Buying skis

Step-by-Step Ski Buying Guide

Buying skis
Image from

Technology has grown exponentially, and next to it the huge variety of skis for every taste. With so many skis on the market, it may result complicated to choose just a single pair.

 It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an expert freerider, choosing your skis can become extremely disturbing if you don’t know where to start from.

Here, you’ll find a step-by-step ski buying guide so that finding your ski doesn’t become a headache.

Step 1: Gender

Even though they might look the same, they are not. So, your first filter should be this one.

Men and women skis are not the same.


Men skis are designed for men of all abilities, shapes, sizes and any type of terrain out there.


Women skis are made just for the ladies. Even the most aggressive women skiers should be on women’s skis. They cater to the anatomical shape, weight, and stance that women have.

Step 2: Category

There is a ski for each ski terrain. Your task is to define what is your terrain.

Your next step is to think what do you want your skis for. Do you want an every-day ski? Or do you want a ski for powder days? There are different categories and it’s really important to understand the difference between them, so you can make a correct balance at the moment of choosing.


As the name suggests, all-mountain skis are for skiing the entire mountain. They are designed to handle anything you throw at them including powder, ice, groomers, steeps, heavy snow, and everything in between, but they aren’t necessarily a master of any one terrain or snow type. If you’re only going to own one ski to do it all, this is what you want.


Skiers who spend almost all of their time on groomed slopes perfecting graceful, high-speed arcs employ carving skis to help accomplish the task. Carving skis are the recreational descendants of slalom and GS racing skis, with a pure focus on speed, edge grip, and precision turning.

With narrow waist dimensions, a pronounced sidecut that creates a short turning radius, and camber underfoot that delivers good edge hold, these skis create an amazing experience on hardpack, but those same attributes mean carving skis are rarely more than adequate on anything but smooth, groomed trails.

If you plan to spend all of your time inbounds and 90% or more of that on groomed trails, or you’re looking for a ‘race’ feel, a carving ski is what you want.

Carving skis will literally teach you more about the dynamics of skiing fast than any other ski out there, but their specific and limited nature is not for everyone.


Best for powder, backcountry, and occasional groomed runs. As the name implies, these skis perform best when skiing deep powder snow.

Most feature a fully rockered profile to further boost flotation, enhance maneuverability and keep edges from catching.

Be aware that they’re not built for precise turns on groomed runs, but they are absolutely the best choice for a memorable day when the powder is deep.

Big Mountain

Expert skiers who to ski fast in steep, technical terrain need skis that can handle the pressure, and therein lies the reason for the big-mountain ski category.

A true big-mountain ski is a cross between a powder ski and an old-school race ski, built to remain rock-steady at high speed but made wider to improve handling in variable and soft snow conditions.

If you’re a powerful, expert skier, and you need an appropriate ski for your skill level and athletic ability, a stiff, burly big mountain ski will open doors and take your skiing to the next level. If you’re none of the above, well, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Park and Pipe

Park and Pipe Skis, also known as Freestyle Skis, are for high flying skiers that enjoy spending as much time in the air or on park features as they do on the snow. Most have twin tips that can ski forward and backward.

Step 3: Waist Width

Probably the most important feature of a ski to be considered when choosing a ski: the waist width.This is the measurement at a ski’s width at the middle (waist) of the ski, which is usually the narrowest point.

Narrower waist widths are quicker edge to edge during turns, while wider waist widths provide better flotation in powder and choppy snow. You will usually see ski dimensions specified by a 3-number measurement for the tip/waist/tail, 115/90/107mm.

In this example 115mm refers to the tip width, 90mm refers to the waist width, and 107mm refers to the tail width.

Less than 85mm

Skis under 85mm are best suited for skiers that will be spending just about all of their time on the groomed trails. This waist width can range from beginner all the way up to expert and everything in-between.

High-powered carving skis for experts usually have a waist width around 80-85mm which makes the ski very agile, yet wide enough to go through the crud that pops up on the groomers.

