Ski Buying Guide
Your three step guide to choosing your skis & bindings
Step 1: Ability Level
Choosing a pair of skis can be a daunting prospect so we have made this process as easy as possible with this ski buying guide! Below there are ten levels of performance to help you select your skiing ability. These ten levels have then been separated into three simple categories: recreational, advanced and expert. Once you have established your ability level, you will find a corresponding category and performance rating on the description of each ski. We have also provided filters on our ski pages to allow you to display only the skis that suit you. Just tick the boxes on the left hand side of each ski page.
- Recreational 1-4/10
- Advanced 5-7/10
- Expert 8-10/10
- You are a First Time Skier OR you've skied once but are not yet able to do a snowplough on a gentle nursery slope.
- You have skied at least once before. You can make changes in direction and stop using a snowplough on gentle slopes and prefer to ski at a slow pace around the nursery slope area.
- Able to link snowplough turns, you’ve left the nursery slope and tried skiing on easy Blue runs but they remain a challenge.
- You link your snowplough turns consistently, perhaps finishing your turns with the skis parallel, or you have a wide parallel stance most of the time. With your new found mobility you have started to explore the mountains, but are cautious where you travel since you prefer groomed Green and Blue runs.
- You are now exploring many more of the groomed runs on the mountain in a wide parallel stance, but may have to use a snow plough if you feel you are getting into trouble on steeper slopes. You’ve noticed that things become easier when you travel faster and enjoy the confidence of being more in control by doing a series of turns. You may have tried an easy Red run, and you may have come across moguls in your travels, but at this stage would not choose to ski them.
- You are a much more confident skier now that your skis are parallel most of the time; this is because you are skiing faster and you are consistently linking your turns. You have felt the ski carve and enjoy using the shape to help you change direction. You are now able to travel at different speeds on pisted runs. You can ski all Green and Blue Runs and are feeling much more confident on Red runs, you may even have tried a Black run, and you are now choosing to experiment with easy moguls.
- You are now skiing with strong parallel turns in various conditions and you have begun to develop your ability to ski short & long radius turns. You enjoy the feeling of carving your turns and the speed it brings.You are more accomplished at skiing on Black runs and feeling more comfortable in the moguls but you want to improve. At this stage you want to learn about different types of terrain such as Off-Piste and and how to ski them. You are ideally looking for skis or boots that will help you to excel both on piste and off or even in the terrain park.
- You are a confident skier who's skied in many resorts and you are much more aware of different equipment. Because of your experience you may; A) be someone who wants to do high speed or carving for most of the day. OR B) be looking to develop your all mountain freeriding skills and want to further explore what off piste has to offer. OR C) want to explore the Pipe and Terrain Park and you are looking for a product that will help you to learn tricks easily.
- You can vary your turn shape on a given run and enjoy the challenge of skiing. You have the ability to ski on and off piste; but you also know where you prefer to spend your time because you’re trying to improve those skills and perhaps considering instructor training or skill specific coaching. You may currently own a pair of piste skis but are looking for a more specific pair for Freeride or Twin Tips. So you either; A) mainly ski off piste, and may even have hiked for your turns so you are looking to further develop your freeride and off piste skiing ability. OR; B) you have been exploring everything the mountain has to offer from Powder & Bumps to Pisted runs - You like a little bit of everything and want to be able to do it all. OR; C) you want a high end performance product that allows you to confidently ski fast on mainly pisted runs, but has the ability to venture elsewhere. D) you now know your way around the Pipe & Park and want a ski that is going to allow you to focus on improving your tricks.
- You are a top level skier who can ski in all types of terrain & conditions and may: A) hold a professional instructors certification or you actively compete in events in the park & pipe OR B) you are someone who mainly skis in the back country, has Avalanche safety and mountaineering experience and tend to ski big mountain runs off piste.
This year a team of Snow+Rock skiers travelled Kuhtai, Austria to take part in the 2013 SIGB industry ski test. All of the major brands use this event to introduce next season’s equipment to retailers and industry members, allowing them to test it out in a like for like comparison on a variety of terrain, in outstanding conditions.
During 5 days of intensive skiing, our testers try out all the skis in varying conditions. They then select the best of the week, which we in turn make orders the year ahead. As a general rule we never stock a ski that we haven’t had the chance to experience first hand, in the conditions that it is intended for. This testing process allows our staff to offer first-hand knowledge of the products in our stores.
Kuhtai, the location for this year’s ski test, is situated about 30 minutes from Innsbruck. The resort offers a great combination of piste and off piste skiing as well as areas to tour just outside the resort boundary. Please see the Snow + Rock Blog for more information about what the test involves.
Step 2: Your Ski Type
Skis will perform differently depending on their shape, the flexibility and width. We have classified our skis into 5 simple types to help you choose. We have also put the basic dimensions for each ski below the image to help you see the measurable differences.
PisteDesigned to give you edge grip and stability on groomed snow. Piste skis are generally less than 73mm wide underfoot.
All MountainAs the name suggests this is a more versatile type of ski offering both on-piste performance and enough width to allow you to start exploring off piste skiing. Our All-Mountain skis are 74-81mm underfoot.
FreestyleFreestyle skis are twin tipped for easy spins and switch (backwards) moves. The latest generation of freestyle skis also work well in deep snow and across the entire mountain.
FreerideThis is the go everywhere ski, 50% on piste – 50% off piste. These are wider skis to give better float in powder, but still have enough shape to carve up the piste. Our All-Mountain skis are 82-102mm underfoot.
Big MountainThis is the fattest type of ski designed to excel in the deepest snow at high speeds. Recent innovation using rocker in the ski design have made them much easier to use for improving skiers. Our Big-Mountain skis are 100mm or more underfoot.
