Outdoors Gear We Tested the Best Skis on the Market Right Now This season's best performing skis, tested and reviewed By Berne Broudy Berne Broudy Williams College Berne Broudy is a Vermont-based writer and photographer. She has been reporting on environmental issues, gear, and travel for two decades. TripSavvy's editorial guidelines Published on 11/04/21 Share Pin Email We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission. Having the right ski for your style and the conditions where you ski will help you have your best days on snow. There are a lot of factors that go into picking the best ski for you, to be sure. John Jay, the content marketing manager at Fischer Sports says the biggest mistake skiers make when shopping for new skis is buying the ski on the cover of the magazine, which may not be the best ski for their typical conditions or their ability and style. “There are so many different types of skis available, you’re more likely to find a ski better suited to your type of skiing than the one on the mag cover,” Jay says. “Visiting your local shop and consulting a knowledgeable salesperson or chatting with an online expert are the best ways to find the ski that’s best for you.” Jay says that when you’re shopping you should think about what width ski is ideal for you. “Make sure the ski’s width is appropriate relative to the type of skiing you are doing,” Jay advises. “If you’re just learning or sticking to groomed terrain, a relatively narrow waist—in the 80s to mid-90s—will be easy to turn, and it will help you develop good technique. If you’re already a good skier, and you seek out softer snow, a wider ski will float better and feel more playful.” Former World Champion free-rider Kyle Smaine says that if a ski is too wide, it takes a lot of energy to roll it onto its edge and turn it. “A wide ski is not as responsive,” Smaine explains. “It’s more likely to make your knees hurt. If a ski is too wide when conditions get firm, it’s more likely it will chatter or slide instead of giving good grip.” He also says length is important. “If I’m skiing somewhere that’s more open where I can ski faster, a longer ski has more stability, and it’s confidence-inspiring at top speeds,” Smaine continues. “When speed isn’t a priority, or the terrain prohibits high speeds, a shorter ski is easier to maneuver, and it’s usually lighter, which can help you ski longer.” Luckily, there are more great skis than ever before, and more skis are better for more types of skiers in a broad range of conditions. So we hit the slopes in Vermont and Colorado and put them to the test. Here are our favorites for the 2021-2022 ski season. The Rundown Best Overall: Völkl M6 Mantra Skis 2022 at Backcountry.com Runner-Up, Best Overall: Fischer Ranger 102 FR Ski at Moosejaw.com Best All-Mountain: Atomic Maverick 95 TI Skis 2022 at Evo.com Best Value: Salomon Stance 80 Skis + M11 GW Bindings 2022 at Evo.com Best for Powder: DPS Pagoda 112 RP Tour Skis 2022 at Backcountry.com Best for Hard Chargers: Elan Ripstick 106 Skis 2022 at Backcountry.com Best for Women: Blizzard Black Pearl 97 Women Skis at Moosejaw.com Best for Big Mountain Touring: Scott Pure Ski 2022 at Backcountry.com Best for Touring/Backcountry: Atomic Backland 107 Alpine Touring Ski 2022 at Backcountry.com Best for Park/Freestyle: Armada Edollo Skis 2022 at Backcountry.com Table of contents Expand Our Picks Final Verdict Why Trust TripSavvy? Best Overall: Völkl M6 Mantra Skis 2022 Backcountry View On Backcountry.com View On REI What We Like Jack of all trades Mantra and Secret are the same ski with a different top sheet Upgraded so each length has flex characteristics Good for intermediate and above What We Don't Like Carbon tip isn't as forgiving as other skis Can be heavy The Mantra is Volkl’s perennial favorite ski, updated for 2022 so that now each length has its own flex characteristics. Now, every length performs. In the past, the Mantra was a ski you had to be on top of all the time. That is, you couldn’t space out and enjoy the views. Now, it’s a ski that every intermediate skier and above will love. It’s fun when pushed, and just as enjoyable casually cruising. Volkl took out some of the metal to make the ski more forgiving, without dumbing the performance. Go for a shorter length, and the ski is agile, playful, and quick at turning whether you’re laying it on its edge or dancing down the hill. Bump up a size, and the ski becomes a big mountain crusher. All sizes have agility, control, float, and grip. The Mantra’s sidecut, which Volkl calls “3D Radius” claims to have three turning radii in each edge. The radii are longer at the tip and tail for stability and smooth carving in and out of turns. Underfoot, a shorter radius gave me the option to carve quick turns, or to open it up for GS turns. The beech and poplar core is durable. Beech underfoot gives the binding support, and poplar keeps the swing weight down. Every length of the M6 ski has a dedicated