Contributor Morgan Tilton testing skis; (photo/Jason Hummel)

The Best Women’s All-Mountain Skis of 2022-2023

For many skiers, a quiver of one makes practical and financial sense. From hard and fast groomers to soft and deep powder, all-mountain skis are always up to the task.

In other words, all-mountain skis are like duct tape; no matter what situation you find yourself in, they’re the perfect tool for the job. Versatility is the name of the game in this category.

Though the definition of “all-mountain” varies by retailer and brand, all of the skis on this list perform well across a broad range of skiing styles, terrain, and snow conditions. The market is packed with many high-quality models, and it can be daunting to sift through the seemingly endless options. To help streamline your selection process, we’ve included our favorite all-mountain skis in a variety of sub-categories.

If you’d like to learn more about all-mountain skis and how they’re defined, check out our buyer’s guide and FAQ section at the end of this article. For a quick look at how these skis stack up, see our comparison chart

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:

The Best Women’s All-Mountain Skis of 2022-2023

Best All-Around: Blizzard Black Pearl 97

blizzard black pearl 97

With an all-new core construction, Blizzard’s acclaimed Black Pearl 97 ski ($700) is back and better than ever. This semi-wide ski is known for its smooth and dependable ride, and it’s fully capable of adjusting to variable snow conditions. Energetic skiers in the intermediate and advanced categories will find the Black Pearl can handle just about anything with style and power.

For the 2022 season, Blizzard has equipped this ski with its new TrueBlend Wood Core, which patterns different densities of wood throughout the entire length and width of the ski. The result is improved flex that doesn’t undermine the precision and edge hold the Black Pearl is known for.

In deep powder, this ski floats and handles adequately, but harder surfaces are the Black Pearl’s true wheelhouse. This ski loves to be on its edge and would be the perfect choice for someone looking to progress their high-speed aggressive carving skills.

Specs:
  • Profile: Camber in the middle, rocker in the tip and tail
  • Sidecut radius (m): Short, TK-number
  • Waist widths (mm): 82, 88, 97
  • Lengths (cm): 153, 159, 165, 1771
  • Best for: Intermediate and advanced skiers looking to progress their carving skills
Pros:
  • Damp, smooth ride
  • Excellent for carving on groomers
Cons:
  • Not the best ski for powder

Check Price at REI

Best Budget: Atomic Vantage W 75 Skis + Bindings

atomic vantage w 75 skis + bindings - all mountain sks

For beginner skiers looking to adapt their growing skillset to the entire mountain, this ski and binding combo is the perfect tool. Progression on skis is a delicate process of gaining confidence and accepting the appropriate level of challenge. The Atomic Vantage W 75 ($400) is intentionally designed to support you on this path.

We appreciate that Atomic outfits their entry-level skis with high-quality components. The Vantage comes with a fast and durable sintered base that glides smoothly over all kinds of snow. A durable and agile foam core allows for easygoing maneuverability without feeling overly flexible or squirrelly.

Unfortunately, as your skills develop and you begin to crave high speeds and deep powder, you’ll likely outgrow the capability of these skis. However, during the transition from beginner to intermediate, the Atomic Vantage W 75 is an affordable and highly functional option.

Specs:
  • Profile: Traditional camber, with a minor rocker in the tail
  • Sidecut radius (m): Short
  • Waist widths (mm): 79, 82
  • Lengths (cm): 140, 147, 154, 161
  • Best for: Beginner skiers seeking an affordable, progression-oriented setup
Pros:
  • Progression-oriented
  • Great value
Cons:
  • Squirrelly at high speeds

Check Price at Scheels

Runner-Up: 4FRNT MSP CC

4FRNT MSP CC

This award-winning ski is one of the most favored among female skiers and we agree. The 4FRNT MSP CC ($729) wants you to lean forward and charge — this well-crafted design performs at higher speeds, maneuvers intuitively through moguls, and handles variable conditions mountain-wide.

Energy carries through the ski at the end of each carve. With a 16-meter sidecut radius, the ski follows a moderate arch, sitting in a sweet spot. With a weight of 1,750 grams in the 165-centimeter length, the design feels a tad heavier than similar profiles we’ve tested, and the ski stays planted. The edge tune feels fairly aggressive and makes quick turns. Carving with this pair on is a blast.

