Choosing The Right Ski

There is no magic equation that tells you how to choose the right ski. There is no measurement that calculates the length and width of the perfect ski. Figuring out how to measure the perfect skis can get tricky and there are several factors to consider.

Whether you’re a beginner skier or seasoned veteran, this article will help you pick the best ski for your comfort and safety.

If you’re wondering “how are skis measured? You’re in luck, we’ve created this article to help you figure out how to purchase the perfect men’s skis or women’s skis for your level of expertise, your height, and your comfort level. With these tips, you’ll be headed in the right direction to purchasing the best ski for you.

Where Will You Be Skiing?

When choosing a ski there are a few things you need to consider: the first is, where will you mostly be taking the ski?

If your answer is Japan, you want a ski that will perform in the powder that we all know Japan is renowned for. If you ski in mostly Australia or New Zealand then you probably want to consider a ski that can handle the hard, packed conditions after a week of bluebird days.

Next, you need to determine what you would like your ski to do, whether that be getting you from the top to the bottom of the mountain as fast as possible, allowing you to turn with ease as you cruise comfortably down groomers or stability and performance as you shred the park. There are different styles of skis to suit your terrain. If you tend to stick to your groomed runs, then a carving ski is probably for you.

Last but certainly not least, what colour is it?

I’m not telling you to pick a ski purely on the way that it looks. However, we all say that we don’t care or it doesn’t matter but when push comes to shove we all want our brand new skis to look good.

Want more info or suggestions? Feel free to call, email or come in and talk to our friendly staff.

What Ski Length To Choose?

Now that you know which ski you want, you need to get the right size. Contrary to popular belief, the size of your ski does not reflect 100% on how tall you are or what you may or may not be compensating for… Your ski length is determined more by your weight and what you want to do with the ski. For example, if you are taking your ski off-piste, a longer ski has a larger surface area to float through the powder. Similarly, if you are a recreational groomed run skier, a shorter ski is easier for initiating turns.

As we said, there’s no real formula for figuring out the perfect ski length, Some say that the general proper ski length should be somewhere between your chin and the top of your head, others say that the perfect ski length should be based on height and ability. The truth is, finding the perfect ski length could simply be based on trial and error. Length of the ski affects the way the ski performs, length alters the way you turn and the way you ride the skis straight forward. 

So, is it better to have short skis or long skis? Well, it depends.

Shorter skis are usually more nimble and allow for quicker turns and more agile maneuverability when moving at lower speeds. Longer skis allow you to turn at higher speeds because they have a longer turn radius and more stability.

Generally, people that are taller and heavier could benefit from longer skis that allow for intense leverage, while shorter people with lighter body weight generally feel more comfortable with a shorter ski. If you have absolutely no clue where to start when figuring out your length, try using your height as an indicator. Your height should be about half of a 30-centimeter range of ski lengths.

Keep in mind that these are just generalizations, the length of your skis really depends on your personal preference as well as your performance level. If you are shorter, and you can handle a longer ski because you are advanced and experienced, we say go for it. If you’re not sure, you may want to consider your performance level when choosing your ski. Here are some things to consider based on the performance level. Also consider the importance of tuning your skis and snowboards regularly.

Beginner

To answer the question of what are the best skis for beginners, first consider the fact that beginners come in all shapes and sizes which could change the best ski size for a beginner skier.  Many people ask “are shorter skis better for beginners?” Well, beginners should keep in mind that the shorter the ski, the better the control, and most beginners need the most control possible, but if a short ski is uncomfortable for you, we suggest that you find a longer size that works better for your height and weight.

Whether short or long, beginner skis are usually more flexible and softer than advanced skis. The flexibility of the ski allows beginner skiers to make easier turns with more stability.

Intermediate

Ok, so you’ve been skiing a few times and you’re starting to really get the hang of it, so you want to upgrade your skis to reflect your new-found confidence when skiing. If you’re looking for intermediate skis, that’s great, but keep in mind that you still want your ski choice to be comfortable for your body and you want to put your safety first. 

