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2012-2013 Black Diamond AMPerage, 185cm

Ski: 2012-2013 Black Diamond AMPerage, 185cm 

Dimensions (mm): 142-115-124

Turn Radius: 22 meters

Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 185.4 cm

Boots / Bindings: Lange RX 130 / Marker Griffon, DIN (10)

Mount Location: +1

Test Location: Alta Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin

Days Skied: 9

(Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 AMPerage, which is unchanged for 12/13.)

For years, when sitting around with friends, talking skis and dreaming of our next additions to the quiver, Black Diamond skis never seemed to enter the conversation.

This is strange.

How could a company as well established as Black Diamond, a company that makes not only sick climbing gear, but very good back packs, ski poles, probes, and touring skins, fail to generate tons of excitement about their ski lineup? It seemed like the only people super stoked on Black Diamond planks were ski mountaineers who refused to hit the backcountry with twinned-up tails.

Over the past couple of seasons, this situation has begun to change. When Black Diamond introduced the Megawatt, non-mountaineers took notice. Then came the Justice (reviewed here), a good ski, and one of the more playful planks that BD had offered. But the Justice was still not exactly a riot to ride, and there were still lots of other interesting options on the market.

Enter the AMPerage, a fun-shape offering from Black Diamond that enters a crowded, very competitive class of skis in the 115mm waist-range, have both tip and tail rocker, large, tapered shovels (and generally tapered tails, too), and traditional camber underfoot. (Think Rossignol S7, Armada JJ, DPS Wailer 112RP, MOMENT Bibby Pro, etc.)

Just about every company is putting out its own version of this shape these days, and for good reason: these skis tend to be super versatile, are a blast to pivot around in bumps and tight trees, do really well in powder, and do quite well on groomers. Yep, they’re fun.

The AMPerage seems like a high risk, high reward ski for Black Diamond. It feels like they need this ski to work in order to assert their relevance and reach new customers who haven’t previously given much thought to buying a BD ski. On the other hand, tossing a dud into the fun shape category would have exactly the opposite effect: show that they still don’t seem to get it, and allow critics to get back to ignoring BD.

Well, it turns out that the AMPerage is impressive, and certainly holds its own in the fun shape class.

Saturday, May 7th, was a gorgeous day at A-Basin: a bluebird sky, 52 degrees, 91” base, and the party on The Beach was in full effect.

Plus, the very cool, very understanding sheriff of Alma, Colorado – The Highest Incorporated Town in the USA, FYI – had let me off with a warning for being overly eager to get to A-Basin. (Do NOT speed in Alma, people. It’s a great little town. Enjoy it.)

I’d been skiing the AMPerage off and on since April 23rd at Alta, and the tails of the AMPerage had been reminding me a little too much of the tails of the Rossignol S7,  i.e., not much there. I started skiing the AMPerage at +1, and would recommend going at least that far forward, as it definitely helped the tails to wash out less, and less than I experienced on the Rossi S7, even with the S7 mounted at +2. (I’ll say more about the whole fun-shape, tapered tail issue in a minute….)

With the bindings at +1, I headed over to the Pallavicini lift to ski The Spine, Pali Face, and Main Street, long runs with a decent pitch, and broad, rounded bumps with troughs that ranged from pretty mellow to very deep. The AMPerage did really well here in the soft snow (just pivot pivot pivot), and I was definitely making frequent turns rather than charging.

Jonathan Ellsworth, The Spine, Arapahoe Basin.

The AMPerage pivots so easily in bumps that you can choose either to carve wider, mellow turns around the bumps, or force the issue and just pivot away in a zipperline. I tend to tail gun in the bumps, and that caused the only issue I really had with the AMPerage there. If you’re a bit of a tail gunner like me, the Armada JJs, MOMENT Bibby Pros, or the DPS Wailer 112RPs offer the more supportive tails; if you’re not a tail gunner, you’re good to go.

32 Comments

  1. JB August 29, 2011 Reply

    Great reviews! Have you had a chance to ski the Volkl Shiro? If so, what do you think?

    -JB

  2. Author

    Thanks, JB. We haven’t yet reviewed the Shiro, but it is on our list for this season. Thanks!

  3. Waldo Perez October 11, 2011 Reply

    As they are the most important differences between the Sickle and the Amperage. The sickle has better performance in groomers?

