Review: Black Diamond Havoc Twin Tips – 173

Post by blogger | December 18, 2005      

What a sweet setup: Black Diamond Havoc 173 cm with a pair of this year’s white Fritschi Freeride. I built this rig for on-and-off resort skiing, everything from crud to bumps (but no park cause I’m an old guy). Skied them yesterday on steep inbounds terrain, everything from soft bumps, aged powder and crud. In all, I found the Havoc to be a stable forgiving ski. I loved the way the width supported me when I steered through mystery crud (who knows what lurks beneath?), and they were adequately quick in the bumps. While they didn’t have the bite of a carving ski, the Havoc had enough edge-hold to keep me smiling. Since I was using the unknown factory tune, they may have had too much base bevel for my style of skiing, thus feeling less “edgy.” I’ll check that out soon.

As for having twin tips, they didn’t give me any advantage for free skiing (again, I’m not doing tricks), and once in a while I found myself weighting the back of the ski, looking for some tail bite, and finding it wasn’t there. On the other hand, I could feel how the twins made the ski swivel and maneuver more easily in tight terrain, such as bump filled entry shots leading to “secret” spots. More, this is a SHORT ski, as the 173 cm length combined with turned up tail equals a running surface that’s getting close to the length of an ice skate. As testimony to ski design and construction, it’s simply amazing that a ski this short can be so stable at speed, fun in the soft, and look great too! Thumbs up for Havoc — now I just have to keep them from being stolen by my own progeny.

And the main question: how would the Havoc be for backcountry skiing? First, let’s stay realistic and remember that twins are harder to jam tail-first in the snow for an anchor, weigh a bit more for the same running length, and sometimes make skin tail fix systems difficult. That said, I’m aware that twins allow for some cool maneuvers, can be useful in steep couloirs, and just plain look great. The Havoc is light weight for its class and a good all-around performer — so if you want a twin for the backcountry, good choice.

As for skiing switch, I’ll leave that review up to someone else.

Weight is 56.4 oz (1600 g) per ski.

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10 Responses to “Review: Black Diamond Havoc Twin Tips – 173”

  1. Caleb Williams December 1st, 2006 6:19 pm

    Hi Lou,
    Great review, I found it helpful as I am looking into the BD Havocs (183s), I am wondering what you weigh. I’m around 6’3″180 – 185. Was a lifelong ice hockey player and xc skier, however this only my 3rd season skiing. I would say that I am an intermediate though aggressive, and hard turning skier. I live in the Northeast , though we try to get out west in the winter (wife lived in Telluride for 10 yrs), and we aspire to more b/c skiing as we gain skill.

    Do you think I will regret the 183, and feel them to be too long, too much ski? Last year I tore an mcl on 190s and have approached length with a new understanding.

    I thank you in advance for any advice you may have.
    P.s. Do you know Derek Cabrerra or Ed Aumen from Co. Outward Bound? ED is my brother -in-law.

    All the best,
    Caleb Williams

  2. Lou December 2nd, 2006 5:44 am

    Caleb, at your height and weight I’d think the 183 would be perfect. I weigh 160 and usually drop a few pounds as the winter progresses.

  3. Sam December 3rd, 2006 3:26 pm


    Awesome review. One quick question though. It seems like in every review of these skis that I read, the tester has them set up with the Fritschi Freerides as touring or (as you said) on/off resort skis.
    I’m looking for all-mountain skis that will (at least for now) probably see mostly in-bounds skiing. Whatever I get will definitely be set up with your basic alpine binding.
    It seems like this ski is a great all-around performer, but my question is will I be sacrificing any in-bounds performance by getting these skis as opposed to ones that are less touring/backcountry-oriented? (I’d be getting the 183s if that makes a difference.)


  4. Mark Flaming January 3rd, 2007 9:54 am

    I have skied the 183 and 173 Havocs on Scarpa Spirit 3s and Fritschi bindings. I am 5’11” at 175, ski mostly NW backcountry and prefer trees and turns to fast arcs. I could not turn the 183s quickly enough to my liking. The 183s felt too long and the 173s confirmed that. The shorter skis had the same damp, stable feel but I felt like was in control of the whole ski and could bring them around much quicker. And for another reference point, I also skied the 180 Verdicts. Though they are much wider (95) underfoot, they initiated the turn with less fight than the 183 Havocs, presumably because the Verdict tips and tails are softer. Ski the Havoc short on AT gear unless you like to go very, very fast.

  5. pete March 16th, 2007 6:51 am

    Great review, Lou.

    I’ve been coveting the Havoc for some time and finally snagged a pair. I’m setting up the same outfit (but with 03-04 Freerides) and was wondering if you mounted your bindings at Black Diamond’s recommended point (mid-boot center mark at 76 cm from tail) or forward of that?


  6. Marion VARNER August 13th, 2007 4:59 pm

    I ski bc in France with BD Havocs 183, Diamir “Freeride plus” bindings, Endorphin Garmont boots, and share completely your advice about these skis. But I plan to change my skis next year. I would like to know what you think about the Kilo from BD ?
    Best regards.

  7. susie August 29th, 2009 12:52 pm

    Just contemplating the Havocs 165 (i`m 5`4″) for tree skiing and steeps,tight turns. Suitable??? or too stiff. I think they have softened them up this year.

  8. Lou August 29th, 2009 5:48 pm

    I’d give ’em a shot, but look at other options in BD if you like their brand, they have lots of great stuff…

  9. alex December 27th, 2009 9:37 am


    one question concerning suitable AT bindings: does it make sense to mount Dynafits on these planks? Some reviews suggested one shouldn’t do so and I am curious about what you think on that?

    And do you think 175 will work for me (6feet, 160lbs, intermediate resort skier) for European AT?

    Thanks a lot for your advice,

  10. Lou December 28th, 2009 10:56 am

    I don’t really see a problem with Dynafits, though it’s good to remember they might on rare occasions suffer pre-release while skiing switch.

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