Ski: 2020-2021 Volkl V-Werks BMT 109, 186cm
Available Lengths: 166, 176, 186 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 186.8cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 134-109-119
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 133-109-119
Stated Weight per Ski: 1740 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight: 1706 & 1716 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius: 26.5 meters
Core Construction: Poplar + Ash underfoot + Carbon Fiber Laminate
Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): 48mm / 16mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 0 mm
Factory Recommended Line: – 10.4cm from center; 83.0 cms from tail
Mount Location: initially +3cm, then on the recommended line (see below)
Boots: Salomon Mtn Lab, size 27.5
Test Locations: Mt. Cheeseman backcountry & Porters Ski Area, Canterbury, NZ
Days Skied: 4
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 15/16 BMT 109, which was not changed for 16/17, 17/18, 18/19, 19/20, or 20/21, apart from graphics.]
Volkl describes the BMT 109 as “perhaps the ultimate backcountry ski for North American conditions. With a full carbon construction and lightweight multi-layer wood core, it features full rocker and an early-taper sidecut, for true big mountain versatility after a self-powered ascent.”
This is a lofty claim, and while I haven’t used them in North America yet, I have spent much of the last week skiing them in a wide variety of conditions in the Craigieburn Range of New Zealand.
On our second day in New Zealand, I switched to the BMT 109 for some lift-served riding and ski touring out of Porters Ski Area. After taking them out of the ski bag, I’d immediately noticed that the bindings did not appear to be in the right place relative to the mounting plate (we received the skis mounted in this way from Volkl).
This is pretty obvious on V-Werks skis, since the mounting area is the only flat, full thickness part of the ski, and our bindings were at the very front edge of this section. Based on a quick inspection, it appeared that my boot center was a little over 3cm forward of the recommended line marked on the skis even after I maxed out the rearward movement on the Kingpin 10 demo bindings.
I had to ski them one more day in this position before I had the opportunity to remount them. Where relevant, I’ll comment on my experiences with the forward mount (+3cm) and the recommended mount.
The flex of the 186cm BMT 109 is relatively even with the tips being more in the medium+ category and the tails slightly stiffer. Ie, it’s not among the stiffest ski we’ve tested but it’s certainly not soft by any definition.
Firm, Smooth, Chalky Snow
My first runs on the BMT 109’s were inbounds at Porters Ski Area on firm, chalky cold snow while skiing them at the +3 mount point. It only took a couple of turns to notice how the tips engaged smoothly and predictably into the turn on firm snow. While this was exaggerated by the forward mount, it was still true of the skis in the same conditions later mounted on the recommended line.
I think a primary contributor to the smooth, easy turn initiation is the BMT 109’s long, low continuous rocker. This proved to be true regardless of turn shape or point of initiation. In tight chutes with jump turns, I could land on the front of the ski and smoothly engage the edge into a very confident turn on hard snow, but could also decrease edge angle into nicely controlled skids while still feeling like I had most of the 186cm supporting me.
Similarly, on open slopes, while making bigger turns that matched the 26m sidecut, I could bend the ski into the top of the turn with smooth easy engagement of most of the effective edge. As long as the firm chalky snow was relatively smooth, the BMT hooked up easily and inspired confidence regardless of turn size.
Interestingly, the BMT 109 has an almost-pin-tailed shape based on Volkl’s reported sidecut of 134-109-119. In the past I have not found pintailed skis to be the best option for me in firm conditions (whether smooth or bumpy) as they tend to lose traction and wash out. I did not feel like the BMT 109 exhibited any of these negative characteristics. Instead, they were able to cleanly finish turns with steady edge and good control.
Firm, Bumpy Conditions
While the BMT 109 has a great shape and an even flex from tip to tail that I enjoyed in smoother snow surfaces, I found them less capable when the snow got bumpy and firm. No ski makes refrozen slop / coral reef-like conditions fun, but the low weight of the BMT 109 allows it to get tossed around a bit more than other skis I’ve used that have more mass and a damper fiberglass and / or metal construction.
That said, the BMT 109 is surprisingly damp given it’s lighter weight, especially considering that I was skiing it with a tech binding (Marker Kingpin) and a touring boot (Salomon MTN Lab).
This combination of relatively damp lightweight skis is something that has been high on my ski-industry-wishlist for years, and it’s great to see several manufacturers that seem to be looking for this as well.
This is an impressive achievement for the engineers of the BMT 109, and to me, it’s easily worth the extra 200 grams or so that separates it from lighter skis that are much more prone to deflection and vibration. (I’m thinking specifically about the Black Diamond Carbon Convert.)
We had a nice 10-20cm refresh during our time skiing the Canterbury club fields, and I skied both fresh and windblown powder conditions on the BMT 109. The smooth, elongated rocker profile planed up on top better than expected, and it was among the better skis in this width class that I’ve used.
The BMT 109 would easily roll into a long, drifted turns, but also made angulated carved turns across the fall line in soft snow. Overall, this is a super fun powder ski for it’s width. In my opinion the compromises (increased rocker, softer flex) that would have to be applied to this ski to make it ski powder any better at this waist width would not be worth the loss in performance in firmer conditions.
NEXT: Breakable Crust, Soft Chop, Etc.