Black Crows Camox Freebird for Ski Touring — Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 27, 2018      

Post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry, quiz them about Camox.

Editor’s note: In the annoying fashion that’s all to common these days, Black Crows is retaining the “Camox Freebird” moniker for an entirely different ski (2018-2019 version) than that reviewed here (2017-2018). The new version appears to be nice, lighter weight, same color. It’s built with more carbon. Julia gave the original version high marks as an all-around touring ski. That doesn’t surprise me given the Black Crows reputation. Thus, I’d venture that either “model” is excellent, and perhaps the originals can be found deeply discounted.

Camox and I, Glacier Peak.

Camox and me, Glacier Peak.

The temps are decreasing, it finally smells like fall. Though winter is still a few months away, I embrace denial by watching last year’s ski films on repeat, while dreaming about pow hitting me in the face.

Camox and I , Eldorado.

Camox and me , Eldorado.

As a distraction from winter fantasy (or tease?), I’m here to tell you more about the Black Crows Camox Freebird. Since our first-look post, I’ve been skiing the Camox Freebird for one season. While a bit skinny for the PNW, it is now my favorite ski (I do have wider options available in the quiver). Bottom line: beginner or expert who straps a pair of these on their feet will have a killer time.

I have exclusively skied the Camox in the backcountry. We have adventured through the PNW on numerous trips. Our relationship began on the way to Camp Muir in October of last year, and we finished the season with a one day push on the Emmons Glacier on Mt Rainier during early July. Camox and I have traveled as far as Glacier Peak, bonding on our long walk in the woods and then skiing the Cool Glacier to explore nearby landscapes. We enjoyed an icy skin up to Pikers Peak on Mt Adams on a blustery day in late June, with a perfect corn harvest down Southwest Chutes. A solid affection was built over mushy potatoes on Bakers’ Squak Glacier, enhanced with tight turns during creek hopping through the woods. And how can I forget the long boot up the Cascadian on Mt Stuart, and the numerous skinning laps up Hyak and Summit West in rain, ice, slush, pow, you name it? We even caught a few sneaker pow days in the Snoqualmie and Crystal Backcountry, those surely were a treat. Anyways, you get the idea: Camox and I grew to like each other very much.

2018-2019 Black Crow Camox.

2018-2019 Black Crows Camox.

What I like about Camox Freebird:

  • Joy on the the downhill, reasonable on the uphill though not feather light.
  • Has just the perfect amount of rocker, floats in pow but doesn’t rattle much on ice.
  • Perfect level of stiffness, fun in any conditions.
  • Short turn radius, helps when skiing in tight trees.
  • Stable tip skin clip.
  • Durability of the top sheet is impressive.
  • Graphics.
  • Brand’s subtle sense of humor.
  • Camox Freebird would work well for a backcountry or resort set up, or both.
  • What I don’t like:

  • I don’t want to give my testers back!
  • Heavy for a ski of these dimensions (new “version” is much lighter).
  • Not a great all-around ski for Northwest due to waist width, since it will sink in deeper, mushier snow.
  • Eldorado. Photo by Steph Peterson

    Eldorado. Photo by Steph Peterson

    I give Black Crows a big high five for their incredible product. The fit was about as perfect as Cinderella’s crystal slipper, if Disney characters were into skiing.

    Specs for my setup:

  • Ski: Black Crows Camox Freebird, 171.4 cm
  • Weight per ski (171 cm): 1520 g
  • Dimensions: 125 / 97 / 112 mm
  • Turning radius: 18 m
  • Available lengths: 162.8, 171.4, 178.1, 183.2 cm
  • Mount location: recommended line
  • Boots: Scarpa Gea RS
  • Bindings: G3 Ion LT
  • Skins: G3 Scala
  • Ski tester: female, height 5’9″, weight 140 lbs, expert level skier
  • Spring corn on Mount Stuart, photo by Nick Webb.

    Spring corn on Mount Stuart, photo by Nick Webb.



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    Comments

    17 Responses to “Black Crows Camox Freebird for Ski Touring — Review”

    1. Michael September 27th, 2018 6:34 pm

      I skied the 179 Navis Freebird in CA last season. Despite our abbreviated season I felt like I got them out in a variety of conditions and have a good feel for the ski. Mounted with Salomon MTN bindings. I liked them quite a bit. Versatile ski that does it all pretty well and handles poor snow nicely, which I consider to be the real test of a touring ski. Light enough with the bindings I chose for long days. I’m satisfied. They sure are trendy nowadays, but they’re worthy of the adoration IMO.

    2. Darin Berdinka September 28th, 2018 9:29 am

      Having picked up a pair of 179 Navis as well last year I found them dependable but generally boring. Maybe it’s just me. They sure do generate a lot of comments.

    3. Simon Kelly September 29th, 2018 1:32 am

      Great review. Thanks for writing it.

