How To Buy Skis: The Ultimate Ski Buying Guide

How_To_Buy_Skis_The_Ultimate_Ski_Buying_Guide

Buying a ski is no walk in the park. Regardless if you are a novice or an expert, picking the right pair is a challenging task. With the abundance of options available, it is easy to end up being overwhelmed. This, however, should not be a reason to decide in haste. Instead, this is a reason to be more careful to come up with the right choice.

From the types of skis to the materials that are used, there are several factors you need to take into consideration. Size, weight, and ergonomics are also crucial factors. Even brand name and customer reviews are critical in the decision that you are about to make. Like in choosing gears for other outdoor activities, such as canoes, recreational kayaks, and surfboards, you need to be meticulous.

No need to wonder how to buy skis! All that you need to do is to read this guide and we’ll help you come up with a well-informed decision.

The Anatomy of a Ski

Before we discuss the fundamentals of how to buy skis, let us first look at the different parts that make one. By knowing its components, it will be easier to understand what separates the good from the bad choices.

Below are the common parts that you will find in different types of skis:

  • Core: This is the main structural element of the ski, which makes it critical for its overall weight and strength. Surrounding the core are the other materials used in a ski.
  • Laminate: It is a reinforcement sheet that covers the core either on the top or bottom parts.
  • Topsheet: It is the cover or the skin that protects the other internal elements of the ski. This is also where the graphics are printed.
  • Edge: As the name implies, this is the part that you can see on the edge of the ski. It is a hardened material that is pressed into several layers.
  • Base: The bottom part of the ski is made using different types of polyethylene. Depending on which type you choose, it can easily or hardly absorb the wax.

Later in this article, as we discuss the types of skis and how to buy skis, we’ll look at the different parts and their individual construction.

Determine Your Skill Level

As you choose from the types of skis that are available, one of the first things that you need to consider is your ability. Your skill will determine which one is most suitable for your needs. You need to start with an honest assessment of your capabilities. The same thing is true when choosing skim boards, fishing kayaks, and wakeboards, among other equipment for outdoor sports.

If you are a beginner, pick a ski that is designed to be as simple to use as possible. Most of the beginner-friendly skis have a softer flex, which will be more forgiving even when you are cruising at a low speed. The tails and tips are also usually softer. At this point, you are still learning the basics of control, so choose a ski that is as simple as possible. Just like when learning kayak strokes or surfing for beginners, pick a gear that is as forgiving as possible.

On the other hand, if you are already an intermediate skier, the ski should have a wider underfoot compared to one that is designed with the needs of beginners in mind. It often has a rocker and camber combination for better stability and control. Curious about what rocker and cambers are? Don’t worry, we will cover those in another section of this guide on how to buy skis.

For the advanced and aggressive skiers, the best products are those that are stiffer compared to the models that are ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers. They are less forgiving and often exceptional in terms of speed, making it possible to keep up with the skills of its users.

Mind the Ski Conditions

When choosing the best kayaks, you need to consider the conditions of the water. Picking the best fishing reels and rods requires the need to think of what it is you need to catch. In the same way, evaluating the different types of skis and choosing one that is suitable for you requires a consideration of the environment where you will use it, specifically the terrain.

To make it easier for you to decide, this section is further broken down depending on the types of terrains that you intend to conquer on your ski trip.

All-Mountain Skis

These are the ones that you will use if you intend to ski an entire mountain. It is often narrow enough to allow it to turn on a piste. In the same way, it is also wide enough for plowing. Whether it is heavy snow, groomer, or powder, the ski must be able to handle it.

One of the common features of this ski type is a mid-fat waist, which has a range of 80 to 110mm. Rockered tips and deep side cuts are also expected from these skis, which will improve its ability to turn.

Powder Skis

If you intend to ski deep powder snow, this is the best option for you. Also often called super-fats, the waist width is generally 100 to 109mm, which depends on whether the user is a man or a woman.

It features an added width, which comes in handy for greater flotation even in deeper snow. For most skiers, they like their skis to be longer. The reason for this is because it means that there is a better surface area, and hence, it significantly improves flotation.

