Quiver Arrow of the Week — Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Testing Black Diamond's Carbon Megawatts in the Baker backcountry.

I have yet to get my dad on a pair of 110+ underfoot skis. Not sure why, ’cause they are a blast. He’s getting close as he’s been seen on some 107 waist skis lately, but still, he needs to get with the program. Perhaps it’s an age thing. Personally, I use a lot of wider skis and have quite a bit of experience on the original BD Megawatt — and now their carbon enhanced version is a well used option in my quiver.

Only problem with fat skis is their fat weight. Thus, for days of big vert I do sometimes grab something with less girth. But how about the best of both worlds? Looks like that’s happening, as skis are getting lighter. By next winter, we’ll be able to rock a growing variety of fat planks with less weight penalty. Less strain on muscles and joints during the climb — but the best ski for the down.

The original Black Diamond Megawatts were on the heavy side but they skied great, albeit a little soft. Over the past few seasons I loved mine to death, and they now have the same flex as boiled pasta. When BD came out with the Carbon Megawatt I was eager to try out a pair of slick new boards with less mass. I’ve been skiing the Carbon Megas this season and am impressed.

In the past Black Diamond had a single Megawatt model that was unchanged for several years. For 2012/2013, they’ll have two versions: the Carbon Megawatt, and the Megawatt. The Carbon version keeps the same shape and rocker profile as previous years (147/120/126 for a 178) , with a layer of carbon fiber making it lighter and a bit stiffer. The standard Megawatt will be a completely different ski with a different shape, less rocker, and a metal layer. They probably should have used totally different names for less shopper confusion, but whatever.

I’m happy they didn’t alter the shape or the rocker for the Carbon Megawatt. The reduced weight and added stiffness are welcome changes. Carbon Megawatts weigh 9 pounds 5 ounces a pair (188 cm), about a pound lighter (for pair) than the original Megawatts. I had Dynaduke plates on my original Megas but installed inserts into the new sticks, saving a few more ounces.

As a side note, inserts are awesome! I have them in almost all my skis. The installation on the Carbon Megawatts was a little tricky since the skis were already drilled for Dynafits and my size boot. I attempted to use the same holes. Unfortunately the holes were slightly off, something that doesn’t matter for normal binding screws but is problematic for inserts. I tried and sure enough, a few of the inserts didn’t line up. Bummer! I filled the holes with JB weld and super fine steel wool, and then attempted to re-drill. I only needed to move the holes over less than a mm, so I used the milling machine in the engineering lab on campus to get them ultra precise. Surprisingly, I was able to drill them slightly off-center, and it worked. Using that mill to drill skis was like using a Ferrari to run errands, but it worked.

Oddly enough, one of the awesome features of the Megawatt is the graphics. I’m not much of a fan the graphics themselves (Why do all BD skis have to look the same? It’s so confusing!). However, the fact that they are white is worth it’s weight in gloppy PNW powder. Every time I’m skinning with the Megawatts I notice how much less snow sticks to them, particularly the white areas, compared to other people’s skis. I’ve noticed this on the white areas of other skis. I’ve even noticed it during socked-in Baker powder days, when you would think the dim sun would not effect the ski at all. When snow piles up on a big ski, it adds a ton of weight, effectively negating any sort of fancy lightweight yahoo carbon construction. Unfortunately next years Carbon Megawatts go back to a dark colored top sheet, although they also drop a significant amount of weight through the inclusion of even more carbon fiber. (It really is time for some ski painting.)

This shows how top sheet color affects snow sticking to skis. Almost all the darker areas are covered by snow while the white areas are snow free. My Carbon Megawatts are almost always like this, regardless of conditions. Interesting.

I’ve been skiing the C-Megas mostly on powder, with some crust, ice, bumps, and groomers mixed in. In pow of course they are awesome. I found the added stiffness didn’t make them less playful, while they were slightly more confident at speed. In variable conditions they perform well, although the width, softness, and slight pin tail shape make it a bit of a compromise. I’m comparing them to my old Megawatts, which are admittedly quite worn out. The reduced weight was definitely noticeable. Combine them with a light flexible boot and lightweight binding, and they are a great setup for human-powered vert.

