Gear Tidbit: Black Diamond Quiver Arrows (Skis)

Post by blogger | December 30, 2010      

You can never have enough backcountry skis. Is that materialistic? I guess. But hey, I’m not a monk, so there.

My son Louie mentioned a while ago that we should keep some Black Diamond planks in our quivers — especially since BD makes one of the more interesting wide bodies, Megawatt, as well as their newish line of lightweight “efficient series,” of which the Drift model gives you an amazing amount of platform for the amount of mass. So, look what is getting played.

Backcountry skis from Black Diamond

Drift at top, Megawatt below

Louie’s Megas are 188 cm, don’t ask me what he’s planning on doing with a ski that big. His purchase of a Whistler season pass might explain part of it. As for me, while I’ll test the Megas I’m ever more into just hiking up stuff with lightweight gear, but using boots and planks that perform well enough on the down to keep the struggle factor dialed to manageable levels. After testing Drift last year, I realized it provides a superb width/weight ratio so I’ve been eager to get on a pair that were more in the length zone I’m used to (rather than the big long testers I was using last winter).

Drift comes in with some hard to believe weight specs, but they verified on my scale: 176 cm, 1558 gr — 55.0 oz per ski, width 136/100/122. That places Drift in the weight class of skis such as K2 Wayback, and only 3.5 ounces per ski heavier than benchmark lightweight powder harvester Dynafit Manaslu (178 cm), but significantly wider. See our backcountry skiing weight chart here.

As many of you saw in my blog post yesterday, the Drifts are now Dynafitted with the trick Quiver Killer insert system. Our Megas are being fitted with DynaDuke binding swap plates, which will carry the Marker F12 Tour for resort and sidecountry, or Dynafits if we decide to try the massive Megas for some human powered action. Black Diamond split skins round out the action for the Megas, while I’ve got a pair of classic BD/Ascension rigged for the Drifts.

Take so far is Louie loves playing around on those big rockered Megas. The drifts work, but don’t feel as playful as my Manaslus though I do like the extra width in manky snow. Strange thing about the Drifts is my boot position felt quite forward when mounted to BD’s specs. I re-mounted two centimeters rearward and they felt much better. Could have been that I’m so used to rockered or slow rise tipped skis now (Drifts have minimal rocker) that I needed that “couch” ride of a rearward binding mount. I’ll keep experimenting and report back. Both of my Drift mounts were done with Quiver Killer inserts, so I can swap things around in a few minutes.

Black Diamond Drift 10/11, 176 cm, 1558 gr, 55.0 oz, 136/100/122

Dynafit Manaslu 08, 178 cm, 1457 gr, 51.4 oz, 122/95/108

Black Diamond Megawatt 10/11, 188 cm, 2350 gr, 82.9 oz, 153/125/130

For your shopping pleasure:
Black Diamond skis
Marker Tour binding/10


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46 Responses to “Gear Tidbit: Black Diamond Quiver Arrows (Skis)”

  1. John W December 30th, 2010 10:32 am

    Please keep the Drift info coming. My 186 Drifts are great but like you, not as ‘loose’ as anticipated. I had not considered binding location. Can you retrofit Quiver Killers on to once drilled skis?

  2. Nick December 30th, 2010 11:36 am

    hey Lou,

    i was curious have you considered skis from say PM Gear or DPS? Cost is a bit more than BD but at the same time you can get more ski for around the same weight as the Drift. The DPS Wailer 112RP shows ~4 pounds per a ski for the 190 PURE (4.6 for cheaper hybrid). Dimensions are 141/112/128 so you do get a bit more ski as well. The PM Gear offerins, such as the 186 Lhasa are also close. I weighted mine and it came to 6 pounds per a ski with vertical ST’s, dynaduke plate, and a BD telemark leash so it is also fairly light weight for having 12 more mm of ski underfoot.

    Just curious if your crew had thought of trying to test more independent skis or if you were sticking with the more mainstream.

  3. Lou December 30th, 2010 11:47 am

    Nick, we’re really not in the ski testing business. We just pick something interesting, see if we can easily get some, then review. We spend way too much time getting the goods, never would have time for all the binding mounting, demo shipping, and whatnot. Backcountry Magazine is who should be doing the ski testing IMHO…

    Now, that beings said, I of course have my eye on other options that give width with less weight. So as the season progresses you never know that we’ll end up with here for “testing.”