      I picked some of last years Camoxs up over the summer at a great price. I already have the Orb Freebirds and love them. Just wanted something slightly fatter for a couple of trips I’ve got coming up this year. Looking forward to trying the Camoxs. Only 11 weeks to wait until the first trip of the season. 🙂

    4. Cody Blank September 29th, 2018 7:59 pm

      I got to demo some of these guys last winter and I was super stoked on them (and the Navis too). Closest thing I’ve found to a “touring” (ie no metal/ light) version of my older Nordica Enforcers that Iove so much. Would be interested to see how these compare to the Blizzard Zero-G 95.

    5. Max November 2nd, 2018 4:13 am

      Very interested your views of the new model, listed as 2750g / pair on the manufacturers website and selected ski of the year at proskilab. Also curious how these compare to Head Kore 93. I am really torn between these two ski’s, to combine with the Shift MNC binding and Atomic XTD boots for a 50/50 travel friendly quiver of one. If the Freebird can match the stability and speed of the Kore on groomers then it’s significant weight advantage will give it the nod. Still, judging only from the reviews, Kore seems to be unique in its blend of lightweight with heft and thus the ideal match with Shift MNC.

    6. Andrew Sargent December 15th, 2018 4:45 pm

      I have these in 183. Absolutely love them. Couldn’t be happier, reasonable enough weight for skinning but not so light as to get tossed around or chatter in harder/rougher conditions, for touring the Wasatch I can’t see any real downsides, unless you’re one that can never have enough float, though even then they’ve been Surfy in boot deep Utah pow.

      For me they’ve been the right amount of weight, width rocker, and drive.

    7. Max December 16th, 2018 12:52 am

      @Andrew, how does the 183 length relate to your personal stats of length, weight and ski style?

    8. Andrew Sargent December 16th, 2018 8:23 am

      Max,

      I’m 6′ 200lbs

      I’m an athletic but more center stance skier than an all out charger. I find the Camox Freebird absolutely perfect for this. The flex is even and round, but it will handle some aggression.

      Stay right over the balls of your feet and let the tip and tail rocker do the work for you. No need to lean into the shovels just angulate at the hips and knees and the tips come around and you can either stay leaned and finish strong or flatten the bases and drift out the end of the turn.

      Trees And chutes and an agile approach are what these guys were made for. I honestly couldn’t be happier. They’ll do just fine on an open face, they’ll just want to make a few more turns over massive sweeping arcs.

      Of course bear in mind mine are the 17/18 version before they changed it.

    9. Max December 17th, 2018 10:52 am

      Andrew, with these do you ever feel that a size up would be beneficial or is this just the right length?

    10. Andrew Sargent December 17th, 2018 3:46 pm

      No these feel good though I’m glad I went with the 183 over the 178. But I don’t feel a need to size up to say a 188.

    11. Joerg Furrer January 6th, 2019 2:02 am

      I am looking for some recommendation / eperience on the right lenght for the Camox Freebird (2019).
      I am 5′ 9″ at 170 lb with quite an athletic skiing style. I also like doing tours with lots of altitude. So I am not sure whether the 178 Freebird would be right for me, or whether I should go with the 183.

    12. Joerg Furrer January 6th, 2019 2:08 am

      Sorry, I meant 5′ 11″ … (180 cm) … 🙂

    13. Darin Berdinka January 6th, 2019 6:18 pm

      Get the 185s. I’m the same height weight as you and find the 179s just sort of flat.

    14. Joerg Furrer January 7th, 2019 3:28 am

      Thanks Darin for your feedback. You mean the 183 cm (Camox Freebird 2019), right? Do you use it for steep, tricky uphill sections as well? That’s my only worry about the 183 cm, that it might feel too long.

    15. Mitch January 15th, 2019 4:37 pm

      Piggy backing on Joerg’s inquiry. I’m the same size but pretty a relaxed and neutral skier. You think the 178 for be enough ski? This will be primarily a spring maritime ski.

    16. Joerg Furrer January 16th, 2019 12:14 am

      Mitch, I just had a chance to test ride the 178 last weekend. I did about 1500 in elevation to get an idea how the skis feel on a somewhat longer climb. I noticed that the mounting of the binding is much more in the center of the ski, compared for instance to my K2 wayback 88, where the binding is much closer to the end of the skis. Which of course means, that the tail (part of the ski “behind” the binding) is much longer with the Camox Freebird. It noticed that quite heavily in tricky switchbacks, where it became a little bit more difficult to deal with that longer tail. So with respect to uphill, I would not go for the 183 with my length. Putting the skis downhill was awesome. However, the test conditions were not particullarly stressing the ski, as there was about 100 – 120 cm of fresh powder 🙂 The 178 performed incredibly well, so also there, no need to go for the 183. My only remaining question is, how the 178 does when conditions get more difficult, with mixed snow, icy sections or with lots of bumps.. However, considering my experience on the uphill, I do not think that the 183 would be an option for myself…

    17. Mitch January 16th, 2019 9:11 am

      Thanks Joerg! That helps clarify things a bit. Honestly, I haven’t skied a “traditional” ski with a longer camber profile such as this in awhile. Main skis right now are the Wailer112 and Lotus 138 which are much more playful and surfy so I was thinking going a little shorter might be better with these.





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