    • Author

      Waldo: I really didn’t get to spend much time with the Sickle on groomers, but Jason Hutchins did, and he loved them there. As I say in the review, the only shortcoming of the Amperage on groomers is when the groomers get rough, and the tapered tail of the Amperage loses contact. The Sickle doesn’t have a tapered tail, and so more easily and consistently engages the tail’s edge. Jason definitely prefers the Sickle to the Amperage on groomers, and he’s probably right. (But the Amperage is still no slouch.)

  4. Blister Member
    Michael Lachance October 14, 2011 Reply

    Excellent review! Love your site BTW!!! I’m on the fence right now for a BD AMPerage and an Armada JJ… skiing mostly Canadian Rockies (Louise, Kicking Horse, Sunshine, etc… Contiental Snowpack) . I’m 5’11” 155lbs … I guess I could consider myseld an advanced Intermediate… a Snowboard convert :)) Skiing K2 Coomback 175 and K2 Backlash 167 (too short for me!). Looking for a POW Ski that floats, forgiving as I’m not an expert yet ;) … also, was wondering about sizing! My coomback is slightly rockered on the TIP and feel good, but those two are heavily rockered … does 185 would be too much of a ski for a guy like me ? Thanks in advance!

  5. Author

    Michael: honestly, you’d probably be happy with either the Amperage or the JJ. And you should absolutely get the 185 whichever way you go – these are two incredibly easy skis, do not go shorter. (And the JJ measures shorter than 185 anyway.)

    These skis have many of the same virtues. I like the tail of the JJ better than the tail of the Amperage, but my recommendation to you would be to go with the Amperage over the JJ, primarily because of where you’re skiing. Due to the more forward mount of the JJ, I found that they wanted to dive in deeper, wet, heavy snow. (I found the same thing to be true of the 195cm AK JJs). I didn’t get a comparable tip dive on the Amperage. Alternatively, you could try mounting the JJs back 1 or 2 centimeters, and it would help the cause.

    So yeah, you’ll likely enjoy either, but I’d have to give the nod to the Amperage for what you’re describing.

  6. Maciej October 21, 2011 Reply

    Just ordered a set of these puppies, and I’m going to mount them with Dynafits for AT use. I’ve never had a ski so aggressively rockered, and have always mounted my bindings with the boot center on the centerline on the skis.

    You guys complained about the tails feeling short with a 1cm forward mount, and BD says up to +2.5cm is fine. What would the pros and cons of a forward mount be in terms of handling characteristics on a ski like this?

    Oh, and as for me, I’m an intermediate/advanced skier, 5’9″ and 155lbs who likes to catch some air but doesn’t ski switch if I don’t have to. I went with 175’s because I already have a pair of 184 Salomon Sentinels for the days I get to ski open faces and bowls flat out.

  7. Blister Member
    James January 9, 2012 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    I have been reading your reviews alot lately and getting a great understanding now where you’re coming from in your reviews. I always am very critical because of the size differences with reviewers but yours are so comprehensive it makes it easier to get a {feel} reading what they might be like on my feet with 225lbs 6ft above them:]

    Here’s my Q to you and my thinking out loud. I seem to be leaning toward the Black Diamond Amp for 2012. I’m a little concerned with the tails. I’m also torn between this ski and the Zealot for my all round ski. I’m mounting the MFD All Time with 916 Steels. I figure the plate might make the tail better {stiffer} for my weight in a 185 on the Amp? Ill ski mostly small resorts in any condition with the one ski. Skin on some weekdays only on occasion. Ill ski 50+ days at the resort. I live in Northern BC. I have last years EP,s for really big days when we get 2-6ft over night. For a foot and under powder and lots of Crud busting chopped powder later in the days, with a fair amount of groomer skiing and harder groomed surfaces, what ski do you think with this setup would be best? I like the Zealot for my racer edging background style but the playfulness also from what I see the Amp has as long as edging with the rolling of the ankles will still be there on hard packed?. Plus the 115 seems like the better girth for powder than the 110 of the Zealot. I imagine the Zealot to be the better carver and crud buster though. If you put on 40 lbs what setup of the two would you want to ski as your every day ski in conditions I described?

    Thank you and Regards I value your input.

    James

    • Author

      Hi James, to be honest, at your size and weight, and given that you say that you want this ski for “crud busting,” and carving, I’m not sure that I would be looking at either the 185 Amp or the 182 Zealot. Crud busting isn’t really the strength of either.

