Black Diamond Carbon Convert – The Review

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Black Diamond Carbon Convert is a winner.

Black Diamond Carbon Convert is a winner.

In the ski touring world, as far as I’m concerned white is the new black and carbon is king.

Anyone who has followed WildSnow over the past number of years knows I have been a disciple of carbon construction since it’s inception. My latest carbon footprint is Black Diamond’s new entry into the fray: the Carbon Convert.

The Carbon Convert is a carbon sandwich construction version of their current model, the Convert. Both share the same 105 mm waisted footprint and rockered tip and tail profile with minimum camber underfoot. BD bills the current Convert (which I have never skied) as a touring oriented, powder seeker weighing in at 7 pounds with the Carbon shaving off an additional pound. A 6 pound pair of skis in a 105 mm girth is impressive.

Speaking of the skin track, what a welcome relief that BD and some other AT ski manufactures are finally seeing the wisdom of making skis with white (and other very lightly shaded or reflective) top sheets. Simply put, snow doesn’t stick to the top of white skis nearly as much as black or other dark colored top skins. I like my 6 pound skis to stay as close to their given weight as possible on the way up. White is the new black.

Unfortunately, even though they are white, the top surface of the Carbon Convert is 3-dimensional due to the torsion ribs. This leaves the low lying space between the ribs to collect snow. In the kind of conditions these skis are designed for, you _will_ find that snow or ice may accumulate in the depressions on the tips and tails, somewhat negating the weight savings of these featherweight planks. Fortunately, the Convert’s white color helps keep ice and snow accumulation at a minimum.

I’ve put in three days touring and some lift served on the 172 cm Carbon Convert. In terms of conditions, I have been hard pressed to find anything to ski but powder given the superlative season in Aspen. My very first turn was in a foot of light, dry pow and I knew from the get go the Carbon Convert was in its element. Easy to initiate, smooth as silk with a subtle, little pop out of each turn. With each successive lap that day I went from slower, smaller, conservative turns to faster, larger, swooping turns all bringing a wide grin to my face. A slight change in angulation and I was able to change the turn radius at will.

That said, the Carbon Convert has a speed limit and is not a take-no-prisoners, freeride mountaineering charger. At those speeds it will fold and deflect a bit in the tip. Keep it within it’s speed limit and endless bliss is yours. To take on those higher speeds, more aggro attitude or hard and icy snow the Carbon Convert would need to be a bit stiffer and have more torsional beef.

My second Carbon Convert review day was yet again touring on the backside of Aspen Mountain (my workplace as a powder tours guide). On one run in particular I rolled along on low angle terrain never breaking stride as I dropped over the top of a steep bowl. Gravity pulled me down the open face with snow billowing up around my knees. I let them run on the lower flats until just before everything funneled into a narrow, steep sided terrain trap gully. I stopped to put my skins on, not a soul in sight and headed home via Aspen Mountain thinking it doesn’t get any better than this. It was only my second day on the Carbon Convert but it felt like I had been on them for two years.

Both of those days ended on Aspen Mountain for a final run home. I have to say, I couldn’t find the groove out of the powder and thought maybe this ski is just a one trick pony–until yesterday, or call it the trifecta if you will. The day before was a return to winter with a cold, windy, snowy day of low visibility running laps in Highlands Bowl (on different skis). The snow kept piling up as the day wore on. The forecast was for a cold night and clearing so the green light was on. My partner and I raced up Mt. Hayden in the morning. We ran into a group of Snowmass patrolmen on top and shared a run of untracked from the first turn right off the top. Big smiles and poles taps all around. The Snowmass crew went up for another lap but we had to head down.

Back in town I checked in with my wife who was headed to Buttermilk with our 5 year old daughter. I raced out there to join them for laps on the baby chair at the bottom. When they went in for lunch I jumped on the chair for a couple of cruisers from the top. I stayed on the groomed to take the time to learn where to stand on and how to carve this ski.

