Looking for new skis this season? Here's our buyers guide

Looking for new skis this season?

Here's our 2016/17 buyer’s guide and some suggestions as to what we think you should be looking out for. 

Remember, no-one makes a bad ski, it's just some are much better suited to your style of skiing and skiing agenda than others;

our aim is to help you find these skis.

At the time of posting, not all the links in this guide are live.   As our stock continues to drop over the next few weeks, progressively more and more “suggested skis” will link straight through to product.  By the time all our deliveries have landed, we will be carrying all the skis referred to in this guide (and quite a few more besides, all of which have their specific strong points).


General purpose recreational skis

Most skiers with a reasonable level of fitness should be looking for a ski between chin and nose height; for those "mad", fit ones amongst us, perhaps a little longer, say between nose and eyebrow height will be ideal for carving up the piste and generally having fun. 

If your technique still needs a little refining then your skis don’t want to be unduly stiff (particularly in the tip) as this will make them very ‘twitchy’ and you’ll end up face down in the snow a lot more than you would want, or perhaps deserve. 

A more dynamic skier will benefit from a stiffer ski, particularly if they are skiing almost exclusively on piste.  However, even they will benefit from a bit more flex in the tips when skiing off to the side of the pistes.  If you expect to "dip off" to the sides of the piste on a regular basis then seriously consider a more Piste Based All Mountain Ski like the fabulous Fischer Pro MTN 80 or their wider Pro MTN 86Ti, equally as good are the superb ROSSIGNOL Experience 84's. 

Most wider waisted Piste skis say 78-85mm underfoot will be good for all mountain cruising, just be wary of anything too stiff unless of course you are in excess of 100kgs, when a firmer ski can be just what you need to support your larger frame.

(If you’re doing any volume of Dry Slope racing/skiing, then there is no doubt that you do need to be aware that the P-Tex bases of different brands and even different skis within the same brand, wear at noticeably different rates; Fischer, Head, Nordica, Blizzard and Scott consistently being the most robust we can find.)


 Beginner skis

Skis for a first timer? 

Well, not wishing to do ourselves out of any sales but, in all honesty, you’re better to hire your skis the first time out.  If you are adamant you want to buy then of course we’ll be pleased to advise you as to what should suit, trying to ensure we put you on a ski that will enable you to develop your skiing to a reasonable level before having to upgrade these “first skis”.

We believe a Beginner/early Intermediate skier should be looking for skis that:-

are not any longer than nose height on you

have a soft to moderately stiff flex along their length

are between 70mm and 80mm underfoot, to promote an easy edge change

have a turn radius of between 10m and 16m

are torsionally stiff enough to resist undue twisting along their length (a moderate amount of twisting at this level is a good thing because it helps make the skis more forgiving of less than perfect technique)

are not unduly heavy to either carry around or to manoeuvre once running on the snow


Here are a few suggestions:-

VOLKL’s exceptionally good value men's RTM 75's, HEAD's superbly smooth Natural Instinct and ROSSIGNOL's precise Pursuit 500 are all very good first/second skis

for the ladies  VOLKL Flair 74, HEAD's Pure Joy, ROSSIGNOL's Famous 4 and DYNASTAR's excellent Glory 74 are similarly great skis.



As a skier develops so the type of ski that will best suit them changes too.  A little “forgiveness” in the ski’s nature is still a good feature but as your technique improves then a slightly stiffer ski will give you a more assured feel, particularly as your preferred speed increases and edge grip/control becomes ever more important.

Todays performance Piste skis and their more versatile "All Mountain" counterparts are generally much more able to accomodate varying types of skier than their predecessors, meaning that a ski such as the Head Strong Instinct will be equally as much fun to ski for an upper intermediate as it will be for a near racer; with many of today's skis, particularly the "all mountain" group, that "performance envelope" is extremely wide. 

However, be careful and do talk to a serious ski shop before buying since there are some high performance skis that will "take no prisoners" and can put your skiing back weeks if you jump on them before you have the skills and power to get the best out of them.

Overall we believe an Intermediate/Advanced skier should be looking for skis that:-

are around bridge of the nose/forehead height on you

have a moderately stiff flex along their length

have a turn radius of between 12m and 19m

are torsionally stiff enough to resist undue twisting along their length (a little twisting at this level is still a good thing because it helps make the skis more understanding of less than perfect technique which will still be present from time to time as you push you skills to, or marginally beyond their limit)

are a little broader, say between 80mm and 95mm underfoot (the more you find yourself dabbling off to the side of the pistes and through the trees the wider you are better to go)

When you get to Expert level then you can (but don't have to) go a few centimetres longer which will just add a little more stability to your skis at high speed and you can (but again don't have to) go a little stiffer still; just remember, it is the torsional rigidity of a ski rather than stiffness through its length that really gives that solid edge control.