Kudos to BD for taking a great ski and making it lighter. I’ve found myself choosing them more and more for skiing the past few weeks.

While they last, 25% off Black Diamond Carbon Megawatts here! They have the white graphics too (which will change next year along with how they’re made), so get ‘em while they’re hot, I mean, cool.

Comments

44 Responses to “Quiver Arrow of the Week — Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt”

  1. Jailhouse Hopkins March 4th, 2013 8:47 am

    Looks like its really been puking in the PNW!

  2. Tim K March 4th, 2013 9:58 am

    which inserts are you liking ?

  3. Wade March 4th, 2013 10:59 am

    Hey Louie,
    I read your earlier post on the Dynadukes, and actually went with Dynalooks on a new pair of Dynastar Cham 97 HMs to really give a full alpine/full touring option. Was wondering if the preference to inserts was merely a weight issue and not something more intrinsic with the plates? Have you ever weighed the total number of inserts vs Dynadukes to see what the numbers really are? Certainly they are much cheaper….

  4. Tim K March 4th, 2013 12:08 pm

    Wade, were you able to get them to answer a email? I sent a couple to them and heard nothing back .. so I started to pursue the the insert option

  5. Wade March 4th, 2013 12:17 pm

    Oddly enough they did NOT answer email, but I sort of knew what i wanted and it showed up really quickly and as advertised so it all seemed OK to me. They seem super high quality and the anodizing is good, we’ll just see how well things go when undertaking the mounting. The interesting thing will be to see how the pre designated hole patterns effect the boot center alignment when swapping between alpine and tour.

  6. Tim K March 4th, 2013 12:26 pm

    thanks… please let me know how the centering thing works when you get that far

  7. Louie Dawson March 4th, 2013 12:39 pm

    I do still have a pair of dynaduke plates that I use, but I tend to use inserts more. Mostly it is for cost and weight, like you said. 18 inserts weigh about 23 grams while a set of plates weighs 260 grams, that’s a pretty big weight savings.

    However, the major disadvantage with the inserts is how tricky they are to put in. I’ve messed them up at least twice, luckily both times I was able to fix it. Inserts also don’t allow as much adjust ability as plates. Dynadukes have 26 holes per ski, that’d be a major pain to put that many inserts in a ski, and even if you did, many of the holes are too close together to use inserts anyways.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the Dynadukes will also put your boot on center whether you use it in a tech binding or a Duke. That is pretty tricky to do with inserts.

    Both Quiver killer and Dynaduke make nice inserts. Although Dynadukes do have a slight advantage since they have the slot in the top. I’ve used the slot a few times for backing out a insert for various reasons.

  8. Ali E March 4th, 2013 12:55 pm

    Can you really paint skis? How? I need to know!

  9. Wade March 4th, 2013 1:01 pm

    Louie brings up my reticence to use inserts….the much increased opportunity to screw up really expensive boards. As a former ski tech, I have pretty good mounting skills, but yet somehow once managed to off center drill a standard Dynafit mount. (the time honored beer and binding install collaboration seems to have miss-fired that time) Resale, too….plugging the smaller plate holes should leave plenty of room for repurposing in the secondary market as they will likely not be close to most binding mounting holes.

  10. Andrew March 4th, 2013 1:17 pm

    Louie – I’m all for getting your Dad out on a pair of 110mm+ fatties as well. Force him into it, take lots of photos and post them up.

  11. Lou Dawson March 4th, 2013 1:24 pm

    Ali, it depends on the top sheet, but part of the trick is to use the plastic enabled Krylon or something like that. Many skis have a top wrapper that’s essentially P-tex, painting that is tricky. It has to be scuffed and prepped with some kind of bonding agent, and acrylic sometimes works better than rattle can type stuff. Pretty sure milk jugs are the same stuff, so there is your experimental surface.

