Confession: Blister managing editor, Luke Koppa, and I already thought we’d published a Flash Review of the 18/19 Wrenegade 108. So while that might be evidence that we’re both losing our minds, it actually feels like I’ve been writing about the Wrenegade 108 all spring. Because in a way, we have. To recap:
- We’ve posted a First Look and Flash Review of the 18/19 Wrenegade 114.
- We’ve posted a Flash Review of the 18/19 Wrenegade 96.
- I posted a Flash Review of the 188 cm Prior Husume vs. the 189 cm Wrenegade 108.
So I guess this is maybe a good time to issue the reminder that, if you’re looking for information on a ski, it might be a good idea to become a Blister member to check out all of our Flash Reviews, and, even if we haven’t yet posted a Flash Review, Blister members can always email us directly to ask questions about a ski you might have your eye on.
But anyway, time now to officially weigh in on the new Wrenegade 108 — in both the 189 cm and 184 cm lengths. I’m going to be talking mostly about the 189 cm Wren 108 here, but I’ll then finish with comparisons to the 184 cm length.
Heavy, Wet, Difficult Snow
One day this past spring at Silverton, Colorado, I learned a lot about the 189 cm Wren 108. The snow was heavy, wet, and pretty grabby — not like, “I think I’m going to blow my ACLs on each turn grabby,” but this was difficult snow. Everyone in our crew was commenting on how difficult and tiring the conditions were, and they were right. But if you asked me what ski I would have rather been on than the Wrenegade 108 in this stuff, not too many skis immediately come to mind.
In such snow, the ski design qualities I’m most interested in — in this order — are:
(1) Lots of tip and tail rocker to help the ski release more easily in grabby conditions.
(2) Minimal traditional camber underfoot, or preferably, zero traditional camber underfoot, for the same reason as (1).
(3) Weight. I want a heavier ski to help plow through this stuff.
(4) Minimal sidecut. More sidecut means that the ski will feel more inclined to turn — and overturn — in such conditions.
And the 189 cm Wrenegade 108 ticks all of those boxes.
But honestly, on that particular day at Silverton, I think the 184 or 189 cm ON3P Billy Goat could have also been a good choice, since the BG’s tail taper would have made its tail easier to release than the Wrenegade 108’s (and the Wrenegade 114, for that matter).
Quasi-Tangent: One question I had that day: Would the 186 cm ON3P Kartel 108 have fared even better? Quite possibly, especially since the Kartel 108 has way more tail splay than the Wren 108 — 68 mm vs. 31 mm. And in those grabby, heavy, wet conditions, the day wasn’t about skiing really hard and fast, and I think the Kartel 108’s more centered mount point might have created a bigger sweet spot than the 189 cm Wrenegade 108 has.
To be clear, I think it is easy to be balanced on the Wren 108, but the 18/19, 189 cm Wren 108 certainly feels like it has a more serious tail on it than the 17/18, 184 cm Wrenegade 108 we skied.
To be even clearer, I would not call the tail of the 189 cm Wren 108 particularly punishing. Rather, that 17/18 184 Wren 108 was just really forgiving and easy. The 189 cm Wren 108 is a bit less so. But anybody who actually should be on a pretty big ski like the 189 cm Wren 108 ought to be able to handle its tail just fine.
Q: Would the Wrenegade 108 work well as Resort Pow Ski?
Yes. Very well.
Over the past six or seven years, we’ve reviewed enough ON3P skis that I think it’s safe to make this generalization: ON3P skis are typically going to punch above their width when it comes to their deep-snow performance.
And many ON3P skis — including the 189 cm Wrenegade 108 — have a deep tip rocker line and more tip splay than most of their direct competitors, so I am not worried about the Wren 108 submarining in deep snow.
The obvious caveats here are that if you are skiing deep snow on really low-angle terrain and / or tight trees, the 189 cm Wrenegade 108 is going to be more cumbersome than a ski like the 188 cm Rossi Soul 7 or Salomon QST 106. But duh. And the final obvious caveat is that if you really tend to stick to slower and moderate speeds, than you really shouldn’t be on the 189 cm Wrenegade 108. It will almost certainly be more ski than you want or need.
