The 9 Best Powder Skis to Buy in 2018

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Powder skis got their start by going big and wide — as in water ski big and wide — and have only evolved from there, utilizing such features as camber and reverse camber as well as tip-to-tail rockers and ever-widening waists to help you float over deep snow, rather than blast right through it, much like a surfer floats into a wave. They also aid in precise, pivot-triggered turning and — in many instances — can also handle the hardpack and groomer that are the inevitable consequence of resort skiing. Backcountry models have also been tweaked to allow for easy skin-up ascents, while all-mountain-focused skis have been able to hone their silhouette to make you at home in snow that’s four feet or six inches deep. Read on to see our favorite powder skis to pick up today before you head to the mountains.

Our Top Picks

01 of 09

Best Overall: Nordica Enforcer Pro

Nordica Enforcer Pro
Amazon

Nordica’s Enforcer 110 has won countless accolades as one of the best powder skis available, but for our money, the Enforcer Pro takes all that the 110 does and cranks it up to 11. As the widest (115 mm) and stiffest ski in the Enforcer line-up, this is a ski made for powder ideal for expert-level skiers who love going fast through the deep stuff, carving long and wide via its 2.15-meter turn radius. A balsa wood core pairs with carbon and two sheets of metal to dampen vibrations on crud while still keeping the ski light. That wide waist joins forces with a 40 percent camber silhouette and a high-rise tip-to-tail rocker to really float over feet of loose pow, and has enough power to pound through less-than-perfect snow. You might have to work to catch an edge on hardpack, but for those deep-powder, ski-till-the-snow-stops-falling days, the Enforcer Pro will outlast your leg muscles, and be ready to run when the rope drops the following morning.

02 of 09

Best Value: Atomic Backland Bent Chatler

Atomic Backland Bent Chetler Skis 2018
Evo 

Built with detailed input from pro-skier and Atomic athlete, Chris Benchetler, the Backland Bent Chatler is built to float through powder (naturally) but to also expand other freeski opportunities when exploring the deep stuff. The skis boast a blend of an ABS sidewall with a horizontal rocker that adds 10 percent more surface area in the tip and tail to help you track through loose chop, with less tip deflection to help you carve a sure line. A 40 percent camber partners with a 120 mm waist to float like a magic carpet and turn on a buttery dime, while a 30 percent tip/tail rocker lets you glide and bounce to your powder-loving-heart’s desire. A carbon backbone runs the length of the ski to offer stability, with a step-down sidewall to add durability, promising seasons of hard-charging use.

03 of 09

Best for Glades: Rossignol Super 7 HD

The Super 7 HD’s waist measures 116mm, which isn’t the narrowest ski in the round-up. And indeed, it offers plenty of float in the deep stuff. But its Air Tip 2.0 3D design makes the ski light and strong, transferring the mass of the boards to the center of your feet to amplify power and stability, and allows you carve the tighter turns needed when rushing through a field of snow-choked aspens. Its central poaulownia wooden core further reduces weight by 30 percent to enhance agility, while sandwiched layers of fiber and metal that carry throughout the vertical sidewalls let you catch an edge when needed.

The Super 7s also employ Rossignol’s carbon alloy matrix — a carbon/basalt diagonal weave with linear glass stringers — to generate serious vibration control and titanium-like strength. More powder-specific features include a progressive rocker/camber profile that lets you smear turns and bounce through the loose stuff, with a longer, lower tip and a tapered tail. If you’re all about glade skiing, opt for the 172-cm length, while go-anywhere chargers can upgrade to either 180 or 188 cms.

04 of 09

Best for Women: Armada Tracer 108

Powder skiing itself is fairly non-gender-specific. But women ski differently than men, and the Armada Tracer 108 takes those variables into account. Inspired by Armada’s backcountry cred, it’s considerably lighter than most competing products thanks to the use of woods and hardwood laminates that weighs less without sacrificing agility or maneuverability — or introducing any dampness under foot. Armada also uses their Xrystal Mesh tech, an insert that stabilizes the ski for a smooth ride through powder as well as on crud and groomers, with light, strong 1.7 Impact Edges to bite into the hardpack when you’re not bouncing off powder clouds. The silhouette nods to freeskiers, with a freeride rocker and elevated tips. Its 108-mm waist also allows for a tighter turn radius than you’d find on other powder skis, with measurements that range from 16 to 18 meters, depending on the ski length you prefer.

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Best for Freeriding: Blizzard Rustler

The Rustler 11 has been engineered to let freeskiers choose the ideal ski composition for the way they love to ski. Each length comes with a different waist width, from 112 to 116 mms, and if you want less you can shift to the Rustler 10 or 9, which shrinks down to 92 mms at its 164-cm length. But make no mistake, this is an expert-level ski that’s designed to handle deep powder, high speeds, and big, wide turns.

