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The 10 Best Skis of Winter 2020


December 9, 2019 Buying Guides By

Last Updated December 2019: We’ve updated our guide of the best skis with the 10 best picks for Winter 2020. Prices and links have also been updated.

The good news, is that there are a lot of really great skis available right now. That’s also the bad news. Too many choices – even if they’re good ones – can make it hard to decide on which pair to buy. We’re here to help. While there are a ton of variables you could consider, most aren’t important. Instead, focus on a few key points: intended use, waist width, turn radius and rocker profile.

Figuring out your wants in respect to those key factors will leave you a smaller selection to choose from. From there, check out our recommendations for the best skis of winter 2019-2020. Talk to some shops. Read other reviews. Refine your list some more and then go demo a few pairs. The only way to know for sure if you’ll like any one of these skis is to try them for yourself. Watch for demo days at your resort or ask in your local shop. Most will deduct the cost of any demos when you buy a ski.

If that’s not possible, narrow your list to the top three and pick the one with the coolest graphics. Seriously, you should love your skis, and that means aesthetically too.


The 10 Best Skis of 2020

Everything You Need to Know About Buying Skis

K2 Mindbender 99 Ti

Editor’s Choice

Big but agile. Heavy but nimble. Predictable but fun. True to its name, the Mindbender left us scratching our heads, wondering how it was all possible.

A big part of the answer is the unique, Y-shaped sheet of Titanal layered into the ski. K2 used it on several of the skis in the brand new Mindbender family, which replaces the Pinnacle all-mountain line. From a full sheet of metal underfoot, the Titanal splits towards the tip into strips over each edge. And towards the tail, it quickly tapers to the center of the ski. This creates a ski with multiple personalities. There’s enough stiffness and power to hold an edge in firm snow and feel stable at speed. The split at the tip softens things up for easy initiation and forgiveness. And moving the Titanal to the middle of the ski in the tail allows it to hold an edge but also smear to dump speed in the bumps, steeps and trees.

K2 paired the construction with camber underfoot and plenty of tip and tail rocker. But the early rise is subtle, staying close to the snow. This further improves its versatility. At slow speeds, the effective edge feels short, perfect for quick turning. But as we went faster and pushed the skis into bigger arcs, more edge made contact with the snow, and the ski felt progressively longer and more stable the harder we skied.

On both hard-packed and in blower powder, the ski was smooth, energetic and predictable, but what won it Editor’s Choice was its performance in tough snow. The heavy build and robust construction plowed through rough patches and felt smooth in chopped up and old powder, two places where many similar skis would feel skittish. Similarly, on death cookie groomers, it felt glued to the snow and was easy to ski.
It is a heavy ski for its width, but for the most part, testers didn’t notice. The exception was tight bumps and trees where testers said it took more energy to move it around.

Everywhere else, the Mindbender gave us the confidence to ski faster and harder. When we wanted a big ski, it felt wider than 99 mm, and when we wanted a carving ski, it locked in like a much narrower board. The Mindbender 99 Ti is a true all-mountain ski and the best choice this winter for a one ski quiver.

Line Sick Day 88

Best Budget Pick

Normally a $400 ski would be a noodle — too soft for anything but learning to carve. But Line is synonymous with producing some of the best skis for the money, and the Sick Day 88 is the best deal they’ve got. It may not have the performance feel or lifespan of the Volkl Mantra M5, but for half the money, you get a great all-around ski.

The 88mm waist suggests hard snow performance. We found plenty of that. The soft tip with a little rocker helped us get on edge easily and early in a turn for nice feeling carves. A stiff, almost rocker-free tail created a solid platform for really rounding out our turns and cutting into ice. Line gave these skis a versatile 17-meter turn radius and a five-point sidecut. That means along the length of the edge, they built-in five different mini-arcs. The Sick Day obliged whatever turn shape we wanted to make. It took little more than a flick to snap out tight turns. The light, mostly aspen wood core had plenty of pop. And as the turns got longer, the ski felt more stable.

With Line’s heritage as a park and play ski, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that this ski excelled in soft snow, especially for its width. The stiff tail provided a solid landing platform in the park. In chopped up powder, it was far more predictable than we expected. For deeper snow destinations, one of the wider Sick Day models might be a better choice, but they come with a jump in price.

Mostly what stood out is that this a fun ski. It makes you want to spray your friends, play in the bumps and then snap off a few carves. It’s forgiving of mistakes and approachable to everyone from intermediates looking to improve to lightweight experts.

