The Volkl BMT is a classic example of what we see with many Editors Choice award winners here at OutdoorGearLab. It doesn't really blow any one category out of the water, but it ends up dominating the pack by scoring high in categories with commonly competing attributes. Good design and carefully balanced engineering even out these apparently conflicting needs, such as narrow skies performing better on firm snow and wider skis on poor snow. The V-Werks BMT nails the all-around, all-season backcountry ski category. If we had to own just one pair of backcountry touring skis, it would be this pair. That is the essence of our Editors' Choice award. It is the best single product on the market. There are more specialized tools available, but the BMT is the best single ski. For instance, if you ski high-energy tours exclusively on soft snow, the Top Pick DPS Tour1 Wailer 99 will serve you better. Another Top Pick award was granted to the hard-charging Dynafit Chugach for its comfort at speed, in wide-open terrain, with the best backcountry practitioners. At a far more reasonable price, the Best Buy Fischer Hannibal actually scored basically the same in overall ranking, but does seem a little more fragile. The Volkl is simply a little more polished in each category, with better but not-readily-quantified durability.
New Season, Brand New Ski
Last year this ski saw some updates to the top sheet. For this year Volkl has issued a full overhaul, with a new name, graphics, and dimensions. All purchase links will direct you to the 90, as the 94 is no longer available. The new BMT 90 is pictured above, and the full scoop is outlined below.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The BMT 94 is now the BMT 90
From new sizes to new graphics, the updated BMT 90 boasts a lighter weight, as well as camber under foot that the older model did not have. Below you can see the iterations this ski has gone through, from the 15/16 model that we tested on the far right, to the 16/17 version with new top sheet, to the current version on the far left. Read on for the full breakdown of the newest version.
Here's a full summary of the update:
Top Sheet — This ski's top sheet was updated last year and is now made with ICE.OFF, a new technology for touring skis. The surface structure is 3D to avoid icing by allowing the snow to slide off more easily.
Color — One of our major complaints about the 15-16 version of this ski was the dark color that contributed significantly to snow piling up on top and adding unwanted weight. Volkl seemed to hear our gripes as they added some white to the top of the ski for exactly the reason we described. We haven't tested this version yet to see how well it really works, but we're excited to try it out!
New Sizes — The BMT 94 was available in 166, 176, and 186, while the new BMT 90 offers 163, 170, 177, and 184.
New Dimensions — The old dimensions were 122/94/112, while the new ones (for size 177) are 127/90/109.
Lighter Weight — The narrowing of the dimensions by 4mm makes for a lighter ski. The 177 size weighs only 1410g per ski, while the weight of the older version in size 176 averaged out to 1476g per ski.
Added Camber — The BMT 94 had full rocker with no camber, while the 90 now offers tip/tail rocker with camber under foot. Volkl tells us that this will deliver more liveliness and maneuverability, another aspect we are excited to test for ourselves!
Price — This hefty update also comes with a bit of a price hike, from $1200 to $1375.
Keep in mind that the rest of this review reflects the older BMT 94, without this new top sheet technology or any of the other changes offered by the new 90.
Hands-On Review of the V-Werks BMT 94
Volkl skis have always had a highly regarded reputation. With their entry to the ski touring market a number of years ago, they led a growing trend of established ski companies manufacturing touring skis. In the experience of our testing team, some of the best performing backcountry skis are made by established ski companies that make the leap to backcountry gear. It seems that it is easier to take established designs and engineering and lighten them up than it is to take backcountry attitude and desire and design a lightweight ski from the ground up. The entire Volkl line of touring skis is excellent, with the BMT 94 representing the middle of the pack for size and the second lightest ski they sell in the US.
The Volkl BMT 94 is just below the middle of our weight range. We tested skis that weigh between (and weights are per ski, averaged) 1232 grams and 2140 grams. At 1476 grams, the BMT is not the lightest ski in our review, but it is among the lightest skis on the market. Given the performance, the BMT 94 is incredibly light. No ski our lead test editor has ever used has performed this well for this weight. The relatively narrow profile means that the associated skins are relatively light as well, and the top sheet doesn't collect as much mass of snow. We do wish, as always, that the top sheets were a lighter color. In low latitude ski zones, the sun has a profound effect. The black top sheets of the BMT 94 warm up and collect half-melted snow. This softened snow sticks and can refreeze to the ski, dramatically increasing the weight. .
