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2017-2018 4FRNT Devastator

Funny, I think I’ve spent more time this season on fully-rockered skis than I ever have in my life. So the good news is that I feel like I can locate a whole bunch of these skis really accurately, including the Devastator, which I’ve been skiing on and off this season, even up until last week.

So let’s dive in here and address some of the specific questions that I raised in my First Look:

  • How maneuverable is the 184?
  • How stable is it?
  • How well would it really function as a one-ski quiver?
  • How similar or different is it to the 194?
  • Given that these are relatively heavy but fully rockered skis — should you be looking to size down or size up on these things?
  • How does it compare to some other fully-rockered all-mountain skis?

Maneuverability

We’re going to start with this, because this really is to me the defining characteristic of the 184 cm Devastator. We talked about the skis more forward mount point, and that mount point coupled with deep rocker lines and a tip and tail splay that starts early / deep into the ski … and the 184 Devastator is a straight-up pivot machine. In effect, you are standing on a very small flat platform underfoot, so if you’re skiing with a pretty neutral / centered stance, you’ll feel like you’re on one of those exercise twist discs.

So for those of you who prize “quickness” and “maneuverability” over all else, the 184 cm Devastator should be at the top of your list, and perhaps most interestingly, it easily competes in this area with skis that are much lighter and have a whole lot more tip and tail taper, like the Rossignol Soul 7.

So why care about a heavier, less tapered ski that is just as quick (or quicker) than those other designs?

Stability

Because in the right terrain, the Devastator will track better and hold up better at faster speeds, while still working extremely well at low and more moderate speeds. And that means that the Devastator could work well as a ski for those who’ve just started skiing, while also working well as a quite stable, very trickable ski for advanced skiers hitting big jumps. We’re talking about a broad performance envelope here.

But there is a catch, and we might as well talk about that right now.

Steep, Bumped-Up Terrain

I seem to spend a lot of time skiing in such terrain (think Taos, Telluride, A Basin’s Pali lift), and in steep, bumped-up terrain — especially in firm conditions or variable conditions where some of the moguls will be pretty scraped-off / wind-scoured), the small, flat platform of the 184 Devastator would sometimes feel to me to be too small of a platform, and the Devastator could feel like I was on ice skates (because effectively, I was).

This wasn’t terrifying or anything if I slowed down, but it did require me to ski more deliberately and in control rather than really letting things run.

So I think the two key questions here are: (1) Do you ski in a lot of steep terrain with firm, scraped-off bumps? And (2) Do you like to charge a bit in that terrain? If so, I think there are skis that are better for this purpose. But if you’ve answered No to both or even either of these questions, then you’re going to dodge the biggest “shortcomings” of this ski, and you can go back to liking the sound of this super pivoty yet pretty stable ski.

Powder

At my size (5’10”, ~180 lbs) and mounted on the line, I wouldn’t be tempted to grab the 184 Devastator on a huge powder day. But lighter skiers — or those who tend to ski with a more centered stance — will do quite well in 1-2 feet of snow, and I think they will become even happier with their choice of ski (over some of those lighter, more tapered shapes we were talking about above) as that snow gets tracked out.

Chop

Because in soft chop, the Devastator really shines. The ski sinks into the snow (so there’s no feeling of that short platform that can create that “ice skates” feeling on firm, steep bumps), but while the ski sinks in, the combination of its weight and its rocker profile keep it from getting hung up in chop, or deflecting all over the place. (And man, bump up in size on the Devastator, and I think you’ll feel like you’re on an chop destroyer.)

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the 4FRNT Devastator for Blister Review

Jonathan Ellsworth on the 4FRNT Devastator, Aspen Highlands.

Crud

In really firm, steep crud, some of the “short platform” concerns become relevant again. Same goes for re-frozen coral reef.

But in anything short of coral reef, the 184s are fine, and again, the really nice thing about a fully-rockered design like this is that the ski resists getting hung up in weird grabby, punchy, variable snow.

Moguls / Tight Trees / Tight Spaces

In a way, we’ve been talking about this the whole review. These skis are a pivot fest, so outside of the ‘firm snow & really steep terrain’ caveat, these skis are a ton of fun, and will allow beginners, intermediates, and even advanced skiers to navigate such terrain more easily than their used to.

Groomers

I haven’t skied a lot of pristine corduroy or sheer ice on the 184s, and I wouldn’t try to sell you on this ski as a true carver. But get the ski on edge, and it’s happy to make big, fast GS turns. Or keep the ski more bases-flat, and you can make a zillion slow, short turns on your way back to the lift. So I’m not worried about anyone’s ability to get back to the lift on these skis (even on ice), but if you really care about true carving, I’d say you’ll have the most fun on these skis on soft groomers where you can let them run and make medium to large turns.

