2017-2018 Head Monster 88

Brian Lindahl reviews the Head Monster 88 for Blister Gear Review.
Head Monster 88

Ski: 2017-2018 Head Monster 88, 177 cm

Available Lengths: 163, 170, 177, 184 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 174.9 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1996 & 2048 grams

Stated Dimensions: 133-88-114 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 132.5-87.5-113.5 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius: 17.4 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 56 mm / 17 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: -11.55 cm from center; 75.9 cm from tail


Ski: 2017-2018 HEAD Monster 88, 184 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 182.1 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2200 & 2213 grams

Stated Dimensions: 134-89-115 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 133-88-114

Stated Sidecut Radius: 18.9 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 58 mm / 17 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: -12.7 cm from center; ~78.35 cm from tail


For the 2017-2018 season, Head said that they had revised their Monster series, which includes the Monster 83, 88, 98, and 108.

We’ve already posted our review of the 17/18 Head Monster 108, and the primary question we asked there — How similar or different is the 17/18 Monster 108 from its predecessor? — is the same big question we have for the 17/18 Monster 88.

Four Things

(1) We had posted a First Look on the 16/17 Monster 88, so you can check that out (it’s a pretty fun read, if I do say so myself) to get a sense of how Head is positioning the ski, and also to nerd out and compare the 16/17 specs to the 17/18 specs.

But spoiler alert: the specs are quite similar, with no radical departures to report.

(2) We have been A/B-ing the 16/17 and 17/18 Monster 88 in a 177 cm length, and will be weighing in soon to answer Question #1.

(3) We also will be testing the 184 cm model of the 17/18 Monster 88, and we’re pretty excited about this, too. First of all, the 184 just looks like a freaking samurai sword. And while the 177 is proving to be a very capable ski, we’re excited to see how much the 184 ratchets things up.

Furthermore, you might be aware that a ski we raved about for several years — the Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS — got put out to pasture. So could the 184 cm Monster 88 serve as a worthy replacement? On paper, it certainly seems so.

(4) A big question we have for any ski in this width class is about versatility. Some ~88mm-wide skis really are best suited for use on groomers. Other skis are okay on groomers, but perform quite well on good mogul lines. And then there is the question of how well such skis work around all of the mountain — including trees, chutes, open bowls, etc. So we’ll be weighing in on how “on-piste-specific” or “truly-all-mountain” the Monster 88 really is.

Flex Pattern — 184 cm Monster 88

The flex pattern is extremely similar (effectively the same?) as the 16/17 Monster 88, and I would sum up a hand flex of the ski like this:

Tips: 8
Shovels: 8.5-9
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel piece: 9-8.5
Tails: 9-9.5

It’s worth noting, the Monster 88 is not simply an unbendable 2×4. What I like about the flex pattern of the ski is that, while it is certainly stiff, it isn’t impossible to initiate the flex of the shovels or the tails, it’s just once the ski starts to bend, that stiffness ramps up pretty quickly. And I’d liken this (at least a little bit) to the flex of a good 140-flex ski boot — you ought to be able to flex the boot, but a stiffer boot ought to, then, ramp up in stiffness / support pretty quickly. Feel free to ignore that analogy if you want to, but my point is, if you’re going to make a ski with a “stiff” flex pattern, make it like this.

Bottom Line (For Now)

We don’t want to say a whole lot more than this just yet, but Brian Lindahl and I have been skiing the 88s and Brian will be weighing in soon (and I’ll be adding my two cents) on the on-snow performance of these Monsters.

NEXT: Our Review of the Head Monster 88

16 comments on “2017-2018 Head Monster 88”

  1. Interesting the difference in Recommended mount points, 11.5 from center on the 177, and 12.7 on the 184. Curious if you are able to tell a significant difference?

    • Hey, Antony – short answer is no — not yet, anyway. I’ve liked both skis on their respective lines so far. We’ll see if Brian feels differently when he gets on the 184s early season.

      But the Monster 88’s allow you to drive the shovels as hard as you want — and get out all over the shovels — that I never had any sense that I was going to go over the handle bars. And furthermore (though this is pretty relative / subjective) for me, the Monster 88s are light enough — compared to say, the Monster 108s — that I didn’t immediately feel like I wanted to get forward on the ski to quicken it up. You might feel differently, but if you’re concerned about it, I don’t imagine that going +1 on the 184s is going to feel “off” on this ski.

  2. I love this ski in 184, based on one long, spring skiing demo day at Sun Valley. SO smooth. Like a full suspension bike. A little lazy feeling on groomers, but my pair had a pretty “lazy” tune, so TIFWIW. Far friendlier in bumps — big and small — than I expected. No speed limit was found (but mine isn’t quite what it used to be). Call them unflappable at 50+ with certainty.

    Looking forward to your detailed review!

  3. Still love my 177 monster but might consider the 184 as that’s my usual length. I downsized to have a different type of ski- groomers and bumps between storms. It rips.

  4. Nice write up, Brian. I’ll take the royalty check for using the FS mtb reference from my May 25 comment.

    Can I ask you size? I’m 195 and 6’2″. I loved the 184, but could maybe see the 177 for more versatility, but in the past have found that sizing down with my height resulted in a bit less fore and aft support than desired in chop — which is about all I get at Mt. Hood Meadows after the Hour of Powder.

