2016-2017 Head Monster 108

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Head Monster 108 for Blister Gear Review.
Head Monster 108 – Topsheets

Ski: 2016-2017 Head Monster 108, 184 cm

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

Blister’s Measured Length (straight tape pull): 182.1 cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 143-109-125

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 142-108-125

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2530 & 2570 grams

Stated Sidecut Radius (184 cm): 25.5 meters

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

Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): ~61 mm / ~18 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~4 mm

Factory Recommended Line: -12.75 cm from center; ~78.3 cm from tail

Mount Location: Recommended Line

Boots / Bindings: Fischer RC4 130 / Head AAAttack 13

Days Skied: 5

Test Location: Taos, NM


Ski: 2016-2017 Head Monster 108, 177 cm

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

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 175.0 cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 142-108-127

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 141-107.5-126

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2388 & 2426 grams

Stated Sidecut Radius (177 cm): 23.5 meters

Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): ~61 mm / ~18 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~4 mm

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

Mount Location: Recommended Line

Boots / Bindings: Fischer RC4 130 / Head AAAttack 13

Days Tested: 3

Test Location: Taos, NM


Head calls the Monster 108 “a machine without boundaries,” and says that it is “as happy on deep powder days as it is arcing groomers.”

We hear lots of these “This ski does everything!” descriptions, and while there is some truth to it, there is a whole lot more to say about the 108.

And actually, Head’s stated “Facts” about the 108 on their website are probably more telling:

SPEED: superfast
TERRAIN: powder, open bowls
SKILL: Top skiers
STYLE: excellent, sophisticated skiing technique

Yeah, if you aren’t into skiing fast, you probably don’t need this ski, because it is definitely built for stability at speed.

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Head Monster 108, Taos, NM.
Jonathan Ellsworth on the Head Monster 108, Stauffenberg, Taos, NM.

And as for terrain, if you really are just sticking to open bowls and pow (and enjoy skiing them very fast), then this ski is also pretty easy to recommend. But let’s get deeper into the details….

The 184 cm Monster 108 is a ‘big’ ski. Don’t believe me? Here’s a little evidence…

184 cm Head Monster 108 vs. 188 cm Rossignol RC 112

Initially, I was thinking that my primary reference points for the 184 cm Monster 108 would be the 185 cm Blizzard Cochise and the 186 cm Line Supernatural 108. After closer inspection, however, it seemed like I need to break out bigger guns—like the Liberty Variant 113, and then go old school, to the Rossi RC 112. And so … just for fun:

By most accounts, the old 188 cm Rossi RC112 was regarded as a pretty big, pretty badass ski. But let’s look at the numbers:

Rossignol RC 112, 188 cm

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 187.6

Stated Dimensions: 140-112-120

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 139.5-112-118

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2511 & 2560 grams

Stated Sidecut Radius: 35 meters

Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): 79 mm / 9 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~4 mm

Factory Recommended Line: -14.4 cm from center; 79.4 cm from tail

Flex Pattern of the 188 cm Rossi RC 112:

Tail: 9

Behind the Heel Piece: 10

Underfoot: 10

Shovel: 9-10

Tip: 7

2016-2017 Head Monster 108, 184 cm

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 182.1 cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 143-109-125

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 142-108-125

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2530 & 2570 grams

Stated Sidecut Radius (184 cm): 25.5 meters

Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): ~61 mm / ~18 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~4 mm

Factory Recommended Line: -12.75 cm from center; ~78.3 cm from tail

Flex Pattern of Both the 177 cm and 184 cm Monster 108

Tail: 8-9

Behind the Heel Piece: 9-10

Middle / Underfoot: 10

Tips: 9

(Note: there isn’t a clear difference between the flex pattern of the 177 cm and 184 cm Monster 108.)

