Tried and tested: Head Collective 181

Head Collectives whiteThis is the second year of Head’s freeride Flight Series range, from 95 to 125. I did like the Motorhead Sacrifice 105, which this unbranded, unlogoed Collective 105 replaces. As the issue went to press I saw the minimalist graphics; mainly matt black with each model getting a tip and tail colour. Nice and simple, unlike the complex shape and construction underneath.

Engelberg comes to life when it snows, and you need a decent freeride ski to get the laps in before the Swedes poach all the pow.

Like all upper end Head skis, there’s a fair bit of tech, with dampening fibres to combat flap from the gently rockered tip. Those wide tips delivered excellent, effortless float and the long, raised tail sucked down as the pace increased off-piste (to a mighty max of 32mph, according to the MOD Recon head-up display goggles tested last month, so I probably won’t win the Freeride World Tour this year. Again).

I’d still want the next length up – if you’re taking powder seriously, don’t waste time with anything less than a couple of inches above head height. I’m 183cm, so would opt for the 188 or 193. The rocker keeps them relatively nimble on piste, but these are fairly strong skis so can’t be easily bent like a lighter model. They tracked exceptionally well and feel very locked in on everything but rock-hard piste, when they chattered back unless you really drove the nose into the snow and railed the turn. The torsional stiffness is high, a tendency we’re seeing increasingly amongst skis as designers get to grips with improving tech.

A couple of other skiers got on very well with the Collectives, including a trad piste skier who’d never skied anything within 30mm of the Collectives’ width. I had them back again once the snow fell, and was very happy taking the glacier face off the Rotair lift from the top of Titlis. Confidence was high, powder float was better than the outgoing Sacrifices and the old pins didn’t feel blown after a day off piste.

Verdict: A useful successor to the Motorhead series that should play well with the big boys. £525 including bindings.