Best Skis Reviewed & Rated For Performance
Winter is only a season of dread and boredom for those who don't know how to take advantage of it. For the skiers, the snowboarders, the bobsledders, 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 into 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.
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 down your choices based on the features they offer. Our list showcases skis that are suitable for all different skill levels and types of terrain, but one thing they all have in common is that they have received amazing feedback and reviews from skilled skiers across the globe. Offering a wide range of features that will keep you comfortable, protected, and at peak performance, these ten skis are guaranteed to enhance your experience!
- Rossignol OT 65 NIS
- Rossignol EVO Glade 59 NIS
- Rossignol OT 65 IFP
- Nordica NRGY 90
- Völkl Mantra
- Faction Prodigy 2.0
- Nordic Rocks Kid’s XC Skis
- Line Sick Day 95
- Nordica Enforcer 93
- Whitewoods 75mm 3Pin
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Skis
1. Rossignol OT 65 NIS
- Easy to use
- Bindings included
- Waxless base
- Sturdy wood core
- 165 or 195 length
- Not back country skis
This is a great pair of cross-country skis that provide an excellent balance between kick and glide in whatever snow conditions you encounter cross-country. The OT 65 has a stable wood air core that makes the skis lightweight and easy to use as well.Read more
The waxless Positrack base on this Rossignol pair of skis is one less thing to worry about and maintain to ensure the performance of your skis. You get the maximum grip with the waxless base.
Many skis are sold without bindings which can be a blessing or a curse. For beginners, an easy to use ski that includes appropriate bindings for the skis is easy. For more experienced skiers, who want a customized experience, this may not be ideal.
Cost and Value
These skis are priced in the mid-range of skis on this list. They are a great value for the price given that bindings are included, they are easy to use and they feature a waxless base. They are sturdy and stable on the light-country snow.
2. Rossignol EVO Glade 59 NIS
- Built specifically for women
- Shorter & maneuverable
- Bindings included
- Wood air-channeled cores
- Waxless base
- Bindings need attachment
These cross-country skis are specifically designed to be maneuverable and easy to use, with built-in NNN compatible bindings and wood air-channeled cores. The skis are waxless and stone-finished for glide and durability. The skis will take you anywhere you want to go.Read more
The wood core, sandwiched construction of these skis makes them both very lightweight and durable for many seasons of cross-country winter fun. The stone-finished base also resists abrasion, making the skis last that much longer.
Short & Maneuverable
The skis come in a shorter than usual length which increases the maneuverability of the pair. They offer a lot of glide while also providing the control you need for rougher trails.
Cost and Value
These skis fall in the mid-range for skis on this list. They are a good value for a cross-country ski that will last and be agile on the trails. They are flexible enough for the rougher trails and they will also glide over the more straight-forward trails.
3. Rossignol OT 65 IFP
- Active cap construction
- Wood core with air channel
- Positrack waxless base
- Efficient width
- Partial metal edges
- Not for beginners
These skis are designed for getting into the fresh tracks in the backcountry. You get superior control in variable snow conditions and a ski that is narrow enough to travel in established tracks but wide enough to be stable when cutting your own tracks. Made for the experienced backcountry skier, this pair will not disappoint.Read more
The smooth flex and partial metal edges on the OT 65 IFP work together to provide you with great backcountry performance and a confident feel no matter where you are – cutting track across a frozen lake or kick-turning up steep slopes.
Made to take a beating
The skis are wood core with an air channel to keep them lighter. They have Rossignol’s active cap construction as well which means they are designed for more than gliding along a track – they will get you deep into the backcountry in no time.
Cost and Value
These skis are mid-range in terms of price. You are getting a solid backcountry ski that you can take exploring without worrying about their performance. Light and mid-width, these are also reasonably easy but designed for the experienced skier.
4. Nordica NRGY 90
- Excel in deep snow
- Rocker tip
- Camber under foot
- Titanial layer
- Not for beginners
- Binding sold separately
These skis can handle the frontside, hardpack, as well as the deep snow you find between the trees and on virgin mountainsides. The float is excellent in the ski and there is a camber under your feet for stability. You can get maximum power and speed from this set without the weight.Read more
Nordica has added a titanium layer to these skis that provide torsional stiffness to the skis for maximum power and stability at higher speeds. Despite the stiffness and length, these are also an incredibly lightweight set of skis.
The rocker tip in the front of the ski adds float to the skis and makes turn initiation very easy while the cambered body and tail on the pair add grip and stability for carving through snow at higher speeds.
