2019-2020 Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon

Downhill Performance

I’ve had a chance to get the Helio 105 into a very wide range of conditions, from, light mid-winter Colorado powder, to deep, isothermal Utah slush. Overall, I have been impressed by the ski’s performance given its light weight, and I’ll discuss its performance in various conditions.

Firm, Smooth, and Chalky Snow

The Helio 105 has performed very well on firm, smooth conditions. Its traditional camber underfoot and subtle tail rocker provided a good deal of effective edge, something I appreciated on steep, firm lines that hadn’t yet been warmed by the sun. On smooth, chalky, windbuff, I found the Helio 105’s edgehold to be more than adequate, although not quite as solid as a ski with less tip and tail rocker. However, the Helio 105 was still predictable even when the snow moved more towards the “icy” end of the spectrum. So if your backcountry endeavors frequently involve steep, sustained, icy conditions, you might want to look at other options. But for an all-around, 105 mm ski, the Helio 105 performed well in firm, smooth conditions.


Just in case anyone cares, I had the chance to test out the Helio 105’s groomer performance one morning before the lifts started spinning at A-basin, and I actually came away impressed; in areas that had been warmed up by the sun, this touring ski was actually pretty fun. It felt smooth, and lacked the chatter that I expected from this type of ski. On very firm corduroy, I did experience some vibration underfoot when hitting the grooves at certain angles, which is about what I expected given that I was on a very light, carbon ski with tech bindings. But after my experience with the Helio 105 on groomers, my takeaway was that the ski performs very well when things are soft at all and / or smooth, but it is a bit less stable when the snow gets more bumped up, which takes us to the next section…

Firm, Bumpy Conditions

I haven’t been on any ski in the ~1500 g category that really excels on firm, bumpy terrain. The lack of weight leads to deflection and can make the skis unpredictable and sometimes scary in consequential terrain. That being said, the Helio 105 has performed about as expected in these conditions. I couldn’t ski it as hard or fast through bumped-up conditions as the much heavier Dynafit Chugach, but I never thought that the Helio 105 felt unpredictable; it just had a speed limit that I needed to respect.

As mentioned previously, the Helio 105 has a pretty stiff tail. While I didn’t find it to be extremely punishing, there were a few times when I ended up in the backseat in bumped-up conditions and had some trouble regaining control. This is another reason why I tend to slow things down while on the Helio 105 in rougher snow.

Luke Koppa reviews the Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon for Blister Gear Review
Luke Koppa on the Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon. (photo by Chris Fuller)

I’ve spent a lot of time on the Helio 105 skiing spring couloirs where the snow transitions from smooth corn to swatches of avalanche debris. Coming into these sections at the same speed at which I was skiing good corn was not fun. The skis would get knocked around a lot, especially if the debris was fairly firm. But if you’re willing to slow things down a bit when the snow gets bumped up and make more deliberate and controlled turns, I think you’ll be happy with the Helio 105’s performance in these conditions.


I was a little worried about the Helio 105’s performance in powder after coming from the Dynafit Chugach, a 109mm-wide, reverse-camber ski that was a lot of fun in soft snow. But the Helio 105 provided ample float in up to about 15” of light powder. It’s not nearly as pivoty or surfy as the reverse-camber Chugach, but the Helio 105’s moderate tip and tail rocker does make it easy to maneuver in deep snow, and I had plenty of fun bouncing in and out of the snow on the ski.

The Helio 105’s wide, softer tips provide decent float in most snow, although I did experience some tip dive during an ~18 inch powder day, and found myself having to ski a little backseat to avoid it. This was in late spring, and the snow was denser than the typical, light Colorado powder. So there are certainly more powder-oriented skis in this class (like the G3 Synapse 109), but given the Helio 105’s performance on hard snow, I was very happy with how it functioned in powder.

Breakable Crust

I prefer skis with less camber, more weight, and longer sidecut when skiing breakable crust, so I wasn’t too excited when I found myself skiing a ~ 1 inch rain-crust on the Helio 105. Unsurprisingly, the Helio 105 was more difficult to ski in these conditions than the Dynafit Chugach (which possesses all of the attributes detailed above). The stiff, tapered tails of the Helio 105 tended to dig into the snow and made it difficult to release out of a turn. This is another area where there are more specialized skis that handle the conditions better, so if you encounter a lot of difficult, crusty conditions you might want to look elsewhere. However, if you’re like me and either don’t find yourself skiing breakable crust often or are usually able to find better snow on other aspects, I think the Helio 105 will be adequate for limited time in these conditions.

Chop / Crud

I’m not usually concerned with a backcountry ski’s performance in chopped-up conditions, since I don’t often encounter this kind of snow outside of the ski resort. That being said, I did get to ski the Helio 105 in some fairly consolidated, cut-up snow during a late-spring powder day at Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park. We were very late to the powder party, and Hidden Valley is one of the most popular backcountry zones in the Park. So there was plenty of chop to navigate when coming down from the untracked areas. Here, the Helio 105 performed fine for a ski of its weight. If I tried to plow through the firmer patches of snow, the ski would deflect a bit, but when I concentrated on turning around and over the piles, the Helio 105 felt more at home.


I’ve spent a lot of my time on the Helio 105 in spring conditions. The ski is a blast in good corn snow, and doesn’t fall apart when the snow isn’t quite as perfect. The shovels do a good job of planing up in the deep slush often encountered at lower elevations, and the firm-snow performance described in previous sections is appreciated when transitioning between sunny and shaded aspects. In short, I have thoroughly enjoyed using the Helio 105 as a spring and summer touring ski.

