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Black Crows Camox Birdie Review

A solid option for a park-oriented skier moving onto the bigger mountain.
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Price:  $700 List | $559.98 at Amazon
Pros:  Good in powder, fun for park and all-mountain, likes to pivot
Cons:  Too stiff for most, expensive, might need initial tune
Manufacturer:   Black Crows
By Renee McCormack and Hilary Roache  ⋅  Dec 21, 2018
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38
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 16
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 2
  • Carving - 20% 4
  • Crud - 20% 5
  • Powder - 20% 5
  • Playfulness - 15% 3
  • Bumps - 5% 2

Our Verdict

The Black Crows Camox Birdie presented us with a number of hurdles on the road to respect and understanding. When we pulled them out of the packaging, they had a wildly uneven base, but after they'd been fixed up by the local ski shop, we could compare them properly. The Camox Birdie isn't a bad ski, but no one loved it either. Our testers found one frustrating characteristic that presented itself throughout a variety of terrain — if you don't get early pressure onto the tip of the new outside ski, it tends to diverge and go racing off-course. We concluded it might have to do with the rectangular shape of the tips, as we've all felt a similar sensation on similarly shaped skis. Basically, you need to be on top of them at all times, or they will remind you (with an awkward separation of direction) that you're not in the sweet spot.

If you ski a lot of park and powder and don't mind having something that doesn't perform excellently on groomers or hardpack, then continue reading to see if the Camox Birdie might be for you.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Good in powder, fun for park and all-mountain, likes to pivotIncredibly versatile, easy to ski, fun and quick, only 92mm makes it nimbleGreat float in powder, playful, decent stabilityUnparalleled stability at speed, crud-buster, lends you strengthA blast to ski, easy to turn, relatively stable, fantastic in powder
Cons Too stiff for most, expensive, might need initial tuneNot the perfect powder partnerMore expensive, slightly lumbering in bumpsVery pricey, prefers faster straighter linesNot perfect carvers, some deflection in crud
Bottom Line A solid option for a park-oriented skier moving onto the bigger mountain.One of the most versatile skis on the market, this new Volkl is a Goldilocks ski - strong enough to battle in the crud, but soft enough for lighter mellower skiers to bend it.A great choice for a West Coast woman who loves getting out in the soft snow.If you like to go fast and want a one-ski quiver, this ski is absolutely worth the extra funds.Ripping skis for ripping chicks, or those on their way to becoming one, so fun and flexible.
Rating Categories Black Crows Camox Birdie Volkl Secret 92 Rossignol Soul 7 HD W Kastle FX95 HP Elan Ripstick 94 W
Stability At Speed (20%)
10
0
2
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
Carving (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Crud (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
Powder (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
Playfulness (15%)
10
0
3
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
10
Bumps (5%)
10
0
2
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Specs Black Crows Camox... Volkl Secret 92 Rossignol Soul 7... Kastle FX95 HP Elan Ripstick 94 W
Intended Purpose Powder All mountain All mountain powder All mountain stability All mountain play
Ability Level Park/Advanced All Levels All levels All levels All levels
Available Lengths 156, 165, 174 149, 156, 163, 170 156, 164, 172, 180 173, 181, 189 156, 163, 170, 177
Shape 126-97-112 130-92-113 136-106-126 126-95-115 135-95-110
Waist Width 97 92 106 95 95
Radius 18 17.9 18 18 16.2
Rocker Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail, cambered inside edge
Weight Per Pair (Pounds) 8.64 8.16 7.7 9.62 6.725
Construction Type Semi-cap Full sidewall Sandwich Sandwich SST sidewall
Core Material Poplar Beech & Poplar, multi layer Paulownia wood silver fir, beech, Titanal, fiberglass Tubelite wood
Tested Length 174 170 172 173 170

Our Analysis and Test Results

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.
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.

Performance Comparison


The Camox Birdies are fairly stiff  but their tips start to flap at higher speeds.
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 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.
Hilary Roache shows that you can bend this oddly flexed ski into an arc, but it takes some work.

Carving


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 Rossignol Soul 7 HD is a better option.

The Camox Birdies soar above the powder  and this is where they are most at home.
The Camox Birdies soar above the powder, and this is where they are most at home.

Powder


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 Black Crows can handle choppy conditions pretty well, but you do need to stay on top of them to make them work.

Crud


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.

The Black Crows are trickier to carve because they're difficult to flex and engage the edge  so it's not their forte.
The Black Crows are trickier to carve because they're difficult to flex and engage the edge, so it's not their forte.

Playfulness


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 Rossignol Soul 7.

Jess Workman shows how the pivoty nature of the Camox Birdies functions well in the bumps.
Jess Workman shows how the pivoty nature of the Camox Birdies functions well in the bumps.

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.

The Camox Birdie is a perfect tool for a park-oriented skier to take all over the mountain  and particularly in fresh snow.
The Camox Birdie is a perfect tool for a park-oriented skier to take all over the mountain, and particularly in fresh snow.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.


Renee McCormack and Hilary Roache