Best Skis Reviewed For Performance
Winter is only a season of dread and boredom for those who don’t know how to take advantage of the season. For the skiers, the snowboarders, the bobsleders, and the ice skaters, cold air and fresh snow are something to be anticipated every year. If you struggle with the winter blues, it may be a good idea to get out of the house and onto the ice or the mountains.
Skiing is one of the best wintertime activities. Not only can you experience the thrill of feeling the wind in your face, but you might also the discover an entire community passionate about the same things as you. For those who are intermediate or advanced skiers, there is still always something you can improve or experiment. Overall, skiing is an exciting and diverse sport where there is always something new to learn.
- Lucky Bums Kids Beginner
- Völkl Mantra
- Salomon Snowscape 9 Skin
When it comes to equipment, it’s no question that your skis play a huge part in your performance. Finding the right pair of skis for a reasonable price can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner or are shopping for a different type of ski than what you usually use. However, things can get much easier once you narrow your choices down based on the features they each offer. Our list features skis that are suitable for all different skill levels and types of terrain. What they have in common, however, is that they have all received amazing feedback and reviews from skilled skiers. Offering a wide range of features that will keep you comfortable, protected, and on your best performance, these 10 skis are guaranteed to enhance your skiing experience!
10 Best Skis Reviewed and Rated
1. Lucky Bums Kid's Beginner
Unlike other skis, ski boots are not necessary when it comes to using these skis. They can be strapped over any kind of boots or shoes, which ensures you can spend more time in the snow and less in the store looking for ski boots.
Also unlike most skis, these come with bindings attached. They allow heel rise which makes it easier to walk around in them and move with ease, which is crucial for all beginners.
Cost and Value
Don't worry if your child outgrows these too quickly; an extremely affordable price renders them a great bargain.
- Attached bindings
- Durable plastic
- Good traction
- Can be quickly outgrown
2. Völkl Mantra
With its full rocker, these skis have a smooth bend from tip to tail. Combined with its matching sidecut, they offer uninterrupted edge contact that guarantees smooth and stable movement.
The core is composed of two different types of wood of different densities. The denser wood creates improved screw retention while the softer wood allows for resilience and snap.
Cost and Value
These skis sit around the middle of our price range compared to the others on our list. Their high quality renders them a good pick.
- Full rocker
- Good float
- Full sidewall
- Symmetrical flex pattern
3. Line Sick Day 95
Sliding short radius turns are no problems with these skis. Its sidecut allows you to slide smoothly and maintain your balance in swift turns.
Though these are best for all mountain skiing, they can perform equally well on groomed runs. Their stability is maintained even at a high speed.
Cost and Value
Though these sit toward the high end of our price range, you still won't have to pay as much for these as for some other high-quality skis. We think they're definitely worth the price!
- Camber profile
- Short radius turns
- Soft tip provides float
- A bit pricey
- Not suitable for inconsistent terrain
4. Faction Prodigy 2.0
The topsheet is wrapped down over the edge of the skis, minimizing the risk for chips and cracks when skiing on tricky terrain or scraping against rocks or other objects.
A wooden core of beech and poplar renders these skis responsive. They guarantee that you can move around quickly and with ease.
Cost and Value
If you're a beginner, these skis may not be for you. They're one of the most expensive skis on our list, but their high quality and durability ensure maximum performance that's great for advanced skiers.
- Beech and poplar core
- Available for both men and women
- Not ideal for beginner skiers
5. Kastle FX 85 HP
The HP in its name indicates that the ski has two sheets of titanal metal laminates, which provides excellent stability, stiffness, and vibration damping.
These skis provide excellent edge hold. They are guaranteed to hold a turn.
Cost and Value
The Kastle FX 85 HP is reasonably priced but are slightly more expensive than some of the other skis on our list. However, its versatility renders them suitable for different terrains and will allow you to experiment.