If we’re playing the ‘Which ski is more badass?’ game, note that the 184 cm Monster 108 is heavier than the 188 cm Rossi 112. Note that the tips of the RC112 are significantly softer than the tips of the Monster 108. And the tip rocker line of the RC112 is much, much deeper than the Monster 108’s, and the RC112 also has more tip splay — more tip splay + deeper rocker lines = less effective edge. So if you are one of those curmudgeons that tends to complain about all this damn tip rocker everywhere these days (not that I’ve ever said anything like that… cough) you absolutely definitely should take a look at the Monster 108.

I am also on the record stating that “a little tip rocker can go a long way,” while too much tip rocker can ruin a ski (e.g., I personally find the Armada Norwalk to be virtually unskiable in variable conditions.

The Monster 108 is a heavy, stiff ski … which is cool if you like your skis to be supremely stable at high speeds and predictable in any and all conditions. (If you don’t really care about stability and predictability at speeds, you ought to look forward to my forthcoming review of the new Rossi Soul 7 HD…. Head could rename the Monster 108 the “Not-Soul-7”, since the two skis are basically opposites.)

NEXT: Length, Groomers, Etc.

37 comments on “2016-2017 Head Monster 108”

  1. Profile looks similar to Atomic Automatic 102 with Head having a little more tail rocker? I find the 102 a good frontside carving ski in 188

  2. Looking forward to the SN108 comparison, my current 108 ski. Love my monster 88 on the majority of days between the storms. Can you comment on its abilty to lay it over and carve medium radius turns? Doesn’t seem very likely, but love those g forces and getting down low on the groomers. Thanks for the great reviews as always.

    • Hey, Andrew – while the Monster 108 is totally manageable on groomers at slower speeds, it is NOT like some slalom ski that will allow you to lay over high edge angle carves at lower speeds. The real factor is probably what you mean by “lay it over” … the Monster 108 will do medium-radius turns just fine on groomers, but I was never getting low to the snow on such turns. For big GS turns though? Yes. Fat race ski. And it was interesting, when Charlie Bradley and I A/B-ed the 184 and the 177, whoever was on the 184 just absolutely dusted the person on the 177. And the 184 doesn’t even begin to wavier at high speeds. Neither does the 177, really, so if you want to lower the top end and enjoy medium-radius turns more … the 177 is probably the way to go.

  3. It’s cool to see Head put out a ski for highly skilled hard charging skiers. It must be to gain some street cred as I garantee you this will not be big seller. The trend towards making super easy to ski planks like the Automatic and the JJs is great for the masses but it is depressing for those who love to push and lean into their skis. Big shout out to 4FRNT, Moment and a handful of other brands who are still making burly, stable skis…

  4. I have a soft spot for this kind of ski. 2009 XXL’s, 2010 Stormrider Pro 105s and 2012 Belefonte’s are in my ski rack but I’ve never skied the RC112 . Are the Monsters a substantial technological leap or more of a revisit of 2009?

    • Hmmm, interesting question. I can’t comment on the Stormrider Pro 105s, but I have skied unrockered XXLs (187cm) and I adore the 2012 Belafonte (187cm). So let me comment on those skis: I would take the 184cm Monster 108 over an unrockered XXL. The tip rocker of the Monster 108 helps the ski’s maneuverability, whereas I felt like the XXL was ALL stability — which is awesome in certain terrain and conditions, but I’d much rather carve the 108s and I’d much rather negotiate steep, tight chutes on the 108s. (Stronger skiers than me won’t have any trouble on the XXLs, of course, but I personally don’t need any more stability than the Monster 108 offers.)

      As for the Belafonte, they really don’t feel all *that* similar. The Belafonte is lighter, quicker and has more tip rocker … while still being remarkably damp given that the ski doesn’t have metal. The Monster 108 has more effective edge, is heavier, does have metal, and is a super smooth, damp, *metal* ski – closer to a tip rockered XXL, I’d say.

      So I can’t really say whether the Monster 108 is more of a leap forward or a throwback … but I would say that it is a very coherent design that works really well. The only thing I can think of that (physically) strong skiers might not like about it is that the Monster 108 does have a tighter sidecut radius than a XXL or Rossi RC112 – I would MUCH rather carve the Monster 108, but some people prefer straight skis for straightlining, etc.

