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Review: Fischer Watea 84

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
About me:
- Age 38
- Level 8-ish skier
- Height: 6'1" Weight: 195lb
- Ski 25+ days per year
- 28.0 Salomon Xwave 9 boots, 325mm sole length

The skis:
- 184cm Fischer Watea 84 skis with Tyrolia LD12 bindings mounted on ski's center mark (results in -1cm from a true BOF/ski-center mount)

Snow conditions included:
- Untracked powder 4-12" deep
- Cut powder and crud
- Groomed packed powder
- East coast frozen granular in spots




For an executive summary, you can refer to my Watea 94 review here and mentally subtract 1cm from the ski width and the associated 1cm of distance between the skis in stance. That pretty much sums up the difference between the 84 and 94, good and bad.

--

In my Watea 94 review, I noted that the skis were a little too wide and long for my tastes in bumps and tight spaces. When the Watea 84s came up on sale for $329 at o2gearshop.com, I figured 'why the hell not' and ordered a pair.

It's not surprising that the 84 and 94 ski very similar -- they share the same build and construction, with a wood/carbon core, fiberglass topsheet, and vertical sidewalls. The 84 has a slightly deeper sidecut, with 6mm more difference from tip to waist and 4mm more difference from waist to tail. But the main difference between the skis on the snow is in the waist width, and 10mm is a big difference.

Whereas the 94 made 4-6" of powder on a groomer a delight to ski at Alta, the 84 sunk right down to the groomed base underneath in similar conditions on the east coast. It's still cool to see the powder shooting past the skis, but it's a visual pleasure only on the 84 -- it was pretty much like skiing on a groomer.

In crud, both skis are strong and unstoppable. Like the 94, the 84 really shone when I gunned them down the hill and bombed the crud. Despite being a very light ski, they can slice and power through even the heaviest crud with no problem. This gives the 84 the same confident 'do it all' feeling I liked about the 94.

I was able to launch the 84 over a lip into crud and bumps knowing the skis could handle it every time, no worries. That is a cool feeling to have on a ski. I would not dive into deep powder with the 84 like I did on the 94, because the float is just not there. But the 84 feels confident despite that limitation.

When carving on a groomer, the 84 is (as expected) a little more nimble than the 94 and a little faster edge to edge. But it's a minor difference, a lot more minor than I expected. I remain extremely impressed with the 94's groomer performance for such a wide ski. The 84 also has very good groomer performance, but it's less surprising in this case.

Neither ski is a hard snow ski, but I did get the 84 out on some very firm east coast hardpack. While it did not sound real happy (loud scratching noises emanated from the skis), the 84s actually held fine during high speed carves, much to my surprise. There is very little smoothness and isolation on the hard snow, so the 84 offers a lot of feedback. You feel that edge bite and it translates through the ski right into the boot. While not as butter smooth as a good hardpack ski, the 84s held on just fine. I consider this a major plus for such a soft and light freeride ski.

On super-hard ice, both the 84 and 94 feel like clown shoes. They are simply too soft and too wooden in construction to be of any use. No ski is great on ice, but firmer, damper, and more beefy skis at least let you ride it out without drama. At one point when I got off a lift amidst a giant mound of ice, I felt like cartoon sound effects would have been a good accompaniment as I scrambled and flopped around on the 84s.

The biggest difference, for me, is in bumps. I was able to gun 94s through and over big soft Alta/Snowbird bumps just fine, but in tight spaces the 94s felt a little too big for me to pilot when a precise line was called for. The 84s are only 2cm shorter, but the real difference is in the waist. That 10mm has a big impact on the way I ski bumps, and allowed me to pick a line on the 84 and stick to it. The steep entry to one trail I skied the other day basically had one line, with 3-4 short turns required in the space of 12-15 feet. The first time down, I was surprised how quick and nimble the 84s felt, and I nailed that line every time I skied the trail, even as the line changed little by little throughout the day. I did not attempt similar lines when I skied the 94s in Utah, simply because I was not confident in my ability to work the skis in those situations. The 84 largely eliminates that issue. (Note: I am not a great bump skier, so take this last paragraph accordingly -- I think that caveat can swing your impression of the 84 either way, depending on what your bump skills are like).