titanal frame—not a continuous sheet of metal. Because longer skis have more metal, they’re stiffer and have higher performance. Less titanal in shorter skis is easier to flex by a lighter skier or a skier with a less powerful style. In all lengths, Volkl now uses embroidered carbon tips for a snappy feel when you’re ripping down the hill while keeping weight under control. If you want one ski that does it all, this is it. Sizes: 163, 170, 177, 184, 191 | Dimensions: 135-96-119 | Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker Runner-Up, Best Overall: Fischer Ranger 102 FR Ski Evo View On Moosejaw.com What We Like Two colors Fun in the bumps, the trees, and on groomers Lively and playful What We Don't Like Not the best ski for hardpack/ice If you’re seeing a lot of pink skis on the mountain this year, it’s Fischer’s Ranger 102 FR. The freeride-focused ski isn’t as stiff and damp as Fischer’s popular Ti series skis, but the wood core with metal underfoot construction makes them a good time in bumps, trees, and other unconventional terrains. Lively and playful, the wood core is wrapped in titanal underfoot. Carbon in the ski’s nose reduced swing weight and tip chatter while giving the ski exceptional grip. The ski’s spunky elongated tip rocker and mid-range tail rocker with traditional underfoot camber translated to energy-efficient and easy turns in nearly all conditions. While the 102 FR isn’t super light, it feels nimble. Yes, the ski can handle an ice-crusted slope, but where it shines is in creamy conditions, tree skiing, bumps, and playing from the top to the bottom of the mountain. The ski comes in two colors, but free-riders of all genders can’t get enough of the eye-catching fluorescent pink. Best suited for experienced skiers. Sizes: 156, 170, 177, 184, 191 | Dimensions: 136-102-126 | Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker The 10 Best Places to Buy Skis and Snowboards Best All-Mountain: Atomic Maverick 95 TI Skis 2022 REI View On Evo.com View On REI What We Like Great graphics Easy to ski Fun for all levels of skier What We Don't Like Flat tails didn’t release as easily in bumps Most skis are designed and manufactured in Europe. The Maverick and Maven were designed in North America for North American skiers and a broad spectrum of conditions and ski styles. The 95 Ti is the most versatile ski of Atomic’s new Maverick series. It excels in all conditions. At Vermont’s Stowe resort, it had exceptional edge hold in hard-packed and icy conditions for a mid-width ski. It ripped on groomers, and it was right at home when I dipped into the woods. The graphics were eye-catching—I was stopped in the lift line multiple times when the skis caught someone’s eye, and they wanted to know more. The skis use Atomic’s OMatic core construction for a balance of stiffness and flex over the length of the ski. It was a serious crud buster. But the 95 width was playful and fun in new snow, too. Whatever the conditions the ski was easy to turn, and it responded to my lead. The HRZN Tech Tip helped. Not only did it give the ski more float in fresh snow, but the plastic tip deflected icy chunks without getting hung up. A poplar wood core kept the ski light, shock-absorbing, and stable. The men’s Maverick is stiffer, with both titanium and fiberglass sheets inside. The women’s Maven has titanium underfoot and uses carbon stringers instead of titanal. The Maven 86 has no carbon and is a softer ski. Best for intermediate skiers. Sizes: 164, 172, 180, 188 | Dimensions: 129-94.5-113 (180 length) | Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker | Turn Radius: 19.3 (180 length) Best Value: Salomon Stance 80 Skis + M11 GW Bindings 2022 Evo View On Evo.com View On The-house.com What We Like Good price For advanced beginners and intermediate skiers What We Don't Like They don’t have a lot of float Salomon’s Stance line of skis has something for everyone. This ski is the most affordable in the line, quick-turning, and frontside-focused. It’s a great choice for advanced beginners and intermediate skiers, as it’s fun and easy-turning. The Stance 80 uses Salomon’s Ti-C construction, a single titanal metal laminate over a vibration-absorbing poplar core. Carbon in the tip and tail made it feel energetic railing fresh groomers on a dry pow day, and the carbon and titanal combo was commanding when I was carving eastern ice. The consistent, easy in and out bindings have a DIN range of 3.5 to 11, so your setup can grow with you as you progress, at a price that can’t be beaten. Sizes: 161, 169, 177, 185 | Dimensions: 124-80-106 | Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker The Best Ski Boots That Offer Support and Style Best for Powder: DPS Pagoda 112 RP Tour Skis 2022 Backcountry View On Backcountry.com View On Evo.com View On REI What We Like Made in the US Lots of float Fun in the backcountry and resort Highly engineered What We Don't Like Higher price Made in the US, the DPS Pagoda 112 Tour is