We dive into the minefield of all-mountain skis with a standoff between three big brands in the freeride ski game.
Head Kore 99 vs. Black Crows Camox vs. Line Supernatural 100
It’s always the same. Year after year the hunt continues for the one true ‘quiver-killer’. In an industry where limits are pushed, innovations are tested, technologies are engineered, and the market is saturated, there’s one residing question on everyone’s mind: what is the best all mountain ski?
It’s helpful in this case to think of this elusive category as actually being two similar, but separate, categories: ‘All Mountain / Piste’ and ‘All Mountain / Freeride’. This really just means that you can split the elusive ‘AM’ category into those borne of race/piste heritage and those of freeride. This comparison is going to look at the latter because that’s what Freeze is all about.
Instead of drifting forever in a sea of ski comparisons we’ve narrowed our selection down to focus on a few special models around the ninety-nine-millimetre waist width. We’ll weigh up the differences between specifications and construction to try and answer what ski will be best for moguls, powder, piste, trees and everything in between.
We’ll be diving deeper into the intricacies of the Black Crow’s Camox, Head’s Kore 99 and the Line Supernatural 100 to find out what makes them the same, and what makes them so different.
Last season Head released their Kore series – a collection that focusses on constructing superlight skis that make us re-think the concept of lightweight skiing altogether. Head’s aim was to offer a range that utilises modern technology to reduce the common setbacks of a weight-saving ski. A clever core construction features a mystical ‘Koruba’ wood core sandwiched between two triaxial-woven carbon layers, underfoot Koroyd inserts, and Graphene laminates in the tip and tail. These technical innovations all bring something special to the Kore range but essentially, they swap out traditional ingredients like fibreglass, metal, and wood for lightweight and super-tough materials that still have a personality.
The Kore 99 is new to the range for the 2019 season and in Head’s own words ‘[blends] all the unique traits of the Kore 93 and Kore 105’. It’s designed to fill the void between a superlight piste performer and wide-waisted powder ski. So how does it stack up?
The Kore 99 is fairly stiff which results in exceptional edge-hold through firmer conditions and satisfyingly powerful carves. The key point of the Kore is, of course, the crazy-tech construction. Aside from sounding like Area-51 engineering, the Koroyd, carbon fibre, Graphene and Koruba layup makes this a lively and snappy ski without sacrificing much in the way of dampening.
The increased stiffness and edge-hold results in a slight decrease in how easily the Kore turns. Turn initiation is super-smooth but pivoting and smearing out does take more input from the rider. However, the Kore 99’s superlight futuristic construction means tight manoeuvring and jumpy turns aren’t tiring at all.
An early taper and smooth nose rocker profile make this ski a more than capable ride in softer snow, and given the Kore’s exceptional piste and carving ability you’d be mad not to consider this as an option – whatever you like to ride.
Black Crows was born out of the desire for a truly exceptional freeride ski and raised in the heart of Chamonix. Since it’s inception in 2006 the pro-skier-run company has continued to break barriers in every aspect of ski design, from performance to aesthetics - a fairly enticing history when you’re on the search for the top all-mountain/freeride ski.
The Camox is the narrowest of the three skis with a 97mm waist and a capable 18m radius that switches between long carves and rapid short turns with ease. A more traditional core construction features a nice and damp Poplar wood blend and fibreglass layup but with an added carbon and Kevlar strip for a touch of hardpack performance.
The beauty of the Camox lies in Julien Regnier’s carefully considered rocker/camber profile. The subtle tip rocker blends smoothly into the hefty 7mm camber underfoot giving the Camox a decent lift in softer snow. That same seven-millimetre camber gives the ski superb edge-hold and snappy performance when you’re feeling jibby. Small and mellow tail rocker allows the Camox to pivot easily, allowing you to dump speed rapidly on steeper descents and providing increased fall-line control on hardpack, an impressive virtue for a ski with such substantial camber.
The Camox is built for a good time. It’s ready to lay into powerful carves on piste and get playful on softer days. It doesn’t have quite as much float as the Kore 99 and Tracer 98, but it makes up for this with outstandingly snappy edge-to-edge response. It really is ready for anything.
If the Head Kore 99 takes ski construction to space-age levels then the Line Supernatural 100 brings it back to basics… Sort of basics that is, still crammed full of proprietary technology that you would expect from Line who’s goal is to “Keep Skiing Weird”. What we mean by basic is that this is a true blue all mountain machine. Okay, you got us – its 100mm under foot not 99. But what’s a millimetre in the grand scheme of things amongst gear freaks like us eh? Like the Camox and the Kore the Supernatural is a hybrid profile, with 4mm of camber underfoot that transitions in to a mellow 3mm rocker in the tail and 5mm in the nose provides stability and float no matter the terrain.
As far as the Line range goes, the Supernatural 100 would definitely be considered to be on the stiffer end of the scale. The Maple Mactoblock core which consists of two maple stingers that run the full length of the ski that are surrounded by Aspen making for a snappy and consistent flex without breaking the camels back. Couple this with a metal matrix laminate of titanal and you’ve got a super stable platform to ensure you have power and grip all over the mountain.
|Black Crows Camox||Head Kore 99||Line Super Natural 100|
|Core||Poplar wood||Koruba||Maple Macroblock Core|
Triaxial Carbon Fibre
Mellow tail rocker
|Lightweight and super strong||5 Radii Sidecut and Shock Absorbing Sidewalls|
|Defining Characteristics||Freestyle inspired AM/Freeride||Spaceage construction||Supernatural Characteristics|
So, which is the best all mountain ski for me?
As with all things kit-related there are almost infinite variables in deciding who and what a ski will suit. Hopefully the table above helps to answer some questions about which ‘99’ is for you, but let’s make it super simple.
Buy the Black Crows Camox if:
- You like a ski that looks damn good.
- You're after some fresh lines in the morning and a few jump-line runs after lunch.
Buy the Line Supernatural 100 if:
- You're looking to rip and grip groomers and plow through pow with out any problems.
Buy the Head Kore 99 if:
- You love super technical ski construction - and all its benefits
That’s not me? Then fear not. There’s still a heap more all-mountain/powder skis to choose from in our range. Check some of the out below.