Skis for beginners are in this waist width that will make them lighter and easier to control while learning.


Skis 85-95mm are primarily used for on-trail skiing but have the ability to spend some time off the groomers in the right snow conditions. They have maneuverability on and off the trail and versatility so you can spend time in the powder.


Skis 96-110mm are the ideal all-mountain waist width for skiers seeking true versatility. They make medium to long radius turns on the groomers with ease and have the ability to float in all but the absolute deepest of powder (and we hope you get those days).

More than 111mm

111+mm waist widths are best for spending as much of your time as possible in the ungroomed terrain.

Ultra wide waist widths provide you with the most floatation in the deep powder and the most stability when things get cruddy or bumpy.

They are not the agilest ski for making short quick turns on the groomers but are easily manageable for making your way back to the lifts for another lap.

Step 4: Turn Radius

Turn radius is the shape of a ski determined by its tip, waist, and tail width, usually expressed in meters.

The narrower a ski’s waist is in relation to its tip and tail, the shorter the turn radius and therefore the deeper the sidecut.

A ski with a short turn radius will make quicker turns, while a ski with a long turn radius will turn more slowly and is typically more stable at high speeds.

A short turn radius (less than 17m) goes hand-in-hand with carving skis.

A medium turn radius (17-22m) is for all mountain skiing, or park and pipe skiing.

A long turn radius(more than 22m) characterizes big-mountain and powder skiing.

Step 5: Profile

There are three main types of ski profile: camber, rocker, and flat. Many modern shapes use a combination of more than one of these. No one profile is better than the others; they are just different and your choice is absolutely personal. Here we describe the main combinations.


Many skis offer a continuous, downturned arc (or bow) that runs for much of the length of the ski. When a skier stands on a ski, it flattens due to the skier’s weight.

At that point the entire length of the base can provide stability and the ski’s metal edge can initiate turns. As a skier moves from turn to turn, camber provides the energy for a ski to snap back from turns, creating a sensation of “liveliness.

” In short, camber is the built-in spring that makes a ski lively.


Rocker is essentially the opposite of camber and is sometimes known as reverse camber or negative camber. The side profile of a rockered ski resembles the upturned rails of an old-school rocking chair.

On a flat surface, the midsection of a rockered ski will rest on the ground while its tips and tails rise off the ground much earlier than they do for a cambered ski.

Rocker offers improved flotation in powder and offers greater maneuverability.


Rocker/Camber skis pair a traditional cambered profile underfoot with an elongated, early rise tip borrowed from fully rockered skis. This profile places the front contact point further back from the tip, while the rear contact point remains close to the tail.

The rockered tip allows for better flotation in deep snow and a less catchy feel on hard, while the cambered rear stores and transmits energy similarly to a fully cambered ski and retains edge-hold when your weight is over the tails.

More and more all-mountain and big-mountain skis are being built with this profile.

Because of its asymmetric shape, this profile does not ski switch as well as other profiles, but if you are looking for an all-mountain charger that floats in the fluff without giving up too much hard snow performance, Rocker/Camber is a great choice.

Rocker/Camber/Rocker skis have the playfulness and float of a rockered ski as well as the added edge hold of a cambered ski. The contact points on skis with this profile are closer towards the middle of the ski than a fully cambered ski, but still not underfoot. The cambered midsection provides a longer effective edge on hardpack, increasing edge hold and stability, while the rockered tip and tail provide floatation in deeper snow and allow the ski to initiate and release from turns easier. This profile provides playfulness for park skiers, flotation for powder lovers, forgiveness for beginners and versatility for those who only have one pair of skis. Many ski manufacturers offer multiple types of Rocker/Camber/Rocker to accomodate different skiers, pairing different amounts of rocker and camber with different ski widths and sidecuts.

Rocker/Flat/Rocker is another variation on the rocker theme that seeks to provide a little more hard snow edgehold and pop than full rocker while retaining ease of turning and float. Performance is between a fully rockered ski and a rocker/camber/rocker ski.

