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Nordica Hell n' Back and Steadfast review

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Quick Review: Nordica Hell n' Back 177cm, Nordica Steadfast 178cm

Conditions: 4-6" of light crud over groomers, soft bumps, icy bumps, skied out trees, and some grippier groomers

Skier: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, 34 y/o, primary sport is bike racing, skis 25-40 days a year, decent skill wise, can ski most anything, prefer off-piste steeps, bumps, trees, wide-open terrain.

Time used: 2-3 runs per ski

Preferred gear: Stockli Cross SX, Kastle MX78/MX83, Head Rock n' Roll, Kastle BMX98, Kastle FX94, Head Inferno, Elan 1010, Blizzard Magnum 8.5ti, Blizzard Cochise, Kastle BMX128

 

got a quick demo on these 2 skis last month.  Very similar in feel.  Just a quick run-down, as I wasn't on them for very long. 

 

Hell n' Back: 98mm underfoot, 19m radius, rockered tip, slightly raised tail, no metal

 

First off, this ski jumps out at you as a real powerhouse.  There is no better 177cm "go fast" ski I have found for hard snow and groomers in this width. Simply outstanding as a carver; I haven't found a 98mm ski that really even comes close for someone looking to ski their wider skis like a race ski.  Just lay it over, tip that inside foot, load up the outside leg, and power across the hill. Holy cow!  Very impressive.  Same goes for crud in bigger turns at speed.  No speed limit, insane stability for a fairly short 177cm ski. Handles the roughest snow with ease. 

 

Bumps and tight spaces: this is where things got interesting. I had been skiing slightly softer skis most of the day prior to this, and definitely struggled on this ski in the bumps.  It just felt really underdamped in bumps, and hard to control. I was getting pushed around more than I would like, and feeling a bit back on my heels. I could ski it, but had to really focus, and did struggle to recover from my mistakes.  In trees, it was a little stout. I could ski it, but wasn't as forgiving, as say, the Elan 999 which I had also skied (and had similar performance, but not the groomer zip).  I did think it was a lot of work; the tail just felt super substantial. This is a ski I would consider buying if I was staying out of the bumps; for bumps and trees, I would opt for something a little softer (like a 999 or Kastle BMX98) that wasn't quite as much fun on groomers, but more forgiving in the bumps. Those aren't as much fun on hard snow groomers, though, so it is all about trade-offs. 

 

Steadfast: 90mm underfoot, 178cm length, 18m radius

 

Review: take what I said about the Hell n' Back, and shrink the waist width down to 90mm.  Very similar skis, very similar pros and cons.  Best ski I have ever been on for groomers in 90mm width, bar none. There is nothing that I have tried, at least, that matches the groomer power of this ski. Such a strong, powerful tail.  Length is spot on for a guy my size. Just blasts you out of the turn.  Wicked edge grip.  Great groomer ski.  Solid at speed in crud: again, a bit underdamped, but I could stay on top of it easily enough.  

 

Into bumps; things again got interesting.  You can take what I wrote above, and paste it here.  I found this ski to be a handful in bumps.  Kevin liked it, but also commented that the tail was stronger than he would like for steep bump skiing. Just felt like it was loading prematurely and making me try to always catch up with the ski.  

 

Crudbusting on these is a hoot as well.  No speed limit,  Just a very powerful, aggressive ski.  That is why it doesn't really surprise me that it is not a great bump ski, nor that it is pushing me around in challenging terrain.  Tough to make a powerful ski that loads well, and has a small sweet spot, yet make it forgiving and non-aggressive when the terrain is challenging. 

 

Feel of both of these: neither have metal, and neither are very damp. Both are lively, powerful, like driving a very tightly wound track-worthy, but street-legal sportscar.  Felt more like the Volkl Mantra and Kendo that most skis I tried (but with tighter feeling arcs, less GS in feel). They had that similar light, snappy feel, although the Nordicas were a bit smoother than the Volkl setups; more quiet and grounded, but not excessively so. 

 

Conclusion: very high performance boards for the right skier.  I didn't find them as versatile as I would like, but they  were exceedingly good at fast, powerful skiing. If I was looking for a wider ski that had to do dual groomer duty, and bumps weren't in the picture, I would be all over these models. 

Full selection of 2014 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

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post #2 of 26

Gotta say, it feels great to be validated. I summed up my experience with the H&B with a little bit of sarcasm: Dances with Buffalo. (Too) full review here. Nice to be well calibrated with someone. Friend of mine, also not a big guy, spend the same day on the Steadfast as I did on the H&B (why didn't we get out the screwdriver and switch?). He was similarly "meh", for intended use (i.e., not arcing groomers).

post #3 of 26

These skis sound a lot like the Ullr's Chariots twin tips. I would say that the chariots are great in bumps and in the steeps as well. I am a big guy, 250 lbs, so the relative stiffness is very comfortable for me (they are no where near a race ski stiffness). My buddy who is 165 lbs loves the skis just as much as I do (when he convinces me to trade).

