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The Ski Monster Freeskier Jackson Hole

How to pick the right pair of skis.

Whether you’re on the hunt for your first pair of skis, adding to your quiver or replacing an old pair that you finally retired - choosing the right ski can be an intimidating task. Regardless if you're a beginner, intermediate or expert skier, there are a ton of options out there. Hell, our ski wall alone has over 100+ skis staring at you, begging to be picked for your next ski trip.

But the ski buying process doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying skis online, or in store consulting an expert, the end goal is to get you on a pair of skis that are directly aligned with your priorities. This blog is about choosing the right skis, but for anyone who wants to know more about choosing the right ski boot, check out how ski boots are supposed to fit.

First and foremost, anyone in the market for a new pair of skis needs to ask themselves this one simple question: Whats the reason for new skis?”  Sounds simple enough, right?

Your answer to this question means everything. It provides a necessary baseline that will help narrow down your search, filtering out excess noise that can overcomplicate this whole process. But we don’t want to stop there, the more information you can provide the better. Let's say you just booked an appointment here in Boston, or phoned our gear experts on our customer service team, some of the questions you need to be ready to answer are: Where do you spend your time on the hill? What kind of trails do you like to ski? Whats important to you? Where do you want your skis to perform best? The more answers you can provide, the better!

Every skier has their own unique preferences and bias, which is why there are so many ski options out there. If you’re like me and prefer to ski everywhere, you need a ski thats confident on a variety of terrain and conditions. Chances are you will end up with an all-mountain ski. The all-mountain category is massive, and comprised of skis that range from 80ish mm underfoot all the way to 105ish mm underfoot. All-mountain skis are awesome because they satisfy a huge range of priorities, and majority of skiers will find their sweet spot within this category. Outside of all-mountain, you have the race category on one end, and powder/touring skis on the opposite.

What waist width is perfect for you? Well, let's say you are a skier that prefers to spend more time on the frontside, gravitating towards groomers and firm snow. You’ll need a ski thats more precise and quick edge-to-edge. This means you’ll fall on the more narrow side of the all-mountain category, generally between 80ish and 90ish mm underfoot.

Now if you’re the type of skier that tends to be more playful or spend more time off-piste, you’ll appreciate a ski thats relatively easy to maneuver and pivot. This means you’ll fall on the other end of the all-mountain spectrum, ranging from 90ish to 105ish mm underfoot. One important factor to keep in mind is that skis on the wider end of the all-mountain category can still arc a turn, just not as well as skis that are more narrow.

All mountain skis in the 90ish waist width class will be a sweet spot for a majority of use cases. Why? Well, they are the most versatile skis on the market! Take them anywhere and you’re going to have a fun time.

Next we need to cover how to size skis…

First, let's clear up some common misconceptions. There isn’t a magical length that will be perfect for you. The ski doesn’t have to go up to your chin, forehead etc…everyone will fall into a size range. Your skis don’t know how tall you are, but they do know 2 things: your weight and how much force you put into the ski.

Stronger skiers will gravitate towards longer skis, while those who ski less aggressive will appreciate a shorter ski. Strong skiers put more force into the ski, which is why they need longer skis to generate more stability. Shorter skis will feel more nimble, meaning they will be easier to initiate turns and maneuver.

**Important** - Just because you weigh a lot doesn’t mean you are strong. Just because you are light doesn’t mean you are weak.

For me, I am 6’3’’, 190lbs and a strong skier. I like going fast, skiing aggressive and pushing my gear to the limit. The range of ski sizes I fall into can be anywhere from 180cm to 192cm. If I’m looking at all-mountain skis, I tend to be on the shorter end of that range, usually around 180 to 186. If I’m choosing a playful ski, I’ll be on the longer end of the range, usually 184cm to 192cm.

Ski sizing chart

All-mountain skis tend to size shorter in length than wider, powder skis. Powder specific skis size longer since they have less of an effective edge, a wider waist width and more surface area to generate better float in deeper snow. 

Choosing a new pair of skis is supposed to be fun! It's a process that should elevate your stoke levels and make you feel giddy to get out there and ski. The most important thing to do when choosing the right ski is to be honest with yourself, or with the gear expert you are talking to. You’ll be in great shape if you can be real about your ability level, where you spend most of your time skiing and how you want the ski to perform. If all you care about is arcing turns go more narrow, if you want something more playful with better float, go wider. It really can be that simple!

Don’t hesitate to reach our to our gear experts on our customer service team, or book an appointment here in Boston if you find yourself having any questions along the way. There’s a right ski for every skier out there, let us help you find yours and go rip!


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