"One-ski quiver" is perhaps the most clichéd phrase in modern ski journalism (or maybe it's "stoke;" either way, I'm guilty of both). Every time I read it, I think, "quiver? Who the hell has the money to buy a whole quiver of skis, anyway?" Then, after a brief moment of contemplation, "I wonder if Robin Hood can shoot skis into a tree, so they keep splitting each other apart?" But I digress. The point is that, save for sponsored athletes who get freebies and folks blessed with big, snowy mountains in their backyard, one set of skis is all many of us will ever really need or be able to afford.
If you still want to keep your terrain options open, though—allowing for both frontside resort runs and sidecountry stash—you'll want the most versatile skis possible. Enter all-mountain skis, the ultimate do-everything sticks. They float over powder, carve groomers, play well in parks and, if you're lucky, bust through other crud. But all-mountain skis are not all created equal.
In order to make our top picks, we've surveyed the work of nearly a dozen online and print ski publications who, together, employed dozens of testers to put literally hundreds of skis through their paces in every condition imaginable. We cross-referenced until we were cross-eyed and reasonably certain we'd gotten a comprehensive, bird's-eye view of what works and what doesn't. These choices represent the best of the best. Click on each set of skis for a more detailed review.*
*Ratings (Carving, Float, Overall) for each ski are on a 0 to 5 basis, and each represents an average of ratings published by SKI, Freeskier, Skiing, OnTheSnow and Outside.