Most intermediate skiers will be skiing in parallel directions and they may begin using their poles to assist them during turns. Intermediate skiers tend to ski on groomed trails and terrains, so when looking for the perfect ski they should consider where they will be skiing as well. 

Advanced

If you’re an advanced skier, you’re ready to conquer bold paths and sharp turns. Longer skis are stiffer and tend to be better for an advanced skier, especially if they want higher performance at high speeds. Longer skis are recommended for skiers who what to utilize precise technique and conquer advanced trails.

 

Ski Sizing Chart 

Skier Height (ft. in. / cm)Beginner Length (cm)Intermediate Length (cm)Expert Length (cm)
4’6″ / 137125135140
4’8″ / 142130140145
4’10” / 147135145150
5’0″ / 152140150155
5’2″ / 157145155165
5’4″ / 163150160170
5’6″ / 168155165175
5’8″ / 173160170180
5’10” / 178165175185
6’0″ / 183170180190
6’2″ / 188175185195
6’4″ / 193180190200

Other sizing considerations:

  • Skier weight: If you have a slight build for your height, consider choosing skis on the shorter end of the range. If you have a larger frame, think about moving up to longer skis. Some ski manufacturers provide skier weight recommendations.
  • Skiing style: If you like to make quick turns, opt for shorter skis. If you want to ski fast, go with a longer pair.
  • Terrain: If your favorite hill is dominated by narrow, twisty trails, look at shorter skis. They’re better at quickly maneuvering into tight turns. If you only ski open slopes or mostly ski ungroomed snow, then consider longer skis.
  • Personal preference: If you know you prefer longer or shorter skis, keep that in mind when choosing length.
  • For children under age 6, stand skis up beside the child; the tips should not quite reach their chin.
  • For children 6 to 12, stand skis up beside the child; the tips should touch a part of their face.

What Type Of Skiing?

There are so many different types of skis to choose from, to find the best pair, you’ll need to consider what type of skiing you’re doing. The terrain and environment you’re skiing in plays a huge role in choosing the right ski. Take a look at some of the different types of skiing you may be doing and the suggested ski type for your adventure.

Carving Skis

Carving skis are generally widest at the tip, narrow through the waist and gradually widen out again to the tail, for‌ ‌example, the dimensions of a carve ski would look something like this 126/76/103. This produces a side cut that, when put on edge, essentially wants to do all the work for you. These are ideal for intermediate skiers.

All-Mountain Skis

All-mountain skis are best for terrains that are groomed or mixed with powder. Also known as carving skis, all-mountains work for any age group and any level of experience. All-mountain skis are usually between 85mm and 95mm long with rocker tips and deep side cuts. The design of the all-mountain ski allows for easy turning and maneuverability. You’ll get the best results from all-mountain skis in hard snow and groomed routes. If you’re looking to invest in a high-end pair of all-mountain skis, you’re in luck, the advanced high-end models of all-mountain skis meet performance expectations of professionals in the ski world.

An All Mountain Ski is typically wider than your carving skis. It is designed to perform both on groomed runs and through deeper snow. Someone who prefers to take their skis all over the resort is going to favour an all-mountain ski.

All-Mountain Wide Skis 

Designed for high performance in groomed runs and powder, all-mountain wide skis have wide waists reaching between 90mm and 109mm. The wide design allows for enhanced flotation and agile movements in the snow. If you need to cut through messy snow and stay stable in harder snow, you may want to consider all-mountain wide skis.

Powder Skis

In the ski world, light, fluffy, freshly fallen snow is considered powder. Powder skis are true to their name, they work best in deep powder snow. Also known as super-fats, powder skis are usually about 109mm wide for men and 100mm for women. Powder skis allow you to float in the snow, almost like a surfer. Powder skis are great for a fun playful day on the slopes, just be careful, powder skis are not built for sharp turns and groomed runs. Powder skis are by far the best option for deep powder snow.

