Highway to anywhere.
The Route 95 Ski is Black Diamond's daily backcountry driver that stays strong for seasons and rides well in most conditions. It shares the same dimensions as Black Diamond's Helio 95 Ski, except BD switched out the carbon for fiberglass laminates to bring the price down and maintain torsional rigidity. Although it checks in at a backcountry-friendly weight of six pounds per pair, the Route still weighs about a pound more than the Helio so it's not quite as light as its carbon counterpart.
A mid-fat 95mm waist transitions from firm snow to soft with equal performance. The rockered tip helps you set the skin track when the snow's deep, and it plays with the tail rocker to help you enjoy the deeps on the downhill. BD also added some camber underfoot to hold an edge when you're cruising down firm snow. Black Diamond's flat-top construction employs durable sidewalls that are easy to tune season after season.
- Daily backcountry driver rides any snow with equal zeal
- Versatile 95mm waist hovers soft snow and cuts firm snow
- Tip and tail rocker navigate powder on the up and down
- Camber underfoot holds an edge on firm snow
- Poplar core sandwiched with pre-preg fiberglass for stiffness
- Q & A
Great for the Backcountry
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
These a re a perfect tool for accessing the backcountry. They float well over powder but are still dependable in the crud. The added weight of a beefier tech binding (like the Salomon S/Lab Shift) gives you a bit more dependability to charge choppy runs or glide groomers when you take these to the resort, making heady lines a little less intimidating as well. The only downside would be the durability of the top sheet, though that is mostly cosmetic they do tend to scratch easily. Altogether these are beautiful skis that help you ski those lines far from the crowds.
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
I bought these skis in their 183cm length for the 2017/2018 season to replace a pair of ultralight carbon touring skis (which I hated - more on that below). I am a fairly aggressive skier, clocking in at 185lbs without any gear (so 200+ with an avi pack, etc). My setups include these BDs with G3 Ion LTs and Dynafit Vulcans, and a heavy powder touring setup.
After skiing on the ultralight carbon sticks for about a season and a half, I finally decided that I hated the skis. They were like skiing a wet spaghetti noodle - insecure, not confidence inspiring, and in the context of steep spring skiing - dangerous. I know a lot of people love these types of skis, but for me they just weren't the right setup. Even in the best of conditions for the ski (knee deep pow) they were not confidence inspiring. After some soul searching, I came to believe that given my weight and preferred style, a carbon fiber ski was simply not for me, and was ready to sacrifice a couple hundred grams in order to actually enjoy skiing.
First impression: Cautiously Optimistic.
These are well constructed, with a strong feeling topsheet and ptex base and nearly fully length sidewalls (tapered near the rockered tip), which I felt were a must after losing confidence in cap style constructions. They are quite stiff feeling and consistent through the entirety of the ski. With a fair amount of rocker in the tip and a subdued amount of rise in the flat tail, I was cautiously optimistic that the skis would handle themselves well in a number of conditions. Plus, they looked good!
I learned pretty quickly while warming up at a resort that the skis reward a "neutral" stance, versus the aggressive forward lean I grew accustomed to on my old Volkl Mantras through this dry season. Pushing the skis too hard resulted in the back half of the ski washing out and the planks informing you (kindly) of their lack of appreciation. Once I learned how to ski them, though, these things really held their own. Surprisingly for such a light setup, by mid-afternoon I was bombing down mogul runs and arcing big turns down open runs at speeds I would never even consider in a backcountry environment.
Second Impression: Surprised/Impressed.
My first full-value trip was a multi-day hut near Copper Mountain, which delivered days of fresh snow and up to knee-deep+ powder (a surprise for this year). Given how light these skis are, and their friendly backcountry shape, they crush the skin track similar to how the ultralight carbon skis did, even when breaking trail in deep snow. They are well balanced for kick-turns, and I appreciate the skin clip at the tail.
To my surprise, despite these Routes only being 95 underfoot, they ski powder incredibly well. Somewhere between the waist width, the amount of subtle rocker in the tip, and what I found to be a truly impressive tail, they made me forget what a relatively small ski I was on in knee-deep conditions. With the right stance, I found the tails would pop me out enthusiastically for every turn, and achieved a great balance between pop and slarve-ability. In essence, they were fun. Like, really fun.
Final Impression: Totally Impressed.
Now that the season out here has turned (albeit early) toward spring mountaineering, I finally got to put these skis in the element I intended for them - long tours, spring snow, and steep couloirs! My wife and I made a pilgrimage to Rocky Mountain National Park to ski Dragon Tail Couloir over the weekend, and in true style, the snow was "character building" at best! A couple inches of fresh powder on top of a consolidated/icy variable base. To my surprise, these skis made those conditions FUN, and I was able to rocket both tight and larger-radius turns down the Tail. Being able to engage the edges on command and depend on the stiff sidewall construction was exactly what I wanted - confidence inspiring!
First Taste of Touring!
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
I used these with my first touring setup and have had a blast so far! Great ability to float on powder but provides good stability in and out of turns, would definitely recommend!
Recommended Sizing Guide
Your ski size is largely determined by both your skiing ability and your preferred style of skiing. For example, an expert skier in Vermont will ski a far different ski than an expert in British Columbia. So take a look at our chart and explanations and find your perfect fit. Your weight also plays a large factor in finding the right ski. If you are either under or over average weight for your height consider downsizing or upsizing, respectively.
|Big-Mountain Freeride||Backcountry Jib||All-Mountain||Park & Pipe||All-Mountain Carve|
|Pro||180 - 200cm||180 - 190cm||180 - 190cm||175 - 185cm||175 - 185cm|
|Expert||170 - 180cm||175 - 185cm||170 - 180cm||160 - 180cm||170 - 185cm|
|Intermediate||160 - 180cm||160 - 180cm||160 - 180cm||160 - 180cm||160 - 175cm|
|Entry Level||N/A||N/A||150 - 170cm||150 - 170cm||150 - 170cm|
SKILL LEVEL EXPLANATIONS
Pro: Excels on any terrain, on any snow condition. Enjoys high speeds.
Expert: Comfortable on any terrain and most snow conditions.
Intermediate: Comfortable on Blue trails, exploring Black trails.
Entry Level: Learning to ski Green and Blue trails.
SKIING STYLE EXPLANATIONS
Big-Mountain Freeride: High speeds, deep powder, steep lines, straightlining, chutes, cliffs.
Backcountry Jib: Backcountry kickers, hucking, twintips, deep powder.
All-Mountain: From bumps to back bowls, groomers to glades; everything and anywhere on the mountain.
Park & Pipe: De-tuned edges and buttery twin tips, occasionally pole-impaired.
All-Mountain Carve: Stiff. High-speed corduroy cutter. For those blind to SLOW signs.