Mount Point

My first runs on this ski were in bumped-up, fairly steep terrain on Taos’ Kachina Peak, so right off the bat, I managed to get the skis in terrain where they struggle the most. So the ski felt crazy short to me, and I was dying to move back on the ski to feel like I had a bit more shovel in front of me.

So I moved the bindings back -1.5 cm behind the recommended line … and the skis then felt off on groomers, like I was off of the sweet spot.

My takeaway here is that moving back on the ski isn’t really a solution to the fact that the ski has a small, flat platform underfoot. That’s just the design of this ski, and a big reason why it’s so damn maneuverable.

Ultimately, I settled on -1 cm of the recommended line, and this has been a good compromise for me, and I’d recommend it for those who are used to more traditional mount points and / or like to drive their shovels.

Having said that, the 184s feels good to me mounted on the line, it’s just that I’m not as comfortable charging on them and driving the shovels at the mount point. But lighter skiers or more neutral skiers may feel differently, so I wouldn’t steer everyone to mount back.

One-Ski Quiver?

Short answer, Yes. You can read through and figure out if this ski’s strengths match up with how and where you like to ski, but yes, I can easily see this ski working for a number of skiers across a massive range of conditions.

The Length Question (and Recommendations)

So this is the other massive question, and for me personally, the biggest.

No, I don’t think everyone needs to size up on this ski. But for the love of Ullr, do not size down.

And if you are on the fence about sizes … I would recommend going up. As I wrote in my First Look of the ski, while Paul Forward was raving about the 194 cm Devastator, the ski simply sounded too long and too heavy for the tighter, bumped-up terrain where I spend a lot of time skiing. But I think it’s important and correct to say that, given the profile of this ski, you / I kind of need to throw your general notions of length and weight out the window.

Those who will be operating at more moderate speeds on the Devastator don’t need to be quick to size up. But if you’re looking to maximize the stability out of this design, then bump up, and I think you’ll still be surprised at how relatively quick and easy this ski is.

And props to 4FRNT here, because while the weight and length of the 194 Devastator might seem alarming, my time on the 184 makes me think that this shape would simply ski worse if it was lighter.

So while I’ve gotten along quite well with the 184, if you told me right now that I had to spend the entire season skiing the 184 or the 194 … I would still feel a bit torn. But I personally am most intrigued by the “charger” version of this design rather than the “unbelievably quick” version, so I’d go with the 194, and worst case, I might just have to suck it up a bit when skiing end-of-the-day moguls with tired legs.

Bottom Line

Paul Forward reviewed the 194 Devastator and called it one of the best chop and crud busters he’s been on. While the 184 isn’t the flat-out variable-conditions killer that the 194 is, the 184 is a very quick and easy ski that still provides good stability in conditions that are the least bit soft.

NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics

21 Comments

  1. Smooth_operator March 14, 2017 Reply

    Interesting! curious about a cochise/katana comparison.
    And what about the faction dictator 4.0, getting on that one anytime soon?

  2. Evan March 14, 2017 Reply

    I’ve been on the 194s all season and loved every second of them! I’ve got a friend who has borrowed my old 186 sickles a few times this season, though I’ll never part with them, these might be a stiffer alternative for him as he’s looking to buy! (Bigger guy, 5’9″ 260, but not super high speed most of the time)

    • Blister Member
      Guy Anderson August 24, 2017 Reply

      Hi Evan I have read JE.REVIEWS and Paul’s at least 30x, listened to podcasts etc….I want the Dev. never skied the Sickle that so many treasure ….why doesn’t Rossi bring those back like Moment did with the old Bibby??? SOB….4Front has next year’s on sale for 499 so I think I am going to get them.
      My ? Is your size if you don’t mind….wt,ht….I fall right in the f….middle of the 184 and 194….and where do you ski the 194….I can rationalize it as a powerful ski in big open terrain….but for me 2600g….in the trees ….ut oh.

      Thanks for sharing if you get my msg….I’m thinking the 194 =191 tape pull would eliminate the lack of flat spot but limit it for me at 205lbs…5’9 like your buddy to wide open terrain which is cool….I think….or the 184 ????
      This ski drives me bonkers..good news I hear is coming in 2018/19…but not at 499. :)

  3. Blister Member
    Dan March 14, 2017 Reply

    I’m excited you guys are finally getting some time on the 184 cm Dev. I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat myself at the risk of being rude: these are the new Sickle 186 replacement, especially when the Devs are mounted -1 to -2 cm from rec.

