Best Men’s Touring Ski (Fast and Light) 2017/18: Black Diamond Helio 95

The Black Diamond Helio 95 ski wins a 'best touring ski: fast and light' award from Fall-Line Skiing magazine

The Black Diamond Helio 95 is a mountain goat of a ski: incredibly light and surefooted on the ascent yet stable and balanced coming back down

Blurring the lines between a traditional touring ski, powder ski and ski mountaineering stick, BD’s Helio 95 is a stunningly light weight (due to the balsa wood and pre-preg carbon core) marvel that somehow isn’t just tolerable in deep snow and technical terrain, but actually excels there.

At only 1.1kg per ski the Helio 95 is a real mountain goat on the ascent, skipping up long hard skin tracks with alacrity and barely noticeable on the backpack when it’s time to get the crampons out and bootpack.

Searching out powder in the trees on the Black Diamond Helio 95 ski

At 95mm underfoot it’s svelte enough to hang out at even the most remote mountain huts without standing out too from the crowd and makes it easy to get an edge in when sidehilling on slick re-frozen firn, yet also means you get plenty of grip ascending at steeper angles with full-width skins and don’t get bogged down breaking trail after a good dump of powder. The low swing weight and balanced mount point make kick turns a cinch too, even on the most precarious of perches.

It’s once you’ve topped out and transitioned for the descent that Helios reveal their real genius though. BD have made some of the most progressive powder skis of the past few years (like the Megawatt and Gigawatt), and they’ve brought some of that modern shaping philosophy to the Helio with smooth tip and tail rocker and set back contact points with generous taper. The results are nothing short of staggering: despite the insubstantial weight the Helios are stable, balanced and predictable. They come alive in powder and make turns of any size and speed without hooking or flinching, but handle hard snow and technical terrain with aplomb too. The harder it gets the more precise your technique has to be, and the more the lack of dampening mass starts to become apparent, but they will still dance nimbly into steep consequential turns above exposure and shut down to scrub speed smoothly when necessary.

In short, you can comfortably take the Helios deep into the backcountry on long multi-day missions with total confidence that they will handle whatever conditions you come across. They’re light enough to help you get up and down in even the smallest of weather windows, with plenty of energy left to enjoy the descents.

2018 Black Diamond Helio 95 specifications:

  • Length: 163, 173, 183
  • Sidecut: 123-95-113
  • Turn radius: 19m
  • RRP: £700

2018 Black Diamond Helio 95 ski product image

Want to learn all about the best new ski equipment for the 2017/18 season? Head this way to get the bumper Fall-Line Skiing Gear Guide.