  4. brian p. harder December 30th, 2010 1:09 pm


    I may have missed this but do you have a pair of Stokes in the quiver? I’m thinking of those for next year’s powder harvester. Seems light which is all I care about and G. Hill is even using them in a 173cm for his final days on the quest, paired with the TLT 5. I”d mount them with some Low Techs.

    What’s your take on how they ski? Or anyone else reading have a take? I’m currently spending most of my time on race skis but get out on Trab Free Randos when I want to relax. Obviously, everything seems fat to me.

    I even skied one day this year on my old Mega Rides and Verdicts. That was enough. They are for sale. Just could not deal with the weight. The Stokes seem like a good option but I’m open to other recs.

  5. El Jefe December 30th, 2010 1:11 pm

    just bought dynaduke plates for my coombacks. will the F12 fit on it? i am guessing you’ve checked and it will…

  6. JasonT December 30th, 2010 3:10 pm

    What’s up with all the ~imperial conversions, why not just stick with metrics and be done? I know most americans are ignorant, but it is the standard in the ski industry and works for everyone else. 😕

  7. Mark December 30th, 2010 4:58 pm

    This is my 3rd season skiing the megawatts with dyanfit bindings and the BD split skins in SW Montana. Though a bit heavy, I’ve been skiing every type of snow with them and they make it all better. They always put a smile on my face. I prefer using them in the backcountry over the ski area, but we don’t get the deep coastal snow. Also, they are totally solid in steep couloirs even on firm snow. As for the uphill part of things, I started using them with traditional skins. The weight wasn’t so much a problem; it was the lack of glide. The split skins fixed that and have plenty of glide and plenty of grip.
    Have fun

  8. Tom Gos December 30th, 2010 7:57 pm

    Hey, I was checking out the Drift at Summit Canyon recently. On the rack it appeared to me to be on the long side for a 176cm nominal length. What’s your take on this? Also, it would be helpful in your ski weight table to list the cord length and contact length (measured from widest point at shovel to widest point at heel) along with the nominal length.

  9. Dan December 30th, 2010 9:45 pm

    Today I picked up some 176cm Drifts in Whistler at Escape Route…seemed like a great deal at $434+tax.

    Tonight I tossed them on my accurate scale and was a bit surprised at the results. While appearing identical, one ski weighs in at 1578g and the other weighs 1670g. This seems like an unusually large difference to me, but maybe skis do normally vary a lot?? Maybe the wood varies a lot? I weighed them several times and this is definitely what they weigh. Is this normal?

    I know Escape Route used to have a few pairs in this length and these were the last ones left. Since there is no specific left or right ski, these skis didn’t likely leave the factory as a ‘pair’ but that shouldn’t matter right? The serial numbers are fairly close together (10330316 & 10330482).

  10. Walt December 30th, 2010 11:34 pm

    These skis are made in China. People should really only buy American and European made equipment.

  11. JD December 31st, 2010 8:30 am

    That opening line is a real gem, so there.

  12. Lou December 31st, 2010 9:23 am


  13. Lou December 31st, 2010 9:28 am

    Tom good idea on cord length, not sure contact length is something I want to try and detail, since rocker and slow-rise tips add some questions to the mix. But I’ll look at what can be done. Keeping the chart somewhat simple has been my goal, since we really don’t want to chart every ski out there, just our review picks and such.

  14. milt December 31st, 2010 10:28 am

    Walt: why do you say people should only buy American and European equipment?!

  15. g December 31st, 2010 10:45 am

    how many people in the free world can afford paying 800 for a pair of skis? Apparently most of the readers of this site can. I know Lou can’t, hence his blog. What is worse is it is 800 for a pair of skis that are not even made in austria. As for Milt’s question, if you have to ask why a ski made in europe might be better than one made in china, it is probably not worth providing an answer.

  16. Serial Numbers December 31st, 2010 11:08 am

    If the serial numbers are not identical it means they were not made in the same batch. Any self respecting ski shop should have checked that those numbers match before selling them to you. I would return them and get matching ones, I think you’ll be surprised that they weigh in more equally, if not, the factory BD is using truly sucks.

