The Kastle FX104 was both the shortest and narrowest ski in our test. How did it fare? Read on to find out…
Kastle FX 104
Defining tester quote: “Traditional Skier’s Ski”
Fun fact, Chris Davenport is part owner of Kastle. So it should come as little surprise that the iconic freeskier gets to build whatever he wants. The FX line was aimed squarely at his needs both in between the ropes and beyond. As a ski mountaineer, Chris often finds himself in situations where turn placement is paramount. A larger waisted flop stick will often not only be cumbersome but just plain dangerous in tight, technical situations. Hence, the largest ski in the FX line is the 104. How’d she fare around Jackson as a do-everything stick? Read on…
- Size: 184
- Tip: 132
- Mid: 104
- Tail: 123
- Weight: 5 pounds/ski
- Radius: 26
- Camber: Traditional Kastle claims an early rise tip however we’re calling this “traditional” as the early rise is extremely mild
- Taper: Moderate tip, mild tail
- Construction: Wood and Metal
- Flex: Medium/Stiff
- Testers: Joe, Hoff, Nelson
Summary This is an excellent traditional-style ski for a place that receives less than 350″ of snow a year or as a quiver ski for those living in a place like Jackson.
Buy if…You like the pop and rebound of a traditionally cambered ski. You like being in the snow more than on the snow. You fit the 184 size. You never ski backwards.
Look elsewhere if…This is your only ski and your mountain sees north of 350″ a year. You need a longer size. You slarve more than carve. You ski backwards.
This ski was tested by three skiers ranging in weight from 175-200lbs.
Would you buy this ski? Yes – 1 No – 2 (would buy in a longer size, other skier cited cost as too high)
Ski rating: 3.5
Kastle designed this ski for the traditionalists among us. Those who still value an aesthetic (fully completed) carved turn and laugh at the kids with the clown shoe 120+ waisted sticks noodling about on a chalk day. These are the types of skiers who like the power, pop and liveliness only camber can provide and don’t mind being *in* the snow, skiing a bit slower, on a powder day.
It came of little surprise this ski ripped hard pack better than most skis in the test. “It excels on groomers, wind-buff, chalky snow, spring-slush” said one tester. “Good rebound out of turns, the more you drive them the more lively they get” said another tester. With a longer radius and very little early rise it may have been the best groomer ski in the test. To add, with its traditionalist camber profile and two thin sheets of metal wrapping the core, the ski proved very predictable, damp and stable in variable conditions. The ski was on the stiffer end of the spectrum though hardly a plank. All three skiers commented on the ski having a good on snow feel.
Though on the shorter end, one tester noted it wasn’t the easiest ski to release the edge and vary your turn radius with which could be attributed to either the tune, flex and/or traditional camber. “I found myself making hop turns in steeper terrain where I’d likely be sliding a turn on more modern shapes”
When things got deep testers found themselves reverting back to more old school technique. Unweighting the ski more than rolling the base and “surfing” through turns. Considering the ski’s shape, again, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Was it not fun on a powder day? Well, our take is skiing powder is fun no matter what. This is just a different, often slower style of skiing that demands a little more attention. While we’d prefer something more like the Supernatural 115 or the Hoji as our “one ski quiver” for deeper days, the FX is hardly not-fun. Plus, lets be honest, powder days are more like powder hours these days. You’ll find yourself with a far more precise tool after the snow gets skied out than your buds on 120+ waisted Cadillacs.
As a backcountry tool, though it does have a ski clip, the ski is a bit on the heavy side at around 5 pounds. That said, the FX104 could be an excellent corn ski in the spring. For those looking to smash every powder stash in the side/backcountry there are better (lighter and more floaty) skis.
Our take is pretty simple. If you need a do everything ski for a place like Jackson and your friends have nicknames for you like “Old School” take a hard look at the FX104. That said, if I still lived on the front range of Colorado, I’d be highly considering the FX104 for a place like Winter Park, A-Basin, Loveland or similar. For Jackson, the FX104 is a great all-business no-frills compliment to any quiver for the skier who has a number of skis and needs something that’ll excel in harder conditions.