Backcountry Skis and Big Mountain Skis

Big Mountain or backcountry skis are for those of you who like the backside of the resort. Usually wider for more float and not as much variance on the side cut. If you like to ski in the wilderness, backcountry skis are for you. Untracked mountains and open wild spaces have bumpy and unpredictable untracked terrain. Backcountry skis are usually lighter than alpine skis, making it easier to climb. They are about 80mm -120mm wide. The narrow waist of a backcountry ski allows for easier turning and manipulation in hard snow. Backcountry skis and climbing skins will allow you to climb up-hill and explore safely. Be sure to study some mountaineering and avalanche awareness skills if you’re going for a backcountry adventure. See our Backcountry Kit Guide for advice.

Park Skis

Park skis are for the park and pipe. They are twin tips and commonly pretty flexible and buttery. You won’t get much speed on them but you will shred the park like a pro.

Freestyle Skis

Freestyle skis are a cross between park and all-mountain. They are for those people who ski the resort, cut through the trees, jump off natural rolls and basically try to jib anywhere except the park.

Women’s Skis

Is there a difference between men’s and women’s skis? Yes, skis made specifically for women are usually shorter and lighter, because women are usually shorter and lighter than men. Of course, this is case by case, but most skis, especially expert level skis are available in several sizes that can work for any gender, it’s really just about the size and height of the skier. If you’re wondering how to find the right size for women’s skis, try using a women’s ski size chart.

Additional Ski Features

We also want to know what ‘tech’ is used in our ski. This is where you need to decide what features you like in a ski.

Factors like what is in the core and what the top sheet is made out of will determine the weight and strength of your ski. Each ski brand also makes its own technologies to give their skis something different to bring to the table. Technologies include but are not limited to sidewalls dampeners, anti vibrations, ladies-specific shaping, widths, and side cuts.

How Do Camber and Rocker Affect Ski Performance? 

The camber and rocker refer to the design of the ski. Camber and rocker affect the stability and agility of the ski. We’ve included some information about camber and rocker below. See our guide to Rocker vs. Camber: Ski and Snowboard Profiles for more.

Camber

The traditional ski was created with camber design features. The camber features an arc throughout the body of the ski. The arc design provides enhanced stability. The camber ski has a metal edge that helps to initiate turns easier and turns easily.

Camber is the traditional ski profile. When unweighted, it has a slight rise in the centre with the contact points being close to the ends on the tip and tail. Cambered skis require a little more initiation when beginning a turn but give you fast and precise power with extra pop and more edge hold for those harder snow conditions. Racers and advanced park riders often prefer camber, as well as those of us who are traditional skiers who like to go fast and enjoy the feeling of pure edge carve turning. The camber is designed for a lively skiing experience.

Rocker

Reverse camber (aka negative camber, Rocker or Banana) as the name/s suggests, is the reverse profile to your traditional camber. When unweighted, the centre of the ski is touching the snow while the tip and tail are the contact points back towards the middle of the ski. This makes a smaller edge hold which is easier to initiate turns however loses grip towards the end of a turn. The ski rocker is an upside-down camber. The rocker skis are made to enhance float in the snow. The rocker feature includes a front contact point away from the tip which allows for easy turns and enhanced flotation in deep snow.

Rocker is borrowed from our younger brother (or sister) the water ski where they use this profile to promote flotation. Making it perfect for all you soft snow chasing powder hounds. Reverse camber makes catching your edge a thing of the past, as there is little edge past the length of your bindings to catch.

And of course, as if things aren’t confusing enough, we now have hybrid and flat profiles which integrate either both rocker at the tip and tail with a cambered center or rocker at the tip and tail with a flat centre. The idea behind these profiles is to incorporate the best of a camber profile with the ease of the rocker.

Ski Bindings 

If you’re wondering how to choose ski bindings, we’ve got you covered. There are typically two different types of ski bindings to choose from. Integrated bindings come packaged with some skis. Many skiers choose integrated bindings because they are guaranteed to be a good match for the skis. 

The second choice is non-integrated bindings. Getting separate bindings can be beneficial for some intermediate and advanced skiers because they allow for customization and specific performance features with advanced settings.

Ready to buy that pair of skis you’ve been eyeing? If you’re looking for a variety of skis for all levels of expertise, check out Snow Central. Snow Central has everything you need and a ski size calculator for your convenience.