Black Diamond Helio Ski Comparison: 95 and 105


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 3, 2016      
Black Diamond Helio 105 and Helio 95 tested in the vast reaches of the Eastern Alaska Range.

Black Diamond Helio 105 and Helio 95 tested in the vast reaches of the Eastern Alaska Range.

I ski both the Helio 105 and the Helio 95, and as such offer my review of these implements of cryological descent. (WildSnow has tackled the Helio 105 — I’ll focus on what stood out to me in the ski, then I’ll turn to the 95.)

Helio 105 on their way up in Alaska.

Helio 105 on their way up in Alaska. Click to enlarge.

Your reviewer: I am 5’11’’, 180 lbs. I ski toured both skis with both a 2-buckle boot (La Sportiva Spitfire) and a 4-buckle boot (La Sportiva Spectre). The 95s I skied at a 183 length on Vipec 12 bindings. The 105s I skied at a 185 length with both Dynafit Speed Radicals as well as Vipec 12s. I have done some spring skiing on these in Colorado and took these on a recent expedition to AK. No time spent in bounds on either ski, but I took them out in variable conditions, mostly spring corn and spring pow, with a bit of hard pack and crust sprinkled in.

The 105 likes going fast. I found this to be true in just about any snow conditions. This was surprising for such a light ski, but big turns in good snow felt like the 105’s prime time. Definitely a bit of chatter on hard pack (to be expected), but these feel stiff for the weight while still light. Helio 105 skis powder like a big pow ski, but still manages to be remarkably carvey in making turns (perhaps a factor of the 185 size) in corn snow.

All in all the Helio 105 is dang close to being the ‘White Whale’ of a quiver ski.

The weight to performance/size ratio on this ski is what has really stood out to me. I took it for some long tours and it felt light enough and flat enough to resemble a much smaller ski when skinning — light on the feet.

Great fun to be had sporting the 105 in some spring pow.

Great fun to be had sporting the 105 in spring pow.

The Helio’s tapered tail design makes the end of the turn buttery; surprisingly noticeable. This design, along with the weight also made the 105 especially maneuverable in breakable crust and grabby spring backcountry slush.

I really like the 105.

Helio 105 specs at 185cm:
Weight: 1550gm per ski
Dimensions; 134-105-119
Radius: 22m turn radium
Construction: Prepeg carbon on a balsa flax wood core, ABS sidewall

The Helio 95 also proves to be a quality ski with a bit more of a niche. As a ski mountaineering tool these boards rock. Definitely not as much float as the 105, but better edging, quicker to turn, and a bit easy to handle at lower speeds.

I was a big fan of the Carbon Aspect in the same niche, and the 95s feel super similar to me. Not a quiver ski, but a quality lightweight mountaineering ski.

The Helio 95 scrambling in Alaska.

The Helio 95 scrambling in Alaska.

The tapered tail design (also with early rise), slightly smaller shovel dimension, and ultralight wood core seem to borrow what worked well with the Aspect and improve on it. The Helio 95 at 183 has nearly the same turning radius as the Carbon Aspect (90 underfoot) at a 176 (20m vs 19m), maneuverability with less chatter and bit more ski make the 95 possibly a better version of an already good touring ski (with an extra 7 oz of weight).

The Helio 95 made fine and fast work both touring and turning in AK.

Helio 95 specs at 183cm:
Weight: 1400gm per ski
Dimensions: 125-95-114
Radius: 20m
Construction: Prepeg carbon on a balsa flax wood core, ABS sidewall

The 95 is not the catch all that the 105 feels like, but it excels in its strengths: ski mountaineering, long ski tours, easy turning, light weight fun.

Overall I think the Helio is an impressive ski at both sizes. The 105 covers more bases (and honestly is wicked fun), but the 95 is friendlier in hard snow and a bit easier to ski.

Shop for Black Diamond Helio here.

eastakleetr part one part two trip reports

If you missed them, here are the trip reports: Part One, and Part Two, Eastern Alaska Range.

Editor’s note: On November 11, 2016, Alex Lee and his ski mountaineering partner, Nick Vincent, will be at our local shop here in Carbondale, Colorado, Cripple Creek Backcountry, presenting a slide show on their backcountry tour of the Eastern Alaska Range. See you there!

Other upcoming events at Cripple Creek Backcountry:

2016

  • October 15, 5pm: Ski Season Kickoff Party
  • October 29 & 30: Backcountry Ski Swap

  • Comments

    7 Responses to “Black Diamond Helio Ski Comparison: 95 and 105”

    1. Doug Hutchinson October 4th, 2016 10:20 am

      Since no one else has a comment yet, I’ll go first with one of those annoying comparo questions: anyone want to attempt a Helio 105 vs Voile Supercharger comparo? My wild ass guess would be Helio is lighter and better up but more chattery at speed. Anyone try them both yet?

    2. Zak October 5th, 2016 10:12 am

      Helio 105 vs Supercharger… same question here which is it going to be for me?

    3. Lou Dawson 2 October 5th, 2016 1:01 pm

      Like I keep saying, if you like a buttery feel you’re going to get more of that with Voile, but the Helio is impressive in terms of weight vs performance. I’ve skied Helio but not Supercharger, this is based on what I’ve been told by trusted sources (smile).

      According to our weight chart, the Helio 105 is significantly light in weight, so if you’re 100% human powered, keep that in mind.

      https://www.wildsnow.com/9657/ski-weight-comparison-surface/

      I have some Superchargers here, if they’re not on the chart I can get them on there tomorrow. I’ll check.

      Lou

    4. Trevor April 21st, 2017 1:46 pm

      Hey Lou, how would you compare the Helio 95 to the Blizzard Zero G 95? I haven’t found any direct comparisons out there on the web. Thanks!

    5. trollanski September 17th, 2017 2:44 pm

      Hey Trevor. Saw that you did not get a response on this one, but these two don’t really compare directly. We rent both of these skis. Both are excellent but have different characters. The Helio is a bit better and more supple in powder with its flex and bigger rockered tip. I found the Zero G to be a stiffer and stronger ski for corn and firm. More of a traditional euro-stiff. Ie. folks skiing firm cond’s in the Dolomites would really appreciate this ski. So for a light pow ski with a DEFINITE top speed, the Helio. For a Spring summer quiver ski, I’d go with the Zero. Just my very biased opinion….You can lay off the Helio’s and still be rewarded. The Zero G’s favor and reward a more aggressive technique, but man are they fun when driven hard!

    6. Lou Dawson 2 September 17th, 2017 3:56 pm

      Trollan, thanks for noticing Trevor’s message, I indeed missed it! Your comparo is basically where I’d go, only I’d even more strongly emphasize that the Zero G is definitely less for powder slarving and indeed more of something that you want to carve, and seems would be more appropriate on firmer snow. The G is definitely more “Euro” though defining that is tough, and Euro freeriders might beg to differ. Lou

    7. Trevor September 18th, 2017 11:14 am

      Thanks Trollanski and Lou!





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