2013 Reply

    That sounds pretty damn interesting, and it could be a perfect NZ clubbies ski. 6’1 x 170 => 182 enough ski for me.

  8. Ryan D December 18, 2013 Reply

    I have about as many days on last year’s 191 Wren, which is unchanged. Believe the hype. Despite a very broad mix of snow and conditions here Montana – from WROD ice pack death sheets to 2+ foot dumps – I have skied this pair the most of all nine pairs I currently ride. It is that fun and versatile. In fact, I haven’t even taken out my Legend Pro XXLs, which has long been a favorite. That’s saying something.

    I should also note that despite better judgement, I seldom follow speed limits and softer, turnier, funner (yes, that’s a word) skis just don’t seem to suit me as much. Me: 6’0″ 180 on RX 130 boots.

    Plus, Scott & Co are really, really good people and you’re buying a burly and thoughtfully manufactured ski from Portland, my home town. So there’s that.

    • Author

      Thanks for chiming in about the 191s, Ryan. And funny: I was literally skiing these back-to-back with some unrockered, 187cm XXLs just a few days ago. And there would be very few days that I personally would opt for those XXLs over the Wrenegades.

      • Ryan D December 18, 2013 Reply

        I hear you. I was worried about overlap with the XXLs when I bought these but what’s a quiver without at least some overlap?

        I did notice that the near flat bases and ever-so-slight tail rocker really make this a pivoty ski, especially on the fall line. That’s what surprised me the most and it’s really nice to have on 191. Another angle for the Wren is that it could be a great trip ski where the conditions are going to variable or the weather outlook is unknown. There will be little it cannot handle.

        In the end, I’ll never dump the XXLs. Too much fun on days when you want get after the mountain like it owes you money and ski angry.

        • Author

          Ha. That totally makes sense, Ryan. And everything you say about the 191 Wrens is exactly why I was trying to make sure that people didn’t simply dismiss that length. I don’t at all have the sense that a 191 Wren is some unreasonable ski, just a different tool for different terrrain, etc. And like I said, I’d really, really like to check out a 191 Wren with a Tour layup. Thanks again for the great info.

  9. Brian December 18, 2013 Reply

    “But if it is a bit more pow-friendly, will the Wrenegade still destroy crud like the Katana? And will the Wrenegade’s camber make it feel a little more alive on groomers? ”

    You only answered the question about groomer performance. What about destroying crud/chop like the Katana? How do they fair? Hard pressed to tell the difference in which one is better, or is there an obvious winner?

    • Ryan D December 18, 2013 Reply

      Yes. Absolutely. Granted, there’s no metal in the Wren. But after skiing it several days off the Tram and Challenger at Big Sky, this ski destroys crud with reckless abandon. Now, it won’t be as damp since there is no metal, but the bamboo and the burly lay-up really make this a cud buster. The bonus is that is significantly cheaper than the Katana.

      • Brian December 18, 2013 Reply

        Thanks. I take it you’ve had some time on the Katana then? If not, I’d still be curious to hear what Johnathan will say.

        • Author

          Hi, Brian, I’d answered the first part of the question earlier in the review: “But the flip side to this is that, while the 181 Wrenegade was easily a better pow ski than the 185 Cochise, 187 Belafonte, and 191 Katana, those other skis are better at raging down lines of firm, bumped up snow. Having said that, I have little doubt that the 191 Wrenegade would close that gap a bit.” The 181 Wrenegades excel in deep snow and soft chop, then (I’d say) become less good as things get firm / nasty. The Katana is one of my favorite skis in firm / nasty stuff with some soft, are still excellent in soft chop, and then start becoming less good the deeper things get. So the Wrenegade and Katana overlap in the middle portion of the spectrum, but shine at opposite ends of the spectrum. But again, I can only speak to the 181 Wrenegade.

