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REVIEW: 2014 Nordica Vagabond

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Product: 2014 Nordica Vagabond
Length Tested: 185cm (but it's really closer to 188cm)
Camber: Early Rise Tip & Tail w/camber
Binding: Marker Griffon
Mount point: Suggested (boot center)
Conditions: Crud, hardpack
Location of Test: Alpine Meadows
Number of Runs: 7
Demo or Own: Demo

Tester: JayT
Age: 33
Height/Weight: 5' 11" / 170 pounds
Ski Days/Season: 25+
Aggressiveness: Moderately Aggressive
Current Quiver: 2013 Salomon Rocker2 115, 2012 Blizzard Cochise, 2011 Volkl Kendo
Home Area: Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Northstar
Preferred Terrain: off-piste

I had the chance to try Nordica's new 107mm offering for next season (2013/14) - The Vagabond. Flexing the ski it's what I would describe as a moderate flex and despite the lack of metal it's definitely not a noodle.

While I didn't have a chance to ski the Vagabond in powder, it's pretty obvious with the flex and shape of the ski that it's going to be fun in those conditions (what isn't?).  What I was more interested in was how it would perform in chopped powder and hardpack, and those were precisely the conditions Alpine Meadows had on the menu that afternoon.

If I had to summarize this ski in one word it would be lively.  It provides a good amount of pop and playfulness as you come out of each turn and it performed admirably in tougher conditions so long as you didn't attempt to murder everything in your path and worked with the terrain.

The edge-hold was also very impressive and despite a generous turn radius of 25 meters it had no problem making turn shapes of all sizes.  The light weight made it easy to pivot quickly in tight spaces and perhaps as a result of this in many ways it felt like a 98mm ski instead of 107mm.  The El Capo, which I skied for a few runs on the same day and is the exact same design but with a sheet of metal, has a slightly higher speed limit, but the Vagabond didn't leave me wanting much and was considerably more playful.  I'd really like to take it out on a softer day and hit a few jumps.

I could definitely see a western skier using this as a back country do everything ski or even a resort daily driver if you tend to avoid the pure boilerplate days.  I suspect it's going to be very popular.

 

Here's some video footage of my Vagabond demo...

 


Edited by JayT - 8/12/13 at 10:29am
post #2 of 18

JayT - Thanks for taking time to write up a review.  The Vagabond & El Capo are two skis I'm interested in, along with Rossi's Soul 7.  Also, thanks for the video.  It helps as a reader to know what someone's idea of crud is.  Dave

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

The only thing not quite apparent in that video is that beneath the slightly soft surface it's pure coral reef, which has been the case for several weeks now in Tahoe.  It makes it a lot harder to be as aggressive as you might normally like to be.

post #4 of 18

I'm walking into a shop here in CO - see a pair of Vagabonds with demo Markers on them. I ask about a demo, they say "only for managers" and "I wouldn't like it any way, it's skis like a Mack truck and sinks in the type of snow we have". I kind of chuckled and walked away.  Hard to sell skis like that.

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by givethepigeye View Post

I'm walking into a shop here in CO - see a pair of Vagabonds with demo Markers on them. I ask about a demo, they say "only for managers" and "I wouldn't like it any way, it's skis like a Mack truck and sinks in the type of snow we have". I kind of chuckled and walked away.  Hard to sell skis like that.

 

 

You might let the local Nordica rep know what the shop thinks of the skis. smile.gif

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by givethepigeye View Post

I'm walking into a shop here in CO - see a pair of Vagabonds with demo Markers on them. I ask about a demo, they say "only for managers" and "I wouldn't like it any way, it's skis like a Mack truck and sinks in the type of snow we have". I kind of chuckled and walked away.  Hard to sell skis like that.

 

Wow.  It should only ski like a "mack truck" if you weigh 120 pounds.  Nordica is billing it as a "side country" ski after all.

post #7 of 18

She may have been pushing 130.  No worries - I have my Enforcers w/ me for the weekend.  I was kind of curious though and was surprised at the comment. Looked pretty nice though - I only fondled for a second - are they full sidewall or semi cap?

post #8 of 18

Sorry to mess up review thread

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

I spent more time skiing on them than looking at them, but I believe they're a regular sandwich sidewall.  Always interesting to hear what certain shop employees might say about a product.

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by givethepigeye View Post

She may have been pushing 130.  No worries - I have my Enforcers w/ me for the weekend.  I was kind of curious though and was surprised at the comment. Looked pretty nice though - I only fondled for a second - are they full sidewall or semi cap?

 

Full side wall. It's a nice ski and will do well next season.

post #11 of 18

JayT, how would you compare it with the Cochise? IS it a fair comparison, they seem kinda on the same category but I'm not quite sure if the vagabond would keep up with skis like the cochise or the belafonte. I tried the belafonte one day on some crud and it was like riding a block of concrete, at least for me at 150lbs, I had no problems riding the cochise tough. 

