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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)