There’s a dizzying array of ski choices on the market. It can feel a little overwhelming—whether you’re gazing at a wall of skis in your favorite ski shop or looking online. It’s important to note that ski manufacturers pay careful attention to the design of each ski. Every model has an intended use, which includes specific terrain and snow conditions.
Therefore, the first question you should answer is, what type of skiing do you plan to do? A savvy ski shop employee will help you translate that to a range of waist widths. For example, skis with a narrow waist, somewhere between 70 mm and 84 mm underfoot, are considered best for carving up groomers. These are widely considered to be Frontside skis because they excel on the front side of the mountain, which is often heavily groomed. At the other end of the spectrum is powder skis. These skis are generally anything over 100 mm underfoot because the wider the platform, the better performance for surfing snow or handling windblown or cutup snow after a storm.
What Is an All-Mountain Ski?
“All-mountain skis can carve a turn on the groomers and are also fun off-trail or in the bumps,” says Tracy Gibbons, owner and hardgoods buyer for Sturtevant’s, located in Bellevue and Tacoma, Washington. “With a variety of waist widths in this category, a good thing to help guide you is to determine how much time you really spend on groomed runs verses off piste. If you spend most of your time on the groomers, then look to the slightly narrower skis in this group. If you are more adventuresome and like off-piste more often, than look to the wider skis in this group.”
What to Look for in Skis?
If you’re an all-mountain skier, that is you enjoy both carving on groomers and skiing new snow off the groomers or poking around in bumps, then you’ll look for waist widths that range between 86 mm and 100 mm underfoot. The narrower the waist in this category, as mentioned, the tighter the turn radius a ski will make, however, it will still be able to handle the terrain and snow conditions you find on the backside of the mountain. The wider the waist width, the more versatility and flotation the ski will have, though the ski will have a larger turn radius. The all-mountain category is the go-to place for a one-ski quiver for skiers who can encounter either groomers or new snow on any given day.
What skis should you buy: Which ski is right for you?
Before you go into the store, however, educate yourself by reading the following ski roundup. You can learn a lot about the technologies featured in these new models for the 21/22 season. Remember that skiers shopping in this category ski the entire mountain—frontside and backside—and need a ski to handle a variety of snow conditions.
Learn about ski technology: A Guide to Ski Technology
Some of the skis lean toward the narrower side in waist width and will favor carving with occasional trips off-piste or out-of-bounds while others have waists for more snow and different terrain. Whichever terrain you lean toward, all-mountain skis will provide you the access to a great adventure.
All-Mountain Ski for World Cup Ski Racers
ATOMIC MAVERICK 95 Ti
Atomic’s new Maverick 95 Ti uses construction designed for world cup ski racers. The new OMatic core construction, which uses titanium from tip to tail strategically to increase stability by balancing stiffness and flex. HRZN tech mean’s a wider surface area on the ski’s tip for maneuverability in all variable conditions, helped out by a 95 mm waist and tip rocker, which is balanced with a long effective edge when on edge. The result? A ski that hooks up on hardpack and floats in pow.
“The Maverick 95 Ti has a strong power-to-weight ratio,” says Jake Strassburger, Atomic commercial manager. “It’s constructed with precision milled poplar wood, lightweight fiberglass and carbon inserts and OMatic delivers lightweight and energetic performance.”
Favorite Playful All-Mountain Ski
BLACK CROWS SERPO
The Serpo has a 93 mm waist and a 20 m turning radius. The progressive front rocker and slight rear rocker add maneuverability, while a double titanal plate underfoot, plus a poplar woodcore, add power and stability to this new all-terrain ski.
“A new member of the flock for this season, the Serpo is a ski designed for the piste with a penchant for dipping off the edges,” says Tristan Droppert, Black Crows North American marketing manager. “A metal layer adds excellent grip, but the progressive flex allows for playful skiing.”
All-Mountain Ski for Versatility and Hardpack Snow
BLIZZARD BONAFIDE 97
The Bonafide is designed for versatility. The Bonafide is constructed with Blizzard’s TrueBlend wood core, designed to be softer in the tip and tail for better handling and maneuverability, with denser wood underfoot for power. A reduced rocker profile means a more effective edge for control on hardpack snow.