Overall, the Line Sick Day 88 defines an all-mountain ski at a price that leaves change for a pass or a better pair of boots. It can do it all and doesn’t demand too much of the driver.

Faction Dictator 2.0

Best All-Mountain Ski

Most people hate dictators. But everyone loved Faction’s, a fun all-mountain ski for stronger skiers.

The Dictator begins with two sheets of Titanal on either side of a wood core. Tilt the ski during a turn, and the metal sheets focus all the energy on the edge. Faction paired that bit of metal with two different side cuts: a shorter radius one at the front of the ski and a longer one towards the tail. Ski out of the tip, and the Dictator prefers snappy turns. Get more centered at speed, and it feels solid in fast, super G arcs.

There’s plenty of tip and tail rocker, which shorten the ski’s effective edge and give it a propensity to smear and skid. It planes quickly, even in cruddy snow, and skis wider than its 96mm waist would suggest in soft snow.

It’s also a relatively light ski. The core is a mix of poplar (known for rebound) and paulownia, a very lightweight wood. At under four pounds per ski, it’s easy to move around and a good candidate for a slack country weapon with a pair of Salomon Shift or Marker Guardian bindings.

As with any regime, there are opponents: lighter and more relaxed skiers found the Dictator hard to order around. But for those who like to ski with strength, technique and energy, Faction’s 2.0 was a rare candidate – a ski that fulfilled its promises and gave back more than it took.

Dynastar Speedzone 4X4 82 Pro

Best Eastern All-Mountain Ski

The 4×4 is back! Dynastar resurrected the popular ski name from years gone by and gave it a modern look, construction and performance. What they didn’t change was the 4X4’s go-anywhere spirit.

Dynastar loaded the new 4×4 Pro with three of its core technologies. Hybrid Core mixes strips of polyurethane on either side of the beech wood to cut weight without reducing the lively feel of the wood. The sidewalls are a mix of three materials: an elastic material for vibration absorption, Titanal for edge bite, and ABS for stability. Finally, the 3D Profile stacks more material over the edges, particularly at the tip and tail, improving energy transmission and lightening the ski’s extremities.

The result is a ski that delivered as much performance as our testers could ask for without being continually demanding. We could ski it lazily down a mellow groomed run, and the 4X4 would swing back and forth at ease. Or we could pin it down a black as fast as we felt comfortable, and it was a predictable and dependable platform. Bumps were no problem; it had a surprising amount of float in untracked snow and made testers feel like better skiers in cruddy conditions.

Overall, the 82 mm waist felt most at home in firm conditions, which is why we suggest it as an all-mountain ski for drier and icier parts of the country. It’s an excellent ski for anyone that spends half their time or more on-piste but always wants the confidence to take on whatever the mountain – or Mother Nature – throws at them.

Nordica Enforcer Free 104

Best Western All-Mountain Ski

One side of the Enforcer Free 104 family tree comes from the narrower Enforcer all-mountain line. The other from the big mountain and powder Enforcer Free lineage. The nomenclature can get confusing – you could call this the narrowest Enforcer Free or a wider, more playful Enforcer – but the bottom line is that this ski was shockingly versatile and fun in all kinds of conditions.

The 104 has the same build as the bigger Enforcer Free skis: a balsa wood core with strips of carbon running the length of the ski, plus two sheets of metal. The sidewall is ABS plastic, but Nordica planes it down towards the tip and tail, along with the wood core, to cut weight. Reducing the amount of material in the tip and tail helps reduce swing weight, making it easier to turn and softer for a more forgiving ride.

So while the Free 104 looks like a pretty big ski, it felt small and agile, pivoting on autopilot in tight terrain. Hunting down powder in tight trees, I was shocked at some of the turns I could make. It was easy to turn the skis sideways and dump speed coming out of tight chutes and on groomers I could smear as well as carve.

But the skis also never let us down when we needed a bigger ski. It blasted through crud and surfed on slush. In powder, lots of tip and tail rocker helped it find the surface and plane, even at slower speeds. And there’s plenty of stiffness laterally and from tip to tail to dig trenches into firm snow.

Going fast is when this ski feels most comfortable. Even bigger testers found it stable and powerful, while lighter, less aggressive skiers felt like they needed to go with a shorter length to keep things manageable. Overall, the Enforcer Free is best for an aggressive expert who likes to drive their skis with authority.

