With a full paulownia wood core, the all-new Black Diamond Helio Carbon 104 has an ideal weight-to-performance ratio for North American backcountry purists. The ABS sidewalls and near-perfectly engineered pre-preg carbon laminate remain so stiff and stable on descents, however, you’ll probably forget about the weight factor until you’re putting skins back on for another lap. Despite the feathery feel in hand, the brand was able to sneak in a Titanal mounting plate for added stability and energy transfer. No matter how fast our testers skied, the generous rocker in the shovel remained almost chatter-free, and the ski stayed silky smooth on death cookies and creamy corn equally well.
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