The New Black Diamond — Good News

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While BD is good at innovation and making products that work, work better, I think the biggest change for the better I see coming for next year is their skis. With sandwich construction and new models, news is that things are really happening with these guys! Anton and I got to ski most of the new BD Power Series line during a hard charging demo day in Aspen, and to be honest I didn’t ride one plank I didn’t like. Big changes in the line for this year, all of them for the better as far as I can tell. Every plank we were on skis better and more consistently than before. Below is a breakdown ski by ski. (Note, you may accuse us of drinking 6 liters of BD laced Koolaid after reading this, but please be assured, since past experience with the vast selection of BD skis has always yielded mixed impressions, we went into this with what I feel is an adequately objective view. As always, if possible demo before you buy any ski sight unseen.)

Verdict 170(132-102-120) & 180(134-102-121) & 190(136-102-123)

Verdict
The Verdict was without a doubt one of our favorites in the ski test. While I was on a shorter version of the ski than I would purchase, it wasn’t hard to tell that the new skis were of vast improvement over the previous Verdicts (I own the old blue ones). The new ones provide superior edgehold with the new sandwich construction; they simply provide a bit more power transfer. The early rise tip is also a great improvement. The day we got to ski the skis started out blower in the morning and turned to mashed potatoes later in the day. These skis charged through it all. I plan on adding these to my quiver next year.

Zealot
I think the Zealot is the sweet spot for next years skis with respect to the traditionally shaped skis. One thing that we both noticed is that they float through pow, power through crud, and arc turns like a GS ski. It employs the same sandwich construction as the Verdict and allows for a very responsive ski. Just writing this sentence makes me excited about skiing these next season on a daily basis.
Zealot 182(135-110-123) & 192(136-110-125)

Amperage
I know that you, dear reader, are probably already tired of me telling you that each ski was my favorite, but alas, I’m going to do it again. My only complaint on the Amperage is that it should come in a bit longer length. Aside from that it is one of the most fun and playful skis I have ever clicked into. This is the introductory year for the Amperage, and I think BD has a winner with it as well. Turns in pow are effortless, and you really can’t be afraid to lay it over on the hardpack as well. Watching Anton send a 25 footer and stomp it on these was pretty amusing. Between the ski and the skier it looked smooth and easy. Another ski I’d like to see in my garage…if only I had a garage. (Click here for another Amperage review.)

165(139-115-123) & 175(141-115-123) & 185 (142-115-124)

Can’t say much about this one, other than it is supposed to be the ladies version of the Amperage.

The Woman's version 165(139-115-123) & 175(141-115-123)

Megawatt
The Megawatt returns as a hard charging ski that is made for charging pow and crud. While I found it reasonable to ski hardpack on it, it is truly at home in the soft. Mega’ really makes skiing easy with the 125mm underfoot and the wide shovel to float you over anything in your way. Great for charging hard, stomping booters, and slaying the pow lines. Skiing made easy.

178(145-120-126) & 188 (151-125-131)

Gigawatt
Gigawatt is without a doubt the slayer of the whole line. You might wonder what the heck you could ever need a ski this big for, but the truth is these planks really are fun. Last few runs of the day Anton and I both found ourselves on these skis. Booters, cliffs, pow, moguls, crud, and groomers, this ski will do it all. It takes a bit of planning to get something this big up on edge, but it will certainly make it happen. We skied the 185 version, but I can’t wait to try the 195 version. The ski is fully rockered, and this makes it incredibly nimble considering it’s 163 shovel combined with the 135 under foot. A must have as far as I’m concerned. No backcountry or inbounds condition it can’t handle, but like the Megawatt it loves the pow!

185 & 195 (163-135-141)


Justice
Though not a part of our ski test, the Justice makes the jump over to the efficient series. They changed the tail to accept skins better with their Skinlock tail tab. Also added is a Carbon-fiber reinforced construction that I am looking forward to testing ASAP.

185cm (140-115-125) 8lb 6oz 175cm (138-111-123) 8lb

Warrant
The Warrant is the one ski that I haven’t had the pleasure of skiing on. Kilowatt disappears next year and as close as I can tell this is the closest thing to it in the new line. I’m looking forward to this ski, as it includes the new sandwich construction that produces more of a vertical sidewall. It looks to be as though it will be a ski you can lay down the edge on and have it be slightly less chattery than the Kilowatt. I can’t wait to hop on the 188 version as a spring ski.

The Warrant 168~(128-95-116) 178~(130-95-118) 188~(132-95-119) Click to Enlarge

Here is the Woman’s version:

158(126-95-115) & 168 (128-95-116)

Every time we got back on the lift after testing a new ski the comment was basically “I want this ski too.” Looks like we may have a BD infested house next year, and I will be more than happy to welcome every one of them.