Step 6: Size

Length changes the way a ski performs while you’re going in a straight line, while you’re turning, and while you’re skiing at any speed.

Within a single make and model, a shorter length will usually make the ski more nimble, which leads to quicker turns and more maneuverability at slower speeds, while the longer lengths in that ski will have a longer turn radius and be more stable at a higher speed.

The reverse is also generally true: longer skis tend to be more sluggish at slow speeds, while shorter skis tend to lose stability as you go faster.

It stands to reason that as a general guideline, taller, heavier people and more advanced skiers tend to prefer longer skis because they have more leverage over the ski and feel more comfortable making longer turns. Shorter, lighter people (and less-experienced skiers) will usually feel more comfortable with the maneuverability of a shorter ski.

Click here for an online ski size calculator.

Step 7: Go buy your skis and hit the mountain

Now you are ready to buy your own skis. You know everything you need to know when you enter to your local ski shop, or navigate through any online ski store. So stop reading and find your perfect ski!

Portillo, Chile. September 21st, 2013. photo: adam cole/

Some graphs and information from


A Complete Checklist Of Used Ski Equipment Every Skier Should Buy

Buying skis

As the fall is about to kick in, it’s never too early to start thinking about winter. After all, winter sports hold a special place in our hearts, reserved for hitting fresh powder while breathing in the crisp air. It’s about the mountains, the clear blue skies, and that undeniable feeling of making the most a season most folks find otherwise unbearable.

Yes, enjoying winter sports can make the colder months some of the most fun out there, which is why it might be a good idea to start thinking about possibly suiting up this year for some skiing.

While some might consider it a luxury sport, when buying used, it can actually be a pretty affordable way to have some fun.

Granted, I’ll note that buying all your equipment at once is going to come with a heavier upfront cost, but the payoff will be something you can enjoy for the next five, ten, or even twenty years. However, to receive the full benefit of long lasting equipment, you’re going to have to know what to buy.

If you think finding used equipment can be tough, don’t worry! Today we’re going to walk you through how to find equipment, as well as what types you should buy.

Considering the investment, you’re about to make; it’s good to be educated on exactly what you’re getting into as skiing can be one of the most rewarding winter activities out there.

Trust me, after reading through this; you’ll be ready to hit the slopes in no time.

Finding Your Fit

most cases with used equipment, you’re going to have to check into how the goods were treated beforehand, as well as the specific environment they called home.

For example, someone in the New England area who is selling skis that were only used at a resort the past couple years will probably be better than say someone who who skied on and off trail in Utah.

Think of this buying a car: where it came from can tell a lot about the wear and tear, regardless of age or model.

Once you’ve established where the product you’re interested is coming from, another important thing to note is the type of usage it endured.

This basically boils down to how often the skis were used, how old they are, if they made any alterations or customizations for the types of terrain it was exposed to (I.E.

: on trail skiing vs off trail and most importantly how well they were maintained.)

All of these factors are going to play a huge role in price.

For example, a pair of skis that were used on trail at a resort and well taken care of might have a higher reselling value than someone who skied off trail and didn’t maintain their skis.

Check and see what type of skiing the seller most often used the skis for and how well they were taken care of, as well as follow up on some of the other factors that are pertinent to you.

Determining a Ballpark Figure

When it comes to used equipment, determining a fair price on something with such a steep upfront cost can be a tough battle. After all, most of us are probably looking at which pieces it would be alright to go cheap on while wondering what other portions we should invest serious cash into. Overall, my strategy is going from the ground up.

The first thing you should invest in is the actual skis themselves. While I know this sounds obvious, a solid, well-maintained pair of skis can last for decades and is going to be the core of everything else you’ll buy.

The second thing I’d recommend would be your boots, as the fit on these is going to largely dictate the activity. And finally, your bindings should not only match your boots but be fine tuned to your liking by a professional.

From there, the other stuff can be things you invest in quality later on.