The MSP CC features camber underfoot and a tad-o-rise in the tip and tail but not too much. A wider 132-millimeter shovel helps with staying afloat on powder. The tail’s width is 121 millimeters.

The core is built with poplar wood, which is durable and lightweight. The wood is sandwiched by titanal laminate — a layer of metal that includes aluminum, zinc, magnesium, and copper — that provides responsiveness and damping as you pick up speed. The tips have neoprene inserts to help reduce chatter. On the belly, the sintered based has integrated carbon and glides like a racehorse.

Specs:
  • Profile: Camber with a gradual early-rise in the tip and tail
  • Sidecut radius (m): 16 (on the 165 length) for a moderate turn radius, 15 on the 159, 17 on the 171
  • Waist widths (mm): 99 for each length
  • Lengths (cm): 159, 165, 171
  • Best for: Intermediate to expert skiers
Pros:
  • The weight enhances stability and damping
  • Fairly forgiving
Cons:
  • Doesn’t handle super icy conditions the best

Check Price at 4FRNT

Most Playful: Icelantic Maiden

icelantic maiden skis

These skis simply felt easy to steer, plant, and carve. The Icelandic Maiden 101 ($849) are among the most accessible, fun, and capable sets we’ve tested. They track like a charm. And they deliver without us needed to overexert ourselves on the slopes, meaning we have more energy for more laps.

With twin tips, the profile lends itself to skiing switch. Reverse camber in the tip and tail enhance the play, pop, and float in deep snow.

The ski is built with the brand’s Hybrid Flight Core, which consists of poplar and paulownia wood, delivering a lighter weight and springy feel.

While the Maiden is not the most aggressive, hard-charging, or energetic ski on our list, it’s durable and among the most playful. It easily releases from turns and is maneuverable through changing terrain. From moguls and groomers to crud and powder, we enjoy driving this ski on the daily.

Specs:
  • Profile: Rocker tip and tail and camber underfoot
  • Sidecut radius (m): 16 (on the 169 cm) and moderate, 13 on the 155, 14.5 on the 162
  • Waist widths (mm): 101 for each length
  • Lengths (cm): 155, 162, 169
  • Best for: Intermediate to advanced skiers, skiing switch
Pros:
  • Balance of float and edge-to-edge transfer
  • Easy to drive
Cons:
  • Can get a bit squirrelly on hardpack
  • Not the most aggressive ski

Check Price at REI

Best for Carving Groomers: Renoun Earhart

Renoun Earhart

This is a uniquely built, narrow ski and it’s not like any of the other top picks on our list. The Renoun Earhart ($899) loves sweeping turns on a deep carve at mega speeds. If you crave corduroy, this ski will excel for you.

Most important to note is the one-of-a-kind construction with Renoun’s patented VibeStop technology, a polymer that is embedded into eight channels in each ski’s core, replacing wood and decreasing the weight by 50%. Most importantly, the material is super stout in rowdy conditions while it absorbs chatter. All the chatter. Renoun even found that the technology enhanced ski control threefold. After skiing the Earhart, that data seems to be true.

Each turn initiates smoothly and the edge bites and holds. Below the ski, the 4001 DuraSurf Sintered base is slick for speed but resilient.

The skis are also each handmade.

Specs:
  • Profile: Camber underfoot and rocker in the tip and tail
  • Sidecut radius (m): 14.5 (on the 170) short and 12m (149cm), 12.5m (156cm), 13.5m (163cm), 15.5m (177cm)
  • Waist widths (mm): 88 for each length
  • Lengths (cm): 149, 156, 163, 170, 177
  • Best for: Charging groomers and carving
Pros:
  • Shorter lengths available
  • Super stable
Cons:
  • Not a very playful ski

Check Price at Renoun

Best of the Rest

Völkl Blaze 106 W

Völkl Blaze 106 W

Many skis in Völkl’s lineup are known for their bulky weight, stiff handling, and hard-carving capabilities. In many ways, the Blaze 106 ($650) is the exception to this trend. With relatively simple construction in a super-lightweight package, this is a forgiving and playful ski with a serious attraction to fresh powder. For the skier looking for a fun-forward, do-it-all ski, this is a great option.