one of the most highly engineered skis you can buy. It took DPS 15 years to finetune the 15-millimeter tapered sidecut and exaggerated tip and tail rocker shape. The layered core uses aspen, ash, and paulownia with aerospace foam and a full layer of proprietary carbon with damping additives. The end result is a ski that’s thrillingly light and energy-efficient but fully engaged and intuitively responsive at whatever speeds you dare on the descent. The generously rockered tip and tail helped me surf when the snow was deep and creamy. And despite the wide waist, the underfoot camber was poppy enough that when I skied groomers, I still had a great time. It’s an insanely high-performance touring ski. And it’s a ski that’s just as fun ripping resort laps after a good snowfall. Sizes: 158, 168, 178, 184, 189 | Dimensions: 140-112-127 | Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker Best for Hard Chargers: Elan Ripstick 106 Skis 2022 Backcountry View On Backcountry.com View On Evo.com View On REI What We Like Climbing skin notch at the tail Great on- and off-piste What We Don't Like Easy to forget there’s a left and a right For the skier who goes bell to bell and wants a ski that gives back whatever you put into it, Elan’s Ripstick is an all-mountain shredder that responds best when it’s skied hard. It's a great choice for a skier who splits their time on- and off-piste. It slashed through chunky, variable snow. It plowed through end-of-day chop. And it cruised in corn and surfed powder. It handled all conditions well because it’s wide enough and flexes appropriately, not getting deflected. There’s a lot going on inside this ski that contributes to its superb performance. The Ripsticks are left and right foot-specific with a cambered inside edge and a rockered outside edge. Elan says the inner camber is for precision, edge, grip, and stability, while the outside edge is for forgiveness, easy turning, and smooth transitions. The wood core has tip-to-tail hollow carbon tube inserts on the inside edge to enhance precision, grip, and stability—a lightweight construction unique to Elan. Composite tip and tail inserts prevented chatter and gave the tip and tail the structural integrity to handle all kinds of snow. Sizes: 172, 180, 188 | Dimensions: 143-106-120 | Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker Here Are the Best Ski Socks to Wick Away Moisture and Keep Your Feet Warm Best for Women: Blizzard Black Pearl 97 Women Skis Moosejaw View On Moosejaw.com View On REI What We Like An approachable ski that’s also high performance Fun short turn radius What We Don't Like Wish it came in longer lengths A lot of women’s skis feel like dumbed-down men’s skis. I’ve never been a fan until I skied Blizzard’s Black Pearl, which has been the top-selling ski of any kind in the US for years. Not only was I pleasantly surprised by how fun and easy skiing the Black Pearl is, but also by how high performance it can be. It quickly became a ski I reached for any time I was heading to the hill. Tip and tail rocker keep the ski afloat in powder and help it plow through crud, too. The underfoot camber was quick edge to edge, letting me pick a line then change it on a whim. The short turn radius was lively and energetic. The 2021-2022 Black Pearl uses Blizzard's relatively new stiffer, lighter, more stable core that’s a puzzle of beech and poplar blocks glued into a solid wood core. The result gives Blizzard more control than working with a solid piece of wood when fine-tuning the core’s properties. For example, selectively-placed beech stiffens up the ski, while poplar makes turns easier to initiate and helps the rockered tip and tail release on command. Carbon and titanal laminates over the wood core add stability at speed. They gave this ski stellar edge hold without compromising the fun feel. Blizzard marked this ski for a forward mounting position, which is what most women prefer to make turn initiation and release intuitive. Men looking for fun, easy-skiing, all-mountain boards should also consider this ski. The graphics aren’t "girly," and on the hill, this ski is maximum fun. Sizes: 153, 159, 165, 171 | Dimensions: 136.5-97-118.5 | Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker Best for Big Mountain Touring: Scott Pure Ski 2022 Scott Pure View On Backcountry.com View On Scott-sports.com What We Like Light enough to hike and carves above its weight class Can also be skied in the resort What We Don't Like Best for expert skiers Designed with input from Red Bull-sponsored athlete Jérémie Heitz, arguably the most accomplished and daring skier of his era, this is a backcountry ski that expert skiers can trust to have their backs in any conditions they might encounter. Stable and maneuverable, the ski uses two turning radii—a shorter one in front for quick turns and general turning responsiveness and a longer one under the foot for powering through big arcing turns. Tip and tail rocker provide maximum