      The 192 Zealot – which unfortunately, we have yet to test – is supposed to be stiffer ski than the 182, and at your size, I could see you going that way. I just think you would overwhelm the 182 Zealot, and the Amperage is more of a fun ski than a crud busting carving machine. (You might also take a look at Will Brown’s review of the 191 Volkl Katana, too.)

      But yes, if you are sticking with Black Diamond, for your size and weight, and for what you say your looking for, I think it’s the 192 Zealot.

  8. Blister Member
    Sam February 4, 2012 Reply

    These sound fun. We’d emailed about the Salomon Rocker 2. Can anyone compare the two of these?

  9. dRu February 7, 2012 Reply

    i´m using the AMP since the beginning of this season. with my dynafit radical FT and the factor 130 it´s also my touring setup. what i like most is the easy turning, the tip which seems to work even in the worst crusty conditions you can imagine and that it can also take a lot of speed (in soft conditions only).

    of course they work on groomers too, but that´s not why i got them. for me the AMP is my all around weapon, as long as conditions are somehow soft.

  10. Mark B March 8, 2012 Reply

    Any suggestions on the mount position for an “old school” 35-year-old rider? My instinct was to go center-mount…bad idea? I want enough tail to recover if I get backseat coming off a 20-30-footer (the biggest I go these days), but don’t ride or land switch very often. I’m 6′ 165lbs and just ordered the 185s. Will be mounting w/ Marker Dukes, 80% resort pow day ski / 20% slackcountry (have a separate touring setup).

    Appreciate it!

    • Author

      Hi Mark – going with a true center mount certainly doesn’t sound very “old school”, but I don’t remember how far back the recommended line actually is from true center. But Andrew and I both liked the AMPerage at +1, and I think you could pretty safely go to +2 (pure speculation), I can’t say that you could “pretty safely” go with a true center mount.

      • Mark B March 12, 2012 Reply

        Thanks Jonathan. I meant BD-recommended not a true center mount. Will probably go +1. They just arrived today…just in time for a week of pow!

        • Author

          Nice, Mark, let us know how it goes.

          • Mark B April 19, 2012 Reply

            UPDATE…
            Rode 10-15 days on the Amps once winter finally arrived in Tahoe (March/April), all in-bounds at Squaw-Pine. I’m on the 185s w/ Marker Dukes @ factory recommended mount. Had considered the JJs, Super 7, Bibby Pro, and Amps, but the decision was made for me when I found the Amps online for $400.

            Thank you Jonathan and Andrew for two spot-on reviews. Every day I spent on the Amps in different conditions/terrain I got flashbacks to snippets of your reviews, and basically agree with everything you wrote. Not much to add, but a few things I would echo…

            PROS:
            Huge sweet spot. Super versatile and super fun on pow days. They’re great at low and high speeds, making short- or long-radius turns. The tips refuse to dive. More than once I landed way too far forward from 10-20 footers onto flat tranny in 1-2′ of fresh, fully expecting to go over the handlebars. Instead the Amps gently nudged me back upright. In fresh snow the relatively short/soft/narrow tail didn’t bother me, although I’m not a tail-gunner and rarely ride switch. When I did land backseat there was enough tail to stand back up.

            CONS:
            Their biggest weakness is heavy chop. Completely agree with the review that in firm chop they prefer to be ridden flat rather than on edge. That was my biggest disappointment because I love blasting GS rails through chop. Especially for Tahoe/PNW skiers I’d hesitate to bust these out more than a couple days after a storm, unless conditions stayed unusually cold/light. That said, I was surprised how well they carved on groomers. Given the soft/short/narrow tail, they’re also not the most confidence-inspiring making steep turns with thin cover. But they’re great for most of Squaw’s typical short, steep lines (air-to-straightline or straightline-to-air).

  11. Gary March 10, 2012 Reply

    Jonathan,
    I appreciate your review of the Amp. I’m a teleskier, and when I have to parallel I tend to tail steer. It sounds like this might not be the best ski for me. My first impression when I flexed it was – maybe too soft in the tail. I was ready to buy a Wailer 112 before they sold out. You mentioned that it may be firmer in the tail than the Amp. Would you recommend the Wailer or the Amp? BTW- my AT friends love the Amp & can’t say enough good things about it, so I was going with their praises until I read your review.

