Shopping for the best skis can be tough considering how many models are available in the market today. On top of that, we also must keep in mind a few other factors so your pair of skis can fit not only your height and feet, but your preferences, riding style, as well as eye to aesthetics. Today we wanted to compile a list of our favorite skis out there that many consider the “best”, but first let’s get started on what exactly to keep in mind while you compare and contrast the best skis for you.
How to pick the best skis
- Your budget – Just like in our skis for women guide and really any time you’re shopping for gear, this will always be our number one factor for buying snow gear, and in today’s case, choosing ski’s will show they aren’t necessarily cheap. There is however a pretty big range out there (we made sure to grab the best skis from each price-point to give you options), so before we get into the other specifics, the amount of money you have saved up (not only as you read this, but perhaps after you’ve chosen your pair and need to save) will deter you in a particular direction. We recommend being patient if you can if a particular pair seems perfect for you and you don’t have as much money as you need just yet. Save!
- Ski Length – Before we pick your pair of skis, you’ll need to learn how to start sizing. If you’re already aware of how to do so, be our guests and continue reading. However, if you’re just starting out or merely need some refreshing, let’s see how to do it. Ultimately, it’s quite easy to pick your ski length. See our image to the right to get a measurement guide, and listed below are some tips and tricks for sizing depending on who you are.
- If you’re just starting out, fit skis that are shorter and closer to your chin.
- If you weigh less than others who are “average” in your height range, fitting smaller helps.
- If you weigh more than others who “average” in your height range, fit longer.
- Other reasons to fit shorter: short and quick turners as well as camber skiers.
- Other reasons to fit longer: aggressive and fast skiers, as well as rocker skiers.
- Rocker Type: The main debate will usually be between rocker vs. camber. This “ski profile” terminology relates to how the ski is actually built. Let’s see what the main differences are below:
- Camber: These are the most traditional profile for not only skis but snowboards as well. A “camber” profile means it has a slight upward curve in the middle. There are then contact points where the skis actually touch the snow on the ends. This particular profile entails more detailed turning but gives you amazing precision on both groomed terrain and snow that’s harder. The advantage to this particular design is the balanced pressure on both ends of your ski.
- Rocker: This design is essentially a camber but reversed! The design gives you upward curves on the ends instead of the middle, giving you some more pressure at the middle of the ski for some great float in softer snow as well as some increased ease when it comes to turning (you won’t be as likely to “catch” an edge, either). Many prefer this design for maneuverability.
- Terrain Choice? For those with some experience and knowledge on what “ski terrain” will entail, let’s review the few common snow textures and mountain environment. You’ll also start seeing some skis being labeled as some of these terms since it’s a way to categorize the style of the pair as well as what type of environment they’re best suited for. For many, an “all-mountain” ski is best and highly recommend by us because these particular skis can handle all and any type of snow and mountain type you’ll come across. Others however will know a little more when it comes to their foreseeable use and will want to be more specific.
- All-Mountain: As stated previously, these skis can handle anything you face. We’re talking regular powder, heavy snow, ice, groomers, etc. Since they’re super versatile and span across multiple terrains, they aren’t exactly a “specific” ski which some may be after. For those of you who want more “specifics”, continue reading. Otherwise, if you’re going for a leisurely ski trip or aren’t too sure of what you’ll be facing yet (or do know and see yourself facing a different types of terrains here and there) and want to play it safe and make sure you have yourself covered in all areas, stop now and look for an all-mountain ski.
- Big-Mountain: For those who are extremely fast and like to launch off of anything they can find, let’s get some of these going. They’re typically a bit heavier and rather stiff as compared to others.
- Powder: For those foreseeing themselves in a softer, larger amount of snow (perhaps which resort you go to or on backcountry trips), these are for you. They’re a bit wider than others and typically include a rocker design or early rise so you can stay on top of that powder easily instead of sinking in.
- Carving: Any turners out there or merely a skier with the need for narrow and short wheels to edge quick and efficiently? Those who “carve” do just exactly that, and need skis that will give them the versatility to do so.
