2014-2015 Black Diamond Zealot, 182cm

Given all the hard charging claims, I was curious to see how the 182cm, 110mm-waisted Zealot would compare to the 182cm, 106mm-waisted MOMENT Belafonte. Let’s just say that all the ink spilled in the discussion of the Zealot’s stability ought to be collected and dumped onto the Belafonte. That ski charges, and is much more stable and much stiffer than the Zealot. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, of course, it’s just depends what you’re looking for. If I was going to ski bumps all day, I’d grab the Zealot in a heart beat over the Belafonte. But for charging? No contest.

2014-2015 Black Diamond Zealot, 182cm, BLISTER
11/12 Zealot bases

So if the Zealot isn’t a missile like the Belafonte, what about its playfulness? I wouldn’t exactly call the Zealot super playful, and remember, BD calls it “ultra-damp.” To me, it was less playful than another ski with similar dimensions, the Rossignol Sickle. (The 186cm Sickle has a tip to tail length of 182.25, and has dimensions of 140-110-133mm.) This is a bit odd, since the Zealot has a lot of camber, and the Sickle has none. Typically, then, playfulness and pop would seemingly be characteristics of the Zealot more than the Sickle….

BLISTER reviewer Jason Hutchins has skied both the Zealot and the Sickle, and he really likes both. We’ll soon post his 2nd Look review of the Zealot, which is great because, while the camber profile of these two skis are very different, they definitely feel like they’re members of the same class.

I’m actually most curious to hear Jason’s take on the Zealot because he’s lighter than me. He also skis light on his feet – lighter than I do, I’m sure – and he pretty much never makes a mistake while skiing (which is why I can’t stand him).

Jason spent more time than I did on the Rossignol Sickle, but I didn’t find the Sickle to be as stellar of a charger or a chop ski as he did. My hunch is that he and I may also feel a bit differently about the Zealot, and I’m inclined to think that lighter skiers – say, 165 lbs. and down – might fall into the sweet spot of and be best suited for the flex profiles of both the Sickle and the Zealot. (And yes, I’m certainly wading into speculative waters here, so just stow that tidbit in the back of your mind, especially if you’re 185+ lbs.)

The Zealot is a forgiving, intuitive ski that will not overwhelm intermediate skiers, and will serve well advanced and even expert skiers – especially lighter expert skiers. You will reach the speed limit of the Zealot sooner than that of the Nordica Girish or the MOMENT Belafonte, but the Zealot is still a good groomer and hardpack ski. It’s 110mm waist and it’s medium flex will make it fun in deeper stuff, but I do worry a little bit about all that camber, and would be happy to see that dialed back a bit.

If the Zealot sounds like your ski  but you’re on the fence about the length, I’d size up, especially if you think you’ll be pulling the Zealot out on deeper days.

There are lots of interesting options available in the 110mm-waisted class, and I think (lighter) skiers looking for a versatile, predictable everyday ride will be the most inclined to pull the trigger on the Zealot. And when they do, they’ll enjoy it, especially if they come in with a better sense of what the ski does and doesn’t do.

If you don’t find yourself skiing many really deep days , I could definitely see the Zealot standing as your one ski quiver.

And if you do get out in bigger storms, I could see pairing the Zealot up with a bigger board (like the most excellent BD Megawatt) and imagine you feeling very good about your winter setup.

Jason’s 2nd Look review of the Zealot is now up, and I my suspicions were right: he felt that the 12/13 Zealot did everything he asked of it. Take a look.

16 comments on “2014-2015 Black Diamond Zealot, 182cm”

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    Another great review. Just when I think about buying this ski, up pops your review, great timing. I was a little surprised about your findings compared to other reports. My own research found the following which might explain that the 182cm Zealot is more versatile and user friendly/playful than the 192cm one:


    Read the forward mounting Zealot section on page 2 (pdf so can’t copy and paste the text).

    Thanks a lot for all your reviews, great site, although spending far too much time on it, as recuperating from an ACL reconstruction.

    May I put in a request that you review the Movement Trust as soon as possible! :)



  2. Hey George, thanks for all the kind words, and special thanks for the suggestion that we ought to emphasize the difference between the 182 and 192. As you can see above, I’ve highlighted that and given credit where credit is due.