          • Brian December 19, 2013 Reply

            What about if you take really firm conditions out of the picture, and focus only on soft chop on a late powder day, or a few days after? The powder I’d be skiing in the morning would be 6″-16″ of alpine wind affect in wide open, sending 20-40′ cliffs, with lots of soft choppy runouts (think Europe/Andes, but tracked out fast like the US).

            My dilemma is that I have an old 183cm Head m103 (love my battleship!) that I use for charging hard in firm conditions, up to a few inches of soft snow (powder or corn). I also have an ON3P Billygoat that I use for other resorts where I’m skiing mostly pillow lines and trees in deep fluff. So, on the spectrum of firm to soft and charge to slarve, I have a ski that overlaps the lower end of the Katana, and a ski that that overlaps the upper end of the Wrenegade. I want a tail that’s not as likely to smear out like the Billygoat, but enough rocker to avoid burying the tip in untracked like the Head m103. Solidity when maching through soft chop in runouts after a stomp is the ultimate goal, so the extra float of the Wrenegade isn’t exactly an obvious win over the extra charging of the Katana. Yeah.. first world problems… but what would you pick?

            (soft base material on the Katana is kind of a negative as well, as I do hit sharks from time to time)

  10. Pietro December 19, 2013 Reply

    Hi guys!

    Jonathan, do you think the 181 Wrenegade could be a good addition to my 191 Caylor for non-deep days?
    Or should I look at the 186 Vicik for groomers, crud and chop?
    I’m 174 cm x 67 kg.

    Thanks!

    • Author

      Given how well I thought the Wrenegade handled pow, pairing it with a Caylor would give you a big, fun, LOOSE pow ski (Caylor), and a more versatile pow ski (Wren) that will shine in soft chop, do pretty well in more firm crud, and not be a great tool for the job when groomers are ice and everything is super firm. So depends how and where you’re skiing. We haven’t yet skied the Tychoon or the Vicik – both are high on our list – but I would be inclined to pair either of those with the Caylor.

      • Ryan D December 19, 2013 Reply

        I can add some more color here. I own the 12/13 Vicik, which is 2mm narrower (@104mm) in the waist and has a slightly different tip profile, but otherwise the core and lay-up profile are the same.

        If you’re a big fan of traditional skis with just tip rocker and you are a very powerful and fast skier; the Vicik and Wren are terrific compliments. In fact, the Vicik is often referred to as a mini Wren.

        Of the many ON3P fans I’ve had a chance to meet or discuss their quivers, most witll do a combination of a Billy Goat or Caylor and a Vicik. While others with do a Wren and something narrower like a Jeronimo or Prester. In short – most do a directional charger ski and then a playful fun ski. I’m one of the few that has both the Wren and Vicik. The most popular combo I’ve heard of is the Billy Goat and Vicik.

        • Pietro December 19, 2013 Reply

          Thank you very much!

      • Pietro December 19, 2013 Reply

        Thank you very much!
        I will wait for a Vicik review.
        I was also looking at the 186 Jeffreys, but I’m afraid of the overlap with the 191 Caylors!

  11. Maz December 19, 2013 Reply

    Where is the recommended mount point on these? I’m guessing a traditional -10’ish with the flat tails.
    Ryan D, a question for you. I’m close to your size (6’1 x 170), and ski a mix of fast, wide open bowls and steep, narrow couloirs (see Blister’s various comments on the NZ clubfields). Am I kidding myself that the 181 would be enough ski?
    There’s a lot of bootpacking and semi-technical ridge hiking involved, so shorter skis definitely make things easier.
    Thanks!

    • Author

      I’ll let Ryan reply, but do keep in mind, Maz – the shape of the tails is flat, not twinned up, but there is still tail rocker here.