- Park and Pipe: Last but not least, park and pipe skis are for those who see themselves spending time on pipes or on the numerous vert terrain do land tricks and have fun with their skiing as opposed to merely romping down a hill. Park and pipe skis give us full camber profiles with some narrow waists for freedom and durability.
The best skis
Nordica Enforcer 93
An award-winning option that is designed for all-mountain use, the Enforcer 93 is considered one of the best pairs of skis available to those who are seeking the thrill of black diamond slopes. Maneuvering the direction of the skis in soft-snow requires little effort due to the rocker that is created by the upward arch of the tip of the skis, known as a “Hammerhead Nose.” This type of design reduces instability and allows for more contact with the snow when moving on the edge of the skis. In addition, the sidewall is made of ABS, a denser material that gives a better grip on the edges of the skis and has a strong durability for those who are looking to be adventurous and catch some “air”. A well-priced option for those who are looking for a design that allows for all-mountain use, the Nordica Enforcer 93 graces the top of this list as one of our favorite picks as the best skis. It was also first in Powder’s ski picks for 2017.
Salomon QST 106
Salomon is another brand that is well-known in the world of winter sports, and the QST 106 skis only build upon that reputation. The stiffer design is intended for those skiers who have a more advanced ability on the slopes and are looking for a higher level of control. These skis work well in all types of terrain and snow conditions, but particularly in the difficult conditions such as deeper snow. The tip and tail of the skis come with a ‘Hook Free Taper’, designed with the intention of keeping the skier in an upright position without the fear of their skis getting stuck in the snow. The insert within the tip and tail also pulls weight away from any outside obstacles, making the skis easy to maneuver and add speed on the slope. A reasonable priced that is highly rated, the Salomon QST 106 is another one of the best pairs of skis to keep in mind.
Rossignol Experience 88 HD
If you’re the skier who is looking to live life in the fast lane while still maintaining control, then the Rossignol Experience 88 HD is another one of the best skis worth the investment. Utilizing a longer tip and an ‘AutoTurn Rocker‘ lets the user be precise in their turns while maintaining speed in all different types of snow conditions. The camber located on the bottom of the skis help make this design an all-mountain ski, with the ability to keep a strong grip on all types of terrains they may encounter. In addition, the Experience 88 HD has a laminate of Carbon Alloy, making it a lightweight ski that is both durable and shock absorbent on tougher landings, and stable in its design. However, the thing that differentiates this ski from others is air filled tip that helps to distribute the weight towards the center of the board, allowing the front and back to be lighter and easier to control, making the Rossignol Experience 88 HD a top pick by many.
One of the lower priced options on our list, the Dynafit Meteorite is the best multifaceted and lightweight skis (each weighing a little over four pounds) that are designed to get you through your long days of skiing on any and all types of slopes. Designed for backcountry terrain skiing, the Meteorite is made out of ash and poplar, a combination which allow these skis to be able to remove outside vibrations to create stability in any area you are touring. The tip and the tail are both slightly raised and rockered, which makes it easy to maneuver and turn without straining effort. The tip also features a semi-cap design, which helps the skis distribute weight evenly and holds up well on downhill slopes where speed is key. In addition, response to movements and turns are made with ease due to the full sidewall combined with the more traditional technique of the camber underfoot. Ranging in multiple colors, the Dynafit Meteorite are the best skis for those looking for a sportive event.
Returning to another option for all mountain terrain is the Kastle MX 89, intended for assertive skiers who are looking for speed over sight seeing. Featuring an ABS sidewall and a traditional camber, the MX89 has the ability to take wide turns at faster speeds while maintaining control. Built as a stiffer board, the layers of silver fir wood and titanal (known as a “sandwich” construction) help to propel energy to the outer edges of the skis, creating more stability while also maintaining its durable design. Still created with a lightweight feel, external vibrations and shock are minimized by its Hollowtech feature, an ideal addition when edging through the snow. Able to handle variations of piste (compacted snow), these Austria-made skis are regarded as one of the best pairs of frontside skis. Higher on the price range then others featured on this list, the Kastle MX89 is a high quality item for the price if your budget allows.
