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Posts Tagged ‘Black Diamond Drift’

Backcountry Ski Showdown: K2 Coomback vs. Black Diamond Drift vs. Dynafit Stoke

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The 100 mm-ish underfoot lightweight backcountry ski is quickly becoming the go-to quiver of one for many backcountry skiers. They hit a sweet spot between float in powder, edging in the steep and variable, and light weight for the skin track up. Go skinnier for a mountaineering stick and powder becomes tougher, go fatter for float and edging gets trickier and the uphill gets harder.

Three of the best in this category are the K2 Coomback, the Black Diamond Drift and the Dynafit Stoke. Each is a variation on the formula: 100-ish waist, some camber underfoot, lightweight construction and some early-rise or rocker in the tip – so you can’t really go wrong with any, but the subtle differences might help you pick the perfect one for you.

K2 Coomback
First off, the K2 Coomback – a classic favorite in the backcountry dating back to its origins with legendary backcountry skier Doug Coombs. K2 has put this ski through an incremental evolution over the years, never totally overhauling it. Flat tails for anchor building, skin attachment holes at tip and tail, and dependable performance have been hallmarks of this ski for some time.
On top of last year’s additional tip rocker and a hydrophobic top sheet that aims to keep your skis lighter by carrying less snow on top, this year K2 adds a “carbon web” they claim adds more responsiveness without weight penalty.
Here at Tahoe Mountain Sports, we see the Coomback as a dependable workhorse we’d happily ski in-bounds and out.
“Although it isn’t the lightest in the group, it will stand up better against your day-to-day abuse at the resort,” said our Hardgoods Manager, Kevin. “It has quite a bit of rocker in the tip, which makes it a very easy ski to get used to.”
He thought the ski had good edge hold in firmer conditions after skiing with both Fritschie Freeride bindings and 22 Designs Axl telemark bindings.
TMS owner Dave also gave the Coomback the best all-around award.
“The Coomback is easier to ski, a bit damper and tends to absorb the crud more due to its softness,” Dave said. “I recommend the Coomback as a 1 quiver ski for anybody spending 50 percent of their time in the backcountry and 50 percent in the resort.”

Specs:
Weight: 3600 g per pair (174 length)
Dimensions: 134/102/121
Turning radius: 22m (174 length)
Construction: Triaxial Braided, Cap, Fir/Aspen

Black Diamond Drift
The Black Diamond Drift was a new ski for the well-known mountain sports company last year, and carried forward into the 2011/12 season. We think Black Diamond nailed it. A 3D CNC’d paulownia wood core with carbon fiber reinforcements keeps this ski ultralight without making it torsionally flexible. It’s a soft ski, so it’s going to flow through soft snow beautifully, but get bounced around in harder conditions.
Like the K2s, these have flat tails, and have a metal notch for the climbing skin clip.
“These skis preform like a dream in powder. I’ve had them on groomers at the resort a few times, and while they’re not meant for that, they did the job” Dave said. “This ski is better suited to somebody who spends 80 percent (or more) of their time in the backcountry. Otherwise, it is a 2 quiver ski with this one being a backcountry-specific tool and then a second pair of skis as your big powder slaying, hard charging resort ski like the Zealot or Amperage.”

Whereas the heavier Coombacks were damp and didn’t get tossed around in crud, the lighter Drifts tended to flutter more. Still, with sharp edges, Dave was impressed with edge hold in hard conditions in the backcountry.
“I thought they would be more like noodles and not hold an edge very well, but I admit, I was wrong,” Dave said in an earlier review.
He also said the Drift was the quickest to turn (the shortest turning radius of the group). In summary, this is a backcountry specialist that’s quick, turny and playful in soft snow conditions, and superlight for the hike up.

