Height: 6 foot, 1 inch
Weight: About 200 lbs, athletic
Age: Late 20s
Ability Level: Somewhere between levels 7 and 9 (I'd self classify as an 8), have been skiing since I was young and can comfortably handle most advanced/expert terrain everywhere I've been. Prefer steeps, chutes, trees, powder and general off piste terrain where available. I am more of a "strong" skier than a pretty one, but take lessons a few days per year to make sure my form isn't too bad.
Where do I ski? How often? Probably 10-30 days/year. That's 1-2 week-ish trips out west (favorite mountain: Jackson) and a few days out east in between. Days out east are most often Stowe and Cannon.
Quiver: Kastle MX88 176 length (shorter for east coast trees, crowds and bumps), FX104 184, looking to demo some carvers for out east
Other Skis I remember liking: Early/mid 2000s era Head Monsters, old Volkl 5 stars (only out east)
Other wider skis I remember not liking so much: Dynastar Cham 107s (Jackson 2014), 2013 Kastle BMX 108s (Whistler 2013)
Review of the FX104
Last year, I purchased a pair of FX104s from Dawg on pre-season special, going on nothing more than the review he wrote (thanks Dawg!) and my deep personal affection for the MX88s I already owned. The motivation for the purchase was that every time I was lucky enough to get a powder day, I felt like getting a pair of skis I wanted to be on as demos was pretty hard (seems a lot of people want wider skis on powder days ). Further, a lot of the wider skis I've tried were so frustrating by the time the snow got tracked out that I couldn't get down the hill fast enough to switch to my MX's.
I brought my new FX104s with me on a trip later last year, but had regrettably little snow, so they mostly stayed in the bag. I did try them out on some harder surfaces and found that they were way, way better than other skis of that width I'd been on under those conditions, particularly in terms of edge hold and stability at speed, but also more tiring to ski and less optimal for the conditions than my MX88s. I confess I was beginning to question the wisdom of my new purchase.
Fast forward to this year. I was fortunate to visit Snowbird last week for MLK. The conditions were great, with the Bird getting something like a foot of snow each on Friday, Saturday and Monday. It was the most fresh snow I've gotten to ski since about 2008. I had decided, pre-trip, to leave my MX88s at home for baggage reasons and because I was curious what the wider skis would be like if I couldn't switch to the more familiar pair late in the day.
In short, the FX104s delivered in a big way and totally changed my mind about wider skis. I found the stability they offered incredibly confidence inspiring in crud or other uncertain snow conditions. Towards the end of the day, I could blast down runs with random cruddy bumps and piles of soft snow as fast as my heart desired. In breakable wind compacted crust, the heft and width of the ski helped provide a stable platform whether I was on or in the snow. I also liked the incremental float I got from them versus my 88s when I found more untracked snow. In short, they were a great go anywhere, do everything ski for the trip. Candidly, I was surprised by how much I liked them and how little I missed my narrower skis.
The only question I have is whether I should have bought/should now buy something even wider. My answer is a tentative no, but I would be curious what others think. I haven't tried enough bigger skis to be sure, but I think what I liked about the FX104s is a product of the metal in the ski, fairly traditional camber profile and tail shape. In view of that, I wish I had demoed the Helldorado's or maybe Kastle 115s, which I think are somewhat similar, but I'm honestly not sure the flotation increase would be that helpful if I gave up a noticeable amount of the harder snow performance.
I'm a bit skeptical that a bigger stick would be a net benefit to me because the number of runs where there was a lot of untracked was pretty small, even on the best snow I've seen in over half a decade. I think that by 10 or 11 (at the latest) stuff was pretty skied out basically every day. I probably missed the hidden powder stashes, and I'm waiting for a local to tell me they skied bottomless powder all weekend and I'm an idiot for missing it, but at least for in resort skiing I'm not sure how something with 20-30% better float would be worth losing even 10% of the variable/firmer surface performance. That said, I would now be way more open to trying something wider out than I was before this trip.
In terms of what I didn't like about the Cham's at Jackson 2 years ago, even on a pretty deep day the snow did get tracked out reasonably quickly. Once it was tracked out, I felt like they got thrown around a lot and were tiring to manage. The BMX108s at Whistler were a curiosity demo (hadn't snowed recently), but I remember finding them a bit jittery and uncertain under the conditions on the day I tried them. I can't remember much better than that what my problem was with the BMX108s (it could have been tune, plus this is 3 years ago and memory is an issue)...
Anyway, I am seriously considering a backup pair of FX104s (but feel it's a bit silly) as of now.