2017-2018 Head Monster 88

Brian Lindahl’s Review of the 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

Boots / Bindings: Tecnica Cochise Pro 130 / Head AAAttack² 13 AT

Test Location: Arapahoe Basin, CO

Days Skied (Brian Lindahl & Jonathan Ellsworth): 6

Quick Intro

We’ll get to the on-snow performance in just a second, but first, a couple quick things:

Flex Pattern — 16/17 vs. 17/18 Monster 88

As Jonathan mentioned in his First Look, the flex pattern of the 17/18 Monster 88 is extremely similar to the 16/17 Monster 88. He summed up a hand flex of the ski like this:

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

It’s a fairly consistent stiff flex, and I wholeheartedly agree with Jonathan when he says, “if you’re going to make a ski with a ‘stiff’ flex pattern, make it like this.”

Tip Rocker

In Jonathan’s First Look at the previous 16/17 Head Monster 88, he was quick to point out that the ski essentially has no tip rocker. But with the 17/18 Monster 88, this is no longer the case. In fact, Jonathan and I were both quite surprised to find that the new Monster 88 had a deeper tip rocker line than the new Head Monster 108.

Having said that, the tip rocker line and tip splay on the Monster 88 is still quite minimal, and when it comes to carving on firm snow, I think you’d be hard pressed to notice it. In other words, the new rocker profile only seems to bring more versatility to the table — which is a good thing. And, we’ll say more about that later.


While the 17/18 Monster 88 now has a touch of tip rocker, it most definitely still rips groomers. Lay it over and you’ll still feel the full effective edge of the ski biting into the snow. The tip rocker essentially disappears and works well with the flex pattern to create a very solid platform at high edge angles.

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

And regardless of the condition of the groomers, the Monster 88 maintains a smooth, stable, and damp feel and allows you to completely ignore line choice (kind of like a plush, full-suspension mountain bike). While this characteristic can feel rather one-dimensional on groomers (or on flat, dirt roads if we continue with the mountain bike analogy), the Monster 88 isn’t quite as devoid of energy through the turn as the Monster 108 — you certainly don’t have to be as heavy, or be going as fast to bend the Monster 88 into a shorter radius turn and receive some energy from the tail of the ski. But the 177 cm Monster 88 definitely doesn’t offer the thrilling ride that a slalom ski will.

Having said that, those who prefer GS turns will be quite pleased, and this is even more true when talking about the 184 cm Monster 88.

Firm and Variable Snow

Whether skiing high on edge or running bases flat, the Monster 88 does an excellent job of soaking up surface irregularities and holding its line. While it does have a shorter sidecut radius than its wider brother, the Monster 108, it still has that same smooth turn initiation that won’t pull you across the fall line when you don’t want it to. So, while you might be making more turns down a wide open face, you’ll still have that familiar smooth and damp feel that inspires the confidence to ski even faster.

(To be clear here, those who prefer or are simply accustomed to the instant turn initiation of more slalom-oriented skis may complain that the turn initiation of the Monster 88 is too slow or too delayed. We would counter that, in variable, off-piste conditions, the immediate turn initiation of a slalom ski is pretty terrifying and a detriment to fast, safe, off-piste skiing.)

We were pleasantly surprised to find that when throwing the Monster 88 sideways to scrub speed, there was a smooth, familiar feel. The first thing to say is that the Monster 88 was more willing to be thrown sideways than one might expect, and then second, as with the Monster 108, there is very little chatter to micromanage.

Moguls, Trees, and Tight Terrain

Unlike the 184 cm Monster 108 (which can be a handful in big moguls and tighter terrain), the 177 cm Monster 88 is actually well suited for moguls, trees, and chutes. Some of this was due, no doubt, to the shorter length (177 cm vs. 184 cm), but I can confidently say that’s not the full story. The tighter sidecut radius of the Monster 88 was quite noticeable, and, as smooth and damp as the Monster 88 was when scrubbing speed and throwing it sideways, it also felt quite comfortable digging deep into a quick carve to change directions. And this versatility opens up more options for moving through tighter terrain.