Specs:
Weight: 3050 g per pair (176 length)
Dimensions: 136/100/122
Turning radius: 21m (176 length)
Construction: 3D CNC paulownia wood core, carbon fiber reinforcements, Formula One Tech, Torsion Box, Racing Edge

Dynafit Stoke
Dynafit went in a different direction with the popular Stoke ski, developed in partnership with Greg Hill, who climbed and skied 2 million vertical feet in one year. They blended a wider powder ski with the design of their skinnier ski-mountaineering focused sticks that have made them famous, making for a stiffer ski with surprising edgehold in variable conditions, while staying ultralight (only very slightly heavier than the Drift).
Like K2, Dynafit has notches in the tip and tail that work with their proprietary skins and construction is similar to the other two, combining light wood, fiberglass and carbon fiber. Unlike the other two, it uses traditional sidewall construction, instead of cap, and it ends up being the stiffest of the three skis. That mean’s it’s less forgiving and more aggressive, but not punishingly so. It demands technique, so this one wouldn’t be the best for beginners. But what you get from that stiffness is unflappable performance in variable snow and serious edge hold when the snow is hard – perfect for that icy couloir that never saw the sun. If you’ve got the legs and technique, this ski gives you the width and early rise tip for serious powder skiing, along with the edge hold for less than ideal conditions you sometimes encounter out of bounds.
Another difference is the slightly kicked-up tail, it doesn’t seem to be enough of an upturn to make it hard to plunge into the snow, but if your side-slipping back and forth down the neck of a couloir, it’ll help keep the tails from digging in.
The least sidecut in the group also adds to tenacious edge hold but takes more work to swing the skis around on the way down.
“I found myself buttering these skis around more than carving when I needed to turn quickly – once I figured that out, the low swing-weight made these pretty responsive,” said TMS Web Editor Greyson. “The lesser sidecut also made them less hooky in variable snow, and the most confidence inspiring while side-hilling on the way up. If you think of the Drift as a playful ski, the Stoke is more business-like.”

Specs:
Weight: 3100 g per pair (173 length)
Dimensions: 129/105/119
Turning Radius: 34.5/20.1m (173 length)
Construction: Isocore paulownia ultralight wood with stringers in beech and bamboo with biaxial prepreg, fiberglass and carbon reinforcement

The Bottom Line:
Like we said, you can’t go wrong picking any of these three skis for a great all-around backcountry ski. They blend aspects of more traditional backcountry skis with a powder ski in their own ways, making them super-versatile. That being said, we’ll line it up this way: We’d say the K2 Coomback is the ski that’s going to do the most for most skiers – a jack of all trades, master of none. The Black Diamond Drift becomes more specialized as a soft-snow surfer for the backcountry committed. And the Dynafit Stoke is a serious mountain ski that can take serious skiers over the widest variety of terrain.

Black Diamond Drift
Black Diamond Drift
MSRP: $699.00
K2 Coomback
K2 Coomback
MSRP: $649.95
Dynafit Stoke
Dynafit Stoke
MSRP: $799.95

May Powder Skiing – Awesome!!!

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Tahoe Sunrise

Tahoe Sunrise

WHO: Dave, Kevin and Jeff

WHAT: Backcountry Skiing Lake Tahoe

WHERE: West Shore of Lake Tahoe

WHEN: May 17–18, 2011

GEAR USED: Black Diamond Drift Skis with Quadrant Boots, Outdoor Research soft shell pants and Smith Trace sunglasses because when that sun gets high in the sky this time of year, shades  are essential!

After the Amgen Tour of California folks decided to leave town due to a snow storm, we were all a little disappointed. BUTTTT, did I say snow storm? Yup, you bet I did. Since Sunday, Tahoe’s higher elevations have received 2-3 feet of some of the coldest and driest snow we have seen all winter and since none of us are really into road biking anyways, we decided to venture out and see what the coverage was like with the hopes of making some sweet powder turns. Wow, were we surprised to find that conditions were still like mid-winter in many places and the snow was insanely phenomenal!