Faction Candide 2.0
A highly rated, all mountain ski designed for intermediate to advanced athletes, the Candide 2.0 by Faction are the best skis for all groomed terrain. Regarded as being durable, stable, and lightweight, the Candide 2.0 employs a core made of poplar and ash, which gives the board enough stiffness that makes it easily responsive while also maintaining some flexibility. With a rockered tip and tail combined with a traditional camber, these skis are perfect for shorter radius turns. Also utilizing a sandwich construction, the combination of laminate and a rubber base provides for strong shock absorption with little vibrations when moving downhill, and maintains strong edging with the assistance of 1.8 mm steel. If choosing to use these skis in a more adventurous way, such as rails or pipes, the fiberglass and carbon laminates help to increase core strength to provide a solid base. Priced on the lower end of the list, the Faction Candide 2.0 skis are a bang for your buck with their high quality design.
LINE Tom Wallisch Pro
The best skis should not only look great but feel the way you need to. We feel this pair has such, as well as a few extra features on top of it. A scratch resistant pair of skis that comes in a variety of colors, the LINE Tom Wallisch Pro is for the thrill seekers who are looking to imitate the professionals both in stunts and in gear. With a design created by a professional skier, this board combines the durability needed for harder landings with the smooth consistency associated with an easy ride. Utilizing an Early Rise and an Early Taper takes away the worry of hooking your skis into the snow while also reducing any dragging that would slow the ride. The cap and the sidewall work in conjunction to create a feeling of solidity while also giving the user an immediate response in movement. The sidewall and the tips are both constructed of a lightweight material, while the radius to turn is unlimited due to the five different sidecut shapes. A high-quality design at a relatively stable price, the LINE Tom Wallisch Pro are the best skis for those looking to be like the pros.
Elan Ripstick 106
Well-reviewed and highly publicized, the Ripstick 106 are the best pair of skis with a unique approach in the design. Similar to other skis that have been reviewed, the Ripstick 106 contains a rocker and camber for smooth transitions and an ease in turning. However, what makes these skis original is the placement of the rockers on the outer edge and the camber on the inner edge, intended to make it easier to pivot and turn due to the weight being distributed towards the inside of the skis. In addition, while these skis also use laminate to decrease vibration and include a lighter design, they also feature fiberglass in areas surrounding the core of the skis to enhance flexibility of range and stiffness of the skis. With a medium length turning radius needed for bigger mountain slopes, the Elan Ripstick 106 are the best skis for those who prefer the black diamond side of the slopes.
Armada JJ 2.0
Adding some variety to this list, the Armada JJ 2.0 are designed as the best pair of skis for a powder terrain of harder snow, making it necessary to stay above the fray. That being said, these skis allow for a feeling of flotation on the snow due to the combination of the rocker and camber. The positive camber and tipped rockers allow for more contact between the skis and the snow, creating more stability and feeling of control. Maneuvering is also made easier because of the Ultra-Light Core and laminate, which generates enough stiffness in the board for harder turns while still maintaining a flexible pattern. With a medium base for a turning radius, and a design intended for skiers ranging from intermediate to advanced, the Armada JJ 2.0 are the best skis for a freestyle ride.
Fischer Pro Mtn 95 Ti
Last but not least, the final product on our list are the Fischer Pro Mtn 95 Ti skis, designed for all-mountain freestyle with the highest range of movement. With a rocker designed specifically for all-mountain slopes, the tips feature an early rise that allows for high-speed slopes without fear of losing control or movement. The tip and tail also contain 12K carbon, which helps to decrease the weight for a lighter feel while upholding the stability needed for all terrains. Titanal metal is included in the binding, which assists in an even distribution of weight for a steady feeling, while the sidewalls are flattened to help edge through powder and increase speed. Meant for trained skiers who intend to use it on compacted snow, the Fischer Pro Mtn 95 Ti seeks to be a perfect fit for all styles of skiing, making them the best skis to help conclude this review.