float and make the ski fast in powder but easier to control when the conditions are slick. Due to its rocker, when there’s no fluff, the Pure skis shorter. Underfoot, traditional camber enhanced edge hold and gave the ski a stable feel. For strong skiers who like to push a ski to its limits, this ski will give you the confidence to tackle the biggest backcountry line you dare. Heitz trusts his life to this ski. But it’s just as fun on average touring days and hammering laps at the resort. Sizes: 172, 182, 190 | Dimensions: 142-109-128 | Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker The 11 Best Women's Ski Pants of 2022 Best for Touring/Backcountry: Atomic Backland 107 Alpine Touring Ski 2022 Backcountry View On Backcountry.com View On REI What We Like Can hold its own at the resort Durable Excellent float What We Don't Like Doesn’t release as easily as some other skis in moguls This has been my go-to backcountry ski for the past four years. It’s light without being noodly. It holds an edge and carves through inconsistent snow like a boss. And it’s durable. While I love the graphics on the 2022 version, my current pair, which has more than 100 days on it, still ski great. A lot of skiers would say the 107 is too wide for an east coast-based skier. I think it’s the sweet spot. The Backland 107’s wide Hrzn tip helps the ski float over everything without getting bogged down. The ski is built on Atomic’s Ultra Power Woodcore, a blend of beech and poplar that gave this ski a good edge hold without excessive weight. The wood core is reinforced with a carbon backbone that stabilizes the ski from tip to tail. It gave the ski a poppy feel and a good hold in challenging conditions. The medium turn radius was versatile and easy to ski. Combine that with Atomic’s ultra-wear-resistant edges, and you’ve got a ski that will last and put a smile on your face every time you click in. Sizes: 175, 182, 189 | Dimensions: 131-98-121 | Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker Best for Park/Freestyle: Armada Edollo Skis 2022 Backcountry View On Backcountry.com View On Evo.com What We Like Park oriented but can handle the whole mountain No chatter What We Don't Like Sized for park rats Skiers who spend at least 75 percent of their time in the park, but also want a ski that will let them explore the rest of the mountain, will love the Edollo. The signature ski of Swedish Freeskier Henrik Harlaut, the winningest X-Games Medalist, the Edollo has a softer nose and midfoot, and a stiffer tail. The design made buttering, pressing, and grabbing easier. But when I was cruising to hit higher-speed jumps, it had the stability of some of the best all-mountain skis. It also didn’t chatter. Oversized, heat-treated edges resist damage from rails, boxes, and more. Inside, the light poplar wood core is paired with tip-to-tail ash stringers for seemingly Red Bull-fueled pop. Tip and tail caps protect the minimalist top sheet from damage. At 96 underfoot, the Edollo is a highly skiable ski anywhere on the mountain. And if you prefer to hole up in the park, you’ll love it just as much. Sizes: 164, 172 | Dimensions: 131-98-121 | Profile: Rocker-Camber The Best Men’s Ski Pants That Can Stand Up to Any Climate Best Uphill: Dynafit Blacklight Pro Alpine Touring Ski 2022 Backcountry View On Backcountry.com View On REI What We Like Pintech skin saves weight Thin-waisted and light for uphill travel What We Don't Like Not an everyday ski for most skiers When the focus is on the uphill, you want the lightest, fastest ski you can buy that’s also fun to ski down on. Dynafit’s Blacklight Pro is made to win ski mountaineering races and to crush miles and elevation with minimal tax on the skier. Dynafit does it with an ultralight paulownia core with unidirectional carbon laminate for low swing weight and a solid feel when you’re skiing down. For each length of the ski, Dynafit has adjusted the rocker and sidecut for consistency and control. The pin-skin system was a big-time weight saver. It works with Pomoca’s Race Pro 2.0 skins. The end of the skin clips through the ski for targeted traction, though the ski can also take a full-length skin. On downhills, I appreciated the full ABS sidewalls, which helped me power the skis instead of skiing like I was hanging on for dear life. Sizes: 158, 165, 172, 178 | Dimensions: 116-80-100 | Profile: Tip and tail rocker Best for Groomers: Faction Dictator 3.0 Ski 2022 Backcountry View On Backcountry.com View On REI What We Like Handles highest speeds with stability Great for all resort conditions What We Don't Like Really requires good form For skiers who want to have their foot on the gas all day, every day, Faction’s Dictator 3.0 is the tool for taking command of the mountain. It’s an experts-only ski that can trench the groomers, then bop into the woods to find fresh powder in the trees. A long radius underfoot and short radii in the tip and tail made it as turny as I wanted to ski it with easy