For such a lightweight ski, the Blaze 106 has an impressively durable multilayer wood core made from poplar and beech. It’s harder and stiffer under the bindings and noticeably flexier in the tip and the tail. This added flex sets the ski apart from many others in Völkl’s line. In soft snow and powder, the rockered ends of this ski offer glorious catch-free float.

The caveat to this design is that the rockered tips and tails and overall softness led to a loose response in chunder, on firm moguls, and across ice. This is not a strong ski for less-than-ideal conditions.

We recommend this ski to intermediate and advanced skiers looking for a daily driver that prioritizes versatility over nonstop hard carving. The Blaze 106 is balanced by an impressively low weight and forgiving maneuverability.

Specs:
  • Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail
  • Sidecut radius (m): 16 (in the 172 length) medium, and 13 in the 158, 14 in 165cm
  • Waist widths (mm): 106 for each length
  • Lengths (cm): 158, 165, 172
  • Best for: Intermediate to advanced skiers looking for a daily driver that will go anywhere
Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile
Cons:
  • Flexibility is not prime for aggressive high-speed carving
  • Ungrounded in dynamic, tough snow conditions

Check Price at REI

Elan Ripstick 94

elan ripstick 94

The Elan Ripsticks ($649) were one of the first skis we tested, and also some of the narrowest (for our female tester on the 162cm Ripstick 94). However, they are smooth, stable, and generally make a really nice ski for intermediate skiers who like to use the whole mountain.

The most unique design element of the Elan Ripstick 94 is the left and right specific skis. Elan uses what it calls an Amphibio profile — a design that integrates both rocker and camber profiles into dedicated left and right skis — in the Ripsticks.

This gives the skis a cambered inside edge for increased edge grip and stability, and a rockered outside edge for ease of turning. During our testing, we found this ski shines on groomers, bumps, and more while offering fantastic stability and versatility no matter where you are skiing.

Elan left nothing out in the design, also making the Ripsticks with carbon inserts to reduce weight, inserts at the tip to reduce vibration/chatter, a sintered base, and a climbing skin notch at the tail of each ski, for those who want to hit the skin track.

If you are a very fast or more expert skier, you may want to go for one of our other picks (like the Volkls below) for something more responsive, but overall, this is a fantastic ski we’d love to use more in 2023.

Specs:
  • Profile: rocker in the tip and tail
  • Sidecut radius (m): 13.2-16.2 (15m radius in the 162 cm)
  • Waist widths (mm): 94mm
  • Lengths (cm): 146, 154, 162, 170cm
  • Best for: groomers, light powder
Pros:
  • Great for groomers, also trees
  • Smooth ride
  • Holds an edge well
Cons:
  • Chattery at high speeds

 

Check Price at REI

Volkl Kenja 88

voekl kenja 88

The Volkl Kenja 88 ($700) is a narrow, nimble everyday driver that’s not too springy, powerful, or reactive. Despite skiing through choppy conditions, the design dampens well. It does a fair job of handling ice, too.

Volkl adds the titanal frame to this ski: an aluminum layer that parallels the tip and tail sidewalls, which increases the damping, stability, and power transfer. There’s a thinner reinforcement beneath the binding plate, too. Carbon fibers are stitched onto the ski tips for enhanced responsiveness in the ski.

The radius is innovative in this ski, in that the shape of the curve along the length of the ski doesn’t follow one continuous curve. Instead, the curve in the center of the ski offers a shorter turning radius and then transfers into a longer turning radius toward the tip and tail. The aim is for the ski to more easily transition between short, quick turns and big carves.

Overall, it’s easy to initiate turns, make quick edge transfers, and drive from the center of the ski. The relatively light construction is carefree to manage.

The Kenja 88 is a great versatile option for enjoying bell-to-bell hardpack, groomer days.