Where and what next?

Once you reach the middle to upper levels of the “Advanced” ability category you will be likely to have a good grasp of what it is about skiing that really excites you.  At this stage a degree more specialisation in equipment becomes much more relevant and skis designed specifically for your agenda will give noticeably better performance.


Piste Carving

If piste skiing is what still really rocks your boat then you’ll benefit from some serious Piste Carvers with great torsional strength and excellent edge grip.   You’ll need skis that are able to track precisely where you intend them to in a variety of snow conditions from fresh soft snow sitting on top of prepared pistes to the near “boilerplate” compacted snow you find all around the resort when it’s been days, even a week or two since the last serious snowfall.

Our Suggestions include:-

The HEAD Supershape Magnum, Supershape Rally, and Supershape Titan remain an awesome collection but subtle changes for this coming season mean they are now definitely better suited to more dynamic skiers, their Raw Instincts are also very good and probably now have a slightly wider performance envelope than the Supershape's.  FISCHER’s wickedly fast and accurate Progressor F17 and their amazing new Curv series also tested extremely well as did the ROSSIGNOL's Pursuit 700's; BLIZZARD's Latigo is one of the most underated skis on the market and just loves to be pushed to the limit so that's also worth a serious look.

For ladies who ski hard and fast there are the excellent DYNASTAR Intense 10, HEAD Super Joy, and NORDICA'S Sentra 4 EVO will all keep you smiling from dawn to dusk.


All Mountain Skis

It may be you’ve dabbled with skiing away from the marked pistes and really enjoyed it; been a bit frustrated that it didn’t go quite as well as you’d hoped, but enjoyed it!  You realise that had you been on more versatile skis the chances are it would have gone even better and you probably would have enjoyed it even more.  If that sounds like your recent ski holidays then now’s the time to get yourself a pair of skis that really will help you maximise that enjoyment.

Modern all mountain skis are much better on piste now than they used to be and with many, their on-piste skiing ability is so good you forget you are on wide skis. 

We think you'll have great fun on any of these:-

All Mountain skis, for men, that despite a wider waist still handle very well on piste include the FISCHER Pro MTN 95 and their Ranger 90Ti, the HEAD Venturi 95, superb NORDICA Enforcer and new Enforcer 93 , K2's Pinnacle 95, VOLKL's Kendo and Mantra, ROSSIGNOL'S Sky 7, ARMADA's Invictus 85, the best selling BLIZZARD Brahma as well as their brilliant and very powerful Bonafide, SCOTT'S The Ski all in all a formidable selection of stunningly good skis.

There's also the powerful SCOTT Sage (formerly called the Sagebrush) and their multi award winning The Ski is still a top ski (for men or women), as is their now slightly softer and more forgiving version of the Reverse.  FISCHER have the very versatile Pro Mtn 86 Ti (more piste pedigree) and Ranger 84 Ti and, there's no two ways about it, ROSSIGNOL's  award winning Experience 84 is exceptional.  The stunning VOLKL  V-WERKS RTM and DYNASTARS's Cham 2.0 97 will both take your breath away, (accepting that's always easier at altitude!) so there's fabulous skis every which way you turn.

For ladies, LINE's new, Pandora 95 was the most raved about ski on our customer test back in March and their Soulmate 86's also went down very well, FACTION's Heroine got great reviews on the main SIGB Ski Test when we were out In Kuhtai in February, as did the BLACK CROWS Camox Birdie and Navis Birdie, SCOTT's Luna is still quite simply a brilliant ski.  Other ladies all mountain skis we can highly recommend are the VOLKL Kenja and their slightly lighter Yumi's, ARMADA's Victa 93, BLIZZARD Black Pearl and Samba, FISCHER's Ranger Wms 89, K2 Talkback 88, ROSSIGNOL's Soul 7 HD, HEAD's Total Joy is awesome and their Absolute Joy a great introduction to all mountain skiing, NORDICA'S Santa Anna and Santa Anna 93 are both stunning performers and really eye catching and their Belle 84 is playful and very forgiving.

