Black Diamond Helio 105 — Review

Post by blogger | April 27, 2016      
Nice setup, Helio 105 with that ever elusive and ultimately desirable Vipec 12 BLACK.

Nice setup, Helio 105 with that ever elusive and ultimately desirable Vipec 12 BLACK.

Spent some time on Black Diamond Helio 105 in a variety of snow conditions. Spring skiing, need I say more? You can tell these planks are made by Blizzard in Austria, with a few twists. They’re not as “edgy” as you might expect from our Österreich skiing deities, yet they belie their below average weight with a damp-solid feel. Reasonable snap combined with 21 meter radius keeps powder fun and breakable crust manageable, though you do notice the relaxed sidecut if you try to go “carvy” on piste. I happen to like that type of geometry.

Moderate tip rocker yields compromise between pow slarver and lack of terror on piste.

Moderate tip rocker yields compromise between pow slarver and lack of terror on piste.

Tail rocker at 17 cm from tail is nice for pow but interferes a bit with hookup on piste (in my case, anyway, while using Dynafit TLT6 boots and not laying the ski over aggressively). Tip rocker (Black Diamond calls it early rise) is what I’d call “average,” ending about 33 cm from the tip on this pair of 175 cm.

I’d rate Helio excellent for natural snow touring if you’re looking for a wider plank, but not my preference for a resort ski if much piste is involved. Words that pop from my keyboard? Forgiving, relaxing, fun, light, platform. I’d travel with these as a winter ski. That is unless I was doing 100% ski touring in Österreich or other classic Alps destinations, where I’d want something a bit narrower. (As always, if your style involves steel cable that makes touring efficiency moot, or if you’re a rider with “freeride touring ” proclivities, please ignore my penchant for skinny skis.)

You can feel the tail rocker. Fun on soft snow, a bit wishy washy on hardpack.

You can feel the tail rocker. Fun on soft snow, a bit wishy washy on hardpack.

Incidentals: In weighing I removed and replaced a binding (Vipec 12). Binding mount reinforcement felt robust when I re-torqued the screws. Wide skin notch at tail could be useful or an annoyance, depends on the shape and operation of your skin tail clips. Edges completely wrap tip and extend to the tail protector. Light topskin colors are appreciated here in Colorado, for icing prevention.

Check out Perl’s review from last winter.

Length tested: 175
Dimensions: 132/105/119 (27 mm sidecut, 21 meter radius)
Weight: 1436 grams
Wildsnow weight index score: 72 (lightest is 61, heaviest is 108)
Binding offset: 165 mm, measured from factory “BC” mount.
Skier-tester type: Average weight 5’10” 160 pound skier, expert who skis at moderate speeds with a neutral stance.

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28 Responses to “Black Diamond Helio 105 — Review”

  1. Brian April 27th, 2016 12:25 pm

    Yea. With that black topsheet, a Dawson wouldn’t dare ski it in spring!

  2. Lou Dawson 2 April 27th, 2016 12:26 pm

    Got the captions a bit messed up re tip and tail rocker. Should be fixed now. Lou

  3. Lou Dawson 2 April 27th, 2016 12:29 pm

    BTW, the Vipec 12 Black bindings worked quite nicely. Lou

  4. Kristian April 27th, 2016 2:18 pm

    I honestly also prefer long radius skis. Because strangely enough for me, they are much easier to apply pressure and arc them in narrow tight constricted places as well as jump turns. And every arc radius is customized to what is needed and not predefined. Hope that makes sense.

  5. Dave J. April 27th, 2016 6:35 pm

    How do they compare to the 105 Convert’s, Lou?

    I just did the Haute Route on a pair of Dynastar Mythic’s (97 waist). Awesome ski!

  6. Patrick April 28th, 2016 11:38 am

    These skis provide an opportunity to observe (study) accumulation of ice and snow on both white and black surfaces.

