Ski Review: 2018-2019 Fischer Excursion 88
(To do this review justice- please read my review on the Traverse 78 first!)
This is a superb backcountry-cross-country ski.
With a XC focus- this ski offers a simply amazing range of performance. It- like the Traverse 78- performs well as a XC ski in every imaginable snow context.
It is the only Nordic touring ski that I have ever tested with a waist as wide as 68mm that actually offers very good XC performance on dense/consolidated snow.
Its full-length stable flex makes it completely stable in deep soft snow.
Its full 68mm width underfoot gives it significant XC flotation and grip in deep soft snow.
Fischer’s “Off-Track Crown” waxless scale insert offers highly effective grip (for a scaled base) and the stiff camber-and-a-half underfoot releases the scales form the snow when you stride forwards.
The “Easy-Skin” kicker skin insert is the stuff of dreams- very quickly increasing climbing grip and/or XC grip on snow that the scales won’t grip on.
With only 20mm of sidecut; significant and stiff camber; and only slight tip rocker- the 88 is not the downhill-focused XCD-skiers dream (especially if you get it long enough to offer decent XC performance). That being said it will turn; it is very stable; and light and responsive downhill.
Quite simply the 88 is the best XC overall ski I have tested in recent years with a waist as wide as 68mm. This ski greatly reminds me of the Åsnes Combat USGI surplus ski (read the review)- though the 88 is much lighter and easier to maneuver than the USGI ski.
• Sidecut: 88-68-78mm
• Length: to 199cm
• Tip shape: moderately-raised (from a Nordic ski perspective)
• Longitudinal flex: full-length, stable flex; stiff
• Tip flex: stable, moderately stiff
• Camber-rocker profile: slightly Nordic-rockered tip; camber-and-a-half underfoot; flat tail
• Tail flex: flat and stiff
• Edges: full-length steel
• Base: sintered tip/tail; “Off-Track Crown” waxless-scaled insert.
• Easy-Skin kicker-skin insert
• Lengths: to 199cm (could do with a 209cm option)
Versus Madshus Eon
The 88 is a better Nordic touring ski than the Madshus Eon.
It is a better XC ski on all snow contexts.
The Eon- with its soft tip and flex- is easier to pressure into skiddy, smeary turns…
(But if one was considering the Eon for its downhill manners- there are MUCH better downhill XC skis…)
Versus Fischer E-109 Xtralite
The current E-109 is more cambered underfoot than the 88. The E-109 should offer better XC performance….
The current E-109 has oodles of tip rocker- giving it a much shorter XC glide zone on consolidated snow.
The current E-109 has a ridiculously soft tip that bows like a wet noodle rendering it completely unstable in deep, soft snow.
There is no question that the E-109 is a lot more fun downhill than the 88, but- despite the extra camber of the E109- the 88 is a better XC ski over a wider range of snow conditions. In short- the 88 is a better all-round cruiser than the current E-109.
Versus Åsnes Combat Nato
Hard to say which one performs best when XC skiing in deep, soft snow…I would suggest the 88 with its full 68mm underfoot.
Downhill performance is similar.
Versus Åsnes Ingstad BC
The Ingstad BC absolutely kicks the 88’s ass in steep terrain. The Ingstad BC climbs better and offers wondrous turning.
But the 88 is much better XC skiing on consolidated snow.
Deep snow XC performance is a bit better with the 88 due to the wider waist.
Versus Fischer E99 Xtralite
The E99 is a faster XC ski.
The Excursion 88 is easier to pressure than the more cambered E99-
- requires less of a focused “kick” than the E99.
- offers better climbing traction than the E99.
- is easier to evenly pressure when downhill skiing.
BUT- the current E99 Xtralite has more tip rocker than the 88, and- if one is willing to full-weight the downhill ski- the E99 offers a shorter turn-radius than the 88- despite the extra camber of the E99 (weird-eh?)
The 88 has a more effective XC trail-breaking tip.
The deep snow flotation is MUCH greater with the 88.
Versus Fischer Traverse 78
The flex and camber of the 88 & 78 are basically identical.
The 88 is wider- and therefore a slower XC ski than the 78.
The 88- at 68mm underfoot- offers more flotation and grip in deep soft snow.
The 88 is certainly more versatile than the 78...
BUT- if you don’t need the extra float of the 88, the 78 is faster…
From my perspective the 88 is simply a wider version of the 78. If one wants the better XC performance in deep snow- then the 88 is a clear choice.
But if deep soft snow is not an issue- the 78 is faster than the 88.
(And there are better deep snow XCD skis than the 88…)
Versus Åsnes Storetind
My Åsnes Storetind is an equally good XC ski in deep soft snow- but it sucks in comparison to the 88 when XC skiing on dense consolidated snow. The Storetind absolutely blows the 88 away as a downhill ski!
Versus Madshus Epoch
Much better overall XC performance than the soft, round-flexing Epoch/XCD 10th Mtn- both on dense snow and deep soft snow.
The Epoch- with its soft round flex- is definitely easier to turn than the 88.
Versus S-Bound 98?
I don’t have access to a current S-Bound 98 to compare with the 88. Someone else shall have to weigh in on this one!
I think that the current Excursion 88 is perhaps the most widely versatile backcountry-cross-country ski available- especially now that is available in a 199cm length.
The 88 is not a high-performance ski.
Narrower, more cambered skis are faster.
Less-cambered, and/or rounder-flexing, and/or tip-rockered skis offer better downhill performance.
BUT- if I wanted just one ski for all of my XC-focused backcountry touring- I would be looking at this ski- and its narrower sibling- the 78.
The 78 is faster. The 88 offers more flotation.
Now- all we need is an 88 in a 209cm (or even longer) to absolutely destroy distance on powder (though a longer than 209cm 88 would probably require less camber underfoot…)
April 8th, 2019
Snow Glade Farm