Skis are by far the most exciting piece of gear to buy for your repertoire. They are exciting, colorful and can really alter what you are able to do on the mountain. These days there are an incredible variety of sizes, lengths, materials, structure and so much more that make buying skis a dizzying task.
This day and age, there are more choices than ever before and everyone has the ability to find that perfect ski with enough research and consideration. In my experience working at a ski shop, it is not uncommon for people to put the same amount of effort in choosing their skis as they do with a new car. There is so much out there, and you never know what you might like or even what might exist until you begin to do a little research on the top skis across the industry. In reality, most skis can work for you, but the best way to find the right fit is to know what sort of skiing you want to do.
Do you want a ski that will rip moguls? Do you want a ski to slash deep powder? You may want a ski to get tricky in the terrain park, or perhaps a freeride or all mountain ski is what you need to give you the versatility to feel comfortable anywhere? There are lots of niches in skiing and knowing what sort of skiing you want to do is the best place to start in determining where to focus the search. If all of this seems confusing, rest assured that we have a solid selection of the best skis this year for you to look through to help you get started.
Best Overall All Mountain Ski - Volkl M6 Mantra
The Volkl Mantra has been a classic ski design for years. It balances stability and dampness with responsive turning and float to create one of the most successful lines of ski these days.
This is a ski that people return to generation after generation because it has become a fun, dependable single quiver ski able to do it all.
The Mantra M6 in this regard doesn’t disappoint. The waist width is a middle 96mm, which is an ideal size for a ski that is both expected to float in deeper snow but also ski groomers, crud and variable snow conditions with ease.
For this Volkl has included a full titanal frame. Titanal is an aluminum alloy which is frequently used in ski construction to give the ski torsional stiffness, stability and dampness. The mantra integrates this underfoot and extends it into the tip and tail to improve performance on hard and varied snow surfaces. With a wood core consisting of poplar and beech, the ski is both responsive and stable.
This ski is equally at home ripping groomers, taking tight turns through the trees or traversing ridgelines looking for that next big line. The tip and tail house carbon fiber which stores and releases energy well helping you absorb those impacts and initiate your next turn with ease. Many people are looking for that ‘just right’ ski that can do everything well, and instill confidence anywhere on the mountain.
Best Value for the Money - Faction Dictator 2.0
The Faction Dictator 2.0 is another classic ski that has gained Faction much acclaim recently. For a brand highly regarded in the freeride and park world, their foray into a stiffer, cambered all mountain ski has been welcomed with open arms.
Like the Mantra M6, the Faction Dictator also boasts a titanal core for improved stability and stiffness when riding on harder snow surfaces.
This metal sheet allows an otherwise softer ski to dampen when skiing at higher speeds with harder snow conditions. The Dictator comes in a 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 model, which translates to 86, 96, 106 and 116mm in length. Our best value is the 2.0 at the 96mm waist, which really occupies that sweet spot between float and maneuverability.
There is both tip and tail rocker which allow the ski to cut through deeper snow to keep you skimming along the surface, and the rockered tail aids in skiing switch and absorbing impact from jumps and side hits along the way. The topsheets are a clean solid color which are simple yet aesthetic.
For the price point, this is a renowned and respected ski who’s sticker pierce is about $100 or more cheaper than many other competitive skis. With those savings you can feel free to mount some Pivots or Jesters on them to really round out the package and give you all of the stability you need to take these anywhere you want.
Faction has struck a balance between a lightweight, reactive ski which also boasts stability when the conditions get choppy. For any freeride aficionado, the Dictator 2.0s are a solid option for getting out where you haven’t gone before.
Best for Carving Groomers - Nordica Enforcer 94
The single word that comes to mind with the Nordica Enforcer 94 is damp. These skis do an incredible job at absorbing all of those pesky imperfections which can catch you off guard on other skis.
The Enforcers boast two layers of titanal with a wood core sandwiched between them. The result is an extremely stiff, stable and powerful ski.
These skis can and will charge, no matter the snow conditions. Hard pack and ice are no match for a ski this stiff. It holds an edge well in all but the most horrendous snow conditions, but will slice and carve easily across that corduroy.
With a ski this stiff, it might not be the easiest ski to learn on, but intermediate to advanced skiers will find their riding taken to a new level with the confidence the enforcers inspire. The 94 is an ideal waist length for that single do it all ski, but they also come in a variety of wider configurations for those who might want to tackle some deep stuff as well.
With full camber underfoot and tip and tail rocker, the Enforcer is able to float and transition forces between turns easily. Nothing is worse than trying to turn a ski and having them slid out from underneath you.
With the Enforcer that will never be an issue because when the snow gets icy and the slopes get steeper, you can feel confident that the Enforcer will securely hold an edge and allow you to descend in style.
These are one of the most secure, damp and confidence inspiring skis on the market today, which make the Enforcer 94s a crowd favorite year after year. Top it off with an aesthetic topsheet of the mountainous lines now available to you, this is a ski that any self respecting groomer skier should have on their radar.
Best Performance in Powder - Blizzard Rustler 10
The Blizzard Rustler 10 sits in that ideal world of a slightly wider ski which is still able to feel at home in firmer conditions. The ski ranges from 102 to 104mm at the waist depending on the length, and is at home on deep days where flotation is everything.
There are skis that are 130 underfoot for sure which will float very well in the powder, but the idea of skiing those everyday will make your knees shake.
You need a ski that can ski powder well, but also tackle anything else the mountain may throw at you as well. In this regard the Blizzard Rustler 10 is the ideal powder ski for somebody looking for that performance in the deeps but not wanting to sacrifice everyday usability.
The Rustler has a titanal frame which tapers towards either end of the ski to allow for stability and dampness under foot, but maintain a lightweight, responsive ski. The shape of this titanal frame allows for longitudinal stiffness, but less torsional stiffness.
This translates to a ski that is playful and surfy. Tip and tail rocker further assist in flotation and lift, while also allowing for that playful and responsive ride that freeride skiers are consistently chasing. The titanol core allows this ski to charge easily at high speeds and slash through deeper snow with ease.
There is no slope too steep or too deep for this hard charging powder plank. The Blizzard Rustler has been a ski that keeps die hard fans returning year after year, and the cult following is certainly deserved.
A freeride powder ski for the masses? You could call it impossible, but the Rustler 10 would definitely disagree.