Hoping for an alpine ski adventure where you can take on big powder days in the backcountry? Or just a comfortable day at the resort? Either way, this 2019 guide to the best alpine skis can help you find your match.
Skiing is a sport that is unlike any other. Being out there on the frozen slopes will get your adrenaline skyrocketed in no time at all. There are some aspects of this that are vital, though, such as the skiis you choose. These will be the determining factor of your entire experience out on the slopes.
Selecting the right ski’s is important chor to consider. If you choose skis that will not meet your skill and expertise level, then you will likely run the risk of not having a good time on the slopes. However, if you choose ski slopes that are too advanced for you, then you run the risk of injuring yourself.
This is why the element of choosing the right skis is imperative to the overall experience you will have. Thankfully, we are here to help guide you.
Your skis are the only part of your skiing equipment that goes on your body. It is important to make sure they are the best quality, the best fit, and the best build for your particular foot and style.
Reading through the options can help you learn what to look for in a ski and gauge what is appropriate for your goals. Whether you’re a hard-charging expert or a new skier, the right pair of skis can make or break your day out.
In today’s article, our aim is to help you narrow down your vision so that you can weed out all the mediocre options in order to help you settle on one of the best pairs of skis this season. Let’s get started.
1. What Are Alpine Skis?
Alpine skis are made for downhill and typically have fixed bindings—the exception being telemark or touring skis. In contrast, a Nordic ski is designed for cross-country. It will be narrower, longer, and have a free heel.
2. What Does an Alpine Ski Do?
That depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want a wide, rockered ski that will float through deep powder? A narrow, camber ski that will carve down, groomed resort slopes? The right ski needs to be suited to the conditions, so pick carefully and consider where and when you’ll be skiing.
3. How Do Skis Work?
Typically, steel edges cut into the slope and give you security when you turn. A rockered profile will float more easily on powder, while a camber ski will give you secure turns on groomers. Light is always better—there’s no reason to be carrying around extra poundage. That said, some skis sacrifice stiffness when they cut weight. A stiff ski will go fast and hard while a more flexible ski is suitable for beginners and intermediate skiers.
4. Where Can You Buy Them?
Backcountry.com and Amazon are two great sites for buying skis and scouting prices.
How We Reviewed
The following products were reviewed based on their features, pros and cons and price. We invested time and effort to create to research a variety of ski models and provide you, the reader, with an unbiased list.
Overall Price Range of This Product (and Similar Products)
Skis cost money, but it doesn't have to be a fortune. Depending on the model you want, plan on shelling out anywhere from $$-$$$. The higher-end models tend to be stiffer, more aggressive skis appropriate for experts only, while the lower end models tend to be more flexible.
What We Reviewed
- Sidecut: 142/118/129 mm at 185 cm length Turn Radius: 26 meters at 185 cm length
- Wood, Carbon, Flax, Koroyd, and metal core
- Twin Rocker Profile
This is an alpine ski for big powder days. Key features include a wide 118mm waist to provide float on deep powder days and an inverted 3D wood ore with single titanium laminate. Carbon and flax laminate absorb vibrations and enhance the dampening effect of this ski while a lightweight tail insert reduces weight and enhances floatation. It includes tip and tail rocker, with some camber to it.
- Stiff enough for hard-charging, big mountain lines
- A powder ski that still offers solid on-piste performance in a variety of conditions
- No floppy ski syndrome in chunky snow
- Not the quickest-turning ski around
- Too wide to be highly nimble
- The stiffness makes this ski too hard and fast for intermediate skiers
- Dimensions: 136-108-122mm @ 185cm
- Waist Width: 108mm @ 185cm
- Radius: 27m @ 185cm
The versatile Blizzard Cochise offers a 108mm waist that adapts to powder, crud, and conditions in between. A rockered profile increase float and sandwich compound sidewall construction lend stiffness to the ski while a wood core keeps the ski flexible and playful. Carbon Flip Core technology cuts the chatter that usually comes with a more rockered ski. The tip and tail have carbon fiber for lightness.
- A versatile, everyday ski
- Stable but nimble
- Makes easy turns
- Check CircleStiffness means speed
- This ski is a generalist, and as such is too heavy to be a true powder ski
- Its width slows you down in groom conditions
- A rougher ride in bad snow compared to previous iterations of the Cochise
This carbon alpine ski clocks in at 15 percent lighter than last year’s non-carbon Katana, while maintaining the same wide tip and tail, full rocker, and responsive flex. It features a full carbon jacket through the core of the ski. The ultralight construction makes this ski well-suited to big mountain touring rather than hard carving, and the carbon keeps it stiff. The 112mm waist is suitable for powder but not overly wide. Its center sidewalls make it durable.
- Ultralight, making it a good choice for the backcountry
- Thin edges hold on tight turns, even when the snow is old and chunky
- Floats easily on powder days
- Lightweight skis make for a less hard-charging experience
- One of the more expensive options
- Increased stiffness reduces pop and flex, making this ski a harder, faster experience—not a good option for beginners
Tip and tail rocker, relatively little camber, and a wide 118mm waist make this a good, floatable ski for fields of powder. A flexible balsa wood core integrated with flax fibers gives it more pop than any other flat-camber alpine ski. Fiberglass stiffens the ski for a ride without speed wobbles or chatter. Sandwich sidewall fabrication provides strength and edge control. It features steel edges and a tetanal plate underfoot for additional durability.