    Some skis are very paintable, test by dabbing a small area with lacquer thinner. If the test gets tacky to your finger, they’re paintable with lacquer, though you have to go slow so as not to melt the top skin with too much solvent. I noticed the Volkls we have here are like that, as I was cleaning some Sharpie marks off and noticed the lacquer thinner tacked up the surface.

    Lou

  12. Tim K March 4th, 2013 1:26 pm

    andrew… force is a bad thing… much better using peer preasure and guilting him into the fatties….. LOL

  13. David B March 4th, 2013 1:29 pm

    Nice ski Louie, did you know they actually have less carbon fibre than a DPS Hybrid.

    There are a lot of companies throwing the carbon fibre in as a marketing ploy. I think you’ll find these turn to boiled pasta at a similar rate to your old Megawatts. Maybe they’ll habg in there slightly longer.

    Classic how the coloured sections hold the snow. You wouldn’t think they would attract that much heat to do that. Goes to show it doesn’t need a great temperature variant to melt a snowflake.

  14. Wade March 4th, 2013 1:41 pm

    As the proud owner of a pair of Wailer 112 Pures….I just have to say to Lou that we are not the Borg. nor are we religious zealots, kool aid drinkers, easily marketed to sheep, etc.. Nobody but principals or sponsored athletes have any vested interest in DPS, they are simply phenomenal skis and that’s why folks luv ‘em They have changed the game for me in pow for sure, and I am positive that many of the skis in this new segment with similar profiles are also awesome, like Louie’s Carbon Megawatts. C’mon Lou……join us; I promise it won’t hurt a bit.

  15. Lou Dawson March 4th, 2013 1:57 pm

    I have a third eye growing in the middle of my forehead, and a DPS tattoo suddenly appeared on both ankles and earlobe. A strange rhythmic beating sound seems to constantly ring in my ears, and the temptation to march out the door to my ski rack and grab the Wailer 99s is strong. But I resist, and grab the Volkls, or the Dynafits, or? But yeah, the Wailers are good.

  16. Robert March 4th, 2013 1:57 pm

    There’s nothing like floating in waste deep powder with a pair of phat skis firmly fixed to my boots, ahh memories……….

  17. Wade March 4th, 2013 2:08 pm

    99s..?!?!?!?! He’s STILL not taking the bait….I give up…time for Dr Drew and full scale intervention

  18. Lou Dawson March 4th, 2013 2:31 pm

    Shucks, the Volkls are 107 mm, do they count?

  19. Charlie March 4th, 2013 3:26 pm

    Installing inserts on a mill is a great way to go. It’s a good tool for the job; better than any jig. Once you have a CNC pattern programmed in for a boot, you just check once that it makes sense, and you’re on your way.

    Far less stress.

    (and, at the demo at Vertfest last month, the Carbon Megawatt was a ton of fun, even in less-than-perfect snow. Super quick for its length, in the 188. Skied like my standard-camber 177s.)

  20. Dirk March 4th, 2013 3:53 pm

    Lou, what color have you been painting skis? I’m always frustrated with the amount of frozen hitchhikers that stick to my dark topsheets. Does the painted surface Texture shed snow/ice as easily as the regular topsheets? I’ve thought maybe some of that adhesive vinyl graphic might work to white out the tops and still have a slick texture…

  21. Lou Dawson March 4th, 2013 5:09 pm

    Dirk, some friends of mine have done it. I did it years ago. White is the choice. Adhesive vinyl is too heavy and funky. As far as I know the paint is plenty hydrophobic, and you can always rub it with some wax. The main thing is to prevent the constant heating/cooling of the skis. I’d do it more frequently but many of our skis are long-term testers I don’t want to send back the company painted! Though perhaps that would make a point. Lou

  22. Michael Finger March 4th, 2013 5:14 pm

    I’m waiting for next years uber light Carbon Megawatts — those have me excited!

  23. Eric Steig March 4th, 2013 5:46 pm

    Louie: How do you these compare with the next-gen. G3 Zen Oxides that you reviewed a month ago?

