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All-mountain test: Fischer AMC79, Head iM88, K2 Apache Outlaw, Elan Magfire 12

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Skis reviewed: K2 Apache Outlaw, Head Monster iM88, Elan Magfire 12, Fischer AMC 79
Time used: over 3 days
Conditions: 1st day: 6 inches of pow, crud, semi-hardpack on the groomers; 2nd day: 8-inches of light pow and crud; 3rd day: 12-20 inches of very light (for Oregon) pow, fluffy crud.
Skier specs: 5 foot 9, 150lbs, high8/low9/racer

This is a more in-depth review to the all-mountain ski review I wrote last spring. Now that I have more time on each of these models in varying conditions, I feel it is time for an update. Conditions were great for this test: lots of decent to excellent, dry snow! I was able to get a great feel for each of these skis. They were all out of the wrapper, but I did have to re-bevel the Outlaw on the full-length of the base (1 degree, the factory bevel was partially missing), and I added a base bevel on the Magfire 12 to the tip (the bevel disappeared about 3 inches from the tip’s contact point-this is common with Elans and I usually do it to every pair-their finishing machine cuts off the bevel early). The Fischer and Head were pretty good to ski out of the box: I added a coat of wax and they were ready to roll.

K2 Apache Outlaw 174cm: This ski is actually longer than 174cm: it measured 178cm with the tape measure, and is longer in actual length than any other 174cm K2 I have seen. The whole time I was on it, I thought I was on the 181, until I saw the tail marking!

The Outlaw was designed as K2’s non-twin tip entry into the all-mountain 88mm-waist market. It has a cap construction, unlike their twin-tip park and pipe series (which are laminates). I would think that this ski appeals to Recon and Apache X lovers.

I found the Outlaw to be a very, very nice ski. Easily the most impressive ski I have been on from K2 since the old Patriot GT6/Mach G.

Review: It was stable, predictable, smooth, forgiving, and quick edge-to-edge. The flex is fairly soft, which means it makes things quite easy in deeper snow. The Outlaw is signature K2: extremely damp and smooth, maybe too much so for some people. This is how K2’s feel these days: it either works for the skier or it doesn’t. Volant lovers will feel right at home, while those looking for more powerful-feeling skis probably should try something else. In crud, the ski floated very well, and came right around with just a bit of angulation. Very quick edge-to-edge. I probably could have navigated bumps on this ski! The tail was very forgiving, and I could get out of position and yet recover with minimal effort. It should suit a wide range of skiers: due to it’s forgiveness, anyone high intermediate or above can likely enjoy it. Huge sweet spot. They are already all over the hill, so K2 is obviously selling a lot of these skis. It carved well on the groomers, although I could tell that the tip feels a little fluttery and doesn’t hook up like more aggressive skis. Top-end stability was a little bit lacking. Relatively stable, but not as good as, say the Head in Super-G arcs in crud or on the groomers. Most skiers won’t be pushing this ski that hard anyways, but it does have somewhat of an upper-end limit. Also, as noted above, too damp for my taste. The oomph and power that stiffer skis give you when you hook up in a turn really isn’t present in the K2. There are better choices for the top-end skier, but less aggressive experts and everyone else will love it.

Head Monster iM88 175cm:

The 88 is Head’s new super-tool for doing just about anything on the hill. Construction is laminate, with the same base as the race stock stuff. Great structure and tune right out of the box. Flex is fairly stiff, and laterally very stiff.

