Best Skis Reviewed & Rated For Performance
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 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.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Easy to Use
Poplar Wood Core
Full Reverse Camber
- Black Crows Daemon
- Rossignol OT 65 IFP
- Völkl MS Mantra
- HEAD Kore 99
- Line Sick Day 95
- Nordica Enforcer 93
- Nordica NRGY 90
- Whitewoods 75mm 3Pin
- Armada Invictus 99 Ti
- K2 Pinnacle 95 Ti
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Skis
1. Black Crows Daemon
Easy to Use
Poplar Wood Core
Full Reverse Camber
The Black Crows Daemon skis have a full reverse camber that helps you make quick and easy turns when you need them. The Titanal metal layer keeps you stable even at high speeds. Definitely don't overlook this lesser-known brand as you'll find plenty to like in the Deamon skis.Read more
The flex on the Black Crows Daemons is a Progressive Flex. That makes it soft towards the tip and tail while stiffer underfoot. With a poplar wood core and titanal laminate, they are bouncy, light, and agile.
To give you an easy time pivoting and cutting curves, the Daemons have a Full Reverse Camber. You'll be completely set for those gorgeous powder days. For help with bindings, the brand recommends a brake width equal to or up to 15 mm wider than your ski at its widest.
2. Rossignol OT 65 IFP
Active Cap Construction
Wood Core With Air Channel
Positrack Waxless Base
Partial Metal Edges
Not for Beginners
The Rossignol OT 65 IFP are designed for getting into the fresh tracks in the backcountry. You get superior control in variable snow conditions and a model 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.
They have a wooden 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.
3. Völkl MS 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. This updated version has even better features. 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, they 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.
4. HEAD Kore 99
Karuba Wood Core
The Kore 99 from HEAD is a lightweight yet stable ski that is snappy yet also precise. The carbon, Graphene, and Koroyd materials come together to give you a powerful ride. Unlike the other Kore models, the 99 has a stiff touch, especially considering its weight.Read more
The HEAD Kore 99 has a great edge grip while on firm snow. Many users notice the snappy energy you receive coming out of turns, and they feel different than skis with made with metal.
With the Kore 99 being a new option, we think it will start to become a popular choice among more experienced skiers. The Kore 99s can be wide enough for powder, but they are also great on firm snow. They are an all-around ski great for those looking for a ski for any condition.
5. Line Sick Day 95
Short Radius Turns
Soft TIp Provides Float
A Bit Pricey
Not Suitable for Inconsistent Terrain
Ideal for classic all-mountain riding, these 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 the Line Sick Day 95. 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 high speed.
6. 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 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, this skiing apparel provides amazing velocity and floatation. They make excellent turns in all types of snow and offer great edge grip. Also, their sidewalls help to dampen hard landings and minimize fatigue in the legs. They may cost more than your average pair, but their great features and high quality renders them a worthy purchase.Read more
They 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 wooden 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.
7. Nordica NRGY 90
Excel in Deep Snow
Camber Under Foot
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 this model that provides torsional stiffness for maximum power and stability at higher speeds. Despite the stiffness and length, these are also an incredibly lightweight set of skiing apparel.
The rocker tip in the front adds float 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.
8. Whitewoods 75mm 3Pin
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. They 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
Rather than worrying about ski length, binding sizes, boots sizes and the like, the beginning or infrequent skier can order these based on their boot size and weight (skiers should be 120 – 150 pounds). Simply put your boots on, step in and go.
Though they 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.
9. Armada Invictus 99 Ti
AR Nose Rocker
Not Ideal for Beginners
Like the larger Invictus 108 Ti, this scaled down Armada Invictus 99 Ti Skis are designed with one thing in mind: to allow you to hit speeds you never have before. You will be speeding down the slopes faster than you ever thought possible.Read more
The AR Nose Rocker has a traditional sidecut profile with a tip rocker for all mountain skiing. The Power-Lite Core gives you stability, power, and control. With a tip rocker, but no tail rocker, directional skiers will be happy.
The Camp Series Base is Armada's fastest base. The 2.2 Impact Edge is heat treated and built to avoid excess weight but is still durable. You can eat up any kind of condition on the slopes. From hard-pack to powder, you'll be set.
10. K2 Pinnacle 95 Ti
Nanolite Konic Core
These all-terrain skis are a mixture of fir and Nanolite Konic core material. The All-terrain rocker profile gives you nimble skis that help you get down the hill quickly and lithely. You won't be disappointed with these if you're looking for a pair of skis that will take you from hard-pack to powder and beyond.Read more
The wooden core, sandwiched construction of these makes them both very lightweight and durable for many seasons of downhill winter fun. The tapered tip/tail design shifts the contact points on the snow toward the midsole to help reduce deflection in the tip and ease turn release in the tail.
The Nanolite Konic Core is specific to K2. The Nanolite is in the Freeride Pinnacle collection. That means it's super lightweight, low-density and made from a composite core that helps reduce swing weight.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
They say a product is a promise made, but a brand name is a promise kept. For quality brands to stay relevant for generations, it has to consistently deliver or overdeliver on the performance of its products 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 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, 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 can 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 about 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, it 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. Also, 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 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 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
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 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!
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!
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 edge hold 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 with 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 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 from?
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.
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. Also, 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.
q: Can I use cross-country skis on downhill slopes?
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.