Comments

36 Responses to “The New Black Diamond — Good News”

  1. See May 12th, 2011 7:52 am

    Thanks for the advance look at the BD skis (among my favorites since the Atomic days).

    I am, however, consistently baffled by the abundance of subjective information, and the paucity of technical detail in ski reviews, even on Wildsnow.

    I’d really enjoy getting more information about construction and materials, and (even better) cut-away pictures and/or diagrams, along with impressions of how this or that ski handles different conditions for individual reviewers.

    This piece is a report on a demo day, so I’m not faulting you guys for this particular review (which I found interesting and well written). Just taking the opportunity to make a general comment about something I’ve wondered about for a while.

  2. jerimy May 12th, 2011 12:28 pm

    Looks like BD is entering the apparel market as well. http://tinyurl.com/62wp68n

  3. Lou May 12th, 2011 1:25 pm

    They’ve got a brand, might as well max it out! The guy comes from Patagonia? Better loose some weight if you want the new clothing to fit well.

  4. Duke May 12th, 2011 2:38 pm

    Weight?

    The Amperage or the Justice for a big-dude touring board? I’m ready to up-it from my foam-core verdicts to a slay’r ride as they were ZE-BEST when I 1st got them, now they are fairly soft and not so “chargy” anymore.

    Suggestions?

  5. Lou May 12th, 2011 2:52 pm

    All hail the powers that be. Turns out another ski company has rights to the name “Amp.” Heretofore, the BD Amp will be called the Amperage. Disobey on pain of riding 60 mm wide 160 cm long Euro sticks for three months next winter.

  6. Lou May 12th, 2011 2:56 pm

    Duke, I’m starting to think that worrying about the weight of a big stick is like obsessing on the fuel economy of a Chevy Suburban….

    As for what would make the big-dude ride, let’s wait for Jordan to return from his latest attack on the Elk Mountains and get his take. I don’t qualify.

    Lou

  7. Lou May 12th, 2011 3:07 pm

    Hi See, you bring up a good point and something I’ve pondered quite a bit. We do publish more detailed ski info on occasion, but not consistently. Why? Mainly because we are not a dedicated gear review website, nor do we have the resources to consistently process that sort of information for presentation in the web publishing environment, in a way that would be fair to all the ski makers as well as to our readers. What is more, such information is frequently available either on manufacturers websites or in their literature, so going to effort of re-working would be pointless in many cases. Yet mainly, we’re a blog not a technical paper, thus, we are about opinion and impressions, and our ski reviews will probably continue to reflect that more than the technical side.

    It’s been known for a long time that a niche exists for a ski review website that gets overtly technical. I would hope to see that some day, and can honestly say that WildSnow could never fulfill that role, we have too many other missions and interests.

  8. stevenjo May 12th, 2011 4:26 pm

    Lou – thanks for the peeks. For big lines my 1st gen verdicts have always delivered, but for tighter turns/trees, or soft cord. they have always been somewhat blah. To a lesser degree, I’ve found this true for some of their other skis. Anyone experienced this? If so any thoughts to how this latest gen. will perform? As a caveat, my 177 mantra’s have been the go to ski for resort and BC now that I have a second pair with dyns on them, albeit they’re getting a little skinny by today’s standards.

    Thx
    John

  9. Jordan May 12th, 2011 5:17 pm

    Stevenjo,
    You will like what you find with the Verdict and the Zealot. Turns like a GS ski, floats like the dimensions suggest. I have the old Verdicts too, and these are just a completely different ski.

    Duke,
    I think either would work out great. Justice will be your go to though if you are planning on logging lots of uphill vert.

  10. See May 12th, 2011 7:55 pm

    Aside from skibuilders and wildsnow, which websites feature useful construction info.?

  11. Lou May 12th, 2011 8:39 pm

    See, it’s random, unfortunately.

    I really do try to respond to readers like you, so if the graphics are available we’ll make more effort to publish, but no guarantees…

    Perhaps we’ll do that instead of messing around with dumb stuff like “Editor’s Choice.” (grin)

    Lou

  12. Kimball May 13th, 2011 7:07 am

    Great first look information. What are the dimensions of the Zealot? They seem to have been left out.

  13. Larry G May 13th, 2011 8:46 am

    Lou, I really enjoy the subjective ski reviews on Wild Snow. In response to See’s comments, it might be helpful to include a description of the skier’s technical ski ability and background. I accept that most ski testers are expert skiers, but some description of the tester’s individual style, racing background (preferred events) and current personal skis would help color their review. This would also help the reader establish a “category” for each tester and maybe help understand the rating from that tester. Just a thought…keep up the great work!

  14. Scott May 13th, 2011 9:55 am

    Is BD marketing the new perf series skis to the Alpine and Tele crowd? I’ve been out a bunch on my last gen Verdicts this year, and I’m ready for something lighter, not the other way around.