  17. Jan Wellford December 31st, 2010 12:29 pm

    I just weighed a pair of Kilowatts (same serial number), one at 1826g and one at 1916g. I always see huge differences in the weights of a pair of skis. I post this not to rag on BD, but to say don’t be an idiot and return your Drifts with non-matching serial numbers–it doesn’t matter. They’re skis, not model airplanes. Go use them.

  18. Ryan December 31st, 2010 1:36 pm

    Walt- China only started making crappy quality stuff because American consumers were willing to make the trade-off for lower costs. Some things made in China are better than they would be if made here. In some industries The best machines, materials and manufacturers are all in China. There’s no law of physics that says good stuff can’t me made in certain places. It’s all about how it’s spec’d and the quality standards companies are willing to enforce.

  19. Serial Numbers December 31st, 2010 10:04 pm

    Jan — guess you have high expectations of an $800 product. I do. I’m not wealthy.

  20. Mark W December 31st, 2010 10:24 pm

    Jason, metric measurements do work well for ski applications. And as for your self-described eye for ignorance, let’s just say I appreciate proof reading–you didn’t capitalize Americans.

  21. Walt January 1st, 2011 12:05 am

    Ryan, You’re wrong. I’ve never seen anything made in China (besides dishware) that we couuldn’t make better. Of course, the ski designs of companies like Black Diamond are American as the Chinese only know how to copy stuff. (usually from stolen trade secrets) But the Chinese will only make things to the minimal desgn requirements. Never will they go above and beyond. They will always use materials that are the borderline of quality speced in the design and manufacturing contract. Many European companies (and American) go above and beyond in quality.

  22. Greg Louie January 1st, 2011 8:42 am

    Very few people in Shenzhen ski; that doesn’t mean they can’t build a quality tool for those that do.

    My impression of US-built vs. China-built K2 skis is that the product is at least as good as before, and they don’t seem to suffer from a lack of “soul” – neither has their performance diminished as far as I can tell. On the other hand, the number of skis/snowboards that disappear out the back door of the factory has dropped to zero and the cost per unit has dropped to the point where they could easily give the consumer a better deal if they wished to . . . BD skis are much the same; I haven’t owned any since they were built in Austria, but I’ve skied some and looked at a bunch of them and don’t see anything to complain about in terms of quality.

  23. Brian Hessling January 1st, 2011 11:04 am

    I’d say that the days of “cheap” asian made product are numbered. The whole nasty mess has to do with cheaper labor. Technology allows for the duplication of quality. The American and Euro factory worker has standard of living expectations that dont exist in mainland Asia. Look at Japan, we all remember when stuff from Japan was considered “cheap”. Not anymore. As China continues to ascend and the people benefit from it, their standard of a living wage will increase. If and when their currency is ever “leveled” we’ll see most “American” companies running back home. HA! American capitalism in cahoots with Chinesse communists to keep cheap goods in the great big consumer opium pipe!

  24. XXX_er January 1st, 2011 1:38 pm

    I got the BD verdicts made in austria and the BD Verdicts made in china AND the quality has been fine on both for a few years now

    I had to get the austrian Verdicts base ground cuz the bases were concave the chinese ski actualy has a flatter base and it skis is a little better but that is a result of a re-design not where the ski was made

  25. Dan January 1st, 2011 7:22 pm

    Thanks for the responses guys. Good to know some weight variation is normal.

    Regarding Chinese stuff, IMO Chinese quality is as good as Black Diamond pays for it to be. If Black Diamond wants to buy poorly made skis for cheap they can do that, but they can also pay more for a Chinese factory to make excellent skis. Basically the Chinese will do whatever is asked of them at a corresponding price.

  26. Gerry Haugen January 1st, 2011 8:16 pm

    Hello Lou,
    Actually I had the same experience with a pr of 185 ’09 Kilowatts; after mounting my dynafit comforts, I felt like I was too far forward & falling over the tips. After discussions with local tech guru’s (Seattle-Bellevue), I added a 1 cm riser under my toe pieces. This along with a little edge tuning 1)flat filing first, 2) 1 degree base bevel (tapering to 3 deg toward tip & tail) and 3) 2 deg side bevel, this made them very skiable, even pleasureable. I thought about moving the binding position, but kept coming back to the ramp angle of the overall dynafit binding as being to excessive for me; the 1 cm toe lift neutralizes the binding-ski relationship; I can then dial in the forward lean on my new Maestrales to further tune. By the way, the Maestrales are the best touring boots I’ve ever experienced! Happy New Year!