“In the real world, snow conditions will vary throughout the day,” says Jed Duke, Blizzard director of product marketing. “Whatever the situation, we designed the Bonafide 97 to remove conditions from the equation. The combination of the balanced flex and versatile shape makes it an ideal all-conditions daily driver for committed skiers.”
All-Mountain Ski for That Unique On-Snow Feel
DYNASTAR M-PRO 90
The M-Pro 90 is constructed with Dynastar’s Hybrid core, which combines poplar wood and polyurethane in a combination designed to enhance rebound and power in the turn. Rocket Frame technology adds a titanal insert for increased edge grip and stability at speed. The M-Pro has a 90 mm waist and all-mountain rocker profile, with rockered tips and tails.
“Advanced intermediate and expert skiers alike will find that the M-Pro 90 inspires confidence with its consistency and unique on-snow feel,” says Matt Farness, Dynastar alpine category manager.
Freeride-Oriented Ripstick 96
ELAN RIPSTICK 96 BLACK EDITION
The freeride-oriented Ripstick 96 combines carbon tubes, Vapor Tip inserts and Amphibio technology, which adds camber to the ski’s inside edge and rocker to the outside edge. Elan’s new Carbon Line Technology places a diagonal weave of carbon fiber along the inside of the ski for more edge grip and power, while four carbon rods in the wood core add more power without the weight.
“The Ripstick 96 Black Edition exhibits an uncanny blend of versatility and stability that allows it to feel at home in any snow conditions or type of terrain the mountains have to offer,” says Ben Fresco, Elan product and marketing manager. “It carves confident arcs on hardpack like an all-mountain ski and floats in soft snow like a big-mountain ski.”
A High-Performance-Oriented Core
FACTION DICTATOR 2.0
The updated Dictator 2.0 has a high-performance-oriented core made with lightweight poplar wood, two full-length sheets of metal and Faction’s Full Strength Sidewall for power and edge hold. The 96-mm-waisted ski is also designed with what Faction calls Surf Zones, or a combo of rocker and a tip taper design that moves the widest part of the ski closer to the center in order to promote smooth pivoting, flotation, and the avoidance of hooking by any part of the ski.
“The Dictator 2.0 turns the whole mountain into a freeride playground,” says Henrick Lampert, Faction North American marketing manager. “Dual Titanal layers and a lightweight, energetic wood core blend power with lightweight responsiveness.”
All-Mountain Ski For Groomed and Mixed Conditions
FISCHER RANGER 94 FR
The Fischer Ranger 94 has a graduated waist, meaning the sidecut does not vary much in-between sizes. The 184 cm length has a 94mm waist, while the 177 cm length has a 92 mm waist. Either length option, however, is designed to perform as well on hardpack as it does in soft or cut-up snow. A sandwich sidewall construction with a beech/poplar wood core adds rebound energy and responsiveness, while the carbon shovel is designed to dampen vibration and reduce swing weight at speed. “
This ski has a huge sweet spot and shines in both groomed and mixed conditions and is ideal for the strong intermediate to expert looking for a playful ski that can be skied all over the mountain,” says Mike Hattrup, Fischer alpine product manager.
New KORE Ski for Versatility and Stability
HEAD KORE 93
A new ski in the KORE line, designed for versatility and stability with a nod to weight reduction, the Kore 93 fuses Graphene—with its high strength-to-weight ratio—into the tips and tails for better flotation, swing weight reduction and easy turn initiation. The 93-mm-waisted ski also has two layers of carbon in the wood core for responsiveness and stability without adding weight.
“The new KORE 93 shows an incredible amount of versatility no matter the snow condition,” says Andrew Couperthwait, Head alpine product manager. “The KORE skis feel incredibly light under your foot while providing the precision and performance that one would normally associate with a ski construction that contains two layers of metal.”
All-Mountain Ski for Versatility and Agility
The ZX100 is inspired by racing but designed for all-mountain skiers. The semi-cap sandwich sidewall construction has a topsheet that adds durability by protecting the upper edge of the ski with a race-oriented sandwich sidewall construction and poplar/beech core. Hollowtech 2.0 in the tips removes weight, while a progressive rise in the tip adds flotation and maneuverability.