Now that I own both skis, I see a lot of overlap and some distinct differences. If I had no requirement to ski tight spaces and bumps, I would recommend the Watea 94 without hesitation. It has superior float, which can make a difference in limited amounts of powder, and it skis just as well as the 84 on soft groomers. The 94 handles big-mountain terrain like a champ.

If you want more agility in tight spaces and bumps, the 84 is the clear choice in my opinion. It allows a tighter stance, is more nimble underfoot, and gives finer control over line and speed.

Both skis are good in crud, and I would have no issues going with either one when powder gets tracked out.

On hardpack, the 84 has a slight advantage just because it is narrower and gives you better leverage over the edges at lower edge angles. The 84 definitely takes less work to carve, but it's only really noticeable on hard snow.

I will be heading out to Alta in about 10 days, and I'll have to decide which ski to bring along. It's going to be simple: if there has been a lot of recent snow and/or snow is in the forecast, the 94 will be the obvious choice. If however, I will be skiing on an existing snow surface that is getting worked by skier traffic, with no snow in the forecast, the 84 will make a lot more sense. It will add a dose of nimbleness that will be welcome in tight spaces, and will allow me to seek out technical terrain with a bit more confidence.

I would like to close by comparing the Watea 84 to two other similar skis I have owned or currently own -- the Volkl Karma and K2 PE. I feel like the Watea is the best of both skis -- it has the crud performance of the Karma and the pop/spunk fun-factor of the PE, in both cases, more so and with better execution than the other two skis. The Watea 84 is good at many things, and offers a nice balance between all of its talents. It's just a well rounded ski, combining singular aspects I have appreciated in many other skis. This has got to be one of the nicest overall freeride skis in the mid 80mm waist range.

post #2 of 54
Great review

Thanks

Michael
post #3 of 54
Good review. I've got a pair of 84s and agree with most of what you say. I love 'em.

We're very similar in age, ability, height/weight, but I ski the 84s in 176. To me, that gives more all-mountain versatility and I get plenty of float. Plenty. I have yet to find a situation where I really caught myself thinking, "Man, I wish I had my ________s right now."

I'd also add that, while sort of forgiving, perhaps more than other mid-fats, they really reward good technique.

As for Wateas in bumps....the reduced swing weight of the 84s may give them an edge over the 94s, but bump skiing is more about the driver than the car, if you know what I mean.

(In one in-house clinic, a bunch of us went up to a single-black bump run and, to prove this point to us, the LIII-clinician running the clinic made us ski seemingly wrong boards for this drill. I on Stöckli DP Pros, another on Pontoons, another on some race stock SL skis, and another on *ultralight* AT skis. We all learned something about skiing bumps that day.)

The ket to the Watea 84's sucess, IMO, is the construction and the sidecut. The flex also is very good. I like to flex my skis hard--ask me next season how they're holding up. But if they're like zillion other Fischers I own/have owned, I'm sure they hold up fine.

Fischer really hit it out of the park with this series.
post #4 of 54
Thread Starter 
What I have noticed with my middling bump skills, is that some skis make it easier and some make it harder. Between the 84 and 94, the main difference is that I can get a tighter, more natural stance on the 84 and the skis just feel more nimble to me. Any little bit helps! I think a good bump skier would be less sensitive to the ski factor than I am.

Edit: I forgot to add, regarding length, I recently sized down in skis to the 175-177 cm range after losing weight. I find those skis are just fine for groomer skiing and some soft snow conditions. But for crud and powder, I found the shorter skis to feel a little too short, so I went back up into the mid 180 range on the Wateas. I like them a lot in those lengths. So my own formula is working out to be nose height for groomer bias and head height for everything else.
post #5 of 54
How is it compared to bandit b3?
post #6 of 54
Thread Starter 
GrooK, unfortunately I have not tried the B3, sorry.
post #7 of 54
Skier219, have you been on the Line Prophet 90. That and the Watea 84 are on the short list. Obliged. David
post #8 of 54
Thread Starter 
David, I have not, sorry.
post #9 of 54
The watea 84 is torsionally stiffer (wood core) than the B3 (foam core) which translates into better edge hold. I own the watea 84 and absolutely love it - does everything well!! I like the B3 but if you are an aggressive skier who likes to be on edge a lot and push a ski to its limit then the B3 is not for you.
post #10 of 54
Squares pretty well with my impressions of the 84 as well -- strengths and weaknesses alike. Spending yesterday afternoon on my 186 Big Stix 84s in very firm conditions reinforced my disappointment on the way that the Wateas performed on hardpack and at speed. Everywhere else, the Wateas were very capable, even transparent skis.
post #11 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinedad View Post
Squares pretty well with my impressions of the 84 as well -- strengths and weaknesses alike. Spending yesterday afternoon on my 186 Big Stix 84s in very firm conditions reinforced my disappointment on the way that the Wateas performed on hardpack and at speed. Everywhere else, the Wateas were very capable, even transparent skis.
where do you ski mostly? Do you think the Watea 84 would be able to cope with the harder end of Mammoth, CA conditions? I figured those who were disappointe with its hardpack performance were mainly east coast people as the snow in Mammoth is a different beast, but seeing that you are a Cali guy makes me worry...