Estimates for a full-suite of equipment can range from $1,000 on the low end to upwards of a couple thousand. Keep in mind, this isn’t true for everyone, as some folks find deals at yard sales, going out business sales, etc. However, as I stated above, this is going to be a long term investment, so approaching the primary pieces as such could actually save you tremendously in the long run.

When To Buy

Considering that the winter sports season is coming about within the next few months, it’d be best to hop on the opportunity to purchase your primary pieces of equipment ahead of time.

Prices can go up the closer it gets to November or December, so take the time to consider investing sooner than later. However, if you already have the equipment and are looking to upgrade, perhaps wait until the spring.

After the season ends, you’ll not only find more clearance sales but folks who are cleaning out what they don’t use anymore or have purchased other stuff.

I’ll note that when it comes to used equipment, it’s not necessarily always a bad thing if someone has upgraded their equipment and are looking to get rid of their old stuff.

In fact, these people can be some of the best to buy from as they’ve taken the sport seriously enough to buy new gear, which might allude to them taking good care of their older set.

Finally, always factor in how skiing season varies from state to state, which is going to play into consideration on when your purchase would be most advantageous.

Searching for Equipment

Below we’ve listed a few helpful tips on each of the type of equipment you should buy for getting into skiing. A lot of it is going to be contingent on the type of skiing that you’re aiming to do, where you’re trying to go, as well as your experience level.

While I know it might seem overwhelming; the process can actually be pretty simple if you follow the right steps.

Overall, being able to hit the slopes every winter can be one of the most rewarding investments you’ll make, which is why we’ve listed a few key points below:


When it comes to buying used skis, you first have to consider the type of skiing that you’re going to do. As REI notes, there are numerous types depending on the types of terrain and style you perform.

For example, all-mountain skis are ideal for any terrain, while all-mountain wide skis are better groomed for powder skiing. Additionally, there are options available for strictly powder and backcountry as well.

Once you’ve decided on the types of skis you’re after, take a close glance at the maintenance that was performed on them. Look at the edges to see if they were sharpened regularly, and have little rust damage.

Additionally, the skis should have proper tune-ups performed, as well as waxing done too.

How often these services were done is heavily contingent upon how often the person had used them, but at the very least, should have been performed at least once a season.

The overall feel of your skis is going to vary when buying used, so don’t be too surprised if they feel awkward. Remember, the other owner most ly broke them in through use, so it’s going to be more curtailed to their riding style and body type. This in combination with where they rode is factors you should consider as well.

Finally, in looking for used skis, you’re going to want to invest in something that’s long-lasting.

Even though buying secondhand can be an excellent way to save money, your skis are going to be the core component of your gear, so it’s imperative you invest in something that will provide the highest value and usage for the lowest cost.

In terms of brands, folks Atomic, Volkl, Blizzard, Fischer, Rossignol, Head and Nordica have been some solid, tried-and-true choices, with other brands Salomon, Stockli, 4FRNT and Line contributing some great products as well.


When buying used, boots can be tricky. Un buying a used pair of shoes, the breaking in process in your ski boots is going to matter quite a bit. However, that’s not to say you won’t find something that will suit your needs.

First and foremost, it’s highly suggested you try on the boots before purchasing. Doing so will allow you to gauge if it’s the right fit or not, and can test the mobility and movement. Start by seeing how snug they are.

It’s okay if your foot shifts and touches the toe casing, but you don’t want it to feel as though it’ll continuously rub against there. Additionally, if your heel is coming up, that’s alright as well.

Overall, the fundamental goal is for your boots to be snug and firm, but not to the point that it’s constricting.

If you have your heart set on used boots, make sure to ask how old they are, how often they were used and how much “work” has been done on them. Work means the boots have been custom fit to the previous owner, and therefore their fit might not be suitable to yours.

For what brands you should seek out, a few mentioned above (Atomic, Head, Rossignol, and Fischer) are going to be excellent, as well as Lange and Technica.


A big thing to factor in when purchasing your bindings is the level of expertise that you have.