This genre also boasts some extremely good Twintips that are incredibly versatile.  Of these, both our shop test team and our customer test team chose the same skis, the awesome NORDICA Soul Rider and Soul Rider 87's as their pick of the bunch, also very highly rated are the new ARMADA ARV's



Freeride/Backcountry skis

A person's weight and their style of skiing will have a significant effect on the dimensions of the skis that will work best for them.  For someone weighing under 12stone a 100mm waisted ski will perform virtually everything required of a Freeride/serious Backcountry ski; weigh 15-18 stone and you are probably going to need a reasonably stiff ski with a waist of 115mm or more to get the same performance. 

These beasts are big wide beauties with waists from about 100mm right up to in excess of 120mm underfoot at their narrowest.  Superb float in even bottomless powder with effortless sweeping turns floating over the snow rather than smashing through it.  Some have more of a sidecut than others, probably true to say the longer the natural turn radius the better the skis will be in both icy couloirs and at high speed on piste.  The tighter the turn radius the more fun you’ll have through the trees and carving it up on piste, particularly when conditions off-piste are less than inviting.

You need to weigh up all the information available and most importantly be realistic both about your current skiing ability and your achievable level within the reasonable lifetime of the skis you are considering buying.

We suggest the following are all worth serious consideration:-

There are the fabulous BLACK CROWS Nocta and Atris, FACTION's Chapter 106 was also great fun.  There’s the splendid  ROSSIGNOL Soul 7 with its honeycomb construction tip and tail; SCOTT's monster Scrapper's, whilst VOLKL have the unbelieveable (but expensive) Katana V-Werks; from LINE there is the new Pescado and splendid Mordecai.  DYNASTAR have the powerful Cham 117.   VOLKL have the latest and best ever Mantra, we mustn't forget the BLIZZARD Cochise their powerful Bonafide and also the NORDICA NRGy 100 and NRGy 107's .



Some will have ventured into the Fun Park and decided that it’s not really for them but others will probably have fallen over just as much but felt a real excitement when the tricks they tried, no matter how modest, went well. 

With the correct freestyle skis, twin tips with a very forgiving flex but good "pop", getting it absolutely right on landing becomes less critical, you stay on your feet more and confidence builds.  If there’s anywhere on the snow that you need the belief in your own ability, the Park is it; believe you are going to land a trick and you probably will.

Our suggestions include:-

Nordica's new narrower version of their extremely good Soul Rider, the 87mm waisted model is a great addition to the range of mid-waisted twins, the new LINE Honey Badger also tested well as did the FACTION Idiom.  We still have a few of previous season's VOLKL Revolt, Kink  and Step as well as NORDICA's OMW, they are still great skis and now absolutely superb value.


Ski Racing

A few will have experienced the buzz of skiing through gates at the end of a week in ski school and wondered what it would be like to take part in more regular ski races.  With a pretty full race agenda in the UK, on both Dryslopes and Indoor Snowslopes, hundreds of keen skiers get great satisfaction from improving their skiing technique whilst satisfying that competitive element that continues to exist in so many of us, long after we’ve finished with exams and school sports days!

Would be racers; if you’re looking to race, buy a race ski.  However, please be aware that in soft snow and off piste they will be twitchy and their stiffness and very narrow waist will have a tendency to want to bury you (and them) face down in the snow! 

 Our racing recommendations:-

For our adult racers we have the very successful  HEAD RACE DEPT skis with their Rebels GS and Super G's as well as their increasingly popular Rebels SL versions. 

FISCHER's RC4 RACE DEPT series is one of the longest standing ski ranges of all manufacturers and has been around almost forty years.  They have brought success to many great racers over the years, most notably in the early days Franz Klammer and, of late, Ivica Kostelic.

We carry stock of both the Head and Fischer Junior Race skis and have access to, but don't carry stock of, the Dynastar, Rossignol, Nordica and Blizzard ranges of race skis.  So if you are into your racing do please give us a look or a call, we'll do what we can to fix you up with the right skis for you/your children.


“Hike and Ride”and Ski Touring

Quite often those who find their skiing taking them further and further away from the marked pistes in search of virgin snow and the ultimate beauty and tranquillity of true back country stumble, so to speak, on the exhilarating sport of ski touring.  Like so much in skiing, you can take this branch of the sport to varying levels. 

Hike and Ride is the fastest growing sector of the ski market at present, this encompasses what used to be referred to as the “casual tourer” and a growing band of happy pilgrims just looking for a broader skiing experience than purely lift served terrain can offer.

Some will be happy with just a modest hike off the top of the lifts, some will be looking to climb for an hour or so from a given point on the mountain before skiing down.  However, others will climb using skis equipped with climbing skins (and probably crampons as well) from resort level far beyond the reaches of civilisation. 