Völkl Kendo

Best Ski for Intermediates

To give the Kendo as much all-mountain versatility as possible, Völkl loaded it with a variable sidecut, lightweight tips, a Titanal frame, and tip and tail rocker. These slight but essential shifts from the old Kendo make the new version a great ski to cruise and improve on.

The key to its easy-going personality is three different radiuses in the sidecut. While the curve from tip to tail on most skis is a consistent arc, the Kendo uses one arc at the tip, another through the center and a third at the tail. The sidecuts match the rocker profile, an upturned tip, cambered mid-ski, and upturned tail.

Add it all together, and the ski seems to adapt to varying speed and snow conditions. At slower speeds, when the center arc is in contact with the snow, the ski feels short and snappy, making it easy to carve and pivot. As speeds increase, the ski bends, putting more of the edge in contact with the snow, engaging the longer-radius tip and tail sections of the sidecut. In doing so, the Kendo can make big, high speed turns (and it wants to).

The ski’s layup also plays a part. Titanal around the edges helps with edge bite in firm snow. Where the Titanal fades out at the tip and tail, Völkl added carbon, lightening the ski for easier turn initiation.

The result is an easy, predictable ski that carves beautifully in a variety of situations. The Kendo is happiest in the middle, in both turn radius and speed, but feels natural at slow speeds and pushing the pedal too. Forgiving enough for a beginner with the performance that puts smiles on expert’s faces, it’s an excellent platform for taking your skiing to the next level.

Prior Northwest 110

Best Powder Ski

The Northwest 110 was what Prior’s staff and pro athletes were asking for: a ski for hitting cliffs at Whistler Blackcomb, launching in the park, nuking powder, bashing bumps, arcing groomers and zipping through the crowds on the rush to après. For the rest of us, it’s a no-compromise powder ski.

Most skis that are 110 mm and wider are one-trick ponies. They ski untracked snow really well, but unless you’re heli-skiing, cat-skiing or in the backcountry all the time, at some point the soft stuff is going to get tracked up. That’s when most powder skis will feel bloated and cumbersome. Not the Northwest.

Prior designed it with plenty of edge bite. It laminated the maple wood core vertically, beefing up the underfoot camber and full-polyethylene sidewalls. Translation: it’s stiff in the center for stability at speed and power on edge. It surprised testers by carving well in hard snow, especially with speed. And with a wide-open, 23-meter turn radius, fast is its happy place.

All those attributes cross over nicely to fresh snow. The 110 mm waist is plenty wide enough to float, even in waist-deep pockets, and the relatively straight side cut helps manage crust and funky snow. Generous tip and tail rocker make this big ski feel a little shorter in tight trees. And all that stiffness underfoot builds a stable landing zone for cliffs or the park.

For powder snobs who only go out when there is six inches or more, the Northwest will satisfy. But the ski really comes into its own as a powder ski for resort skiing. In that arena, it is hard to beat, especially because Prior will custom build you one with your choice of graphics and carbon or fiberglass. Thanks to a favorable CAD-to-USD exchange rate, it isn’t too expensive either.

K2 Wayback 106

Best Backcountry Ski

The backcountry can be an unpredictable place. K2 set up the Wayback 106 to handle whatever you find out there.

K2 calls it a mid-winter touring ski, which basically means it’s designed for skiing powder. With a foot of fresh on the ground, it delivered. The 106mm waist and plenty of tip and tail rocker provided a floaty platform that liked to rise to the surface for easy turning. It blasted through wind crust and felt short and nimble in tight trees, despite a pretty straight 22-meter turn radius.

In more challenging conditions, we expected the Wayback to get a little sloppy, but instead, it offered surprising versatility. This is what K2 was looking for when it redesigned the Wayback line this year. Where most backcountry ski’s ditch Titanal because it’s heavy, K2 built a spine of it into the middle of the ski, providing more power and stability. It also opted for full sidewalls and dampening strips, all focused on improving the hard snow performance. We could get on edge and carve a pretty turn on firm snow. It didn’t flap around or bounce too much on groomers. And bombing through tracked up snow and moguls, it plowed through like a much burlier ski.

K2 kept the weight in check by using a light wood core and carbon in place of fiberglass. The Wayback 106 weighs in at a respectable 3.3lbs for the 179-centimeter model. Add a special top sheet that tends to shed snow and ice, and the ski performed just fine on the way up. The tail’s flat enough for digging in on switchbacks and the skis are light enough that they don’t feel like pigs.