- Great carving
- Good edge hold
- Easy to maneuver
- On the heavier side
6. Atomic Vantage 100 CTI
Featuring a rigid layer of mesh that adds strength to the ski while also keeping it light. As a result, these skis are strong on a variety of types of snow.
An extra full sidewall on this model guarantees power transmission and offers edge hold on hard packed snow. This will maximize your strength and ensures you perform your best.
Cost and Value
You may not have to pay as much for these skis as you might for others, but don't mistaken that for lower quality. In fact, these are an amazing bargain for all the features they have to offer.
- Full sidewall
- Great on all different types of snow
- Easy to maneuver
- Not very damp
7. Elan Ripstick 106
As mentioned, these skis have camber on the inside edges and rocker on the outsides. By weighing down the inside edge, this provides easier pivoting that will guarantee smoother turn transitions.
The wood core for this model is composed of two hollow Carbon tubes that run along the length of the ski. Not only do they keep the weight light, but also provide torsional stability and responsiveness.
Cost and Value
Cost wise, the Elan Ripstick 106 rests in the middle of our list. The features they offer ensure maximum performance, which renders them an amazing bargain.
- Good on all types of snow
- Unique rocker profile
- Sidewalls provide direct power transmission
- Short ski
8. Salomon Snowscape 9 Skin
Unlike most traditional skis, this model is slightly shorter and sportier. This renders them easy to maneuver and control as well as increases stability.
With a new skin technology, you won't have to worry too much about waxing these skis. The technology used on these skis use an integrated strip of skin underfoot that eliminates the need for grip wax.
Cost and Value
Despite their great features and all the good things that have been said about them, these are some of the cheapest skis you'll ever find. They are versatile, convenient, maneuverable - and truly a hidden gem.
- No need to wax
- Good grip
- Provides stability
- Slightly heavy
9. K2 Superburnin 74
This model features a well-named Speed Rocker design, ensuring that you can turn, maneuver, and stop swiftly and with ease. They are perfect for those who love to feel the wind on their faces.
Made with three different kinds of wood, the core of these skis keeps them lightweight while also maintaining their sturdiness. In addition, its metal laminate and fiberglass keeps them durable and provides excellent edging responsiveness.
Cost and Value
You might like to think these over a bit before you buy them, but you won't regret it when you do. These skis are nimble, sturdy, and durable, rendering them a great purchase that would last you for years.
- Great for speed
- Excellent responsiveness
- Good for all mountain skiing
- Women's model only
10. Nordica Enforcer 93
These skis might have minimal tail rocker, but are still excellent when turning. They allow you to release your edges with ease and make pivoting turns, in addition to offering more floatation and maneuverability in soft snow.
These skis feature a full ash and polar wood core with two sheets of metal over their edges, providing excellent power transmission and torsional ability. They also enhance edge grip and makes turn initiation easier than ever.
Cost and Value
The biggest con of these skis is their price, which falls on the highest end of our price range. It might take a little thinking over if you're looking to buy these skis. However, their high price guarantees high quality and is sure to bring you satisfaction.
- Great edge hold
- Slight rocker profile
- Provides excellent velocity
There are many types of skis out there suitable for different skill levels, terrains, and type of skiing. Being faced with so many choices can definitely be overwhelming. However, if you just keep in mind what features you prioritize, you can narrow down your options and make the decision process much easier. It’s also no problem if you’re a beginner and are unsure of what skis are best for you. We have a full criteria below that can help to guide you in the right direction. So get out there, get shopping, and find your perfect pair of skis for the coming winter season.
Criteria for Evaluating The Best Skis
Before even heading for the store, it’s incredibly important to ask yourself what your conditions are – in other words, where you ski, how you ski, and how often your ski. This will allow you to choose a pair of skis that best suit your conditions, your terrain, and your type of skiing. Not only does knowing this beforehand save you time and energy when shopping for skis by narrowing down your options, it will ensure that you pick something that will maximize your performance.
