How to Choose the Right Skis for You

The most important factors to consider when shopping for skis


For most of us ski season is right around the corner and for a lucky few, it’s already started. The beginning of a new season means checking over your gear, admiring the new equipment that’s out and maybe even investing in some new skis. Whether you need a quick refresher or you’re buying for the first time, picking skis can be tricky. We’ve put together a guide to help.

Types of Skis
From freestyle to backcountry and all-mountain to big-mountain, there are a variety of ski designs best suited for specific conditions and activities. All mountain skis are made to be the most versatile, tackling all types of terrain, while big-mountain skis are typically for the experts looking to speed the steeps. Backcountry skis are lightweight, good for trekking to new terrain, carving skis are best for skiing the resort slopes and freestyle skis are great for the park and pipe. Powder skis, as the name implies are great for taking on massive amounts of the soft stuff.

Click here to see an expanded explanation of the six main types of skis

Skill Level
There are plenty of options for all levels, but it’s still important to pick equipment within your skill range. Skis more suitable for beginners will typically feature narrow waist widths and lighter cores for easier maneuvering. Skis that experts would want are usually made stiffer, with stronger cores, for reaching higher speeds and taking on more demanding conditions.

The right length or height of skis is a subject of debate, but most experts say that when the tail of the skis are placed on the ground, the tips should reach somewhere between your chin and the top of your head. Shorter skies are good for beginners because they are easier to control, while experts will opt for longer skis which are better for speed.

the width of skis are measured at three points, the tip, the waist and the tail, so you will often see dimensions listed in a series of three numbers. It might look like this: 136/106/130mm, with 136mm referring to the tip, 106mm referring to the waist and 130mm referring to the tail. The most notable measurement is the waist measurement. A narrow waist will make for quicker, easier turns, while wider waists are better for floating through powder.

Camber and Rocker

Camber and rocker refer to the profile of a ski, essentially how it’s shaped when you look at it from the side. Camber refers to the upward curve of the ski and rocker refers to the dip in the skis body. There are many different configurations out there and ski makers come up with their own configurations all the time. The most general way to explain camber and rocker is that camber usually holds a good edge on harder snow and is usually beginner friendly for that reason and rocker usually floats better on powder.

These general tips should point you in the right direction and give you basic knowledge for shopping around, but it’s always wise to consult a professional and, if possible, test the gear before you commit to owning it. Many people rent gear until they know what they’d like to buy, so keep in mind season-long rentals are another reasonably priced option. Whichever route you decide to take, there’s no wrong option as long as you’re out on the slopes enjoying the snow.


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