  27. pete January 2nd, 2011 9:51 am

    im thinking to buy megawatts but not sure what binding mount on them
    i never used dynafit but id like to try tlt vertical ft 12
    if it ok for such a wide skis?
    i want to tour on them and also be secure in downhill
    also want to reduce the weight as much as possible
    i like to ride aggressively but nothing like huge clif drops
    i have dukes mounted on kilowatts but want to give a shot for dynafit
    anyone use this combination?
    megawatts and dynafit vertical?

  28. Lou January 2nd, 2011 10:18 am

    That’s what Louie is using, with option for Marker Tour when he feels like it, via Dynaduke plates. So far the Dynafits are working fine, but I know he’s looking forward to using the Markers for slack country, if for no other reason the nice step-in step-out…

  29. Lou January 2nd, 2011 10:21 am

    Gerry, more ramp angle from Dynafits is a very frequent and known issue. Anyone in a shop who mounts Dynafits should always ask their customer what they’ve been using, and warn them about difference. The added ramp is a mixed blessing. I like it because I can use a boot that’s more tuned for booting sans skis, then when I snap into the skis it instantly adds tons of ramp. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to switch to other bindings with the same boots.

  30. Lou January 2nd, 2011 10:26 am

    Pete, also, before you succumb to mythology, check this out:

  31. pete January 2nd, 2011 10:47 am

    i know its about personal preferences and skiing style
    so now my two options are dynafit vertical or marker tour f 12
    unless i have megas at home i have plenty of time to decide

  32. Lou January 2nd, 2011 12:44 pm

    Pete, my take as always is if you”ll be riding lifts much, go with the Marker. If you’re mostly muscle powered, give the Dynafits a shot. You’ll know if they work for you after just a few tours. Oh, and perhaps you could just demo?

  33. Lee Lau January 2nd, 2011 7:05 pm

    pete – i tour on the Megawatts and Dynafit Vertical ST. No problem. Done a three day traverse skiing steep stuff on them through the day also no problems. Used them inbounds on deep soft days too

  34. John Gloor January 3rd, 2011 3:58 pm

    Lou, since this topic is about BD skis, I thought I’d post my question here. I bought my wife a pair of BD Starlets for Xmas. I am getting around to putting Dynafit STs on them, but noticed that BD’s mounting line is way forward of other skis she has which are about the same length. Another friend has these skis and said they felt weird mounted on the line. She remounted 2cm back like you did but has not skied them yet. My Voodoos are mounted pretty far forward and my Zealots are way back. It seems like BD’s mounting points are all over the range. Do you have any opinion on Starlet/Drift mounting points after skiing them? I was going to go 1cm back before I read this review, but now I wonder if I should go more.

  35. Lou January 4th, 2011 12:39 am

    John, I’d be leery of those mounting points if they look funny as in being way too far forward. I really have to wonder if they’re marks for the tele “pin” location rather than the AT boot midpoint, or something like that. On the other hand, I’d also be pretty leery of just comparing one ski brand/model to another in terms of mounting point. Most mounting points are related to the actual running surface of the ski, combined with sidecut. If a ski had more tip rise or tail rise, or rocker, it can have a much different mounting point than another model ski of the same length. Can you get a pair of demos for her to ski on, that are mounted on recommended point? If the demos ski okay, then mount and go…

    Black Diamond has a PDF on their website with measurements for all mounting points, so you can at least make sure the mark on the ski corresponds to what they recommend. I’d check that before going any farther. Sorry, don’t have a link.

  36. John Gloor January 4th, 2011 2:21 pm

    Lou, I already checked the BD pdf for mounting points. The line was pressed into the topsheet and was exactly where BD said it would be. In the past I have done a ratio of where the mounting points of various similar skis were and took the average, and I considered upturned tails. The early rise on this ski is so small that I was not sure if I should factor it in. I am thinking I might go 1cm back. For every cm the front gets longer, the tail gets shorter, so small changes can have a large effect. Thanks for the advice.

  37. Lou January 4th, 2011 3:28 pm

    John, ok, sounds like you’ve done your homework. But remember there is no secret formula that all the ski makers use that would allow one to compare and get much of a meaningful location other than general, as you’ve done. What most ski companies have told me is that they basically take 1/2 the running surface or the narrowest part of the sidecut, locate ball of foot there or boot midpoint, then have their testers go out and ski and play around with binding position.