It’s also important not to rely on others’ reviews or opinions on a certain brand or mode of skis. Although taking a look at others’ experiences with the product can help you get a rough idea of their quality and their features, their experiences can be biased in relation to conditions such as their skiing techniques. Because of this, what works for others may not work for you, and vice versa.
All skis are divided into different families based on their shape and what they’re suitable for. There are two main groups, the first of which is a carving ski. Carving skis allow for tight turns and are meant for skiing on groomed terrain or hard pack snow. Most of the time, they are more narrow in the middle and have a wider ti and tail. Combined with a shorter length, these skis would be ideal for beginners as they are easy to control. However, they are not suitable for soft powder snow.
Second are all-mountain skis. The predominant feature of these skis is their versatility, as they are designed for a variety of different terrains and snow conditions ranging from groomed to powder. In fact, they’re named ‘all mountain’ because their design allows you to use them anywhere on a mountain without having to be picky about the conditions. In contrast with carving skis, these have slightly wider waists. They also provide excellent maneuverability in all kinds of terrain, which renders them so popular amongst beginner and intermediate skiers alike. On the downside, however, they may not be ideal for advanced skiers looking to improve their performance on a specific type of terrain.
As the traditional profile for skis and snowboards alike, Camber features a slight upward curve in the middle of the ski with the tip and the tail area in contact with the snow, creating an arc shape when looked at from the side. This design focuses the skier’s weight on the edge and provides more edge hold, which will allow the skier to carve turn and enhance edge engagement. It also gives the skier more precision and power, rendering them great for high speed, and is ideal on harder snow or groomed terrain.
This profile is also called a reverse-camber – because it’s just that. Instead of an upward curve, this design features a downward curve in the middle of the ski or snowboard. Skis with rocker provide great floatation on soft snow, which renders them great for skiing on powder. They’re also easy to maneuver and are less likely to catch an edge. On the downside, however, they won’t allow you to go as fast as with camber and provides less edgehold.
A ski that has a flat base will lie perfectly even on the snow. This is not very common, and most skis with a flat base will also have a rocker at the tip. This improves floatation, turn initiation, and improves balance. A flat base underfoot also means more maneuverability than camber, and more edgehold than rocker.
Picking the right ski size is no easy task. There are no formulas or magic tricks that will tell you the exact measurements perfect for you, as different factors such as terrain, snow type, and personal preferences all play a part in your decision. However, height and weight are used as reference and can give you an idea of what to look for. Generally, you want to find a ski that, when upright, comes up somewhere between your chin and the top of your head.
A shorter ski is ideal for beginners. These are easier to turn and to maneuver, but provide less stability. In terms of turning, these will allow you to make short, quick turns but won’t go very fast, thus rendering them ideal for skiing at a shorter length. As well, if you weigh less than average for your height or prefer a camber profile, a shorter ski might be for you.
On the other hand, skis that are longer are excellent for speed. They won’t allow you to turn as quickly, but will give you great stability that is perfect for all mountain skiing. They tend to be harder to maneuver and control for beginner and intermediate skiers, but could be suitable for more advanced skiers. In addition, if you weigh more than average for your height and prefer rocker, it may be better to opt for the longer skis.
As a general rule, stiffer skis are more responsive. This renders them easier to control at high speeds as well as provides better edge hold in hard packed snow. However, they are also much less forgiving and are prone to mistakes, since they will respond to very small inputs that may be accidental. This is especially likely for beginner skiers who are not yet familiar with skiing. It’s also harder to release an edge hold with stiff skis, which makes it harder to recover from a mistake.
If you’re a beginner or are planning to ski on inconsistent terrain, it is much better to opt for a softer, more flexible ski. These are less responsive and are also suitable for tricks. Overall, it’s crucial to consider stiffness in relation to your skill level so that you can pick a pair of skis that can serve you best.
