I’ll cut to the chase – the Volkl BMT 94s are fantastic skis for freeriding, backcountry, and touring. They do everything extremely well, in fact I'd say they’re the best skis I’ve ever owned. I have to admit I was a bit nervous when I bought them. While the reviews have been raving and the spec was what I was looking for, I have not previously been a fan of skis with carbon – I’ve often found them dead feeling and not progressive enough in their flex. And while I own other skis with rockered tips and tails, I’ve never owned fully rockered skis before. The BMT 94s are also eye watering-ly expensive.
But I took the plunge and bought them in December. I’ve since put them through their paces in everything from icy groomers, to waist deep pow, to trees, crud, and numerous hours of skinning. On the hard stuff they grip tenaciously and carve, and in the powder they float, surf, slarve, smear and do just about anything you want them to. In very tight trees they were responsive and turny. And on crud, despite their incredibly light weight, they motored on through.
The skis have a lively wood core feel, none of the deadness I usually associate with carbon. They are incredibly precise and responsive, I never wondered what they were doing. The side-cut is relatively straight (122-94-112) and the turn radius is longish (23m) and the skis are quite damp which means you can let them rip, especially in soft snow. But the full rocker and very light weight (1570g per ski) means you can also turn these puppies on a dime.
Testing the Volkl BMT 94s in Chamonix - they work pretty well!
As a touring ski they performed very well. Very light and easy up the skin track. I bought the pre-cut, glue-less skins which also performed nicely. I like the Volkl tip pin attachment system which is easy to use. I was a bit nervous about over-tightening the metal tail clip on the plastic/carbon tail slot and so the skin tails slipped out a few times, but a bit of fine adjustment seems to have fixed that.
Anything they don't do well? Although they hold a strong edge on ice and were perfectly civilized on groomers, they have a speed limit on hard pistes - they aren't going to blast GS turns like a full camber heavier ski with metal. So I wouldn't buy them as a frontside ski - nor would I see them as the elusive one ski quiver for resort based skiing. They really are a back-country, touring and freeride tool.
I’m 6’2” (188cm) 175lbs (80kg) and bought the 176cm which feel just right, especially for touring. For the alps where I mostly ski the BMT 94s are perfect. Narrow enough to fit typical skin tracks (lots of people rando here on skinny skis) and to handle the variety of conditions one finds, but the full rocker and progressive flex give plenty of float when hitting the pow. I had them in waist deep blower pow in Chamonix (see photo) and the grin factor was real high. But US Western and Canadian BC skiers may be happy to have the slightly heavier weight for the wider 109 or 122 skis.
Binding choice is a bit tricky. The skis have a narrow H-shaped reinforced mounting area and scary language about the warranty being voided unless one mounts Marker bindings or something else that fits in the H pattern. I wanted lightweight tech bindings and there aren’t too many options that fit the H-shaped mounting pattern (WildSnow.com has an extensive thread on which bindings fit the H). I went with the new G3 IONs which fit the mounting pattern well and have been very happy with them – lightweight but a responsive freeride feel, easy to use, and look the business. Volkl also recommends the new Marker Kingpins which have been getting great reviews, but they are heavier than the G3s and have also had some initial production problems. One could also mount Marker Tours or another frame binding if one is only touring occasionally, but a bit of a shame to have anything but a light tech binding on such a beautifully light ski.
Volkl BMT 94s with G3 IONs mounted
Volkl are marketing these skis as both touring AND big mountain skis and I think its not just marketing hype. Through the combination of the wood core, carbon wrap, tapered edges, and ski geometry they have really broken the uphill-downhill trade-off. These skis skin up like a dream and then are no compromise big mountain smile machines on the way down.