Review: I was very excited to finally ski these “in their element” and they didn’t disappoint. First run was on a somewhat-hardpacked groomer, and I could have sworn that I was on a pair of GS boards. The tip was stiff, hooked right up, and pulled me into the turn. The tail gives you some pop if you drive the ski. Very stable at high speed. In the crud, they are almost as quick edge-to-edge as the Outlaw, but not quite as easy. The sweet spot is a little smaller, but still very reasonable for a ski of this caliber. Float was arguably better than the Outlaw, and the turn radius seemed smaller. Stability was top-notch: I couldn’t really find a speed, that I was uncomfortable on, even in rough crud. The ski seemed to do everything that I asked of it. This ski almost seemed like somebody had taken the stability and feel of a race ski, made it wide and more forgiving, then added a bit of Metron B5 DNA and quickened it up a bit. I really couldn’t fault this ski in any way, except for MAYBE pure powder performance and being a shade less forgiving than the Outlaw. It is a little more work to turn than the Outlaw in deep snow, probably due to the stiffer flex. Not bad, but the Outlaw seemed to almost turn itself like a Pocket Rocket. But, stiffness and flex are tradeoffs you make if you want the high-speed stability and power of a ski like this. A lower-level skier may not be able to camp out on the tail with the same ease as the Outlaw, but it is still very forgiving for a ski of this caliber. As advertised, and very, very impressive.

Elan Magfire 12 Fusion 176cm:

The Magfire 12 is the “updated” 666. I haven’t skied the 666 this season, but there is a pair in the shop, and the 666 feels a little heavier and supposedly has more metal. I was told 2 layers of titanium on each ski, with the Magfire 12 at .8mm per layer, the 666 at 1mm per layer. Still targeted at the all-mountain advanced to expert skier. Also people who like to cruise fast on the groomers seem to really like it. Laminate construction with a sort of tuning-fork under the topsheet. Fairly stiff in flex.

Review: I am a big fan of the 666, and the Magfire 12 is definitely in the same mold. It has a distinctive GS feel, with a fairly stiff tip and tail. On hard snow, it felt much more like the Monster 88 than the Outlaw: it hooked up and carved with a smooth yet powerful feel, and you could run GS on this ski if you so desired. The Elan Fusion system seem to has a character all of its own: it gives you a nice, smooth and fairly damp ride, but without the overly damp feel and loss of power that, say some French skis seem to impart. Arguably the best groomer ski of the bunch for an energetic skier. In the crud, the float wasn’t at the same level as the two skis above. 76mm under waist would likely explain the reason why. It is smooth and stable at basically any speed (rivaling the Monster) but slower edge-to-edge than either the Head or K2. Feels more like a big-arc powerhouse in crud for the high-speed skier. Deeper snow was no problem for this ski, and it seemed to go through turns with ease. In the untracked pow, I really enjoyed myself, as the ski responded well to cross-under moves and some edge angle. In challenging conditions, probably the most demanding ski in the test. The tail is not forgiving. The Magfire 12 rewards good movements and punishes the out-of-balance skier. And, it wants to run. A great choice for the good skier who wants a ski with a powerful GS feel that loves groomers and can handle all conditions.

Fischer AMC79 176cm:

The AMC is the newest lineup from Fischer, replacing the poor-selling Big Stix series (at least for us). Still very lightweight, but with new flex patterns and dampening characteristics. 79mm underfoot (they also make narrower widths in the series) with a moderate flex pattern. Aimed at the all-mountain skier who spends 50% of the time off piste but still wants a good hard-snow carver. Not in the same mold as the RX series or Fischer’s race stuff.

Review: This ski felt significantly different than the one I skied last year. Much quicker underfoot: the ski comes around in a hurry. And, much less demanding. My review ski last spring probably wasn’t tuned properly. I had a lot of fun on the AMC79. The ski feels somewhat lively and moderately powerful, but without the getup and go of the RX8 or Fischer’s race skis. Still a good carver, but the tip felt laterally softer than the Elan or Head, but probably a little more powerful than the K2. Definitely more user-friendly for a wide range of skiers. Extremely forgiving, maybe the easiest ski in the test. It is hard to get into trouble: the ski seemed like it won’t let you make a mistake! Crud float is good, and the ski is very easy to turn. Just “tip and turn” as they say, and the Fischer comes right around. In deeper, untracked snow, the flex pattern worked very well. The ski seemed to de-camber quite a bit and come up for air all on it’s own, and again, nearly turned itself. I skied this with pleasure for several runs, and only found a couple of downsides. The feel is very light, and maybe too lively (without the usually-associated power) for some, and lighter skiers will likely find it more agreeable than guys who need a beefier board.. Also, maybe not as stable at high speeds as some, but probably comparable to at least the Outlaw. This ski will allow you ski well without punishment, yet while retaining most of the top-end prowess of some of the other skis in this test.