  24. Louie March 4th, 2013 6:22 pm

    Yeah, next years Carbon Megawatts are going to be sweet. The weight reduction compared to this year is impressive. I think they added quite a bit more carbon.

    The Carbon Megawatts are quite a bit different than the Carbon Zen Oxides. The Zen Oxides are 100% carbon, and are waaaay lighter. They are also narrower and have less rocker, so they are much more of an all around ski, and aren’t quite as fun in powder. The full carbon also makes them super stiff (much more than the Megas), and very snappy. Bottom line: Megawatts are a sweet lightweight pow ski, and the ZenOxides are a sweet lightweight all-around ski.

  25. SquishRT March 4th, 2013 8:27 pm

    Great review Lou, I’m also looking forward to seeing how the carbon layups evolve and lighten, and how much the general public really likes that on slope. A light ski in the store is one thing, but I think there’s a threshold somewhere for versatility and function on a slope.

    On the snow buildup and colour scheme idea, has anyone tried wax, oil based products, or other to keep snow from sticking to the top sheet? I agree that we spend all this time and fuss to lighten up, then carry that much weight or more in snow. I’ll be curious to hear some different ideas…

    Thanks!

  26. Dirk March 4th, 2013 9:08 pm

    Best snow buildup prevention I’ve found is to “cold soak” my skis out in the garage the night before so a bunch of snow doesn’t immediately melt and stick to a warm ski. I’ve tried the rainex type stuff ans didn’t see much of difference. Plus I do have a little aftermarket scraper on one pole handle to try and knock some of the more persistent ice off.

  27. cam March 4th, 2013 9:47 pm

    Thanks for the write up Louie. Most interested in the snow build theory. The darkish topsheets of my Dynastars attract snow something terrible and add a noticeable weight gain. I’ve also owned skis that claim anti-snow coatings – which have the briefest of lifespans and end up sticking like the rest of them. I wonder if the white/reflective color works like you say it does?

  28. Steve March 4th, 2013 11:16 pm

    All,

    Take a Voile scraper and screw it into the top of your pole grip. This will work on either BD or K2 poles. You simply scrape the top-sheet snow away on the fly while breaking trail. It also works as a ski base scraper if you’ve left your boards out over night and they ice up a little. Lastly, it works great as a skin scraper if you get snow build up while touring. If you use the Euro technique of pole grip to switch between Dynafit climbing modes (not possible on Radical) you need to use the other pole that does not have the scraper installed.

    Warning: you can slice your face open with this design if you’re not a clean skier so make sure your skills are honed before applying this custom mod.

  29. Nhoway March 5th, 2013 5:56 am

    Next years carbon megawatt will be lighter AND narrower. A different ski from this years model.

  30. Lou Dawson March 5th, 2013 6:05 am

    Cam, take my word for it, lighter colored skis have much less icing in most such situations. I say this based on experience, it’s not a theory.

  31. Lou Dawson March 5th, 2013 6:11 am

    All, regarding which skis are which, please be clear that yes this review is for the Carbon Megawatt presently available at retail. We will extensively test next season’s version and suspect it’ll be a good ski, but no way of knowing for sure. As far as we know, the name of a ski has nothing to do with how it skis (grin), though some folks might differ, especially those in PR and marketing.

  32. Ali E March 5th, 2013 9:38 am

    Lou, thanks for the painting tips. I was thinking I might do this on my old style Manaslus. Funky topsheet graphics, but dark dark dark.

  33. Lou Dawson March 5th, 2013 9:42 am

    Ali, it could be difficult, they appear to be skinned with HDPE, experiment. Lou

  34. Jk March 5th, 2013 3:07 pm

    What length are you on? Do they ski long or short?

  35. Louie March 5th, 2013 8:49 pm

    Oops, should have put that in there, I’ll update it. The Megawatts I have are 188 (I’m 5’10”, 150lbs). They definitely ski short, the relatively soft flex and large amount of rocker make they super maneuverable. I don’t think a shorter Megawatt would be as fun, however, I do tend to like long skis (most of my skis are ~188, except for lightweight short ski mountaineering skis).