Although the edges of a ski may seem insignificant, they can actually affect your performance by a landslide. The radius of the side cut will determine your ability to turn and pivot: the smaller the sidecut radius, the tighter their turns will be. Similarly, a larger sidecut radius will make larger turns. However, don’t assume that the radius size signifies the actual radius of your turns – it’s more like the maximum radius the turn could be.
Recently, a new technology has been used in skis where the radius of their sidecut changes along the length of the ski. This provides skiers with one turn radius when leaning their weight forward, and another when leaning back.
Another factor is the sharpness of the edges. Those that are smoother and sharper provides more edge control as they cut more easily into the snow, resulting in better edge control. Ideally, a good pair of skis comes with sharp edges, but these will likely wear out and become dull through time. You can check their sharpness by simply dragging a fingernail across the edges. If the edge is able to scrape a bit off of your fingernail, that’s a good sign. However, if they’re too dull, don’t assume your skis are ruined and immediately rush to the store. You can sharpen the edges yourself. We explain this in more detail in the FAQ below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do you sharpen the side edge of my skis?
As we mentioned, keeping the edges of your ski sharp provides better edgehold and will help you carve turns. You can always take your skis to a professional to sharpen, but doing them yourself is also an option. You’ll need two ski vices, a gummy stone, a diamond stone, a side edge guide, and an optional marker pen.
The first step is to take off the ski brakes and make sure that the skis are clean. Next, use a vice to hold the ski in place as you run the gummy stone along the side edge. You might want to draw along the side edge to make sure you don’t miss any, before using your side edge guide to run your diamond file along the edge. Use long and steady strokes. You will know when the edges are sharpened evenly when all the marker signs are removed. Remove the overhang over the base edge by rubbing your gummy stone, then de-edge the tip and tail in the same way. Repeat the process on the other side edge.
Q: Should I rent or buy?
If you’re a beginner, the answer is a definite YES. Although there are great skis out there that are designed for beginners thanks to their versatility and maneuverability, it’s always a good idea to get a feel of different types of skis before purchasing your own. Renting will allow you to explore skis of different types and with different profiles. Through time, you will find what you like best and be able to buy a pair of skis that you know will serve you well.
If you’re intermediate and advanced , and go skiing often, it would be a better to buy your own skis. This will save you money in the long run. However, if you’re looking to try some of the newer skis with the latest technology and styles, it’s also a good idea to rent.
Q: What are skis made of?
Different manufacturers will use slightly different materials and methods when making their skis. However, the vast majority of skis follow a single basic construction. This includes a wood core at its center that is sandwiched between composite layers, and is attached to the sidewalls on either side. This core is usually made from laminated strips of woods like polar, beech, ash, fir, or even bamboo. Sometimes, different types of woods will be laminated together, or manufacturers might choose not to use wood at all and instead replace it with fibreglass, titanium, carbon, or foam. The composite layers are most commonly made with fibreglass. On the very top is the top sheet, which has graphics and also serves as protection for the ski, and on the bottom are the edge and the base.
Q: Do I need to wax my skis? How do I do it?
Technically, you don’t have to, but doing so can boost your performance by a landslide. Although many people overlook the importance of waxing, waxing regularly will allow you to go faster and turn smoothly. In addition, they can protect your bases from abrasion. It would be ideal to wax your skis every couple days of riding, but don’t worry if you forget. It might just mean travelling a bit slower.
When using different methods, different types of wax is required. Some types include paste wax, grip wax, and glide wax, and what you need will depend on the type of ski that you own. When waxing, the first step is to clean the base of the ski. Then clamp the board securely on a flat surface and use a hot iron to apply the wax onto the base, being careful not to burn yourself and to keep the iron moving. This melts the wax onto the board. After applying the wax, wait for roughly half and hour to allow it to cool completely.Keep in mind not to rush to take these out into the snow right away – if you scrape them before the wax is fully set, you risk damaging the base of your skis.