Sample Deep Dive: Black Crows Daemon

[Note: This is a sample of one of our Deep Dive comparisons, which are exclusive to our Blister Members and Deep Dive subscribers. Our Deep Dives go beyond our free, online reviews with even more focused, in-depth discussions and direct, detailed comparisons of many of the products we review. Learn more about our Deep Dive subscription and the Blister Membership]


If you haven’t already, check out our full review of the Daemon where we go over how it performs in a pretty wide range of conditions. Here, we’ll compare it directly to several other all-mountain skis in this class.

Black Crows Daemon, 183.6 cm (17/18, 18/19)
Measured Dimensions: 132-99-119.5 mm
Stated Radius: 20 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1894 & 1980 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile:~49 mm / 0 mm / 14 mm
Measured Length: 182.2 cm
Measured Mount Point: -7.9 cm / 83.2 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 170.2, 177.4, 183.6, 188.7 cm
Core Construction: Poplar + 120 cm titanal layer + fiberglass laminate


Volkl Mantra, 184 cm (17/18)
Measured Dimensions: 131.5-99.5-117.8 mm
Stated Radius: 25.4 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 2145 & 2165 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 59 mm / 0 mm / ~14 mm
Measured Length: 182.8 cm
Measured Mount Point: -9.2 cm / 82.2 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191 cm

Jonathan Ellsworth (5’10”, ~175 lbs): Our First Look and Full Review of the Daemon should have (hopefully) made this pretty clear by now, but I primarily view the Daemon as the Black Crows’ take on the reverse-camber Mantra. So the Daemon is much lighter, has a lighter swingweight, a softer flex pattern, and a slightly more forward mount. Truly, I think the story goes: if you always thought the Mantra was too heavy and dull and kind of a lead sled, then you should check out the Daemon. And I definitely think that the right way to compare these skis is to compare length X in the Daemon against the one-size-down length in the Mantra. (I.e., the most apples-to-apples comparison is the 183.6 cm Daemon against the 177 cm Mantra.)


Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm (18/19)
Measured Dimensions: 133.9-95.9-116.8 mm
Stated Radius: 19.8 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 2049 & 2065 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 55 / ~3 mm / 18 mm
Measured Length: 178.2 cm
Measured Mount Point: -11.5 cm / 77.6 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191 cm
Core Construction: Poplar + beech underfoot + Titanal + Carbon Tips + Fiberglass Laminate

Jonathan: So, Daemon vs. the new, non-reverse-camber M5 Mantra? It’s not that the M5 and the Daemon are now radically different skis, it’s just that the Daemon never came to mind when skiing the new M5. Feel free to ask more specific questions in the Comments Section, but I think our reviews of each of these skis should go a long way in explaining my statement here.


Blizzard Bonafide, 180 cm (17/18, 18/19)
Measured Dimensions: 135-97.5-119 mm
Stated Radius: 18 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 2124 & 2137 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 65 / 2-2.5 mm / 7 mm
Measured Length: 177.65 cm
Measured Mount Point: -11.03 / ~77.8 from tail
Available Lengths: 166, 173, 180, 187 cm
Core Construction: Poplar/Beech + Titanal (2-layer) + Carbon Tips/Tails + Fiberglass Laminate

Jonathan: My thoughts here are largely the same as what I said above about the reverse-camber (17/18) Mantra. With the qualifier is that I think the current Bonafide and the Daemon actually feel a bit more similar than the reverse-camber Mantra & Daemon do. And I think part of this is that the tips / shovels of the Mantra feel stronger than the tips / shovels of the Bonafide and Daemon.

But in terms of whether to go with the Bonafide or Daemon, I’d say weight. If you want a lighter Bonafide, check out the Daemon. Or if you like the sound of touring on a reverse-camber Mantra or the Bonafide — but don’t want to drag that much weight uphill — I could see mounting the Daemon with a Fritschi Tecton or Marker Kingpin or Atomic / Salomon SHIFT binding. You’d save weight compared to the Mantra & Bonafide, but you’d be sacrificing firm-snow and variable-snow stability. But you’d lose little-to-no soft-snow / deep-snow performance.


Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm (18/19)
Measured Dimensions: 137.8-102.4-127.7
Stated Radius: 19 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 2101 & 2104 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 65 / 4-5 mm / 35 mm
Measured Length: 183.8 cm
Measured Mount Point: -9.9 cm / 82 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 170, 177, 184 cm
Core Construction: Beech/Poplar + Titanal + Carbon Fiber Tip + Fiberglass Laminate

Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs): The more you care about dynamic carving performance, the more you should look at the Ranger 102 FR. While the Daemon’s edgehold is quite good, the Ranger 102 FR provides just as good (if not better) edgehold and much more energy out of a turn (as long as you have the strength / speed to bend it — it’s a pretty stout ski).

The Daemon is definitely much looser and more pivoty at slow speeds. But at higher speeds, that difference is less noticeable since, as soon as you put the Daemon slightly on edge, it feels fairly locked in. However, the Daemon is definitely easier in bumps compared to the Ranger 102 FR, which requires you to stay on the front of the ski to avoid getting bucked by its tails.

