When picking out a new pair of skis, most of us don’t think to ask about core materials, side cut or vibration dampening — in fact, even knowledgeable ski bums probably don’t have more than a general understanding of these topics. Let’s face it, your eyes glazed over when the salesman at your local shop asked you if you want a performance, GS style ski or a more freeride “buttery” ski. (Seriously? Buttery? Are we serving skis with lobster now?) Fortunately for you, the designers at Park City, UT-based RAMP Sports live and breathe ski engineering and manufacturing. It doesn’t take long after stepping onto their small manufacturing floor to see that building handmade skis is both a passion and a way of life for this small collective of diehards.

HIT THE POWDER: Backcountry Essentials Kit | Oakley Airwave Goggles | Dynafit Beast 16 Bindings

It seems that every big box sporting goods store carries the same few brands of ski gear. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for the discerning adventurer, boutique brands like RAMP have much more quality, character and expertise to offer. After decades of experience working for industry titans like Rossignol, founder Mike Kilchenstein and “Snow Wizard” Christian Alary opened shop with one goal: to make an environmentally friendly ski that pushes the boundaries of design and performance.

RAMP’s small team is almost fanatical in their passion to create the best ski, and it shows. Each ski is handmade from the ground up by the skilled members of RAMP’s staff, starting with the selection and cutting of the fiberglass/Kevlar inner layers. Everyone from their chief designer to their graphics and media team is trained to build skis — each pair that rolls out of the factory truly is a labor of love. The patent-pending graphic sublimation process further sets RAMP apart from the competition: each unique graphic design (created in-house) is bonded to a bamboo topsheet, meaning fewer layers and more durability. Finally, after bases, cores and topsheets are layered and epoxied, each ski undergoes a unique vacuum press process.

So what does all this mean for the guy who straps them on? RAMP skis are tailored to individual needs, not to meet a manufacturing deadline. Because their proprietary methods are more flexible than their competitors’, they can react to new designs and materials in days or weeks rather than worrying about turning out skis for next season. Whether you’re planning on making powder turns down a backcountry run in Silverton or tearing up the mogul fields and groomed corduroy at Killington, that gives you a ski that will outperform anything else out there.