From hard and fast groomers to soft and deep powder, all-mountain skis are always up to the task. Simplify your quiver with one of the best all-mountain skis of 2022-2023.
With all-mountain skis, versatility is the name of the game. 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 and snow conditions.
With every new season, 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.
Our selections include the best all-around, the best for beginners, and most playful. We put all of these skis through rigorous testing during our team ski week at Crested Butte, Colorado. We also skied several of these models for many days during the past winter.
Our primary tester is GearJunkie ski editor Sean McCoy, but several other skiers contributed feedback for this guide. For context, McCoy is 5’8″ and 155 pounds. He’s an aggressive skier with 40 years of experience. He tends to favor wider skis in his home mountains in Colorado.
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. Also, have a look at our comparison chart to steer your decision-making.
Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:
- Best Overall All-Mountain Ski
- Most Versatile All-Mountain Ski
- Best Women’s-Specific All-Mountain Ski
- Most Playful All-Mountain Ski
- Best Lightweight All-Mountain Ski
- Best for Intermediate Skiers
- Best for Beginner Skiers
- Best of the Rest
The Best All-Mountain Skis of 2022-2023
Best Overall All-Mountain Ski: Volkl Mantra M6
The Volkl Mantra M6 ($750) is an incredible ski that gave our testers some pause. While we came to really enjoy this ski, our initial impression was not great.
That’s probably because some of our first runs on the Mantra M6 took place on very hard snow that was nearly ice. While trying to carve early morning lines down Upper and Lower International at Crested Butte, the ski was quite chattery and you could really sense the carbon elements.
But as the snow warmed later in the day, we had a revelation. Suddenly the ski held an edge very well when carving. It would also skid turns or slarve around as requested. After just a few turns on warmer snow, our tester was grinning.
Our big takeaway? If you ski a lot of very hard snow, the Mantra M6 is probably a little too light, running too much carbon in the laminate to make it an enjoyable ski. But for everyone else, well, it’s one of the most versatile skis on the market.
These skis are quick, with a unique “3D Radius” that allows the ski to turn at different rates depending on how hard you lean into it. Written as “R32-R19-R26” on the ski, this ski will arc long lines at high speed, but happily snip between moguls and trees with grace.
If you’re looking for a reasonably light ski that can handle everything on the mountain other than full-on ice, the Volkl Mantra M6 is our best recommendation. Quick edge-to-edge and highly capable in a wide range of conditions, the M6 is our pick for the best all-mountain skis of 2022.
- Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail
- Sidecut radius: 19m (184)
- Best for: Intermediate to expert skiers looking for one ski to do it all
- Other available waist widths (mm): 96
- Sizes (cm): 163, 170, 177, 184 (tested), 191
- This versatile ski can handle anything the mountain throws at it
- It’s the closest thing to a one-ski quiver on the market
- Chattery on very hard snow
- If you ski a lot of ice, look for something with metal construction
Runner-Up All-Mountain Ski: Salomon QST 106
We know, this is a fairly wide all-mountain ski. Yet we still found this to be one of our favorite skis, run after run, all season long.
The QST 106 ($750) is an incredibly fun all-mountain ski. It seems to bend reality with its ability to ski hard-packed groomers as well or better than much narrower skis. Even on fairly hard snow, lay the QST 106 over and be rewarded with powerful carves and a lot of rebound.
For a somewhat fat ski, the QST 106 is surprisingly quick edge to edge. Our testers found themselves making quick turns and grinning like goofs while skiing groomers. And that is the ski’s weakness!
Put it into tighter terrain and soft snow, and unleash the beast! The QST 106 is incredible in moguls, trees, and buffed steep terrain. It slashes across rough snow, making easy work of some of the worst conditions we skied this season.
Our testing took this ski to Copper Mountain, Arapaho Basin, and Crested Butte in Colorado. And our testers agree — if they had to pick one ski to ride in-bounds at resorts in the west next season, this would be it.
The one weakness of the QST 106 is ice, which it handles okay given its fat waist. If we expected to ride exclusively groomers or more east coast or midwest terrain, we’d probably look elsewhere. For everything else, these skis are built to excel. For an in-depth rundown, check out our full review of the Salomon QST 106.