Rankings (1 being best)
Crud Float: 1)iM88 2)Outlaw 3)AMC79 4)Magfire 12
Crud Stability: 1)iM88 2)Magfire 12 3)Outlaw 4)AMC79
Groomer stability and feel: 1)Magfire 12 2)iM88 3)AMC79 4)Outlaw
Quickness: 1)AMC79 2)Outlaw 3)iM88 4)Magfire 12
Power underfoot: 1)iM88 2)Magfire 12 3)AMC79 4)Outlaw
Ease of use (forgiveness) 1) tie AMC79/Outlaw 3) iM88 4) Magfire 12
Pow Performance: 1)AMC79 2)Outlaw 3)iM88 4)Magfire 12
Fun Factor (personal preference): 1)iM88 2)tie Magfire12/AMC79 4)Outlaw
Carving prowess: 1)Magfire12 2)iM88 3)AMC79 4)Outlaw

All of these skis are darn good. Rankings are just about what you would expect, given the dimensions on each of these models. The AMC will be a great choice for many skiers who want a manageable all-mountian ride that does everything well, in a lightweight, jack-of-all-trades manner. The Magfire 12 is more biased toward the groomers and for skiers who want a do-it-all board that feels like a GS and can handle any condition-probably the best groomer ski of the bunch. The Outlaw is very damp, smooth, and easy for a ski of this girth and performance: exactly what you would expect from K2, but a step up in stability and performance from their narrower skis (Recon)-more off piste than on. iM88 is just a powerhouse for the fast, aggressive skiers on the hill that want one board that can do everything and spend more time off piste than on, but don’t want to give up that race ski performance on hard snow. All great skis with specific plusses and minuses!
post #2 of 23
Thanks for the info and reviews.

Just curious...what is your 'ski of the year' so far? Do you have a favorite you have tried among this year' smodels?
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkierXMan
Thanks for the info and reviews.

Just curious...what is your 'ski of the year' so far? Do you have a favorite you have tried among this year' smodels?
That is a tough one, as I like to have a quiver on hand. The skis I would choose for components of a quiver are different than if I had to choose 1 model for everything. With that said, I really like the Monster iM88, but I haven't tried it on really hard snow to confirm exactly how it holds under those conditions. If I had a GS or 170cm race carver (Head 1200 SW) and the iM88, I would be pretty well set for anything the mountain or weather could throw at me. If I had to choose 1 ski, then maybe I would gravitate toward something 75mm-ish underfoot (I really like the Chip iM77 and 666, with each having its plusses and minuses). Then again, if the iM88 carves as well on really hard snow as it did on the moderately-soft snow, I would be tempted to say that it might be the one and only ski I need. Unfortunately, I haven't skied everything from everybody, only mostly the brands we carry, so my experience is limited to those lines. I haven't been on a Salomon or Rossi for awhile now, and although I would love to ski Stockli more, I haven't been on many of their models. And I was very impressed with the B5. Perhaps if I was on that ski for more time, I would have figured it out. All of the skis seem to have their plusses and minuses but perform at a high level: it is getting harder and harder to eliminate any "dogs" from the running.
post #4 of 23
Great reviews.
post #5 of 23
Great reviews, Thanks!

Barrettscv
post #6 of 23
outstanding info. thanks.
post #7 of 23
Dog, You might be doing the best reviews on the net. Keep up the good work.
By the way were the K2s and the Fischers with the system bindings?
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utah49
Dog, You might be doing the best reviews on the net. Keep up the good work.
By the way were the K2s and the Fischers with the system bindings?
K2's were the demo IBX Piston setup. Same as the retail Piston function-wise, but slightly heavier. Not as heavy as a normal demo binding (Speedpoint), maybe an additional 100g? Fischer was a retail FX12 Railflex binding, as was the iM88 (LD12 Railflex).

