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How To Pick The Right Skis

Need to buy a pair of skis?

Skis don’t come standard, which can make choosing the right ones a bit overwhelming.

You’re going to have to look for some important features to ensure you get a comfortable pair that feels good.

What makes skis comfortable?

A variety of factors will ensure greater comfort and control, such as ski length, width, and core construction.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about buying skis.

We’ll start with the most important thing to look for when you want to buy new skis – their length!

What Ski Length Is Best?

lenghts

When choosing the right ski length, you need to take your height into account.

While there’s no easy formula you can use to find the perfect size for you, generally the size of your skis should be between the top of your head and your chin.

Here’s a handy chart that takes your height in feet or inches so you can use it to help you find the best ski length.

Height (feet and inches) Height (in centimeters) Ski lengths (in centimeters)
4’4″ 132< 115-130
4’7″ 137 125-140
4’8″ 142 130-145
4’10” 147 135-150
5′ 152 135-155
5’2″ 158 145-165
5’4″ 163 150-170
5’6″ 168 155-175
5’8″ 173 160-180
5’10” 178 165-185
6′ 183 170-190
6’2″ 188 175-195
6’4″ 193 180-200

Ski Length Is Also Linked To Skill Level

Considering your skill means that if you’re a beginner, you should choose shorter skis as these will be easier to control. You can then move on to longer skis when your skiing improves.

Pro tip: Other features to look for if you’re new to skiing are a softer flex, a narrow ski width, and a soft core made out of wood, foam, or composite.

These features will make the ski easier to control and turn, because they’re a bit more forgiving if you make a mistake.

Easy Hacks To Choose Shorter Or Longer Skis

Go for a shorter ski that’s closer to your chin if the following apply to you:

  • You’re a beginner or intermediate skier.
  • You like making quicker and shorter turns.
  • You want a carving ski.
  • You weigh less than average for your height.

Choose a longer ski that’s closer to the top of your head if these apply to you:

  • You’re an advanced or expert skier.
  • You want to be able to ski fast and make longer turns.
  • You ski off trail most of the time.
  • You want a ski with a lot of rocker.
    You weigh more than average for your height.

Ski length aside, there are other important factors to consider when buying skis.

Think About Ski Waist Width

thin and fat waist

The width of the skis is an important feature to bear in mind and it refers to the measurement at the ski’s middle, which is its narrowest part.

The ski waist influences how easy it will be to turn the ski. The narrower the waist, the quicker it will be to make edge-to-edge turns, but wider waists will enable you to have better flotation in choppy snow.

The ski waist width you choose will depend on where you’re skiing.

If the width of the skis is <95mm, they will be ideal for skiing on piste as they’ll enable you to carve park skis and do groomed runs.

Skis that are between 95 and 110mm are used for all-mountain conditions and their average waist width boosts their versatility. You can move on and off the piste well without compromising your ability to ski on powder.

>110mm skis are wide and ideal for powder and big mountain terrain. The increased width helps to ensure greater stability and flotation, but they don’t enable skiers to turn on piste.

Camber Vs Rocker: Which One Should You Choose?

camber or rocker shape

One of the biggest questions you need to ask yourself is if you should choose a camber or rocker shape of ski.

Which one you choose will depend on how you like to ski. So, let’s see what camber and rocker skis are about.

Camber

The ski camber is the shape of a traditional ski. If you place the ski on a flat surface it will rest on points that are close to its tip and tail but its waist will arch upwards. This has many benefits, which include the following:

  • Improved skiing at high speeds as the ski’s edge will help you to better control your turns without losing power. You’ll have a much better grip. Based on that, the camber style is also great when you’re navigating across difficult terrain and slopes.

One of the drawbacks associated with camber is that it puts more pressure on contact points to increase edge. While beneficial, this makes it difficult to control the skis in deep snow.

Rocker

By comparison, a rocker ski curves upwards towards the tail and nose, sort of like a banana shape.

Rocker is great for:

  • Providing you with a looser ride, thanks to its upturned tail and tip. This also gives you more float when you’re skiing on powder.

However, some drawbacks associated with rocker skis are that they aren’t as fast as cambered boards and they don’t maintain as much of an edge, either.

If you want greater flexibility with your board and you don’t want to catch edges, such as if you’re a rail rider, then a rockered ski will be a good choice.

What About A Camber-Rocker Combination?

You can also find skis that make use of a camber and rocker combination.

As you’d assume, this type of ski combines great features from both rockered and cambered styles.