- Profile: 25% Tip Rocker / 58% Camber / 17% Tail Rocker
- Sidecut radius: 19m (size 181)
- Best for: Fast skiers who want a hard charger ideal for western mountains
- Other available waist widths (mm): 92, 98
- Sizes (cm): 167, 174, 181 (tested), 188
- Quick edge-to-edge
- Handles groomers well but doesn’t carve as well as skis with harsher sidecut
Most Versatile: Nordica Enforcer 94
The Nordica Enforcer 94 ($750) is one of the most well-rounded skis ever created. Revamped in 2021, this ski is mostly unchanged for the 2022-23 season, but it remains a tried-and-true classic. This is deservedly one of the top-selling skis on the market and a popular model for high-end ski rentals.
We’ve skied the enforcer for dozens of days at resorts across the west and have yet to find a place where it fails. From early-season man-made snow at Copper Mountain to a surprisingly soft powder day at Mammoth Mountain, the Enforcer 94 proved consistent and versatile.
On hard-groomed snow, it holds an edge well enough to carve where other all-mountain skis will skid. While carving isn’t its forte, it holds its own as well as any wider ski on the market.
But put it on softer snow, as we did after one of Mammoth’s few powder days this year, and it really shines. Our tester especially enjoyed its quickness edge to edge while dropping through Mammoth’s expert terrain.
The Enforcer also comes in 88mm and 100mm widths, but we especially love the 94mm for its mid-skinny versatility. Essentially, this ski is designed to do everything well. As a result, none of its specs are particularly unusual or extreme. Instead, this is one of the few skis that truly performs well no matter what you throw at it.
A lightweight front end and liberal use of carbon fiber result in lots of pop, which comes in handy on moguls and trees. Overall, this ski is a great pick for intermediate, advanced, and expert skiers.
The one minor downside of the Enforcer 94 is that it may almost be too good. It excels in so many areas that it doesn’t really stand out in any either. It’s also incredibly popular, so it won’t stand out in the lift line. But for a ski that can do everything well, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option.
- Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail
- Sidecut radius: 18.2m (size 186)
- Best for: Skiers looking for a high-performance and versatile daily driver
- Other available waist widths (mm): 88, 100
- Sizes (cm): 165, 172, 179, 186, 191
- Handles hardpack and ice well
- A bit narrow for skiing deep powder
- Extremely common in rental fleets — it won’t stand out from the crowd
Best Women’s All-Mountain Ski: Black Crows Camox Birdie
If you are looking for a women’s-specific ski that can tackle groomers, powder, and everything else in between, check out these from Black Crows.
Black Crows describes the Camox Birdie ($800) as a “mid-fat all-terrain ski,” which is a playful ski that can also be stable at speed. We liked the design, the double rocker, and this ski’s maneuverability on the mountain. In fact, the brand’s motto for this ski is “I’ll do anything you want.”
These skis have a pretty standard 97mm waist width, and a full poplar wood core with fiberglass laminates. They weigh about 3,400grams — a little over 7 pounds, making it a fairly lightweight ski, too.
For a more comprehensive review, read our full review of the Camox Birdie ski.
- Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail
- Sidecut radius: 18m (size 162)
- Best for: Female skiers who want a capable ski for the whole mountain
- Other available waist widths (mm): N/A
- Sizes (cm): 156, 162, 168, 174
- Fairly light
- Higher price tag
Most Playful All-Mountain Ski: Atomic Bent 110
Ah, the Bent Chetler. Well, in the case of the 110mm underfoot version, it’s just the “Bent” ($700), but either way, this is one amazingly fun ski. As our primary tester, I had to fight the urge to give this the “best overall” title. But in all fairness, it’s not the overall “best” ski. But it darned sure might be the most fun.
Do you love to hit bumps or rollers with abandon? Do you like to pop out the tails and “surf” any little piles of snow you come across? Then the Bent is aimed squarely at you. And if you like to do it while carrying a lot of speed, this ski should be squarely in your crosshairs.
I tested the 180cm model, 110mm underfoot. While this isn’t the largest Bent Chetler (the 120mm version is venerable among powder hounds), it’s still a lot of ski. And I found I got the most out of it when I let it run fast but with loose input.