What a difference a day and a little patience makes. Like all wider skis, one of the keys to railing on the Carbon Convert is a higher edge angle achieved with a wider stance and increased angulation. Secondly, they really respond when the turn is initiated right at the very tip of the ski. It grabs the ski and pulls you through the turn. If you are lazy in the early phase of the turn they will drift off in some other direction. I went up for a second run on the groomed and before you knew it I felt like I was playing with the mountain. I even managed to whip off a few quick slalom turns (but certainly not their forte).

The third part of the trifecta was a few laps on the gondola at Aspen Mountain after my wife and daughter went home. I started with the cruiser routine and then went looking for the most manky snow I could find. I found it in the form of day old Chunky Monkey sun baked tracked powder with or without bumps, a few inches of baked, left over untracked and the nearly refrozen version of the above mentioned Chunky Monkey. Initiating right from the tips, keeping within the speed limit and making round turns, the Carbon Convert smoothed it all out like molten ice cream. Those unique carbon construction attributes of smoothness and dampness with a little pop rolled right over, around and through the funkiest snow this side of Sly and the Family Stone.

Lastly, one of my pet peeves with BD skis in the past has been their finish or lack thereof from the factory. In some cases I have found some of their skis downright unskiable until retuned. They promised with their new factory those days were over and they have delivered the goods. The Carbon Convert were impeccably finished and ready to roll.

With the Carbon Convert I discovered a surprisingly versatile ski that will make a joy out of powder, corn and all of the funk in between while leaving the heft behind. The profile and dimensions combined with the unmistakable attributes of carbon construction make for a ski that will take you where you want to go and leave you smiling. I know what ski I will be on this spring from here on out. Light and white is right.

Convert tip rocker profile.

Convert tip rocker profile. Rocker on our 180cm pair of testers is 38 centimeters tip, 28 tail.

Black Diamond Carbon Convert tail rocker.

Black Diamond Carbon Convert tail rocker.

WildSnow weight chart: Carbon Convert at 1443 grams per 180cm ski is 9th in weight/surface out of nearly 50 skis we’ve sampled, 10th for weight/length which is exceptional for a 105 mm waisted ski. We also have the Carbon Aspect here for evaluation, 127/90/113 dimensions; it also ranks well in our charts.

Shop for Carbon Convert.

(Guest blogger Bob Perlmutter and his wife Sue live in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, where Bob manages Aspen Mountain Powder Tours, a snowcat skiing operation. Bob has sought adventure skiing over the past thirty years in the nearby Elk Mountains as well as locales around the world. Presently, he is reeling it in close to home and enjoying his biggest adventure yet, fatherhood of his beautiful daughter.)


31 Responses to “Black Diamond Carbon Convert – The Review”

  1. GeorgeT April 15th, 2014 4:08 pm

    Perl: Thanks for your accurate description of the C-Convert. I completely agree with your points especially initiating turns from the tip. Do you attribute the “pop” to the carbon, wood or camber. This ski has more camber than any of my previous skis. I also think the tail stiffness is about perfect for most conditions. If you get in the backseat you can recover without any embarrassing monkey motion due to tail stiffness.

  2. Bob Perlmutter April 15th, 2014 9:28 pm

    Hi George, I am no engineer but I think the subtle “pop” of the C-Convert is the sum of all of those factors. I do feel that carbon provides smoothness, dampness yet a highly reactive ski at a light weight that can not be accomplished with more traditional materials. With more traditional materials you can achieve somewhat similar performance characteristics but not with the weight savings of carbon. I try to limit the “monkey motion” to the dance floor and agree that the C-Convert does not make one pay a big penalty for getting a little out of step.

  3. Mark Worley April 16th, 2014 10:32 pm

    I enjoyed a brief intro to this ski recently, and the lack of weight is very noticeable in a wide ski that handles a lot of conditions well. Wish I could have toured with them, but that will just have to wait.

  4. Lou Dawson April 17th, 2014 7:45 am

    George, good to get your take as I know you’ve been out on those skis quite a bit since you got them. I skied them a few times as well, and pretty much agree with Bob’s take. Since I stick more with the “90-100 mm” waist class skis, good to have you guys on the wider stuff helping out with the reviews. Especially true of Bob, who quite simply skis more natural snow than all the rest of us combined (grin), has experienced hundreds and hundreds of skis, and has a half century of turns engraved on his genetic code.