We think the Wayback 106 would make an ideal slack country weapon. Mount a Marker Kingpin or Salomon Shift binding and you won’t feel undergunned on resort powder days or left behind on the skin track in the backcountry.

Rossignol React R8 Ti

Best Carving Ski

Not many skis will help you ski more, but the React R8 Ti actually might – by making carving easier.

The React line replaces the Pursuit, Rossi’s longstanding firm snow skis. The total redesign started with its Hero and World Cup race skis and then softened things up to be more approachable. There’s a poplar wood core wrapped in fiberglass and Titanal and vertical, full-length sidewalls. Rossi also carried over the LCT spine from the World Cup, which is a strip down the center of the ski that transmits power from tip to tail, and Flex Tip Technology, cut-outs that soften the tip and tail. In shape, the React has just a hint of tip rocker and an oversized sidecut, going from 123 mm at the tip to 74 mm underfoot.

The rocker, flex and extra width at the tip make turn initiation effortless. As soon as I thought about tipping my ski on edge, I could feel it engage and do the work for me. Whether I pressed hard into the turn or was feeling lazy, the ski bit in and held on. It released the carve with energy, often feeling like it accelerated out of the turn, and never hanging up or washing out. It easily turned in tight slalom arcs or big gliding turns. And while it isn’t meant as an all-mountain ski, the React felt predictable and smooth in lightly tracked up back bowls too. However, skiing bumps required attention.

Every tester, no matter size, style and ability, came back with similarly doting feedback. No one ever wanted to take them off. And that’s why the React stood out. A lot of on-piste carvers require energy to get the most out of them. The React was the opposite. Just about everyone described them as smooth and effortless and a lot of fun. We think they’re the kind of ski you’ll put on for fresh groomers in the morning and still have on when the lift attendant calls, “Last chair!”

Armada ARV 86

Best Park Ski

In our opinion, a park ski not only needs to perform in the air, on rails and the pipe, but also getting around the mountain. That’s why we picked the Armada ARV 86. There are better skis for any particular aspect of park riding, but when it comes to doing it all, plus hitting some bumps, the odd powder day and slaying the groomer on the way back to the lift, these are pretty hard to beat.

Let’s start with the main event. Hard landings, hard rails, hard crashes: a park ski needs to be tough. On that score Armada is a leader, making some of the most dependable freestyle skis on the market. The ARV 86 has the company’s extra thick edges, tough sidewalls and rock-resistant base. Despite all that heft, the ARV 86 is relatively light for easy maneuvering in the air. The twin tip design is only slightly wider at the tip than the tail. Skiing switch felt predictable and we never felt like we were going to catch an edge taking off or landing backward. A traditional camber profile creates lots of pop for launching smooth airs and ollieing over everything. Extra stiffness in the tail saved us on a few backseat landings.

Out of the park, the skis are fast edge to edge and hold a carve really nicely, even in rock-hard snow. The soft tip kept us in control in the moguls, swallowing up deep gullies, while the stiffer tail provided a stable exit into the next bump. These were our favorite mogul skis. These got a little exciting at really high speeds, but other than that, it was hard to find a weakness.

If you live somewhere snowy, you might want to jump up to the 96mm-waisted model, but even the relatively slim 86 performed solidly in shin deep powder and tracked up mid-day chunder. Long story short, the ARV 86 is a park ski with all-mountain capabilities and with enough forgiveness for up and comers. It also has the capabilities to satisfy experienced riders.


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Terms to Know

Full-cap, mustache rocker, stiff tail and a damp feel. Get your mind out of the gutter, we’re talking ski features. Here are the terms you need to know, broken down by shape, construction and feel.

Camber: The arch of the ski is it’s camber. It’s most obvious when you place a ski on something flat. With a cambered ski, the tip and tail sit on the ground and the center is in the air. The higher the camber, the more power and bite a ski will have. Skis with no camber or even reverse camber (the center sits on the ground and the tip and tail are in the air) promote float and easy turning. These shapes are typically powder-specific.

Rocker: How much and how far the tip and tail rise above the snow. Also known as early rise. The more rocker, the easier a ski is to turn. Less rocker promotes better edge hold. The most common rocker profile is mustache rocker, tip and tail rocker with camber underfoot.

Turn Radius: A measure of a ski’s sidecut measured in meters. The shorter the turn radius, the tighter the turns the ski will want to make.

