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Head A-Star Review

Head A-Star
Price:   $925 List | $559.26 at Backcountry
Pros:  Stiff, burly, fast
Cons:  Slow initiation, lazy release
Bottom line:  Fast, powerful, and won't think twice about gunning it down the fall-line.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Head

Our Verdict

The new Head A-Star is edgy and bold; both in looks and performance. This is a stiff and powerful ski geared towards shredding steep pow and big lines to ribbons. With relatively low camber and a burly construction, the A-Star compensates for its lack of energy with a large dose of stability to help manage huge drops and high speeds. While it isn't the most playful floater, this pair of planks was a hard-charging snow slasher that didn't fool around on steep terrain. It's boaty, fast, and mean.

Discontinued
We've confirmed with Head that the A-Star is no longer a member of their ski line. As of now, a few major retailers still have these skis in stock so act quickly if you're interested in owning a pair.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Powder Skis of 2017/2018


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Rob Woodworth

Last Updated:
Tuesday
May 2, 2017

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Performance Comparison


Aggressive geometry used in tip and tail.
Aggressive geometry used in tip and tail.

Stability at Speed


The A-Star was one of the stiffest skis in our lineup. Precursory flex-tests showed us that it was most stiff in the forebody and underfoot, with a slightly softer pattern behind the heel. This stiffness had a very damp feel when blasting through bowls at higher speeds. Solid construction and substantial core materials ensure that you'll have a smooth ride even when straightlining out of sketchy zones. Also taking home an 8 out of 10 in this metric, the Volkl Confession and Moment Bibby performed similarly, while the Blizzard Spur was the top scorer, earning a 9 out of 10.

The A-Star is confident and stable when you let 'em rip.
The A-Star is confident and stable when you let 'em rip.

Carving


Even though the A-Star was totally capable of linking nice turns, it got decidedly mixed reviews from our testers when it came to carving and earned a 6 out of 10. The spectrum ranged from "peculiar and sluggish" to "reliable once engaged". Our final impression was that the A-Star requires a patient and technical driver to really lay down some solid arcs. While it likes to go fast, it's not so great at bringing it across the fall line. Top scorers in this metric include the Elan Ripstick 116, Volkl Confession, and Rossignol Soul 7 HD.

Crud


Remember when we said the A-Star is mean? It is stiff and unforgiving which allowed it to blast through chop in aggressive maneuvers. The tapered and angled tip seems to cut up crud more often than it is deflected. Even when it can't break through gnarly chunks, the A-Star is plenty damp to absorb the shock from harder bumps, earning itself a 7 out of 10. If crud is a top priority, consider the Volkl Confession or Blizzard Spur.

When it comes to crud  the A-Star is stiff enough to plow and damp enough to absorb.
When it comes to crud, the A-Star is stiff enough to plow and damp enough to absorb.

Float


With a rockered tip and 118 mm waist, the A-Star expectedly stays on top of deep snow. The pintail shape helps the tips to stay afloat and also allows for looser turn shapes in soft snow. Described as 'boaty' more than floaty, it was just a touch less maneuverable and markedly less lively than some of the other contenders (7 out of 10). For a pair of planks that will float in powder, we would recommend the only contender to earn a perfect 10 out of 10 - the Line Pescado. Trailing closely behind, the Blizzard Spur earned a 9 out of 10 in the float metric.

Pintail construction helps to boat through blower.
Pintail construction helps to boat through blower.

Plafulness


A playful structure would compromise the A-Star's ability to carry out its mission: destroying big lines in the steep and deep. Creating a bomb-proof, send-worthy powder tool was no doubt the intention here. Not surprisingly, those qualities don't fall into the typical profile of a playful ski. That said, one of our testers was sending backies in the park on the A-Star and claimed that the stiffness was helpful in avoiding back-slaps. This pair took home a 5 out of 10 and was outperformed by the majority of contenders in our fleet, particularly by the Salomon QST 118, Moment Bibby, Atomic Backland Bent Chetler, and Line Pescado.

Boosting Tube from atop The Palisades...in uniform no less.
Boosting Tube from atop The Palisades...in uniform no less.

Versatility


Lacking energy and intuitiveness, there are certainly more dynamic skis than the A-Star. Though it's comfortable in many conditions with an experienced driver, some skiers may find it unforgiving or sluggish when not floating through pow, earning a 5 out of 10. The top scorers for this metric include the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, Atomic Backland Bent Chetler, and Moment Bibby.

Best Applications


This stiff, unforgiving ski is best on steep slopes with manky powder when sometimes the best course of action is to just gun it. The top-end performance means the A-Star could be suitable for aggressive skiers who prefer high speeds and strung out turns. But weekend warriors looking for a reliable pow ski ought to look elsewhere.

Value


The cost of the A-Star seems a bit high for skis in this width. Head is known for their bomber construction, and this ski is no exception. Quality construction, great longevity, and a reputable name are perhaps worth the pricetag, but there are more economical options.

Conclusion


This ski is a total beefcake. It's fast and heavy with a large turn radius—maybe that's your thing 'cause you're some hotshot big-mountain ripper who eats cornices for breakfast. Unforgiving to novice skiers, the low-rise rocker profile and stiff flex feel more like a high-alpine missile than a freeride floater. But one thing is certain: the A-Star is built to last and will stop at nothing to go fast down the fall line.

The A-Star wants to go fast and straight.
The A-Star wants to go fast and straight.
Rob Woodworth

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 2, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (3.0)
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