RaceBuilt for fast precise skiing on the hardest snow, race skis offer confidence and high speed stability for expert skiers. The width and dimensions are set by international racing rules.
Sidecut, camber (and rocker)As well as varying the width the manufacturers are constantly trying to find the optimum combination of sidecut and camber. A smaller sidecut radius (see illustration) will enable tighter turns at the expense of some stability, reverse camber will give better float in powder but reduce edge grip on hard snow or ice. You need to consider your priorities before you fond the best blend for you.
Step 3: The Right Size
The simple visual aid (left) will provide an estimate to the length of each ski category for a recreational skier of average height and weight. To obtain a more specific ski length, please refer to the chart underneath.
It is also necessary to adjust the length for your ability level and aggressiveness. Please use this chart as a guideline only - for more detailed advice please consult our trained staff in-store.The given length from the chart will provide your ideal ski length for piste skis. However, as our visual aid of the skier suggests, different styles of skiing will also affect the length of your skis.
Below are outlines of how to adapt your ski length accordingly for other ski types:
- For freeride skis, add between 5 and 10cm in length for better floatation and stability in powder.
- For all mountain skis, add between 5 and 20cm, depending on how much off piste you ski and for improved floatation and stability in the steep and deep.
- For skis designed to be skied in shorter lengths (for example any slalom ski), you should reduce the measurement by 10 to 15cm, in accordance with the specific manufacturer’s guidelines.
- For freestyle skis, use the same length as for piste skis.
|Weight (Kg)||<49||50 - 56||57 - 62||63 - 68||69 - 75||76 - 81||82>|
|Weight (Lb)||<107||110 - 123||125 - 136||138 - 149||151 - 164||167 - 178||180>|
|Ability Level||Recreational +0cm||Advanced +5cm||Expert +10cm|
Keeping your skis serviced, with sharp edges, and a good wax is the easiest thing that you can do to not only improve you skiing – but your holiday too!
Sharp edges mean that the ski will slice through the snow as it was designed to do. A deep hot wax makes the ski travel smoothly across the snow and in & out of turns whilst a structure on the base of the ski that is free of scratches, holes and dings helps to regulate the amount of water under the ski which it travels on. Taking the opportunity to maintain these factors can really add further enjoyment to your precious ski time.
If you are unsure about the state of your equipment and need some advice please bring it to any of our locations where our staff can direct you on the best course of action. Our Covent Garden, Chill Factor Manchester, Chertsey, Gateshead, Bristol, Port Solent and Dundrum locations all have on-site workshops where you can speak directly to the technicians who will service your skis.
Normal turnaround times for a service (depending on your proximity to one of our workshop locations) will be about a week. However, if you need something done sooner, please contact one of the above stores as our workshop locations can also offer an “In by 11 out by 4 service”. This will vary on time of year, the state of the equipment to be serviced, our workshop hours and workloads, but in the majority of cases we should be able to help. Please call one of our workshop locations to discuss your needs.
Our Ski + Binding Range
Within our range of skis, we have ski and binding packages for all ability levels and types of skiing. Most of our skis come with integrated binding systems, although there are still a few ‘fl at deck’ skis that have different retro fit binding options. All full ski and binding ‘system’ combinations show the system price (ski & binding), while skis that are available without system bindings (flat deck) are priced individually. Our range of skis, which is the largest range you’ll find under one roof, has been performance matched with the relevant bindings to ensure that they operate safely on the mountain. Our experienced staff will ensure that you choose the correct bindings where offered, and our qualified technicians will ensure correct fitting and adjustment.
Try Before You Buy
Demo skis are available to try out at our Chill Factore indoor snowdome store in Manchester and also at the Hemel Snow centre in Hemel Hempstead.Our trained and knowledgable staff are available in-store to offer you advice and information. A credit card and photo ID are required.
Our Unique Guarantees
UK Price Pledge
All of our products are covered by our unique price pledge. For full details, see our terms and conditions.
When things go wrong, others will hide behind manufacturers’ guarantees. At Snow+Rock, we take on the responsibility ourselves of resolving warranty issues with the manufacturer on your behalf - part of our Customer First initiative. For full details, see our terms and conditions.
Kids' Buy Back
When you purchase your children’s ski equipment from us and they grow out of it, bring it back and we will give you a credit towards your next purchase of children’s ski equipment of up to 20% of the original value paid. If your children have grown out of junior equipment, the credit value may be put towards other purchases at Snow+Rock. No refunds will be given. For full details, see our terms and conditions.
A Guide to Kids' Ski Sizing
In general the length of a kids’ ski should be somewhere between their chin level and forehead level. However the actual length depends on a number of factors. Our staff will be happy to guide you through them.
- Weight: As with adult skis, the heavier the skier, the longer the ski they can ski on. (This ties in with the flex of a ski).
- Flex: The flex of any ski is determined by its construction, and different manufacturers use different types, which in turn affects how stiff the ski is. A 110cm ski from one manufacturer may well be stiffer than that of another; because of this your child’s length requirement may change, dependent on the make of ski.
- Category of ski: Because skis are designed for different uses and although the performance level can be comparable, they will vary in size. Generally, piste based skis will be skied shorter than freeride skis.
- Ability: The more competent the skier, the longer the ski they can use. A competent skier will use a longer ski than a beginner of the same size/weight.
- Your child will enjoy their skiing more if they are supplied with the correct ski for their size, weight and ability.
- Children will develop and improve faster if they are coached correctly. Instilling good basic technique will stop them from picking up bad ski habits that are hard to break.