    Two things I’d add about Convert. First, while they’re white I sure like to see them get rid of the duck ponds at tip and tail. The Carbon Aspect does not have the ribbed depressions, so perhaps we’ll eventually see a Convert that lacks them as well. Also, in a previous blog post we pictured how Black Diamond used very little steel edge at tip and tail. I think that’s fine in the tip, but believe that the skis could do with a bit more steel at the tail for situations such as “back seating” on steep hard snow. In powder, this is a non issue, but worth mentioning overall.

    I’d also like to clarify something: There is a trend in the industry these days to redesign skis and use the same name as a previous design. Super confusing. Convert is an example. While the Carbon Convert shares dimensions with another ski called the Convert, they are two entirely different skis and any comparison of one to the other is no different than doing a comparo between two different brand’s skis that have similar dimensions. Sometimes those types of comparisons are useful, but they’re not the end-all be-all and require the logistical hassles of activating two different pairs of skis on the same day, preferably alternating runs at a resort. We didn’t do that in the case of this review. Perhaps some other time.


  5. Chris April 17th, 2014 7:07 pm

    I skied the regular Convert all season and recently picked up a pair of the Carbons. On my scale they are 18 oz lighter which is impressive to say the least. I’ve skied the Carbon Converts three days in backcountry snow – mainly transitional spring funk. The backcountry isn’t always the best place to test skis, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re a totally different ski. In soft, friendly snow I don’t notice much difference. But in challenging conditions they feel a bit more powerful than the standard Convert and you can definitely notice the added stiffness. In corn they have a fair bit of pop and rebound as was observed by the reviewer.

    In short, my limited testing supports the rumor that they ski as well or better than the standard Convert for way less weight!

  6. Lou Dawson April 17th, 2014 8:08 pm

    Chris, thanks for the confirmation! Lou

  7. Bob Perlmutter April 17th, 2014 9:10 pm

    Day 4 addendum: Today I skinned up Aspen Highlands(closed for the season) for some exercise. Perfect spring conditions on corned up corduroy. I really found the sweet spot on the C-Convert today. Ripping off precise and fluid short and medium radius turns. The skis were giving just the right amount of pop, rebound, energy and reactive feedback while still exhibiting a silky and smooth feel. Honestly, prior to today I was hoping for but had not achieved this level of performance from the C-Convert particularly out of the powder. Today we were simpatico and I can’t wait for the rest of the spring season to unfold.

  8. Chris B April 18th, 2014 8:22 am

    Bob, Have you skied the Sportiva Nanos? Anybody’s observations about differences between the Converts and Nanos would be great.

  9. Lou Dawson April 18th, 2014 8:36 am

    Chris, I’ve skied them both. Was on the Nano a while ago, then another day of touring recently out of WildSnow HQ with the guys from Sportiva North America. In my view the Nano is more of a dedicated touring ski in that it didn’t feel as competent on piste, but was just as good in pow and crud, and amazingly light weight. I loved the Nano, and had no problem with the C Convert either. If you’re trying to pick between them, I’d warn you off because you’re picking apples vs oranges. The three mm difference in waist width alone, while not that great, makes them different and in my view makes the Nano closer to the type of touring width (around 100 or a bit less) that I like best. A closer comparo to the Convert would perhaps be the K2 Coomback 104, though Coomback has a bunch more rocker… Lou

  10. GeorgeT April 18th, 2014 10:39 am

    My 2015 C-Convert wish list is a tip that is 4-6 mm wider and ditch the ribs (snow catchers). My thought is a wider tip would make turn initiation easier by simply rolling your knees (angulation) and add some float. The 133/105/117 waist in 180 cm ski does not sink underneath my 170 lb. weight, but a ~138 tip might improve the ski in my estimation. For example the K2 Coomback dimensions are 135/102/121 and turn initiation is effortless. I am not sure how much is due to dimensions versus construction, but it works for me. Applying those dimensions my wish is for a 138/105/124 Carbon Convert in 2015. Lou, I know you love to modify gear, but my skis are not available (grin). What do you think Perl?

