Black Diamond Helio Ski Comparison: 95 and 105

Post by 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:


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



    9 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.

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


    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!

    8. Swan October 28th, 2017 12:47 pm

      This is a great review. Though it sure does make it difficult to choose between the two! I just retired my mountaineering set-up and ski my Boundary 107’s now solely, I love them for power days but am looking into a pair of Helios for everything else. I’m very tempted by the “one ski quiver” aspect of the 105’s but am also interested in a super light-weight mountaineering set up provided by the 95’s. Any thoughts? Recommendations? I ski mostly in the Indian Peaks and RMNP, lots of spring/summer lines.

    9. Nate Porter February 3rd, 2018 8:01 am

      Does anyone have any thoughts on mounting location for the Helio 105? Got a pr. last season, mounted on the BC line and they feel pretty far forward. I can’t imagine going ahead of the BC line. On a TGR thread about the Helio 116, some people sounded like they were going 2-3 cm’s behind the BC line.

    Anti-Spam Quiz:

    While you can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box above, you must leave a brief comment to do so, which records your email and requires you to use our anti-spam challange. If you don't like leaving substantive comments that's fine, just leave a simple comment that says something like "thanks, subscribed" with a made-up name. Check the comment subscription checkbox BEFORE you submit. NOTE: BY SUBSCRIBING TO COMMENTS YOU GIVE US PERMISSION TO STORE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS INDEFINITLY. YOU MAY REQUEST REMOVAL AND WE WILL REMOVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WITHIN 72 HOURS. To request removal of personal information, please contact us using the comment link in our site menu.
    If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.

    :D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
    Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.

      Your Comments

      Recent Posts

    Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

    WildSnow Twitter Feed


  • Blogroll & Links

  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring 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 ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version