As REI notes, beginner to intermediate skiers, are level 1-2, meaning they do not need the highest release setting, with more advanced skiers at a level 3 needing a higher release setting and more durable bindings.

Level 3 essentially means that it takes more force for the skier to get the binding, which to some might sound safer, can actually be quite dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Another factor of note is how your bindings fit with your boots. Quite simply, if you’re just starting out with used equipment, I’d focus on finding boots with a great fit first, followed by bindings that fit them. There’s a variety of styles and options when it comes to bindings, and trying them on in tandem will serve you best in the long-run.

In terms of what specific brands to look after, a few mentioned above can serve your needs, as well as Marker, who makes some excellent quality stuff.


When it comes to poles, the size and style can vary greatly. Keep in mind when shopping for a set that there’s a variety of different types depending on the kind of skiing that you’re doing (I.E.: Downhill, speed, etc.) However, if you’re looking just to do standard recreational skiing, then downhill poles will serve fine.

To get fitted, strap on your boots and hold the pole upside down with the grip towards the floor. Ideally, your arm should be at a 90-degree angle. This is imperative to get right as your poles are going to dictate a lot of your split-second movement, especially in changing direction.

When checking out used poles, look at tips and see if there are any glaring errors or damage. Additionally, make sure the grips are functional, and there aren’t any major nicks, scratches, or dents. These could throw off your balance quite a bit, which defeats the purpose of the pole in the first place.

In terms of brands, there’s a little bit less scrutiny regarding what to go after. Any of the folks mentioned such as Fischer or Rossignol will be fine choices, as well as companies Swix and Leki. Finally, don’t stress too much about the material or weight if you’re just starting out as these factors really are geared more towards competitive skiers.


While a lot of your fellow skiers might forgo a helmet, it’s something that could potentially be life-saving. Whether you’ve been doing this for years or are brand new to the sport, it’s never a bad idea to provide yourself with a layer of protection. And no, the weight won’t throw you off.

In terms of your fit, a helmet should fit snug (much your boots mentioned above), and shouldn’t move around at all.

Additionally, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t substitute a winter sports helmet with say a bike or skateboarding helmet as these are drastically different in terms of design and usage.

Skiing helmets are specially made to handle the change in temperatures, as well as can accommodate with the other layers you possibly could be wearing. Finally, your helmet should also go in accordance with the goggles you pick out as well.

If looking into used helmets, it is important to check the age of the helmet as well as how much wear it has endured over its lifetime.


Goggles are a crucial portion of your skiing equipment. Beyond just protecting yourself from blaring winds and other objects coming into your eye, they also can be a great tool for sun protection as well as if you have vision problems.

Try on as many pairs as you can to get a feel for your size before you buy, as loose goggles are going to be a pretty big waste. In terms of brands, a few stylish options that also provide a fantastic product include Spy, Oakley, and Smith.


Most winter gloves that are thick and made either nylon, GorTex, or Kevlar will serve you fine but beware of them being too bulky. Skiing gloves are traditionally designed to give you a little more range of motion and grip, especially when it comes to contact with your pole.

Additionally, your gloves are going to be everywhere on the slopes, so it’s important to get a pair that’s waterproof. Most manufacturers have a set of gloves, but my personal recommendations include Hestra, Spyder, and The North Face. Burton or Dakine also make a quality product.


Ski Buying Guide

Buying skis

Want your own skis but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place. With so many different types of skis to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow your search. Luckily, we’ve created this expert ski buying guide to help you own the mountains this season. 

There are plenty of things to consider when you’re buying skis, and it’s important to get it right at every stage to make sure your skis feel they were made for you. 

Things to consider: 

  • Length and size
  • Ability
  • Ski width
  • Turning radius
  • Rocker type
  • Your riding style and preferred terrain

Choosing the right length ski largely depends on your height, body weight, and what type of riding you want to do. 

A good starting point is to pick a ski length that hits somewhere between your chin and the top of your head before thinking about your preferred riding style, snow, and terrain.

