Rating: / 5
Waist Width: 78
The 2017 Head Raw Instinct Ti Pro boasts the exact same layup and technologies-and sells for the same price-as the Power Instinct Ti Pro, but with a narrower waist width and slightly tighter sidecut radius, it's quicker edge-to-edge, with more tenacious edge bite good for Eastern hardpack. The Instinct series is a five-model collection of narrow-waisted frontside generalists, ranging in width from 83 mm down to 74 mm. With widths and sidecut radii comparable to those in the Supershape series of high-performance groomed-snow carvers, the Instincts are similarly designed primarily for on-trail duty. But lacking Head's KERS technology (real-time, on-demanded stiffening and relaxing of flex using piezoelectronic electricity), they're both less expensive and less demanding, better suited to slower speeds. The top two models (Power and Raw) are edgy, durable wood-core laminate constructions. The bottom three models (Strong, Supreme, and Natural) are lightweight, economical injected-foam-core layups appropriate to novice and intermediate skiers. New this year, all incorporate Head's graphene-infused-laminate technology, which Head originally introduced in its women's skis. The super thin/strong Nobel-prize winning material adds strength without much extra weight or thickness, allowing Head to optimize ski profile thicknesses (thinner and more flexible underfoot, thicker and grippier tip and tail). A touch of tip rocker gives all Instincts a looser, easygoing tip engagement and some terrain-smoothing shock absorption. All models are sold as ski-and-binding systems, with Tyrolia-built bindings ranging from a sturdy 12-DIN on the top two models down to a lightweight, less-expensive 10-DIN on the bottom one. Head Skis is owned by a Dutch company that also owns Tyrolia bindings. Its factory headquarters are in Kennelbach, Austria; U.S. headquarters are in Boulder, Colo. Head was founded in 1950 by American recreational skier and aeronautical engineer Howard Head, who is acknowledged as the first ski designer to successfully combine metal and plastics in ski design. -J.C.