When trying to pick out skis, there are a number of things to take into consideration. There is no one-size-fits option out there, so you must take great care in deciding which type of skis are right for you. If at any point you’re just not sure, give us a call at 866-243-6932 with any questions.
How to Pick the Right Skis
The four primary things to consider when choosing skis are height, gender, weight, and your skiing ability. Finding the correct ski size is primarily based on the skier height. But keep in mind there is no one magic formula.
In general, taller skiers need to use longer skis. Longer skis help these individuals to stabilize their longer limbs, giving them a more balanced center of gravity. When choosing a ski, the goal is to find one that measures up to somewhere between your chin and the top of your head.
Ski Sizing Chart
|Skier Height (ft/in)||Skier Height (cm)||Suggest Ski Length (cm)|
Weight also plays a factor in deciding which skis you’ll buy. A good rule of thumb is that, if you weigh less than the average for your height, you should opt for shorter skis. If you weigh more than average, you should opt for longer skis. Again, this all has to do with balance and how your weight affects your stability. Long skis will allow heavier skiers to make cuts with much greater ease.
The vast majority of skis you’ll find are marketed as either male or female skis. Few skis are marketed without a gender attached to them. While anyone could conceivably use any type of skis, it’s recommended that you use the skis designed for your gender. Women’s skis typically have their foot straps mounted further toward the front of the ski. This is because women have a lower center of gravity which necessitates a different balance of construction. They are also generally shorter than men’s skis
In general, experience levels can be split into three categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Each different experience level is best served by a different type of ski. Beginners are best suited with skis that are flexible, narrow, and made out of soft materials. These types of skis offer the most forgiveness, allowing you to make turns without easily falling over. Intermediates are best served by skis with a little more width and a little harder core. Usually possessing some bend, they offer a combination of control and carving capability. Advanced skiers will be best suited with hard and solid skis that offer very little flex. This types of skis offer both speed and precision, allowing you to make quick and agile cuts through the snow.
Ski Size Chart for Beginners to Advanced
|Skier Height (in)||Skier Height (cm)||Beginner to Intermediate||Advanced to Expert|
Types of Downhills Skis
There are many different types of downhills skis, but, for the most part, downhill skis can be broken down into four different categories. These categories include all mountain skis, big mountain skis, backcountry skis, and powder skis.
All mountain skis are skis which are designed to accommodate any form of skiing you come across while on a mountain. Adept at making it through ice, hills, powder, and every other type of obstacle you can find on a mountain, these types of skis are versatile, but not particularly masterful at any one task. These are the types of skis you should get if you’re not trying to be particularly great at any one type of skiing. They typically possess waist widths between 80mm and 110mm.
Twin Tip Skis
Made with the half-pipe in mind and catching air, Twin Tip skis are for the new breed of skier. These skis are equipped to handle going downhill backwards. Twin tip means you have tips on both ends of your ski. Although these skis started out in freestyle skiing, now you can find twin tip versions for all-mountain and powder skis.
These skis were made to take a bit more beating at the park on railing, pipes, and walls. For the freelance skier that likes to do tricks, these skis are also twin tip for maneuvering backward and catching big air.
Also known as alpine touring skis, backcountry skis excel at both climbing and going down steep hills. Best used for smooth, long distance skiing, they’re generally lighter in weight than other skis. They come with all different waist widths. Wider widths are typically best for skiing in deep snow, while narrower widths are best for skiing in shallow snow.
If you’re looking to ski in deep, untouched snows, you’re going to need powder skis. Powder skis are designed specifically to stay above deep snows, allowing you to cut through fresh snowfall with little trouble. These types of skis are almost always the widest, usually possessing waist widths of 115mm or more. With rockers on their front tips, and generally flexible construction overall, they are generally easy for skiers of all experience levels to use.
Different Ski Technology
Downhill Ski Rocker Profile
Each and every ski has its own bends and contortions. Together, these bends and contortions are known as a ski rocker profile. Finding the right rocker profile is vital in choosing a pair of skis that works for you and your purposes. While there are tons of different rocker profile configurations, four of the most common are camber, rocker, camber with front rocker, and rocker-camber-rocker.