“By removing unnecessary layers at the front of the ski we make the shovel lighter and also the ski is damper, edge-grip is more powerful, turn initiations are more precise and overall weight is reduced,” says Griffin Post, Kästle marketing manager. “Dual rise, low camber and a hook free tip and tail provide versatility and agility.”
The Freeride-Oriented All-Mountain Ski
K2 MINDBENDER 99TI
K2’s Ti Y-Beam adds a strategically-shaped layer of titanal over the edge in the forebody of the ski, the full width of the ski underfoot and finally tapered down the tail, with the overall goal of adding power and control in turns on hardpack without hooking up off-piste in variable snow conditions.
“The freeride-oriented Mindbender 99TI has a moderately wide waist width, Titanal Y-Beam construction, and K2’s All-Terrain Rocker profile, striking the perfect balance between agility and stability,” says Matt Miller, K2 global marketing manager.
All-Mountain Ski for Soft Snow Performance
NORDICA ENFORCER 94
The Enforcer skis like a wide GS ski, thanks to a carbon-reinforced wood core sandwiched between two sheets of metal. Nordica’s True Tip Technology reduces weight, adds maneuverability, and increases soft snow performance by using thinner wood in the tips.
“The best part about the Enforcer 94 is that it truly thrives throughout the entire mountain and in almost every condition,” says Sam Beck, Nordica director of marketing and communications. “From carving quick smooth arcs on groomers, to smearing through fresh snow, to driving through afternoon crud, it’s stable at speed and nimble in tight situations.”
“Everyday” All-Mountain Ski
ROSSIGNOL EXPERIENCE 86 TI
The new Experience 86 Ti has a generous sidecut (132-86-120), titanal layers, a poplar wood core, and an 86 mm waist. Rossignol’s Drive Tip Solution dampens vibration through the forebody with a blend of directional fibers that absorb bumps into a soft visco material. The Experience collection uses raw materials with sustainable/recyclable properties.
“Bumps, crud, hard-pack, or arcs on a groomer, the 86 TI is the everyday ski thanks to a combination of All-Trail Ratio with Drive Tip Solution and Damp Tech,” says Jake Stevens, Rossignol alpine category manager.
Playful Yet Powerful All-Mountain Ski
SALOMON QST 98
The Salomon QST is an athlete-inspired line, designed to serve a wide range of all-mountain and freeride-leaning skiers. The new QST 98 is a 98-mm waisted ski, designed to be playful yet powerful around the mountain. The C/FX includes a weave of carbon and flax with basalt. Cork Damplifier in the ski tip reduces weight and absorbs vibration for stability at speed.
“Double sidewall technology provides the edge grip and power transmission you’d expect from a hard-charging ski, while C/FX super fiber in the tip and tail allows for quick pivots, along with strength and power,” says Chris McKearin, Salomon alpine commercial manager.
All-Mountain Ski From Powder to Ice
VÖLKL MANTRA M6
The Mantra has been a fixture in the Völkl freeride line for many seasons. The Mantra M6 has a 96 mm waist and wide, shapely sidecut (135-96-119). The Tailored Titanal Frame Technology means the amount of titanal is adapted to each ski length: longer skis have more titanal for stiffness, while shorter skis have less titanal for agility. A second, thinner titanal layer is placed under the binding for agility and control at speed.
“Our sixth generation Mantra can handle anything from powder to ice, thanks to the 3D Radius Sidecut, which makes it easier to change your turn shape, while the Tailored Carbon Tips make it more precise and quicker into the turn,” says Geoff Curtis, Völkl vice president of marketing.
All-Mountain Ski Comparison Table
|All-Mountain Ski and Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)|
|ATOMIC MAVERICK 95 Ti||$850|
|BLACK CROWS SERPO||$839|
|BLIZZARD BONAFIDE 97||$900|
|DYNASTAR M-PRO 90||$700|
|ELAN RIPSTICK 96 BLACK EDITION||$1,000|
|FACTION DICTATOR 2.0||$679|
|FISCHER RANGER 94 FR||$749|
|HEAD KORE 93||$750|
|K2 MINDBENDER 99TI||$850|
|NORDICA ENFORCER 94||$800|
|ROSSIGNOL EXPERIENCE 86 TI||$900|
|SALOMON QST 98||$725|
|VÖLKL MANTRA M6||$825|