The Best Ski Brands and Our Top Men’s Gear Picks from Each

Skiing Volkl M5 Mantra Skis Mountain
Völkl M5 Mantra Skis. Völkl

The number of ski brands, and our exposure to them via the internet, has exploded in recent years. How do you know which ones are the best?

It’s a tough call to make. Everyone has their own riding style, local ski hill, and favorite color. A few brands are currently at the top of their game and it’s hard to go wrong with any of their ski gear. Here are some of our the best ski brands with top men’s gear picks from each.

K2

During the 1960s, Bill Kirschner worked for the family business, Kirschner Manufacturing, making plastic splints and animal cages. In 1961, his world changes forever when he used a pair of borrowed skis and made a lighter, livelier fiberglass version. By 1968, with help of a Seattle-based ski equipment distributor, Bill and his brother, Don, had created K2 and sold 21,000 pairs of skis.

Fast forward to 2019 and K2, now K2 Sports, owns K2 Skis, K2 Snowboarding, Line Skis, and numerous other outdoor sports companies. What started as an experiment on Vashon Island near Seattle in the ’60s is now a global outdoor equipment and apparel brand.

Best Gear

Recon 120 Heat Ski Boots
K2 Recon Heat Boots

Cold toes while skiing is the worst. K2 and Therm-Ic have done something about it. With a heating element over the toes and a tiny battery pack hidden in the back of the boot, the Recon 120 Heat ski boot keeps your feet warm. The batteries last between four to 19 hours, depending on the setting. They charge in about six hours so you’re heading for (warmly) shredding the pow the next day.

Pinnacle 95 Ti Skis
K2 Pinnacle 95 Ti Skis

The Pinnacle 95 Ti from K2 is the definition of an all-mountain ski. A layer of Titanol above and below the fir wood core dampens vibrations while keeping control accurate. K2 Konic Technology keeps the mass of the ski towards the edges where it’s going to impact performance the most.

Power Carbon Ski Pole
K2 Power Carbon Ski Pole

Ski poles need to be comfortable and lightweight. The Power Carbon Ski Pole from K2 is both. It’s Rip Cord quick-release system makes it easy to adjust your strap length no matter what size of gloves you are wearing. The external Carbon Web laminates carbon fiber around the shaft making it lighter weight and super-stiff.

Salomon

François Salomon started Salomon with his wife and son in 1947 making saw blades and ski edges. In their Annecy, France-based workshop, they focused on multiple kinds of bindings until 1979 when they introduced the SX90 rear-entry ski boots. The S9000 ski came in 1990, and by 1997, they had a full snowboard kit.

Today, Salomon is owned by Amer Sports and makes “the leading mountain products for the leading mountain people.” From trail running to mountaineering to skiing, Salomon focuses on innovative products that keep you fast and safe in the mountains.

Best Gear

S/Lab Shift MNC Binding
Salomon Shift Binding

One of the trade-offs for backcountry ski bindings has always been the choice of light or strong. If you want a strong binding, you don’t get lightweight. The S/Lab Shift MNC binding from Salomon aims to eliminate that choice. The pin-style toe attachment keeps things lightweight for walking uphill. At the top, the alpine-style toe piece moves into place and the burly heel piece to keep you locked in for skiing the steeps.

QST 106 Skis
Salomon QST106 Skis

The QST 106 skis have been winning awards the last couple of years because they do everything. Updated in 2018, the QST 106 has a patented blend of carbon fiber and flax running across and down the ski with a basalt layer under the core for dampening. The result is a ski great for powder, groomers, and everything in between.

MTN LAB Helmet
Salomon MTN Lab Helmet

Whether you’re in the backcountry worried about trees or at the resort worrying about other skiers, helmets keep your head warm and your noggin safe. A lot of them are large and heavy though, stealing your energy away from skiing. The MTN Lab Helmet from Salomon is lightweight, comfortable, and certified for both skiing and climbing. The removable merino wool liner is easily washable. When it warms up in the spring, just add in the cooler summer liner.

Head

In the 1950s when heavy wood skis were the norm, Howard Head brought his experience building aircraft fuselages to the industry. He began tinkering with lighter metals and plastics in skis and, after two years of breaking them, found a design that stayed together and made turning far easier. The Head Standard ski was born.

Head has since pushed the limits of ski technology incorporating strong and light materials like the aluminum in tennis rackets in the ’60s and high-tech graphene in skis and boots today.

Best Gear

Kore 99 Skis
Head Kore 99 Skis

Everything about the Kore 99 skis from Head scream light and strong. The Karuba wood core fused with superlight graphene in the tip and tail is stiff and durable. The core underfoot is replaced with vibration-dampening Koroyd. The whole thing is wrapped with carbon in three directions. This is a ski that can hit the hardback but is still easy to swing around in the powder.

Nexo Lyt 130 Ski Boot
Head NEXO LYT 130 Boot

The strong and light theme continues with the Nexo Lot 130 ski boot. The plastic is infused with graphene, increasing its stiffness. A curved rubber GripWalk sole on the bottom makes it easier walking around. The LiquidFit ankle and heel areas can be heat molded to your feet in just 10 minutes.

PRD 14 GW Binding
Head PRD14GW Binding

Boots with GripWalk soles have to be mounted with specific bindings. The PRD 14 GW bindings can easily accommodate regular boots or those with GripWalk. The PowerRail between the toe and heel piece makes the adjustment for different boots easy. The Full Diagonal release makes sure your skis come off in a crash no matter which direction you’re heading.

Völkl

Few ski companies have roots as far back as Völkl. Georg Völkl built horse-drawn wagons since 1875 in Lower Bavaria. His son, Franz, started making boats, sleds, and finally skis and called them Vöstras. Franz Völkl, Jr. took the company from his father in 1952 and modernized the whole thing.