While there are certainly easier skis of this width that have a more forgiving and laid-back nature through tighter terrain (e.g, the Liberty Origin 90, and the discontinued Fischer Motive 86Ti), the Monster 88 isn’t as punishing in big bumps and tight terrain as the (longer and wider) Monster 108 can be.


The Monster 88 isn’t a powder ski, and while the 17/18 Monster 88 might work slightly better in deep snow than the 16/17 Monster 88, the primary thing to say here is that … this still isn’t a powder ski.

Having said that, I did get the Monster 88 in 4” of fresh snow in April, over a very firm and variable base. There were also deeper pockets of wind-deposited snow, and I have to say that I found the Monster 88 to be quite competent. The stiffness through its shovel allowed it to bust through the snow, and its touch of tip rocker would allow it to (slowly) rise to the surface.

Furthermore — and this might be the most important thing to say: the smooth and damp nature of the Monster 88 made the extremely harsh base completely tolerable. So if your “powder days” don’t tend to be too deep, then it can be nice to have a ski that doesn’t fold in half when you’re dealing with unseen bumps or patches of refrozen snow.

And even in deeper snow, if you prefer to blast through powder in hard carves, then I don’t think you’d be hating life despite being on a ski that’s only 88 mm wide.

Soft Chop

This is where the Monster 88 surprised me. As the 4” (and deeper pockets) of fresh snow began to get cut up, the ski only performed better. It transported me back in time to the days before fat skis, where you had to turn up the speed, get forceful with your turns, and blast through the clumps of snow — no surfing or playing allowed (or required).

After a few runs, I went down to the lodge and swapped out the Monster 88s for the Monster 108, and to my surprise, the 108s didn’t offer much over the Monster 88 in these conditions. Both skis like to cut through soft snow, and both do a great job at smoothing out the ride. I would be hard pressed to say that I was skiing much faster — or with more confidence — on the Monster 108, which is pretty impressive. In the deepest of pockets, the Monster 108 wouldn’t get hung up quite as much, but in ~ 4 inches of snow, the difference was definitely not night-and-day.

16/17 Monster 88 vs. 17/18 Monster 88

When doing back-to-back comparisons between the 16/17 and 17/18 Monster 88, I found that — same as with the 16/17 vs the 17/18 Monster 108 — the differences are minimal, and indiscernible most of the time.

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

Obviously there’s a bit more tip rocker on the new Monster 88, but the on-snow performance is very, very similar. The only caveat here is that I never got the 16/17 Monster 88 out in fresh snow, however, so I’ll add a revision to this if I notice a difference during the upcoming season. Because if there is going to be a “most noticeable” difference it would be in deeper snow.

Who’s It For?

Like the Monster 108, the Monster 88 shines in firm and variable snow. So if you like to ski fast, are a solid advanced-to-expert skier, and are drawn to the impressive top-end of the Monster 108 for wide-open firm and variable conditions, but tend to ski (or enjoy) a lot of tighter and trickier terrain as well, the Monster 88 would be an excellent alternative for when the morning snow report is a little underwhelming — and let’s face it, that happens a lot.

Sizing Recommendation — 177 cm vs 184 cm Monster 88?

So far, I have spent all of my time on the 177 cm Monster 88, but I personally am not that tempted to bump up to the 184; I really like the mix of length, stability, and quickness of the 177.

Still, I will be getting on the 184 Monster 88 in the early season, and will offer more direct comparisons between the 177 and the 184.

Jonathan will be talking more about sizing w/r/t this Monster series of skis in his upcoming review of the Monster 98, but for the Monster 88, our recommendation is not to size up. In this narrower width, you still get good stability out of the 177 cm model, while also getting a ski that works well in moguls and tight spaces.

Bottom Line

The Head Monster 88 is more versatile than you might imagine. It’s not simply made for carving at high speeds down a groomer; it’s great at that, but it’s also more of an off-piste destroyer than its width might suggest, while still being quite competent in tighter terrain. You’ll still need some solid skills and strength to get the most out of it, but its smooth stability is reminiscent of the Monster 108, with the additional benefit of still being quite capable in tighter terrain.

NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics

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?

Leave a Comment