  38. Jonathan Shefftz January 4th, 2011 5:12 pm

    The classic formula is to match up the center of the ski’s running surface (easy to locate) with your ball of foot (harder to locate, but still possible to figure out with some experience). Unfortunately, early-rise/tip-rocker doesn’t work with that approach.

  39. John Gloor January 5th, 2011 12:00 am

    I take it as an educated guess. I know there is no absolute formula for mounting skis. I am viewing the Starlet/drift skis as a conventional ski with no twin tip. The early rise is minimal for soft snow conditions. Skis mounted too far forward I feel are weird in pow, and with Dynafit bindings they are very awkward to skate down roads or kick turn as the ski falls away from your foot when lifted off the snow. I am thinking of going a little bit back from center. I am probably over thinking this, but I want these to be perfect.

  40. Profreshional77 January 5th, 2011 10:04 am

    Buy Voile if you want to get a great lightweight (reliable lightweight anyhow) skis that are made in the USA. I never understand why companies like Black Diamond and Patagonia don’t make more of an effort to manufacture more of their products in the US. If they have the time, money, and initiative to rant about saving the environment and use advertising to fan the flames of the modern generation of “me”-oriented skiers (Yeah, Greg Hill!..Vive le Canada…and how’s the family after suffering through your Year of Thyself????) and other professional recreationalists who travel the nation and world sheathed in `tude. insulating layers of several 1000’s of dollars of the latest gear, proud ambassadors of fun and part-time work ethic. When you buy from BD and many of the other mainstream companies, you are often buying Chinese….who are in turn using this transferred wealth to fund the world’s second-largest military that is being aimed specifically at the US. “Hey, my gear is light and my pants are tight and I am goin’ to party tonight”….yes, and if you’re buying Chinese, you are funding bullets that will invariably find their way into US/Coalition bodies. I really like the BD crew working hard down in UT, but the management needs to make a concerted effort to ensure more, if not all, of their gear is made in the US. On top of all this, the quality of their “all about the down” skis and boots is just not equivalent to Dynafit, Voile, etc. and one must really ask whether skis and gear made in a Chinese sweatshop are really the products of professionals who know the mountains and snow……sadly, but let us hope BD and others can re-orient themselves to “Made in the USA”.

  41. john January 6th, 2011 3:06 pm

    i definitely agree with profeshrional
    you are right man

  42. Lou February 16th, 2011 9:12 am

    All I just deleted a slag comment by someone with screen name “BD.” Sorry but also had to delete one associated comment. Please, everyone, if you want to get on here and give a greatly negative take, back it up with some cred, like your real name or other facts. We don’t shy away from the truth, but we have to know it’s the truth.

    It is a known thing that unethical PR folks pay people to surf the web and slag the competition. Not sure if that happens here much, if ever, but we have to be on guard. Anonymous comment system works to an extent, but that’s one of its weaknesses.

  43. Lou February 16th, 2011 10:33 am

    Prof, I for one agree that it’s worrisome for us to keep helping China build themselves up, as they care for human life and freedom about as much as a rock cares for an ant. But, why did you have to mix in your mean spirited attack on Greg HIll? He’s really just one of us, just doing his best as best he knows how…

  44. skidmark February 16th, 2011 11:58 am

    I agree that BD equipment should be manufactured in US if possible. Can you verify where exactly the Dynafit Stokes are made? And isn’t it a real plus to have the readymade mounting holes of the Stokes if you are going Dynafit bindings?

    Also, why is it that K2 skins are not getting good reviews, but BD skins are?

  45. Lee L. February 16th, 2011 1:32 pm


    Prof’s comment re Greg Hill should be referenced with the sidebar that most of the negatives directed to Greg Hill can be understood in the context of envy. And that’s all that really need to be said on that subject

    Re the quality of BD skis. I’ve got two pairs from this season’s (09-10 run) (Megawatt and Zealot); and also know quite a few people on them. There is no indication of QC issues from my admittedly local smaller sample of approx 20 – 25 pairs of skis.

  46. olddude February 16th, 2011 5:55 pm

    I have to laugh at people whining about the chinese beating the yanks at their own game!The only reason we havent extinguished the human race is because we all need each other to buy our mostly unimportant stuff.You cant kill your customers is a basic rule of business.

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