Ski: Vishnu Wide
Length skied: 183cm
Actual Length (Tip-tail w/ straight tape): 181.8cm
Measured weight (each ski): 1940/1944g
Mount: True center
Binding: Tyrolia Attack2 16
Days skied: 11
Reviewer height/weight: 5'9, 145lbs
Review Location(s): Saas-Fee
Conditions skied: Shallow pow, slush, hardpack, park
Vishnu have made a big splash in the NS community and their ‘Wet’ is a park ski Editors’ Pick for 18-19. I spent a lot more time on those this season for a Roofbox Review, which I published a couple of days ago, and I also skied a pair of The Wides, which were released to the public in fall ‘18. Whether you love or hate the aesthetics of the brand and the style of the riders, the Wets have earned an enviable reputation. With the Wide, they expanded their offering beyond pure park/street skis for the first and into something targeted at being more usable in softer/deeper conditions. Sidenote: this isn’t strictly relevant to the review, but the Birds graphic on these skis is one of my favorites ever made.
As mentioned in the Wet review, Vishnu don't share a ton of information about ski construction and materials on their website beyond the fact that their skis have a bamboo/poplar core. The Wides have a full sidewall construction, textured topsheets and I measure the edges to be 2x2mm… in other words, all things identical to the Wet. As with the Wet the edge wrap is neither full nor 4-piece. Instead, the edge is in two pieces, meeting both in the tip and the tail. On the Wide, the two pieces meet at the point of both the tip and the tail.
The rocker profile is also borrowed from the Wet but looks less extreme on a wider ski. In a 183, the turn radius is longer at 20m. They definitely aren’t a stiff ski, but the flex is fairly middle of the road for jib skis, softening slightly towards the tips/tails... but not to the point where they are anywhere close to as soft as the J Skis Vacation especially in the middle section of the ski. They are however softer overall than skis like the Marksman, ARV, etc. It’s a nice rounded flex though with no obvious hinge points.
On Snow Performance:
At a basic level, the Wides ski well on softish groomed snow, as long as you ski with a centered stance. If you try to drive the tips too much, you can end up folding them but the added width makes them noticeably more stable than the Wet. You can carve pretty well thanks to the full sidecut and they hold a decent edge through longer turns. However, there is a slight contradiction with these skis, in that when you are getting the most out of the 20m radius, you are skiing faster than feels, to me at least, comfortable for the construction.
In pow, the Wide is actually pretty good too as long as the snow isn’t too heavy. I skied some steep-ish lines in medium amounts of fresh and they got me down pretty nicely. The shape is more suited to flowy turns than pivoting but they are soft enough to go sideways when pushed. They aren’t as naturally surfy as a tapered ski, but thanks to the flex, you can force them sideways without the aid of taper. They actually ski deeper snow kind of like a skinny OG Hellbent (nowhere near that soft but the basic feeling is familiar). However, as a symmetrical ski with a middling 106mm waist width and center mount, when the snow gets deeper they become less easy to ski. With the symmetrical shape and center mount, the tail wants to float just as much as the nose and that means it’s pretty easy to find yourself pitched over the bars.
The more you charge and the worse conditions, the less stable they feel compared to many other skis in the circa 106mm category (e.g Faction Prodigy 3.0, ARV 106, Marksman, etc) because they are fundamentally softer. More generally, it’s mixed/marginal conditions where the Wide lacks. On hard groomers, they are a bit more torsionally stable than the Wet and so feel better. But like their little brother they suffer from the ‘too much rocker to ski well when detuned in anything but soft snow scenario' that also afflicts the Wet and many other super rockered skis (e.g ON3P Magnus/Kartels). In crud, they are simply softer than most of the competition and therefore less efficient at busting through. They are also pretty light which contributes to them getting bounced around.
The Wide is definitely more stable than the Wet though and, of course, floats/performs better in non-hardpack conditions, so it achieves its goal of being a more versatile ski. It doesn’t really match up with skis like the ARV 106, Sir Francis Bacon, Kartel, etc in an all mountain environment. Ultimately the Wide is a fat Wet, a fat park ski. The added width is nice for versatility and they ski soft snow better than most park skis purely thanks to the width. To me the Wides are still very much a park ski and so how they performed there matters most.