Take it to the limit and you’ll be tackling high level tours lasting several days, now moving from hut to hut, sleeping at altitude and able to start the next day’s ascent or decent with a real head start.  This takes a high level of fitness, a great understanding of and particularly respect for the mountain environment in which you find yourself.  Not least, it demands great responsibility to this environment and to your fellow skiers, given that, the rewards are “off the scale”.

 Hike and Ride

Huge range but our picks would be:-

Those who are at the lighter end of the scale will enjoy the on-piste performance of skis like the BLIZZARD’s Latigo, similarly their ladies Cheyenne and Black Pearl , ARMADA Invictus 99Ti, BLACK CROWS Atris, FACTION's Candide 3.0 and ladies Heroine, K2's superb Pinnacle 95 and new Marksman, SCOTT‘s Reverse, The Ski, and their still hugely underrated ladies Luna.  The VOLKL Kenja, and Aura, FISCHER Ranger series and Pro MTN 95 Ti, NORDICA’s Enforcer and ladies Santa Anna's and the ROSSIGNOL Sky 7 can also work very well with a hike and ride agenda.

Slightly heavier skis from the Freeride background like the BLIZZARD  Brahma and Bonafide, VOLKL Kendo and Mantra and their ladies Kenja, HEAD's Venturi 95, LINE’s Supernatural 100 and the excellent Supernatural 92 are all favourites in this sector. 

Ski Touring - Specialist Skis

SCOTT, famous for their superb range of Freeride skis, have been getting more and more involved in the Touring sector over the last few years and have now built up an impressive range of Touring specific skis.  Their super light Cascade 110 and the stunning performances of the Superguide 95 and Superguide 88 make a formidable team, augmented this season with the splendid new Superguide 105's (effectively taking over from the popular Rockair).  

BLIZZARD have their superb and feather light Zero G 108 and narrower Zero G 95 which we believe will make a real impact this year after their introduction last season.  DYNASTAR have the superb Mythic, K2 the Talkback 88's and at last LINE have brought a a touring specific "mid-waisted" in the Sick Day Tourist.  VOLKL with their unbelievably light VTA 88, their V-Werks BMT 94's andthe stunning, in so many ways, V-Werks Katana.  From BLACK CROWS we particularly liked the new, lighter Anima Freebird and Orb Freebird and long time touring ski manufacturers MOVEMENT have their excellent Alp Tracks 94 Ltd and the stunning Ultimate that demand very serious consideration.

 From DYNAFIT we still have the Manaslu and some older versions of their Mustagh Ata, Stoke, Se7en Summits and Haute Route, all great skis in their own right.  Another brand that offers a number of specialist Touring skis is VOLKL, we have some older versions of their Amaruq, Nanuq, Qanik, Nukka and Massak, so, from over 100mm underfoot right down to 67mm underfoot with the Massak there’s a good cross section of widths, weights and purpose.




Telemark Skiing

Originally the style of skiing used by the mountain shepherds in the Telemark Region of  Norway.  Skis were historically quite long but with the skier flexing the knee of the lead leg at right angles, or a near right angle and effectively creating an extended kneeling position with the trailing leg.  The bindings allow the heel of that trailing leg to lift creating that “Free the Heel” position synonymous with Telemarking.  Because the heel is free, it allows the skier to go into a strided position at the end of a turn and this movement, of the legs past each other from turn to turn, is the technique we know as Telemark.

Normally 50% to 60% of the body weight is distributed on the outside ski (depending on snow conditions) so it is important that the tails of the skis are relatively stiff, otherwise the tail of the lead ski will bend just enough to enable the toe of that ski boot to lift fractionally bringing the front part of the ski up with it.  Pressure on the steering part of the ski is thus lost and the turn “washes out” as you lose grip and control of your direction.

Dimensionally you won't see much difference between an Alpine ski and one suitable for Telemark, perhaps coming a little shorter in length for Telemark but apart from that your normal preferences for Alpine skis will directly translate to Telemark.   If you're not going to stray from the piste, a ski with the now traditional hour glass (carving) dimensions should suit you fine but be concious of the fact that the skis with the tightest turn radii, say less than 15m may present you with issues of the skis wanting to "run into each other", especially if your techniqe is "traditional" rather than the more evenly balanced "modern".  Waist widths between 85 and 100mm will work well for this type of Telemarking and turn radii of between 16 and 21m probably the most versatile.