entry and exit from turns. Even at top speed, these skis were extremely responsive. A touch of tail rocker maintained flat tail speed, but they didn’t get bogged down in fresh snow, helping the skis float. One of Dictator’s key’s to speed is the light and vibration-absorbing poplar core with a titanal overlay. According to Faction, the core lets the ski “pop, butter, and stomp like a park ski and also have enough torsional stability to grip impressively on the downhill.” The top sheet wraps around the ski protecting it from impact and keeping the ski light. With a strong and skilled skier on board, this is a ski that can’t be beaten for dominating in any conditions the mountain can dish out. Sizes: 172, 180, 188 | Dimensions: 134-106-124 | Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker Final Verdict Volkl’s M6 Mantra is a chameleon (view at Backcountry). It’s a highly approachable ski that still delivers top speed and performance. Three radii in the sidecut let skiers zipper or soar down the mountain and choose their own adventure on-piste or off-piste. Whether you want to push it or cruise, it’s a ton of fun. Drop down a size for easy cruising. Bump up a size for a powerful, bit-mountain feel ski. Frequently Asked Questions How much should I spend? Skis aren’t cheap. They range from $400 to $1,200. And that’s not the only expense. Bindings add $130 to $600, and if you need new boots, that’s another $250 to $900. If you’re on a budget, consider buying last year’s model or color if you find it on sale. What size do I need? Most brands provide general guidelines on what length a skier should ski based on your height, weight, and ski level. Shorter skis are typically easier to maneuver. Longer skis go faster. A beginner skier should opt for a ski on the shorter end of the size spectrum, and most advanced skiers will choose for a longer ski. However, for backcountry skiing, plenty of good skiers will skew short if they spend most of their time skiing the trees. Should I look for skis with integrated bindings? Megan Shenton, ski department head at Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, Vt. says beginner and intermediate skiers who ski on hard-packed groomers could consider a ski with an integrated binding. They’re less expensive, but there are not a lot of choices. Most integrated binding skis are soft without metal or carbon. So, they won’t be ideal for ice or deeper snow. Can I buy used skis? “100 percent,” Shenton says. Many ski towns have skis swaps, shops sell their rentals at the end of the season, and some retailers also sell used gear. Shenton says to look for a modern binding, avoid skis with rusty edges, and check the bases. “If you can see the core of the ski, that’s a big no,” Shenton advises. “If the bases look like they’ve been scratched by a cat, or you can see the core through the top sheet, those are signs that the ski is past its useful life.” What is rocker? Rocker is when a ski tip and/or tail is raised off the ground over a section of the ski. Rocker helps a skier turn their skis more easily. It’s specific to the type of ski, including frontside, all-mountain, freeride, touring, and park and pipe. What is camber? Camber is the arc of a ski when it’s lying flat on flat snow. It’s what gives the ski edge hold when the ski is pressured by a skier. Classic camber is used in most skis. A classic cambered ski will arch off the snow. Reverse camber is used in some powder skis. A reverse camber ski looks like a banana. The camber gives the ski a very surfy feeling. What do ski dimensions mean? The three numbers listed as ski dimensions correspond to the width of the ski at the widest part of the tip, the narrowest part of the waist, and the widest part of the tail. Ski dimensions give you a sense of how the ski will perform in different types of snow.A narrow waist will be best for hard-packed or icy snow. A wider waist will help a ski stay afloat in soft snow. Wide tips and tails will also help a ski float. And a wide tip will also help a ski power through more challenging snow. But it’s the combo of all three, combined with rocker, camber, and other ski dimensions that are each ski’s special sauce. Should I buy or rent skis? That depends on the frequency in which you ski. If you're taking one trip a season, it's probably fine to rent. That said, rentals are not cheap. Since skis will last you multiple seasons, it doesn't take long for even a $1,000 kit to make more economic sense than spending $50 to $100 a day on rentals. Why Trust TripSavvy? Berne Broudy has written about skis and ski destinations for more than a dozen publications. She tests nearly every ski, and has a team of experienced skiers who also provide feedback. The skis featured in this roundup were tested by Broudy and/or her team of testers in Vermont and Colorado. Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Share Pin Email Tell us why! Submit Continue to 5 of 12 below. Continue to 9 of 12 below.