We hit up Grouse Rock on the backside of Alpine Meadows on Tuesday in the midst of the storm. We were the first ones up so we broke trail most of the way and got to ski down first, always my favorite part. The bottom over here got a little wet and manky so we decided that as long as it snowed a little more, we were going to head further down the West Shore and see what some of those peaks had to hold. We were a bit unsure if we would even be able to ski from the road as we hadn’t been down there in a good month and didn’t know the status of the snow levels.

On Wednesday, we decided the snow had fallen and Rubicon Peak was the goal. We were able to skin right from the car as you can see in the pic at the top of this post. It started to clear a little as we made our way up and we got some nice views of the lake.

Skiing up Rubicon

Skiing up Rubicon

The higher we got, the deeper the trail-breaking got and we were about 1-1.5 feet deep in the skin track by the time we hit the top. We were also worried the sun was going to come out fast and furious today but lucky enough, there was just enough light cloud cover that the snow was staying perfect and we were getting more and more psyched for our descent. After topping out and taking in some of the views, it was time to go down and both Jeff and I could not stop yelling to each other how good the snow really was and how psyched we were to be skiing dry, light, fluffy, DEEP powder on May 18th. If you are in Tahoe, go get some and if you are reading this from somewhere else, hopefully it is warm and nice out there because our winter is still going strong!

 

Here are a couple more pics from our morning on Rubicon.

Top of Rubicon Peak

Top of Rubicon Peak

Descent from Rubicon

Descent from Rubicon

Jeff skiing down

Jeff skiing down

Black Diamond 10/11 Ski Gear Preview – Drift Ski and Quadrant Boot

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A couple weeks ago we got the chance to get our skiing with Brad, our Black Diamond rep up on Rubicon peak.  Of course this trip wasn’t just for fun, we were also out to check out some of next years new Efficient Series skis and boots from Black Diamond.  Specifically the all new Drift ski and Quadrant boot.

Brad on Rubicon

Brad on Rubicon

The Drift is the widest ski in the new Efficient series at 100mm under foot (138/100/123) and is meant to please those looking to save weight without sacrificing performance in deep snow. It features a lightweight paulownia wood core and an early rise tip. Think of it as a softer and lighter version of the Verdict with an early rise tip.  Granted we had pretty much perfect hero snow, but I had a blast on these. The early rise kept the tips above the boot top powder and the ski felt equally at home making tight turns and wide arcs through the trees. The 187′s I was on felt just right for me at 6′ tall and the ski will also be available in 176 and 166 for those that prefer a shorter ski.

2011 Black Diamond Drift

2011 Black Diamond Drift

2011 Black Diamond Drift

2011 Black Diamond Drift

BD Skis Tip Profile, 187 Drift is Furthest Back, then the 176 Drift with Megawatts in the Foreground

The Quadrant is the stiffest of the new Efficient Series boots and is going to fill the light but still stiff niche in the BD line that has been missing.  Its 120 flex is softer than the Factor but comparable in stiffness to the Method but significantly lighter. The boot is a two piece, 4 buckle design but without the switchable soles  of the Factor and Method and built on an all new ultra light chassis.  They were also just as stiff and significantly lighter than my Dynafit Zzeus’.  The Quadrant is the first true lightweight boot that I’ve tried that really felt like they were stiff enough to  drive big skis.

They are built on a different last from the Factor and Method, I’ve been told they are wider all around. However the liner is also thicker. To me they actually felt like they had the same nice tight heel pocket with a little less volume in the toe, which for me is a plus. The fact that they felt a little lower volume than the Factor out of the box could be due to a thicker liner.   Ski boot fit is very subjective, but I was able to throw these on my feet and ski with only the addition of a Superfeet footbed, not something I can do in many boots.  It’s tough to judge a boot from one day out, but I think this boot could be a game changer with a combination of light weight and the solid feel of a much heavier boot. I’ve got a hunch that these will be a hit.

2011 Black Diamond Quadrant

2011 Black Diamond Quadrant


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