When Black Diamond started selling their own ski and boot line a few years ago, the common mantra was that it was “All About The Down”. Well, it seems as though the tides are changing a bit down in Salt Lake City, and every year we see a little more focus put into not only making gear work better for us, but also making it lighter. This continues into their Fall 2012 offerings, as Black Diamond will make some tweaks to boot and liner fit, skin glide and glue performance, and…what I’m most excited about…the addition of three new skis to their Touring Series (which was known as the Efficient Series for the past few years) that will make those of us that think skiing is also a little about the up…smile.
I’m not one to beat around the bush, so let’s get right to the skis. For one, and for Fall 2012, Black Diamond will have two main ski categories, FreeSkiing and Touring. The FreeSkiing line had a big revamp last year with all the new traditional sidewall construction skis and fun-shapes.Â And let me tell you, if you haven’t tried these skis yet…you should, because they really ski amazingly well. They are a bit heavy for my taste as dedicated touring skis though. However, the skis in BD’s Touring line are right up my alley, and although some of the skis will only see cosmetic changes for 2012, the Carbon Megawatt, Revert and Current are totally new, and the Drift will also get some tweaks to make it ski better.
Carbon Megawatt– Everyone loves fat skis, but skinning around with them all the time can be brutal on your knees and cause you to maybe even get smoked on the skin track by some lycra wearing rando-racer. Thanks to Black Diamond though, the popular powder slaying Megawatt will get carbon-ized for 2012 and be a full 2lbs lighter than the current 2011 version. The Caron Megawatt will have the shape and flex of the original Megawatt, which had a more soft-snow focus and long rockered tip, instead of the current model, that performs a bit better on hard snow. Putting carbon in the Megawatt bumps the price up a bit to $989/929 (MSRP/MAP), but IME, price doesn’t seem to be a factor for those that appreciate the benefits of carbon fiber.Â Stoked to shred on these, and I think I’m going to give the 178’s whirl to keep the weight down even more.
-Carbon Megawatt Specs-
188cm – 153/125/130 – 4.2kg/9lbs 5oz -Â Radius=42m – Tip Rocker=450mm – Tail Rocker=150mm
178cm – 147/120/126 -Â Â Â Â 4.0kg/9lbsÂ Â -Â Radius=38m – Tip Rocker=429mm – Tail Rocker=141mm
Revert– I have to be honest. When I first saw this ski, I questioned the dimensions and likely hood of myself actually skiing a ski like this. A waist of 95mm, with a tip of 122mm, just seemed awkward and outrageous to me. But, after talking with some folks who have spent a bit of time on the Revert, all reports have been very positive for this new, fun-shaped and medium width ski from Black Diamond.
Dubbed a mini-AMPerage, I guess it is not really a surprise that the Revert is getting such good reviews. With traditional sidewall construction, both tip and tail rocker (though a bit less less aggressive than the AMPerage, in order to maximize edge grip in steep terrain) and camber under foot, the Revert is suited to handle every type of condition thrown at it. The short running surface and under-foot camber allows for turn-on-a-dime performance on hard snow, while the long rockered tip and tail allow for a playful feel and serious float in powder for a 95mm waisted ski. Since they are not in contact with the snow, the rockered tip and tail also reduce quite a bit of drag when you are skinning (reportedly 45% less than the Drift and 39% less than the Aspect), so the playful shape will help you on the uphill and flats as well, but also won’t leave you cursing on the skin-track like a full reverse camber ski will.
189cm – 122/99/110 – 3.6kg/8lbs – Radius=23m – Tip Rocker=408mm -Tail Rocker=326mm
181cm – 121/95/109 – 3.5kg/7lbs 11oz -Radius=22m – Tip Rocker=390mm -Tail Rocker=312mm
173cm – 120/95/108 – 3.3kg/7lbs 4oz -Radius=21m – Tip Rocker=373mm -Tail Rocker=298mm
165cm – 119/95/107 – 3.2kg/7lbs -Radius=20m – Tip Rocker=355mm -Tail Rocker=284mm
(Note– I anticipate receiving a pair of both the Carbon Megawatt and Revert in the next few days, so I should have more first-hand experience skiing on both of these skis in the long term.)
Current– Similar to the Revert, but narrower, lighter and with little less tip and tail rocker.
185cm– 119/86/107 – 3.3kg/7lb 4oz – Radius=21.5m – Tip Rocker=284mm – Tail Rocker=189mm
176cm– 118/86/106- 3.2kg/7lb – Radius=20.5m – Tip Rocker=270mm – Tail Rocker=180mm
167cm– 116/86/105- 2.9 kg/6lb 6oz – Radius=19.5m – Tip Rocker=256mm – Tail Rocker=171mm
158cm– 115/86/104- 2.8 kg/6lb 3oz – Radius=18.5m – Tip Rocker=242mm – Tail Rocker=161mm
Drift– Not only will the Drift get a cosmetic change for Fall 2012, but it will also get a slight rise in the tail, which should make turn release a little smoother and easier. Â Some folks poo-poo the Drift as being too soft, but for a backcountry ski, I don’t think it is.Â It’s high torsional rigidity gives it quite good edge grip on firm snow, making it a great all-around western states backcountry ski.
Boots– There will be a cosmetic changes with the shells of all the BD Alpine Tour Series boots, which includes the Quadrant, Prime, Swift and Slant. The overall fit is also improved from previous years with some reworking of the boot-board and a new liner design. Not only are the liners warmer, but they now have a really nice rear articulation zone, as well as a re-configured BOA system that is easier to tighten and loosen, which should make getting in and out of the boots much easier.
Skins– In an effort to improve performance and ease-of-use of their climbing skins, Black Diamond has made some modifications to its Gold Label glue for Fall 2012. The results are a more pressure and temperature sensitive adhesive that not only sticks to itself less, but also has more grip to your ski base when pressed on with your hand. The glue is less sticky at room temperature, but the tackiness increases dramatically at colder temperatures. The weave of the Ascension version of climbing skins has also been changed and has gotten a huge boost in glide performance, especially in warm/wet conditions, without any reduction in grip.
I’ve been testing out both the new glue and weave of these new skins since last spring and can attest to the claims above. At first, I was very hesitant to use the test skins I received because the glue barely stuck to itself in my house. However, in the field they performed great, and even stayed on with a little extra pressure when applying them after getting completely soaked while skinning through puddles during a July Wind River ski trip. And to add about the new Ascension weave, independent studies by Montana University have shown that the new weave has better glide performance than the GlideLite model in warm conditions, while the GlideLites have more glide in cold conditions. Maybe something to think about when you are buying skins in the future, depending on where you live and the type of snow conditions you typically have.
Look for more info about the Black Diamond Fall 2012 ski line-up in tomorrow’s post. I’m out skiing today, so if you have any questions, I will be back in the evening to answer them. Ciao for now!