I'm trying to decided between going the route of a hardpack biased "all-mountain" ski like an Atomic Nomad, Nordica Hot Rod....or go soft-snow biased like the Wateas..mostly skiing at Mammoth and Big Bear.
post #12 of 54
I demoed them against the Mythic Rider over President's Weekend at Alpine Meadows. My thread is around here somewhere.
post #13 of 54
Thread Starter 
I put in three solid days on the Watea 84s at Alta earlier this week, and have some more observations to add to my review.

The 84 is definitely a competent hard snow ski. For the first two mornings I was at Alta, the snow was very firm in the mornings, and the groomers had what I would call "ideal" east coast conditions -- fast, very edge-able snow, no ice at all. Basically as good as groomed packed powder can get. The Wateas carved extremely well on this snow, and I got the impression that the tips and tails were making very solid but distinct contact with the snow at all times, more so than I detect on my stiffer skis (which just have a more unified edge feel). I made several runs down some steep groomers, like "Race Course" (40 deg), and the skis held very well. The Wateas felt very confident, and I had no reservations skiing the trail over and over again.

While the Wateas do fine on hard snow when skied well, I had one situation where I hit flat light and did a gentle hockey stop to kill some speed. The Wateas did not like this at all, and they chattered so much they rattled my teeth and nearly knocked me over. You can definitely tell these are soft skis with minimal damping. They don't tolerate very much sideways motion on hard snow. So that is something to keep in mind -- the Wateas are OK on hard snow, but not as versatile or forgiving as a true hard snow ski. When you get a ski sideways, soft/grippy tips and tails are not really what you want -- continuous, stiff, and damped edge engagement would be better.

In softer snow, the Watea 84s did great. In fact, when the snow softened up on two sunny afternoons, the skis felt right in their element. I have skied many skis that did well in particular conditions, but I cannot remember another ski that spoke to me so clearly about it. I did a couple runs in the Sugarloaf / East Greely area one afternoon in some sun-softened packed powder, and the Wateas felt great, carving that soft snow like butter. Very, very smooth, and again I really could feel the whole ski gripping the snow with distinct tip and tail engagement. I think a softened packed surface is *the* money condition for the Watea 84s -- they really rocked.

My last afternoon at Alta, it snowed hard for about 45 minutes and dropped 2" of powder on the windward slopes -- just enough powder to feel it and just enough that I went into powder mode and started skiing the flats of the skis rather than the edges. The tails of the 84s bottomed to the firmer surface below, which is no surprise given my earlier experiences on the skis, but the tips definitely came alive in the new snow and were floating pretty well. It was a lot of fun. Consistent with my earlier experiences, the Wateas transitioned from soft to hard snow and back, and through cut up snow and crud, with minimal effort. The skis really excel at evening out variable conditions.

When packing my ski bag for the trip, I debated quite a bit between the Watea 84 and 94. I settled on the 84 which turned out to be the right choice for sure. About the only time I would have preferred the 94 on this trip was when skiing some 3-day old powder over crust in East Devil's Castle. Even with a very light touch, the 84s broke through a few times on me. I think the 94s would have given me enough of a margin to stay on top at all times. In all other cases, the 84 was a good choice, especially when I was skiing green/blue groomers with my wife in the mornings; a couple times I forgot I was on the 84s and felt like I was skiing my narrower mid-fats, which is what I usually bring out for "quality time" skiing on the east coast. And in the bumps (there were a LOT of them this trip), I was really glad to have the narrower 84s underfoot.