- Flexible balsa wood core makes for a playful ski with pop
- A wide waist supports powder skiing
- Steel edges and a reinforced riser plate make this product dependable and durable in the backcountry
- Flexible core slows this ski down
- Some skiers say that this type of flat camber ski feels “dead”
With a thin 90mm waist, this alpine ski offers good on-piste turning and edging. A rockered tip and underfoot camber keep things stable while maintaining flotation and easy turns. Extra-thick sidewall blocks reduce chatter on chunky or groomed snow. The ash wood core is reinforced with a titanium laminate, and Carbon Tank Mesh in the tail and tips increases torsional stiffness while maintaining lightness.
- Thick sidewall blocks make this a good resort ski
- The rockered profile makes turning easy
- Titanium laminate layer increases stiffness and power
- The thin waist does not do well in powder
- A short turn radius means this is not a hard charger
- Not suitable for advanced, aggressive skiers
- Sidecut: 132/98/123 mm at 180 cm length
- Turn Radius: 18 meters at 180 cm length
- Wood with carbon core
Designed for powder and big lines, the Armada Tracer offers a wide 118mm waist and rockered profile with camber underfoot. An Innegra Mesh insert in the ski core gives dampness and stability for a smooth ride. The sandwich core features light wood in the tip and tail and denser wood underfoot for a flex pattern that makes turning easier than it is on comparable powder skis.
- 118mm waist is well-suited to deep powder
- Rockered profile floats in deep snow
- I-Clip tail includes a notch for your skin clips for a better skin hold
- A wide waist and rockered profile means these are not suited to groomed slopes or hardpack
- Wide, stiff skis like these can be more fatiguing than slim, flexible ones
- The rockered profile is prone to vibrations while you ski
- HAMMER ROCKER: Comes armed with an early-rise tip and camber back to the tail for powerful edge grip and precise...
- VMT: Full-length vertical metal struts sandwiched between bamboo stringers create a damp and powerful ski without...
A fat 122mm waist makes this an alpine ski for big powder days. A rockered profile makes them float on powder, and the bamboo core is strong and flexible. Speedcore carbon increases stiffness without adding weight and fiberglass adds torsional rigidity.
- A stiff ski is a pro for expert skiers looking to bomb down big lines
- Wide waist thrives in deep powder
- Light, strong, eco-friendly bamboo coreCons
- Too stiff for beginners—this ski goes fast
- Not ideal for groomed on-piste conditions due to the rockered profile
- Too fast for dodging trees in the backcountry
With a mid-sized 105mm waist and a wider 134mm shovel, these skis are made for versatility. They feature a rockered tip and tail with camber underfoot for secure turns on hardpacked snow. The sandwich construction with full-length ABS sidewalls offers stability. This level of stability is what allows you to rip down the slope with ease. You will also find that you have ample control when you are steering. The Elliptical Radius sidecut combines a narrow turning radius in the tip and tail with a wide turning radius in this alpine ski’s midsection, another technique to add versatility and adaptability. The core is a light silver fir wood, and the edges have a layer of rubber over steel.
- Stiff, hard-charging ski will delight advanced skiers
- The mid-sized waist is versatile in powder or hard packed snow
- Enough camber for groomers
- This ski is a fast slope-bomber, not suitable for beginners
- 105mm waist doesn’t hold up in the deepest powder though the wide shovel provides some float
- At nearly $$$, this ski will cost you
- Sidecuts: Centered Sidecut
- Sidecuts Dimensions: 128 - 98 - 118
- Construction: Rectangular Sidewall
The slight pintail and gently tapered tip make this an aggressive powder ski, different from past iterations of Rossignol’s S7. A light paulownia wood core is supplemented with Carbon Alloy Matrix for stiffness and torsional stability. Standard tip and tail rocker combined with a camber underfoot makes for a versatile ski that handles on powder or hardpacked snow reasonably well. A honeycomb material incorporated into the tip reduces mass and mitigates tip chatter.
- 116mm waist is wide enough for deep powder
- Rocker mitigates the lack of maneuverability of this stiff ski
- Camber underfoot keeps this ski workable on groomers
- Less maneuverable than a more flexible ski would be
- With standard sandwich construction, rockered tip and tail and camber underfoot
- Air Tip 2.0 doesn’t fully reduce the chatter that comes with a ski this stiff
10.) K2 Catamaran Ski
A 120mm waist and rockered profile are adapted to powder. Woven fiber stringers in the forebody and tail increase pop and airtime. The Double Barrel wood core is denser at the edges for consistent grip and less dense in the center for reduced swing weight. The unusual asymmetrical design features a taper on the outside edge with a longer inside edge for stability and floatation in powder and control on hardpack.
- Wide waist and rocker are great on powder days
- Flexible and maneuverable, with a playful wood core
- Braided carbon laminates increase torsional stiffness
- Not slim enough for comfortable resort skiing—save these for deep backcountry powder
- Experts beware: this is not a fast or stiff ski
- Lack of camber makes skiing groomers a rough prospect
When it comes down to it, no one ski will be the best in every condition. That said, for beginners, the Atomic Vantage is hard to beat and thrives on groomers. The Kastle BMX 105 is an ideal versatile ski for a more advanced skier, but the price tag brings this alpine ski down to number two on the list of choices for experts. For a more advanced skier looking for something that thrives on powder days, the Volkl V-Werks Katana is the way to go.
We hope that our list of the best winter skis has allowed you to focus your attention on at least one great option that you can invest in. Not only that, but we hope that our guide has been helpful in allowing you to understand the way skis work, how they are designed, how they were meant to be used, and how you can make the best out of them.
Have you had any experience with any of the skis we have listed below? If so, be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comments section.