    Interested to see what you think about lengths. I’m 5’9″ and 150 lbs on a good day, so the 194 Dev never appealed to me. And I love the 184 for bumps, park, groomers, and skiing switch. It does, however, feel a touch short in front of the binding when skiing fast on steep pitches in variable snow/deep chop.

    So after two seasons on the 184 Dev, I am experiencing the first world skier problem of the goldilocks phenomenon for the OSQ. Ultimately, my dream one ski quiver ski for splitting time at AltaBird and PC/Canyons is still a 189 cm (straight pull 187 cm) Devastator mounted -6cm from true center.

    Please 4Frnt, please?!?

    • Patricio March 17, 2017 Reply

      Dan, then you should check the new Blizzard Rustler 11. I’m in no ski company’s payslip just to make it clear. Both are very similar, Devastator is a little bit more agile but Rustler 11 is much more stable, light and in 188, so somewhere in between 184/194. Definitely the best skis I’ve ever owned, which previously was the Devastator.

  4. Blister Member
    Tom March 15, 2017 Reply

    Very interested in this review. I now own and am very impressed with the 187 meridian as I felt it was/is the the 189 devestor that I longed for. Wish it had a bit more weight to carry through chop and therefore deflect less but other than that have loved the meridian.

  5. Blister Member
    gabesalk March 16, 2017 Reply

    Hey just wanted to gently point out you guys omitted the mountpoint for the Candide 3.0’s

    ” The Candide 3.0 (mounted on the “all-mountain” line) ___ , ”

    doesnt really change anything but its a lil detail that fell through the cracks

  6. Blister Member
    Michael March 16, 2017 Reply

    I too am excited to see how you guys make out on the 184 Devastator. I’ve been skiing on it for a couple years now (at the recommended mount point) and had to get used to the ski, but now I love it. I’ve found the ski likes a more upright and centered body position, but while being active in the lower body and using high edge angles. I guess I’d describe it as using more ankle/knee than hip to engage the ski. You can run the ski flat and it pivots on a dime, but then engage the relatively long edge and it’s super stable. It’s been really fun to be able to use the edge angle to change the character of the ski so much. Once I learned how to use this ski I’ve been able to trust it and open it up/shut it down in any terrain.

  7. Valerie May 26, 2017 Reply

    It is a new Sickle, but more exciting – I have both. You keep bringing up the small platform under foot, that is not what this ski is about. What I am going to write next will sound counter intuitive and works for me only on Devastator. Despite full rockered design, this is about edge, or certain sections of the edge. I preffer Devastator over HEAD FIS GS skis on iced groomers – you need to get your weight completely over the front part of the ski and drive them edge to edge, so small platform under foot becomes irellivant and they keep the edge on frozen corral without catching. Same thing about steep, tight places – do not think that ” you should use full ski” like ski instructors teach, or put it on flat to pivot, instead alternate between skiing front and back of the ski as feels appropriate. Look up videos of Eric Hjorleifson skiing this or Hoji, you will know what I am talking about. Straight line is not a strong side of this ski, or at least i did not figure out how to do it well.

    • Author

      Hi, Valerie — what you say makes sense. And others in these comments have also called it a Sickle, and I’ll defer to you all since you have skied the Sickle more recently than me. But the Sickle’s rocker is a lot more subtle than the Devastator’s, and to me, it avoids the small platform / rocking horse problem in steep, bumped-up terrain.

      As for getting on *either* the front of the ski or the back of the ski (because there’s a small mid-point / center of the ski), that’s where I find the 184 Devastator to feel so different than the Sickle — but again, I’ll defer to those of you who have skied the Sickle more recently. Having said that, that “get on either the front OR the back” makes sense to me … it’s just — and I’ll repeat myself here while also promising to stop doing so — that is a harder technique to pull off when skiing hard and fast in bumped-up terrain. On smooth ice or soft pillow lines? Easy to imagine. But sections of icy chutes that giveaway to steep, narrow — scraped-off / windscoured bumps and / or troughs — or in other words, what I tend to think of as truly “all-mountain skiing” that’s where I think the small platform issue arises. And as I also tried to point out … if someone doesn’t spend a lot of time in such conditions, then I think they really can ignore this “situational / contextual” shortcoming of the ski, while also experimenting with the technique you’re proposing. Framed that way, that certainly all makes sense to me.

  8. Blister Member
    Dan May 28, 2017 Reply

    I have 200+ days on the 186 Sickles (mounted on the line) and 50 days on the 184 Devs (mounted -1cm from rec). And Jonathan, I’d agree with your last post for the most part. Having dialed in a balance point for the Sickles, I don’t notice the small balance platform for the Devs as much as you mention. But undoubtably, the rocker on the Sickles is more flat camber with full twin tip, and the Devs have more continuous reverse camber and a smaller flat spot under foot.