The Bent 110 has a light wood core. At just under 8 pounds per pair, the Bent Chetler is remarkably light for its size and design. And the lack of carbon or metal in the core allows it to flex fairly easily.
As a result, I found the Bent pops over and around choppy snow more than through it. This underscores this ski’s primary goal as “Fun” with a capital F.
Can “fun” be a downside? Well, maybe. If you charge hard and want a really locked-in ski, the Bent Chetler is not a good choice. Sure, it carves well, but for those who mostly want to charge the fall line, a ski with a stiffer, metal design will provide more power and control.
But that’s not me. I’m also pretty light (150 pounds), and while I consider myself a powerful skier, I love to goof off with my planks. The Bent Chetler is my accomplice in goofy side missions. It wants to find the little powder stashes and send them flying into the air. And it has enough backbone to find the couloirs and keep me upright even when I get in the back seat after an off-balance drop.
Expert-level skiers looking for a fun-forward ski that can handle everything from powder to packed snow should look hard at the Bent 110.
- Profile: Camber under foot, tip and tail rocker, convex HRZN tip and tail for 10% additional surface area
- Sidecut radius: 18m (size 188)
- Best for: Playful big mountain skiing on soft snow
- Other available waist widths (mm): 120, 100, 90, 85
- Sizes (cm): 172, 180 (tested), 188
- A super fun ski that loves to shift, pivot, and surf down the mountain
- Poppy and capable in the air
- Rides over soft snow adding to the playfulness
- Doesn’t charge through variable snow as well as stiffer skis
Best Lightweight All-Mountain Ski: Elan Ripstick 96
The Elan Ripstick 96 ($700) is a paradox. It’s extremely light and quick but maintains the power of much heavier skis.
In testing, our team loved the Ripsticks, especially given their light weight. At 7 pounds, 4.4 ounces per pair (180mm, tested), they’re definitely on the low end of the spectrum for all-mountain skis, and the rider will notice this under their boots.
But they sure do carve well. The Ripsticks felt very locked in on hard carves, resulting in the somewhat puzzling feeling of power. Yet lay off the gas and the skis become very playful. They were happy to slip sideways while we goofed around at lower speeds.
One downside, as to be expected with lighter skis, is they did chatter a bit at high speed, especially on harder snow during carves. Given the use of carbon tubes for added power at a lightweight, this is no surprise. Carbon skis do tend to produce a bit of chatter, and these are no exception. But for a ski that could easily serve as an uphill touring stick, the Ripstick 96 did impress.
Final note — the Ripstick 96 is the only asymmetrical ski from our test. That means there is a “right” and “left” ski, which you must wear on the correct feet.
- Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker tip, and tail
- Sidecut radius: 18m (size 180)
- Best for: Double-duty inbounds and touring ski
- Other available waist widths (mm): 116, 106, 88
- Sizes (cm): 164, 172, 180 (tested), 188
- Powerful for a light ski
- Carves well
- Chatters on hard snow and at high speed
Best for Intermediate Skiers: Fischer Ranger 102
The Fischer Ranger 102 ($800) is a really fun ski for experts. But Fischer made it very clear that it built its newly designed ski for everyone. That’s a bit of a departure from the previous (hot pink) version, which was a heck of a great ski, but not very approachable for the average skier.
For 2022-23, the Ranger 102 (in much more muted colors) is wicked fun, yet easy to ski. Ripping laps from Crested Butte to Copper Mountain, the ski hit a sweet spot. It carves reasonably well, has modest pop, and is generally a ton of fun.
But where it really thrives is inspiring confidence. I took it through some very tricky terrain at pretty high speed and found that its significant tip and tail rocker made easy work of steep moguls and buff. I consider myself an expert skier, but I’m a few steps below the true pros. And for me, the ski did not seem to limit my skiing in any way.
If this ski has a downside, it’s that it really doesn’t carve hard and won’t pop you quickly from edge to edge. It’s clear that Fischer dialed back the wild camber of the previous edition here. For intermediate skiers, this is probably a good thing.
And for those who still may feel timid in the steeps, this ski should help you overcome the pucker factor. Anyone who wants a really fun ski that seems to enhance their skills should take a look at the Ranger 102 for 2022-23.
