Don’t know where to begin but want your own pair of skis? You’ve arrived at the proper location. It can be challenging to focus your search with so many different ski types available. Fortunately, we’ve put together this thorough buying guide for skis to help you rule the mountains this year.

What to Consider before Buying Skis?

Length and Size

Your height, weight, and preferred riding style all have a significant impact on the length of ski you should select.

Before considering your preferred riding style, snow, and terrain, it is a good idea to choose a ski length that falls roughly between the top of your head and the chin.

A short ski will work best for you if you’re a beginner or improver and don’t typically ski quickly. Opt for a slightly longer ski if you like to ski quickly or aggressively or if you frequently ski off-piste.

While less skilled skiers find shorter skis easier to turn, more experienced skiers and racers typically favor skis that are longer than head height.


Ski technology is constantly advancing, making it possible to find a better match for your style and terrain, so your ability level is less important when selecting skis. Talking to one of our experts in-store who can help you find skis appropriate for your skill level is still worthwhile because it’s still a good place to start.

Use the following checklist to help you categorize your skill level into beginner, intermediate, and advanced.


Skiing might be something you’ve done before or it might be your first time. You can stop safely on blue and red runs now that you know how to link turns, control your edges, and accelerate smoothly.

More control and an easier turn are possible with skis that have softer flex, narrower widths, and specific designs like carving.


You have improved your carving and are more assured when tackling red and black runs. You are also more confident in your ability to turn and stop. You’ve started experimenting with switchback riding and riding in various conditions, such as off-piste or in snow.


You approach riding the mountain with confidence and style, searching for brand-new experiences and difficulties, and you frequently enjoy charging at top speed. You are comfortable riding a variety of snow conditions and terrains and have control carving on icy pistes and steep terrain.

Ski Width

Your skis’ width will influence how they feel and perform. The middle of the ski, which is typically its narrowest point, is where the measurement is made. Wider waist widths provide better flotation in powder while offering a quicker turn.

Tip, waist, and tail measurements for each ski will be provided in a 3-number format.

Turning Radius

Your skis’ feel and performance will also be influenced by the turn radius. The turn radius is specified in meters. The turn radius and sidecut of a ski are influenced by the width of the ski in relation to the tip and tail.

Short Turn Radius

For all-mountain skiing as well as some powder skiing, shorter turn radius skis are ideal. In order to make turns more quickly, carving skis frequently have a smaller turn radius.

Medium Turn Radius

For park and pipes, a medium turn radius is ideal.

Long Turn Radius

Long-turning skis are better for big-mountain and powder skiing because they turn more slowly and are typically more stable at high speeds.

Rocker Type


The base of a ski is curved, and various camber profiles are suitable for various skiing styles. Below is a general overview of the various camber profiles, though these do vary slightly between brands.

Skis have historically been cambered, giving them an upward arching curve in the middle to aid in distributing pressure uniformly along the length of the skis. While cambered skis demand a more precise turn, they provide maximum energy on hard snow and groomed slopes, as well as good edge hold and pop.

Racing skiers and skilled park riders frequently favor camber.

15. Skis Buying Guide2


The opposite of camber is a rocker, also referred to as reverse-camber. The rise of the tip and tail away from the snow makes it ideal for both novice and experienced riders because it makes it simpler to float in deeper powder. A rocker will also provide a looser, more maneuverable feel, releasing the contact points for less edge catching and greater confidence.


When a ski is completely flat along its length, it is referred to as having zero camber or flat camber skis. It may not be the best piste ski because it lacks the same edge control as a camber or reverse camber ski due to its flatness. When skiing in powder or freestyle, these are the best because you usually have to travel over a piste to reach the park or the powder areas.


Different rocker profiles can be made by combining camber, rocker, and flat profiles in various ways. Riders can choose from the best of each type for various mountain rides thanks to these combination rockers. With new and merged rocker types, brands are constantly experimenting.

Where Do You Like to Ski?

The primary determinant of the type and shape of ski you should purchase is where you prefer to ski the majority of the time. The length of the ski is also affected, as we previously discussed. You should be able to identify which category you fall under once we’ve explained what each type of ski means.

