First Look: 2016-2017 Head Monster 88

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Head Monster 88 Ti for Blister Gear Review.
2016-2017 Head Monster 88 Ti

Ski: 2016-2017 Head Monster 88, 177 cm

Available Lengths (cm): 163, 170, 177, 184

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 175.1 cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 133-88-114

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 132-87.5-113

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2049 & 2063 grams

Stated Sidecut Radius (177 cm): 17.4 meters

Core Construction: Silver Fir + Titanal + Graphene Layer + Fiberglass Laminate

Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): ~59 mm / ~16 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~4 mm

Factory Recommended Line: -11.75 cm from center; 75.8 cm from tail

While we are supremely enjoying touring season, we’re still not quite ready to be done ripping the shit out of some groomers. So this weekend, we’ll be back at Arapahoe Basin riding chairs and getting a bit more time on the Head Monster 88 and 98. (Become a Blister Member to read our Flash Review of the Monster 98.)

Re: the Monster 88

Head describes the Monster 88 as “a tough, agile, and versatile all-mountain ski that powers through any condition.”

And given that both the Monster 98 and Monster 108 floored us with their power and GS-capabilities (both skis may well be the best carvers in their respective classes), we’re going in with high expectations for the narrower Monster 88.


Head also makes some additional comments about the intended use and audience for the Monster 88, and labels them as “Facts” about the skis — we would call them Fun Facts:


  • SPEED: superfast
  • TERRAIN: versatile, piste and off-piste
  • SKILL: top skiers
  • STYLE: excellent, sophisticated technique

Gotta say, I love that these skis, apparently, only go to 11 — “superfast.” (I also love that “superfast” is one word…)

So one of the things we’ll be reporting back on is whether / how well the Monster 88 works at slower speeds.

We’ll also be interested to see if this feels like a wide GS ski, or whether it is also willing to make shorter, quicker turns.

Rocker Profile of the Monster 88 (and whether or not this ski has “Tip Rocker”)

As a trend, we are seeing more and more tip rocker on skis in the ~88mm-wide category, and the skis are increasingly being heralded for their all-mountain performance. And while Head’s current marketing copy holds true to that trend for the Monster 88, the tip rocker profile of the 88 looks quite different from many of the other “all-mountain” ~88mm-wide skis out there, such as the Blizzard Brahma, Volkl Kendo, ON3P Wrenegade 88, or Fischer Motive 86 Ti. It is probably closest to the Salomon X-Drive 8.8 (which, by the way, is the ski that, on paper, would appear to be the most similar to the Monster 88).

There is virtually / basically / essentially no tip rocker on these things. In the old days (before rocker) skis still splayed up at the tip — just as the Monster 88 does. So whether or not a ski has “tip rocker” isn’t about whether or not a ski has tip splay (every ski in existence has tip splay), but instead, it has to do with how deep the tip rocker line is. (To freshen up on terms like rocker, splay, rocker lines, etc., see our ROCKER 101 piece.)

Again, if you compare this to the tip rocker profile pics of the other skis we’ve mentioned here, you’ll notice a big difference. The Monster 88 has a lot of effective edge, and given its weight and flex pattern, if this ski doesn’t offer the best performance on firm snow & ice of any “all mountain” ski we’ve ever reviewed, I’ll be quite surprised. And speaking of the Monster 88’s flex pattern…

Flex Pattern

I would categorize the Monster 88 like this:

Tips: 8 out of 10

Middle: 10

Tails: 9

My initial notes regarding the flex were exactly this, “Wow, there are no soft zones on this ski — the tips and shovels are only the slightest bit softer than the tails.”

All-Mountain Performance?

We have every reason to expect that we’ll find a pretty powerful, traditional feel here (again, as opposed to many of the Monster 88’s more rockered competitors), but we’ll let you know.

Point is: for those of you who dislike tip rocker — or at least on your sub-90mm-wide skis, the Monster 88 should be on your radar.

NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics

12 comments on “First Look: 2016-2017 Head Monster 88”

  1. I love this ski. Very stable at speed and can do any turn shape- big gs turns, laid over in shorter radius turns and everything in between. And silky smooth like a kastle but half the price. Think mx88 that releases tails easier in bumps and when wanted. I know ski this everyday unless there is fresh snow. Still considering the monster 108 to replace my very well liked supernatural 108 because I love the feel of my monsters. Just wish the 108 turn radius was a bit smaller- 19-21 would be perfect for where and how I ski. As far as construction, the monster line is one of the best made and feeling skis out there for under 1k. Hoping to find a rep to demo the 108 next season as no one caries them

  2. There seems to be a big consensus to go ahead of rec. Of course binding placement is really personal preference.

    I went +1cm only because I felt they had a disproportionate amount of tip relative to tail AND the mount point of my old monsters was more forward than these new ones and both really are similar skis in terms of contact. And I love the way my old ones ski.

    That said. I don’t think you’ll go wrong with the rec line.

  3. Interesting, wish I could have demoed Monster 88’s last year. Although, the ski is wider than my old 183 cm iM82’s (currently my rock skis), the lack of the rocker really reminds me of them. I kind of expect these new ones to be similarly damp, maybe lighter. Not sure if they are as comparably stiff or less, perhaps a better DD and more useful in deeper manky snow. Any readers that have skied the old 183 cm iM82’s and the new 177 or 184 88’s and could provide some comparisons?

  4. I have last year’s Monster 98 and 108 – THEY ARE PHENOMENAL! I took the 98s everywhere on the mountain and never thought twice about where I was going last year. Finally got the 108s out this year and cried they were so amazing – ok, I didn’t cry probably closer to wept. Both are so stupid smooth and damp but still lively – unreal easy to ski in my opinion. With that said, the stability is where these skis shine – any terrain was just soaked up. I will probably buy these skis just to leave them in the wrapper until the current ones are dead. I haven’t looked at skis since I purchased these last year – they are that GREAT! (I may have to buy the 88s just to complete the entire quiver of my HEAD arsenal.)

  5. Any more details on this ski? I’ve seen notes that it is your least favorite of the Monster line. I’d like to know more since I love my 108s.

  6. Are you ever planning to do a complete review of this ski? I’m still wondering why it’s your least favorite of the Monster line.

    • Hi, Steve – we will be doing a more complete review. But if this is our “least favorite,” keep in mind that that is relative to the Monster 98 and 108. Like you, we really like the Monster 108 and think it is a really interesting, powerful, smooth ski for the right skier. And in very steep, icy terrain, there are few skis that I would rather be on than the Monster 98. (Plus it is also a phenomenal carver.) By comparison then, the Monster 88 feels like the less unique ski in the group. It is a solid carver, but we aren’t that interested in the 88 as an all-mountain, off-piste ski. There are other skis out there that we would opt for (like the X-Drive 8.8, Fischer Motive 86, etc.) So none of this is to say that the Monster 88 is a bad ski — we could happily ski it on-piste all day. I’m just not sure the 88 separates itself / stands out in its class like the 98 and 108 do. Hope that clarifies a bit.

      • Thanks for the clarification. I’m mainly looking for this ski to have the same “feel” (ya, that’s vague) as the 108, but in a package more suitable for days when it hasn’t snowed in a while and I’m alternating between GS turns on groomers and zipper lining bump runs.

  7. I presently have 5 days on my Monster 88ti with Marker Griffen Schizo bindings. Spent the first 3 days skiing these with bindings at set at zero. Found the skiis to be rather slugish in initiating turns with no kick from the tails. Moved the bindings up 10 mm and these skiis became another kind of animal. Skiis now have quick turn initiation with a bit more kick coming from the tails. Made skiing moguls much more predictable. Even worked better in deep powder without having to really lean back on the tails that much. I weigh 165 lbs. and my 88ti”s are 177 length. I’d highly recommend setting your bindings forward 10 mm of the recommended set point.
    Jim Parsons, South Lake Tahoe

  8. I have the 88s. They are phenomenal skis. I got them as my hard snow ski. They rock. Super fun and versatile. If you like skis like the older Line Influence 105, or Kastles, etc…traditional shaped skis…you’ll like these!

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