Update: 2014-2015 4FRNT Hoji

Jason Hutchins reviews the 4FRNT Hoji, Blister Gear Review
14/15 4FRNT Hoji

Ski: 2014-2015 4FRNT Hoji, 187cm

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 185cm

Dimensions (mm): 130-112-121

Effective Edge Length: 112cm

Sidecut Radius: 30 meters

Weight Per Ski: 4.9 lbs.

Boots / Bindings: Nordica Enforcer 28.5 / 4FRNT Deadbolt (DIN) 13

Mount Location: Factory Recommended Line

Test Location: Alta Ski Area

Days Skied: 12

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Hoji, which is unchanged for 13/14 and 14/15, except for the graphics.]

The 4FRNT Hoji made quite a first impression on me while in Japan (which you can read about in my initial Hoji review). For the conditions and terrain we were skiing nearly every day, the Hoji was one of my favorites of the trip because of its uniqueness. In 2-12 inches of fresh snow and mellow but super playful terrain, I found the Hojis to be light and dynamic. They loved to stay pointed down the hill while bouncing in and out of the snow, blowing through soft pillows for speed control. They also felt equally at home breaking into a nice smear as a means to keep speed in check.

After the Niseko trip I really wanted to get more time on the Hoji, so I  brought it back to Alta to see how it would do in a larger variety of snow conditions and some steeper terrain.

After spending quite a bit more time on the ski, I still feel like the Hoji is definitely a ski that offers a unique feeling on the hill. I wouldn’t be willing to make this the only ski in my shed, but it would definitely make a great addition to certain quivers.

4FRNT Hoji Tip Rocker, Blister Gear Review
4FRNT Hoji Tip Rocker.

As I pointed out in my initial review, the Hoji has a continuous full-length rocker, which is the same radius as the turning sidecut. While this aggressive rocker profile contributes to the Hoji’s exceptional attributes in soft snow, it leads to some interesting characteristics when the snow firms up. When using a low edge angle while smearing down bumpy and hard conditions, it was difficult to find a sweet spot to stand on, as the skis felt kind of like a rocking chair. I did find the trick to skiing these firmer conditions was to use a higher, more aggressive edge to engage more of the ski’s sidecut, and to stay balanced and strong over a spot just in front of the toe piece. Too far forward and the soft shovels would start to get overwhelmed; a more upright stance led to too many instances caught in the back seat.

Luckily, not all the ski days this season were on firm snow, and I did take the Hoji out on a few small storm days, which turned into chopped-up mega-crud days. I found the Hoji to be the most in its element when the snow was fresh, or slightly cut up. In smaller doses of untracked pow (1-12 inches), the Hoji was truly exceptional, in all terrain.

4FRNT Hoji, Blister Gear Review
Jason Hutchins, Wildcat Bowl, Alta Ski Area.

Taking the ski down Eagle’s Nest was a high-speed blast full of smears, quick and light turns, and solid landings to airs. Since I talked mostly about powder skiing in the initial review, however, I don’t need to elaborate much here. If it’s soft, the Hoji kills it.

What I didn’t get to see a lot of in Japan was steep terrain that had been skied hard, going from pow to crud to bumps. The Hoji didn’t feel like it was in its ideal environment here. The soft shovels and large continuous rocker led to a bit of a balancing chore, and several instances of being thrown back onto the tail of the ski. One good thing in this case, though, is that the Hoji does have a fairly strong tail, so when I did get tossed back, it wasn’t into the abyss. The strong tails also offered a nice extension to the landing platform when hitting sizable airs.

When warming up or cooling down on groomers, the Hoji gave a smooth and predicable carve with a little instability when going slowly from edge to edge. If you transition quickly, there is little to notice, but move a bit slower and, again, the large, full-length rocker contributes to some unpredictable behavior. Edge hold was fair, but let’s face it, this ski is not intended for much groomer action.

4FRNT Hoji Tail Rocker, Blister Gear Review
4FRNT Hoji Tail Rocker.

Unfortunately with my busy schedule and some lackluster backcountry conditions, I didn’t get to take the Hoji on any tours. That’s hugely unfortunate because, as I mentioned in my initial review, I do feel like this would be an outstanding backcountry tool. The ski is very light, and the aggressive rocker would handle variable soft snow conditions extremely well. 4FRNT also placed an ingenious strip of rubber on the tail of the ski that you can notch out to keep your skins from falling off, and also protects the tail of the ski from any impact. Of all the skis I’ve tested this season, the Hoji is one of my top picks to have as my primary backcountry ski. Keep in mind, though, if the skin track or parts of your descent are going to be super firm, you will probably want to choose a ski with much less rocker.

To wrap this up, if you are looking to add to your quiver a ski that will give you a new way to attack the mountain, the Hoji could be for you. If you ski much firm snow, whether flat or bumped up, I’d suggest not making the Hoji your only ski. The Hoji loves to fly down the mountain in soft snow, bouncing from turn to turn or smearing down the super steep. It’s super light, is unbelievably responsive in shallow pow, and will rip through soft crud and crusts. I really liked the Hoji. It’s not a one-ski quiver, but it is a blast when conditions are soft.