But in very deep, light pow at Telluride, I definitely did not need to be on a wider ski.
Slush / Softer Chop / Softer, Variable Snow
While the Wrenegade 108 is going to offer excellent flotation for a 108mm-wide ski, where it truly shines is in soft chop and softer, variable snow, because that’s where the backbone of this ski comes into play. And in the slushy, isothermal spring snow at A-Basin, the Wrenegade 108 felt pretty ideal mobbing down A-Basin’s more open terrain.
Soft chop, soft variable, anything soft, or anything deep. This ski feels very comfortable.
Firm / Firmer Variable Snow
I didn’t get the Wrenegade 108 out on any really difficult firm snow (e.g., refrozen coral reef), but I think the main thing I can offer is that I believe this ski will still feel okay on that stuff, but skis that have (a) a bit less tip & tail rocker might feel like they have a bigger sweet spot to stand on, and (b) some skis (though not all skis) with metal might stay a bit quieter / more composed on really awful, chunky, frozen snow.
Which provides a pretty natural segue into the next section:
Stability / Suspension
Overall, I’d say that the Wren 108 offers really nice suspension. But at very high speeds, I wouldn’t say that the Wren 108 stays as composed as some of the most inherently-stable skis in this category.
But this is where things get a little complex: a ski can offer excellent stability, but fairly poor suspension. And in general, if I personally had to choose, I’d prefer a ski that offers excellent suspension and (only) good or decent stability. Because such skis tend to be less punishing of mistakes, and when skiing very hard and fast, shit happens. And skis that allow you to more easily recover from mistakes rather than punish them, well those are skis that I am more willing to push hard with confidence. And that’s pretty much how I’d categorize the 189 cm Wrenegade 108. It doesn’t have the inherent stability / composure of, say, a 184 cm HEAD Monster 108. At speed and in rougher terrain, the shovels of the Wren 108 would undulate quite a bit — more than I’d expect given how stable the ski feels. In other words, the Wrenegade 108 is not a super-stiff 2×4. I could push it quite hard, and I’ve yet to really need more stability than it affords. But skis like the old 191 cm metal Katana stayed quieter through the shovels.
That said, I’d be pretty surprised if there were too many skiers out there who felt like they simply needed far more ski than the 189 cm Wrenegade 108. If you are truly nuking, then you might need to adopt a more active, dynamic style of skiing sooner than you would on a 191 metal Katana or HEAD Monster 108. But again, the positive to all of this is that the Wrenegade 108 is a pretty strong ski, but not a very punishing ski. And it also works fairly well at low speeds, and better than some of the more maximum-stability skis out there.
Still, nobody ought to be considering a 189 cm Wrenegade 108 who worries a lot about getting too tired to ski the afternoon. The 189 cm Wrenegade 108 is a pretty easy ski for how big it is, but there are a ton of skis on the market that are lighter and designed to work better at slow and mellow speeds. The Wrenegade 108 is okay-to-fine at doing “moderate,” but it’s still a pretty big gun that wasn’t really intended for noodling around.
That said, even in variable snow or in well-spaced moguls, I’ve found the 189 cm Wren 108 to be plenty maneuverable for a ski of this size. Slow down a bit, and this ski is relatively easy to pivot through moguls. Or don’t slow down, and just be prepared to work since this ski doesn’t have some really low swing weight (which, for the record, I don’t want my variable-conditions charger to have, since skis with low swing weights tend to deflect more / be more twitchy).
In tight bumps, however, I personally tend to get back on my heels and take more of a zipper-line approach. And when doing so, I certainly noticed the stronger tail of the Wren 108. The previous iteration of the ski (at least the 184 cm length we reviewed) didn’t mind if you were hanging out in the backseat. This current version is less accommodating of backseat skiing.