  7. Dan Nelson April 29th, 2016 12:40 pm

    Anyone who would use a 1400g ski on resort must want their teeth rattled out and knee replacements. This ski was clearly designed as a lightweight yet wide soft touring only tool.

  8. jasper April 29th, 2016 9:04 pm

    Why do low weight skis combined with lift served result in knee replacements?

  9. See April 30th, 2016 8:16 am

    Same reason frame bindings and boots weighing more than 1500 g each aren’t good for touring, only backwards?

  10. See April 30th, 2016 8:25 am

    Semi-natural snow can be found at resorts. Touring skis can be good for this type of “resort” skiing and/or for people who like a light setup and adjust their style and technique accordingly.

  11. Dave April 30th, 2016 5:47 pm


    Did you want for a little more length or was 175 fine?

    Comparison to the old Carbon Convert?

  12. Lou Dawson 2 May 1st, 2016 6:37 am

    Hi Dave, for me the 175 was fine. My recollection was the Carbon Convert was a bit more nervous but might have had slightly better edge hold. I’m not sure how much of a rebake of the Carbon Convert these are. I like to think they are a different ski, not just different paint. But for the record I’ll state that when skis are similar, sometimes the way they’re tuned and mounted can make more difference than their construction. My overall impression of Helio is it feels damper and more stable than the Carbon Convert, but I’ve not skied the Convert for about a year. If you’re shopping for deals I’d say the Carbon Convert could be a win. Lou

  13. Lou Dawson 2 May 3rd, 2016 6:09 am

    Ended up on Helio with Vipec for 3 full days of lift assisted ski testing. I did a walkup too but couldn’t face the big skis for that so used my Volkl 88s then swapped after a few runs on the skinny planks. Fun testing. The Helio is definitely an “easy” ski but not particularly carve and edge oriented, as it probably should not be at that width and purpose. Vipec Black 12 binding skied fine, with a bit of trouble getting in after pit stops and some weird behavior involving the heel not staying in alpine/downhill position. That was probably operator error but I’m continuing to investigate.

  14. Daniel Landry September 21st, 2016 3:06 pm

    Looking for a new touring ski (100% backcountry use). Will be used mainly at Rogers Pass.
    Narrowed it down to 2 skis: Black Diamond Helios 105 and Voilé Supercharger.
    I am 5′-7″ and weight 140 Lbs. Like to ski powder, small and medium turns, medium speed (not super fast) and also small jumps (4′ to 8′).
    Which ski would recommend ?


  15. Lou Dawson 2 September 22nd, 2016 7:55 am

    Hi Daniel, if you’re doing 100% human powered pow on Rogers, not trying to star in a freeride movie, I’d say just pick the lighter plank, Helio. Supercharger skis well by all accounts, so you won’t be disappointed with it either, but I think you’ll find that for true muscle powered skiing the lighter Helio will be appreciated. Both companies support, and we’re fans of both brand’s skis. We think Voile has done an amazing job of making award winning yet more affordable skis (V6 is one of our all-time favorites). Black Diamond has not rested, they’ve re jiggered and now have the rocket scientists at Blizzard designing and making their planks, you can feel it when you ski them. Lou

    See Bob’s review:

  16. Daniel Landry September 22nd, 2016 9:42 am

    Thanks Lou.

  17. Allen October 18th, 2016 8:15 pm

    Thanks for the review. I’m thinking of getting a pair of the Helio 105 – but I’ve already got a pair of Voile V8 that I bought about 3 years ago after reading your stellar review here. I’m happy with the V8’s but like the idea of losing some weight if the performance will be nearly as good. Or possibly keeping the V8 for deeper days and using the Helio for an all-arounder and for moderate ski mountaineering. Thoughts on this? IE should I just keep the V8, or sell them and get the Helio, or keep both of them? The difference in width is not huge but the weight difference seems pretty significant. Although the V8 is pretty light already for a wider ski!

