Speedy ski-mountaineers and all-mountain fitness freaks will be delighted by the news that Black Diamond has expanded its Helio range to include a 76mm width model for the new season.
The Helio is already established in 88, 95, 105, and 116 widths, but none of those were particularly skinny and the 76 opens up the range as an option for genuine ski tourers.
At 2.3kg per pair (for the 171cm length; 161 is also available) without bindings, the Helio 76 may not be the lightest touring ski out there, but it more than compensates on its downhill performance.
The Helio 76 does not just ski well 'for a touring ski', it is just a very good ski. On hard pack the grip is excellent, and the ski manages to combine stiffness with staying on the right side of lively. It is responsive, easy to turn and pivot, and pleasingly stable underfoot.
The only thing the Helio 76 does not excel at is float in deep snow - unsurprising given its dimensions - but it is still capable of tackling softer conditions if you can't resist the powder.
Black Diamond has gone for balsa wood reinforced with flax for the core of the ski, but cleverly uses a carbon-fibre layer and rubber to produce a high-performance, low-weight ski.
With notches in the tip and tail for easy skin attachment and an ABS sidewall for durability and grip, it is hard to pick too many faults in the Helio 76, in both the uphill and the downhill.