In powder, the Zealot is pretty straightforward: it is a directional ski that likes to stay pointed down the fall line, arcing out long-radius turns with speed. Since the ski doesn’t have much tail rocker or taper, it does require some effort to blow them sideways to slash a terrain feature or scrub speed. The 182 Zealot proportionally has more tail rocker and felt better with a forward mount, allowing the ski to be happier pulling those quick, slashy moves.
The 192 Zealot does provide decent float when the fluff starts piling up, though obviously not like that of a dedicated powder board. I’d say flotation is right where I’d expect given the width of the ski and moderate splay to 35cm of tip rocker. I found the similarly waisted but much shorter 11/12 Rossignol Sickle—which has a wider tip and tail with a continuous rocker profile—to tackle the deep better than the Zealot. If you will be skiing primarily untracked, deep, light powder and love Black Diamond, I would recommend taking a serious look at the wider Black Diamond Megawatt.
In dense or settled fresh snow, the Zealot felt smooth as butter and stayed on the surface with ease.
It would be wrong to talk about any Black Diamond ski without mentioning its touring ability. While the 192 Zealot may be a bit more ski than most people would like to lug uphill, given its size, it actually isn’t incredibly heavy.
And a very helpful little feature can be found at the rear of the ski, where a little notch is carved out to help hold skin clips in place. It works flawlessly, and is extremely helpful after a long day out skinning when your skins refuse to stick to anything anymore.
Another bonus in the touring department is a byproduct of the Zealot’s rocker/camber profile. With only a slight amount of tail rocker and a long section of camber, the Zealot keeps a large portion of the climbing skin in contact with the snow, where it can do what it is supposed to. All that contact area equals less slipping when the skin track gets icy or steep.
If you are a big skier looking for a traditionally shaped ski for backcountry forays, I would seriously consider the 192 Zealot as an option. For someone closer to my size, however, I would recommend the 182 Zealot for touring, as it is comfortable in variable conditions, easier to maneuver, and lighter.
The 192 Zealot is the perfect ski for a big or powerful skier that hasn’t jumped on the rockered-out, short-turn-radius bandwagon. This ski is built to go fast and stay pointed down the fall line. Big skiers will find a pleasing mix of predictability and maneuverability, and a big enough platform enough to support them.
I think Black Diamond could ramp up the flex slightly in front of the bindings to help the ski in resort chop and high-speed, off-piste stability, to make the jump to the 192 more rewarding in terms of “chargeability” over the 182. For someone my size, the 182 possesses a much broader skill set, while losing nearly nothing in crud performance and high-speed stability.