Randosteve skis on the 2010 Black Diamond Efficiency skis and boots in Antarctica.
Photo: Sam Bass.
I think it’s pretty interesting when I post pictures of skiing in Antarctica under clear skies and above the big blue ocean…and half the comments are about the equipment I’m using. Well, that was the case about two months ago with the skis and boots Thomas Laakso and I were using. Both are new additions to Black Diamond’s Efficient Series ski line to be released in Fall 2010 and shown to the masses at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in a couple weeks. I had to be pretty tight lipped about the skis and boots back then…but now…all can be revealed.
I love my Factors and Megawatts just as much as the next guy and I’ve done a few 10K’ days with that setup just the same, but sometimes it sure is nice to have lighter weight equipment on your feet. It’s easy to make big skis and stiff boots, but to make them lighter, while retaining durability and high performance…that is the real trick. When BD switched from having their skis made in conjunction with Atomic and moved to wood cores, it seems that the increased weight was the biggest gripe amongst those that may have liked the BD skis of old. For me, it is very nice to see Black Diamond Equipment put a little more focus in their ski line on some lighter weight gear, instead of just making wider, heavier skis and stiffer boots. It’s also been fun testing out the products over the past few months.
The 2010 Black Diamond Efficiency skis…Drift, Scarlet, Aspect, Stigma, Syncra and Guru.
Okay…here we go. Ski-wise, there will be four new entries to the Efficiency Series line for Fall 2010…as well as a total retooling of the Stigma (125/80/109, 1425g) and Guru (123/75/106, 1306g…BD’s lightest ski) carry over models. The Voodoo will no longer be part of the line. All of the skis will have 3D paulownia wood cores, Torsion Box construction, flat tails and SkinLock, which is a metal insert in the tail to hold up to aggressive tail clips. All the beta can now be found on SkiBD.com, including weights, dimensions, sizes, photos, videos, etc. A great place to kill some time at work…it is Friday and all.
Flat tails and SkinLock make the back end of the new BD Efficiency skis mighty attractive.
New models for 2010 include the Syncra (124/80/108, 1350g) which is a women’s version of the Stigma. The Aspect (130/90/117, 1425g), which is the ski I used skiing on and around Aconcagua. The Drift (138/100/123, 1750g), which in the 176 length is 2lbs lighter than the 180 Verdict, and also the ski I used while in Antarctica, but in the 186cm length. Last but not least, there is the Starlet (134/100/121, 1400g), the women’s version of the Drift.
The model that will no doubt get the most attention from us backcountry skiers in the west is the Drift/Starlet, which is kind of (but not exactly) a lightweight version of the popular Verdict model in the Power Series. The Drift will be offered in 186, 176 and 166cm lengths…the Starlet in 176, 166, and 156. With a sidecut radius of 21m, it is a bit turnier than both the Verdict (26m) and Kilowatt (24m) models. No doubt the change in lengths is related to the fact that the Drift has a slight early rise tip (245mm), which as far as ski construction goes, has proven to be one of the greatest things since sliced bread. In addition to the paulownia core, the Drift is also constructed with carbon fiber, which adds rigidity without adding weight. I think the Aspect will also attract the attention of many ski mountaineers out there. It will be offered in four sizes (186,176,166,156cm) and will be geared as BD’s best hard snow carving ski. But, with it’s 130mm tip, it can still offer good float in the pow.
The Quadrant is the mack-daddy, four buckle, lightweight ripper of the new lineup.
And now…on to the boots. The big deal with the new Efficient boot program is that BD really wanted to create boots that are lightweight, whose cuffs have little resistance and a large range of motion for touring, yet still provide high performance when skiing…since it is “all about the down” still. I think they have achieved all three.
BD will offer four new boots for Fall 2010. The Quadrant (7lb 10oz), a four buckle boot with a flex rating of 120. Reported as the lightest and stiffest four buckle boot on the market and the boot I have been testing. The Prime (7lb 4oz), a three buckle version with a flex of 100. The women’s model is the called the Swift (6lb 11oz). And the Slant, which is a softer flexing three buckle boot. BD sorta labels these last three boots as 3 1/2 buckle boots, since there are still two upper buckles on the cuff (which allow them to retain their skiing performance) and the lowest buckle is positioned so it can act as two buckles in one.
The new liners are warmer, easier to fit, and the BOA system tightens faster and requires less torque.
All of the boots with have a bit more volume to the lower shells compared to the Factor, as well as thicker, warmer, and easier to mold liners. The Quadrant, Prime and Swift will all come with an improved BOA system that reduces the amount of rotations and force needed to crank things down, which is a really nice improvement. The boots will have two forward leans settings of 18 and 14 degrees, and cuff alignment capabilities like their boots have now. All the boots will have a staggering 40 degrees of resistance free movement in the cuff…which I can assure you is smooth as silk, with plenty of rearward travel.
The Triax Pivot Frame allows for more forward travel in walk mode.
A key design feature of the boots is what BD is calling Pivoting Cuff Technology, which allows the buckle second from the top, to pivot upward and away from the lower section of the boot, letting the whole cuff move further forward and not restricting movement. A buckle that “locks” open, assures that things are able to move freely, yet keeps things from flopping around as they would if you just unbuckled the boots completely. Another new design for BD is the cables that are integrated into the buckles, and skeletal framed buckles, which help to reduce weight yet maintain strength. Hey, if BD’s swagged cables can stand up to a 10KN force like in their stoppers, I’m sure they will be able to hold up to the rigors of an AT boot buckle.
That’s about it for now…but look for more info and feed back down the road. Any questions regarding the new Efficient skis or boots…feel free to leave them in the comments section.
Face, Rab, Mountain Hardwear and Stoic at Backcountry.com. Expires soon!