Ski: Vishnu Wet
Length skied: 177cm
Actual Length (Tip-tail w/ straight tape): 175.9cm
Measured weight (each ski): 1688g/1664g
Sidecut: Approx 20m (estimated with radius calculator)
Mount: True center
Binding: Tyrolia Attack2 16
Days skied: 10
Reviewer height/weight: 5'9 (174cm), 145lbs
Review Location(s): Saas-Fee
Conditions skied: Hardpack, small amounts of fresh snow, park.
I want to start this review by saying that I am not superfan a fan of Vishnu. I love the idea of a small, street-focused brand being successful. They have blown up on NS and I'm stoked for them, they support some amazing, underrated skiers. They also produce a ton of content, which is something I really respect in a ski brand but it doesn’t all hit the mark for my personal tastes, it just isn't really my style aesthetically (don’t get me wrong, I enjoy plenty of it, but find some 'too much'). I'm also naturally somewhat contrarian and some of the claims made about the skis themselves seemed straight up impossible. Lemuel, who has always done a great job reviewing for us and whose opinion I regard highly, published a writeup which was so positive that it has been the subject of parody. In short, I felt the need to try a pair of Wets myself, in addition to testing the new Wide, to see what all the fuss was about. The rest of our Roofbox Reviews will drop in the Fall as normal, but with the Vishnu pre-sale launching this week and we wanted to give you our take on the skis this week. And now, on to the actual review.
Vishnu are pretty sparing with information about ski construction and materials on their website beyond the fact that their skis have a bamboo/poplar core and that the Wet has dimensions of 116-88-116. The skis have a full sidewall construction and textured topsheets. The edges are fairly middle of the range, I measure 2x2mm. Interestingly, rather than being a full edge wrap construction (most skis), or 4-piece wrap (Armada, Faction etc), or having early edge end ((edgeless tip and tail) On3p, Lib tech) the edges on the Vishnus come in two pieces, meeting just once in both the tip and tail.
The shape, however, is far from typical with tons of tip and tail rocker, probably the most rocker length ever seen on a park ski (ON3P have more splay). I asked Emmet for the turn radius, which is 17m on the 177cm model. The website claims the flex is ‘the softest on the market, but that is far from true. They definitely aren't a stiff ski, but the flex is fairly middle of the road, perhaps softening towards the tips/tails... but not to the point where they are anywhere close to as soft as a Line Blend or J Skis Vacation. It’s a nice rounded flex though with no obvious hinge points. They feel soft because of the profile rather than actually being soft flexing.
Normally I save the durability section for last but in the case of the Wet, it will inform the rest of the review, so I wanted to put it first. Vishnu have a great reputation for durability on NS and in my 10 days of skiing the Wet, I saw no real reason to doubt the validity of this in terms of park skiing. The edges held up admirably (no cracks on mine) not being notably wide (I detune heavily so I tend not to have major edge issues), and despite being a full sidewall construction, that textured topsheet held up like a champ with virtually no chipping.
However, the shape of the ski did distort fairly quickly. When they arrived the Wet had a lot of rocker, but also a decent amount/length of camber underfoot. After 9 days, however, the camber had more or less collapsed to flat and the tip rocker was almost to the binding (decambered, I measured 60cm of tip rocker after 9 days and around 50cm of tail rocker). Strictly speaking that wasn’t a durability issue per say. The skis were still perfectly rideable for jibbing around but it did affect how the ski performed, which is why I’m putting this first. It isn’t something you’d generally expect or want to happen quite so quickly.
I’m going to start with the ‘out of the box' performance of the Vishnus, which was actually surprisingly good. The 17m radius and mid-soft flex combine to make most turn shapes pretty comfortably. And the skis aren’t so soft as to be uncomfortable, they actually hold a pretty good edge. They do get a bit jittery at high speeds but anything with this much rocker does and I was pleasantly surprised to find they aren’t particularly torsionally soft. It’s also important to note that you are skiing these with a centered stance or not at all. If you throw your weight forward over the tips, or if you lean back, they wash out.
Detuned underfoot, which mine of course were, they don’t have a lot of effective edge, yet the camber kept things stable enough to be manageable in most conditions except when the snow got icy. They certainly aren’t one of the best park skis to rip around the hill on, even freshly mounted, but they were decent enough for getting around.
However, by about day 7-8, most of the ski had rockered, which was starting to make things pretty sketchy on harder snow patches, even not that icy ones, of which there were plenty in Saas-Fee when I was testing these. When you get them up on edge and the rockered section engages, they still ski well on soft snow thanks to having full sidecut but they really don’t do well holding an edge now. We’re not talking BDog Edgeless on ice but worse than most park skis. To want to risk laying into turns on them now, I need to be pretty damn confident the snow I’m skiing is soft and grippy. At 88 underfoot, they are quick edge to edge, and with that much rocker they pivot on a dime, so they are great in tight spaces and I found them fun in bumps. But even brand new, the flex pattern, narrow waist ,and rocker make them (predictably) less than ideal in cut up snow, crud, etc.
