The Black Crows Captis Birdie offers a joyful ride on forgiving snow, but when we took it into powder, crud, or hard pack, it couldn't keep up. This ski has fantastic pop from edge to edge on fresh soft groomers. It is very agile in the bumps and trees, moving quickly from edge to edge across the 90-millimeter base width. But if you filled those trees and bumps in with either fresh powder or crud, the Captis Birdie doesn't perform. If you're an upper intermediate skier or don't have much weight behind you, this ski provides exciting kickback and fast maneuvering skills. Those on the heavier end of the spectrum, or anyone who considers themselves already an advanced all-terrain skier should look elsewhere.Editor's Note: We updated this review for the Black Crows Captis Birdie on March 6, 2022, to include a hot-take on value and suggestions for other comparable skis.
Black Crows Captis Birdie Review
Cons: Nose dives under fresh snow, skis short and soft, unreliable in trickier conditions
Manufacturer: Black Crows
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Black Crows Captis Birdie
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|Pros||Impressive rebound and playfulness, nimble and quick||Crud blaster, dependable, great one-ski quiver option, good for every ability level||Awesome powder tool, fabulous fun factor even for light skiers, affordable price||Great stability at high speeds, good on hard snow and crud, more affordable than others||Superbly stable at high speeds, great edge hold|
|Cons||Nose dives under fresh snow, skis short and soft, unreliable in trickier conditions||No wow-factor, not a lot of rebound||Gets bouncy in crud, slight tip flap, doesn’t carve perfectly||Only for shallower pow days, needs strong skier to guide them||Too burly for lighter gals, not nimble|
|Bottom Line||A fun and lively ski for a lightweight or intermediate skier, this birdie likes to fly but is not reliable for higher-end skiers in difficult terrain||A great all-rounder ski that we think is the most versatile option for a one-ski quiver||A fun and responsive toy for powder days, groomer antics, and bumps, with a value-oriented price tag||This model will do great in everything but the deepest powder and is ideal for an aggressive skier||A good choice for hard-charging speed demons that still performs decently off-piste|
|Rating Categories||Black Crows Captis...||Nordica Santa Ana 98||Elan Ripstick 94 W||Faction Dictator 2.0X||Volkl Secret 96|
|Stability at Speed (20%)|
|Carving Ability (20%)|
|Powder Performance (20%)|
|Crud Performance (20%)|
|Terrain Playfulness (15%)|
|Specs||Black Crows Captis...||Nordica Santa Ana 98||Elan Ripstick 94 W||Faction Dictator 2.0X||Volkl Secret 96|
|Waist Width||90 mm||98 mm||94 mm||96 mm||96 mm|
|Available Lengths (cm)||149, 157, 164, 171||151, 158, 165, 172, 179||154, 162, 170, 178||155, 163, 171, 175, 179, 183, 187||149, 156, 163, 170|
|Length Tested||171 cm||172 cm||178 cm||171 cm||170 cm|
|Turn Radius||18 m||16.3 m||18 m||18 m||16 m|
|Camber Profile||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot||Rocker tip and tail, cambered inside edge, Amphibio tech||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot|
|Weight Per Pair||6.8 lbs||8.1 lbs||7.4 lbs||7.9 lbs||8.5 lbs|
|Construction Type||Semi-cap construction||Energy Ti W||SST sidewall||Sandwich||Full sidewall|
|Core Material||Poplar and fiber||Performance Wood & Metal||Tubelite wood||Paulownia & Poplar||Beech and poplar|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Crows Captis Birdie has a lot going for it in terms of playfulness, and it provides a responsive ride in tight spaces. However, this ski was a liability when we made it go fast or placed it in challenging conditions such as powder or crud.
Stability at Speed
At first, on soft steep groomers, we were surprised at how the relatively soft Captis Birdie held an edge and didn't chatter. However, after bringing it up to speed, our fears about the ski's flexibility were realized. There is a continuous flap at the tips, as well as a general sense that it was not designed for high speeds. We also noted a feeling of discomfort around its construction; it skis much shorter than its advertised length, and we regularly felt like we were about to go over the handlebars at higher speeds.
The rebound we love about this ski made it feel fun in a carved turn, but only if the snow was consistent and forgiving enough to allow us to build the speed to make it pop. Given the relatively narrow 90-millimeter waist, the Captis Birdie feels fluid and fast when moving from one edge to the other. We agree that the 18-meter turn radius seems accurate, though because the ski is so pliable, we could bend it into a tighter turn if we felt comfortable building the forces to do so (which wasn't often).
While the Captis Birdie is one of the narrower skis in the range of "all-mountain" with a 90-millimeter waist, we don't believe that fact alone excuses its lack of prowess in this metric. It was understandable that it flounders in heavier snow, but it couldn't stay on track even when we took it out in six inches of blower pow.
This ski is simply not adept at handling variable snow conditions. We found ourselves getting bucked around all over the place, even in what should have been manageable chop. It is too soft to plow through and unpredictable in how it reacts to any undulations.
In this one metric, in particular, the Captis Birdie captured our hearts. We loved the spring-back it gave us when we pressured and released them; it was more pronounced on this ski than on many in our review. The tricky part was that we needed to be on consistent, forgiving snow to feel confident, building the speed and forces necessary to make this pop happen. The Captis Birdie is super lightweight and is very easy to get airborne, but again we wanted to make sure our landing was going to be very soft and gentle before committing to it on this ski.
A ski that likes to butter the snow and pivot quickly, the Captis Birdie is an enjoyable and easy ride through the moguls. In this terrain, its ability to change edges quickly, bend easily, and move nimbly allow it to thrive. Once again, however, it could only handle a mogul field with bumps cushioned by soft and predictable snow; anything too deep, hard, or chunky would send us flying in unknown directions.
Should You Buy the Captis Birdie?
The Captis Birdie is a fun, playful option for entry-level skiers who want to stay almost entirely on groomed runs. To the benefit of this argument, this ski is affordable compared to the rest of the field. The Captis Birdie is approachable but doesn't offer the versatility we want from an all-mountain ski.
What Other Women's All-Mountain Skis Should You Consider?
Except for its playfulness on groomed and relatively consistent terrain, the Black Crows Captis Birdie is outpaced in every other metric by nearly every other ski we tested. Intermediate to advanced skiers looking to perfect the art of the turn should steer towards the Volkl Secret 96 or Blizzard Black Pearl 88. All-mountain chargers will be overjoyed powder skiing on the Elan Ripstick 94 W, or impressed with the power that the Faction Dictator 2.0X generates to push through in tough conditions. Even though the Captis Birdie is playful, the Icelantic Riveter 95 is more fun in the bumps and more versatile across the rest of the mountain.
— Renee McCormack
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