  5. To suggest that Armada and Atomic are for the masses and not for highly skilled hard chargers, I suggest taking a look at Tanner Hall who changed big mountain skiing on the original JJ or Dana Flahr and Sage and the lines they ski on the Atomic Automatic. Their are so many great skis for different conditions and skier styles. Blister does a great job of reviewing so many skis I want to try. By the way, the Head Cyclic 115 is a very versatile powder ski.

    • Not sure who is suggesting that, Dennis? Nobody has said anything *in general* about Armada or Atomic — though K-Roc did site two specific skis by these companies — the JJ and the Automatic — which definitely do not fall under the category of “hard chargers.”

      So I don’t believe that K-Roc (or I?) have said anything about “Armada and Atomic are for the masses and not for highly skilled hard chargers.”

      But it is to say that companies are moving away from the stiffer, heavier skis that some skiers prefer — because stiffer, heavier skis make it *easier* to ski hard and fast in certain terrain and conditions. I’m totally fine calling stiffer, heavier skis “cheater skis” – for some of us, it’s easier to ski hard and fast on them than on lighter, softer skis. But not everybody needs or likes cheater skis to go hard and fast – e.g., Tanner Hall. Then again, to use Tanner or Dana as proof that the JJ or Automatic is a “hard charging” ski is a bit disingenuous. I bet Aaron Gwin would beat many of us down a DH trail on a hardtail bike…

  6. All these reviews of sort of all mountain skis lately is putting that giant debate into my head of “what type of skier am i.” I thought it was gonna be the the metal for me, but the lack luster ice performance really rules it out for a midwest skier who doesn’t get to choose good weather days when they are out west, especially coming from a scimitar which is pretty much the most versatile ski i’ve ever ridden. Trying to find something fatter to handle power better and be a bit better at speed, but still be playful.. AND DECENT ON ICE. Seems a hard combo to find. And ultimately for this ski, i’m cool with directional, though i really prefer never to have a directional ski.

    • Hey, Ian – one word of caution: if you “really prefer never to have a directional ski” … I’d think twice about the Monster 108. It is *very* directional, not kinda sorta, and will feel quite different from your Scimitar. The Metal will feel a bit more like your Scimitar.

      Other thing: assuming you still have your Scimitar, I think The Metal would be a very nice complement to it as a 2nd ski. I was pretty happily skiing The Metal around Taos when it hadn’t snowed much in two months, and I still liked the ski. I was not, however, laying that ski over on refrozen groomers … which I could do on the Monster 108 if / when I got it up to speed. Anyway, just a few thoughts to consider.

  7. Hello,

    Could you please Tell us the head monster compares to the Salomon xdrive 88 fs? For flex pattern and any Snow not deep/fresh?

    Thanks for reviewing those good skis!

  8. So here we go again, Blister Gear Review is supposed to help me save money. Instead it accomplishes the opposite. Now I want this ski too. I need a second job, a third job and a bigger locker. A directional ski, heavy as a train track. Excellent. Jonathan, would you be able to provide any insight as to why some players in the industry are claiming directional ski’s to be outdated and now part of history? I hear a lot of reference to “easy”. Easy is not the feeling I want to take home at the end of the day. I’ll take the Monster 108.

    • Ha, sorry to tempt you – I’m simply reporting the facts, so please don’t shoot the messenger!

      And since I think this is a question that some other people might be wondering about, I’m also going to run the following answer as a ‘Topic of the Week’ question…

      I’m not sure that anyone is saying that *directional* skis are outdated — there are tons of skis still being made with directional shapes.

      And by “directional shapes,” I *very roughly* mean two primary things:

      (1) the *back half* of the ski still has a “directional” shape – a non-symmetrical sidecut and a flatter tail

      (2) a “directional” mount point — which I would loosely define as any ski with a mount point that is set back – 6cm or more behind true center — though the most traditional skis have mount points that are -10, -12, or even -14 or more cm behind true center.