Luke Koppa reviews the Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon for Blister Gear Review
Luke Koppa on the Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon. (photo by Chris Fuller)

Who’s it For?

I would recommend the Helio 105 to anyone looking for a single touring ski that you’ll take out in any and all conditions, especially in areas like Colorado and Utah. It’s not a ski that stands out for its performance in any specific condition, but rather its ability to do well across the wide range of conditions that one often encounters in the backcountry. And at ~1550 g, it’s a great option for those looking to lighten their load for longer tours or simply to decrease fatigue. So for weight-conscious backcountry skiers who are looking for a single ski that can hold up to a variety of conditions, the Helio 105 is a great choice.

I should also note that, although I’ve skied the Helio 105 in chop and on groomers, I wouldn’t recommend it as a ski that you’d also regularly use inbounds; I think there are better options in the ~1750 g range that aren’t significantly heavier but that will hold up much better to rough, inbounds conditions. So think of the Helio 105 instead as a pretty high-performance, dedicated touring ski.

Bottom Line

Black Diamond markets the Helio 105 as a lightweight ski that performs well in both soft and firm conditions, and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. There are other options out there that work better at either end of the spectrum, but the Helio 105 does a good job of balancing performance on both sides. The ski handles firm conditions well for its weight, it’s still fun in powder and soft snow, and does all of this at a very low weight.

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15 comments on “2019-2020 Black Diamond Helio 105 Carbon”

  1. I appreciate the article Brother. I have the BD Helios as well, but mine are 185 cm. I’m 5’9, 165 pounds, and hearing that another “short” guy became used to them gives me some motivation to keep the extra length. I was tempted on sizing down before the season has even kicked off but I think I’ll try ’em out.

    Any tips on mastering these bad boys?

    • Hi Ryland,

      Good question regarding the length. I don’t have any perfect tips for dealing with the 185, but I will definitely say the Helio 105 rewards a forward stance, and it sometimes felt like I had a lot of tip in front of me if I tried to ski with a more centered stance. However, like I mentioned in the review, I’m used to skis with more forward mounts, so if you’re coming from other skis with mount points further than 8cm back, and tend to drive your shovels, I don’t think this will be an issue.

      Honestly, the main area where I noticed the length most was during kick turns, and the best tip I can give you hear is simply to practice. 185 cm is about as long as I’d go for a touring ski, but it only took me a few tours to dial in kick turns with the 185 cm Helio 105, and its very low weight helps make things a little more manageable.

      Overall, I’d say the 185 Helio 105 does not feel all that long, and I would definitely stick with it if given the chance to size down. With such a light ski, and fairly soft shovels, I appreciate the extra length, especially in deep snow and at higher speeds.

      Hope this helps, and let me know if you have any other questions.



    • Hi Dan,

      I only had one day on the Helio 105 in fairly heavy snow, and while it did fine in areas where the snow was consistent, it definitely does not plow through consolidated snow (it is only 1550 g after all).

      If I were looking for a ski for the PNW, I’d probably check out the 4FRNT Raven or Volkl BMT 109, as their reverse camber design and slightly heavier weights would probably handle the heavier snow a bit better.

      All that said, I think if you maintain a more dynamic style of skiing with the Helio 105, it can certainly deal with the heavier snow, you just have to be wary of the fact that it is a very light ski.

      Let me know if you have any other questions,



      • Great thanks for the info. I hadn’t considered the BMT 109 I’ll add that to the list.

        As always 4frnt and ON3P always seem to be on the list

  2. Hi Luke,
    thanks for another great Blister review!
    I am still on my beloved Carbon Converts but as they become stone skis, I am considering getting the BD Route 105. They are supposed to come from the same mould as the Helio 105’s, but with a more burlier composition. Do you have any information or experience with the Route lineup? I am actually looking for a tad stronger ski then the Carbon Converts. I have also the Black Crows Corvus Freebird on my list.


    • Hi Phillipp,

      Thanks for reaching out. I have unfortunately not used the Route 105 or Carbon Convert. Our reviewer Paul Forward has used the Carbon Convert and Helio 105, and found the Helio 105 to handle variable conditions a bit better than the Carbon Convert. Based on our other reviewers’ experience with the Corvus Freebird, I’d imagine that they would indeed be stronger / more stable than the Carbon Convert. Apologies that I can’t offer more direct comparisons, but I hope that might help a bit.



  3. Any more thoughts on mounting location for the 105’s? I have mine on the BC line, which feels really far forward. Luke seems to be happy with going forward, curious what other people’s experience has been.

  4. Does the issue with minimal tip splay exist on the Helio 116? I’m trying to decide which would be a better option for backcountry powder in Tahoe area.

    • Paul never complained about the tips being too low on the Helio 116, so I don’t think it’s an issue. The 116 we measured also has much more tip splay than the 105 we measured (67 mm vs. 55 mm).

  5. Thanks for the quick feedback. Your reviews are awesome but leave me wanting to try them all. I’m in desperate need for upgrade in my dedicated touring ski. Currently ride the 12/13 Super 7 188. Love the float, easy ride, soft yet damp but way too heavy. I ski primarily in the Tahoe area so dealing with denser powder usually.

    Trying to stay under 8lbs. Any advice between the Helio 116, Deathwish Tour, Wayback 106 or Vision 108 for coastal powder skiing?

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