Skis with a camber profile are elevated toward their middles, but flat on their back and front ends. These are the most traditional types of skis, and are best suited for trail skiing. This has a lot to do with their balance and stabilizing properties. These types of skis provide a little bit of bounce whenever you hit a hard slope. This bounce is, in a way, like shock absorbers in a car. It allows you to ski without having to do a lot of work, keeping stress and strain off your knees.
A rocker is the opposite of a camber. Whereas a camber is elevated in the middle of the ski, a rocker is de-elevated, with its middle resting flat on the ground. A ski with a rocker has elevated ends, enabling the ski to essentially glide over the snow. Rockers are typically not as stable as cambers, but offer much greater maneuverability and floatation in deep snow.
Camber with Front Rocker
A camber with front rocker is shaped like any other camber ski, but has a rocker portion located toward its front tip. This offers a combination of maneuverability and stability that is best suited for mountain skiing. While it could conceivably be used for trail skiing, it’s not adept at such a task.
If you’re looking for a very versatile type of ski, you’d probably be best suited by a rocker-camber-rocker ski. These skis are cambered in their middles, but are rockered on both their front and back tips. This offers them a combination of stability and maneuverability that allows them to be used for trail and off-trail skiing.
Ski Construction and Core Material
When it comes to ski technology, there is quite a bit to discuss. But perhaps the best way to discuss the subject is by discussing the materials that skis are made out of. The core of skis are typically made out of foam or wood. These materials help to lend flexibility to the ski while also ensuring that it doesn’t weigh too much.
Typically, the outer portion of a ski is made out of a composite material such as kevlar or fiberglass. These materials are not only very durable, but lightweight as well. The edges of skis are equipped with metal pieces which make for sharper and more controlled turns. In some cases, cork or rubber will be added to skis to give them greater shock absorbency capabilities.
Ski Waist Width
Waist width is one of the most important things to consider when choosing skis. Different widths are ideal for different purposes. Whereas skinnier widths are best for quick turns and trail skiing, wider widths are best for deep snow and uneven terrains. General rule is that the wider skis will have more contact surface area with the snow. So if the snow is choppy or uneven, a wider ski will become a more stable platform. With a narrower ski stability is not the question rather how much pressure, and how efficiently can I exert that pressure on the edges of my skis. There by holding an edge in a hard snow condition. A narrow ski allows the boot to be close to the edge and thus allowing you very easy control of your edges.
Ski Width Sizing
|Snow Conditions||Hard Pack||Groomed Powder||Packed Powder||Chop & Crud||Powder|
Skis with waist widths under 85mm are essentially only suited to accommodate trail skiing. This is because, while they are very agile and easy to maneuver, they just can’t stabilize in deep snow or rocky terrain. The vast majority of beginner skis possess waist widths of this size. This is because beginner skiers need skis which are lightweight and easy to move around. Waist widths under 85mm offer this.
85mm – 95mm
Skis with a waist width between 85mm and 95mm offer some versatility, but are still mostly equipped to accommodate trails only. Of course, they can be taken on deeper snow or rockier terrain on some occasions. Best suited for intermediate skiers who are looking to spend most of their time on the trails, they offer just a little more balance than skis under 85mm. If you’re a trail skier who might spend a little bit of time on the mountains, these will do for you.
96mm – 110mm
If you’re seeking a pair of all mountain skis, you’ll be best suited by waist widths of between 96 mm and 110mm. This size of skis offers a healthy combination of balance and maneuverability, allowing them to cut through the slopes and hills present on mountains. They can also be used on trails, but will not do as good of a job as something between 85mm and 95mm. If you’re an intermediate or advanced mountain skier who still spends some time on the trails, these are the type of skis you need.
Interested in skiing only the roughest of terrains? If so, you’ll be best suited by skis which possess a waist of over 110mm. Skis of this size are capable of “floating” on heavy snow, allowing them to make their way through deep powder with little effort or disturbance. While they’re not all that agile or maneuverable, these skis provide terrific stability and balance. And when you hit the rough and tumble mountains, that’s exactly what you need.