13 thoughts on “Update: 2014-2015 4FRNT Hoji”

  1. Thanks for the good review! I have been looking forward to the Update for weeks!

    Could you compare the hoji with the good old Rossignol Sickle?
    Especially the comparison of their soft snow performance (Powder and cut up) would be very interesting!

  2. How does this ski perform in deeper snow? You’ve mentioned it’s ideal in 2-12″ of fresh, but it’s pretty common for us to get get over 12″ of lighter snow here, how do you think the hoji’s would hold up?

    • With some speed the Hoji does o.k. in deeper pow. I wouldn’t be hesitant to size up as well if it’s going to be your pow ski. The 187 felt small, light, and ultra maneuverable. As I mention in the review, the ski performs best when pointing straight down the hill, turning side-to-side very little, and porpoising in and out of the snow. Again, watch Hoji (the man) ski and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

      If you are constantly skiing deeper snow you might consider the Renegade for more float combined with that fast, active, fall line skiing.

  3. “After spending quite a bit more time on the ski, I still feel like the Hoji is definitely a ski that offers a unique feeling on the hill. I wouldn’t be willing to make this the only ski in my shed, but it would definitely make a great addition to certain quivers.”

    In your opinion, what would be the best ski/s to combine with the Hoji?
    Im asking because i allready have got a 192cm Atomic Bent Chetler, 183 Atomic Blog and a 184 völkl Katana.
    The reason why I´m interested in the Hoji to round out my quiver is because i love the feeling of my Atomics, which do favor exactly the riding style you mention in your review. Sadly my Blog is showing some heavy wear and tear and thats where the Hoji comes in.
    Do you think in a quiver with the Bent Chetler and Katana the Hoji would make a good fit?
    Basically I´m hoping for the Hoji to function as a more stable (little stiffer) Blog for those days when I´m just to lazy to ride the Katana.
    Or is the Hoji too much of a pow-ski to work as a all-conditions workhorse and there would be overlap with the Bent Chetler?

  4. Skied the 196″ in 6 inches of powder with frozen tundra underneath at Mt Hoot last sunday. Really liked the ski.. Carves long GS angulated turns in powder if you want, but can make quick turns if need be. I couldn’t imagine being on anything shorter than the 196. It skis short and is light. 6ft 190lbs

    Ski was more predicable hooking up on groomers than I thought it would be

    I’ve had two other wide skis.

    6 year old 195 dynaster xxl pro – No rocker – way to much ski and felt planky
    196 super 7- very grabby at speed in pow. Was disapointed with it.

    If anyone wants them for cheap- let me know-my wife is sick of looking at them

    Ended up buying the 195 Hoji’s for powder and backcountry with a Marker Tour 12.

    • Hi Bob,

      Just wondering, did you ski the 187s as well as the 195s? If so, how did they compare?

      I skied the 87s this year and fell in love with them. I’m 6ft, 80kg and a aggressive technical skier. I’m used to 190-something skis – currently have the AK-JJs, but have fallen out of love with them. So I’m not sure which size of the Hojis to buy, I want to buy the 195s but I don’t want to ruin the ski fell in love with at 186 because of going too long.

      Thoughts?

      P.S. I’m looking at picking up some 195 Renengades too for the deep days. Then the Hojis will be my every day ski.

  5. I spent the day on these today and you guys pretty much nailed the review. They’re exceptionally unique in soft snow but uncomfortable to downright terrifying on hard conditions. I’m conflicted because I found them to be so perfect to me in the pow, but I’m not sure if they’re a ski I can justify owning due to their shortcomings in versatility.

    Have you guys come across any other skis that porpoise like a Hoji but have a bit more purchase on edge? I LOVED the tapered tips and tails, which don’t stupidly deflect and over-float with respect to the ski’s waist.

    Maybe I just need to accept that not every ski is going to do it all and aim for a quiver of skis with varied strengths, but at a place like Whistler with such a variety of conditions and terrain encountered on a given day, that’s a tough prospect.

  6. Can you do an update on this ski? I am hearing that it is not unchanged for the 2013/2014 season, but I am also hearing that they made them 15% stiffer. Could this help in the crud? I am also very interested in the 195 length. I hope others are as well. I really trust what Blister has to say.

  7. I have the 195’s mounted with dynafit radical FT’s as my touring setup. I could not be more pleased with their performance, they are easily the most playful, fun, easy to turn ski I’ve ever been on in soft snow. In my mind, the perfect tool for backcountry skiing. However, the few times I have skied them at the resort I thought they were overly soft and got deflected easily in the chop. Inbounds, I ski on both the Renegades (196) and the Rossignol RC 112’s (198), which I find to be much better suited to charging the variable conditions at the resort.

    6’3″ 190 lbs.

  8. Hi Jason,
    I enjoyed your review…I just ordered the Sego Prospect 120 and Prospect 112 . They are similar to the Hoji shape wise, reverse camber – stiffer though .
    I hope Blister gets some reviews on Sego products….they have the best women’s line of skis bar none….and their 17/18 frontside.lineup is a stunning offering. They have power skis for ripping groomers and partial or full swallow tail powDer skis. All made in Idaho which is nice.

    Thanks Guy

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