In one of the great ironies of the cosmos, carbon is black even though you sometimes want it to be white or some other lighter color — on touring skis, anyway. The idea is to prevent heating by the sun and subsequent ice formation that adds mass like a dripping dog just out of a swim. My question, do skis with predominantly carbon construction have to be black? Or is publishing a black carbon ski just a marketing design gimmick?
Consider Volkl BMT. At first glance the black carbon weave topskin makes your mouth water. Then you remember it would be nice if these were lighter colored. Then you notice one tip of the pair of model 94 is indeed lighter colored. Obvious, because the tip section of the BMT has a bright red skin that could perhaps be extended over the remainder of the ski — in any color. Or, is the tip area constructed differently and thus allows the color change? Someday perhaps I’ll cut this pair of pricey planks in half and get the answer. Until then, know that yes they’re black, but at least they have a raised center section that’ll shed snow and glop, instead of the duck pond shape that some other brands and models kindly provide.
Thing is, these planks do look so hot they’ll make me get a haircut and beard trim. Ice and slush to haul around on top? On certain days, who cares? I look GOOD! And someday, our loaners will get worn out and I’ll ask permission to deconstruct. The mystery of the black topskin will then be solved.
BMT94 is constructed with a laminated wood core, combined with the usual resin and wrap build you’ll find in most of the industry. Difference is the BMT profile reduces to nickle thick at the edges (a few other brands do this, but it’s not common.) The thin edge is said to increase edge grip on hard snow while not compromising soft snow performance. Moreover, reduced volume hopefully translates to reduced weight.
In my testing, I easily seconded Volkl’s claim about edge hold. Getting safely down a rain glazed mountain where a death fall was possible provided that modality. What’s impressive here is that even with such ferocious grip, we’re looking at a “full rocker” profile, meaning the tip and tail rocker extend all the way to the binding mount area. That is no-holds-barred swivel-slarve and crust carve rocker that makes the BMT meld a lively feel along with a forgiving ride. Tilt your knees and turn is not just a concept here, it is reality.
Note that Volkl sells pre-cut skins for the BMT ski line. They’re sourced from Kohla, an Austrian company making a “glueless” “vacuum” adhesive skin that might be quite nice. We dislike the Volkl keyhole in the tip attachment method due to the difficulty of freeing the skin tip while removing skins with skis still on feet — but it’s bomber attachment and you can probably get used to it.
Weight of the BMT 94 comes in at 1432 grams each (averaged for the pair). That’s respectable and below average for a 94 mm waisted 176 centimeter plank, coming in on our weight/surface chart between several other skis known to ski well while being noticeably light.
The 122/94/112 profile is what I’d call “regular,” not too relaxed nor too aggressive. Combine that sort of profile with mega rocker, and that’s probably why they felt so smooth in breakable crust.
Perhaps the most mind altering aspect of any Volkl BMT touring ski is you’ll notice a warning on the binding mount area “only for Marker Royal/Tour bindings,” meaning the binding mount area reinforcement is sized to match up with those specified bindings and if you mount other bindings beware. Fortunately the technicians at Volkl kindly provide a map of the hardened area. We found that you could be concerned about binding mounts if you skis aggressively with large boots, but most ski tourers should be able to reliably mount any binding provided care is taken with epoxy and tightening torque. More, quite a few tech bindings now come with wider mount patterns that appear to be compatible with the Volkl dimensions. This blog post details the binding mount area issues.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.