If you’re a beginner or improver and don’t tend to ski fast, a short ski will suit you best. If you ski fast or aggressively, or plan to do a lot of off-piste skiing, go for a slightly longer ski.

Advanced or racing skiers tend to prefer skis that are longer than head height, but for less experienced skiers, shorter skis are easier to turn.

Your ability level is no longer as relevant when choosing skis as constantly evolving ski technology allows for a better match to your style and terrain. However, it’s still a good place to start so it’s worth talking to one of our experts in-store who can find you skis appropriate for your ability level. 

Think about your ability in terms of beginner, intermediate, and advanced, using the following guide for help.

It could be your first time skiing, or you’ve been a few times before. You’ve learnt to link turns, control your edges, and can stop with control on blue and red runs.

Skis that have softer flex, narrower widths, with specific designs such as carving will allow for an easier turn and more control.

You’re more confident in your ability to turn and stop, improving your carving and confidently taking on red and black runs. You’ve begun to play with riding switch and on different terrain such as in powder or off-piste.

You ride the mountain with confidence and style, looking for new adventures and challenges and often to charge at speed. You have control carving on icy pistes and steep terrain and are confident riding a variety of snow conditions and terrains.

The width of your skis will contribute to how it feels and performs. The measurement is taken from the middle of the ski, usually at the narrowest point. Narrow widths will offer a quicker turn, while wider waist widths offer better flotation in powder.

Ski dimensions will be given in a 3-number format; tip, waist, and tail.

The turn radius will also contribute to how your skis feel and perform. The turn radius is given in metres. The narrower the ski’s width in relation to its tip and tail, the shorter its turn radius and deeper the sidecut.

Skis with a shorter turn radius are suitable for all mountain and some powder skis with tapered tips and tails. Carving skis often have a shorter turn radius and are good for quicker turns.

A medium turn radius is good for all mountain riding, park, and pipes.

Skis with a long turn radius are good for powder and big mountain skiing, turning more slowly and usually more stable at high speeds.

The camber profile is the curvature of the base of a ski, with different profiles suiting different styles of skiing. These vary slightly by brand, but below is a rough guide to the different camber profiles. 

Traditionally skis are cambered, giving them an upward arching curve in the middle to help distribute pressure evenly across the length of the skis. Cambered skis ask for a more precise turn but give maximum energy on groomed pistes and hard snow, as well as good edge hold and pop. 

Camber is often preferred by racing skiers and advanced park riders.

A rocker, also known as reverse-camber, is a camber turned upside down. Ideal for both beginner and advanced riders, the rise of the tip and tail away from the snow results in easier float in deeper powder. A rocker will also give a looser, more manoeuvrable feel, freeing up the contact points for less edge catching and more confidence.

Flat camber skis, or zero camber, is when the ski is completely flat along its length.  As it is flat it does not have the same edge control as a camber or reverse camber ski, so it may not be best as a piste ski.  These are best for powder skiing or freestyle skiing, where you will typically be skiing on piste to get to the park or the powder areas. 

Camber, rocker, and flat profiles can be combined in a variety of ways to create different rocker profiles. These combination rockers give riders the best of each type for different mountain rides. Brands are constantly experimenting with new and combined rocker types.

Any skis can be ridden on any terrain but are usually designed with a specific terrain or style in mind; for example, powder skis are designed to be wider at the nose to help keep you afloat.

Have a look at the following descriptions of the major ski categories. If you’re new to skiing, all mountain skis are a good place to start as they perform well across all terrains.

Designed to go anywhere and work well in all snow conditions, all mountain skis are ideal for everything from groomed pistes, to park runs, and powder. Now the most popular ski ahead of piste, all-mountain skis tend to have fairly fat waist offering good support and stability, and plenty of versatility. If you want a ski that does it all, this is it. 

Freestyle or park skis tend to be a little bit shorter and are suitable for park riding, from rails to boxes and jumps and more with softer flex to allow for increased agility. Park skis usually have twin tips and more durable edges.

