2024 Black Crows Nocta Ski Review

JUNE 15, 2023 | WRITTEN BY Matt Stromecki

Just like the brand’s name suggests, the Black Crows Nocta soars through powder just as swiftly as the black crows of Chamonix ride the thermals of the French Alps. A surfy, smeary ski that oozes creativity and unlimited potential, the Nocta is a painter’s brush gliding over a mountainous canvas. Say goodbye to the previous full rocker, banana shape, and say hello to a nice bit of camber underfoot for 2024. The change has been quite controversial as the Nocta has developed a dedicated following over recent years. However, nothing lasts forever, and change is inevitable. When taking into consideration that Black Crows is Chamonix-based, we needed to shift our analysis to the mountains and conditions for which the 3rd generation Nocta is designed. Therefore, the addition of camber to this legendary ski makes sense in that setting and is most welcome in our eyes because it adds versatility to what was previously more of a one-trick pony. The full banana rocker shape was a bit one-dimensional and left the Nocta to be pigeon-holed into a specific application to some degree. There was a lack of on-trail performance and approachability with that shape so the annexation of camber to the ski feels like more of a positive than a negative. Camber, along with a revised turning radius, combines for increased edge grip, carving performance, and overall energy. Unfortunately, we were unable to take the Nocta out on any fresh snow days. But we certainly put the new camber shape to the test on-trail and were beyond impressed by its composure, torsional stiffness, and responsiveness. The 2024 Black Crows Nocta is truly a big-mountain weapon that is unlike any other ski on the market.

With the changes made to the overall shape of the 2024 Nocta, there are also changes made to the construction. The changes include less paulownia and more poplar incorporated into the core. The new core results in one that is higher in density that supports the on-trail, carving oriented, changes made to the ski. Two fiberglass laminates carry over into the new Nocta, which functions to increase dampness and torsional stiffness throughout the length of the ski, boosting stability both on-trail as well as off. All the while, the Nocta remains relatively light, coming in at around 4050 grams for the pair of 185.5cm.

At a Glance:

2024 Black Crows Nocta

177.6, 185.5, 190.6 cm19 m @ 185.5 cm145 / 122 / 136 mm2,025 g @ 185.5 cm$1,049.95

In contrast to the previous build, the new Nocta has a revised flex pattern. Previously having a somewhat symmetrical flex pattern from tip to tail, the new build features one that is more asymmetrical. The softer tips carry over, but it stiffens up from forebody through to just before the tails. This was quite interesting to us since it is a type of flex pattern that is normally seen in a lot of all-mountain directional skis. But when considering the shape changes and terrain the skis are designed for, it makes perfect sense. The flexible and light tip for maneuverability and precision pairs well with a robust latter 2/3 for stability and high-speed performance. Having a stiffer aft section to a powder ski is very practical as they can be pushed harder and taken into more intense terrain with larger drops and higher speeds. Many other powder skis of this width are soft and have an even flex pattern from tip to tail. This allows them to be extremely playful, maneuverable, and smeary. The Nocta strikes an amazing balance between that sort of playfulness with a big-mountain attitude.

You may be wondering why a powder ski was given more carving performance, and that’s a completely valid question. Not only does it increase versatility and intuitiveness, but also supplies fun when not in powder. Fat powder skis with a full rocker profile can be difficult to control on-trail and can be somewhat cumbersome. The addition of camber to the Nocta provides carving capabilities when connecting powder stash to powder stash within the resort as well as energy while in those stashes. In more big-mountain scenarios, you never know what kinds of conditions you will encounter, and having camber underfoot is almost always advantageous. For example, when descending a large face, you will likely come across patches of wind-blown firm snow that fully-rockered skis will have trouble gripping on to. Now, with the 2024 Nocta having camber underfoot, you can have more control when navigating treacherous terrain.

Moving on from profile to sidecut, the Nocta has a maximum forebody width of 145mm, waist width of 122mm, and a max tail width of 135mm. The sidecut generates a 19-meter turn radius, which is somewhat short relative to other skis of similar dimensions. In comparison, the 2023 K2 Reckoner 122 has an almost identical sidecut of 144mm/122mm/136mm with a turn radius of 23.7 meters. The 19-meter turn radius of the Nocta highlights its on-trail capabilities. 145mm in the forebody provides maximum floatation for endless powder and keeps your tips up over the top of the snow for added agility.

Typically, when we get ourselves on a powder ski in an on-piste format, we don’t expect much as that is not what those skis are designed for. But with the Nocta, we expected a little bit more as there was an intention for an increase in trail performance. Our expectations were met and then some! The amount of edge grip, torsional stiffness, and energy we experienced translated into a smooth ride that had us giggling. We enjoyed the balance between playfulness and precision—the smeary yet direct manner with which it conducts itself on-trail.

The stiffer tail generates excellent acceleration and release at the end of the turns propelling you forward and making initiation into the next turn seamless and intuitive. For a powder ski, this type of performance is uncommon, which really contributes to its overall versatility. With a 122mm waist, it does take a bit longer to go from edge to edge but even so, they felt quicker than they should have been. They certainly would not be great for a full day of firm snow but would be much better than most other skis in this category.

Unfortunately, we were unable to take the 2024 Nocta into the snow conditions and terrain they are designed for. But we did get a great sense for how they would perform in that setting. Even with the addition of camber, the Nocta is able to swivel and smear on-trail with ease, translating to agility and quickness while in deep snow. The relatively low swing-weight and progressive mount point assists with this as well as some freeride maneuvers like jumps, spins, and butters. Even given the weight, they feel light and agile overall. The recommended mounting point is –6cm from true center, which makes for a nice balance between freeride prowess and directional capabilities.

Just as the ski’s motto says: “Unsinkable according to European standards” there is no lack of floatation. Added poplar to the core makes the Nocta extremely energetic which helps to keep you on top of deep snow without any feeling of nosediving. Overall stability was a standout for us as we never felt like we could reach the performance ceiling. You can push it extremely hard without it giving you any trouble, which you cannot say for a lot of skis in this genre. We feel as though the Nocta is capable of tackling the biggest mountains and the deepest snow in the world but may not be well suited for applications such as the freeride world tour as they are not necessarily designed for that. Something like the Anima would be better suited as it is designed for higher speeds and bigger impacts. That’s not to say that the Nocta is a cruiser by any means, but that is certainly where it would perform better.

When testing and writing this review, the one word to describe this ski for me was “refined.” Refined in its updates. Refined in its philosophy. Refined in its details. There was obviously a lot of thought put into this new adaptation and it shows. The versatility of the Nocta has surely increased with the addition of camber—making it more intuitive on-trail and supplying energy when tracking through deep snow. The details truly make the ski stand out amongst the rest, like the tips and tails having an interesting shape and recessed topsheet which resembles the Black Crows logo. The beautiful orange chevron color scheme is thoughtful as they will be easy to spot if they pop off in deep snow. Intended for those magical days where you feel weightless and truly unbound, the Nocta will have you soaring through the snow in effortless fashion. Happy powder hunting!