Ski Buying Guide
Skis come in many different shapes and sizes and are designed for a wide range of abilities and terrain. Maximise your enjoyment on snow by using the guide below to help you select the perfect ski.
Select your performance level
Below is our performance level guide. Each ski we offer displays a performance indicator to help you select the correct ski.
- You have skied once or twice and enjoyed it so much you want to continue.
- You can master simple turns and stopping on the learner’s slopes, but still need more lessons to improve.
- Staring to link turns on the intermediate slopes and want to get to the next level as fast as possible.
- At the intermediate plateau, you are linking turns from top to bottom in good conditions, if snow conditions are not perfect you don’t feel as confident.
- You are linking turns confidently in most snow conditions on groomed runs, steeper terrain gives you some trouble, you mainly use medium speeds and medium radius turns.
- You can ski at variable speeds all over the mountain but deep snow, icy conditions, moguls and very steep slopes slow you down. You can use a variety of turn shapes.
- 80 % of the mountain is well within your grasp, with a great level of technique and style, you are thinking about spending more time off-trail.
- You are a confident skier in all conditions, you like to spend most of your time off trail at the club fields, or you love carving at high speeds on the steeper terrain on-trail.
- Expert skier in all conditions, you love the sport and ski hard and fast all the time. You can tack all-terrain with aggression and top technique.
- Professional skier you don’t need us, you get paid to ski.
Skis sit under different categories. Depending on the snow type or terrain you spend most of your time skiing on, determines which ski would suit you the best. We have defined each ski category below helping you understand what ski you should be looking for.
This category is designed for the skier looking to get off the groomed trails as often as possible and look for fresh snow. They tend to have a slightly wider geometry (88mm and up under the foot), this gives them a more flotation in soft snow plus extra stability in the chop. Freeride skis typically have a longer radius so they aren’t catchy in varied conditions and feature longer rocker profiles. The wider the ski the bigger the rocker profile.
All Mountain skis have a deeper side cut than a freeride ski offering a greater carving sensation on groomed trails. The construction is often stiffer torsionally, which provides better the edge grip on firm snow. All-mountain skis tend to be under 90mm and provide a more versatile option to a pure on-piste carver. Bred from on-piste carvers but with slightly wider geometry.
Frontside / On-Piste
On-piste skis are at home on the smooth groomed trails. They tend to have a narrow waist for fast edge-to-edge response. These carvers have a deep sidecut for ease of turning, are stiff torsionally for great edge hold and have a snappy tail for power out of the turn.
Developed for park, pipe or hitting natural features. Freestyle skis are designed to perform tricks in the air or on features. The skis feature turned up tails (twin tips), allowing the skier to land backwards (switch/fakie). The tips and tails are often softer to help with absorbing landings but also give good rebound or pop.
Race skis are the ultimate in performance designed to be skied on the firm groomed trails at high speeds. The edge hold on a race ski is second to none because of its solid construction. They require a very aggressive and technical skier to be able to control them.
Backcountry skis are also referred to as alpine touring skis, designed for going uphill as well as down. They are lightweight and will easily fit climbing skins.
Big mountain skis are designed for charging big lines with high speeds and big airs. These skis come in different widths from wide, powder-oriented skis to narrower, mixed condition skis for charging at your home mountain.
This is one of the most crucial numbers when selecting skis. This measurement corresponds to the terrain/snow pack you will be most likely skiing on. A wider waist ski is better for flotation in soft snow but can be harder to manage on firm conditions. A narrow waist ski offers quick edge-to-edge but less stability in rough conditions.
These dimensions under foot are best for the skier that is dedicated to on-piste and usually on firmer snow. The narrow waist offers quick edge-to-edge response and better power transfer that delivers higher levels of edge hold on ice. Best for aggressive on-trail skiers looking for high angle carving.
This waist range offers more stability to the ski. The extra width acts as a stable platform when the snow gets a little rough or cut up on groomers. It shines on firm snow and is best for the majority of on-piste skiers.
This is at the narrower end of the freeride skis. These skis offer the most versatility in the fact the can handle carving medium turns on-trail and are just as happy skiing off-trail in untracked snow, bumps and steeps. When the snow is deep, a wider ski surfs much better.
Wider freeride skis offer more flotation in deep snow, plus the extra width provides maximum stability when charging through rough unprepared terrain at speed.
Designed for the skier that spends all their time freeriding in soft snow. They are harder to manage on firmer piste and often have longer radii. This wide platform is the ultimate for flotation in deep powder and keeps the skier on the surface.
The turn radius of a ski is usually measured in meters. The narrower a ski’s waist is in relation to its tip and tail, the shorter the turn radius. A ski with a short turn radius will make quicker turns, while a ski with a long turn radius will turn slowly but is typically more stable at high speeds.
Short Radius = under 16m
Medium Radius = 16m - 21m
Long Radius = over 21m
There are many different factors when selecting the correct ski length. Height and weight are the strating point. Other considerations to take into account are the category of ski you are buying, the rocker profile of the ski, the snow conditions you aim to ski on and your ability level.
ski height chart
Frontside or on-piste skis have a short turn radius and are designed to be skied shorter. All-mountain skis have a slightly wider waist width and are designed to be skied a little longer than carving skis for added stability in variable terrain. Freeride and backcountry skis are designed to be skied between eye and head height depending on rocker profile.
Reasons to go shorter:
- You are lighter than average for your height
- You prefer shorter turns
- You ski on-trail most of the time
- You are not an aggressive or fast skier
Reasons to go longer:
- You ski hard and fast
- You prefer longer turns
- Your weight is above average for your height
- You ski off-trail in variable conditions
- You are looking at a ski with a long rocker profile