- Profile: Camber under foot, tip and tail rocker
- Sidecut radius: 19m (size 183)
- Best for: Intermediate-level skiers
- Other available waist widths (mm): 116, 108, 96, 90
- Sizes (cm): 155, 162, 169, 176, 183 (tested), 190
- Approachable for many skiers, from low intermediate through expert
- Slow edge-to-edge, limited pop
Best for Beginners: Rossignol Experience 76 Skis + Xpress 10 GW Bindings
The progression-oriented Experience 76 skis ($480) from Rossignol are an excellent value for beginner and intermediate skiers. As an added bonus, these skis are sold with well-respected Xpress 10 GW bindings — an excellent overall value.
Many skis designed for beginners are not well-rounded enough to grow with you as your skills improve. Thankfully, the Experience Skis are the exception to this rule. With high-quality construction, low weight, and an easy-to-handle narrow width, these skis possess all of the standard characteristics of a great beginner option.
For such a user-friendly ski, we love that these are also relatively stable and powerful, traits that are much appreciated after transitioning away from the bunny slopes.
With a moderate rocker profile near the tips, these skis are less likely to flap and chatter at high speeds than most beginner options. The Experience 76 also has excellent edge hold, which comes in handy on hardpack and frozen groomers.
In softer, deeper snow, the narrow width isn’t ideal. Still, for the price, these skis can handle a broad range of snow conditions — just like an all-mountain ski should.
- Profile: Rocker in the tail, mild camber underfoot
- Sidecut radius: 16m (size 176)
- Best for: Beginners looking to progress and develop new skills
- Other available waist widths: None
- Sizes (cm): 152, 160, 168, 176
- Great value
- Not ideal for softer snow and deep powder
Best of the Rest
The excellent all-mountain performance of the Völkl Kendo 88 skis ($700) has been widely celebrated for many seasons. Now, the better-than-ever 2023 model features an improved smooth-turning sidecut without compromising on hard-carving power.
This ski is a bonafide groomer-centric speed demon. With a relatively narrow sidecut, the Keldo 88 certainly prefers firm surfaces over pillowy pow. Still, if you prefer to head off-piste occasionally, the Kendo won’t hold you back.
The Kendo 88, with its multilayer core, carbon tips, and titanium frame, is stiffer than many of the other options on this list. Beginner and intermediate skiers may find it a little on the unforgiving side.
However, if plentiful stability is your jam, you’ll rejoice at the Kendo’s high-speed handling. Even when the going gets rough and choppy, the Kendo zips through with minimal tip flutter.
For those seeking an all-rounder with a tendency for bombing down hardpack, the Völkl Kendo 88 is a top-shelf ski.
- Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail
- Sidecut radius: 17 (size 177)
- Best for: All-mountain skiers with a penchant for hard carving
- Other waist widths available: None
- Sizes (cm): 163, 170, 177, 184
- Great hard-charging ski
- Not ideal for beginners
The Maverick 95 TI ($700) is an excellent new addition to Atomic’s lineup for the 2022 season. This ski falls squarely into the lightweight-yet-powerful category. It’s nimble and quick to turn, yet reasonably stable at speed.
Though this ski isn’t a pure hard-carving specialist, it’s more than happy to get up on edge and grip on any snow conditions. From steep trees to wide-open groomers, the Maverick 95 TI is a quality all-mountain ski.
Generally, we recommend this ski to highly experienced riders who will be comfortable with high-speed aggressive carves. Sure this ski has a playful side, but beginners will find it a little too stiff and clunky for comfortable progression.