And in the park, the Wide makes much more sense to me. Like the Wet, it’s super easy to flex and butter, and just stiff enough not to wash out easily while doing so. They are also snappy enough to give you energy on the exit of butters. At the same time, the added width gives you a significant amount more stability in all situations. That combined with the extra 6cm of length, (I rode a 183 Wide vs 177 Wet) meant that I felt much more confident on jumps.
However, on both jumps and rails, the Wide is slower feeling than most true park skis (and the Wide is still a park ski). Given the greater width, that is inevitable, but the low actual weight and symmetry mean they do feel nicely balanced in the air which helps counteract the size. But for me, there was still the feeling that at 106mm underfoot and 182cm long, the Wide was pretty big ski for a 174cm tall, 65kg guy in the park. They felt big. On snow, they ski short on snow thanks to the rocker, but there is no taper or tech to reduce swingweight beyond fairly low actual weight. I did however, basically enjoy skiing them on jumps, even though I had to work a bit harder.
Half Wet, half Wide cruiser clip
On rails the width means it takes longer to set an edge for switchups and spins. But really enjoyed them as a rail ski and I didn’t have major problems getting anything I tried around. The lowish/perfectly balanced actual weight and the perfect shape for surface swaps and presses mean that like the Wet, jibbing is where these feel most comfortable. If you like a wider ski in the park, or basically want a park ski but with the width to occasionally ski some pow, these are a great option. Overall, they feel more ‘at home’ in the park, and they are a great wide park ski option (105mm+) if you're looking for something soft.
On the wide, I didn’t see the issue with de-cambering/increased rockering that I saw quite quickly on the Vishnu Wet. That meant I didn’t really feel a huge difference in how these skis skied on day one and day ten. Again, my edges held up well underfoot and the topsheet that Vishnu use is one of the best I’ve tried with almost no chipping.
However, by day 7 I was starting to see the beginnings of tip delamination on one ski. This started from the edge meet in the tip, where the gap filler had fallen out and the edge had started to separate from the base. I don’t remember any instance where I hit the tip hard on anything, so I can only assume that it’s a result of repeated flexing on butters. I filled the gap with epoxy and it stopped growing for the further 3 days of riding and didn’t affect performance, but at the same time, it’s not what you’d ideally want to see. I didn’t have any issue on the Wet, but on those, the edge meet was at the side of the tip, not the extreme point which instinctively seems a better place.
In today’s market place, the Wide is a unique ski. At 106mm it is by a margin, the widest park ski since the Line Elizabeth. In saying so, I distinguish it from skis like the ARV 106 and many, many others which are all-mountain skis, that also ski well in the park. Annoyingly, I haven’t been able to spend much time on the Magnus 102, which is probably the closest competition as a ski designed for the park primarily. With its symmetrical shape and softer flex, the Wide doesn’t live up to the skis I have skied (ARV 106, Prodigy 3.0, Sir Francis Bacon, K2 Marksman, etc) on the all-mountain front... it just doesn’t ski as well in as big a variety of conditions as others. If you’re looking for an all-mountain ski, then personally, I think there are better options. In the park, however, the Wide stands out, feeling perfectly balanced and playful where other skis sacrifice these attributes this to perform better all over the hill.
For me personally, I would want to ski them shorter in the park, but Vishnu will not be extending the size offering for 19-20, so 183 is your only option. If you are either bigger than me, or stronger/more used to longer skis, then the Wide is a great option for someone looking for a fat park ski. We see tons of questions in Gear Talk about picking a ski to basically ski park on but occasionally take to soft snow or ‘out west’ on a trip. The Wide ticks that box with aplomb. Park is certainly the focus, but they do handle mid-depths of pow pretty well. Like the Wets, the Wides occupy a pretty specific niche in the ski market, but for that niche, they are hard to beat.
If you have any questions about the Vishnu Wide, feel free to hit me in the comments and I'll do my best.
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