However, if you really are Vishnu’s target audience for the Wet, you don’t care about any of this, the only thing that matters is how they ski in the park.
The Wet is pretty much a pure park (and street) ski. In truth, they go beyond that. They are pretty much a pure ‘jib’ ski, designed first and foremost for buttering, ollieing and playing with smaller features. In fact, they are probably the first ski to unflinchingly and uncompromisingly cater to that audience. And perhaps unsurprisingly, they are one of, if not the, best skis I have ever tried for that kind of skiing. They are quick, light and flexible without being a noodle. The margin for error in terms of weight distribution on butter tricks is pretty decent thanks to being stiffer than the Blend, Vacation etc (which are very easy to overpower) but they are still ludicrously easy to flex. In short, Vishnu have somehow made a ski that is easy to flex, but on butters at least, not that easy to overflex. The old ON3P Magnus I skied had somewhat similar attributes but it was far more work to actually flex the ski (as opposed to just leaning on the rockered section. At this point, I haven’t skied the new Magnus to compare these to but hopefully will do this summer.
On rails, the Wet is (again) one of my favorite skis I’ve tried. Super low swingweight makes them ideal for fast, technical tricks and the shape/flex makes them super easy to press and surface swap. Good reports on durability are a positive here too and, as mentioned, I had no issues. The bamboo/poplar core provides a ton of pop/energy and the profile combines with the flex to mean you can really load up the tails/noses to get some height. They are definitely one of the most energetic skis I’ve skied since the bamboo core Honey Badgers.
But on jumps, the reality is they are less stable than the vast majority of park skis out there. The super rockered profile (especially after a few days use) means there just isn't much ski on the snow to support you if you land anything other than pretty bolts. The 'softer end of medium' flex (as opposed to complete noodle) means you can generally wheelie your way out of trouble rather than washing out completely if you land a bit backseat on small-medium features but they still feel loose. On bigger jumps, I washed straight through them a few times both forwards and switch.
The better you are on jumps, the less issue you'll find with them, but they are definitely not an ideal big jump ski for most skiers. I wouldn't consider myself a particularly great jump skier, so I had some issues. While you definitely can ski them on jumps, it's not a ski I would consider if jumps were important to me or if I were trying to learn new jump tricks because you're just making it harder for yourself.
A note on sizing: Vishnu recommends the 183 Wet if you are 5’7 and up. If you want more stability, go for the longer size, I skied the Wide in a longer length and between the extra length and the width, they definitely felt much more stable. I opted for something closer to what I usually ski with the 177, and for jibbing, I was happy with that call. On jumps, I wanted stiffer/longer.
As I read back through this review to write a conclusion, I feel like it comes across as negative in some places. I’m ok with that because I wanted to give a balanced account of what I think the Wet is good and bad for. However, at this point, I want to make it clear that I loved skiing the Wet in the park. So much for being contrarian. When skiing how I prefer to ski, as opposed ‘testing’, (i.e. buttering everything, cruising around, mostly hitting rails and rarely hitting jumps), it felt like the skis were reading my mind, they make it so easy.
At $420 the Wet is also exceptional value in my mind. But they lack versatility compared to many park skis. That's not to say you can't ski them in many conditions. It's just that to me, there are better skis if you want to do a bit of everything, even just in the park. Of course, if you're a high-level skier (read, always lands bolts, don't get backseat while skiing etc) you could ski them anywhere and on anything, but then that is true of every ski. Buying a ski is all about compromise. No ski does it all perfectly, and the Wet is no exception. You trade some (quite a lot) stability/versatility for ultimate jib performance, but for many out there, that's going to be a great tradeoff. For me, you buy the Wet because you want the most playful ski for jibbing and swerving around, and all other conditions are secondary priorities.
To me, they also suit smaller hills better than those with a ton of vertical, because they have something of a speed limit. I'd personally like them to be stiffer given the shape, and to hold their shape a bit better (to that end, I'm hoping to try the Wet Plus this season). But they are still one of my personal favorite pure park skis because they make the tricks I most like to do so easy. I've only had 10 days on them so far, because I ended up skiing mostly on more all-mountain focused skis this winter, but I expect to spend a bunch of time back on the Wet this spring/summer and will update the review if I feel it needs it. But having been critical in parts of this review, I want to end by praising the Wet. They were a park ski Editor's Pick for '18-19 for a reason, and I expect them to be in close contention (at the very least) again for '19-20. If they fit your style, there's likely nothing better.
If you have any questions about the Vishnu Wet, feel free to hit me in the comments and I'll do my best.
Find out what I'm reviewing in real time: @twig_spens
[Editor’s Note: This review was conducted on the 18/19 Vishnu Wet, which is unchanged for 2019-20, except for the graphical offering].