All Mountain

All-mountain skis are used to ski the entire mountain, just as their name implies. After piste skis, this is by far the most popular kind of ski. They are built to handle any terrain you throw at them, whether it’s powder, ice, groomers, steeps, heavy snow, or anything in between, but they aren’t necessarily experts in any particular environment. This is the ski you want if you only have room for one to do everything. All-mountain skis, however, come in a variety of sizes and shapes to suit the individual requirements of various skiers and the terrain. All-mountain skis typically have waists that fall between 80 and 110mm, or what we refer to as mid-fat. Knowing where on the mountain you’ll spend the most time and what kinds of terrain you enjoy skiing most are the keys. The ability you have today can help you make leaps in ability that will astound you. Keep in mind that it’s not just about what you ski now, but what you aspire to.

Piste / Carving

Pista / carving skis are what you need if you enjoy the traditional sensation of turning a ski over on edge and making a smooth turn. In order to initiate and exit turns quickly and responsively on groomed runs and hardpack, these skis have narrower waists and shorter turn radii. As you move through the range of beginner-intermediate skis, they become stiffer, more powerful, and more aggressive. If you like charging hard and only really ski off-piste, there aren’t many better options.

Park & Pipe (Freestyle)

Skiers who spend most of their time in the terrain park should use park and pipe skis, also known as freestyle skis. If you enjoy all types of jumps, rails, and jibs, check out this category. Despite having traditionally narrower waists and full camber profiles, park and pipe skis are now incorporating more rocker patterns and unique shapes. These skis almost always have twin tips and other park-specific characteristics like butter zones, dense extruded bases, thicker, more durable edges, and twin tips.

A slightly longer ski is recommended if you enjoy big kickers and backcountry booters; a shorter ski is recommended if you prefer jibbing.


These skis are meant for snowy days. Powder skis are what you need if you enjoy exploring resort stashes of powder, venturing into the backcountry in search of the most recent snow, or taking heli ski trips into the mountains. Wide, frequently rockered, or early-rise skis with a soft flex are classified as powder skis. There are various sidecut shapes you can see; the tip and tail aren’t always the widest parts of the ski. These days, a lot of powder skis are adaptable enough to handle harder snow and variable conditions.

Big Mountain

Big mountain skis are made for ripping through big lines at high speeds and with massive airs. These skis range in width from wide, powder-focused skis for skiing Alaska spines to narrower, mixed-condition skis for ripping the battered headwall at your local mountain. These skis frequently have more rocker in the tip and less in the tail and are on the stiffer side.

Alpine Touring

Alpine touring skis are all about the ascent and descent. Alpine touring skis use lightweight materials and cutting-edge technology to deliver performance that is equal on the ascent and descent. Whether you tour for the hike up or the ride down, alpine touring skis are available in a wide variety of sizes and widths.

What is a Beginner Ski?

A few features that are common to all beginner skis include a softer flex for simpler turn initiation, a lower price point, which typically indicates the use of materials with good value, and narrower dimensions because the majority of skiing will be done on groomed runs. Furthermore, a built-in binding is frequently included. Skis, almost more than any other type of equipment, can be divided into simple price categories, and for beginner skis, the ski packages (including skis and bindings) should cost about $500–$600 or close to it.

However, the best choice for you is more complex and extends all the way to what is regarded as an intermediate-level model. It’s frequently worthwhile to skip the true beginner category altogether for those just starting out who are athletic or plan to spend a lot of time on the mountain. The K2 Mindbender 85 and Blizzard Rustler 9 are two of the more capable skis that made our list; they have the forgiving qualities that make them relatively simple to learn on but are also more than capable at speed and for all-mountain use. Although the cost of the more sophisticated construction is higher and integrated bindings are not always included, you will end up saving money in the long run because you won’t need to buy new skis as frequently.

Where to Find Discounted Skis

Even at the entry-level, skis are pricey, but you can still find deals. The good news is that technological advancements aren’t usually revolutionary from year to year, so if you’re willing to give up the newest hues, you might be able to save a lot of money. The best online selection, including previous season’s models and even lightly used gear, has typically been found at Evo’s Ski Sale. Additionally, there are plenty of discounted skis and ski packages at The House, Backcountry, and REI. We think it’s always worth checking the sale section to avoid paying full MSRP. It’s important to remember that things get picked out fairly quickly as the winter progresses, so you’ll have the best luck purchasing early.

What About Boots?

Don’t begin to think that because you are just learning to ski, any boot will do. We’re not kidding when we say that wearing a boot that fits comfortably and well can mean the difference between making this a lifetime sport and throwing the entire set-up in the trash. Instead of being rigid and transmitting every little movement to your skis, a beginner boot has a more forgiving feel that flexes. The softer setup does dull performance, just like a beginner ski and binding, which is why we don’t suggest a beginner boot for experienced skiers.