- Profile: Rocker in the tip and tail and camber underfoot
- Sidecut radius: 19.3 (size 180)
- Best for: Advanced skiers looking to carve hard in the trees and on the groomers
- Other available waist widths (mm): 88, 100
- Sizes (cm): 164, 172, 174, 180, 188
- Great for the resort and backcountry
- Innovative design
- Tends to chatter at high speeds
All-Mountain Skis Comparison Chart
|All-Mountain Skis||Price||Profile||Sidecut Radius||Best For||Other Waist Width||Sizes|
|Volkl Mantra M6||$750||Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail||19m (size 184)||Intermediate to expert||96||163, 170, 177, 184, 191|
|Salomon QST 106||$750||25% Tip Rocker / 58% Camber / 17% Tail Rocker||19m (size 181)||Fast Skiers||92, 98||167, 174, 181, 188|
|Nordica Enforcer 94||$750||Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail||18.2m (size 186)||High-performance skiers||88, 100||65, 172, 179, 186, 191|
|Black Crows Camox Birdie||$800||Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail||18m (size 162)||Female skiers who want a capable ski||N/A||156, 162, 168, 174|
|Atomic Bent 110||$700||Camber under foot, tip and tail rocker, convex HRZN tip and tail||18m (size 188)||Playful big mountain skiing on soft snow||120, 100, 90, 85||172, 180, 188|
|Elan Ripstick 96||$700||Camber underfoot, rocker tip, and tail||18m (size 180)||Double-duty inbounds and touring ski||116, 106, 88||164, 172, 180, 188|
|Fischer Ranger 102||$800||Camber underfoot, tip and tail rocker||19m (size 183)||Intermediate level skiers||116, 108, 96, 90||155, 162, 169, 176, 183, 190|
|Rossignol Experience 76 Skis||$480||Rocker in the tail, mild camber underfoot||16m (size 176)||Beginners||N/A||152, 160, 168, 176|
|Völkl Kendo 88||$700||Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail||17m (size 177)||All-mountain skiers with a penchant for hard carving||N/A||163, 170, 177, 184|
|Atomic Maverick 95 TI||$700||Rocker in the tip and tail and camber underfoot||19.3 (size 180)||advanced skiers looking to carve hard||88, 100||164, 172, 174, 180, 188|
Why You Should Trust Us
At GearJunkie, we have one goal, and that’s to provide you with the best advice we can to help you choose the gear that fit your skills, style, and budget. We work hard to learn everything we can, and then we share that information with you. It’s the same information we’d share with our friends on the chair lift, and we charge no premium. This is our best advice, period.
I started skiing at 4 years old, slogging across snow-covered golf courses with my parents on ancient wooden cross-country skis. That was in the 1970s.
Since then, I’ve skied literally hundreds of pairs of skis on four continents. As GearJunkie’s ski editor and lead tester, I certainly consider myself an expert skier. But I’ll be the first to admit that there is a lot I don’t know.
So, GearJunkie works as a team. We pool our talent, with a team of at least five ski testers comparing notes on skis during our annual ski test week. We also ride many pairs of demo skis each year to gather impressions over various types of mountains and snow.
Finally, we meet with brands throughout the year to learn about their top products. We carefully research these skis before selecting only the most promising for real-world testing.
The result of these literally hundreds of hours of work is the buyer’s guide you see before you. And we will update this guide multiple times each year to keep it timely and relevant to help you pick the best all-mountain skis for your needs.
The Best All-Mountain Skis of 2022: A Buyer’s Guide
What Does ‘All-Mountain’ Mean?
All-mountain skis are designed to handle a broad range of skiing styles and snow conditions. While some skis are made for a specific purpose — racing or ripping through the terrain park, for example — all-mountain skis are much more versatile. With any of the excellent skis on this list, you’ll be free to roam around the resort as you please, from the trees to the groomers and back again.
There is no official set of traits and specs a ski must have to earn the all-mountain title. Many brands and retailers have their own unique all-mountain criteria. Generally, versatile skis that can serve as an effective quiver of one have a few key characteristics in common.
First, most men’s all-mountain skis have a waist width between 75mm and 105 mm. This spectrum represents the middle ground between super-narrow and super-wide skis — which is perfect for all-mountain use.
Second, most skis in this category have a relatively traditional profile. With camber underfoot and some degree of rocker at the tip and the tail, a traditional profile offers a high level of usability from the fresh powder to the hardpack.
Different 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 and still maintain a preference for a certain style of skiing.
Additionally, depending on where you live, you may be dealing with certain types of snow conditions on a regular basis. In these cases, it’s very helpful to have an all-mountain ski with design elements that best support your specific personal or place-based 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 75mm and 90 mm.