In the end, while other skis are lighter, it is at this "weight point" that tour ability and downhill acumen seem to intersect in 2017. Go lighter and the performance noticeably suffers. Go heavier, and you feel it dramatically on the up track. We very much like the ultralight feel of the Best Buy Fischer Hannibal. And while we love skiing down on touring-binding mounted all-mountain resort skis (like the Editors' Choice in that category, the Volkl Mantra) we do not like to lug that much mass uphill on big tours. The BMT 94 strikes the perfect balance.
Stability at Speed
For relatively small, relatively lightweight skis, the BMT is remarkably stable. Additionally, common knowledge would have it that narrow, fully reverse cambered skis would ski in a "squirrelly" fashion. Volkl nails the construction and balances all the competing demands of a ski. We simply love the solid and reliable feel of the BMT 94 at speed.
No other ski in our review performed as well in this regard. You have to upgrade to a much heavier all-mountain resort ski or the burly Dynafit Chugach to better the stability of the BMT. At the other end of the spectrum, the lightweight DPS Tour1 Wailer 99 is wobbly and vulnerable at higher speeds. The DPS also feels weak in the steeps. The narrower profile of both the BMT and the Dynafit lend them confidence and stability in steep and firm terrain.
Testers across the board, whether with OutdoorGearLab or online, applaud the BMT 94 for firm snow performance. Interestingly, common convention holds that reverse cambered skis are not good on firm snow. The only other fully reverse cambered ski in our review is the Dynafit Chugach. The Chugach, perhaps because of its far greater girth (108 mm underfoot) but also possibly attributable to the reverse camber construction, does not ski firm snow quite as well. Whatever else Volkl is doing, the BMT seems to suffer none for its reverse camber. The edge hold and reliability on firm snow is excellent.
The skis are quick edge to edge and feel buttery smooth and predictable on corn snow. The BMT is best compared, for firm snow, to our Best Buy winner, the Fischer Hannibal. The Fischer is similar in width, with traditional camber. The two of these skis perform on firm snow similarly.
Every ski does well in powder. On one amazing December day on the west side of the Tetons, our lead test editor enjoyed one of his best powder days in memory. While others were enjoying the same day on skis with 110mm+ waist widths, the Volkls were floaty, fast, and plenty stable. This is testament both to the quality of the BMT 94 and to the fact that good powder is enjoyable, almost regardless of the tool.
Our test team has similarly enjoyed powder days on the fatty K2 Wayback 104. Good snow is good skiing, regardless of the sliding tool.
While every ski rides powder really well, it is the tougher snow conditions that separate the wheat from the chaff. Well designed skis handle breakable crust better. Heavy skis and skis with rocker or reverse camber do better in the sloppy stuff. Width helps. The Volkl BMT is reverse cambered and well designed. It is relatively narrow and light, but those don't seem to matter very much. In our test, only the slightly heavier and wider, but similarly reverse cambered G3 Synapse skis poor snow better. The rest of the skis, especially the ultralight ones, suffer more than the BMT in the crud.
The V-Werks BMT 94 is an excellent "quiver of one" backcountry touring ski. If you ski the whole season, in all conditions, and travel to other ranges, you want a ski like this. If you will own only one ski, you really want a ski like this. Now, it is trendy to ski the backcountry on bigger skis. Bigger skis are indeed very nice for the downhill on softer and poorer snow, but they lag behind in every other setting. Bigger skis are heavier, with heavier skins.
They suffer on the firm snow. Skis with waist widths in the mid-90s seem to find the sweet spot for truly all-around human powered skiing. Surely, fit practitioners are lugging bigger skis deep into the wilderness, but the core of the market will do best with something like the BMT 94. It helps that this Volkl ski is very well designed with the Austrian company's deep history of very well regarded sticks.
This is not an inexpensive ski. As a viable "quiver of one", it could save you from purchasing more than one pair of skis and will surely last you a good amount of time. As part of a quiver, it may be too "general purpose", especially at this price.
There are two sorts of dedicated backcountry skiers out there. Those that own one pair of skis for everything, and those that have a "quiver". For those that press a single pair of skis into duty all season long in all conditions, the BMT 94 is an excellent choice. For those that have a quiver, the BMT nicely complements an ultralight rando-race style ski and a bigger, heavier, resort all-mountain type ski mounted for touring. It is also an excellent ski for traveling. It will do anything and everything.
These are versatile skis. A big person could buy them long, mount them with Dynafit Beast bindings and drive them with Dynafit Vulcan boots. Purchased shorter, they could be mounted with race bindings and driven by a smaller skier wearing lightweight two buckle boots for longer distance missions.
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