  11. GeorgeT April 18th, 2014 11:16 am

    Chris: I agree with Lou. I demoed the Vapor Nano and skied it in powder, moguls and groomers. Since I like to skin Highlands Bowl as much as I BC ski, I wanted a ski that excelled in the powder of the G zones, but could negotiate the bumps at the bottom and run out the traverse straight-lining to Deep Temerity lift. The Vapor Nano excels in powder and chop, but was too much work in the moguls and nervous on straight-lining at speed. I bought the C-Carbon on faith and I am very happy. See my comments above. The new K2 Coomback is appealing, since I have a worn out K2 Anti Piste/Coomback that was my favorite ski, but now that I have the C-Convert I can’t justify another pair. My C-Converts 180 cm with Dynafit Superlite bindings weight 3 lb. 11 oz. per ski and are solid skis. I highly recommend demoing Vapor Nano, C-Converts and new K2 Coomback.

  12. Lou Dawson April 18th, 2014 12:28 pm

    K2 has lightened up the Coomback quite a bit (1656 grams for the 2014/15 104 mm waisted version we have here, see weight chart), but what I hope to see from them is a “Carbon Coomback,” that skis at least 95% as good, or perhaps even better?

  13. Lou Dawson April 18th, 2014 12:32 pm

    I’ll say this: One distinction of a touring ski versus a ski that tours? The touring ski might not be the best mogul ski you’ve ever been on… To that end, I’ve been skiing about 80 days this winter so far, and have probably skied 5 moguls. That shows the extreme bias of ski reviews (grin). Lou

  14. Bob Perlmutter April 18th, 2014 12:56 pm

    Obviously we all have something to learn from Lou given his ski days vs. moguls ratio. George, my initial impression of the C-Convert before ever skiing them was that the tip should be a little wider primarily to improve powder performance. I have to say they are quite a good powder ski but would be very interested to see what a wider tip would do to both further enhance the powder performance and turn initiation. The new K2 lineup sounds interesting. More ski testing is in order.

  15. Chris April 18th, 2014 1:41 pm

    In my opinion widening the tip would change the ski in a way some (myself included) might not like. I love the newer school geometry with less sidecut and tapered tips and tails – gives it a loser feel and make them fun and smeary. It is a design that is usually only available in wider and heavier designs. A fat tip would also go counter to the semi-pintail design. Of course this is all personal preference!

  16. Mark Worley April 18th, 2014 10:20 pm

    Wider stance and increased angulation to get this ski on edge makes perfect sense, and I guess I didn’t really think about it overtly until you mentioned it Bob. Yeah, that is what it takes. I would personally love to get these out again and let them rip so I can work on the smeary turns more. I like the idea of being able to make somewhat traditional camber turns on a ski, but also having the versatility afforded by rocker fore and aft coupled with the taper. Great design for sure.

  17. Erik Erikson April 18th, 2014 11:51 pm

    Anyone who allready demoed the new K2 skies allready (coomback or wayback)? Do they ski as good as the older version though lighter and more rockered?
    Speaking for all those who do a lot of backcountry skiing but can´t always afford the best available gear: At least in Austria you can get coombacks and waybacks for sometimes only a quarter of the price of a carbon ski (than beeing the post season version), and the durability seems to be quite good. Durability over time of these superlight skis would be interesting, as this is also an issue if you are not ready or not able to invest heaps of money into skiing.

  18. Lou Dawson April 19th, 2014 7:05 am

    Erik, we picked three K2 Backside skis for testing (we don’t demo, we actually get out and ski on them multiple times and multiple days), Wayback 96 waist, Talkback 96 (same mold as Wayback, Talkback supposedly for women), and Coomback 104 waist. We have someone out on the Wayback and Talkback, all reports are excellent. Coomback will be in play soon. All three are in our weight comparison charts.