Cost and Value
These skis are a high-quality performance pair of skis that are at the upper end of the price range. It is a case of you get what you pay for, however, and you will not be disappointed with the speed, power, and performance of the NRGY 90.
5. Völkl Mantra
Multi-layer Wood Core
Titanium Laminate Construction
Thrives in Different Types of Snow
Full Rocker Design
Not for Beginners
The Völkl Mantra has been around for years and has never failed to disappoint. With a fully rockered profile, these offer excellent float on soft snow ensures smooth turning. A pair of Titanal laminate layers keeps them smooth regardless of speed. Combined with a full sidewall and multi-layer wood core, these all-mountain skis are definitely worth the consideration.Read more
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.
6. Faction Prodigy 2.0
- Beech and poplar core
- Available for both men and women
- Not ideal for beginner skiers
Available in models both for men and women, these skis offer amazing features for all. These are comfortable on a variety of types of snow including packed snow and powder. Though they are ideal for the mountains, you can use these out on a freestyle terrain as well. Though these can get a bit pricey, they're ideal for advanced skiers looking to improve their performance. Their versatility and durability will ensure that your money doesn't go to waste.Read more
The top sheet 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.
7. Nordic Rocks Kid’s XC Skis
- Touring package
- Wood-core skis
- Step-in bindings
- Spring buckles for fit
- Adjustable poles
- Not for rougher trails
The only thing missing in this set is the ski boots and the kid to ride them! This is a good set of touring skis for beginning or intermediate kids who want a ski that can handle rolling hills, trail breaking, in track and out of track skiing.Read more
Designed for youth
These skis are designed especially for children between 6 and 13 years old who are new or at least newer to skiing. The skis are wood core with step-in bindings that fit a wide range of boot sizes. The poles are also adjustable and the whole package clips together for ease of use.
Stable and strong
The skis are great for learners and can handle a variety of cross-country terrain, from rolling hills to trail breaking. A lot of fun for the learner who doesn’t need to be confined to ‘bunny slopes’ and backyard ‘trails’
Cost and Value
These are the least expensive set of skis on our list which is great news for parents of beginning skiers. The skis are very stable and easy to use and will ‘grow’ with your young person for many seasons of winter fun.
8. Line Sick Day 95
- Camber profile
- Short radius turns
- Soft tip provides float
- A bit pricey
- Not suitable for inconsistent terrain
Ideal for classic all-mountain riding, these skis will maximize your carving performance like no other. Its narrow waist offers quick energy transfer from edge to edge. As well, its twin-tip shape allows for tricks, which renders them suitable for half-pipe skiing as well. However, these don't do very well on inconsistent terrain such as rough snow. We recommend these to intermediate skiers or people who want to experiment a bit but will stay at a moderate speed on consistent, soft snow.Read more
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!
9. Nordica Enforcer 93
- Great edge hold
- Slight rocker profile
- Provides excellent velocity
Last but certainly not least, these skis by Nordica close our list with a brilliant design. These skis are more narrow than its preceding Enforcer skis, but their performance doesn't falter. Featuring a slight tip and tail rocker that contrasts with the camber underfoot, these skis provide amazing velocity and floatation. They make excellent turns in all types of snow and offer great edge grip. In addition, their sidewalls help to dampen hard landings and minimize fatigue in the legs. They may cost more than most skis, but their great features and high quality renders them a worthy purchase.Read more
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.
10. Whitewoods 75mm 3Pin
- Complete package
- Order your boot size
- Bindings are premounted
- Adjustable straps on poles
- Ski baskets included
- Little glide out of the box
A complete package for smaller skiers – boots, bindings, poles and skis are all included, which is great for beginners. These are a cross-country touring ski with a laminated wood core and lightweight construction. The skis are designed for ease of use and the boots are durable with a removable insole, toe protection and a D ring for gaiters.Read more
Available in a number of sizes
Rather than worrying about ski length, binding sizes, boots sizes and the like, the beginning or infrequent skier can order these skis based on their boot size and weight (skiers should be 120 – 150 pounds). Simply put your boots on, step in and go.
Designed for touring
Though these skis won’t get you into the back-country and over rough trails, they will provide a lot of winter fun touring the cross-country trails. Designed to be lightweight and strong, you will enjoy the ease of use of these skis.
Cost and Value
The cost for this set is in the mid-range which is excellent given that you get everything you need to start enjoying some cross-country skiing in one package. From good quality boots to the skis, poles, and bindings, this is an easy package for the beginning or infrequent skier.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
They say a product is a promise made, but a brand name is a promise kept. In order for quality brands to stay relevant for generations, it has to consistently deliver or overdeliver on the performance of its products in order to survive and thrive.