Sidecut: Directly related to turn radius. Sidecut is the profile of a ski from tip to waist to tail. Typically the arc is consistent across the ski’s length, but brands are playing with combining different arcs along a sidecut to add multiple turning behaviors to one ski.

Waist Width: A measure from edge to edge at the narrowest point on a ski in millimeters. Wider tends to float in fresh snow better, while narrower is easier to edge into hard snow.

Construction

Flex: How easy it is to bend a ski. Manufacturers adjust the flex with the materials and construction. We break up a ski’s flex in three parts: tip, center and tail. Tip: A soft tip makes it easy to initiate a turn and absorbs bumps. A stiffer tip provides bite, great for hard snow carving, and stability at speed. Center: A soft center provides a forgiving ride that’s easy to turn. A stiff center feels stable at speed, even if the tip and tail are soft. Tail: A soft tail feels loose and buttery. A stiff tail adds snap and pop at the exit of a turn. It also provides a good platform for landing jumps and skiing in uneven terrain.

Sidewall: The part of the ski above the edge and below the top sheet. The style of sidewall plays a roll in performance and durability. A full sidewall has vertical walls and is the toughest and most powerful. Cap construction slopes up to the top sheet and is easier to ski. Between the two are all kinds of hybrids.

Top Sheet: The top of the ski. Usually just a protective layer with graphics.

Base: The bottom of the ski is a hard plastic. There are a couple of hardnesses of base material, but in general, it all comes from one of two factories in Europe.

Feel

Dampness: A ski’s ability to absorb vibrations. A damp ski is stable at speed and holds an edge through a carve.

Playful: An ambiguous term generally associated with a loose tail and a snappy feel. The opposite of powerful, playful skis are happy to skid.

Powerful: Like an expensive car, a powerful ski feels stable at high speeds and bites into hard snow. Harder to control, they’re often stiffer and need more energy and skill to ski.

Mounting Types

System Ski: When a ski comes with a binding for a set price. The binding often integrates with the ski, rather than mounting with screws.

Flat Ski: A ski that doesn’t come with a binding.

How To Know It’s Time For a New Pair of Skis

Skis have a life, but figuring out when it’s over can be challenging. When you ski the same pair of sticks for a season, or a couple of seasons, the changes are incremental. They don’t just stop working, so you may not notice right away. If you don’t tune your skis regularly, try an edge sharpen and wax before writing them off. A quality pair of skis should last at least 100 days of skiing.

Beyond age, there a few other signs it’s time to upgrade: a lot of cuts and scratches to the top sheet, side walls or base, especially if any penetrate into the core materials; skis that don’t feel like they have any spring or life to them; or if the skis won’t do what you want them to. The last could be because the skis are toast, or because you’re not as fit or sharp as you used to be. Either way, says Ben Rabinowitz, a ski advisor for Backcountry, an online outdoor gear store, it’s time.

“If a ski’s not fun, finding the right pair means you’re going to enjoy the experience more,” he says. “And if you haven’t bought a new pair in 10 years, then it’s definitely time. The technology has totally changed for the better.”

How to Shop For a New Pair of Skis

Every ski buying expert we talked to says the buying process should start before turning on the computer or stepping out of the house. “Ask yourself a few key questions,” says Ashton Helmstaedter, the owner of Foothills Ski Life, a specialty store in Denver. “The more honest you are, the more you’re going to like your new ski.”

Is this your only ski, or part of a quiver? Where in the country do you ski? What type of terrain do you like to ski? Do you like to carve your turns or prefer to skid and slide?

A Primer On Different Types of Skis

These questions should help narrow down the type of ski you need, and then further down to performance attributes. Let’s start with the different categories of skis.

All-Mountain

This is your do it all ski, filling in everything between a dedicated powder ski and dedicated carving ski. Most ski sales pros will say that if you’re only going to own one pair, it should be an all-mountain ski. They’re designed to handle everything from fresh snow to moguls, groomers and steeps — which also means a certain amount of sacrifice. “Is there a true all-mountain ski that can do everything well?” asks Helmstaedter. “Absolutely not. You’re always giving something up.” Within the all-mountain category, there’s plenty of diversity; the category spans the gap between forgiving cruisers to missiles.

Powder

Once you’re into the 110mm waist and wider range, the skis only do one thing well: make skiing untracked snow easy. They’re so wide that it becomes hard to pressure the edge for carving, so they don’t do well on firm snow. But because they have so much surface area, they tend to float incredibly well, making skiing powder and even crusts much easier. This is the category where we see a lot of experimentation with things like reverse camber, upturned edges and unique shapes.