 

Dawg, you should really try the TT chariots in 178 or 168 and make sure they have been tuned properly (not so much sharpness, but flatness and bevels).

post #4 of 26

thanks for review...am always a bit surprised that nordica doesn't get the sales or exposure it could, compared to other brands (why is this? marketing efforts, what?)...ie at whistler only one shop carries them (fanatyko) and not the steadfast ...no shops in vancouver bc, though some are ''authorized'' nordica dealers...hope it changes next yr.

 

last yr at the demo wkend at whistler before the resort closed, there were a number of tents set up: kastle, head, fischer, and nordica (among others) were all there...tried a number of skis, (motive, watea, monsters) but the nordica jetfuel series just so impressed me with their user friendly 'lock and load' edge grip....and as with all ski choices, it's very personal, of course i realize.

post #5 of 26

I always enjoy Dawg's reviews.  Never an axe to grind.  This one really highlights the difference weight can make in the perception of a ski.  I own(ed) a pair of the Steadfasts in 178, and found them very forgiving in the crud and big, soft bumps, but also kind of dull and unexciting.  But boy, they certainly rip groomers like no other 90 mm early rise ski I know of (but still nothing like a Fire Arrow 80 Pro).

 

But Dawg weighs 155 and my winter weight approaches 200.  Huge difference.  I sold my Steadfasts after a back-to-back comparison day against my trusty Nordica Enforcers.  They were more fun and energetic everywhere but the groomed, where they were still nearly as much fun as the Steadfasts.

 

Caveat:  The more skis I try, the more it becomes clear that if I like "early rise" at all, it is only in pretty darn small doses.

post #6 of 26

dawgcatching:

 

 i alway enjoy your reviews...but a question on your review of nordicas

....right after reading your review i went to your website and realize you don't sell them

https://www.dawgcatching.com/

....have you ever thought of doing so?

post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by canali View Post

dawgcatching:

 

 i alway enjoy your reviews...but a question on your review of nordicas

....right after reading your review i went to your website and realize you don't sell them

https://www.dawgcatching.com/

....have you ever thought of doing so?



Yes, we did, but they seem to target the same customer that is looking at Blizzard, so I really don't know if we would just be adding to the confusion....I have always liked their skis in general, as they seem to be geared toward skiers looking for a well performing ski. The Blizzard lineup actually feels quite similar to the Nordica lineup on the snow (as they should, being sister companies): the big difference I found is the Flipcore changes the character of the ski, for better or worse.  For example, I found the Bonafide to be much more forgiving than the Hell n' Back, easier at the tail, slarvier, and surfier in soft snow (more rise in the tip).  I found the Hell n' Back to be more powerful, more stable in crud and rough snow, a better groomer ski (lack of substantial rise helps here) and more responsive.  The overall snow feel was quite similar; the Flipcore technology seems like it has a substantial impact, though. I really like Flipcore stuff for challenging snow off-piste. For groomer skiing, I will take something w/o much early rise or rocker.  

Full selection of 2014 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

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post #8 of 26

I have difficulties understanding why the steadfast i marketed as a backcountry, let alone touring ski.

 

it is stiff, GS inspired weapon. it requires a stiff boot and a skilled driver.  i agree on the superb edge hold comment, but that's way overkill anywhere offpiste.

 

the rocker is shallow and actually inexistant at least on the pair I had. it bent up from the ground then came down again alomost as low as in a non rockered ski, making for a snow contact point very far in front of the ski that renders the rocker idea useless. nordica did not accept my warranty claim. said it was perfect. which i think is a joke. sold the pair for maybe 100 euros in mint condition. bad riddance.

 

the narrower 84mm ski, i think called burner, is good on grommers as well, but in fact also a nice ride offpiste. and it has functional rocker, though not too much by current standards.

post #9 of 26
You tried to return skis that were made as designed as a warranty claim?

Of course, everyone should demo if they can. But really, if you get a ski you're not nuts about, it's not a warranty claim. It's an opportunity to LEARN HOW TO USE A NEW TOOL. Too many people get new skis, cameras, dogs, whatever, and instead of deciding to work with them, write them off before learning how to use them.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

You tried to return skis that were made as designed as a warranty claim?

 Too many people get new skis, cameras, dogs, whatever, and instead of deciding to work with them, write them off before learning how to use them.