    Leaning heavily toward an M88 and Kore 117 this season.


    • Hey, Tom, I’m going to field this one. Brian and I are both around 5’10”, 175 lbs, and I’d say that at your height / weight — *and especially given that you already skied and loved the 184 * I wouldn’t encourage you to drop down to the 177 unless:

      (1) You really want a “carvier” ski. And you might, given that you called the 184 a bit “lazy.” I think this is where Brian and I have a bit of a difference in terms of personal preference (and you might be more on Team Brian — even if he’s an analogy stealer). I think Brian already explained well the turn initiation of the 177s, and this is even more true of the 184s. But for me, I don’t mind this at all — and it is a key reason why I (personally) prefer the Monster 88, 98, and 108 in a 184 for hard and fast off-piste skiing. As Brian wrote, I don’t want to feel like my skis are overly eager to hook up in variable terrain / conditions when I don’t want them to.

      And if there is a penalty to be paid here, it’s when you get the 184s on groomers. There’s no question (and no surprise) that the 177s are a bit quicker while still offering quite a lot of stability. Then again, I personally prefer to make very big, very fast turns on groomers, so longer length + ton of stability + not-instant turn initiation is something I don’t mind — really at all. High-angle, drawn-out, GS turns. At mountains where the groomers are long enough and wide enough (and uncrowded enough) to let the skis run, this is super fun. On shorter-vert / narrow groomers, it might just be frustrating.

      (2) You regularly ski tons of big moguls with tight troughs. Again, Brian spoke well about why he likes the 177s in tight situations, and I don’t disagree with him. But in big-mountain, off-piste terrain, again, I prefer the longer, bigger sidecut Monsters (see point #1).

      Anyway, hope that helps. Oh, and I think a Monster 88 (or Monster 98) + a Kore 117 could make for a pretty nice 2-ski quiver…

      • Jonathan,
        These threads on ski length really are helpful. After talking with the guys at my local ski shop in Reno about the 177 vs the 170, I went with the 170cm in the Monster 88. I’m 5’8″ 148lbs. If you at 5’10” 175lbs are happy with the 177cm that tells me a lot. You are my bench mark, generally what size you go with, I go down a size and it works. Blister/Pro 184cm, is perfect for me. Plus, your groomer analogy was spot on as far as trail width and crowds. Mt Rose, my local hill in Reno gets like Grand Central Station on the weekends and I’m playing slalom with the slower skiers and some narrow trails. Plus throw in some moguls and tons of trees off trail. Should be on the new skis in a few days.

    • Tom, I have last years monster in a 177 because I was looking for more of a carver- have plenty of longer bigger skis. But I’m 5’10” 168lbs. They’re really great everywhere on no new snow days- bumps, trees, and steeps. Personally , I like something a little wider when there’s fresh snow. Speaking of which, if you’re really thinking of a 2 ski quiver, that’s a big gap imo. Maybe something 105-110 would be more versatile for smaller amounts of new snow. Or go monster 98 and kore 117. Just some thoughts.

  5. I look at this ski and think “2 ski resort quiver with Bibby Pros”. I’m a 6’0″ 230ish Montana skier. Probably would go 184 as i’m on Rossi E100’s 182 now and they occasionally feel short.

  6. Hi, great review! Even if you say the differences are subtle in the new version of this ski reading this review and the first look/comments on last years version gives the impression that the new one is more versatile and a better ski off-piste. I’m intrigued!

    I currently spend a lot of my time on the 186 Tahoe, and I get along with that ski pretty well. I do most of my skiing at Marmot Basin in the north east Rockies, we don’t get a ton of snow, and pow days are usually just a few inches. Even though I like the Tahoe (I’m 5’11”, 195 lbs), I’d like to have something that performs better on groomers and hard pack/ice when it hasn’t snowed in a couple of weeks but is also fun in the bumps and trees. It sounds like the Monster 88 might be a good choice. I did ski the X-drive 8.8 184 last year, and I liked it but found that I wanted something that would be a bit quicker to initiate and more willing to make shorter turns–I found the X-drive to really want to make big turns/straight lines in that length. I think the 177 Monster 88 might give me what I want based on your comments on sizing above.

    It might be nice to see a deep dive comparing skis around this width with a particular emphasis on which are more suited to front side carving, and which can do real double duty on and off-piste as an all mountain ski in areas that tend to get a bit less snow. Here are a few ideas: Monster 88, Pro Mtn 86 Ti, Ranger 90 Ti, Kore 93, Enforcer 93, Brahma, Wren 88, Experience 88 HD.


  7. HI, when can we expect the follow up comparing the 184 and 177. I am torn between the two lengths. I am aware of a lot of skiers mounting them +1 as the tails are a little short, what do you think?

  8. I’m thinking of getting these since I can get a great deal. My only question is size. I’m 140 lbs, 5-7 and 65 years old. I’m somewhere between advanced and expert level since I’m not quite as aggressive as I used to be. But I can pretty much ski anywhere. So, 163 or 170? My other skis are Fischer Big Stix 100 in a 163. Thanks.

      • I realized after posting that my Fischer’s are 166, not that 3cm is anything huge. Also, I see here and elsewhere people are mounting these +1 to +5 forward of factory. Any comments about that with a shorter length?

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