Another important aspect you must consider when choosing skis is their tail profile. The tail of skis determines how the skis will react during and after turns.
A ski’s turn radius determines how tight of turns said ski can make. Turn radii, as far as skis go, are measured from around 10 meters to 25 meters. Skis with a turn radius of 12 or under will be capable of making very tight turns when compared to other types of skis. These types of skis are be used by skiers who ski in tight and bumpy areas. Skis with a radius between 13 and 21 are said to have intermediate turning capabilities. They offer the most versatility, allowing them to be used in both short, tight areas and long, open areas. Skis with a radius over 21 make very long turns. These skis should never be used for purposes where precision is needed. They’re best used in long, open areas where you can make slow and smooth turns.
A flared tail is a tail which is slightly turned up. This type of tail offers a great deal of versatility, allowing skiers carve intensely and come out of turns without a great deal of resistant force. The most common type of tail, it’s best suited for beginner and intermediate skiers who are involved in many different types of skiing.
Twin Tip Tail
A twin tip ski has is a tail which is turned up intensely. This type of tail is great for advanced skiers as it allows them to ski and land both forwards and backwards. Capable of exiting turns very quickly, these types of tails are best used in bumpy and mountainous areas where the terrain is uneven. These are not recommended for beginner skiers. Intermediate skiers can use them, but might struggle to get the hang of them.
A flat tail is a tail which sits completely flat on the ground. These types of tails are the best tails to use for intense and unpredictable skiing styles. They offer terrific speed and grip, but are a little difficult to use when coming out of turns. They’re designed for only the most experienced of skiers. If you’re looking to go as fast as possible, these are the types of tails you need.
Each and every ski you come across will possess a different level of flexibility. Different flexibilities are best suited for different purposes. Before making a purchase on skis, you must take your desired ski’s flexibility into account.
Easily the most forgiving skis out there, ultra soft skis are best used by beginners and those who have trouble staying on their feet while coming down the slopes. While they offer terrific balance, they are limited in their overall speed, precision, and power. This makes them less than ideal for bumpy, mountainous terrains.
Just a step above ultra soft skis in terms of flexibility, soft skis are best used by beginners and those who just want a nice, slow, relaxing trip down the slopes. They offer tremendous amounts of forgiveness, doing the vast majority of the work for you. The problem is that they don’t possess a lot of power or speed.
Medium flex skis offer a combination of control and power. While they can be used to slide calmly down the slopes, they can also be used to tackle bumpy and mountainous areas. These skis are best suited for intermediates who participate in all types of skiing. They are also excellent for skiing in deep snows, or powder.
If you spend the vast majority of your time on rugged and bumpy terrains, you will need stiff skis. These skis don’t offer tons of forgiveness, but are capable of handling sharp turns, and of providing a great deal of speed. This makes them great for advanced skiers, and intermediates who are trying to step up their game.
Ultra stiff skis are designed for only the most intense of skiers. They offer almost no forgiveness, but offer tons of speed, power, and turning ability. These are the types of skis that should be used for big mountain skiing. If you’re a beginner or intermediate skier, they’re best avoided until proper training has been undertaken.
When a ski makes a turn, it does so by pressing its edge against the snow and using that resistance to change directions. The amount of the ski’s edge which provides this resistance is known as the effective edge. Effective edges are available at all sizes, but the best way to organize them is by labeling them long and short.
The longer the EE of a ski, the sturdier and more stable it will be while making turns. Long effective edges are best suited for beginner and intermediate skiers who are still trying to get the hang of balance and turning.
The shorter the EE, the quicker it can make turns. While a shorter EE won’t provide as much stability, it will allow a skier to stop and turn on a dime with much greater ability.
Ski Boot Size Chart
Mondo Sizes & Conversion Chart for Ski Boots
|Mondo (cm)||Men (US)||Women (US)||Europe||UK|
Boot Sizes may vary slightly by manufacturer, so check the sizing for individual needs.