What can make this combo a little confusing to shop for is that different ski manufacturers will put different rocker or camber elements into their products.

For instance, you might find skis with a rocker in the middle and camber underneath the bindings to enable looser turns, but other skis will have camber in the middle to ensure more carving ability and rocker towards the tail and nose to boost float.

There are tons of options available for this combo, which is why it’s best to shop around and try them out for yourself.

What To Know About Ski Base Construction

ski base construction

The base, or bottom, of the ski is one of the most important parts of it and yet you might not even think about how it’s made.

The base is usually constructed out of a type of plastic formulation called P-Tex. It’s either extruded or sintered.

Extruded bases make use of melted P-Tex that’s forced into a mold before being cut into shape. They’re easy to make and less expensive, but they’re smooth and don’t work that well for maintaining wax on them. They’re also slower on the snow.

By comparison, a sintered ski base contains a powdered form of P-Tex. It gets pressurized and heated in order to give it its shape. It’s more expensive but a sintered base is faster and more durable than an extruded one. It also works well with wax.

Pro tip: Sometimes, ski bases will be patterned and these are worth purchasing. They perform better in different snow conditions because the pattern reduces friction, so it’s worth looking for skis that have patterning on their base.

How To Choose The Right Ski Core

There are different materials used to construct the core, or central section, of skis. The one you choose should be based on your skiing ability.

Polyurethane foam is considered to be a softer and more forgiving core to make skiing smooth. Foam also offers less kickback, which is useful for beginner or intermediate skiers as it can help you to work on your technique.

However, many skis that you’ll find on the market are made with wood cores. These come in a range of prices to suit every budget and they provide pops in turns as well as greater stability when you’re on the straights, which is useful for recreational skiers.

But, if you’re an advanced skier or someone who skis aggressively and fast, you’ll probably want to invest in a stiff ski that has a blend of materials, such as carbon fiber and triaxial fiberglass. These are used with the wood core to give it more reinforcement.

How To Choose Skis According To Your Skiing Style

purpose for different type of skis

There are different types of skis according to the style of skiing you want to do. Here’s a rundown of the different types of skis to consider.

All-mountain skis

These are versatile and can be used in all types of snow conditions. These skis have a wide waist that provides good stability and support, so if you want a versatile type of ski then this is the one to choose.

Big mountain skis

These are great for high speed and big airs, so they’re a must if you like charging big lines. You can find them in various widths depending on the type of skiing that feels most comfortable. However, they’re generally built with stiffer flexes.

Powder skis

If you like powder stashes in resort, backcountry, or heli ski trips, then these will work well to keep you afloat. They are wide but come in various sidecut shapes. The good thing about powder skis is that they’re versatile and can tolerate various conditions as well as harder snow.

Freestyle skis

These types of skis are a bit shorter than all-mountain skis and they’re ideal for park riding because they have a softer flex. This enables you to be more agile when skiing.

Freeride skis

off terrain ride

These are for skiers who spend a lot of their time in different types of terrain and like being off-piste. They’re stiffer and longer than freestyle skis. The benefit of this is that they provide greater stability at high speed.

Alpine touring skis

Otherwise known as backcountry skis, these are built for going uphill and downhill. They’re light in weight and can fit climbing skins without a problem.

Piste skis

These skis are ideal for skiing down freshly-groomed pistes and carving, as well as really tight turns. They have a narrow waist, which makes them responsive, and this makes them ideal for beginners and intermediates alike.

How Much Should You Spend On New Skis?

nes skis budget

You don’t have to buy the most expensive skis on the market.

In fact, you could be wasting your money, especially if you don’t ski on a regular basis. If you’re a recreational skier with average skills, spend between $600 and $800 for new skis, boots, as well as bindings.

It’s probably worth your while to spend a bit more on your boots than skis.

While this might sound surprising, it makes sense because your feet, not the skis, are responsible for your power, control, and responsiveness when skiing.

Related Questions

Can skis lose their camber?

The camber can change over time if skis no longer maintain their shape, such as because they’re old or not stored properly. This is usually seen in older skis.

How much importance should you place on where you ski?

The skiing conditions you use 80 to 90 percent of the time need to be considered when purchasing new skis so that you’ll get the best and most comfortable ones.

Conclusion

If you need to buy your first pair of skis, you might feel a bit overwhelmed.

Don’t worry – read our guide on how to pick the right skis and you’ll know exactly what to look for when ski shopping, such as when it comes to the style of skis to choose, how they’re made, and how much you should be prepared to spend.

Categories

Ski

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