Best review on how to buy Skis – A Ski Buyers Guide

How to buy Skis – A Ski Buyers Guide

Whether you're buying your first pair of skis or adding a pair to your collection, there are a few things to think about before making the big decision.

Skis are built to perform best in specific types of snow and terrain. All aspects of ski design will change depending on what they are intended to do.

When purchasing a new pair of skis, the first thing to consider is your current ability level, followed by the type of skiing you will be doing (i.e. which terrain and snow you will be on).

There are skis for every ability and occasion, from cruising the resort with kids to blasting through deep powder in the backcountry or landing big air in the park.

Ski Terms And Technology

Modern skis come in a plethora of different specifications and dynamics, as well as a plethora of terminology.

Let me briefly explain some of the factors involved in ski design before we get into which type of ski is appropriate for each ability and level.

These include:

  • The total length of the ski from tip to tail is referred to as its length.

  • Sidecut radius: The sidecut radius of a ski is its turning radius. 

  • Camber and Rocker: Camber refers to a ski profile's convex bend, whereas rocker refers to a ski profile's concave bend. This is covered in greater detail in this handy guide.

  • Flex/stiffness: This refers to how flexible or stiff the ski is.

  • Underfoot width: The width of the ski at its narrowest point.

  • Twin tips: When the tail of the ski mirrors the tip, skiing in both directions is possible.

All of these elements are combined with modern materials to form the modern ski.Before you start looking for a new pair of skis, it's important to have a basic understanding of these terms and how they affect ski performance.

Many factors influence ski selection, including snow conditions such as powder skiing.

How to Select Skis - Which Ski Types Should You Consider?

To make it easier to choose new skis, we can describe them in a way that highlights their key features.

  • Beginner skis: These will be especially simple to learn to ski on. Camber can be traditional or hybrid.

  • Piste skis: These will be ideal for making precise turns on firm pistes. Camber at its best.

  • Race skis: allow a skier to make quick, powerful turns on hard slopes. Camber at its best.

  • All mountain skis: A versatile ski that excels in a variety of snow conditions. Camber Hybrid

  • Powder skis: are skis that are designed to provide float and control in deep snow. Camber hybrid.

  • Park skis: Fun skis designed specifically for tricks and jumps. Twin tips and hybrid camber.

  • Big mountain skis: These will be skis for big, steep off-piste runs. Camber Hybrid (Possibly Flat or Rocker)

To help you choose the right ski, let's first look at some key differences.


skis are designed to be gender specific in order to fit male and female body types. It's not just about the ski's color and graphics. Many ski models will be produced in both male and female versions.

Women's skis, for example, are typically (but not always) shorter and more flexible. This allows for the biomechanical differences between men and women.


There are also skis designed for specific age groups. There are skis designed specifically for children of various ages, and then there are adult skis.

Skier type or level

The type of skier you are will determine which type of ski you will enjoy the most. As a beginner, you won't know what kind of skier you are because you're still figuring everything out. When you reach the intermediate level, you can start to shape your skier type.

The type of snow and terrain you ski on will be influenced by your skier type.

Let's delve a little deeper into this.

What Type Of Skier Are You?

Here are some typical skier profiles, as well as some suggestions for buying skis.

Complete Newbie

A beginner skier is a newcomer to the sport. They are working on technique and fitness, and will most likely attend ski school.

Total beginners, I believe, will most likely rent skis, and local rental shops will have the type of ski best suited to learning. These frequently correspond to the ethos of the local ski school.

Beginner skis are typically short, flexible, and have a sidecut/profile that allows for easy turns and control. A little rocker at the tip and tail may help with turns, but camber underfoot is essential for learning to ski properly and in control. Most beginners will begin their lessons on a forgiving piste ski.

Skier Intermediate

I would recommend attending ski school and renting a pair of piste skis or a piste-oriented all mountain ski to a beginner skier. Taking private lessons on your own or with a small group of friends is another excellent option. You can always ask the rental shop or a local ski school which skis will work best for the teaching methods on that hill.

A full camber ski will necessitate proper technique learning, whereas a ski with some rocker at the tip may allow the skis to enter a turn more easily, be more forgiving, and allow for some off-piste practice if necessary.

Once a good technique has been mastered, personal preference will guide the selection of the next ski. Hopefully, your ski school will introduce you to some off-piste experience as well as solid piste technique, so that when you progress to the next level, you will be better able to decide what type of skiing you want to do and thus which ski to choose.

If there's a lot of powder around, you might decide it's time to learn off-piste technique, in which case an all-mountain ski will be ideal. I would stick to a ski with camber underfoot but a little tip rocker at first.

Casual Piste Skier

This person may simply enjoy cruising around the resort in the sun, taking in the scenery and exploring. An intermediate to experienced skier or an older skier is most likely. Skiers spend one or two weeks skiing with their families or on weekend trips each year.

Traditional camber piste skis are ideal for casual piste skiers, unless you intend to venture off the groomers, in which case an all mountain ski is recommended.

Casual skiers may have a reliable pair of skis, but many still prefer to rent. Nowadays, a good rental shop will have a good selection of options. If there's a new snowfall, you could always switch out your piste skis for an all mountain pair for a day or two (there might be an additional cost but its probably worth it).

An all mountain ski will benefit casual skiers who enjoy getting off the groomers. I would recommend choosing skis with solid on-piste performance and enough camber underfoot to provide secure hold on firm pistes.

Choose a standard carving ski with a medium to high sidecut radius and plenty of camber underfoot for those who will mostly stay on the piste. For quick transitions between turns, choose a width underfoot of 70-85cm.

