Ski Buying Guide
With so many different types of skis to choose from narrowing down your selection can be difficult, so we’ve created this easy to use ski buying guide.
We’ll take you through the following steps, giving you all the information you need to make the right choices for you:
- Length and size
- Ski width
- Turning radius
- Rocker type
- Your riding style and preferred terrain
Our staff are fully trained to help you choose the right equipment, so visit your nearest Snow and Rock store for more personalised expert advice.
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.
Advanced or racing skiers tend to prefer skis that are longer than head height whereas 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.
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 like 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 indicates a shorter turn radius and deeper 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.
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.
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 board 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 boards are ideal for everything from groomed pistes, to park runs, and powder. Directional in shape, with the nose set slightly higher than the tail provides good float in powder.
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 boards have a stiffer flex and are a little longer than freestyle boards for stability at speed. They tend to be directional.
Powder skis are wide, helping you stay afloat in deep snow, with some form of rocker and relatively soft flex.
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.
Big mountain skis are designed for big lines, at high speed, hoping for big air. They can vary in width and rocker but tend to be stiffer and heavier.
If you prefer gliding down freshly groomed pistes, carving or practising your tight turns carving skis are for you. They are usually narrow at the waist for a quick, responsive turn. Beginner to intermediate hire skis are usually carvers for an easier time.
For more help and advice specific to your skiing needs, visit your nearest Snow and Rock store for expert advice.