If you’re heading further afield into more remote back country then longer radius skis, say 18-25m turn radii will be better with waist widths between 95mm and 110mm ideal, wider for heavier riders basically, but otherwise, again normal preferences apply.  A few companies do market specific skis they designate as Telemark skis, but these skis are essentially All Mountain Skis, so in fact your choice is huge.

Please click here to watch our short video about Telemark Skis (coming shortly)

In the meantime here are a few suggestions:-

ARMADA's Invictus 85 or 89Ti, BLACK CROWS Anima, Navis and Atris, HEAD's Monster 83, SCOTT's Sage (Sagebrush), The Ski, Black Majic and if you want them wide the Scrapper's, their ladies Luna, the BLIZZARD Latigo, Brahma, BonafideCochise and their ultralight Zero G 95's and 108's, their ladies Cheyenne.   There's the K2 Pinnacle 95 and Pinnacle 105VOLKL Kendo, Mantra, Kenja, Aurathe DYNASTAR Cham 2.0 97 and ROSSIGNOL Sky 7  will all make for very useful Telemark set ups when coupled with some of our Rottafella's.



Cross Country/Langlauf skis

We do not currently hold stock for this skiing discipline but each season we usually end up sourcing some kit for this sector from one of our main ski partners FISCHER, who are the world’s largest producer of Langlauf skis.  If you have a specific request, then, provided you let us know early enough we will be pleased to do our best to source this gear for you.

You will, we are sure, understand that in these circumstances we will require any gear we are to obtain in this way to be paid for, in full, in advance.

To discuss your ‘deliberations’ on skis and other hardware issues please give us a call on 01603 716655   we’ll try to give you as much info as we can so you can make the right choice.


Hike and Ride Bindings

There are a number of “Hike and Ride” type bindings now on the market with various options from the four main binding manufacturers in this genre, Marker Duke and Baron, Salomon/Scott Guardian and Tyrolia/Fischer/ Head Adrenalin and the Diamir Fritschi Freeride Pro.  These make climbing, with your skis still on, not only possible but reasonably comfortable. 

All these bindings allow the heel to lift, pivoting about the toes to make climbing much less of a strain on the knees and calf/achilles.  As to which skis are best for these exploits, well, a lot has to do with your physical strength.  Some people won’t bat an eyelid at tackling ascents on what are big heavy skis and some will be looking for skis that are creeping towards the full lightweight touring type, remember, your bindings need to compliment your skis.  



Specialist Touring Bindings

There are a number of these on the market now and historically we have had great success with the Dynafit range, especially the Radical FT and Radical ST's (we do carry several other Dynafit models as well).  New to the Dynafit range this coming season, are the Radical FT 2’s and ST 2’s bringing these bindings bang up to date.

Diamir Fritschi continue with the Eagle 10 and Eagle 12's both remain popular as well as their Freeride Pro, although this is perhaps more suited to the burgeoning “Hike and Ride” sector.  The ultralite Scout is ideal for serious touring where weight is key and where the skier doesn’t want to go for one of the full “pin fixing” tech binding systems. 

Midway through last season Fritschi introduced their new Vipec touring binding which became the first “pin type” Tech Binding with a torsional release in both the toe and heel binding units.  These bindings currently do not have a DIN accreditation on the toe unit so the release values are simply that, release values (not officially DIN’s as yet).  Although numbers sold were modest, response was very positive.

 Introduced a few years back now but hard on their heels in terms of sales volumes are the very good Marker Tour F10 and Tour F12's, similar format to their "Hike and Ride" Baron's and Duke's but noticeably lighter.  The latest models of these bindings, the EPF versions, have a wider footprint so are perhaps marginally more responsive than their historic counterparts when mounted on really wide skis, say 105mm underfoot and wider. 

At some point this coming season (yet to be confirmed when) Marker are introducing the Kingpin binding, their first “Pin System”, Tech Binding.  This has been some three years in development and effectively merges a modified Baron type tail binding with standard horseshoe retention (not rear pins) with a sophisticated, six spring toe unit with “pin fixings” that does have the full ISO DIN accreditation.  At Snowfit we have these on order but as yet have no confirmed delivery date.

New last season was the Ambition Touring binding from Tyrolia, marketed under the brands of Fischer and Head as well as Tyrolia itself.  Lighter and more compact than their Adrenalin, Hike and Ride binding that came out a season earlier and with a DIN up to 13 the Ambitions are looking like a great addition to this sector.  We are again stocking both the Fischer and Head versions.













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