    I like the looks of the new Justice, but wish they’d make one a little narrower (and thus lighter), more like the Verdict dimensions, although I may go for one anyway. Does anyone else make a narrowish tip/tail rocker ski? I saw that Volkl is doing a backcountry version of the Gotama (which I love with full, but mild rocker) at around 8 lbs next year.

  15. Brent May 13th, 2011 11:26 am

    Scott you’ve looked into BD’s efficiency series right? The Drift and Aspect have mild rocker/early rise and seem to fit what you’re talking about. K2 also has “all terrain rocker” on nearly all their “adventure” skis, look at the Coomback and Backlash. Dunno if there is a narrow ski out there with true tail rocker but why would you want that? I just got some new Backlash’s on a crazy end of season clearance and can’t wait to ski em tomorrow on some Socal late spring crap and then Shasta in a couple weeks.

  16. Scott May 13th, 2011 11:45 am

    @Brent,

    As for tail rocker, I’ve been skiing the 2009/2010 Gotama (which is full reverse cambered) as my alpine ski, and well, it is awesome. No reason not to go to it.

    The Drift has been getting pretty ho-hum reviews and I didn’t think the Aspect had much, if any, tip rocker. I need a good reason to upgrade my Verdicts, and I’m not sure either of these make the cut line for me. I’d go all the way to a Manaslu for my lightweight setup (which would replace some old BD crossbows), but worry if it is enough ski.

    My first purchase next year will probably be to update my lighter boots, which aren’t so light anymore and soft as a noodle.

  17. Scott May 14th, 2011 11:23 am

    Surprise surprise, glowing reviews of BD stuff on Wildsnow…

  18. Scott May 14th, 2011 1:16 pm

    Skins:

    After glopping up all day yesterday does anyone have an opinion on the most glop resistant skin? I am using BD mohair mix and applied glop stopper twice while letting the skins dry out. Nothing i did helped.

  19. Scott Nelson May 14th, 2011 2:07 pm

    @Scott: I use primarily BD’s ascension and glidelite (both nylon). Partners have used G3′s, BD mohair mix and others, and they also glop up from time to time. I tend to use Toko red or yellow for skin wax. Seems to really help, if I remember to put it on before heading out. Not sure if there is a “one skin is better than the other” to remedy the glopping, as I think it is more of a snow / temp condition dependent issue and if you’re using wax for your skins or not. Check out this link for some good comments on what other people do regarding skin wax:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/…/black-diamond-climbing-skins-sts-glidelite-mohair/

  20. Greg Louie May 14th, 2011 2:12 pm

    Any skin glops up going from wet to colder/shady/fresh conditions; once they get wet under the fibers you’re hosed. The trick is using the glop stopper at home when they are dry. Better yet rub on the alpine wax you are using on the skis (hard, both directions, it won’t hurt the plush) and iron it in (yes, directly on the skins, but keep the heat low and test on a scrap of skin material first), then brush out the skins tip-to-tail with a coarse nylon brush. I’ve done this with BD nylon, mohair pure and mohair mix skins with good results.

  21. swshred May 14th, 2011 2:16 pm

    I have never owned a pair of skins that lasted into spring, Im on my third pair in 3 seasons. Never had any problems with glopping as long as I apply the glop stopper before they touch snow, that is if the glue is still actually sticking to the boards come May. As far as the Black Diamond love fest goes, you realize if Lou, Jordan, etc. didn’t write gear reviews they might have to get real jobs! So don’t expect an unbiased opinion from any sponsored athlete, they are marketing tools used to profit the corporations that run this country.

  22. Lou May 14th, 2011 4:09 pm

    Always a fun exercise to play the bias card, but the fact is, those guys happened to like those skis. Sorry about that.

  23. Scott May 14th, 2011 4:11 pm

    Well then swshred thanks for your opinion. I’ll let you give yourself a pat on the back. I guess i am not getting out enough if my skins are not lasting into May each season.

    A sincere thanks to the other comments. I will stop wasting money on BD glop stopper wax and just use the usual alpine wax.

  24. Jordan May 14th, 2011 4:32 pm

    @scott,
    I agree with the alpine wax bit over the skin wax. Works better. As for the skis. They really were that fun. Look back at my old factor review if your really think we are drinking too much of the BD koolaid. I liked the skis and I want to ski on them.