Spouses...

post #11 of 26

no i tried to return the ski under warranty because I hoped the virtually nonexistant and strange rocker shape would not be according to factory specs. the narrower brother (burner) has normal, proper rocker.

 

steadfast rocker is something strange where skis start to bend away from each other, then come back to almost meet again and then comes a tip shape from 1998. on the snow you cannot tell you have a rockered ski. contact point grabs just as in any non rockered ski.

 

i just don't get this construction.

 

in terms of how it skied, I had demoed the 84mm ski in that line and liked it. my idea was to order something similar, just a bit wieder. not quite.

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowdan View Post

I have difficulties understanding why the steadfast i marketed as a backcountry, let alone touring ski.

 

it is stiff, GS inspired weapon. it requires a stiff boot and a skilled driver.  i agree on the superb edge hold comment, but that's way overkill anywhere offpiste.

 

the rocker is shallow and actually inexistant at least on the pair I had. it bent up from the ground then came down again alomost as low as in a non rockered ski, making for a snow contact point very far in front of the ski that renders the rocker idea useless. nordica did not accept my warranty claim. said it was perfect. which i think is a joke. sold the pair for maybe 100 euros in mint condition. bad riddance.

 

The Steadfast is marketed as "All Mountain," not backcountry, at least that is how it is marketed in the US.  Yes, it is not a ski for beginners but "requires a stiff boot?"  I think not.  I use Dalbello Krypton Cross ID boots with the least amount of flex I can get on them which according to Dalbello is 90, hardly a stiff boot.  I weigh about 150 pounds and can bend them into whatever arc I need so I don't consider them stiff.  My Icelantic Shamans are stiffer.  The rocker on my pair is quite apparent, works extremely well and is nothing at all like you describe.  I skied almost nothing but my Steadfasts the last two seasons in just about every condition, except ice and they never let me down, except when I fooled with moving the bindings 1cm toward the tail.  I have never experienced any tendency for the tip to grab, in fact that was the major factor in deciding to buy them over the Line Prophet 90.

post #13 of 26

i have no idea what you're talking about here, i'm afraid, as per the italicized emboldened quotes...makes no sense to me at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowdan View Post

no i tried to return the ski under warranty because I hoped the virtually nonexistant and strange rocker shape would not be according to factory specs. the narrower brother (burner) has normal, proper rocker.

 

steadfast rocker is something strange where skis start to bend away from each other, then come back to almost meet again and then comes a tip shape from 1998. on the snow you cannot tell you have a rockered ski. contact point grabs just as in any non rockered ski.

 

i just don't get this construction.

 

in terms of how it skied, I had demoed the 84mm ski in that line and liked it. my idea was to order something similar, just a bit wieder. not quite.

post #14 of 26
Same here. I think we need pictures, although I think he's talking bases together, but can't tell if he's talking tip to tail or tail to tip.
post #15 of 26
They have a traditional tail, and some early tip rise... Not a load, but enough. They're nice skis, period.
post #16 of 26

The Hell & Back series is billed as "Sidecountry", not really all Mountain or Backcountry but to be the best (or worst?) combination of both. 

post #17 of 26

Quote:

Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

The Hell & Back series is billed as "Sidecountry", not really all Mountain or Backcountry but to be the best (or worst?) combination of both. 

 

RIght now on Nordica's website, they list four categories of skis; "Front," "Race," "Freeski," "All Mountain,"  and the Hell & Back series is shown under "All Mountain."  Maybe the reps are saying something else, but that's what Nordica has on their wesite.   http://shop.nordicausa.com/Collection/Skis   

post #18 of 26

yes, my description of the rocker is based on bases together. skis/bases bend away as in any rockered ski. then, for whatever reason, it bends back as if it was to create another camber. in the contact point area, bases almost touch when skis pressed together in binding area. consequently hardly and rise off the snow at contact point/end of effective edge. I found this a poor construction and this is how it skied and may have influenced my negative review of the ski. Nordica Germany insisted on the ski being perfect. Again, the ski one width step down (84mm, Burner) had normal rocker that year, skied great.

post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
 

The Hell & Back series is billed as "Sidecountry", not really all Mountain or Backcountry but to be the best (or worst?) combination of both. 

 

Calling a ski "sidecountry" is like calling a restaurant "Farm to Table". 

Full selection of 2014 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

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post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post

Calling a ski "sidecountry" is like calling a restaurant "Farm to Table". 
Google Nordica Sidecountry and you find a plethora of references to this series being referred to as Sidecountry, it has nene been in it's graphics. I have no idea of how your analogy of "farm to table" has anything to do with this.
post #21 of 26

Jeez I hate it when folks here get more pedantic than me.

