The 184cm X-Drive 8.8 feels far more capable as an all-mountain, anywhere, doesn’t-care-at-all-about-how-steep-or-how-fast, because in addition to being a powerful carver, that ski can also run bases flat and still feel unbelievably stable, even through sections of dense chop.
The X-Drive 8.0, on the other hand, wants to be on edge most of the time, and doesn’t respond that well to bases-flat straight lines or pivoting around in thick, deep snow.
(If you’re looking for a sub-90mm ski with more of a hybrid shape to handle deeper conditions, the DPS Cassiar 85 or the Dynastar Powertrack series are worth a look. But I would take the 8.0 over those skis as the conditions get more firm and icy.)
Frankly, I was pretty hesitant taking the 8.0 off-piste. On a couple of quick hikes up to Spitfire / West Blitz we dropped down the Spitfire rope line through foot-deep, soft chop. This felt a little scary. Nothing about the 8.0’s design makes skiing steep, punchy snow any less tricky.
But in firm conditions, even in steep, off-piste terrain, the 8.0s worked fine, in large part, I think, because I could keep them on edge and keep carving them—their preferred M.O.
I think the most important thing to say here is that, if the off-piste terrain you normally encounter is lower-angle and doesn’t involve steep, big, oddly shaped and oddly spaced bump lines, then the better the 8.0s will work, and the more I’ll vouch for them. I had a lot of fun ripping laps from the top of Chair 2 down Bambi (groomer) to Zagava (big moguls) over to Whitefeather (groomers + smaller moguls + airing off of catwalks into more moguls) on the way back to Chair 1.
You don’t want to get in the backseat on the X-Drive 8.0.s; its powerful tails will take you for a ride. But if you are an advanced or expert skier and you can generally find nice, well-spaced bump lines, then you’ll be fine on the 8.0’s.
But the Dynastar Powertrack 89 is an easier bump ski, as is the DPS Cassiar 85. These other skis are more willing to let you pivot bases-flat through the bumps, while, once again, the X-Drive 8.8 prefers to have you carve your way through moguls. So my sense here is that skiers with solid technique in bumps won’t have a problem skiing the 8.0s down decent mogul lines, but if you are looking for a ski to help you deal with moguls more easily, I don’t think this is your ski.
Who’s It For?
Skiers looking for (a) a great carver with a big top end and a decent low end, who (b) don’t need this carver to also handle steep, techy off-piste terrain, the 8.0 is probably the better choice than the 8.8.
It’s easiest to recommend the Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS to anyone looking for a substantial carver that can make a variety of turn shapes, is very composed even on roughed up groomers, and can still handle some lighter off-piste duties in shallow snow. For those purposes, the X-Drive 8.0 is currently my favorite ski.
If you’re looking for an even more substantial carver that requires more input but that is a far more all-mountain-capable ski, consider the 184cm X-Drive 8.8.
NEXT: ROCKER PROFILE PICS