Another question that has come up is how loose or locked-in this ski feels? Well, I wouldn’t call it all that loose — the tails on both the Wren 108 and Wren 114 feel fairly flat and wide, and perhaps now more than on the previous iteration of the Wren 108, I feel like there is a more noticeable difference between the Wren 108 and the ON3P Billy Goat in terms of looseness. I.e., compared to the Billy Goat, the Wren 108 feels a good bit more locked-in. So if you really value looseness / pivotability, I think you have more reason than ever to consider the Billy Goat over the Wren 108 or Wren 114.
But I also believe you could adjust the tune of the Wren 108 — lightly, and especially at the tail, to loosen it up a bit. Personally, I’m going to leave it as is, and I haven’t messed with the factory tune at all. For a directional, big-mountain ski like this, I don’t want it to feel too locked in or too loose, and I feel like ON3P nailed this performance balance.
189 cm Wrenegade 108 vs. 184 cm Wrenegade 108
So what about the 184 Wren 108? Well some of this is probably going to sound pretty obvious, but this is what I can now verify, having spent time skiing both skis back-to-back this spring:
The 184 cm Wren 108 feels notably lighter, notably quicker, and definitely has a lower swing weight. It is also noticeably easier in moguls, and if I spent all my time skiing in tight terrain (or moguls) and didn’t have much of an opportunity to really open things up, then the less reason there might be to go for the 189. I could ski the 184 Wren 108 all day in moguls. I wouldn’t want to do that on the 189.
The other factor here is that the 184 is noticeably less stable than the 189, and I think this is going to be another big factor to consider. If you don’t tend to look for or require big-time / best-in-class stability out of your skis, then I would encourage you to consider the 184 Wren 108. Personally, when dropping down to the 184 Wren 108, I missed having a bit more ski out in front of me.
I also really like how the 189 cm Wren 108 carves, and how stable it feels on roughed-up groomers. But for those who just want something very manageable on groomers, the 184 cm Wren 108 will be just fine.
Big, strong skiers shouldn’t shy away from the 189. And if you are truly looking for a very (inherently) stable ski, I’d say that, unless you are sub-150 lbs., you need to go 189 over the 184. But again, if you ski at an area where you rarely are able to open things up, and instead spend more time in tighter moguls, tight trees, etc (or you just don’t tend to really ski flat-out) the 184 is likely the right call. (This is definitely another one of those “Know Thyself” moments.)
I also suspect that those coming from lighter, less substantial skis will get along pretty well with the bump up to the 184 Wren 108. It is not hard to smear around, and it isn’t a ski that punishes mistakes.
In sum regarding length: in my First Look, I said that if you are on the fence between sizing, you should “go UP.” Having now skied both skis, I’d qualify that a bit. I’d really only go up if you know that you prefer skis with big top ends. If you aren’t sure, you’ll likely have more fun on the 184. And if you do need a considerable top end, then I think you’ll probably want to go 189. (And we’ll flesh some of this out further in our upcoming Deep Dive Comparisons article.)
We said of the 184 cm Wrenegade 108 that it was the easiest ski in our all-mountain charger category. And while I would still say of the 189 cm Wrenegade 108 that it is a pretty easy ski for how heavy and big it is, the most significant difference I notice is in its more powerful tail. And re: the 184 cm Wren 108, it is definitely not now some demanding beast. But it is a bit stronger than the previous 184, and I think that, for a ski like this, adding a little bit more backbone was a good call.
Anyone looking for a directional ski that offers good stability, very good suspension, and outstanding deep-snow performance ought to consider the Wrenegade 108. It wouldn’t be the first ski we’d reach for if you are mostly going to be dealing with very firm, icy, or refrozen conditions, but in anything soft, deep chop, or very deep powder, the Wrenegade 108 is an easy ski to recommend.
Deep Dive Comparisons: 184 cm & 189 cm ON3P Wrenegade 108
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber and check out our Deep Dive of the Wrenegade 108 to see how it stacks up against the Blizzard Cochise, Nordica Enforcer 110, Faction Dictator 3.0 & Dictator 4.0, J Skis Metal, Prior Husume, Folsom Primary, and Folsom Hammer.
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