Designed for riders who spend their days off-piste and in varied terrain, exploring the entire mountain, freeride skis have a stiffer flex and are a little longer than freestyle skis for stability at speed. 

Alpine touring skis are also referred to as backcountry skis, designed for going uphill as well as down. They are lightweight and will easily fit climbing skins.

If you prefer gliding down freshly groomed pistes, carving or practising your tight turns, piste skis are for you. They are usually narrow at the waist for a quick, responsive turn. Beginner to intermediate hire skis are usually piste skis for an easier ride.

Our in-store experts are fully trained to help you choose the right equipment, so visit your nearest Snow and Rock store for a personalised service and expert advice. 


Terms You Need to Know When Buying Skis

Buying skis

Ski jargon can get straight-up overwhelming. Even a gearhead myself gets bogged down in the endless talk of rocker, camber, and sidecut.

In an attempt to wade through the clutter and clearly lay out the terms you need to know—as well as what they really mean for on-snow performance—I spoke with Outside contributing editor Marc Peruzzi, who’s been testing skis for us, Mountain Magazine, and other publications for two decades.


If you place a cambered ski on a table and look at it from the side, the tip and tail of the ski will be resting on the surface while the middle arcs up. “Imagine a leaf spring on an old pickup truck,” Peruzzi says. Applying force on a cambered ski, as when you enter a turn, flattens it out, or “decambers” it.

“Camber is a way for manufacturers to build energy into the ski that you’re getting back when you exit the turn,” says Peruzzi. “A cambered ski bounces back when you unweight it, providing a little pop.” That same camber also boosts grip and glide, because it distributes your body weight and increases edge contact.


“Rocker is when the tip and the tail of a ski are flared up to help it float better in powder,” Peruzzi says.

Just as a flat-nosed boat would move a slug through the water, a ski with a flatter shovel—the front third of the ski—doesn’t get up on top of powder the way a rockered ski does.

Rocker at the tail, meanwhile, makes for easier turning since less of the tail is in contact with the snow. Most all-mountain skis these days feature both camber and rocker.


“Sidecut is the top-down silhouette of a ski,” Peruzzi says, meaning it’s how the ski tapers from the tip to the waist and then widens again from the waist to the tail, resulting in an almost hourglass shape.

Sidecut for a given ski is often displayed as three numbers: the first is the width of the tip, the second is the width of the waist, and the third is the width of the tail. The greater the difference between the ends and the middle, the deeper the sidecut.

A more exaggerated sidecut creates a tighter turn—fun for arcing turns on groomers, but hourglass skis aren’t great in powder.

Peruzzi says that if you’re primarily a backcountry or off-trail skier, you’ll want a wider and straighter ski to both float better in powder and allow for a looser turning style as opposed to the locked-in feel of a deep-sidecut carving ski. As for groomer skiing, a ski with more sidecut can make tighter turns (think slalom), and one with less sidecut has a wider turn radius (think super-G).


Within sidecut, there’s a specific number to pay close attention to: the number of millimeters your ski measures at the waist (i.e. right beneath your bindings). It makes a big difference in how your ski will perform in different snow conditions. The wider the ski, the better it’ll float on powder, but the harder it’ll be to turn.

If you live out West and spend most of your time off trail or are hitting up a resort after a storm, you’ll probably want wide planks around 105 millimeters, Peruzzi says. “When you look at places with less snow— Summit County in Colorado—you’re going to want a ski that’s 95 millimeters underfoot.

If you’re on the East Coast and are primarily an off-trail skier [read: making lots of turns on ice], you’re going to be looking at 85 millimeters.”

How Rocker, Camber, and Width Relate

Usually there’s a connection between width and the ski’s rocker and camber. “The more rocker the ski has, the fatter the ski is ly going to be,” Peruzzi says. “You want fatter and more rockered skis for deeper snow.

” The rocker and wide girth will work together to help a ski stay on top of powder.

