Ski: 2017-2018 Head Monster 108, 184 cm
Available Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 181.8 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2495 & 2521 grams
Stated Dimensions: 143-109-128 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 142.1-108.5-127.5 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius: 25.5 meters
Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 65 mm / 18.5 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm
Core Construction: Era 3.0 Graphene WC Sandwich Cap Construction
Base: Structured UHM C Base
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -12.6 cm from center; 78.3 cm from tail
Boots / Bindings: Tecnica Cochise Pro 130 / Head AAAttack² 13
Test Location: Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin, CO
Days Skied: 6
If there’s one thing we learned during our review of the 16/17 Head Monster 108, it was that it is an extremely powerful, damp, and stable ski, and at the top of the stability chart when it comes to variable conditions.
So when we were told that Head was tweaking the Monster 108 for the 17/18 season, we admittedly became a bit nervous. Was the new Monster 108 still going to be THE ski if you were looking for the strongest ski on the market? If you love the current Monster 108, should you run out and stockpile as many of them as you can get your hands on?
In short, how similar or different is this new Monster?
Specs: 16/17 vs. 17/18 HEAD Monster 108, 184 cm
Based on our measured specs, the differences between these two models is extremely subtle.
The new 184 cm Monster 108 measures:
- 0.3 cm shorter
- 0.1 – 0.5 – 2.5 mm wider (tip – waist – tail)
- 35 & 49 g lighter
- 4 mm more tip splay
- 0.5 mm more tail splay
- ~0.5 mm deeper tip rocker line
- ~1 mm less camber underfoot
- Mounted 0.15 cm forward
We’re certainly talking about very subtle differences here, differences that are so small that they could easily fall within the manufacturing tolerances of a production batch of skis.
Furthermore, when hand flexing these skis back to back, the flex patterns of the 16/17 and 17/18 were basically / effectively indistinguishable.
Here’s how we would characterize the flex pattern of the two skis:
- Tips: 9
- Shovels: 9
- Underfoot: 10
- Behind the Heel piece: 9
- Tails: 8
Honestly, regardless of the type of terrain that I was in, I was hard pressed to discern any notable differences in performance between the 16/17 Monster 108 and the 17/18 Monster 108. So for anyone looking for the hardest charging ski in variable conditions, I would still nominate the Monster 108.
Having said that, I still want to flesh out a few things that Jonathan didn’t touch on in his review of the 16/17 Monster 108, and also get clearer on a few questions I had, namely: How does this ski perform in powder? And could I find a speed limit on the 184 cm Monster 108? Finally, I was wondering how versatile or how specialized this ski would feel?
In Jonathan’s review, he calls the Monster 108 the “best” carver he’s ever been on in the ~108 mm class, in the sense that it is incredibly smooth, powerful, and stable at top speeds, regardless of whether the groomers are pristine, or littered with clumps of snow (firm or soft). And this is all certainly true.
But a great carver (especially on groomers) can also be defined as a ski that you can load up at the top of the turn, store energy in the flex of the ski, and then explode out of the finish of the turn with a thrilling acceleration. And I didn’t find the Monster 108 to be a particularly lively / energetic ski in this way, at least not at my weight (175 lbs). This is a stiff ski, and to bend it enough to store a lot of energy, you’re going to need a lot of weight, or a lot of speed, or, more likely, both.
(In Jonathan’s Deep Dive Comparison article, he touches on this when comparing the Monster 108, for example, to the Line Supernatural 108, saying that the Monster 108 requires more input. And it basically requires more input than any ~185 cm long, ~108 mm wide ski we’ve ever been on.)
So whether or not the Monster 108 is the “best” carver out there really depends on what you’re looking for.
Moguls, Trees, and Tight Terrain
Head describes the Monster 108 as being intended for “open bowls and powder,” so if you’re just trying to get through some tight, bumped-up spots to get into more open terrain, the Monster 108 is completely serviceable. And if the bumps and trees are well-spaced (such as semi-buffed steep chutes), then the Monster 108 is quite competent.
But if you’re often skiing in large, messed-up bump lines and luge-track tree runs, the Monster 108 can get through this terrain, but you need to bring your ‘A’-game — keep pressure on your shins and be quick with your turns so that you stay centered over the top of the ski. This is a heavy, stiff ski with minimal rocker, so if you get off balance, it can punish you, especially through the tails.
And if you add powder to the experience, things get even trickier. When troughs of moguls or luge tracks in tree runs are filled with powder, the fat, minimally rockered tips and tails of the Monster 108 will get hung up more readily than most other skis I’ve been on, and you’ll be fighting to stay in balance. But in more open terrain, these traits in powder become significantly easier to manage.
NEXT: Powder, Firm and Variable Snow, Etc.