    To return the favor, I’ve contacted our managing editor about arranging for a test of the MOVEMENT Trust. We’ll get on it as soon as we can, but you better promise not to slack on the knee rehab. Get strong soon, George, and thanks again.

    • I know this a resurrection…but for this 182 Zealot what’s your recommendation on mount? +1 like the review you have for the 192? Just got ahold of a pair in minty condition and I don’t want to mess it up.

      • I’ve got the 182 quite some time ago. Tried +1 from recommended and recommended, the latest felt better. That being said, I’m usually the kind of skier who prefers forward mounted skis (+2 on cochise, +3 on bodacious, +1.5 enforcer 110) so for me in this case the recommended is spot on.

  3. Great review Jonathan. Can you describe the differences between Nordica Girish and the Zealot? Do you prefer one over the other? I’ll be living at Alta/Bird this season and would like to have a two ski quiver for in the resorts… have Bent Chetlers and would like to add a good versatile all mountain ski for an intermediate/advance skier .

  4. Thanks, Adam.

    So, the 185 Girish vs. the 182 Zealot….I could actually see pairing either up with the Bent Chetlers, but a couple things: first, how much do you weigh? If you weigh much less than 160, I would be inclined to go Zealot. If you intend to ski bumps, I would go Zealot. The more you lean toward the intermediate side of “intermediate / advanced,” I would advise Zealot. (Keep in mind, however, that Jason Hutchins loves the Zealot, and the guy can shred – but he also only weighs 160 lbs….)

    But as you’ve read, I absolutely love the Girish: great crud ski (definitely better than the 182 Zealot), and extremely stable at speed. I want and need to get more time on the Girish, but I would probably give the nod to the Zealot in terms of versatility and the Zealot would likely be more forgiving than the Girish. You could go either. Personally, if I had to chose between the two for Alta/Bird, I’d take my chances with the Girish. BUT (1) without knowing your weight and (2) given what you say you’re looking for (“a good versatile all mountain ski for an intermediate/advanced skier”), the Zealot sounds like the pretty safe to very safe bet. Hope that helps, be sure to let us know what you decide to do and what you think of the ski.

  5. I’m 163lbs…no gear. I’m never sure how to classify myself….moved to Utah last year skied over 100 days last year skied everything in bounds at Alta/Bird maybe with the exception to a few of those cliff dropping shoots over by Supreme… I enjoy skiing fast but know when to appreciate good turns… I like dropping and want to learn to drop more confidently this year…. I’d say 1-12 feet drops are my my happy zone. I found a deal on 2010-2011 Girish ski but I’m not sure how different they are I herd they changed very little but then saw something online that said the rocker profile is different…which would make it big difference. I was all set on one of these two but now also considering the 2012 Blizzard Cochise into the mix as it seems to be getting rave reviews… Does anyone at Blister have an opinion on the Cochise?

  6. Yeah, Adam, several of us around here have an opinion of the Cochise: we really, really want to ski it. Bad. We’ve seen some of the rave reviews, too, but people rave about everything on the interwebz….

    And just to clear up the confusion, I received confirmation from Nordica that the only difference between the 10/11 and the 11/12 Girish is cosmetic – which is a good thing. Hopefully, they’ll just leave that ski alone.

  7. You mentioned size being an issue for the zealot. I’m 6’6″ and 265. Intermediate with advanced aspirations who is looking for a versatile ski that will help me with nose dive on powder. Was set on the zealot until I read weight concerns.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may share.

    • Hi Sam – zero chance that you ought to be on the 182 Zealot, especially if you don’t want tip dive. I’m not sure exactly how versatile you need this ski to be (would this be your only ski?), but the 188cm 11/12 Megawatt is the ski the jumps to mind (see my review). I also think the 192 Zealot might be an option, but we are still waiting to ski it.

      I’d also encourage you to take a look at the our review of the ON3P 191 Caylor, a really fun ski that isn’t a total noodle.

      And if you don’t need this ski to excel at hardpack performance, the 196cm Praxis Protest would be a ton of fun for you. Just some thoughts. (I’ll have my review of the Protest up in a few days.)