    Jordan

  25. Lou May 14th, 2011 4:40 pm

    I’ve been doing a lot of informal comparative skin glop experimentation this winter. We have everything from BD to K2 in play, and I’m biased for all 6 or 7 models and brands so my bias is normalized and you can thus believe what I’m writing (grin). I’ve seen the least glop on my Dynafit/Pomoca “Speed” skins, with BD orange Ascensions doing ok (as well as wearing like iron), other brands/models have appeared to glop more, but not a whole lot more. As mentioned above, anything will glop given the right conditions, even waxed Ptex…

    My understanding is that much of glop resistance is due to how much DWR treatment the skins come from the factory with, and how much of that is subsequently removed by wear and tear.

    And yes, just about any alpine wax seems to work fine as glop stopper, and it should be applied before the ski hits the snow if you want the best results.

  26. Greg Louie May 14th, 2011 7:17 pm

    Lou, are you referring to the pale blue Dynafit Speedskins that are in retail outlets now? Or is this a new version since Dynafit bought Pomoca this year?

    I was under the impression that the Dynafit skin fabric was originally sourced from Colltex . . .

  27. Greg Louie May 14th, 2011 8:01 pm

    wow, BD runs our country?

  28. Lou May 15th, 2011 5:57 am

    To some people, any positive review is dishonest. We get a chuckle out of that take and just keep on keeping on.

    As for the skins, yeah, the pale blue ones I’ve been using all winter on Manaslus were very resistant to glopping, though they still glopped on ocasion.

    Pomoca was the reddish Dynafit skins of a few years ago, Coltex pale blue. I get confused… so yeah, I’m referring to Coltex rebadged as Dynafit, with Dynafit tip/tail fix. I tend to like the European skin glues as well, as they’re less sticky and easier to handle.

    The skins that glop the worst in our experience are the DWR free ones from Climbing Skins Direct, and their derivatives (last year’s K2 skins, for example). It’s amazing how much water they absorb compared to DWR treated skins.

  29. Marcus May 16th, 2011 12:44 pm

    Hey Lou — any luck with applying a DWR of some sort to the Climbing Skins Direct skins? They were soggy towels when my wife took them for their maiden run.

  30. Lou May 16th, 2011 1:25 pm

    Marcus, the only thing I’ve had any success with is that Nikwax Ski Skin Proof along with frequent waxing. But I never got things working like the factory DWR treatment some skins get. I don’t know what kind of unobtanium they use for that, but it works.

    In my view, Climbing Skins Direct made a mistake selling skins without DWR. It’s just too important. If the environment is a concern, drive less or buy more non-synthetic pants — but keep the skin DWR going…

    My take, anyway.

    Lou

  31. Nick January 21st, 2012 3:29 pm

    Resurrecting this “thread”. Has anyone had much experience with the 2011/2012 180 and 190 cm BD Verdicts? It’s hard to find those to demo, usually just the 180 is available.

    Do they ski short, long, well, poor, particularly relative to something like the K2 Coombacks in the 180 or the hard to demo 188. I am looking for a quiver of one for primarily backcountry day tours with a bit of sidecountry when traveling outside the PNW, ie. Utah. I would be using my Titan boots and, possibly the Radical bindings (if I can convince my self they would be OK). For reference I am an old alpine nut Level III, 6’2″ and 185 lbs butt-naked. Thanks.

  32. Chris August 30th, 2012 10:09 am

    Lou,

    I think the weight comparison on Amperage vs Justice is important…they have very similar dimensions (almost exact), yet the Justice is apparently 2 pounds lighter per pair?? At least that’s what the BD site seems to say.

    Anyone have experience skiing the 2 and want to comment on differences in how they ski?

    Thanks,
    Chris

  33. Lou Dawson August 30th, 2012 10:45 am

    Hi Chris, you asked in the right place!!! See

    http://www.wildsnow.com/6957/ski-test-review-backcountry-skiing/

    The Amperage and Element are just about the same ski, so you can compare the Element to the Carbon Justice and get a pretty good read. We reviewed the Element instead of Amperage because we felt it skied a bit better. That could have been psychological and the difference between the skis might just be the graphics, if so, then I’d indeed call it identical. It’s quite a bit different of a ski than Carbon Justice. For more comments, please consider leaving them on the Ultimate Quiver review

  34. Aaron November 2nd, 2012 4:14 pm

    I’m looking at a pair of 180cm verdicts… I’m 5’10″, 175 lbs, aggressive skier. These will be mostly for inbounds and slackcountry skiing, but you never know…

    Should I be looking at something shorter with the verdicts? Or is 180 about right?

  35. Aaron November 2nd, 2012 9:00 pm

    And to be clear, I’m looking at branching out into more backcountry stuff.. not just a resort skiing question, I swear!!

  36. Mike Gillam November 24th, 2012 5:30 pm

    I have been reading reviews of the new skis for 2013…my question is pretty simple; are the new ski designs that much better than say, my pair of BD Crossbows? My thought going into this year was to switch to some Dynafit bindings, new boots and keep the ‘Bows. Now I am wondering about some new skis…

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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