Photo: looking across to Devil's Castle from the Cecret Saddle area of Alta
post #14 of 54
How do the Watea 94s ski? Short?
post #15 of 54
Great reviews and info as usual. The comment about the hockey stop is interesting and technically valid.

Michael
post #16 of 54
another observation: last time I was skiing with my friend, he was on the 84's and I was on the 94's and I was skiing faster than he was, didn't pay much attention, this trip I was on the 84's and Phil was on the 94's, Phil skis faster than me but I can keep up pretty well, we did notice that the 94's were faster though. I felt was not able to get them to go faster on blue/black cruisers whereas the 94's were easy to crank up the speed on. Micheal, remember how fast the 94's were on High noon?
post #17 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post
Micheal, remember how fast the 94's were on High noon?
Yep, I was trying to find the top end on the Volkl Tigershark 12, one of the faster runs I took this year. The 84 is verstile and easy to use with plenty of edgegrip, Its not a high speed ski however.

Michael

Michael
post #18 of 54
Thread Starter 
What was causing the speed limit? Were you sensing some feedback from the ski and holding back, or was the 84 simply slower no matter what you did? I would definitely say that the 94 has a little more beef which makes it stronger at high speeds, but I don't recall driving either ski to a point where I felt I needed to back down.

If I had to pick one difference between the skis that makes the 84 theoretically slower in a straight line, it's the deeper sidecut. The 94 could have a speed advantage simply because it's straighter. This assumes the other factors are more or less equal (length, etc). The friction effect is hard to pin down -- the 84 would only be faster on paper if the snow was really hard (due to less surface area). In softer snow, there's a balance between pressure and friction, and more surface area may help slightly.
post #19 of 54
I felt that the 176cm size had an upper limit but that the longer size was more stable. Keep in mind that I'm a big guy and the longest size is the right size for me.

The soft flex, deeper sidecut and light weight give the sensation of lightness more than any real problem with the skis wanting to wander. Edge-grip also remains high at very fast speeds. The ski does not feel damp and the lively feel provides a little too much quickness and feedback.

However this liveliness helps the ski feel much smaller than the width would suggest. Turns are quick and soft snow performance is very good.

Michael
post #20 of 54

Watea 84 Help

So a little about me. I'm 5'10, 230lbs. I live in New York and most of my skiing is done in Vermont. I've been skiing all my life, but would consider myself advanced skiier, not an expert.

Time for new gear, been doing lots of reseach and I'm thinking about the Watea 84 as my ski. Being a college student, I can't break the bank, but the price is right.

Is this the right ski for me? East coast skiing...is well...east coast skiing and I'm wondering if this ski would perform well for me.

I'm looking for a cheap binding as well that will do me well. Right now I'm thinking about the Marker Griffin, but It's almost as much as my ski's are going to be....

Cheers,
Brendan
post #21 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsummmit View Post
So a little about me. I'm 5'10, 230lbs. I live in New York and most of my skiing is done in Vermont. I've been skiing all my life, but would consider myself advanced skiier, not an expert.

Time for new gear, been doing lots of reseach and I'm thinking about the Watea 84 as my ski. Being a college student, I can't break the bank, but the price is right.

Is this the right ski for me? East coast skiing...is well...east coast skiing and I'm wondering if this ski would perform well for me.

I'm looking for a cheap binding as well that will do me well. Right now I'm thinking about the Marker Griffin, but It's almost as much as my ski's are going to be....