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mfa81 View Post

JayT, how would you compare it with the Cochise? IS it a fair comparison, they seem kinda on the same category but I'm not quite sure if the vagabond would keep up with skis like the cochise or the belafonte. I tried the belafonte one day on some crud and it was like riding a block of concrete, at least for me at 150lbs, I had no problems riding the cochise tough. 

 

It can't compare to the Cochise when it comes to skiing run-outs and crud.  It's significantly more playful and a very different ski - not for charging.

post #13 of 18

If you can remember how the Vagabond skied...back when, can you make any comparison to the Rocker2 JayT?

post #14 of 18
Not the rocker2, but similar and a tinch wider, A quick comparison to this season's Q98 and the Vagabond... The Salomon skis 'lighter'.. Not a bad ski at all and could ski great for a 150-170lb skier, but not a charger for someone my size (205#). Nothing bad unless you buy this ski too short, then it's a skitterish nightmare. The price point is killer though and would put this ski at the top of the list for anyone on a tight budget who needs as close to a one ski does most OK sort of ride. The vagabond is a slightly heavier, more stale platform as it should be given it's construction and extra width. Whether or not the 105-107 width is the new 98 for western skiers is up for debate. I'd like to ski it in 8" of dust on crust or a proper powder day. I didn't think it was particularly quick, etc..., but a nice ski, maybe damningly so. It may be a quiver changer in that a 98/120 two ski quiver becomes an 85/104-07 quiver. That I could imagine for an advanced skier. Of course that's arguable too. Personally for what little it's worth, I like the Hell and Back better than either.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by HaveSkisWillClimb View Post

If you can remember how the Vagabond skied...back when, can you make any comparison to the Rocker2 JayT?

 

The 185 Vagabond vs 188 Rocker2 115 (this year's Quest 115)?  They aren't meant for the same crowd, Atomic Auto and Rocker/Quest 115 are much more comparable, and OKwhichtopsheetdoyoulikebetter similar.  I skied those two back to back (the Rocker2s were JayT's, thanks bro), it is as close to a tossup as I have felt in a given category.  The Vagabond feels more 98ish, in a good way, although it begs the question of why you wouldn't go ahead and get the 98 HnB...

 

What do you want the ski for?  Playful, yet capable directional pow ski?  Quest/Auto.  Western OSQ?  Probably HnB, much as I liked the Vagabond (I am putting forth massive effort in typing out the whole name, and not three-lettering it...).  If you want more oomph/damp, then the Bonafide.  It is tough to have an 80% solution ski in the 88-98 range, and then think about going with the Vagabond when the very, very fun Quest and Automatic exist for that upper 10-20%.  I suppose I would think of it as unexpected-pow-day-that-is-cut-up-in-three-runs = Vagabond, vs no-new-snow-hunting-for-stashes = HnB/Bonafide.  Isn't it amazing how specific we can get with today's choices?

post #16 of 18
Honestly, and IMHO, of the one-oh-something skis I've been on, the Kastle FX 104 was my favorite by a long shot and preferred the H&B to the Vagabond for a daily driver sort of ski.. Need coffee before I can elaborate.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HaveSkisWillClimb View Post

If you can remember how the Vagabond skied...back when, can you make any comparison to the Rocker2 JayT?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FairToMiddlin View Post

 

The 185 Vagabond vs 188 Rocker2 115 (this year's Quest 115)?  They aren't meant for the same crowd, Atomic Auto and Rocker/Quest 115 are much more comparable, and OKwhichtopsheetdoyoulikebetter similar.  I skied those two back to back (the Rocker2s were JayT's, thanks bro), it is as close to a tossup as I have felt in a given category.  The Vagabond feels more 98ish, in a good way, although it begs the question of why you wouldn't go ahead and get the 98 HnB...

 

What do you want the ski for?  Playful, yet capable directional pow ski?  Quest/Auto.  Western OSQ?  Probably HnB, much as I liked the Vagabond (I am putting forth massive effort in typing out the whole name, and not three-lettering it...).  If you want more oomph/damp, then the Bonafide.  It is tough to have an 80% solution ski in the 88-98 range, and then think about going with the Vagabond when the very, very fun Quest and Automatic exist for that upper 10-20%.  I suppose I would think of it as unexpected-pow-day-that-is-cut-up-in-three-runs = Vagabond, vs no-new-snow-hunting-for-stashes = HnB/Bonafide.  Isn't it amazing how specific we can get with today's choices?

 

And on that note, I started out that day on my Rocker2 115's (188) and then switched to the Vagabond (185) after lunch.  It's difficult to compare to some degree because the morning was a few inches of powder on top of boilerplate, but for the chopped up afternoon the Vagabond was definitely easier to handle.  Having said that, if I had to choose between the two skis I would probably take the Rocker2 because I care more about how much fun a ski is on powder than crud, and if I was going to place more of an emphasis on crud/chop I'd rather have something like a Bonafide than the Vagabond.  Not that the Vagabond isn't a great ski, the Bonafide is just the most versatile ski I've ever spent time on.

post #18 of 18

Thanks for the info guys.....

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