An early rise tail lets things get playful in soft snow, and it comes with a rocker-camber-rocker profile that lets you carve on piste and float through the powder. Full sidewalls offer torsional rigidity and constant pressure along the full length of the ski to improve energy transition, stability, control, and greater performance. The Rustler 11 also uses Blizzard’s Carbon Flipcore DRT tech, which strengthens the tip and tail with uni-direction carbon fiber to improve stability of the rockered areas and reduce swing weight — which is a lot of gear-speak that translates into one central point: the ski is a lot of fun.

06 of 09

Best for Deep and Steep Descents: Head Core 117

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s famed Steep and Deep Ski Clinic, which teaches expert-level skiers how to brave some of the most extreme slopes in the Lower 48, doesn’t have an official ski. But if they did, we’d put our money on the Head Core 117 make. The ski uses a koruba wood core to give it a lightweight, playful feel that’s both responsive and agile, with a 117-mm waist that’s wide enough to float in the powder but narrow enough to put on edge for tight, engineered turning.

It’s built for speedy descents and 40-degree pitches, and can power through the (hopefully) powdery landing and run-out after you hit the required air through Jackson Hole’s infamous Corbet’s Collier. A tip-to-tail rocker delivers playful bounce and control, with sandwiches of koroyd, carbon, and graphene (the thinnest and lightest element known to man, and the strongest material on the planet) to provide torsional stability and lengthen the life of the ski across seasons of abuse.

07 of 09

Best for Touring: DPS Tour1 Wailer 112 RP2

If you want to earn your turns by skinning up before dropping into the powder, it’s often tough to find a ski that won’t fight you on the ascent or disappoint when you slide into the deep stuff, in large part because most touring skis come with waists that measure between 60 and 80mms. The Tour1 Wailer flips that script, offering a 112-mm-wide waist to let you float rather than sink without enduring extra weight. That lightness comes from an aspen wood core that’s been married to the carbon build to deliver reliable agility and control from powder to crud to days-old hardpack. A lower tip-and-tail rocker increases power and stability, with slight overall camber that provides a bigger sweet spot for pivot turns. Rockwell 48 edges bite into the slopes, while the Austrian World Cup race bases keep things flowing when you point ‘em straight down.

08 of 09

Best for Variable Conditions: Volkl Confession

All skiers dream of endless powder and constant snowfall, but — if the last few seasons are any indication — Mother Nature doesn’t always cater to those ambitions. For days that will deliver powder — as well as hardpack, glades, chutes, and the full gamut of snow conditions, the Confession is your go-to. An early-tip taper lets you steer and point with confidence, while a multi-layer mix of beech and poplar woods in the core keeps things light so you don’t have to muscle them through the crud or over bulletproof corduroy, agility that’s reinforced by full sidewalls to drive power transmission. They don’t boast a lot of camber, but a tip-to-tail rocker makes them plenty playful, with carbon stringers and a titanal to cut chatter and dampen at high speeds.

And its P-TEX 2100 base — a mix of sintered high-density and high-molecular polyethylene — glides like the ski of your dreams while also fending off the inevitable encounters with half-covered roots and rocks.

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09 of 09

Best for Heli-Skiing: K2 Pon2oon

K2 Pon2oon
Courtesy of K2

The first Pon2oon, envisioned by freeskier/daredevil Shane McConkey, looked to water skis for inspiration — and instantly transformed the powder ski industry. Those first models boasted the widest waists that anyone had ever seen, along with tip and tail lifts to help ‘em float much like a water skier flies across the surface of the wave. And the 2019 Pon2oon keeps moving the needle toward perfection. This model comes with a massively fat 130-mm waist, which works in consort with the powder rocker silhouette — high and long rises in the tip and tail — to max float in soft, deep, freshly-fallen snow.

The paulownia wood core keeps things lively and flexible, with a solid strength-to-weight ratio, while K2’s Triaxial braiding process interlocks strands of fiberglass around the core to provide the torsional stiffness you need to power turns without overtaking the springiness of the wood. Ski lengths vary from 159 to 189 — but even if you opt for the shortest model, make no mistake: these are the big monsters of the powder scene, ready to carve long, wide turns through the deepest of deep. Experts can still find an edge on packed runs, but less experienced skiers will likely leave the Pon2oons in storage until that dream powder day hits.

Our Process

Our writers spent 50 hours researching the most popular powder skis on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 12 different skis overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers, read over 5 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 7 of the skis themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.