    Again, I’m still looking for the slightly lighter Katana-Sickle hybrid. I’m hoping your Folsom custom is that ski! 186cm straight pull, very subtle reverse camber with a reasonable underfoot flat spot, mount point around -6 to -7 cm from true center, moderate stiff flex profile, around 108mm underfoot, about a 25 m turn radius, 2150-2200gm total weight, and excellent damping for charging crappy snow.

    Can’t wait for your review.

  9. Valerie May 28, 2017 Reply

    By the way, I mounted my 174cm Devastator at +1 and feel very comfortable in Aspen Highlands, no issues with weight unless I have to carry them. I also forgot to mentioned that the float in poweder is unproportionaly good for the size of the ski.

  10. Isaac July 22, 2017 Reply

    I’m 6’1″ and weigh 210 lbbs. Never ski’d before until the 2016-17 season when I quit my job to bum in Truckee and ski Squaw/Alpine. Put in 70 days at the resort and a dozen in the BC. Actually leaving for Mt Shasta’s North face for some BC this weekend.

    Just bought the 194 Dev. I was looking for a good resort powder ski to charge all day without changing skis when the runs ger tracked out. I really hope they deliver.

  11. Blister Member
    Guy Anderson August 29, 2017 Reply

    I just bought the 194 Devastator….it is twinned as we all know and one of Matt’s associates stated it skis like a 190…..so when you combine that fact with Blister actual tape pull of approx …191 ….ya have a big 187 or 188 …..super duper chargy stable planted to the ground CBMF…..IMO.

    I am so stoked…..the math makes sense after staring at this stuff for many months.

    Thank you Mr.Sterbenz…..and JE. and to my skiing buddies this 52 yr old will see you at the bottom with a cold frosty on your tab. :) all the other young studs will pass me but for 52 I will be smiling ….not in bumps though.

    Ya all better jump and buy these…I am happy about 2600 grams….I can shed a lb and they will be light.

    Guy

    Wood hoo.

    • Isaac November 18, 2017 Reply

      Hey, Guy! Good to hear of an old man skiing progressively! Hahaha! JK. One of my best buds, and best ski instructors, is about your age. He told me to not get caught up with skiers whose quivers are 10 years old. The ski industry has changed so much, yet there are a bunch of old schoolers resistant to try new designs. The ski Nazi’s. LOL

      This is my first progressive ski, and I can’t wait to lay down trax. Gonna hit CO, UT, and possibly Whistler this season with the Epic Pass. Ditching the job to hit the road in the RV and chase the joy that falls from the sky!

  12. trent September 27, 2017 Reply

    It sounds like some of the downsides of the 184 are similar to the 184 Mantra. Both are fully rockered etc. So does the 184 seem like a wider Mantra? It sounds like it would obviously float better and from the review it sounds quicker turning? I like my 184 Mantra in powder but would love some more float.

  13. Blister Member
    Konsta October 4, 2017 Reply

    Anybody able to compare the Devastator to the (discontinued) Völkl Gotama?

  14. Blister Member
    Konsta October 27, 2017 Reply

    ”the 184 is a very quick and easy ski” and the 2nd most demanding ski in its class in the 2017 – 2018 Buyer’s Guide. Interesting. Quite like the ”damp and poppy” comment I remember reading in somewhere (perhaps another article & comment thread).

    Care to elaborate a little bit, Jonathan? :)

    • Blister Member
      Lloyd November 17, 2017 Reply

      The 194 Devastator is the 2nd most demanding ski in the all mountain charger section, while the 184 Devastator is in the freestyle wider section, without any spectrum comparing how demanding a ski is. I’m guessing the 194 is demanding because it is really heavy but the 184 is proportionally lighter for its length because it is also 3 mm narrower.

  15. Blister Member
    James November 15, 2017 Reply

    I am still looking for a PNW (Stevens pass/Baker/Crystal) heavy snow pow ski, something that still floats before the snow gets tracked out, and then something that busts through the tracked out snow and makes it feel like it is still fresh. The idea of a fully rockered ski really appeals to me, as I come from a snowboarding background and I’m starting to think a slarvey turn is a little more close to the mechanics of snowboarding than carving down groomers on a traditional ski. I have the atomic automatic 117 @193cm length, and I love how they float in a quarter inch of snow,, but in tracked out heavy snow, they get bounced around like a child in a mosh pit.

    I am researching these Devastators, the bibbys, and ON3P’s billygoats… Is there anything else I should look into?

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