In 1967, the brand released a striped abomination to the world called the Zebra-Ski and then started winning international ski racing in 1970. Later, 1994 saw the Völkl Snow Ranger, a heavily tapered ski for faster, smoother turns. Völkl remains focused on innovation and pushing the limits of technology in skiing.

Best Gear

M5 Mantra Skis
Volkl M5 Mantra Skis

Editor’s choice for all-mountain skis nearly everywhere, the M5 Mantras from Volkl can do anything you ask of them. Volkl lightened up the ski considerably by only including a frame of Titanol. The frame stiffens up the beech and poplar wood core and is just as good at dampening as a whole sheet. Ride anything from ice to deep powder with the M5 Mantra.

Touristick Vario CC Touring Poles
Volkl Touristick Vario CC Poles

For touring or just travel, collapsible poles take up less space. The Touristick Vario CC from Volkl adjust for the terrain, your height, or just stuffing in the back of the car. CC means both the top and bottom portions are mainly carbon fiber.

VTA 98 Skins
Volkl Skins

If you’re heading off-piste and uphill, you’ll need skins to take you there. The Volkl skins have super sticky glue to stay on the bottom of your skis. A mix of natural mohair and synthetic nylon get you the best of glide and traction. More mohair up front leads to better glide on the flats; more nylon on the back leads to better traction going up. Be sure to buy the ones that are cut to your skis.

Rossignol

One of the oldest names in skiing, Abel Rossignol made the first Rossignol skis in Isère, France, in 1907 using his carpentry skills from a textile accessory business. The brands all-metal Allais 60s skis won the 1960 Winter Olympics and, in 1964, Rossignol introduced its fiberglass ski.

By the 1970s, Rossignol was the world’s largest producers of skis. Now it produces all sorts of ski and snowboard equipment and clothing, showing no signs of slowing down.

Best Gear

Soul 7 HD Skis
Rossignol Soul 7HD Skis

Skis are a contradiction. They need to be lightweight to be maneuverable but they need to be heavy to be solid and stable. The Soul 7 HD skis from Rossignol are both. Honeycomb Air Tips reduce the weight at the tip and tail. The Paulownia wood core is wrapped in a Carbon Alloy Matrix for better stability and edge grip. A durable elastomer in the rocker and camber zones help absorb vibrations so you can keep your teeth when the snow gets chattery.

Allspeed Pro 120 Boot
Rossignol Allspeed Pro 120Boot

The Allspeed Pro 120 boot walks the line between precision and comfort. The Sensor Blade shell wraps your foot closely to direct all the power into the ski. It’s easy to adjust the flex on the bottom to conditions with a little screw int he spine. Two different materials in the liner create support zones and comfort zones exactly where you need them.

Rapide Jacket
Rossignol Rapide Jacket

Most ski companies specialize in skis but Rossignol makes just about everything. The Rapide Jacket is one layer that’s going to keep you warm and dry all day. It’s extremely waterproof and has PolyDown synthetic insulation inside. Lycra cuffs keep all that precious heat inside even when your gloves are off. A powder skirt keeps the snow out when you’re upside down in the snow. Your entire body will be sore but at least you’ll be warm.

Fashion & Style

7 Neo-Retro Running Shoes You Can Sport Forever

These shoes are reimagined from their '70s, '80s, and '90s classics to fit a few miles on the track and a long weekend in the city. Short-shorts not included.
Fashion & Style

Keep Your Package in Place with these Pouch Underwear Options

Your "business" needs to be secure while you get down to business.
Fashion & Style

Wolverine Boots Collabs with 2 Other Michigan Brands for Limited-Edition 1000 Mile Boots

We caught up with Wolverine designer Rea Verburg to get the details on how these three legendary Michigan apparel makers came together.
Style

Beyond Clothing Can Be Worn in Sub-Zero Temperatures and On Hot Dates

Do your clothes pass the re-warming test? Beyond's do.
Outdoors

How to Survive a Bear Attack: Brown Bears, Black Bears, Polar Bears, Oh My

The chances of encountering a bear in the wild are slim, but you should always be prepared for the worst.
Outdoors

Tips for Camping in the Rain You Should Read Before You Get Soaked

There are several pieces of gear, a few techniques, and some clever hacks that will make your sodden outdoor experience a pleasure despite the drizzle or downpour.
Outdoors

Outdoor Retailer Snow Show 2019: First Look at the Coolest Upcoming Gear

Here are the coolest gear pieces and insane technologies that we saw at Outdoor Retailer. These products are a sneak peek at what will be available to the public in the next few years.
Travel

The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

If you're reading this, you're staring at a screen. Wouldn't you rather be exploring a different part of the world than the Internet?
Outdoors

4 of the Most Dangerous Hikes in the World

You'll need a healthy dose of fear and a desire to push your self to the edge — just not over it.
Outdoors

6 Most Scenic Day Hikes in U.S. National Parks

It’s no wonder that some of the best views in the country are located within national parks.
Outdoors

4 of the Most Challenging Day Hikes in the U.S.

These trails are not for the faint of heart, but if you possess the necessary skills and are in above-average shape, they can be knocked out in one day.
Outdoors

Camp, Eat, and Have a Beer Underwater with the Ocean Space Habitat ‘Tent’

Imagine playing poker and sharing a bottle of bourbon with your buddies underwater.
Outdoors

The Essential List of Best Gear for the Climbing Gym

Even when it’s 0 degrees outside or raining sideways, you can still climb inside in a climbing gym. Here's the gear you need to start.
Outdoors

If Iron Man Designed a Ski Boot, It Would Be the Dahu Écorce

A hinge system and inner boot allow the wearer to step out of the plastic shell and walk around.