One other thing: a couple of customers have since skied the iM88, and they said that for bottomless powder, the ski worked better with the Railflex moved back 15mm, but used it at the boot-center mark for crud (which is how I tested it).
post #9 of 23
Bs"D
Excellent reviews. I anyway owe you a compliment from last year.

Head, at least on their site, recommends the Mojo binding for the im88.
Has that changed? Do you have a reason that you prefer the Railflex - besides the adjustability (back) for the deeper powder?

What is the difference in rise height between the two (I'm thinking that the Railflex is higher - maybe better on piste, but worse for the powder, except the adjustment).
post #10 of 23
Bs"D

Can you compare the im88 to the Legend 8800 as a pure powder ski?

Can you compare the im88 to the Mantra in:
1) powder 2) hardpack perfromance?
post #11 of 23
See our EpicSki auction for the AMC 79.
post #12 of 23
Good stuff, thanks. I'm looking for an all-mountain ski and have access to Fischer, Nordica and K2. The AMC79 is one I plan on trying.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
Pow Performance: 1)AMC79 2)Outlaw 3)iM88 4)Magfire 12

[ * * * ]

Rankings are just about what you would expect, given the dimensions on each of these models.
Doesn't the Fischer have the narrowest waist of the bunch? I expected the iM88 to come out on top there, given the extra cm or so of waist width. Your note about Railflex position on the Heads may be relevant, but of course, the same would be true on the Fischers.

Interesting.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinedad View Post
Doesn't the Fischer have the narrowest waist of the bunch? I expected the iM88 to come out on top there, given the extra cm or so of waist width. Your note about Railflex position on the Heads may be relevant, but of course, the same would be true on the Fischers.

Interesting.
I may have misspoke. I was referring more to flex and suitability to powder than float. I found the flex pattern on the AMC79 (soft) to be more relevant for someone of my weight than the width. I wasn't referring so much to float as to how it interacted with deeper, uncut snow. Powder performance, for me, isn't so much about float as about flex and if the ski allows one to use camber and flex in the powder. I find that really stiff skis like the Elan 777 and iM88 aren't that great in uncut powder: they seem to dive. Magfire 12's are pretty stiff too and are better in crud than uncut snow. I almost never ski uncut powder, as it is almost always crud around here, so I would choose a stiffer ski on most days, like the iM88 or Mag12 or AC4. In pow conditions, I would take an mid-flex 80mm ski any day over a wider, more stable, stiffer crudbuster-type ski, which is where I found the AMC79 to shine.

Specifically, with the AMC79, I felt that entering the turn, due to the lighter flex, the ski would de-camber and then unload, allowing me to turn tighter arcs than the radius would indicate, and giving me that thrilling up/down motion that I used to get on old-school skis. The wider skis, in contrast, either just floated on top or tended to ride 4" down and carve like they were on hardpack. That might be the preferred method of skiing powder for some, but I love the up/down motion of a ski de-cambering and generating tight arcs as a result. Also, that is why I am not a fan of super-wide skis, as anything over 95mm or so just skims along the top of the snow, essentially making the deep snow feel like a groomer. Maybe if I was in an 8-foot dump it might be necessary, but with 1-2 feet of new (all we ever see here at one time, any more and you would get stuck!) I would much rather be on a skinnier ski and feeling the motion of powder skiing.
post #15 of 23
Thanks for the clarification.
post #16 of 23
I'm very much in agreement with DC. A caliper is not always an effective tool for guaging soft snow performance. You just don't need a really wide ski in 1-2' of snow. In fact, the AMC 79 (and the legend 8K) are among my favorite skis in shallow powder or crud. Remember that the flex is more operative than anything else in soft broken snow. A medium flex ski like an 8K or a 79 will often bend and turn you more easily than stiffer more planky ski even if said board is wider. Another bennie of the two that I mentioned (also the 8800) is that they have fairly straight shapes. I classify the AMC 79 as very similar in crud performance to several somewhat wider skis.

Remember last March/April? I skied about 20 days of mostly soft snow on a wide variety of skis ranging from 72mm to 100mm wide. Naturally, there were differences, and the narrowest were not as good in the deep stuff as the widest. But a number of skis in the range of 79-85 were among the most fun during those days.