  8. Hey guys, thanks for an awesome review! I guess I have another “hey what ski do you think would be best for me skiing place X” question. Sorry if it is repetitive, but you guys seem to have a good knowledge base with these skis.

    This season I will be skiing CO at most likely Copper or Winter Park, with about 50% being inbounds at those resorts, and 50% being in the backcountry. My backcountry/touring will be limited to shorter tours and hikes along Berthoud & Loveland. I was looking to stay within the BD line, and am considering both the Zealot (182/192) and Amperage (185). A few seasons ago I had a pair of JJ’s in 185 and really enjoyed skiing them. Wondering if you guys had an opinion on which ski would be suited to the type of skiing I would be doing.

    Some specs about me: 6′ around 200 lbs (so the 182 zealot seems a tad small) and won’t be ripping huge big mountain lines (as much as I’d like to). Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks guys!

  9. Jonathan,

    Hey, I was wondering whether or not you have skied the Surface Live Life/Free? Seems to me like the Zealots and Live Life/Frees are pretty similar skis, but was wondering if you had any input. Thanks.

    Also, I thoroughly enjoyed your review, keep up the good work.


  10. Hi Jonathan,

    I greatly appreciate what you do with this site – the Blister team does a great job. Right now I am looking for my next ski. I am 5’10” 155 and spend most of my time at squaw valley. The MOMENT belafonte and BD Zealot are at the top of my list, and any feedback you have is appreciated.

    I love to ski bumps. I would say a slight majority of the day I am in the bumps, so nimble and somewhat forgiving is important to me. But I also love speed. When I am not in the bumps, I am trying to drop anything I can up to 12 feet, and I am trying hard to tear up the mountain by cutting through any snow condition thrown at me while going fast. In some cases I look for technical terrain as well. I also am in the 100-110 under foot category for sufficient floatation on deeper days.

    My concern is the trade off between stiffness and maneuverability. Do I go with the stiffer belafontes? How much maneuverability am I really giving up? At the same time, how much chargitude does the zealot really give up? You say that the belafontes has far more chargitude, but do the zealots still get the job done and then some? For what it’s worth, I’ve been skiing on 179 Line Prophet 90’s for the last 4-5 yrs. Thank you and have fun this season.


  11. Hi Jonathan and Jason
    I finally ended up buying a pair of Zealot 182 2012 as a replacement to my broken Howitzer. I was going for the cochise but found an excellent deal on the Zealot (30% less than the Cochise at a good price).
    At first I shall say I find your reviews of both the howitzer and zealot as totally matching my views of both skis. I was just unsure on how the zealot were doing in winter snow as both your reviews were late in the season.
    On your reviews there is no direct comparison between the howitzers and the zealots, so I’ll add my 2 pence.
    I am almost the same height/weight of Jonathan, just a little lighter and a less good skier:-), of course. Guess I am an expert skier.
    Zealot and Howitzer have a very similar camber profile, but the tip of the Howitzer is a bit stiffer and the tail slightly larger. The howitzers are also a bit lighter, with no titanal. Comparing the mount position, the howitzer is 3 cm back with respect of the zealot. And by the way comparing them the 182 zealot is basically the same lenght of the 186 howitzer.
    I tried the zealot only in dense powder (40 cm), chop (from the tracked powder to the wasted powder), bumps, steep spaced trees, narrow trees.
    I found the Howitzer better in untracked or deeper powder and better at landings, only slighly better in chop. The Howitzer is also way way better looking, of course.
    The Zealot is quite stable at speed (maybe bit less than the howitzer, but cannot say fir sure), but extremely quick and more playful and in tight tŕees or in narrow steep spots you can make very quick changes at very little effort. From the little piste I did, the Howitzer felt also better at pure carving, but with a more rail-like feel than the zealot, which seems to be easier to change radius while carving.so basically, the Zealot is very manoevrable and for me is very fun as it changes way quicker than the Howitzer.
    It looks like I found the good replacement to my beloved Howitzers at least here in Prali, Italy as the Zealot are more adapted to this place (which I guess may resemble Taos a bit, but smaller).
    Anyway, your site has no competition in the quality reviews. Thumbs up, I keep recommending it!

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