guide to buying the perfect skis
Guide to Buying the Perfect Skis
There's nothing like ripping down the slopes on a pair of skis — it's the perfect wintertime activity for sporty thrill-seekers. Finding the right pair of skis will make your winter that much more enjoyable. If you're new to skiing, it may surprise you how many choices you have. Knowing what to look for will allow you to pick out the best skis for ski season. Use this buying guide to find the best skis for the upcoming winter.
Tips for Selecting the Perfect Skis
Many different elements will impact your skis' capabilities. Following these tips to update your current skis or buy your first set will help you make the right choice. Here are some factors to consider when buying skis:
1. Skill Level
Paying attention to skill level ratings is one of the most essential tips for buying new skis. Beginner-level skis are softer and more forgiving of technical mistakes. In contrast, advanced skis are stiffer, allowing you to apply greater force but leaving little room for error. You should also factor in your weight when choosing a skill level — heavier skiers may want to move up a skill level since more advanced skis can handle greater force.
You'll find skis with a soft, medium or stiff flex rating. The order for skill-level ratings are:
- Advanced intermediate.
2. Waist Width
Various waist widths work best in different conditions. Skis with skinnier waists are quicker, which makes them well-suited for trail carving. Beginners should choose skinny skis since they're easier to maneuver. Wider skis, on the other hand, allow for more float and stability and are good for going off-trail.
Those who plan to stay on pre-carved trails should pick narrow skis, which will give you the agility to navigate twists and turns. If you hope to forge your own trails or you ski out West, you'll want wide skis for optimal floatation and stability on bumpy terrain. While they may not be able to make quick turns, wide skis let you dig through ungroomed snow. For both agility and floatation, choose skis with a mid-level waist width.
3. Ski Shape
The ski shape is also significant, as different shapes provide unique capabilities. Shape options include:
- Traditional camber: "Camber" refers to the upward curve in the middle of a ski. A ski with a traditional camber profile offers stability in hard snow, propelling you through turns.
- Camber with tip rocker: The "rocker" is the curved rise on a ski's front or back end. Tip rockers can help you make turns more quickly.
- Camber with tip and tail rocker: A ski with this profile will have a lifted tip and tail end. Having two rockers makes for easier turn initiation and release.
- Full rocker with no camber: A "full rocker" ski has upward curves on both ends but not the middle. This type of ski works well in deep snow.
Be sure to check a ski's gender designation, which affects the waist width and length. Women's skis cater to the anatomical shape and weight distribution of a woman's body, offering narrower and shorter designs. Since women's skis are thinner and shorter, they require less weight to initiate movement. They'll be easier for a lighter and smaller-footed skier to use.
Keep in mind that you should still choose the waist width based on your size, weight, ability level and desire for maneuverability or float. There's no rule against women shopping in the men's section! Just remember that gender categories affect ski size and shape.
Recommended Skis for 2021-2022 Ski Season
Now that you know some basic factors to consider, you're ready to pick out next season's skis. Here are our top five ski picks for the upcoming season:
1. Men's Flat Ski: Volkl Mantra M6
A perfect choice for beginners and experts, the Volkl Mantra M6 has a narrow width for fast turns. Its shape features both a tip and tail rocker along with the traditional camber, a design that facilitates turn initiation and release while maintaining stability. Choose this ski if you plan to navigate a pre-cut trail featuring twists and turns. Its mid-level flex means it can accommodate harder conditions while still giving you forgiving stability.
These features make the Volkl Mantra M6 is one of the best men's skis for ski season.
2. Men's System Ski: Atomic Vantage 79 Ti
Another option is the Atomic Vantage 79 Ti, which has a stiff flex rating intended for the hardest snow conditions. Its narrow shape allows it to make quick, sharp turns, and the tip rocker profile makes turning easier. Only advanced intermediate to expert-level skiers should choose these skis — beginners will want a softer flex rating and easier shape. For the seasoned skier, the Atomic Vantage 79 Ti offers desirable power and control.
3. Men's Flat Ski: Armada ARV86
Ideal for both novice and expert skiers, the Armada ARV86 has unmatched versatility with its medium width, medium flex level and profile featuring tip and tail rockers. It'll allow you to navigate the entire mountainside, adapting to unpredictable snow. It's a great choice for sharp turning and speed.
4. Women's Flat Ski: Blizzard Black Pearl 88
One of the best women's skis for ski season is the Blizzard Black Pearl 88, best-suited to intermediate and advanced skiers. Its unique design features stiffer wood in the center for power and softer wood along the rocker tip and tail for bounce. The result is a stable feel and easier turning.
5. Women's System Ski: Nordica Wild Belle DC 84
Another option for women skiers is the Nordica Wild Belle DC 84. Its wide shape offers optimal float and stability, while its mid-level flex rating gives you balanced performance in various terrain. With the ski's tip rocker, you can maintain power and control through your turns. If you want to make the most of the entire mountainside, the Nordica Wild Belle DC 84 will be one of the best skis for ski season.
Shop the Season's Best Skis
Whether you're a first-time skier or a veteran on the slopes, the right pair of skis elevates the experience and boosts your capabilities. When shopping for new skis, pay attention to the skill level, waist width, shape and gender designation. Stiffer skis are better for expert skiers who want to apply more force, skinnier skis are ideal for pre-cut trails and wider skis give you the floatation and stability to go off-trail. Additionally, various shapes serve different purposes.
If you're looking for next season's skis, consider browsing the selection at Buckman's Ski and Snowboard Shops. Here at Buckman's, we are passionate about skiing and snowboarding — we want to help you experience winter to its fullest. Check out our ski equipment today.