Cheers,
Brendan
no offense, but at 230 you are going to want more ski (and possibly even more binding as well). not wider, but burlier. the watea line has the reputation (not having skied them myself) of being a good mix of power and precision, but as a big guy, you are almost certainly going to want a beefier ski. i owned the volkl mantra for a while, and decided to go with that over the watea 94 (which i was being advised to buy instead), because i wanted a ski that had a little more heft
post #22 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by lukc View Post
no offense, but at 230 you are going to want more ski.
Ditto that. I am 130lbs and own the Watea 84. Even at that and the fact that I am not a hard-charging straightliner (more of a finesse skier) I still wouldn't mind it to have a bit more power (i.e., torsional rigidity and edging aggressiveness). It is great on a typical mixed-condition Colorado day for a lightweight like me, but I can't fathom using it on the east cost (where I learned to ski) and if I were a 100lbs heavier!
post #23 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski-ra View Post
Ditto that. I am 130lbs and own the Watea 84. Even at that and the fact that I am not a hard-charging straightliner (more of a finesse skier) (A) I still wouldn't mind it to have a bit more power (i.e., torsional rigidity and edging aggressiveness)............ (B) It is great on a typical mixed-condition Colorado day for a lightweight like me, but I can't fathom using it on the east cost (where I learned to ski) and if I were a 100lbs heavier!
The fact that Watea 84 does not have (A) is what allows it to have (B)

This is the compromise that one accepts from a soft snow biased ski. You want (A)? fine, get a Volkl AC50 or somesuch. You want (B)? fine...that's what you have as is it is. You want (C)? that's fine too get a Sollie Fury and you get a little slice of both but not a full serving of either.

SJ
Reply
post #24 of 54
Alright, I am a big guy, but I just got done skiing on atomic's and they were way to stiff, hardly flex'd. I want something that'll be a good 50/50 ski so I can ski on the east coast where i am 70% but go to the west and have some float know what i mean? Any help is greatly appreciated.
Cheers
Brendan
post #25 of 54
I posted above what I think of my Watea 84s (last year). By the end of the season, I promoted them to my daily/work ski (I instruct). If a chairlift is in my day somewhere, then these are the skis.

I would not, however, think them to be a go-to ski for the east. No way. The Wateas are soft-snow skis. On my home mountain....they're perfectly at home. You'd probably be better off with a Progressor or Völkl AC__ or something.

The Wateas are certainly not 176 or 184cm ice skates.
post #26 of 54
What faber said, but if you want to go Fischer and wider than the Progressor, the Heat series could do the trick too. (Personally, I like my AMC 79s for east-like conditions, but I don't think they're still made.)
post #27 of 54
I hear what you guys are saying. I know they aren't the GO TO eastern ski by any means, but for back country skiing and pow days, the watea 84's in a 184 would be a nasty ski for me as far as I have read anyways. I just found out that one of my best friends have been skiing this ski for the last year and he's ganna let me try them. I'm excited.

I also plan on demo 'n the Nordica nitrous and afterburner... along with the head im78
post #28 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinedad View Post
What faber said, but if you want to go Fischer and wider than the Progressor, the Heat series could do the trick too. (Personally, I like my AMC 79s for east-like conditions, but I don't think they're still made.)
The Heat series would be perfect for the east. Good call, Alpinedad! (Didn't the Heat series come from a combination of the AMCs and RXs?)

The Cold Heat maybe...?
post #29 of 54
Hey Guys,

First let me start by saying that all of your posts have been very helpful - Skier219 and the gang keep up the good work it is much appreciated.

Like Bsummit I am in b/w the 94's and the 84's. I have grown up racing on the east coast and have both a GS and SL race RC World Cup's from Fisher. All my life I have skied around the world on race skis and am used to just railing around turns on my GS boards through POW, ice, crust, slush and fluff.

Last year I managed to blast out to Steamboat Springs and after a couple days in back country POW I finally snapped on a pair of Big Boy Salomon skis. I enjoyed them in the back country POW but noticed that they edges were not holding at all on the groomed trails. Essentially, I will be using my boards from racing for all groomers in Ontario but when I blast out to Whistler, Kicking Horse, Colorado or even Tremblant I want a big mountain Ski that can handle everything from aggressive carving (what I enjoy the most) to back country McConkey turns in POW and everything in between.

I am 6'2" agressive race/expert skier and range in weight b/w 210 - 190 lbs.

Basically, would I be better off on the 94's or 84's for my desired type of all mountain OFFTRAIL skiing with the ability to have fun carvingthe last half of the mountain home at the end of the day ?

Thanks in advance.

Matt
post #30 of 54
Mat, Since you are going to use your race skis for frontside and this will be a second ski in your quiver, you should def. go for the 94. It will carve the groomed/inbound well enough to get you where you are going and will be just what you need in the outback. The 84 may be a better one-ski quiver for an East Coaster, but since that is not the purpose, def. go for the 94.
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