  36. Tim K March 6th, 2013 4:43 am

    how do the super wide ski’s affect tech bindings? are the wide body Plums needed (don’t even know if dynafit makes a wide platform)

  37. Lou Dawson March 6th, 2013 6:27 am

    Tim, not a big issue, mostly psychological (look at me!) but perhaps some real-world plus to wider screw pattern, such as more resistance to improperly installed binding screws pulling out of skis.

  38. Wade March 10th, 2013 2:40 pm

    Note to Tim K. just finished mounting my Dynalook plates to my Cham 97 HMs. Went really well….skis with plates are 8 lbs 2 oz. if you want a pic give me your email and I will send to you

  39. Tim K March 11th, 2013 7:01 am

    Thanks Wade..

  40. Crazy Horse March 24th, 2013 1:37 pm

    Hi Louie,
    Surprised at how heavy those carbon megawatts are. My 186 PM Lahasa Pows are 8# 6oz. instead of 9# 5oz. and have similar width dimensions. Quite stiff in the mid section and have a lot of energy when loaded up by my 240#s of pure muscle. (LOL)
    Must be the difference in air pressure in Reno instead of China’s heavily polluted coastal air affecting the scales—.

  41. Lou Dawson March 24th, 2013 4:45 pm

    Crazy, sounds like we need to verify those numbers, I’ll try to do that. Thanks for the heads up. Of course, PM Gear will always be hipper, lighter, cooler looking and ski better than anyting else, but we might as well be sure our numbers are accurate. Lou

  42. edward April 5th, 2013 1:49 pm

    I have what I feel is a dumb question- how do you know your skis are “blown”, as in over ridden, over cooked pasta?

    I have just spent 5 days at CBMR and my 2010 180 Verdicts are easier to ski, all around than my 173 BD (2006) Havoc’s and my 170 Dynafit 7 Summits. The 7summits handled the moguls, but ick on everything else. I’m not sure which skis better on the crud- 7 Summits or my Madshus Epoch’s 185 or the Eon’s @185. Could be my form or the edges…

    Only the big Verdicts had real edge control this week.

    Is just the edge tune? i weigh 175, 5’11″, 42 y/o. skiing since I was 10. (yeah, much not-so-recent style still stuck in muscle memory /legs.)

    Real question–
    Skiing the wind blown ice and pow and wet cement of Rocky Mountain NP (gullies with hot sun on one side, shaded pow on other side of gully) and other other Front Range BC, what skis to ride next year???

    2013-14 quiver idea
    Atomic Ultimate Rando Race
    Dynafit Cho Oyu
    Madshus Annum 165cm
    BD Verdict. 180 cm
    (oh, and the Madshus Eon 185 (wax) that I already enjoy- they are mediocre on bumps but fly really well on jumps :)

    Thanks
    ed westhead

  43. Lou Dawson April 5th, 2013 4:09 pm

    Ed, I would never test a ski for edgehold unless it was tuned. Too big a variable otherwise (although if it still holds well even without a tune, that’s something to consider).. In terms of a ski getting old, in my experience it’s more like they have a sort of “dead” feeling, lack of liveliness and pop. My take, anyhow.

  44. dan October 30th, 2013 10:52 am

    Armchair ski buyer here: I currently ski a 177 nordica hell and back most days inbounds, and a 177 Karhu storm BC with dynafits touring. Had 4/5 days on a 177 nordica patron on powder days at the resort last year, and they seemed pretty short with the rocker.

    I’m 6′ 175, 37 years old living in jackson. I tour probably 2/3 of the time, ski socially inbounds and really prefer to earn ‘em. I just replaced my well-loved but too soft megarides with some maestrale rs, and am looking hard at the carbon megawatts as a powder touring ski. 188? I know they’d be great while skiing pow, but am a little concerned about that much ski on icy/tight runouts or billy goating through tight steep stuff or manky trees. 178′s too short with the rocker? I know the only way to know would be to ski both, but I don’t think my shop is mounting any up demo. Thoughts? Apologies for the cliche post, just getting my stoke on while some snow falls…

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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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