When you consider athletic apparel brands, such as Lululemon and Nike, or even other industry brands, such as Microsoft, the one thing they all have in common is that their products are so compelling, a consumer continues to buy from them year after year. Whether it's yoga pants, running shoes or Windows, the brand name behind the product is a signal of quality, innovation and satisfied customers.
In our search for the best set of skis, we considered many factors. From speed to responsiveness, performance tends to correlate strongly with brands like the ones that adorn our 10-best list. For this criterion, the higher the score, the better we, and the community of buyers, have judged the manufacturer to be. Whether it's great products, innovative features, stylish designs or great value, each brand on our list has something to offer you.
Although the edges of a ski may seem insignificant, they can actually affect your performance by a landslide. The radius of the sidecut 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 provide more edge control, as they cut more easily into the snow. Ideally, a good pair of skis comes with sharp edges, but these will likely wear out and become dull with 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.
For this criterion, a higher score means the ski likely is sharper with a smaller sidecut, allowing for increased speed.
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.
For this criterion, a ski that scores higher is stiffer and more responsive; however, is also less suitable for beginners.
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 a 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're physically heavier for your given height and prefer rocker, it may be better to opt for the longer skis.
The higher the score on this criterion, the longer the ski is, resulting in increased performance, speed and maneuvering; however, higher scores on this criterion also mean less suitability for new skiers.
Value can be loosely defined as the sum of what you get from a product divided by the amount of money you have to pay to acquire it. In the context of skis, you might consider the factors in our criteria section as part of the sum of what you get. Features like speed, responsiveness, style, durability and ease-of-use all calculate into the joy you get from your new set of skis. The question is: is what I am about to pay worth what I am about to acquire? That's exactly what this criterion was designed to evaluate.
It's important to remember that value is not the same as cost. A set of skis that cost half the price of the other may, on its face, seem like a better deal; however, if those skis don't perform, or get damaged after a few uses, your cost-per-use is actually higher than the pricier skis that bring you performance and bliss year after year.
In this criterion, a higher score means that we've judged the skis in question to deliver a higher level of performance, ease-of-use, durability or some other benefit, for a lower long-term cost than a competing product on this list. But don't forget: while we can rank each of these skis in a general way, you are a unique buyer, with a different skill levels or preferences than someone else. Our ultimate advice to you to make the best choice: think long and hard about what you're looking for in a ski. Don't buy the most expensive if you don't need to, but don't cheap out and regret your choice, either.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Just starting to explore the sport of skiing? As one of the more popular winter sports, it can sometimes feel daunting to hit the slopes as a beginner. Lessons are usually available at most ski resorts and mountains, and if you don't have your own pair just yet, equipment is rentable.
Many times, mountain resorts host a variety of snow sport suppliers for demo days, where you are able to use the supplier's equipment and test out how they feel for your slope style. If you're not sure which brand to pick, try out a demo day after you're more familiar with skiing, as it could change your mind on which skis are best suited for your style and slop activity!
Just like our footwear, sporting equipment requires its own maintenance and care. Usually you can purchase supplies to sharpen edges or wax the base of your skis, but the easiest thing to do is have them serviced at your local ski shop, or on the mountain resort before you hit the slopes. Professionals will go over your equipment to fix scratches or dents, sharpen edges, and also check your bindings for signs of wear and tear.
Other Factors to Consider
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 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 created an exhaustive list of criteria that can help to guide you in the right direction.
By knowing your personal style, level of ability and experience skiing, you can use our criteria ratings to narrow down exactly which features or offerings are most important and relevant to you. Our overall score tool is a great feature, if you are looking for a starting point to start your research, but diving deep into the criteria that apply most to you is the way to make the truly best decision as to what to purchase.
With that being said, all you have to do now is read the criteria, find the best ski for you, click “buy” and get to the slopes. See you there before the winter is over!
Depending on your preferences, you may or may not care about what your new favorite pair of skis look like. Alternatively, even if you do care, odds are the person next to you will have a completely different preference for what skis should look like. Our advice: although style isn't everything and substance counts for more, it never hurts to absolutely love the look of your skis. If you can get both substance and style, we think you'll love your skis more for even longer!
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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 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.
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 poplar, 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 fiberglass, titanium, carbon, or foam. The composite layers are most commonly made with fiberglass. 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.
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 traveling 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 an 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.
Cross country skis are longer and tend to be less flexible than downhill skis are not designed for the speed or type of track that is cut downhill. Using them for downhill skiing can cause breakage and you will find you are more unstable on the skis than when using them for their purpose.