2016 FullBag Hammer Head 181
I figured I'd throw up a review of the Fullbag Hammerhead 181 now that I've put in quite a few days on it in all conceivable conditions. I will likely get into some detail here, as that is my nature and, in my view, more detail is better than less when it comes to such things, but the Coles Notes version is this: I have been riding since 1995, and have ridden many, many snowboards in that time, and this is my favorite snowboard I've ridden to date. Now that I think about it, most of you are in America and won't be familiar with Coles Notes. Oh well, they're like abridged versions of stories Canadians use to write book reports without having to actually read the book in question. I'm confident an equivalent product exists in America. Then again, they probably just live on the internet now. Any how...
34 years old, 5'11" and 225 lbs presently, though I was 240 lbs while riding it last year, with size 11 boots (13 in normal shoes). I've been riding since 1995 and would rate my skills as intermediate overall. I am not very good at park riding (never throw anything fancier than 360s), but can shred groomers at 100 kms/hr (60 mph), am confident charging in deep snow, and am comfortable dropping medium sized cliffs and drops into deep snow (20-30 feet). I live in the Yukon Territory in Canada and regularly ride in the backcountry here where the Yukon, BC and Alaska all run together (the White Pass, enroute to Skagway, Alaska and the Haines Pass enroute to Haines, Alaska), so I am lucky to live near and ride some pretty gnarly shit quite often.
This thing is super unique, and its geometry has some really neat features. It is pretty enormous, with a fat, blunted nose, a really cool sidecut scheme, elongated contact points, which grip really well and provide for buttery turn initiation, a fat waist (26.5 cms), 2 cms of taper, and small swallowtail cut-away. I am riding it at +27 and -6, which I think works well for this board, along with a stiff binding and tight, stiff boots. I pair it with Now Drive bindings and Ride Trident boots.
It is a pretty stiff board, but not super stiff. The tip of the nose seems a bit softish for float , but it gets really stiff in the area in front of the foot and maintains that stiffness right under the front foot. I have no worries about folding the nose on this fucker, even if I hit a hard crust while bombing. From there, it softens between the bindings, which lends it some torsional give a makes it easy to ride, before ending with a stiff, powerful tail. This is an ideal flex pattern for the sort of riding I like to do. In fact, I had a custom board builder make me a custom split this year, and this board provided the inspiration for the flex pattern I requested.
As mentioned, I really, really like the geometry of this board; it rides unlike anything else I have ridden. Mig put together an excellent blend of radii when he conceptualized this sidecut. The radius is super tight at the nose and more gradual in the middle, but then tightens up again through the tail, but not to the same degree as the nose. This results in lightning quick turn in for a board of this size and lots of power out of turns, but a ride that isn't twitchy in the least. Mig can elaborate on this if he wants to, but I'll just say that it feels awesome. The tighter radius at the back makes the tail much less washy than one would expect from a board with 2 cms of taper (I can lay it out at speed over an icy boardercross course and not ever feel like I may wash out). I think that this same blend of radii would make a skinnier board with a normal amount of nose and typically apportioned front contact points feel twitchy, but the fat width and generous length combined with the giant, smoothly blended front contact points and the sheer size of the nose make it enormously stable. This combo is responsible to a large extent for why I love this board so much. It combines response and stability in a way that I have never experienced before now, and tops it off with effortless float. In the deep stuff, you can really muscle the tail around easily on account of the swallow cut-out and the 2 cms of taper, so one isn't encumbered by the length of the nose in the way you would expect. In practice, this means you can turn on a dime in deep powder and throw down ridiculous slashes. Like, RIDICULOUS.
Secondly, the enormous nose rises very gradually, which creates amazing float. On a lot of tapered powder boards, the nose rises so much that the first several inches never touch the snow and, thus, aren't actually working for you. The whole nose works for you on this thing on account of the really gradual rise, so it planes out quickly once you start moving, even at low speeds. I just put down two days of straight bombing pillow lines in blower pow, and I couldn't bury the nose if I tried. There is one cliff hidden in the woods that I hit several times that drops 20 feet easily and lands onto a low-angle, nearly flat landing. This weekend was the first time I've ever seen it in play because you need a ton of snow at the bottom for it to be viable. I was dropping that thing at high speed and landing with my weight equally weighted between my front and back feet and didn't have to worry about burying the nose at all. On any other board I would end up going over the handle bars, but on my Hammerhead it was almost too easy. I saw a couple of teenagers who are way more skilled than me hit my line after me and they both tomahawked despite being about 135 lbs and 155 lbs, respectively. This thing is unsinkable.
As a big guy, I have never had a board that I could ride legit deep, low-angle pow on while weighting my front foot, unless I was carrying in a ton of speed from a steeper slope; that's the sad reality of being heavy. Dudes who are 135-180 lbs have lots of options for boards that will allow them to ride off the front footin deep snow at moderate speeds, but once you hit that 220 lbs+ range, you're typically setting your shit way back and steering/surfing off your back foot until you get moving really fast and finally plane out a bit. That's cool when your maching steep, deep runs because it happens really quickly as you accelerate. However, on low-angle shit or in the trees when you're riding slower, you may not steer off your front foot for the full day. This is the beauty of the HH 181, it's like a Jones Hovercraft made for big guys - it planes out SUPER quickly, even if you're heavy as fuck. And, if you're moving with any sort of pace at all, the nose will instantly pop up when you land drops. Big drops have never felt this easy for me.
Though most of my backcountry riding here is done on a splitboard, My friends and I still do quite a bit of riding on our solids as well. In the White Pass, there are lots of really sweet cliff lines that are easily accessible from the side of the South Klondike highway if you know where they are. We often just snowshoe in for 20 minutes or less to some of our favorite spots with our solids strapped to our packs and session windlips, cliff bands or pillow lines for the day. While this won't be the first board I reach for for sending it off backcountry booters, it will now be my first choice for cliffs and pillows; it is just that good. I really wish this board was available as a split, as it would definitely excel in big mountain terrain with good snow. I can only imagine how well this thing will do in a steep, wide-open bowl when it's filled in with blower, and I would honestly prefer this to almost anything else in steep, high-consequence terrain. It's combination of stability and responsiveness, along with its unsinkability and the ease with which one can push the tail around (which allows you to put the breaks on quickly or force quick turns by pushing out the back foot) would make it great for bombing shoots. I may just have to split one.
Last edited by Alonzo; 12-04-2016 at 09:48 PM.