It seems that a lot of the more...heated discussions on this board concern what length, width and stiffness characteristics (of skis) are best for various combinations of people, places and activities.
That said, I was wondering what characteristics people typically find in skis that are longer and wider vs. shorter and narrower beyond the obvious stuff like wider skis usually float better in powder, narrower skis usually carve better on ice, etc. I'm proposing quiver reviews to help answer that question as I think it's inherently more person specific than general ski characteristics (which already seem to be pretty person specific).
The reason I was thinking about this is that as I assembled a quiver over the past few years (going from 1 ski to 3 over 3 years), I realized that even though I have decent width spacing my skis tend to have a common feel to them. What I mean by that is that I have tended to gravitate towards skis that are pretty stable and "serious" for their widths with a fair amount of traditional camber underfoot. As a result, even if I sometimes have the "wrong" ski for the day, I end up having fun even if I get tired a little faster than I otherwise might. That said, I do get tired when I'm using a ski out of position.
I would be interested in hearing from others what conditions make them most appreciate different skis they own, why and what they feel like if they're skiing something that doesn't match the conditions that well. I ask both out of curiosity and because I wonder if my experience, which is basically getting tired a little faster and maybe having to ski slightly slower if I have the "wrong" ski is common.
178 cm MX88 (narrowest)
184 cm FX104
187 cm Kingswood SMB (widest at 123 underfoot, these are really good btw)
Relative Strengths: Definitely the lightest feeling of these and the one with the tightest turning radius. Great fun on firm to soft snow. At 6ft, 200 lb these are arguably a little short for me, but I find that helps me work them easily in tight bumps, trees or the dreaded gaper mogul fields of the east (I do avoid zipper lines through those, I worry more about the hazards avoiding me). I actually find these pretty easy to smear in this length, but that is not the most natural thing for the ski I would admit. They can also go really fast through all of those conditions with carved turns.
Relative Weaknesses: In deeper and/or heavier snow, the tips dive and I have to go fast/ski higher angle terrain and work to pull them up with me when I want to turn. In slush, as I recently discovered, narrower skis are a bit worrying. While this is based on nothing more than snow feel, I couldn't get the image of my skis getting caught in a rut and wrecking my knees out of my head in some recently encountered mashed potatoe-y conditions. In eastern bulletproof at speed, I have found myself wishing for something narrower and stiffer (to the apparent consternation of part of this board). I have been skiing out west more and more lately, so the more common complaint I had was tip dive plus deflection in crud, hence wider skis. If I were to do this again with the intent of assembling a quiver, I might go narrower with an MX83, MX78 or Stockli AX/SC. I will probably replace these someday with something narrower and a bit more groomer specific.
Relative Strengths: These are extremely good skis to travel with as they handle pretty much everything somewhere between competently and extremely well. They absolutely destroy crud and smooth it out to a remarkable extent. They hold an edge well on corduroy and are very stable at speed. If I'm active, I can absolutely take these through tighter trees and bumps with a smile on my face...
Relative Weaknesses: ...But they feel the heaviest of the skis I own by a good margin and seem to require the most energy from me to produce optimal results. Float still isn't amazing, but that matters most in 6-10 inches of new snow where a wider ski might give me enough flotation I could be getting more of a powder day feeling. If I were in better shape than I am, I think I could ski these happily on firm but not icy snow without missing my MX88s (they're not the best ice skates) and through tighter terrain. As is, laying them over and keeping them engaged through a turn is fine for me until around 1 or 2 pm when my legs start to miss the ease of turning the narrower skis offer. They also seem to require more input to move through bumps than my smaller skis do, which again is mostly about how much energy I have to expend to ski a particular run, not a ski characteristic per se. I wouldn't say they're bad in those conditions - just that it's a bit harder to manage through them.
Kingswoods- note: haven't had much occasion to ski these yet, did try them out for (part of) two days on a recent trip, neither of which was more than 4 inches of fresh.
Relative Strengths: Will almost certainly have the best flotation in powder by a substantial amount, but per the note above I don't know that yet nor can I comment on other characteristics in powder (obviously my fault-if I hadn't bought them it would have snowed more). For their width, I was shocked by how well they engaged through the turn in dust on funky crust conditions trending to some spring corn and a bit of corduroy as I worked my way down the mountain. In some funky bumps and trees, the slightly lighter swing weight and slightly toned down flex pattern I got in these made them a bit easier than my FXs were to be totally honest, mostly because they're a bit easier to pivot and smear. They were also crazily, shockingly stable running bases flat in softer conditions including slush. Compared to the MXs I could point these down the slush and let 'em rip without thinking about it.
Relative Weaknesses: In firmer conditions, these beat me up. Not in a not damp kind of way (they are reasonably damp for a non-metal ski), more in a "wow, I'm controlling a lot of surface area in this turn" kind of way. That got me tired, so tired in fact that when I switched to the MX88s after lunch I found a strong second wind. I was shocked by how much easier the narrower ski was. They also aren't quite as aggressive blowing through crud piles as the FX104s are as they're a bit lighter. Finally, I do not think these would be great skis in very firm conditions and are definitely the worst at it in the group (but they're better than some other skis I've been on that are more heavily rockered).
The common thread through all of those for me is wider skis without lots of new snow = getting tired faster. Narrower skis in newer snow = getting tired faster.
Wider longer skis are also more stable at speed in variable conditions, but somewhat less in firm consistent conditions. Width, length, swing weight and rocker profile seem to interface to determine how much I like something in tight conditions with shorter, less wide, lighter and rocker all contributing to being easier for tight things and the opposite characteristics pushing in the opposite direction.
Anyway, I would be interested if anyone else would care to share similar thoughts. Sorry if this is all super obvious/rudimentary to everyone else, but as an aspiring pack rat I wanted to share some early observations on the tradeoffs between different skis.