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Are you a park rat, powder hound, or all mountain ripper? We have a ski for you

The best skis no matter what type of riding you love

People on a mountain with ski gear
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The ski season is in full swing. Hopefully, by now, you’ve managed to get to your local ski resort or have a break planned to get some much-needed skiing this year. Perhaps you’ve pulled out those old faithful skis from the garage or started looking around at which rental package is right for you this year. But isn’t it time that you updated your ski gear a little or stepped out of those rental skis and into a setup of your own?

For most people, their setup starts with ski boots and then moves to skis and poles. But whether you’re still making the shift to parallel turns, or you’re a honed carver or powder nut, you’re going to get more out of your time on the slopes if you have your own setup. The right skis feel like an extension of your legs, making skiing intuitive and fun rather than a lesson in endurance. These are the best skis for all types of skiers this winter.

A pair of K2 Mindbender Skis in green and black.

K2 Mindbender 108 Ti

The K2 Mindbender is one of the most established all-mountain skis on the market. The 108 is the second widest of the range but retains that mid-camber that is lost with wider models. This combines with the end rocker and partial twin-twip design to give you a ski that can truly do it all. The Mindbender is at home under the feet of any level of skier, but an advanced freeride style skier will get the most out of them.

K2 didn’t have to make many changes going into this winter, with the Mindbender range already topping many “must-have” lists. But they did make a slight change to the Titanal Y-Beam that sits over the edges in the front end of the ski — to improve turn initiation and edge hold — and give the ski a slight rocker increase for more forgiveness and better off-piste capabilities.

Rossignol Black Ops Sender Skis

Rossignol Blacks Ops 98

The narrower version of the Black Ops 118, these skis are the all-around choice in the range. But don’t be fooled into thinking that they’ll limit you in any way. The Black Ops 98 is a freestyle-inspired all-mountain ski, honed in the park and ready to turn the whole resort into your playground. At 98 underfoot, you can take them into mellow powder and try your hand at freeride, or you can hit spins in the park and even carve groomers. The flexible nature of these skis shortens the turn radius, too, so you can even hit up tree runs and find those secret play spots on the mountain.

Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Skis
Elan Skis

Elan Ripstick 96

If the above skis have been built for the soft and playful, then the Elan Ripstick is here for those who love to carve hard. Lightweight carbon rods run the full length of the ski, following the shape of the sidecut to provide torsional stability and snappy edge transition between turns. Composite inserts in the core at the tip and tail of the Ripstick reduce movement and chatter at high speed, giving you the most stable ride possible as you rip the mountain. The widened nose and rocker/camber profile make the Ripstick a versatile option, though, so if there’s a fresh dump overnight, you can shred the soft stuff with the same confident performance.

Volkl Kendo 88 Skis

Volkl Kendo 88

When the fresh corduroy is calling, you need the perfect carving machine to rip that groomer. The Volkl Kendo 88 has built on the legacy of previous models to provide a ski with more low-to-mid-speed stability, but that still absolutely shreds when you need it to. The Kendo 88 has three different radii, with longer turning capabilities from the tip and tail and a shorter option in the middle. This lets you change from long, stable carves to short transitions when the mood takes you or the terrain calls for it. This may not be the all-mountain ski of choice for anyone who likes to venture into deep powder or hit the park, but if you love going fast and seeing the whole resort in a day, it’s hard to look anywhere else.

QST Range Skis from Salomon

Salomon QST 98

The Salomon QST range is long established as a powder-focused all-mountain ski. While it might be an off-piste ski at heart, the QST can still hold an edge at high speed if you want to rip a fresh groomer or two first thing. For this year’s model, Salomon has ramped up the rocker in the tip and the tail and given the ski a tighter turn radius, increasing the playfulness and loose feel without losing any of its reliability. Cork dampening in the nose keeps you more stable at high speed by reducing movement and chatter, which is especially useful when carving at Mach-10. In terms of daily driver skis, they don’t come a lot better than the QST.

Armada ARV 96

Armada ARV 96

The Armada ARV 96 is the most freestyle-focused ski on our list. The lightweight poplar and ash core is the heart of a ski that just loves to pop and jib around the mountain. Sure, this is billed as an all-mountain ski, but it’s more of a ski for those who see the mountain as an extension of the terrain park. The ski’s tip and tail rocker lets you land tricks forward or switch and churn through whatever snow is in your path. All this while retaining enough stiffness to hold an edge and cruise down the mountain at speed.

The multicolor Atomic Bent Chetler 120 Skis on a white background.

Atomic Bent

Let’s start with the obvious — these look amazing. But the Bent 110s are far more than just a good-looking ski, they’re an absolute powder machine. The 110 sits in the middle of the Bent range. They combine the pure freeride prowess of the 120s against the resort capabilities of the 100, to give you a snappy powder ski that you can still take into the resort. Perhaps the most notable feature of these skis is the HRZN tip and tail tech, which provides a cross-ski rocker and increases surface area at the tip and tail for more float and better traction through chopped-up powder. For powder hounds who want that one ski this season, Atomic may have just nailed it.

Skis with bindings on snow
Anne Nygård / Unsplash

How to choose the best skis for you

As you’ve probably guessed from reading our tips above, the first thing you need to consider when going to purchase new skis is what type of skiing you’ll be doing.

  • If you mostly ski on groomed trails, you should look for on-piste skis, which are more rigid and narrow, which gives them a better grip on hard-packed snow and allows for better turns.
  • If you have a more adventurous style and are always looking for fresh powder? Look for freeride skis that are generally wider, which helps you stay on top of the powder. These also have flexible tips and large rockers to help you get a smooth ride.
  • Not sure what kind of skiing you’ll be doing? Go for the versatile all-mountain skis. These can be used in just about any type of condition, from groomed trails to powder, and are a good choice if you want to try different types of skiing on the same day.

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