 

I recall specifically that the first year Nordica marketed the Steadfast, references as a sidecountry ski. I assume because of the light weight, and their marketing group's interest in the growing fantasy by people who'd never put on skins or go through the gate that they were "sidecountry" types. (Same group that mounts AT but has never actually released the heel.)

 

But since no one can even agree on what sidecountry is, and I'd guess the target audience who bought them tended to mount alpine and ski inbounds, Nordica appears to have dropped that marketing ploy this season.

 

Would the Steadfast actually make a good AT ski? Hmmm. Haven't skied it. Bit narrow and sounds a bit stiff, but what do I know? 

 

Would it fit an analogy of "farm to table?" Now I think that's something that we should get hot about. Worth at least two pages of diatribe.

 

I'd like to kick things off by demanding just what is implied by "farm," anyway? Are those #$@!* federal subsidies involved in making Nordicas too? And then I'm concerned about prepositions. Does "to" indicate direct transitive status, or could there be a more indirect implication? Is it actually a pun on the number two? And if so, why in hell would be need two tables when there's only two of us? Is this some sly comment on dead British actors? Or is it a misspelled "too, also," as in, farms also have tables in their dining rooms? Well, that seems to have geopolitical feminist implications, since it implies Steadfasts are made by female labor in the "kitchen" (clearly a code), probably indentured, while the men are out skiing on Kastles in the "fields" (clearly a code). I'll bet Nordica has moved its factory to China, without telling us, and they have these dorms for exhausted workers...no wonder the topsheets look like clown vomit. They're too tired to paint straight. Oh, that was coupla years ago. Same paint cans, but clearly the more recognizable designs indicate amphetamines forced on those exhausted workers. I refuse to exploit tired speedy women unless they're serving me at the bar. Or maybe the new topsheets indicate the factory got moved to Finland, and the working conditions are better. I bet they know over at TGR...

 

Now we're rolling! :popcorn 

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post

Calling a ski "sidecountry" is like calling a restaurant "Farm to Table". 
Google Nordica Sidecountry and you find a plethora of references to this series being referred to as Sidecountry, it has nene been in it's graphics. I have no idea of how your analogy of "farm to table" has anything to do with this.

 

I understand what Scott is trying to say. It's the hot term that sells at the moment, so they slap it on there without regard for whether it actually applies in any genuine way.
post #23 of 26

I understand "Sidecountry"is a purely made up marketing term but it is their lie, let them tell it anyway they want to. ;)

 

I honestly think they had the direction of "side country" that they wanted to direct the series to but the sales and market dictated otherwise and they just adjusted the marketing direction to fit the consumer. 

post #24 of 26

At 215 pounds, for me, these 2 skis are really nice in bumps and tight trees...I especially like the Steadfast, at 90, in hard skied out moguls...and the H & B in softer snow...

Both of them have a.t. bindings but I agree that I found the Steadfast too stiff for it and always go backcountry with the H & Back...

post #25 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post


Google Nordica Sidecountry and you find a plethora of references to this series being referred to as Sidecountry, it has nene been in it's graphics. I have no idea of how your analogy of "farm to table" has anything to do with this.

 

Re; "Farm to Table": check out any NYT review of some new hip Brooklyn "small plates meant for sharing" restaurant, or just about any place in Portland targeting 20-something "creatives types" with no kids and cash to burn.....I would consider myself a foodie, but the places I really want to eat at let their food do the talking. 

 

In other words, it means nothing really; just an absence of anything substantiative, simply a buzzword.  Which is silly.  Nordica/Blizzard make great skis, and last year, the Kabookie was, you guessed it, in a "sidecountry" category on the website.  

 

Not sure what Nordica was doing: my post wasn't directed at them, just how silly this market "segment" sounds, and is being marketed as "more extreme than mainstream".  Everyone wants Dukes on their skis, even though they don't ski as well as Jesters (probably due to ramp angle issues and weird stand height).  My 999's are 300g lighter and not marked "sidecountry" (they are "Summit Series", however, which might have a similar implication).  

 

Looks like they changed the Kabookie to "Free Mountain Lite" for 2014.  Quite a bit more relevant description  Thumbs Up  Although, when I weighed the Scout vs. Cochise, I don't remember seeing a weight difference.  The Scout does ski "lighter", so perhaps that is what the reference was to.  Either way, I applaud them for ditching the old term. 

Full selection of 2014 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

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post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
 

(they are "Summit Series", however, which might have a similar implication).  

No, that means that the skis are meant for the faces of 14er's, at least. Everest ideally. Wish I made 6 figures working in a marketing department...

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