Ski Buying Guide

Choosing the right ski is important, if you are going to ski to the best of your ability!!!

Buying a pair of skis is one of the most important ski-related decisions you can make. Having a ski that is designed for the type of terrain on which you ski and matched specifically to your ability level will greatly influence how well you ski and how much fun you have. In this article, we will provide a few simple rules to help you in selecting the right ski.

Two most important things to consider when buying skis

To simplify the ski buying process somewhat, the two main factors to consider are: 1) what is your ability level? and 2) where do you prefer to ski? Once you have determined the answers to these questions, you simply match your responses to the appropriate ski category.

1 - What is your skiing ability level?

Use the guide below to determine your skiing ability level. If you are honest with yourself, your skiing will improve more quickly and you will have a better time on the slopes.

2 - What type of terrain do you ski?

Picture of groomed ski terrain

Figure 1 - Groomed Terrain

Different skis are designed for different types of terrain. For example, a ski that is designed to go fast on ice (i.e., race ski), will be hard, if not impossible, to ski in deep powder. As a general rule, you should buy a ski made for the area where you ski the most. In New England, you would want a stiffer ski for the hard packed snow typical to that area. In Utah, you would want a softer ski for the softer snow. Be aware, it is a common mistake to buy a ski for the type of snow you would like to be skiing (e.g., powder) vs. the type of snow actually found at your local ski area. Below, we list various types of terrain commonly found at a ski resort.

Picture of non-groomed ski terrain

Figure 2 - Non-Groomed Terrain

Picture of terrain park

Figure 3 - Terrain Park

What type of ski should you select?

The ski categories listed below will help you determine what type of ski you want. When you look at a specific manufacturer’s skis, you will notice that although they offer skis in each category, there is typically a lot of overlap between the different categories. In general, the wider the ski is under your foot, the better it will perform in terrain with crud and powder. The narrower the ski, the better it will perform quick, fast turns on groomed slopes. The stiffer the ski, the more stable it will be at higher speeds, but the harder it will be to turn at slower speeds.

Demo Skis Before You Buy

Go to a Ski Demo Days. Demo days provide an amazing wealth of information. Multiple snow sports companies, including ski, snowboard, goggle, sunglass, helmet, and clothing manufacturers, usually attend these events. Knowledgeable reps man these shows and like to talk shop with customers. They will steer you toward the gear best fitted to your needs. A little due diligence is all it takes to find a demo day in your area - many demo days are posted on ski resort websites, and often the manufacturers themselves can direct you to where and when a demo day is taking place. Spend your time wisely. Use the same run to test so you get a consistent comparison of the different types, sizes, and brands of skis.

Demo skis from your local ski shop. Renting a pair of skis is a good way to try the ski before you buy. Talk to your local ski shop about testing a pair of skis - many of them have high-end ski rentals.

After you find that perfect match, then you can shop around to ensure that you get the best price.