While the Ranger 102 FR has a pretty stout flex pattern (and is stiffer overall compared to the Daemon), its flex pattern is also pretty round, so it feels more conducive to popping off things (it just requires strong skier input to do so). The Daemon is playful because of its low weight and loose feel when running bases flat. The Ranger 102 FR is playful because of its poppier flex pattern and more generous rocker profile (compared to more traditional skis here like the Bonafide and Mantra M5).

In terms of stability, the Ranger 102 FR wins in all conditions. It’s a little over 100 grams heavier per ski, and that extra weight works very well with its stiffer flex pattern to make for a ski that feels quite strong when skiing through variable snow.

If you want a ski that rewards a hard carve with lots of energy, is more playful than the more traditional options here, and is quite strong and stable, then check out the Ranger 102 FR. If you’re looking more for a lighter, more forgiving ski that feels pretty damp and smooth for its weight and aren’t as concerned with really energetic carving or a poppy feel, then go Daemon.

Jonathan: Yeah, I can’t imagine that, having skied both of these skis, a person would be really torn about which to go with. I thought the Ranger 102 FR was a much stronger ski than the Daemon. I kept saying that the Ranger 102 FR would work really well as a modern-day comp ski (i.e., not nearly as heavy as “comp skis” of the past, but a pretty game-on ski that is ready to have you go real fast and provide good stability on landings). At no point did I ever find myself thinking that the Daemon could be an interesting comp ski.


Atomic Bent Chetler 100, 188 cm (18/19)
Measured Dimensions: 130.1-99.5-120.5 mm
Stated Radius: 21 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1807 & 1840 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 55 / 5-6 mm / 34 mm
Measured Length: 187.0 cm
Measured Mount Point: -7.8 cm / 85.7 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 164, 172, 180, 188 cm
Core Construction: Poplar + Fiberglass Laminate

Luke: The Bent Chetler 100 and Daemon don’t really feel similar at all. You can kind of think of the Bent Chetler 100 as a lighter, more playful, and more forgiving Ranger 102 FR, so many of my notes above re: the Ranger 102 FR will be relevant here. The Bent Chetler 100 is much poppier, more playful, and a bit less stable than the Daemon. If you’re looking to ski switch or throw tricks of any kind, the Bent Chetler 100 is the obvious choice. The Daemon is around 150 grams heavier per ski, and it definitely feels damper than the Bent Chetler 100. If you like a more planted, traditional feel, then the Daemon is a better choice. But if you want a light ski that offers pretty good stability for its weight and is very poppy and playful, then check out the Bent Chetler 100.


Nordica Enforcer 100, 185 cm (17/18, 18/19)
Measured Dimensions: 133.5-99-121 mm
Stated Radius: 18.5 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 2131 & 2189 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 59 / ~3 mm / 13 mm
Measured Length: 184.2 cm
Measured Mount Point: -8.2 / ~83.9 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 165, 177, 185, 193 cm
Core Construction: Poplar/Beech + Titanal (2-Layer) + Fiberglass Laminate

Luke: The Enforcer 100 is around 150 grams heavier than the Daemon, and I felt that I could push it harder than the Daemon without the ski getting knocked around as much. And while the Enforcer 100 is more stable than the Daemon, it’s still not much more demanding (if at all). If you’re looking for a ski that has a really nice blend of stability and forgiveness and want the more traditional feel of a rocker / camber / rocker ski, the Enforcer 100 is a great choice. I think the Daemon makes sense if you’re more concerned with having a lighter ski, or one that’s easier to pivot around at slower speeds.

Jonathan: Yep. If you want to go lighter, think the Enforcer 100 is more ski than you want, and have more of a finesse style (even when skiing hard and fast), then the Daemon will make sense.


J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm (17/18, 18/19)
Measured Dimensions: 129-95-114.5 mm
Stated Radius: 17 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 2115 & 2149 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 65 mm / ~3 mm / 36 mm
Measured Length: 178.8 cm
Measured Mount Point: -7.85 cm / 81.5 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 168, 175, 181, 187 cm
Core Construction: Maple + Titanal (2-layer) + Fiberglass Laminate

Luke: While it might not seem like it based on their specs, I found that the Masterblaster felt significantly more playful overall compared to the Daemon. The Daemon definitely has a lighter swing weight, but the Masterblaster felt poppier and similarly loose at high speeds (the Daemon is definitely easier to slide around at slow speeds).

At the same time, the Masterblaster is significantly more stable in rough, off-piste snow. So if you’re not all that concerned with high-speed stability or getting a ski with lots of energy, the Daemon might work better for you. But if you like the idea of a ski that has much of the stability of more traditional options here (e.g., Bonafide and Mantra M5), but want something that’s more playful, then the Masterblaster is worth a long look.

Jonathan: Yep, I agree with Luke. And if you are wondering whether to go with the Masterblaster or the Daemon, I think the best reason to go Daemon is that the Masterblaster sounds too heavy for what you’re looking for, and you don’t really care about the Masterblaster’s greater stability at high speeds or in variable snow. I.e., if you want a lighter ski and you want it to shine in consistent conditions (smooth groomers or deeper pow), then the Daemon could make good sense.


Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (17/18, 18/19)
Measured Dimensions: 135.2-103.5-125.4 mm
Stated Radius: 19 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1950 & 1977 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 72 mm / 3-4 mm / 40 mm
Measured Length: 186.3 cm
Measured Mount Point: -7.25 cm / 85.9 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 164, 172, 180, 188 cm
Core Construction: poplar/balsa/beech/paulownia/ISO (synthetic) + partial titanal layer + carbon tips/tails + fiberglass laminate

Luke: Both of these skis feel pretty smooth for their weight, but that’s where the similarities end. The Rustler 10 is very energetic and playful (it has pretty deep tip and tail rocker lines compared to most other skis here). The Rustler 10 also feels best when carving small to medium turns, whereas the Daemon does well with a wider (and longer) variety of turn shapes. Similar to the Bent Chetler 100, if you want a really energetic carver, the Rustler 10 is the clear choice. The Daemon is a bit more stable and definitely feels damper and more planted. I really doubt that someone who loves one of these skis is really going to love the other — they’re quite different on snow.


Armada Invictus 99 Ti, 187 cm (17/18, 18/19)
Measured Dimensions: 134.6-98.5-124.4
Stated Radius: 21.5 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 2007 & 2029 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 60 / ~3 mm / 20 mm
Measured Length: 185.9 cm
Measured Mount Point: -7.4 cm / 85.5 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 171, 179, 187 cm
Core Construction: Poplar/Ash + Titanal (2-layer) + Innegra/Carbon Laminate

Jonathan: The 187 cm Invictus 99 feels like a much bigger ski than the 183.6 Daemon. In fact, when Luke Koppa and I were discussing which skis to include in this Deep Dive, I almost skipped the Invictus 99. But given that their lengths, widths, and weights are fairly close, it’s worth a word here.

I’d say that the Daemon is certainly more maneuverable at low speeds, while the Invictus 99 is more stable at high speeds. I’d be okay with putting an intermediate skier on the Daemon, but I would reserve the 187 cm Invictus 99 for physically stronger skiers with advanced / expert technique. The Daemon doesn’t need speed to come alive. The Invictus 99 needs some. And for the sake of comparison, the Invictus 99 isn’t as demanding as, say, the 188 cm Atomic Vantage 97, but I’d say the Invictus 99 sits a bit closer to Vantage 97 and the Rossi Experience 94 than it does to the Daemon.


HEAD Kore 99, 189 cm (18/19)
Measured Dimensions: 136.7-100.8-122.1 mm
Stated Radius: 19.1 m
Measured Weight per Ski: 1921 & 1968 g
Measured Tip-to-Tail Profile: 58 / ~3 mm / 16 mm
Measured Length: 188.2 cm
Measured Mount Point: -11.6 cm / 82.5 cm from tail
Available Lengths: 162, 171, 180, 189 cm
Core Construction: Karuba + Graphene + Koroyd Inserts

The 189 cm Kore 99 basically has nothing in common with the 184 cm Daemon. They feel nothing alike. If you really need to have a specific question answered, feel free to ask in the comments section.

3 comments on “Sample Deep Dive: Black Crows Daemon”

  1. just so i understand. if im all about the back bowls but i want to tree ski and pop through bump fields, then its blizzard rustler 10 or atomic bent chetler 100? emphasis on pop.

  2. Currently getting back into skiing after a long time out of it due to injury. Skiing the QST 106 in a 181 right now(I am 6’1 170lbs) and it has been pretty good to ski on every day but I’m starting to feel as if it’s a little short and maybe a little wide for everyday riding in the PNW. I like the idea of the Daemon as a narrower alternative that might feel more comfortable in the trees and tight areas, while still being able to ski fast down harder groomers. For pow days with more than 6′ would supplement with either a Lotus F124 or Anima(maybe Anima Freebird with a shift binding). Does this logic seem more or less sound? Trying to create a pretty diverse 2 ski quiver for mostly inbounds and some backcountry work in primarily the PNW.
    Cheers guys!

    • I think the Daemon could be a good option. It’ll definitely feel quick in the trees, and still holds an edge pretty well on firm groomers. That said, if you’re in the PNW, you might be better served by a heavier ski to deal with the denser snow. The Nordica Enforcer 100 might be a good alternative — it’s more damp and stable than the Daemon, but similarly forgiving. Though if you’re planning on touring on this ski, then the lighter Daemon might make more sense, and you’d just have to compromise a bit on stability.

      As for a wider ski, I think the Anima could be a good option, as would the Moment Wildcat, J Skis Friend, Liberty Origin Pro, and Icelantic Nomad 115. Those are all pretty easy skis that float well and still hold up pretty well to higher speeds. The Wildcat or Nomad would probably be the best options if you want to do a bit of touring as they’re on the lighter side. We haven’t skied the Foundation Lotus 124, so I can’t really say much about that ski.

Leave a Comment