Carving Skis

The narrow width underfoot is one of the distinguishing characteristics that make it easy to set it apart from the other types of skis. This makes it easy to roll in and out of turns.

Choosing a carving ski will depend on your ability. If you are a beginner, it is best to stick with softer skis. This is much like choosing the best surfboards for beginners, wherein the ones with softer tops are better for novices because they are more forgiving. If you are an expert, on the other hand, you can benefit from the stiffer ones.

Alpine Touring Skis

These are also called backcountry skis. Whether you are going uphill or downhill, this is a great companion. Because of this, it is typically made using lightweight material to be sure that it does not compromise its speed.

The weight and the width make alpine touring skis different from each other. The wider and heavier designs are recommended for winter or deep snow touring. On the other hand, the lighter and slimmer ones are better for summer or spring touring.

Learn the Different Ski Profiles

As we talk about how to buy skis, another important thing that we would like to touch on is the different available profiles. It influences the overall design of the ski, so as its performance.

Camber

When evaluating the different types of skis, this is the traditional profile that you will see. When you place the ski on a flat surface, the arc is continuous and downturned, which runs from one end to the other. This results in a slight upward curve in the middle.

Rocker

Basically, this is just the opposite of the chamber. Turn camber upside-down, and that is the rocker ski profile. It has an elevated tail and tip. It is the middle part of the ski that gets in contact with the snow rather than the ends. In powder skis, this provides a great flotation, with some people even saying it feels like they are surfing.

Camber/Rocker

This is a blend of the two design profiles that we have mentioned above, making it great in terms of versatility. It allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds. The camber underfoot allows it to be stable and easy to control. On the other hand, the rocker element improves your turn initiation. It is best if you ski on powder. On hard-packed snow, it is challenging to maneuver.

Go Technical

Go_Technical

Picking from the different types of skis available on the market requires buyers to be a bit technical. It won’t hurt to be familiar with the specifications and what they mean as they greatly impact performance.

Waist Width

This is the width of the ski in the middle part of the waist, which explains why it is called that way. It is often the narrowest point that you will find in a ski. The narrower the edge is, the sooner it will be possible for you to establish an edge. Your turns will be quicker. On the other hand, a wider waist is a better option if you want better flotation.

Turning Radius

It is another crucial factor that impacts the speed and overall performance of the ski. Expressed in meters, this is a measurement of the arc size that the ski will make as it tips on its edge. The smaller the number, the shorter is the turn radius of the ski.

If the turn radius is less than 16 meters, it is classified as short, which is ideal for powder skis and carving skis. A medium turn type, on the other hand, is from 17 to 22 meters. This is great for park and pipe skis, as well as for all-mountain skis. Lastly, a long turn type is above 22 meters, which is the ideal choice for powder and big-mountain skis.

Pay Attention to the Materials

While you are evaluating the technical aspect of the types of skis on the market, another crucial element to take into account is the material that is used. Low-end materials are cheap but can compromise performance. Do not hesitate to spend more if this means enjoying better materials that can withstand the test of time.

Different parts are made of different materials. For the core, which is by far the most important part of the ski, wood or bamboo are the most popular choices. Natural core materials are preferred by many skiers because of their durability and long flex life. Composite scores are also common, which often have a honey-comb structure.

Several materials are used in the reinforcement of the ski. Fiberglass is a cheap option for reinforcement, making it popular. The heavyweight allows it to be effective in the absorption of vibration, so you won’t feel much of it in your legs. Metal, on the other hand, is known for providing the dampest ride. The lightest and strongest of the reinforcement materials is carbon. It has a natural spring and pop, which also makes it long-lasting.

Picking the Right Size

Another important consideration is the size of the ski. There is no rule of thumb on the right size to pick, but this largely depends on individual factors, such as the height and weight of the user, as well as the terrain conditions and skill. The size affects the turn, speed, and overall performance of the ski, making it critical consideration.