      But there is no question that “easy,” “more accessible,” and “more approachable” are important terms to just about every ski company. And that shouldn’t really be a surprise — don’t we see that trend in virtually every other industry? (Certainly the bike industry, but also across the tech industry, etc.)

      It’s really a numbers game: there are fewer skiers out there who are (1) strong enough to handle and (2) *want* to handle a heavy, damp ski with a big top end. If the average number of skier days is 5-10 per season … then companies have to — and SHOULD — make skis that will be readily enjoyable by such folks.

      But heavier skis that require more input but offer major stability are dug by a smaller set of folks. So companies know they won’t sell as many … and they have to make hard decisions about whether or not to keep making such skis.

      The drum I’ve been banging — and will continue to bang — is to try to convince companies that it’s worth it to continue to produce smaller runs of such skis. Doing so will (1) stop the loud complaints and (2) get those of us who like such skis psyched about their brand. Those two things amount to an incredibly smart and valuable branding play for the ski companies — in the same way that it is not a smart brand play to alienate those skiers who want a fun and easy ski, it’s also not a smart play in my opinion to alienate that rather / very / insanely vocal minority that enjoys a more demanding ski — especially since that vocal minority tends to be on the mountain quite a bit.

      That’s my take, anyway.

      And if you want to chime in on this topic in general, please do so on the ‘Topic of the Week’ thread – we’ll try to keep this Comments Section focused on the Monster 108.

  9. Hey guys,
    After reading this review, I am curious if you’ve spent any time on the head a-star. One of my favourite skis I’ve been on; flat tailed, heavy and super stable. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on it compared to other comparable chargers, particularly the governor.

    • I’m gonna second Tyler’s comment/question as I’m interested in those 3 skis, A Star, Governor, and Monster.

      Tyler, have you ridden the Governor? How would you compare it to the A Star if so?

      • Haven’t skied the governor unfortunately. Spent last season on a quiver of Head Venturi 191cm, Head A-star and Bentchetler 192cm.
        This season just been I was on Kastle BMX 105 HP 188cm and 115 in 193cm

  10. Hey Jonathan, long time reader here. Head makes this ski in a 191cm length, would you say that is one of the most stable set of skis on the market? Anything else in this category as beefy or even more so?

      • Umm, yes they do. There’s a few online for sale, like level nine sports.. And I have talked to Head directly about that size, and it’s definitely available, just hard to find..

        Thanks so much for your help. I’ll look to TGR.

        • Interesting – when I spoke with Head’s product manager at SIA, he made no mention of a 191, and two Head reps had told me that 184 was the longest length the ski was available in? And given that HEAD was reluctant to even review the 184 (saying it was a ton of ski), I’m curious about this 191 — I wonder if it’s left over stock from previous seasons, or whether their doing a limited run. Anyway, given that the 184 was already one of the heaviest skis we’ve ever reviewed, then yes, it’s safe to say that a 191 Monster 108 would be one of the most stable, damp, skis available.

            • Given that I haven’t skied (or ever seen) a 191 Monster 108, nor skied the new 192 Pro Rider (though you can now read our First Look of it), what follows is pure speculation. But if I had to bet, I’d definitely bet that a 191 Monster 108 is “beefier” than the new Pro Rider. (1) The 184 cm Monster 108 almost weighs as much as the 192 Pro Rider, and (2 the shovels of the Pro Rider I flexed at SIA were not terribly stiff, while the production 184 cm – and 177 cm – Monster 108 are definitely stiff.

              • You’re the man, I knew you’d be able to help, even if it’s just speculation. I’m definitely looking into the 191 monster 108.