Carving

Spend more than 80 percent of your time skiing firm snow? Look for a ski with an 80mm and under waist width. This is also where the high-performance carving skis live. Both of these groups of skis can go anywhere on the mountain, but their happy place is on groomed snow.

Park

To survive the rigors of sliding rails, hucking table tops and flying out of the halfpipe, skis need to be tough. Park-focused skis tend to have full sidewalls, thicker edges and heavy-duty base material for absorbing hard landings and constant abuse. They are almost always twin tipped, for skiing and landing backwards. Their flex profile is usually soft in the tip for smearing and buttering, and stiff underfoot for stability and landing jumps. With versatile side cuts and waist widths, these skis often work well as all-mountain skis outside of the park.

Ski Prices

A new pair of skis range in price from less than $300 to more than $1,300. More and more skis now come with a binding designed specifically to integrate with the ski. These “system skis” are often good value compared to buying a ski and binding separately. The drawback is weight; they’re often heavier.

But even factoring in bindings, the price range is huge. Which begs the question, should you splurge or save? “You get what you pay for,” says Bernie Duval, a veteran floor manager at Fanatyk Co., a ski shop in Whistler. “The difference is in materials and workmanship. The ski will last longer.”

But most of us won’t notice the difference on the snow, says Rabinowitz. “As long as you’re paying $500 and up from a reputable manufacturer, there is no bad ski,” he says, “just a bad ski for you.”

You can save money by buying last year’s model. Often the technology is the same with an old graphic. Or, if you can wait, stores start dropping prices after Christmas. The drawback to either strategy is less selection.

One thing to keep in mind: everyone we talked to for this piece told us they recommend saving on skis and splurging on the right ski boot. “It’s fun to ski any ski if you have the right boot,” says Helmstaedter. “The opposite is not true.”

Things to Watch Out For

With a style of ski picked out, and a rough price range settled on, the next step is to refine your search through four more filters.

Waist Width: The width of a ski determines how easy it is to get from edge to edge, how much it wants to float in soft snow and how easy it is to carve. Narrower widths – say 60mm to 80mm – are best for nimble and precise carving. Powder skis are on the other end of the spectrum, 110mm and wider. All-mountain and park skis land anywhere in between. Generally, what’s considered an all mountain ski increases in waist width in correlation to the average snowfall. In the east, it’s about 80mm to 90mm, while locals in deep snow destinations might say 100mm to 110mm. In between would work just about anywhere. Lighter weight skiers might go 5mm narrower. Keep in mind that the same model of ski – with similar construction, turn radius and rocker – is often available in different waist widths.

Turn Radius: Think about how you like to ski. Do you make lots of turns or prefer to open it up and ski straight and fast? Most skis list their turn radius, and it often varies slightly with ski length. 17 meters is a rough middle of the road. Anything over 20 is a missile. And 13 could probably carve a circle.

Rocker: Rocker makes skiing easier. Pretty much every ski has tip rocker. The longer the tip rocker, the easier it is to start a turn and the more a ski wants to float in fresh snow. Tail rocker helps release a ski at the end of a turn. That’s especially handy for making steep terrain easier. More tip and tail rocker makes a ski feel shorter, because less ski is in contact with the snow, without losing any floatation in powder.

Length: Backcountry’s Rabinowitz says length is a key variable. “I can hate a ski in one length and love it in another,” he says. The length of your last pair of skis is a good place to start. Otherwise, aim for about your height or a little less. And remember that rocker makes a ski feel shorter.

A Note On Construction

Skis are generally made from a sandwich of materials, bookended by a top sheet and base, and glued together with a resin. Material choice is getting more diverse, but even the same materials aligned a different way can create big differences in performance, so it’s hard to generalize. This is also where brands tend to put a lot of marketing energy. Bottom line, don’t worry too much about the construction details and concentrate more on what kind of skiing the brand is recommending the ski for. That should tell you more about how it will ski than what’s inside. That said, here are a couple things to watch out for.
Carbon: Strands, stringers or sheets of carbon add stiffness without weight.
Metal: Most commonly Titanal, a mix of titanium and aluminum. It adds some stiffness, but mostly dampening or vibration absorption.
Wood: A wood core is the gold standard; we’d hesitate to buy a ski without a wood core.

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The 10 Best Skis of 2019

Everything You Need to Know About Buying Skis

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