Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to have the pick of the litter from the Black Diamond ski and Dynafit binding line up. Like all products, some perform better than others in particular conditions and terrain. For fat powder days I like big and fat skis with bindings that can handle the reverse flex of the ski. For ski mountaineering and long tours I like skis that are a bit shorter and bindings that are lighter. Here is a run down of my ski quiver this season and what I will most likely be using each set-up for.
1. Verdict 190cm – This was my open terrain, powder ski last season and will surface this season when I don’t want to rid the Megawatts in the deep powder. Plenty stiff for stability when hauling ass, but just soft enough to keep you on top. I think the Verdicts ski short, so don’t be afraid of the bigger sizes if your looking for a specialty ski.
Vertical FT – The ultra-sheek yellow version of the FT from 2007. With all the user friendly features like ski pole/heel height adjustability, longer toe piece lock-out lever, increased rear pin length and decreased toe pin distance. And if the FT12 weights less than the ST….last years FT must be even lighter.
2. Megawatt 188cm – This is my first ski with a new-school shape. Though soft and buttery, they ride like a caddy a mach 5 and honestly aren’t very heavy. With a raised tip and short contact length, these ski turn just by thinking about turning. And since they aren’t fully rockered, they are still great for skinning. Yes, I’ve had these out a few times this season, just couldn’t look at them sit in the corner any longer.
Vertical FT12 – This year’s “I’m such a ripping skier I need a DIN to 12” binding from Dynafit. Strong and burly, the FT12 fits nicely with a super-wide ski where leverages may be higher and/or a soft ski where more reverse flex may occur. For sure to win over some of the Duke, Naxo, Fritschi crowd who think Dynafits are wimpy.
3. Kilowatt 185cm – This is my resort/loner set-up. The Kilowatts have a lot of pop and rebound and like to be skied, as opposed to just being ridden. I feel they like med to shorter radius turns more than long cruiser types, thought they still rail fast GS turns on hardpack when you ride an edge.
Fristchi Freeride – Lots of adjustability and compatibility with other boots if a friend is in need of a set-up. Also a nice alpine-like release for skiing the resort.
4. Verdict 180cm – I loved my 190’s so much last year, I got a shorter pair this season for a bit more versatility skiing couloirs in soft, mid-winter snow. The 180cm Verdict has to be one of the most versatile fat skis around. They can turn on a dime, float in the powder and ski hardpack without making you feel like you’re riding a 100+ waisted ski. For those looking for a shorter fat ski, don’t be afraid of the 180cm length, they are very friendly.
Vertical ST – The work horse of the Dynafit line-up and the binding most people should get if they are new to Dynafit. The replacement to the older Comfort model, the Vertical ST is super-durable and makes switching heel heights a breeze with your ski pole. These binder so reliable, you can leave your binding repair kit at home.
5. Voodoo 185cm– Officially my ‘rock skis’ this season, last year they were my all-season ski mountaineering ski. I thought the 185 length was little long for the ultra-narrow stuff and I wanted to be able to stick the tails into the snow better, so I cut some of the twin tip tail off the back. The Voodoo is the shining star of the Black Diamond mid-fat skis and is quite light for it’s size and has the perfect flex for all conditions.
TLT Speed – I’m a huge fan of the original Dynafit design. Light and durable, with a very tall maximum climbing bar height, these things were made for touring. Though a little harder to switch between some heel heights with your ski pole, this is the only model I will confidently pull the Van Halen maneuver with to switch from ski to tour mode.
6. Kilowatt 175cm – I know, I know…short skis suck…until you have to carry them on your back, or skin for miles and miles….or try to side-step through an icy crux with no run-out for straight-lining. New to the quiver this season and my go to “ski mountaineering’ rig, with a sidecut of 22.5m, a 95cm waist and a slightly raised tail, this ski should be great for long tours and jumping down the steepest and tightest couloirs. The Kilowatts are an energizes ski, so it likes to be weighted and unweighted…hence…jump turning down couloirs.
TLT Speed – Weight and durability are the top characteristics I’m looking for here…so the TLT is the optimal choice. Today’s version seems to be shipping with only one shim for the heel post, so skiled skinners will want to dig into their parts kit for a second one for step skinning.
7. Stigma 174cm– My shortest non-rando racing ski, and a little wiggly at higher speeds in softer snow, the Stigmas are for firm snow. It’s turny, 17m sidecut likes to carve, and Dual Torsion Bow construction is stiff enough to hold an edge at higher speeds well. At the 174 length, it loves the steeps.
TLT Speed – Once again, the go to binding for those that know what they are doing around Dynafit bindings. Stripped clean with no breaks or leashes, when I clip into these binders, they aren’t coming off until I take them off.
8. SR11– One of the lightest rando racing skis out there, these things virtually float uphill…at least for the first 2,000′. Carbon construction keeps weight to minimum. Becoming a master at high speed skiing in all conditions on a 160cm ski with a 90/62/76m is will make you a better skier overall. Fatter skis are just a crutch.
Vertical Race Ti – Stripped of heel posts and made with titanium, at 250g, this is the lightest Dynafit binding that still has full DIN release ability. Without the highest climbing position, it assures your stride will be as long as it can be. The most durable of all the race bindings on the market.