Gear Review

Black Diamond Warrant

Black Diamond Warrant

I'm going to coin a new term to try to capture the essence of Black Diamond's Warrant, part of the revamped 2012 Black Diamond ski lineup: let's call it 'de-specialized'.

The Warrant replaces the highly-regarded but aging Kilowatt, a ski known for its versatility. Like the Kilowatt, the new Warrant is also a generalist, but it adds a surprising degree of hard-snow capability. The Warrant is not rockered; it is traditionally-cambered. At 95mm underfoot, the Warrant is probably as close to a true, modern All-Mountain ski as you can find.

Note that the Warrant is not a particularly light ski. At a tested length of 178cm, the Warrant weighs a substantial 8 pounds, 10 ounces (BD spec). That's really pushing the upper limit of a touring ski. In fact, let's just be honest and call these Alpine planks (with a dash of Sidecountry, for flavor).

It's taken me a while to formulate a firm opinion about the Warrant. I've found it to be in some ways a perplexing ski—one that consistently challenges expectations. For starters, let's talk hard snow. Put the Warrant on edge, and it will indeed bite into the hill and carve a surprisingly potent arc. At this width and radius, you don't expect the Warrant to feel like a carver, and yet it does.

Alternately, get the Warrant on soft snow, and the ski offers a surprisingly smooth and capable ride despite its lack of rocker. So across the snow spectrum range, I'd say the Warrant outperforms based on expectations. The problem, for me, is that in any given category, the Warrant itself will be outperformed by a true specialist, be it a hard snow carver like a Course Ti or a true powder ski like the Verdict or Salomon's Czar.

In-bounds on groomed snow, the Warrant can feel damp to the point of being lethargic. Without question I would ski these shorter given a choice—the 178 size felt huge and a bit flat underfoot. And on a powder day, despite the Warrant's soft-snow versatility, I'd be grabbing my rocked boards. Ultimately, the Warrant's tremendous versatility is both its best asset and its biggest liability.

Want one ski to ride all conditions? The Warrant was made for you. But on reflection, I find I'd rather ride a more limited plank, suffering the ski's liabilities in off conditions so that I can savor the sizzle of hitting a great ski in its sweet spot when the time is right. One very quick note here about my video comments: the edge pulse/warble I refer to was in fact due to an uneven tune job, and not inherent to the ski itself.

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.