    All, regarding weight vs durability. No reason a lightweight ski can’t be durable. In other words, I wouldn’t just assume that a heavier ski is more durable than a lighter ski, that’s nonsense. Plenty of quite heavy skis have had durability problems over the years. So have light ones. Sure, it’s probably cheaper to build a durable ski if weight isn’t an issue (use a solid maple core, no carbon, tons of resin and fiberglass, thick edges), but with more care and higher tech materials that same ski can be built lighter, with the same or even better durability.

    Even a bit of extra care with weight gets results. I’m looking at the new Coomback, at 1656 grams for a 104 mm waisted ski, with what I’m assuming is pretty much alpine durability as well as a big beefy binding mount reinforcement (to fix what appears to have been a previous problem). Sure, that’s not the lightest ski out there, but it’s not a monster in terms of weight. All they probably did to lighten it is a little more care with core weight, and some care with the build. The edges are thick.

    Even so, I then consider skis such as the G3 carbon offerings. G3 is not going to make a fragile ski. I thus assume Synapse and other G3 carbons are plenty durable — and they are quite light!

    Black Diamond as well. They’re not going to make a Convert that’s fragile. A big part of Black Diamond’s target market is sidecountry and alpine, those skiers end up pounding their skis at resorts. Any BD ski have to hold up to that, since that’s the image BD decided to communicate in their marketing story. Consider that in light of Dynafit’s marketing story for the Denali, or the Cho Oyu. Sure, a ski for dropping of the summit of an 8,000 meter peak has to not break. But it doesn’ t have to hold up to 200 resort days and 25 machine tunes. Different animals. I prefer the latter.

    Yep, me, I like to see companies that make the claim for human powered skiing, and make skis specifically for that end of the spectrum. Dynafit and La Sportiva, for example. Such skis can indeed be a bit less “durable” as they’re going to receive a small fraction of the downhill use a resort ski gets.

    Again, why make a ski tourer haul around a half-pound of extra weight so their ski can double as a resort ski? Or why should I haul around extra weight so three sponsored skiers can cliff huck on the same skis I’m lugging?

    Answer, if the skier resort skis or the sponsored cliff hucker needs them, then fine for them. But me, or many of you guys reading this? You don’t need to lug around that extra weight. You can watch the cliff hucker in a film, and who cares what skis he’s using…

    One thing to remember is for you guys who don’t care as much about weight, there will always be dozens of choices in skis. Indeed, the alpine ski market is so huge compared to human-powered it makes us look like a gnat on a mountainside. That’s why companies such as Black Diamond, and now Dynafit with the new line of freeride skis they’re hyping, constantly try to sell into the “freeride” crowd. Of course, forty other ski companies are trying the same thing so we’ll see how that goes.

    Meanwhile, if you’re out doing human powered skiing, try a pair of “one kilo class” skis sometime and prepare to be amazed.

  19. Ben April 21st, 2014 12:42 pm

    Very informative review! I’ve been eyeballing these skis for awhile now. I’ve been looking at the 172, but Black Diamond’s size chart indicates that I look at the 180 (@170 lbs; 5’10″). I currently have a pair of 176 Aspects and 172 Insanes. I love both pairs of skis. I’m a bit leery of going up to a 180 both in terms of added weight and messing around with longer skis in trees etc. So I have two questions. How much do you weigh (that will help me put your comments in perspective)? and What are your thoughts on the 172 vs. 180 choice given that these are fully rockered skis?

  20. Will S April 21st, 2014 10:04 pm

    Have been skiing the Carbon Converts for 2 months now. I am 6 ft tall and 170 lbs. I think the 180s are the perfect length. Any shorter and stability would be minimal. They are exciting skis in most conditions, but for me in tight trees they are a little too exciting. They have tip and tail rocker but also a lot of camber under foot. Not a fully rockered ski.
    I personally am not aggressive enough to handle them in tight trees. They are much stiffer than the old Converts, which I also own. I imagine many people would not find it to be a problem. But if that is your main concern, you might not like them. You could go shorter, but you would compromise the skis’ great qualities in more open terrain.