Specs:
  • Profile: Subtle rocker tip and tail
  • Sidecut radius (m): 13 (on the 163 length) and short in the center, long on the tip (23) and tail (21)
  • Waist widths (mm): 88 for each length
  • Lengths (cm): 149, 156, 163, 170
  • Best for: Intermediate and advanced skiers that prefer carving groomers
Pros:
  • Responsive
  • Comfortable at higher speeds
Cons:
  • Not super playful or forgivable
  • Isn’t a top choice for pow days
  • More expensive

Check Price at REI

Moment Bella

Moment Bella

Timeless and longstanding, this ski has been the brand’s best-seller for ladies for nearly two decades, which says a lot.

We also don’t think we’ve ever been stopped as many times as we have on the Moment Bella ($769) to ask about the story of the top sheet by guys and gals alike. The top sheet is successful due to the unique art that’s sublimated onto a textured nylon top sheet, leading to a sharp, vibrant graphic. Beyond the artistic design, this ski felt playful and grounded but without requiring massive effort to steer the ship.

Built with a poplar and pine core blend, the ski is responsive but light. Layers of triaxial fiberglass and carbon fiber up the agility and spark of the ski, too.

As a great all-rounder, this ski isn’t overly aggressive while also offering solid edge control and fairly effortless turn initiation. We enjoyed taking this ski through soft, steep moguls as much as we did over packed and chalky snow.

Specs:
  • Profile: Rockered tip and tail, camber underfoot
  • Sidecut radius (m): 19 (on the 172) and moderate, 15 in the 152cm, 17 in the 162cm, 21 in the 179cm
  • Waist widths (mm): 108 (106 on the 152 length)
  • Lengths (cm): 152, 162, 172, 179
  • Best for: Intermediate to expert skiers adventuring everywhere on the mountain
Pros:
  • Good maneuverability
  • Playful with easy-to-initiate turns
Cons:
  • Not a speed demon design for groomer laps

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Moment Skis

Nordica Santa Ana 93

nordica 93

The 2022 Nordica Santa Ana 93 ($700) and Santa Ana 98 are nearly tied in my book, but the 93 won us over by a hair, at least for resort skiing. The Santa Ana 93 is a light-to-medium-weight, stable ski filled with some pretty cool tech. This isn’t an old-school, full wood core ski — nope, it’s got wood, plus carbon and a sheet of metal (what Nordica calls terrain-specific metal) tuned to this specific ski design for the best ride.

It’s super versatile, and a very playful ski — much more so than the feel of the Atomics and Elan Ripsticks we reviewed here.

When it’s time to hit the backcountry huts or skin track, I prefer a ski wider underfoot (something in the 98-100mm range) — and that’s where the Santa Ana 98 is perfect (previously there was also a 100mm model). We’d be remiss not to mention both models as we’ve had both in testing for several seasons running.

Specs:
  • Profile: rockered tip and tail, camber underfoot
  • Sidecut radius (m): 13.3 (on the 151) and short to moderate, 14 on the 158cm, 16 on the 172cm, and 17 on the 179cm
  • Waist widths (mm): 93
  • Lengths (cm): 151, 158, 165, 172, 179
  • Best for: All-mountain, powder
Pros:
  • Playful and fun
  • Great on groomers, crud, and powder
  • New slightly wider width on 2023 model aims to please
Cons:
  • Not the best option for weaker skiers

Check Price at REI

Rossignol Rallybird 92

rossi rally1

The Rossignol Rallybird falls on the slightly narrower side for all-mountain skis (with 92mm underfoot). That being said, it’s easy and quick to turn. This ski was one of our favorites during ski testing for groomers — whether it was on fresh snow, corn, crud, or slush.

At first, I didn’t think I’d like this ski. But, the all-wood core is lightweight, and the ski is light and playful overall. It’s stable enough that you can ski confidently, whether a beginner or expert, making this a great ski for those moving up the ranks and who anticipate spending more and more time out on the mountain. And, it floated quite beautifully in some fresh powder our last day of testing.

If you are looking for a dependable, light, and stable ski that can handle a variety of runs (it performed best on groomers, but we skied them in powder and through trees too), take a look at the Rallybird 92.