SJ
post #17 of 23
Do I remember last March and April? Like I remember my first time. <grin>

I agree that dimensions aren't the only issue. But all else being equal, I'd expect wider to be better. Which was why I was surprised by the statement that "Rankings are just about what you would expect, given the dimensions on each of these models," but the narrowest came out on top. Surprised, mind you, not skeptical, because that could mean they'd be a great one-ski quiver.

I hope my wife's experiences with the AMC 70s I got her is equally promising. (and yes, I know that they're not the same skis with 9mm chopped off )
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinedad View Post
Do I remember last March and April? Like I remember my first time. <grin>
I have no recollection of my first time...of course my friends wouldn't let me forget it :
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraJim View Post
I'm very much in agreement with DC. A caliper is not always an effective tool for guaging soft snow performance. You just don't need a really wide ski in 1-2' of snow. In fact, the AMC 79 (and the legend 8K) are among my favorite skis in shallow powder or crud. Remember that the flex is more operative than anything else in soft broken snow. A medium flex ski like an 8K or a 79 will often bend and turn you more easily than stiffer more planky ski even if said board is wider. Another bennie of the two that I mentioned (also the 8800) is that they have fairly straight shapes. I classify the AMC 79 as very similar in crud performance to several somewhat wider skis.

SJ
I have to whole heartedly agree with SJ on wider is not always better. I've skied almost my entire life in the PNW in heavier wet snow. My first experience with truly light powder in CO a few yrs ago on my Legend 8K's was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. Skiing in 2' of light pow on an 80mm waist ski was like heaven. I like the feeling of sinking into the snow rather than floating on top. I'm really starting to like the feel of Fischer's skis, and I'd really like to see Fischer add a few more AMC models, or even just one. Say an AMC 88. They've got their free ride Maori line but they come in just one size. A Kehua in a 185-188CM size or a Watea in a 185CM size would be nice.
post #20 of 23
Fischer is one year away from a size range in each Maori model. They will also have wider (84, & 90mm) laminate carvers. However a ski that is already here that may be what you are seeking is the Legend 8800.

SJ
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post

Specifically, with the AMC79, I felt that entering the turn, due to the lighter flex, the ski would de-camber and then unload, allowing me to turn tighter arcs than the radius would indicate, and giving me that thrilling up/down motion that I used to get on old-school skis. The wider skis, in contrast, either just floated on top or tended to ride 4" down and carve like they were on hardpack. That might be the preferred method of skiing powder for some, but I love the up/down motion of a ski de-cambering and generating tight arcs as a result. Also, that is why I am not a fan of super-wide skis, as anything over 95mm or so just skims along the top of the snow, essentially making the deep snow feel like a groomer. Maybe if I was in an 8-foot dump it might be necessary, but with 1-2 feet of new (all we ever see here at one time, any more and you would get stuck!) I would much rather be on a skinnier ski and feeling the motion of powder skiing.
Interesting… At 225#, my 184 Mantra give me “that thrilling up/down motion that I used to get on old-school skis” in 1.5-2’ of lighter powder (light for sierra, normal for CO). I easily go knee deep or more.

BTW: With Sanouk it has to be super light (Alta quality) to go knee deep. Last March on Big Friday (3/10) I was going waist deep with the Sanouks. It surprised me a bit. Need to practice more of the super deep and super light powder skiing.


post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
I skied the Legend 8000 yesterday in up to 16" of new, light snow. It had a great flex pattern for uncut snow, and the width is all I would want or need for my 150lbs. It wasn't the best crud ski I tried though, but awesome when I needed the ski to flex in the soft stuff!
post #23 of 23
How do the Elan Magfire 10s factor into this equation? Would they be a good ski for Alaska / Western Coniditions? (55% off-piste, 40% on piste, 5% groomers)

Male, 5'11" 155lbs, advanced skier.

Not a lot of options up here for demos....
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › All-mountain test: Fischer AMC79, Head iM88, K2 Apache Outlaw, Elan Magfire 12