  21. Bob Perlmutter April 21st, 2014 10:04 pm

    Hi Ben, I come in at a whopping 5′ 7″ and 130lbs. If I was your height and weight I would most likely be skiing the 180cm. I have skied the 176cm Aspect and the C-Convert is vastly superior and much easier to ski at a much higher level of performance. It’s the historical equivalent of coming out of the Dark Ages into the Renaissance. The rocker does make the turn initiation much less effort and negates much of that concern about additional length. I understand your point about extra weight and trees. The unknown to me is the typical terrain you ski and how fast and aggressive you ski as well. Enjoy!

  22. Will S April 21st, 2014 10:39 pm

    In light of Bob’s question to you about what type of terrain you ski, I ski the back country of the Colorado Front Range. We get a lot of wind around here. It really screws with the powder in open country so I spend a lot of time in the trees.

  23. Ben April 22nd, 2014 8:27 am

    Thanks to all for your input. I ski the Wasatch and spend a lot of time in the trees. The Aspects have a good bit of camber under foot as well (this seems to be a typical BD ski characteristic) and I like the rebound it provides. Similar to your comment above about the C-Convert, the Aspects really like tip pressure – with a full rocker I imagine that they can take all the tip pressure one can muster. I’m thinking that I will really need to find a pair to demo next season. Thanks again.

  24. LandonT April 22nd, 2014 3:03 pm

    Hi Lou and Bob,

    What are your thoughts on these vs. the G3 Zenoxide C3s? It looks like they have similar construction, width, etc. The Zen’s appear to be a bit lighter (comparing 178 Zen vs. 180 C-Convert) but have the dreaded black topsheet. Any thoughts are appreciated.


  25. George T April 22nd, 2014 4:03 pm

    @Ben, I am also 6′ tall and 170 lbs. and I have 10 days on C-Converts. I ski trees and bumps (Olympic Bowl @ Highlands) and have found the length to not be an issue. The skis are very easy to load up (due to camber) and flick the tails around bumps. The rocker reduces contact length making the ski feel shorter than 180. I concur with Will S. that the 180 cm is the ski for someone of our size and weight. I don’t think the 172 cm would give you satisfactory float in powder compared to the 180 cm.

  26. Bob Perlmutter April 22nd, 2014 8:13 pm

    Ben, I couldn’t agree more with George. I consider the camber on the C-Convert to be minimal to medium, not nearly as much so as the original traditional cambered Aspect that you reference and I skied. Also, a number of people mention that the C-Convert is stiffer than the Convert and somewhat stiff in general, I don’t find that to be the case at all. I consider the C-Convert fairly soft which clearly contributes to it’s excellent powder performance and overall supple feel. The more I ski it the more versatile I find it and the more I like it.

  27. Bob Perlmutter April 22nd, 2014 8:17 pm

    Landon, I have not skied the G3 Zenoxide C3 but every comment I have seen is consistent that it is on the stiff side and I have to believe is stiffer than the C-Convert.

  28. Erik Erikson April 22nd, 2014 10:29 pm

    Lou, very good points about durability. Never saw it that way, but of course you are totally right that a ski solely for human powered skiing (which is the only way of skiing I do) does not have to be as durable or durable in the same way as a resort ski.
    So.. if I can catch a rather cheap one, I´m gonna try one of that “one kilo wonders”.

  29. laurent.F April 23rd, 2014 3:31 am

    Hi there, any comparison between BD C convert & Voile V8? (especially on how they handle “difficult” snow such as crust , refrozen snow, windpack snow and on harpack / icy snow…etc) Thanks!

  30. Bob Perlmutter April 26th, 2014 11:05 am

    Yesterday was a beautiful two peak spring day on perfect corn and creamed corn. After my experience from yesterday, I take back my earlier comments about thinking the C-Convert might benefit from a slightly wider tip. The subtle energy provided by the carbon construction propels the C-Convert effortlessly from one turn to the next while maintaining the silkiest of feels. And while my earlier comments about needing to really engage the tip at the start of the turn hold true, I found myself actually over emphasizing the tip pressure at times. By varying the tip pressure I was really able to play with the turn shape at will matching the terrain and my whims.

  31. Eric Schneider April 28th, 2014 7:37 pm

    How would you compare the carbon convert to the nunataqfor a quiver of one Backcountry ski? I live in Idaho. Thanks

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