    I would be using them for 100% human-powered backcountry as I have a dedicated resort setup. I’m 6′ and 160, moderately aggressive skier but tend to only get a handful of days in the backcountry each year in addition to 10-20 days at resorts. I ski mostly in the Tahoe area and usually ski Mount Shasta at least once per season, and I’m hoping to do more BC and more ski mountaineering going forward.

  18. Brad Fowler October 19th, 2016 10:06 am

    Hi Lou,

    Not to belabour things too much, but If I’m currently skiing 100% backcountry on a G3 Zenoxide 105 at 186cm with original G3 Ions, would I benefit in trees from something like the Helio 105 at 185 cm or a DPS Tour1 106 at 184cm? The latter has a much shorter turning radius, the former, I think might be less intense stiff then then G3 Zen 105s and allow it to be more playful?

    G3 Zens I can get around in all terrain, but I’m curious if a different set of skis would require a bit less effort to turn them tightly in soft conditions, but also still hold up well in chop/harder snow we find at times in the backcountry.

    If you have any guidance that would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  19. Lou Dawson 2 October 19th, 2016 10:55 am

    I’d vote for DPS being very easy to maneuver, they’re definitely more buttery than the G3, turn radius is probably not as big a factor as just the amount of rocker and the flex profile. Even where you put the binding on the ski makes a huge difference in how “quick” a ski feels. Lou

  20. See October 19th, 2016 7:40 pm

    I’m not Lou, but I have very minimal experience with one pair of zen oxides. In my opinion, they are crazy stiff.

  21. Matus October 20th, 2016 1:56 am

    Definitely, the radius is not the number that should be taken seriously. It is just a mathematical value that was calculated by the manufacturer based on unknown formula. I always look on the profile, width and stiffness. Eg. my Nunataqs from Volkl have huge radius and yet they feel nimble and are skiable in the trees at 186cm length (I am 180cm).

  22. Todd Davis October 25th, 2016 7:49 pm

    Anyone actually ski the Voile Supercharger? Currently have older Coombacks, 102 underfoot, which have served me well both in and out of bounds and also a Voile V8 which I love in the backcountry but not so much inbounds except if I catch a fresh powder day. Looking for something to replace the Coombacks which will still be used in the backcountry but can also serve me well at the resort. With that in mind I’m willing not to have the absolute lightest ski and willing to pay a bit of a weight penalty but not the heft of a full on alpine ski.

  23. Brad Fowler November 8th, 2016 4:51 pm

    Many thanks Lou, See and Matus.

  24. Tucker November 15th, 2016 7:15 am


    Any thoughts on the Helio 105 relative to the La Sportiva Vapor Nano? I’m looking for a light ski for longer excursions with a slight bias towards powder performance, but want something that is still passable on the hard and steep. Do the weights and relative rocker profiles tell the story, or is there anything else to report? Thanks Much!

  25. Michael November 15th, 2016 9:39 am


    I’ve demo’d both the Vapor Nano and the Helio 105, and I think the Helio will be much better on firm/variable/steep terrain than the Vapor Nano. If you want the lightest possible ski for pow turns, then I’d pick the Vapor Nano, but for everything else I’d take the weight penalty and ski the Helio. I enjoyed the Helio on corn and dust on crust conditions. I found the Vapor Nano skittish on anything firm.

  26. Tucker November 18th, 2016 6:42 am

    Sort of what I suspected, though I was hoping the Nano might have a bit more grab. Going for the Helio’s. Thanks!

  27. Shane April 20th, 2017 8:45 pm

    I have used this ski for 2 seasons (average about 10 days resort and 20 days backcountry per season ) in the Sierra Nevada and love this ski. A little chatter when dive bombing a straight line tuck on hardpack but for me thats about the only negative. How would one compare this ski to the DPS wailer 106 tour 1 ?Very similar dimensions .I have yet to use a DPS ski but was looking into this one and wondering if it was similar in any way ?

  28. Shane April 21st, 2017 10:35 pm

    I just read that this was previously covered . Thanks

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