When they first arrived, we immediately realized that thefactory tune was not only awful — it was downright dangerous. The issue was that the bases were inconsistent (not flat) and often concave, making parts of the ski edge-high, which makes for a frightening skiing experience.
After lengthy discussions with our trusted ski techs, we learned that this is not an uncommon problem for any ski manufacturer. Evidently, there are a number of processes that can alter the base and feel of the ski during the time it travels from the factory to the consumer.
One tech mentioned that wood core skis that incorporate unseasoned wood are subject to the swelling and shrinking of that component. Additionally, he said that some epoxies take up to 3 YEARS to settle completely, meaning our skis could potentially be in constant flux until its time to buy new ones!
The Camox Birdie takes a little getting used to, but can be a park-skier's trusted all-mountain companion.
Black Crows was surprised to hear about this defect when we emailed them, and their customer service was excellent and apologetic. While we understand that this is a common issue, it's discouraging to have to fully grind and retune a ski straight out of the plastic. It's also expensive. An average tune, including the necessary base grind, might run you between $50-$100 depending on how your pair came out of the factory. It also requires a fairly knowledgeable and perceptive skier to determine whether this is even necessary.
The Camox Birdies are fairly stiff, but their tips start to flap at higher speeds.
Stability at Speed
The Black Crows do not evade the ever-present tip-flap, which is the nemesis of so many all-mountain, tip-rockered skis. The Camox Birdie is not as stiff as the Kastle FX95 HP, and they are less stable at high speeds as a result. When the snow is soft, the Camox Birdies can hold an edge, but the moment the snow becomes more firmly packed, slick, or chalky, they tend to slip out of line and chatter. Our testers also hypothesized that the Camox Birdie does not have a very progressive flex pattern. In other words, it is stiff in strange places, and it can feel difficult to get the ski to bend and engage with the snow. Much heavier skiers may have better luck.
Hilary Roache shows that you can bend this oddly flexed ski into an arc, but it takes some work.
Just by eyeing up their shape, you know the Camox Birdies are not going to be an ideal carving ski, but they can be directed to arc a clean 18m radius turn. As in other types of terrain and turns, we found you need to move your weight to the outside ski early, or it doesn't want to make the turn that you do. We also noticed that their flex pattern makes it difficult to bend the ski when and where we wanted to.
On the wider side of our all-mountain category, at 97mm underfoot, the Camox Birdie doesn't feel particularly quick edge-to-edge. In addition, they prefer more of a smeared turn to an edged arc. If you're someone who loves to rail down tracks on firmer snow, the Head Great Joys or the Rossignol Soul 7 HDs are better options.
The Camox Birdies soar above the powder, and this is where they are most at home.
With a wider waist and significantly rockered tips, the Black Crows are very much at home in powder. You can imagine yourself as a French ripper chick, soaring through the fresh in Chamonix, where these birdies were made to fly. They managed to stay afloat even in some of the tougher, heartier Sierra snow.
Even our testers who were unaccustomed to this ski shape had to admit that it performed well in the deep stuff. There is still a tendency for the tips to diverge slightly, which is tricky to mediate in the powder, where we're trying to be more two-footed. Overall, however, when the snow was falling, we were very happy cruising over the surface on these hot pink beasts.
The Black Crows can handle choppy conditions pretty well, but you do need to stay on top of them to make them work.
The Camox Birdies skied alright in chopped up snow. Our testers agreed that they are more capable in softer, colder chop, where they could drift across the surface. When running the gauntlet in heavier, more set-up crud, they sometimes deflected and didn't quite have the chutzpah to blast through the tough stuff. If you ski every day and don't mind when conditions aren't perfect, then buying something more rough-and-ready like the Kastle FX95 HP might be preferable.
The Black Crows are trickier to carve because they're difficult to flex and engage the edge, so it's not their forte.
It's hard to say that the Black Crows aren't fun — they are! But they aren't going to give up their goods straight away. You have to stay on top of them to draw the fun out. They can have a nice little rebound to them (once you actually get them to bend), feel happy in the air, and make a smooth, buttery turn in powdery trees.
These skis have a more traditionally parky shape and, with their tail rocker, would feel perfectly contented landing switch off a rock drop or park kicker. If you're looking for even more responsiveness and kick-back, turn to the Elan Ripsticks or the Rossi Soul 7.
Jess Workman shows how the pivoty nature of the Camox Birdies functions well in the bumps.
Given their propensity for pivoting, the Black Crows feel good when taking a mellow line across the tops of the moguls. If you're trying to ski the troughs, they may feel a little lumbering, especially in the longer length that we tested. However, in every other type of terrain, we were happy to have the extra length. If you are busting your knees through the bumps all-day every day, we'd recommend something a little smaller and quicker, such as the Elan Ripsticks or even the Icelantic Oracle 88s.
If you mostly ski on powder days (lucky you!), this is a fabulous ski that will bring a huge smile to your face in the fresh, and not make you cry when you get back to the hard pack.
The Camox Birdie takes a little bit of getting used to and needs a competent driver who can stay centered, but after getting to know each other, you'll enjoy their sprightliness. A couple of testers felt strongly that this ski is an ideal all-mountain ski for park-rats. If you often spend your days sending it in the halfpipe or jibbing rails, this ski would be perfect to take you exploring the greater mountain.
The Camox Birdie is a perfect tool for a park-oriented skier to take all over the mountain, and particularly in fresh snow.
The Black Crows come in at the higher end of our collection, at $700. They are fun to ski in powder, which earns them added esteem. But they aren't as versatile as we'd prefer for this price point. For a very agile and fun ski that won't break the bank, look towards the Elan Ripstick.
If you love skiing powder, the Black Crows will reward you with a floaty and pivoty ski. Just don't rely on them as a fun on-piste ski.
Other Versions and Accessories
All of the "Birdies" in the Black Crow line are womens' versions, so there is also a unisex Camox Freebird, which has similar specs and a slightly stiffer flex.