Specs:
  • Profile: Rockered tip, camber underfoot
  • Sidecut radius (m): short, 12-16 m (14 meters on the 162 cm length)
  • Waist widths (mm): 92, 102
  • Lengths (cm): 154, 16, 170 (for both the Rallybird 92 and 102)
  • Best for: Intermediate skiers who like a light, easy-to-carve ski
Pros:
  • Comfortable on groomers and powder
  • All-wood core
Cons:
  • Not our favorite for expert-level skiers

Check Price at REI

Women’s All-Mountain Skis Comparison Chart

Women’s All-Mountain Ski Price Profile Sidecut radius (m) Waist widths (mm) Lengths (cm)
Blizzard Black Pearl 97 $700 Camber in the middle, rocker in the tip and tail Short, TK-number 82, 88, 97 153, 159, 165, 1771
4FRNT MSP CC $729 Camber with a gradual early-rise in the tip and tail 16 (on the 165 length) for a moderate turn radius, 15 on the 159, 17 on the 17 99 159, 165, 171
Atomic Vantage W 75 Skis + Bindings $400 Traditional camber, with minor rocker in the tail Short 79, 82 140, 147, 154, 161
Icelantic Maiden $849 Rocker tip and tail and camber underfoot 16 (on the 169 cm) and moderate, 13 on the 155, 14.5 on the 162 101 155, 162, 169
Renoun Earhart $899 Camber underfoot and rocker in the tip and tail 14.5 (on the 170) short and 12m (149cm), 12.5m (156cm), 13.5m (163cm), 15.5m (177cm) 88 149, 156, 163, 170, 177
Völkl Blaze 106 W $650 Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail 16 (in the 172 length) medium, and 13 in the 158, 14 in 165cm 106 158, 165, 172
Elan Ripstick 94 $649 Rocker in the tip and tail 13.2-16.2 (15m radius in the 162 cm) 94 146,162,170
Volkl Kenja 88 $700 Subtle rocker tip and tail 13 (on the 163 length) and short in the center, long on the tip (23) and tail (21) 88 149,156,163,170
Moment Bella $769 Rockered tip and tail, camber underfoot 19 (on the 172) and moderate, 15 in the 152cm, 17 in the 162cm, 21 in the 179cm 106,108 152, 162, 172, 179
Nordica Santa Ana 93 $700 Rockered tip and tail, camber underfoot 13.3 (on the 151) and short to moderate, 14 on the 158cm, 16 on the 172cm, and 17 on the 179cm 93 151, 158, 165, 172, 179
Rossignol Rallybird 92 $650 Rockered tip, camber underfoot Short, 12-16 m (14 meters on the 162 cm length) 92, 102 154, 16, 170
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Editor Mary Murphy pauses after ski testing the Ripsticks at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Why You Should Trust Us

The GearJunkie product testing team is made up of amateur to expert alpine and backcountry skiers. We’ve skied runs in-bounds and hut-to-hut all over North America, including bell-to-bell resort powder days, ski-to-surf trips on Vancouver Island and in California, and backcountry hut adventures. We’ve trained for the country’s toughest skimo races and enjoyed cross-country laps on countless miles of nordic trails.

Among our testers, contributor Morgan Tilton started alpine skiing in her backyard at Telluride Ski Resort at age 4. Now, three decades later, she recently started backcountry skiing in addition to snowboarding, splitboarding (note: split-skiing is by far the most awkward form of skiing), and sledding in Gunnison country, where she lives today.

Editor Mary Murphy has been testing ski equipment for three seasons at GearJunkie and has been on skis since age 4, when she learned to carve slopes in Summit County, where she still skis today at her home mountain Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.

We took this season’s newest all-mountain skis up and down the lifts for hundreds of inbounds runs at more than a dozen resorts across the state and out-of-state. While testing skis in-bounds, we assessed a range of factors including each design’s stiffness, maneuverability, and playfulness as well as the ski’s energy, damping, chatter, weight, shape, edge hold, and turn initiation.

The base and edge tune also influence how a ski performsWe considered what type of skier and conditions are a best fit for each ski.

We’ve tested these skis while carving turns in a range of snow conditions affected by ice-cold temperatures, blizzards, blustery wind, intense sun, and even rain.