  11. Jonathan,
    How does the 184cm M108 compare to the M88? I own a pair of the later in the 184cm and was wondering how different/similar they are besides width? The M88’s are the skis I had always been looking for, stable and smooth at speed, easy to initiate, powerful, versatile, lively intuitive carvers but not dead like some other damp metal skis i.e. Blizzard Brahma, Volkl’s, etc.
    Obviously they will be slower edge to edge and float better in deeper snow, just wondering how dramatic these differences are?
    Thanks, John

  12. https://blisterreview.com/gear-reviews/2016-2017-head-monster-108/2

    Hi John,

    I have the 2017-2018 M88 in 184 as well…love the ski – my go to boards for all-day fun on any day at the mountain when loads of fresh powder aren’t on the platter. I became eternally stoked on the stability, dampness and skiability of the M88 – made me want to ski more and more average condition days because I was comfortable and confident with everything in any condition – skiing anything became super fun again. I had a set of Monster M85s in the early-2000s and really loved them, but I shuffled them off to a friend when the rockered-ski craze erupted. I borrowed the skis back from him for a day of spring crud busting in 2016 and I was kicking myself for ever letting them go – they still rocked.

    I have been lurking around reviews and discussion about the M108s for a couple years now. By way of the crazy good M108 Blister and Teton Gravity Research reviews, and the fact that the M108s were discontinued this year (and the option to demo completely disappeared), my curiosity was spiked and I was committed to find a set of them. I unknowingly became a hoarder all of a sudden, after realizing how difficult it was to find them! I picked up a 2 pairs of the 2016-2017 M108s off eBay for surpisingly good deals recently – and it seems now any and all available M108s are seemingly devoid from eBay or search engines. I bought them and had them mounted with demo bindings to allow me to share with my son and daughter (hard charging skiers themselves who love the M88) and other friends, as well as use myself. I have the M108s both in 177cm and the fabled, hard-to-find 191cm. The 184 seems to be gone forever – I got the 177 because of the fact it’s the exaxct same flex as the 184 and a shorter length may allow for some needed mandhandling in tight trees, etc. The 191…well, I bought it to own what feels to be the most stable freeride ski ever made.

    Comparison. It’s probably been said before somewhere, but I find two noticeable differences skiing the M88 and M108. I live in Northwest Montana. I am 47 years old, 6’2″ and ~225+lbs in my gear – skiing for 35+ years. I can honestly consider myself an Advanced/Expert skier. I like to use my weight to make skis do the job they were intended to do:

    1. First and most obvious, the M88s are quicker edge-to-edge and can be turned/carved as quick or as slow as you’d like depending upon how aggressive you are…I love how playful the M88s can be. The M108s aren’t as quick to respond, but that is still a good trait – they instill confidence due to the lack of introduction of ANY surpises at ANY speed. It’s not to say the M108 can’t be turned quickly, it’s just that you won’t get a quick turn unless you definitively tell the M108 to do so – no whispering.

    2. Second, the M88s have what feels to be a heavier yet more flexible and springy shovel/tail – still damp, but gives rebound to actions you give them. The M108s don’t spark that kind of enthusiasm in the tips/tails – they offer no surprises whatsoever…the feel of the tail behind the heel and underfoot is damp, dead, and unwavering. In cut up powder/crud the more-lively M88 tip/tail sometimes gets me into a little bit of trouble launching here and there. The M108 simply plows and rides this stuff. If you want to decamber the M108 and make something happen, you just have to let it know and it can respond every bit as quick as the livelier M88.

    I own a set of Armada Magic Js for the big powder days, but if it isn’t a deep and fresh day, the Head Monsters are my go-to skis for every condition…the M88s and M108s are the best skis I have ever had the chance to enjoy. I don’t know whether my skiing style has changed over the years or my older, injury-ridden knees just appreciate the damp, full suspension ride the Monsters offer. Aside from surf-skiing tight and steep moguled trees, there isn’t a bit of terrain I don’t feel comfortable skiing with either of these beasts. They are the best skis I’ve ever ridden for 85% of the condition/terrain combinations out there. It completely blows me away that Head removed them from their line, however I can understand that 90% of all skiers are not experienced hard chargers…and the company still needs to stay in the black and can’t let an underappreciated ski line impact their bottom line.

    I recommend hoarding any M108s that you can find!

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