    • Ryan D December 19, 2013 Reply

      Maz, I’d say do it; for two reasons. One – the mount point isn’t nearly as far back as you’d think. The slight up turned tails really make this a very manageable ski in tight spots when the snow isn’t deep or if things are firm. That, coupled with the fact that these ski much shorter than the 191cm length would indicate, really make it versatile. I’d even go as far as to say that the Wren feels like it skis shorter than my 187 XXLs. The gentle, but gradual rocker up front really help its maneuverability in both deep and firm snow. The tip profile and shape are really dialed in here. It was one of my bigger surprises with this ski.
      Two – you combine those two aspects of the ski with its very minimal camber, the Wren almost pivots when you drive it from a center-ish position. I noticed with when I attacked the fall line and did big GS or huge, arcing turns – the Wrens really responded and turned very quickly. This was even true when doing quicker, shorter radius turns down the fall line. When you ski the Wren with some energy and down the fall line, it really responds and just seems to pivot or swivel like a reverse camber ski. It is really quite brilliant in that aspect. I remember this feeling searing into my brain on my first lap down Challenger a few weeks ago.

      As for the mount point; go with what Scott and co recommend. I don’t know the exact measurement, but ON3P puts a big slot in the sidewall to mark the mount point. Mount there and you’ll be loving it. I promise. They have done their homework.

      With the hiking/scrambling, that all depends on your pack set-up and how the ski are carried. You’ll have a little more tail poking down, but I can’t imagine it being any better or worse than any other ski.

      All in all … yes; the 181 would not be enough ski.

  12. Maz December 19, 2013 Reply

    Thanks Jonathan.
    Yep, they are perrrrfect looking tails. Where are your 181s mounted (if you remember)?

    • Author

      I’m on the line, Maz. And I didn’t pull off the heel to get an exact measurement, but straight tape is about 82cms from the tail. I always begin at the factory recommended line, then go forward or back from there. I didn’t touch these.

  13. Maz December 19, 2013 Reply

    Thanks a lot Ryan and Jonathan!

  14. Stephen December 19, 2013 Reply

    I’ve been looking for a quiver ski to fill that “inbounds powder ski” slot, and I’ve been all hot and bothered to ride the Praxis Protest after reading your review. sounds like the Wrenegade fills the same niche, any quick comparative notes on the two?

    • Author

      Hmmm, while they are both “pow” skis, they’re really very different skis, and I believe those differences ought to come out in the two reviews. So no quick notes, but happy to try to answer any specific questions that the 2 reviews don’t answer.

  15. Author

    @Brian: I don’t know your height / weight, but since you say, “Solidity when maching through soft chop in runouts after a stomp is the ultimate goal,” for me the 191 Katana clearly beats the 181 Wrenegade. The 191 Wren will likely make it less clear. But as I mention, the fast runout stuff is where the shorter Wrenegade performed the worst – not bad, mind you – but that was not where it shined.

  16. Vail December 23, 2013 Reply

    Not the wrenegade, but I own the 186 Vicik, and that’s a ski I think you would like Johnathan.. Picture the Moment PB&J and Belafonte having a baby, and only the best characteristics from each made it into Vicik. I own the 188 PB&J as well, and I absolutely love them, but the Vicik is better everywhere else except big bumps and jibs. Its about the same flex as the pb&j, but bamboo so damp as all heck yet very snappy and playful. Its more forgiving than the belafonte, but doesn’t give up too much on the stability spectrum.

  17. Craig January 2, 2014 Reply

    Hello Jonathon and crew….
    Do you know if you will be reviewing the Moment Governor or the Rossi Squad this season?

  18. Blister Member
    PDX January 17, 2015 Reply

    Do you guys have any plans to review the new version of the Wren 112? On ON3P’s website is says they softened it up a bet and I am hoping they didn’t wussify it like so many others.

  19. INP January 22, 2015 Reply

    I just picked up the Wren 102 for this season, and although I’ve been limited to the Northeast, it is a phenomenal ski. Holds an insane edge, stable at speed (and it likes speed) but I also find it really maneuverable and fun in the bumps, trees, steeps. I didn’t get a chance to demo, and bought sight unseen, but it was well worth it. LOVE this ski. Would love for one of you review/break it down for others.

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