Conversely, groomed trails and icy conditions play nicely with skinnier skis (for better turning), more camber (for even better turning), and less rocker (since you won’t need as much float).


Lighter is not automatically better. “Lightweight does not mean it will turn quicker or perform any better, and in a lot of ways it’ll perform worse,” Peruzzi says. Skis that are too light will deflect off anything and are more difficult to keep on edge in a turn. The high-end skis World Cup racers use are crazy heavy.

But due to backcountry skiing’s growth, as well as frontside skiers’ desire for sticks that are easier to carry through the parking lot or hike up a bowl, the ski industry has been offering increasingly lighter skis in the past decade.

Peruzzi says that the lightest you should go is 1,800 grams for backcountry skiers, or down to 1,600 grams for women.


Buying Skis

Buying skis

The choice of skis depends largely on your level, your height and whether you are passionate about skiing on piste, in the park or in the off-piste.

What length of skis should you choose?

The right length of skis mainly depends on your height and your skiing level.

For kids who are first time skiers we recommend to choose a ski around chest hight. This makes it easier to focus to learn to ski and to manage to control the skis.

For kids who are advanced skiers we recommend that the skis are at the same height as your mouth or chin, whereas it can be at eye level if you are an expert.

For adult skiers, besides body height and level, the ski type also plays a key role, as recommended in the illustration below for intermediate skiers:

6 types of skis

There are generally six types of alpine skis at SkatePro.

All mountain ski

Are you eager to explore the whole mountain on skis? All mountain skis are the most versatile skis, optimal both on piste, off-piste and in the park. All mountain skis are built with a wider design under the foot and in ski's tip compared to an ordinary piste ski, making it more stable.


These type of skis are for you who knows that the prepared slopes in the resort are the places you will be skiing. Piste skis are made for cruising and speeding down the groomers and for fun with both short and long turns.

Piste skis are just a bit easier to handle and maneuver than true racing skis. But don't be afraid of being slow on the slopes, piste skis are still fast and powerful.

Twintip ski

A twintip ski is perfect for you who desired playful days on the slopes and at the same time loves to challenge yourself with jumps, half pipes and boxes in the park. A twintip ski briefly explained, is a soft flex ski with a lifted tip and tail design.

Due to this design, the ski prevents resistance and offers the opportunity of riding backwards. Twintip skis also belongs within the category of backcountry skiing, as described below, built to explore deep snow in the off-piste.

Freeride skis / Backcountry skis

Do you have a passion for adventure and powder snow? Freeride skis are also called off-piste skis or backcountry skis. They are characterized by a wide width, stiffness and a twintip design, which together provides a great flow in deep snow and large curves.

Racing skis

Racing skis are for those who are passionate about a high speed and newly prepared slopes. Built as carving skis with a strong edge grip and torsional stiffness, racing skis are also perfect for slalom. Racing skis are designed with a relatively narrow waist and a wider tip, to offer you stability and control.


Do you want to hike through the snowy forest to find the perfect untouched deep snow? Then Alpine touring skis should be the perfect fit for you.

Alpine touring skis are made for you to be able to hike out in the backcountry and up the backside of unprepared mountain sides with your skis on your feet. Touring both combines hiking and downhill skiing performance.

Ski designs

A baseline (a skis base) varies and can consist of either a camber, rocker or flat design. These designs are often combined, depending on the purpose of the ski.

Rocker: Applied when a ski is curving upwards in the tip and/or the tail of the ski, while the center can be flat or have camber. Rocker prevents resistance in powder snow and makes turns easier.

Camber: The tip and tail of the ski is being pressed into the snow, which increases the contact area with snow and gives a better edge grip. The result of this is an increased stability at high speed.

Flat: When the most of the skis baseline is in contact with the snow.

In addition to skis, it is very important that you have a comfortable and warm ski boot. Read more about boots on Purchase of ski boots here.

Sign up for our newsletter!

Receive emails with sales, product news and tips and tricks for your gear.