After a full season on 4FRNT’s all mountain tool we answer wether the Devastator’s an all mountain destroyer, or a friendly, fully rockered ski for the masses? Read on to find out.
See that picture to the right? It’s exactly the snow and terrain I got this ski for: a little bit of pow, crud, drops, big turns, techy stuff and hard pack back to the lift.
The only problem? I’ve completely written off skis in this width in favor of a quiver of more specialized wider and skinnier skis. I just find these 110ish widths to be jacks of all trade, but good at nothing. Would the Devastator change my mind about this waist width?
Rocker: Reflect Tech
Weight: 5.25 pounds
Days skied: 27
I’m going to try something different with this review. I’m going to sum up my 27 days on this ski by taking you through the run in the photo (which is The Oh’s off the Ridge @ Bridger Bowl). If you haven’t skied Bridger I wouldn’t worry about it, the details will make sense:
The Hike: An old school Bridger skier once told me that after 30 years skiing Bridger’s best lines he moved on to Big Sky because he just didn’t have the cardio to ski Bridger anymore. Dude was right. Your ability to ski the best lines here is very much limited by your desire to walk uphill. And that’s where my first major observation of the Devastator pops up: they’re HEAVY. Especially with an all metal bending on them.
Throw them on your pack and start walking and you’ll pretty quickly notice you’re breathing way harder than usual.
Is that a big problem? No way. These skis are billed for mixed snow on big lines where a heavy, damp ski is the tool of choice. I just wouldn’t really consider adding a touring binding to these, if you do want to tour check out the 4FRNT Raven or Hoji.
Dropping In: Before even dropping in what I really notice when I look down at these on my feet is they’re pretty traditional looking. There’s no massive taper and a pretty simple twin tip. For me that’s a huge plus, I’ve never been a fan of massive taper because tapered skis usually ski short and soft (in my opinion). I know that’s subjective, but it’ll give you a little insight how I ski as you read on.
A soon as I drop in the next thing I notice is all that weight I carried up here has paid off. These are tanks, and the stiffness combined with the 25m radius has me instantly skiing at high rate of speed. These things don’t flinch at large radius turns at high speed through pillows of skied up pow, and really it’s on me to bring them back to earth (or let them run).
The other big surprise is I’m constantly finding myself debating between keeping these on the ground vs. launching high-speed airplane turns. I’m also having this debate at extremely high rates of speed. These skis want to go fast. Stay centered or forward, drive the ski, be ready to pop off any feature you want and they’ll instantly reward you.
Now at 111 underfoot I’m not going to judge the Devastator on their pow performance. I like skiing deep snow on bigger, surfier skis (DPS L138 and 4FRNT Renegade), but I should say I’m having no issues floating in 6” of untracked on the Devastator, but in a few pockets of 8”+ of untracked, super light snow I’m feeling a little tip dive when my speed slows down. That’s not surprising at all, but something you want to keep in mind if you’re looking to the Devastator to replace every ski in your quiver.
The Tech: Bridger gets techy with many mandatory airs, rocks, trees, steep, thin spots, etc. as you move down the hill, and this is where I figured I’d pay for all fun I had with the big radius, crud busting higher on the hill. Boy was I surprised.
The Reflect Tech design actually lets the ski stop on a dime, pivot and redirect incredibly quickly. As long as I stay in charge of the ski it’s extremely nimble.
There is one little surprise though: because they’re so stable at high speeds I’m coming in to complicated terrain much hotter than normal. I’ve had more than a few surprise turns where I come in to a techy zone, start to shut down my speed with a slash and realize I’m going twice as fast as I expected. I feel a bit like a broken record talking about their speed, but once more: these things are fast and damp. Try and keep that in mind as you’re coming in to no fall zones.
And this is probably where we should talk about airs. I’d love to tell you these stomp big airs like nothing else. But I can’t. Cause I broke my hip before this ski season and am limited to small drops this winter. I can say the smaller airs to high-speed chop I’ve hit on these skis have been cake. The rocker, stiffness and weight combine for an incredibly stable landing platform in mixed snow.
The Lower Mountain: Bridger isn’t known for groomers so I don’t ask much of modern, rockered skis in this department. Had the Devastator passably meandered back to the lift I’d have been happy, but the carving ability on these skis is easily their biggest surprise. As long as I let them open up to full speed and give them space to run these things absolutely lay trenches on hard pack.
I’m not totally sure how 4FRNT managed to bake that into a fully rockered ski, but I’m not gonna lie: I’ve done more than my share of groomer laps on these with a large, shit-eating grin on my face while doing my best Ted Ligety impersonation.
That said I should mention two funky balance point issues I’ve noticed on the Devastator. The first is on firm, long, slower speed groomers when standing flat I’ve felt the ski almost tipping back and forth on the rocker. The second is under the same conditions I’ve had a ski start wiggling inside and out on me. I think both of these issues can be pretty easily summed up in one sentence: I’m skiing a fully rockered, 111 waist ski on hardpack and treating it like a GS ski. I’ve found staying centered/forward and driving the ski brings the Devastator back to life easily fixes these issues (which honestly only popped up a couple of times this winter).
Verdict: As I said up top: I’ve avoided skis in this waist width for a long time because I felt like these 110ish waist widths were just too in between far more functional skinnier and fatter skis. The Devastator has completely changed that opinion. It’s been the perfect balance of fast, stable and fun while also floating on 6″ days and railing turns on hardpack. I know that probably sounds like your average ski reviewer hyperbole, but here are a couple things I think might prove my point:
- I have a skinnier ski in my quiver. It’s 99 in the waist and what I used to always grab for inbounds if it hadn’t snowed in a while. Last night I put Dynafits on those skis and don’t anticipate using them for inbounds skiing anymore. I just can’t see a situation where I’d ever grab the 99-waist ski in favor of the Devastator.
- I usually sell and replace most of the skis in my quiver every year in favor of something new. That’s not happening here though. I see no reason to replace the Devastator with anything else and look forward to skiing them again next season.
Summary: For expert skiers the Devastator’s strong, fast and fun all wrapped into one hard charging and surprisingly easy to pivot ski.
Buy if… You prefer rockered skis, ski fast and want the Devastator for inbounds skiing where you spend 80% of your time skiing down the fall line in mixed snow and terrain.
Look elsewhere if…Your style or preferred terrain favors slower speed, across the fall line turns. Or if you can’t imagine ‘charging’ on a ski w/out camber.
Check out our other reviews HERE