In addition to our team’s experience, we also considered the most popular, innovative, award-winning, and bestselling skis on the market as well as a broad range of price points and a variety of features and applications.

Contributor Morgan Tilton testing skis at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best All-Mountain Skis of 2022/2023

‘All-Mountain’ Defined

All-mountain skis are designed to do it all. No matter where you are on the mountain or what the snow conditions are, all-mountain skis are up to the task.

While some skis are made for a specific purpose —  ripping through the terrain park, or racing through slalom gates, for example — all-mountain skis are far more versatile. With any of the high-quality skis on this list, you’ll be able to explore the resort as you please, from the wide-open groomers to the pow-laden trees.

There are no specific criteria a ski must meet to earn the all-mountain title. Many retailers and manufacturers have their own unique all-mountain standards. Generally, any skis that can handle a wide range of uses will have a few key characteristics in common.

Most all-mountain skis have a mid-wide waist between 75 and 105 mm. This width range sits between super-narrow and super-wide skis — and is ideal for all-mountain use.

Additionally, most skis in this category have a traditional shape and profile. With camber underfoot and rocker at the tip and the tail, all-mountain skis possess plentiful usability from fresh powder to icy crud.

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(Photo/Jason Hummel)

Types of All-Mountain Skis

All of the skis on this list prioritize versatility and can readily venture onto all parts of the mountain. Still, “all-mountain” is ultimately a spectrum that contains multiple subcategories of skis. Many skiers like to explore the whole mountain while also maintaining a preference for a certain style of skiing or type of terrain.

Depending on where you regularly ski, you may be dealing with certain types of snow conditions throughout the season. If this is true for you, it’s very helpful to have an all-mountain ski with design elements that maximally support your specific personal needs.

Groomer-Leaning All-Mountain Skis

Skis in this category will perform at their best on groomed runs and firm snow conditions. Typically, groomer-leaning all-mountain skis have a relatively narrow waist width between 75 and 90 mm. On firm snow, an ultra-wide ski simply isn’t necessary.

Skis in the groomer-leaning category prioritize, stiffness, high-speed stability, and edge hold. While groomer-leaning all-mountain skis tend to sacrifice float in the deep powder, they’re unbeatable for hard carving and sending it down firm runs with control.

Groomer-leaning skis are especially worth considering for people in the Midwest and East Coast regions. On this list, the Blizzard Black Pearl 97 is one of our favorites in this category.

Powder-Leaning All-Mountain Skis

Powder-leaning all-mountain skis are built to thrive in the deep stuff. Generally, skis in this category have a waist width between 95 and 110 mm. If powder lines (and backcountry skiing) are your jam, these are the skis for you.

Skiers in regions with lots of snowfall such as the Cascades and the Wasatch — should certainly consider this category. For maximum floatability and a bit of playful flex, check out powder-leaning all-mountain skis such as the Völkl Blaze 106.

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Editor Mary Murphy testing skis at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Waist Width

Waist width is the width of a ski at its narrowest point. All-mountain skis typically have a waist width between 75 and 105 mm. Within this range, narrower skis are generally better for high speeds and carving on hard surfaces, while wider widths are better for surfing through soft snow and powder.

Many ski models are available in various waist widths. If you like a specific ski and lean toward a cerian type if terrain, be sure to select the best waist width for you. For every ski on this list, we’ve listed the waist widths it comes in.

Ski Length

Ski length is an important consideration, and most of the models on this list are available in multiple lengths. In the past, a skier’s height would determine their ideal ski length. In 2022, the process is significantly more nuanced.

While skier height remains an important factor, there are many other considerations for understanding ski length. Shorter skis are easier to handle and maneuver, which makes them a better choice for beginners.

Longer skis have more surface area, which means that they tend to feel more stable at high speeds and float better in powder. A skier’s weight can also have an impact on a ski’s flex, maneuverability, and power transfer. This sizing chart is an effective tool that will help you consider all of the relevant factors.

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Contributor Morgan Tilton holding up a pair of skis to view the side profile; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Ski Profile: Camber vs. Rocker

A ski’s profile impacts its overall performance. In 2022, the market is full of skis with all kinds of different profiles, from traditional to experimental and everything in between.