Skis in this category will also prioritize edge hold, stiffness, and high-speed stability. While groomer-leaning all-mountain skis tend to sacrifice some performance and float in the deep powder, they’re great for hard carving and speeding down firm runs with minimal chatter.
This category is especially worth considering for skiers in the Midwest and East Coast regions. On this list, the Völkl Kendo 88 is a top-notch groomer-leaning all-mountain ski.
Powder-Leaning All-Mountain Skis
Powder-leaning all-mountain skis are the opposite of their narrower groomer-leaning counterparts. Generally, skis in this category have a waist width between 95mm and 112 mm. If powder lines are your jam, these are the skis for you.
Skiers in regions with lots of snowfall should consider this category. For maximum floatability and a bit of added flex, check out powder-leaning all-mountain skis such as the Atomic Bent 110.
Waist width is the width of a ski at its narrowest point. All-mountain skis typically have a waist width between 75mm and 105 mm. Within the spectrum, narrower skis are generally better for carving on hard surfaces, while wider widths are better for floating through soft snow and powder.
Many ski models are available in multiple waist widths. For example, the Elan Ripsticks are also available in waist widths of 116mm, 106mm, 96mm, and 88mm. For each ski on this list, we’ve listed the waist widths they come in.
Ski length is a major 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 complicated.
While skier height remains an important factor, there are many other considerations for identifying the proper ski length. Shorter skis are easier to handle, which makes them a good choice for beginners.
Longer skis have more surface area, which means that they feel more stable at high speeds and float better in powder. A skier’s weight may have an impact on a ski’s flex and power transfer. This sizing chart is an effective tool that will help you consider all of the relevant factors.
Ski Profile: Camber vs. Rocker
A ski’s profile is a major contributor to 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. 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.
A 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 a blissful 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 precision 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 nuanced differences between them, check out this handy video from snow sports retailer evo.
Stiffness and Flex
Ski stiffness is a major factor that seriously affects overall performance. On one end of the spectrum, soft 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 be squirrelly and chatter at high speeds.
Stiff skis are preferred by intermediate, advanced, and expert skiers who crave speed and long, aggressive carves. Rigid designs offer more stability, which is essential for staying in control when skiing fast.
The downside of stiff skis is they require power and honed 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 may be more flexy in order to maximize surfability and play. If you’re looking for a true do-everything ski, midrange flex is the way to go.
Sidecut and Turn Radius
The sidecut of a ski refers to the shape of the curve on either side of its length. To some degree, all skis have an hourglass shape, but the radius of these curves has a major effect on steering, stability, and much more.
Skis that are much wider at the tip and tail than at the waist will have a short turning radius. A shorter turning radius is perfect for quick and nimble movements.
When skiing tight trees or moguls, a short turning radius is a helpful feature that will help keep you in control. 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 on wide-open groomers. While a long turning radius makes sudden nimble changes of direction difficult, it’s certainly an asset when laying down endless 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 m 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 to use. Other factors — including profile and flex — combine with the shape of the sidecut to define the nuanced capabilities of any given ski.
Parts of a Ski
In 2022, high-quality skis are complex tools that pack lots of technology into a streamlined package. The materials and construction that make up your skis will define your experience using them.
Though there are many different ingredients involved in crafting a ski, the most important ones to be aware of are the core, laminates, sidewalls, and base.
Core and Laminates
The core of a ski is the innermost material that defines the basic structure, flex, and shape. Most all-mountain skis feature a wood core made from poplar, aspen, beech, or a combination. Foam cores are commonly found in cheaper beginner-level skis.
Around the core, layers of metal, carbon fiber, and other materials are added to boost or reduce characteristics such as pop, rigidity, and dampness.
The sidewall is the material along the edge of a ski. Generally, it’s a plastic that protects the sides of the sandwiched core layers. Or, the fiberglass and top sheet layer could be extended to conceal the edge. The sidewall could also be a hybrid construction.
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.
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. For the 2022 season, many women’s skis possess 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 work well together 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.
Aside from this, 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.
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 men’s all-mountain ski is the Volkl Mantra M6.
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 Rossignol Experience 76 Skis + Xpress 10 GW Bindings as the best men’s 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.