Hands-on Gear Review

Black Diamond Carbon Convert Review

Price:  $950 List | $890.42 at Amazon
Pros:  Light and versatile
Cons:  Shortened metal edges and unremarkable poor snow performance
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond

Our Verdict

In a strong field of excellent backcountry skis, the Black Diamond Carbon Convert stands out for light weight, versatile performance, and a reasonable price for the extensive carbon fiber construction. They are also widely available in the United States. With something like the Best Buy Fischer Hannibal, if you can track down a pair, you get better downhill performance across the board and lighter weight, all for $250 less at retail. For slightly more money, our Editors Choice Volkl BMT 94 is definitely a better product.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Backcountry Skis

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jediah Porter

Last Updated:
Thursday
January 21, 2016

Share:

With the Carbon Convert, Black Diamond uses some innovative weight-savings techniques to differentiate their latest offering in the lightweight touring ski market.

This ski remains the same from the 2014/2015 season and is carried over for the 2015/2016 season.

Performance Comparison


Comparative ski testing  deep in the wilderness of Canada's Glacier National Park. On the left  Jed Porter uses the Voile V6 while Ian Mceleney uses the Carbon Convert. The Carbon Convert is lighter and more versatile  while the Voile is a ton of fun in powder and is apt to be more durable.
Comparative ski testing, deep in the wilderness of Canada's Glacier National Park. On the left, Jed Porter uses the Voile V6 while Ian Mceleney uses the Carbon Convert. The Carbon Convert is lighter and more versatile, while the Voile is a ton of fun in powder and is apt to be more durable.

Weight


Only one other ski in our test is wider than the Carbon Convert, and it is decidedly heavier than the Black Diamond. Even with its additional width, though, the Convert is still fifth ranked in our weight-per-surface-area calculations. The differences in the weight of these lightest products are negligible, as the lightest ski in our test, the La Sportiva Vapor Nano is just 15% lighter than the Convert. We are talking about a difference of less than one pound.

Ian McEleney on the Carbon Convert on the Illecillewaet Glacier  Rogers Pass  British Columbia  Canada.
Ian McEleney on the Carbon Convert on the Illecillewaet Glacier, Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada.

Stability at Speed


We evaluate stability by describing how the ski does at speed and when landing steep jump turns. There proves to be a strong correlation between performance in these two seemingly different situations. Those skis that fare well at speed also do well with high energy, steep skiing. With a rating of 7 out of 10, five of our tested ski models were more stable than the Convert. Our Editors Choice winner is the most stable, with Austrian pedigreed Volkl construction. The Top Pick Dynafit Cho Oyu is less stable at speed, but the narrow and stiff construction grab tenaciously on the steep and firm.

An amazing winter of ski testing peaked many times. One highlight was lead tester Jed Porter joining forces with his wife Meagan and good friend Jeff Witt for a powder descent of Rogers Pass mega classic "Forever Young" couloir (behind Meagan's left shoulder). In the testing rotation  Jed drew the Carbon Convert for this memorable descent.
An amazing winter of ski testing peaked many times. One highlight was lead tester Jed Porter joining forces with his wife Meagan and good friend Jeff Witt for a powder descent of Rogers Pass mega classic "Forever Young" couloir (behind Meagan's left shoulder). In the testing rotation, Jed drew the Carbon Convert for this memorable descent.

Firm Snow Performance


We tested all of our skis straight out of the wrapper. We did not tune them initially. In this configuration, the Carbon Convert grabbed unnervingly on hard snow. The tails just wouldn't let go. It was so dramatic that our tester at the time did a mid-tour, rock detuning on the tail edges. This mainly addressed it for the remainder of that trip. Like with all of our skis, we then had the Convert professionally tuned. After this, the Convert still grabbed a little, but not such that an adjustment in technique could not overcome. It was this ski in firm snow that demonstrated the greatest difference between brand new and properly tuned. Once properly tuned, the Convert held on firm snow predictably but not with any remarkable tenacity.

Black Diamond Carbon Convert in their tested configuration in the High Sierra.
Black Diamond Carbon Convert in their tested configuration in the High Sierra.

Powder Performance


One of the rowdiest days of our 2015 season was in bottomless powder in the Forever Young couloir at Rogers Pass, Colorado. We skied perfect snow in touchy avalanche conditions in this mega epic line. While the snow was truly heroic, we also had to be able to turn exactly where needed. The Converts did the job, and the rider had fun doing it. Any one of the skis we tested would have done the same thing, however. Good powder is easy to ski. It's that simple.

Crud/Poor Snow Performance


Along with the Best Buy Fischer Hannibal, the Convert is the only ultra light ski to earn a poor snow rating of greater than 7. For just a few more ounces, the G3 Synapse Carbon 109 is the best poor snow ski in our review. The G3 made breakable crust fun and earned a perfect 10 in this category, while the Convert and others made turns without reverting to survival techniques.

The Black Diamond Carbon Convert on a glaciated approach in Canada. The Carbon Convert is nearly a perfect all-around backcountry ski. It is light and fares well in soft and variable snow. We just wish it did better on firm stuff.
The Black Diamond Carbon Convert on a glaciated approach in Canada. The Carbon Convert is nearly a perfect all-around backcountry ski. It is light and fares well in soft and variable snow. We just wish it did better on firm stuff.

Best Applications


These are great tools for all-around backcountry ski touring. They're lightweight for the uphill. What weight they do have is invested in places and materials that truly make a difference in ski performance.

Sometimes backcountry skiing is creeks and speed and bumps. Here Jed Porter and the Black Diamond Carbon Convert launch a bump in the "Mouse Trap"  Rogers Pass  BC.
Sometimes backcountry skiing is creeks and speed and bumps. Here Jed Porter and the Black Diamond Carbon Convert launch a bump in the "Mouse Trap", Rogers Pass, BC.

Value


Only the La Sportiva Vapor Nano and Volkl BMT are more expensive than the Carbon Convert, while the G3 Synapse Carbon is the same retail price. This is no mystery, as the extensive use of carbon fiber in all of these models adds significant expense. The good news, as it pertains to value, is that carbon makes for significant weight savings, and simultaneously enhances performance. Lastly, the flex characteristics of carbon fiber, all else equal, are more lasting than those of wood alone.

Conclusion


Most of our testers liked but didn't love the Carbon Convert. One diehard Teton skier busted out back-to-back 6000 vertical foot touring days on the Converts and found that once she adjusted to what she called a "forward sweet spot", they were damp and fun and predictable.

Jediah Porter

You Might Also Like

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 21, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...