Choose a ski that is a standard length for your height (for more information, see our ski length guide) and is not too stiff (unless you are super fit and athletic). Keep in mind that a high-performance, stiff racing ski will be exhausting if you spend all day on the mountain, so avoid them unless you are extremely fit and strong. However, if the ski is too soft, it will chatter at high speeds.

Advanced skier

Experienced skiers will need to purchase skis that best suit their needs, whether it's an all-purpose ski for everyday use or something tailored to specific snow conditions.

Those looking to venture off the groomers in search of powder or to explore the resort further should consider an all mountain ski. All mountain skis do come with a trade-off: they won't hold an edge as well on groomers as a piste ski, and they won't float as well in powder as a full-on powder ski. However, they should be excellent for powering through mixed snow conditions common in and around the resort, and they are an excellent choice if you only want one pair of skis to enjoy your day.

There are numerous all-mountain skis available these days. Some are primarily piste skis that perform admirably in mixed conditions, while others are off-piste skis that perform admirably on the piste as well. Consider where you spend the majority of your time and choose an all-mountain ski at the other end of the spectrum.

A full on piste ski is required for advanced skiers who stick to groomers to perfect their carving turns or even enjoy some ski racing. Piste skis have a traditional, full camber profile and are narrow to allow for fast turns. These are available in a variety of performance levels, so it is critical to choose one that matches your goals. Strong and powerful skiers will need a stiff ski.

However, this is where things can get interesting because it may be time to consider a variety of skis. One is more powder-oriented, while the other is more of a piste and/or all-mountain ski.

 Because I may have raised more questions than answers, this is where personal preference comes into play! I believe that because the options are endless, improving skiers will benefit greatly from trying a few before settling on a specific ski.

More experienced skiers will most likely want to have a variety of skis available to them in order to make the most of the current conditions.

Hard Charger

These skiers may or may not stick to the piste, but they tend to ski more athletically, i.e. hard and fast. They may be looking for powder stashes and jumps, or they may be racing down the runs with powerful turns.

The ski chosen here should reflect the skier's style and the conditions. A high-quality all-mountain ski would be ideal for those who ski on and off piste throughout the resort. A traditional camber piste or race ski is better suited to those who prefer carving big turns on the piste or practicing for the next competition.

Park/freestyle Skier

Park skiers enjoy doing tricks and jumps and spend a lot of time practicing in ski parks. Twin tips with a specific hybrid camber profile are the best skis for freestyle. These enable skiers to travel forwards and backwards in equal comfort.

Freestyle skis have a lot of pop for taking on kickers and performing tricks. Park skis typically have thicker edges that are better suited for taking on rails and boxes.

Ski racers prefer racing skis that are extremely long, narrow, and stiff. These skis are designed for specific racing disciplines and are not suitable for anything else.

Best Tips For Choosing The Right Skis

1. Choose a ski that is appropriate for your skier type

When purchasing new skis, choose a ski that is appropriate for the terrain you prefer to ski on. For example, if you enjoy skiing in a park, choose a freestyle ski. Choose a medium stiffness piste ski if you prefer to cruise the groomers.

If you like doing a little bit of everything then pick a ski designed for the environment where you’ll spend most of your time. Or simply opt for an all mountain ski.

2. Choose a ski that is appropriate for your skill level.

Choose a ski with features that are appropriate for your skill level and will maximize your enjoyment. So, for example, avoid selecting a ski that is too stiff or too long, as selecting a ski that is beyond your ability level will ultimately make skiing less enjoyable. That is not to say you should choose something too easy, as it is important to have a ski that will help you develop as a skier.

3. Choose a ski that is appropriate for your location.

If you are skiing in Japan or other places where powder is legendary, I would recommend keeping a wide powder oriented ski in your locker. A wide all-mountain ski or a full powder ski.

A piste ski with camber would be more appropriate for the east coast's notoriously hard groomers.

4. Take advantage of test days.

Test days are occasionally offered by ski manufacturers at resorts. These allow you to try out the latest products, and the technicians on hand will be happy to assist you in selecting the best ski for your needs.

Another option for experimenting with different setups is to rent a specific pair of skis for a day or two in specific conditions and see how they work for you.

Consider all aspects of how the ski feels, right down to how you feel at the end of a day skiing on them, when testing out a new ski. It's pointless to go for a stiff "mountain slayer" just because it looks or sounds cool. Choosing something less aggressive or simply easier to live with may open up a whole new world of enjoyment.

5. Don't get caught up in the hype.

Big wide powder skis look cool and are great for making fresh tracks on those special days, but on nearly every other occasion, a more versatile all mountain ski would make more sense. It may be a good idea to simply rent a pair of powder skis on those special days, as they may not occur as frequently as you would like.

6. Examine and read ski reviews

Google and YouTube have some great reviews for almost every ski ever made. It is well worth investigating what ordinary people are saying rather than relying solely on the manufacturer's marketing.

Ski Buying Summary

Many factors go into ski design, including length, width, camber profile, stiffness, and sidecut radius. These characteristics vary depending on the terrain and snow on which the ski is intended to ski. A powder ski, for example, will be wide and flexible, with a rocker profile. Racing skis are usually long, stiff, and narrow.

To decide which ski to buy, you must first determine your skill level and the type of skiing you enjoy. Based on this information, you can then choose the ski profile that best suits your needs.

 You can have fun skiing with any ski in any conditions, so don't be too hard on yourself if your friends' skis are better suited to the snow on that particular day. Enjoy the fact that you are currently clipped into the best skis available. Every dog has his or her day.

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