Skis with a more traditional camber profile are shaped like the letter “C” and rise up underneath the foot, making contact with the ground at the tip and the tail. While skiing, your body weight pushes the base of the ski against the snow.

During turns, the camber shape provides some lift and pop, which propels you into your next turn with an almost spring-loaded sensation. For pure carving purposes, traditional camber is still the leading ski profile, and many skis on this list feature some variation on the traditional camber shape. Traditionally cambered skis tend to be rockered or flat in the tip and tail.

A ski with a true rocker profile is shaped like a banana — the tip and tail of the ski are lifted higher than the underfoot area. Rocker profiles are newer to the ski design world, but they have plenty of advantages.

When skiing in deep powder, a rocker profile offers extra float and creates an effortless surf-like experience. The downside of rocker profiles is they generally don’t hold an edge as well as traditional camber, so they aren’t ideal for high-speed carving on firm surfaces.

Many of the leading all-mountain skis have a hybrid profile that combines aspects of camber and rocker. To learn more about ski profiles and the complex differences between them, check out this handy video from snow sports retailer evo.

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Contributor Morgan Tilton testing skis at Crested Butte Mountain Resort on a gusty day; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Flex and Stiffness

Ski stiffness is a major performance factor that exists on a broad spectrum. On one end of this range, soft and flexy skis are easier to maneuver, more playful, and best suited for beginner to intermediate skiers.

Freestyle skiers who love to hit boxes and rails may also want a relatively soft and flexible ski. One of the downsides of soft skis is they’re prone to chatter at high speeds and feel harder to control.

Stiff skis are preferred by advanced, and expert skiers who crave high-speed stability and long, aggressive carves. These designs are built with rigid materials such as carbon fiber stringers.

The downside of stiff skis is they require power and refined technique to steer properly. For this reason, we don’t recommend ultra-stiff skis to beginners.

Most all-mountain skis fall somewhere in the middle of the soft-to-stiff spectrum. Groomer-leaning skis are usually on the stiffer side to best support speed and stability. Powder-leaning skis are more flexy in order to maximize surfability and play. If you’re looking for pure versatility, midrange flex is the way to go.

Turn Radius and Sidecut

The sidecut of a ski refers to the shape of the curve along either side of its length. To some degree, all skis have an hourglass shape, but the radius of these curves has a crucial effect on steering, speed, and stability.

Skis that are much wider at the tip and tail than in the waist will have a short turning radius. A shorter turning radius is great for quick and nimble movements in the trees and moguls. Anything less than 16 m can be considered a short turning radius.

Skis with a longer turning radius are generally preferred for riding fast and carving hard in wide-open bowls groomers. While a long turning radius makes sudden changes of direction difficult, it’s certainly an asset when laying down long, sweeping carves. Anything more than 20 m can be considered a long turning radius.

Many all-mountain skis have an all-around turning radius somewhere between 16 and 20 m. While a ski’s sidecut does partially define its personality, it won’t tell you everything about how a ski will actually feel on the mountain. Other factors — including flex and profile — combine with the shape of the sidecut to define the performance personality of any given ski.

  • Less than 16 meters: Short turning radius
  • 16-20 meters: Medium turning radius for more moderate and long turns
  • More than 20 meters: Long turning radius, which is ideal for powder

The sidecut often changes according to a ski’s length, so be sure to look at the product specifics. In this guide, we list the sidecut for the specific ski length that we tested.

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Contributor Morgan Tilton testing skis on chalky steep moguls at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Parts of a Ski

In 2022, high-quality skis are highly engineered tools that pack lots of technology into a sleek package. The materials and construction that make up your skis will define your experience using them. A ski is truly the sum of its parts.

Though there are many different components of a ski, the most important ones to be aware of are the laminates, sidewalls, core, and base.

Core and Laminates

The core of a ski is the innermost material that defines the basic structure,  shape, and flex. Most all-mountain skis feature a wood core made from aspen, poplar, beech, or a combination. Foam cores are commonly found in cheaper, beginner-level skis.

Around the core, additional layers of carbon fiber, metal, and other materials are added to increase or reduce characteristics such as pop, rigidity, and dampness.