Below is a quick rundown of the recommended size of the ski based on the weight and height of the user:

  • 145cm – for users who are 100 to 105 pounds and 58 to 60 inches.
  • 150cm – for users who are 105 to 115 pounds and 60 to 62 inches.
  • 155 cm – for users who are 115 to 125 pounds and 62 to 64 inches.
  • 160cm – for users who are 125 to 135 pounds and 64 to 66 inches
  • 165cm – for users who are 130 to 140 pounds and 66 to 68 inches.
  • 175cm – for users who are 145 to 155 pounds and 68 to 70 inches.
  • 185cm – for users who are 160 to 180 pounds and 70 to 74inches.
  • 195cm – for users who are 170 to 200 pounds and over 74 inches.

Think about Portability

When buying equipment for outdoor sports, always think about convenience when it comes to how you will transport it. For instance, when buying surfboards, aside from its size and weight, consider investing in surfboard bags so that you can easily transport it. With skis, aside from the bags, you have to think about how portable it is. This prevents the need to rent equipment in your ski destination.

As much as possible, choose compact and lightweight skis, which will make them easy to transport. Whether you are traveling by air or land, lightweight is best if you intend to move the ski around in places. Nonetheless, while keeping the weight at a minimum, it is also crucial that you do not compromise the durability and performance of the ski.

Choosing a Ski Based on Gender

We are not discriminating, but the truth is that gender has a crucial role to play in picking the right ski. So, in this discussion about how to buy skis, we’ll also quickly touch upon the different skis for men and women.

One of the biggest differences is the weight. Women’s skis are generally lighter by as much as 20%. The reduction in the weight also results in lesser pressure in the legs, which makes it easier to turn.

As a result of the reduced weight, women’s skis are also less stiff. You can expect these skis to be more forgiving, similar to the ones that are designed with the needs of beginners in mind. Aside from making quicker turns, it also allows faster reactions as the skier shifts weight. The flex is usually softer by 20% compared to men’s skis.

There is also a difference when it comes to the ramp angle. This is because the center of gravity in women is in their hips. In contrast, the center of gravity in men is in their chest. The change in the design of the ramp angle in women’s skis allows it to move forward the center of gravity.

Age Matters

There are swimming goggles for kids. You will also find a diverse selection of kayaks for kids. In the same way, you will have various choices when it comes to paddleboards for kids.  With these, it just makes sense that there are also special skis that are made specifically for kids. So, consider the age of the user as you contemplate how to buy skis.

Do not choose a big ski for young users only because you are afraid that they can easily have it outgrown. You must pick the size of a ski that is appropriate for the little ones. For those who are below six years old, the height of the ski must not reach their chins. For those who are below 12 years old, on the other hand, the tip of the ski should reach their middle face.

Consider Renting First

At the end of the day, if buying brand new does not sound like an attractive decision, you should consider renting first. This is good because it allows you to try different brands and models and decide which one is most suitable for your needs and preferences.

Other Things You Will Need for Skiing

The ski is just one of the many gears you need to have on your trip. Before we end this post, allow us to give you a quick rundown on the other must-have as you brave the slopes and terrains in your chosen ski destination:

  • Goggles: Wearing polarized sunglasses is not enough if you plan to go skiing. You need goggles especially designed for skiing. Make sure it fits perfectly for your highest level of comfort.
  • Helmet: Even if you are a beginner skiing at a low speed, you need the right helmet to protect your head from injury.
  • Jacket: Whether it is softshell jackets or hardshell jackets, they will protect from the extreme cold to help your body function at its best when you ski.
  • Gloves: Ordinary hiking gloves will not suffice for skiing. If it is too thin, your fingers will end up freezing and this results in discomfort.

Globo Surf Overview

Now that you came all the way to the end of this guide on how to choose skis, we hope that you can learn a thing or two. Do not decide based on price or design alone. Individual needs, including gender and age, are crucial. The type of terrain where it is used and the materials are also important considerations.

The best advice that we can give is to take your time. Read reviews to understand the pros and cons of the skis available on the market. Deciding in haste is one thing you are sure to regret, especially if you are buying a high-end ski.

More Snow Reviews:

Sources

  1. How to Buy Skis, Skis.com
  2. Skis Buying Guide, RhythmSnowsports.com.au
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!