Gear – Black Diamond Drift Ski

For the 2011-2012 season, the Black Diamond Drift was my go-to ski. Training at Elfin Lakes, steep chutes at Blackcomb, skimo races in the rockies and powder days on the Duffy Lake Road, I used them for everything. A light and fat option from BD’s Efficiency Series (and bigger brother to the Aspect ski) the Drift is designed to make life easy when skinning and sublime dropping into powder stashes off Crystal Chair.
Specs for my pair:

Powder day at Blackcomb.
  • Length: 176cm
  • Weight: 3.05kg
  • Dimensions: 136/100/122mm
  • Other lengths available: 166cm, 186cm
The Good: The Drift is a powder ski that is well suited to big storm days. Compared to my G3 Barons, I found the Drifts were much easier to keep afloat in deep snow. This is beneficial on the ups as well as the downs as it makes trail breaking much easier. The skis are a blast to take in powder, enough said. The Drift is also an extremely light option for anyone interested in getting further into the backcountry. A lighter ski means easier skinning and more laps or longer traverses.  The base held up well to a good beating throughout the season. A quick wax job every few weeks kept it looking shiny and clean. Last, BD customer service is awesome – see below.
These skis hold their snow!

The Bad: As an all around ski mountaineering and do-all ski, the Drift would probably not be my first choice again. The slightly narrower and lighter Aspect ski seems to be more appropriately designed. I can’t really consider this as a flaw but I needed something to put in the negative category. The skin clip area on the tail seems to be a bit of a gimmick. I, like all my partners on various skis, struggled with skins coming unclipped and balling up with snow. By the end, I found not even using the clip is the ticket for most days so the skin can’t tension itself off the ski base. My only other minor complain would be with how well snow sticks to the top sheet. Anecdotally, compared to my partners skis, I always had the most snow on top, combined with wide skis, this makes for a heavy load. I wonder if it has something to do with the ski color affecting how the snow melts and freezes on to the ski or if it just a material thing. Either way, its kind of annoying.

Zoom of the separated edge.
Early season chip in the top sheet.

The Ugly: Unfortunately, after not quite a season of use, the skis started to develop a crack between the metal edge and the top cap. I can’t say for sure that I didn’t hit anything but it does not seem to be the type of damage that comes from impact. I was pretty disappointed to see my still otherwise new ski starting to come apart. The tail of the ski was also developing some chips in the top sheet – obviously from jamming them in the snow – my fault I know, but a not a good sign for durability either way. I called BD in the hopes they could help repair it and much to my pleasant surprise, they told me to send in the ski and a new pair was on its way! Way to go BD customer service!

Summary: Not my pick as a day to day resort or beater ski, the Drift is the choice for powder days, especially when you want to take advantage of the light weight when getting deep (get it?) out into the backcountry.

Last years models are still available cheap on the BD website here.

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