Base

A ski’s base is the surface that comes in direct contact with the snow. There are two kinds of bases: extruded and sintered.

Generally, extruded bases are found on beginner skis due to their low maintenance requirements. Skis with extruded bases are increasingly rare, but if you’re looking to prioritize affordability and low maintenance, they’re a reasonable option.

Sintered bases are the norm for almost all high-quality skis on the market. Though these bases require frequent waxing and general maintenance, they’re the best option for consistent all-mountain performance.

Sidewalls

The sidewall is the material along the outer edges of a ski. Generally, sidewalls are made from plastic that protects the sandwiched core layers. Sometimes, the fiberglass and top sheet layer are extended to conceal the edge. The sidewall could also be a hybrid construction of both methods.

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Contributor Morgan Tilton testing skis; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Women’s Skis vs. Men’s Skis

While some manufacturers make unisex skis, most models are specifically designed for either men or women. In the current market, men’s skis tend to have a slightly higher overall weight, increased rigidity, and a slightly setback mounting point to account for the way men tend to balance on skis.

Meanwhile, women’s skis commonly feature a mildly setback stance and are lighter and flexier. Though a women’s ski with enough rigidity for pure hard charging is harder to find, there are some excellent options available. On this list, the Black Pearl 97 is a women’s ski with all of the hard-charging power of any ski on the market.

It’s important to remember all skiers can absolutely enjoy both men’s and women’s models. Ultimately, it comes down to preference. The differences between men’s and women’s models are often subtle, and we recommend prioritizing performance and comfort over a men’s or women’s label.

Boot and Binding Compatibility

Skis are only one part of your shredding setup, and your boots and binding are equally important components of the system. It’s crucial that all aspects of your setup suit each other to provide the best performance possible.

A high-end pair of skis won’t be able to live up to its potential with low-quality boots or bindings. Generally, you want to match the strengths of your skis with boots and bindings with similar traits. For example, softer, more playful skis will work best with soft and playful boots and bindings.

Most boots and bindings can be mounted successfully to most skis, regardless of brand. Still, we recommend checking with the manufacturer’s specs to be absolutely sure.

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Contributor Morgan Tilton testing skis at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Jason Hummel)

FAQ

What Are the Best All-Mountain Skis?

The best all-mountain skis are the ones that suit your skill level, skiing style, and budget. On this list, we’ve included many top-quality options across a broad range of design characteristics.

Our choice for the best overall ski is the Blizzard Black Pearl 97.

Are All-Mountain Skis Good for Beginners?

Some all-mountain skis are excellent for beginner skiers. As a beginner, your priorities are progression and comfort. With these needs in mind, we recommend you choose a ski that is reasonably flexible and narrow. Flexible skis are easier to maneuver, and they won’t fight you for control.

Skis in the narrower range (about 70-95 mm in waist width) will be easier to shift from edge to edge. They tend to do better on the groomers where you’ll likely spend most of your time as a new skier.

On this list, we’ve selected the Atomic Vantage W 75 Skis as the best beginner ski.

Can I Use My Old Boots and Bindings With My New Skis?

Most likely, you’ll be able to use your old boots and bindings with your new skis. Most skis will accept any bindings, though there are some exceptions. Depending on the quality of your old boots and bindings, it may be worth considering an upgrade in order to get the most out of your new skis.

Are All-Mountain Skis Good for the Terrain Park?

Most all-mountain skis will perform reasonably well in the terrain park. If you’re a pure park skier, we recommend freestyle skis over all-mountain options.

However, if you enjoy wandering all over the mountain with an occasional visit to the park, all-mountain skis should do just fine. Generally, skis with better-than-average flex and pop are better than stiff and aggressive skis for park riding.

Are Women's Skis Different Than Men's Skis?

Compared to men’s skis, women’s skis commonly feature a mildly setback stance and are lighter and more flexable. Though a women’s ski with enough rigidity for pure hard charging is harder to find, there are some excellent options available.

It’s important to remember all skiers can absolutely enjoy both men’s and women’s models. Ultimately, it comes down to preference. The differences between men’s and women’s models are often subtle, and we recommend prioritizing performance and comfort over a men’s or women’s label.


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