    Thanks,
    Gary

    • Author

      Hi, Gary – I’d definitely be saying more than I know if I were to weigh in on the AMPerage vs. Wailer 112RP for Tele skiers. My best advice would be to read our review of the 112RP / NTN setup and see what you think. The main issue for me as an alpine skier isn’t that the AMPerage ski is too soft, it’s that it is so rockered. I know many people who tele on the 112RP and like it quite a bit, including our reviewer Robin. Unfortunately, Robin hasn’t had the chance to ski the AMPerage….

  12. evan June 23, 2012 Reply

    Hey guys.
    Thanks for the review. I was looking to get these in 175. As i am around 5ft6, and about 130 pounds. i would be skiing these as about a 50/50 resort/backcountry ski at places like louise, sunshine, fernie, kicking horse and more. Then the backcountry. that kind of just gives you an idea of what i ski. the only thing i was wondering about is how it would handle abit of chop, and there will be at the resorts i will be skiing. Thanks for your input.

    Evan

    • Author

      Hi, Evan – I discuss the AMPerage’s chop performance on page 2 of this review, not sure whether you saw that or not. Also, see Mark B’s remarks in the Comment Section about how he found the AMPerage to handle chop. Thanks.

      • evan July 18, 2012 Reply

        Hey,
        i am wondering which would be a better ski for me,
        the armada jj,
        or the bd amperage. I will be skiing 50/50 backcountry/resort, and am intermediate-advance. I need a ski that will ski anything from the odd groomer to chop, to powder, and be light enough to tour. i will also be mounting with the naxo/dynastar freeride binding.
        thanks, evan

      • Roddy December 21, 2012 Reply

        Jonathan
        Would appreciate your views. I am 5’8″ weigh around 170 lbs. I am a fairly aggressive skier and ski the whole mountain so looking for something fairly versatile as principally a back country ski.
        I skied the 175 Amperage today with the binding mounted 1cm forward of the mid-spot. From the reviews, I thought that I was going to love the ski but I found it too short and too soft (even though I tend to favour a softer rather than stiffer ski) and found it difficult to really drive the ski. Would going to the 185 length solve the problem – I assumed that given my height and weight that that length would be too much as I like an easy turning ski? Or should I be looking at a different ski?
        Thanks

        • Author

          Hey Roddy – at your size, I would have still recommended the 185cm. But I can’t say whether that will definitely provide the stability you were looking for, and this is a surfy ski – not really a ski designed to be driven hard. Honestly, safest thing would be to spend more time looking at our reviews of skis in the ~115 range. If you don’t think the 185 AMPerage will do it for you, then you might consider the DPS Wailer 112, or the Atomic Automatic. Still soft-ish skis, but they might be closer to what you’re looking for.

  13. Sam January 9, 2013 Reply

    If you had to choose between the Blizzard Gunsmoke or the BD Amperage, which would you prefer?

    • Roddy January 10, 2013 Reply

      You should try the DPS Wailer 112 as well. I ended up buying that rather than the Amperage and absolutely love it.

    • Author

      Sam: I just replied to Roddy before seeing his comment about the Wailer 112. (Glad you followed my belated advice, Roddy, and that it worked out for you.)

      Personally, I would choose the Amperage over the GunSmoke. While I wasn’t in love with the tail of the Amperage, going forward on it helped a lot, and I understand that BD now recommends a more forward mount position than they originally did. I didn’t love the flex pattern of the GunSmoke – the tail felt too soft, something that Blizzard is addressing for the next iteration of the GunSmoke.

  14. Bailey March 16, 2013 Reply

    So the AMP’s 185cm For a dude in golden b.c. @ 6’2 210lbs loves steep and deep should mount them +1.5 ?? to start? on Dynafit ft12 with a plate, or did I buy to soft a ski? haven’t mounted yet, will wait for response but just the whole setup this weekend. Lookin for sonmw outside insight ! thanks love BLISTER GEAR

  15. Author

    Thanks, Bailey. I’d double check with BD to see how far away they are currently recommending the mount. And I don’t know whether you’ll find the ski to be too soft—I don’t know what other skis you like and don’t like. And if you’re keeping these in fresh snow, I imagine you could like them quite a bit. If you’re expecting them to shine in firm or variable conditions, then that’s a bigger question mark. I think you’ll like the AMP in deep, not sure what you’ll think about it in steep and less than deep….

  16. Matt March 21, 2013 Reply

    I am seriously considering the AMP’s, I ski primarly in New England (VT), stick to trees mostly. I am 5’10, 205, athletic, and an advanced skier. Do you think these would hold up in New England?

  17. bailey March 22, 2013 Reply

    Thanks I’ll let you know..

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