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Reviewed by our gear Geeks:

BEST ALL MOUNTAIN SKIS in 2020/2021

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Our experts at work

We gave our Gear lovers one job:

Test 25 different Mountain Skis and write reviews of the best.

The result is 10 of the best Mountain Skis on the market today.

hunter bierce

Hunter Bierce

PSIA Ski Instructor
Hunter Bierce is a PSIA Ski Instructor and multidisciplinary outdoor professional.

torben lonne

Torben Lonne

Editor at DIVEIN.com
Torben is a dive nut, with a passion for traveling and gear.

All-mountain skis are the most versatile style currently on the market.

“All- Mountain” style skis are built to rip groomers, chop through slop, hold an edge on ice, and even float a little through powder. It’s a something-for-everyone category.

The qualities to look out for in a daily driver are ruggedness, responsiveness, and fun. Not everyone has an extensive ski quiver, and there’s an all-mountain ski out there for every style of skier.

Picking the right all-mountain ski is mostly about choosing where you want to compromise as there’s a lot of interplay between other styles. A pair of early rise skis may have trouble finding an edge on icy days, but will shine in soft snow.  Play to your strengths, if you have an “I ride everything” mentality, so should your ski.

The Best All Mountain Skis

See our quick top 10, or go further down and read our in-depth reviews.

Still unsure as to what mountain ski to choose? Check out our buying guide to know what to look for when buying a mountain ski.

The standout quality from Line’s Sick Day 88 is the price tag. Aside from being the most affordable skis on this list, this ski capitalizes on Line’s strength and reputation for making some of the most fun on-piste skis out there. The Sick Day 88 is lightweight and playful, you shouldn’t try to throw down any GS turns on them, but they’re responsive enough to rely on on hardpack days.

Their softness makes them a great option for beginners looking to transition to a little more aggressive ski, they’re sturdy enough to handle moderately aggressive skiing on off-piste terrain. They’re a ton of fun for seasoned skiers as well. The pop and flexibility will attract people looking for a good park ski to destroy guilt-free over a few seasons.

Criticism is limited to the way it functions in demanding conditions. This is definitely a ski that will start to chatter at top speeds, and isn’t dependable for making high-performance carved turns. The 88mm version caught our eye in terms of price and performance, but Sick Day is also available in a 99 and 104mm underfoot design.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Line Sick Day 88:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Aspenlite Core
  • Hybrid Construction
  • Early rise tip and tail
  • Best priced high-performance ski
What we like:
  • Great Price Point
  • Awesome entry level ski
  • Blurs the line between park and all mountain
What we don’t like:
  • Too soft to be a dependable top speed ski
  • It won’t hold an edge as well as other all mountain skis

The Nordica Enforcer is a universally acclaimed ski, and the updated model is generating a lot of excitement this season. Traditionally, the Enforcer has been praised for its performance in variable conditions. A full wood core sandwiched between metal sheets keeps your skis from rattling at speed, and is a much more freeride based approach than other all mountain options. It’s also known as one of the most fun skis to ride in its category, noted for the way it carries energy from turn to turn.

The updates on the 2021 Enforcer seem subtle- adding a little more wood, removing some plastic, and substituting in a carbon chassis. Nordica has capitalized on versatility by making a significantly lighter ski, without compromising the stability that the Enforcer line is known for. The carbon chassis has the added benefit of dampening vibrations at high speed, on top of being a much lighter material than plastics.

This new model from Nordica is perfect for the most aggressive skiers out there, and is one of the most versatile skis on the market for advanced athletes. In bottomless powder, you’re probably going to want a little more underfoot, but as a whole the 2021 Enforcer is a near perfect update to an already beloved ski.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Nordica Enforcer 94:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Wood and Dual Metal Sheet core
  • Full Sidewall Construction
  • “All-Mountain” Rocker and Camber
What we like:
  • Charger ski that you can push to your limits
  • Lightweight update on an ultra-classic ski
  • Very fun to link aggressive turns
  • Pretty reasonably priced for a new ski
What we don’t like:
  • It can drown in powder if you’re not paying attention

The Blizzard Bonafide has a cult following in the ski world, and a reputation as one of the top “heavy-hitter” options out there. Dedicated Bonafide riders love the stability, power, and ruggedness of the ski. They’re a great every day ski, but what makes the Bonafide line stand out is their ability to eat moguls, bounce off of rocks, and absolutely smash through variable front side conditions.

This year the Bonafide line is seeing a major update that seeks to soften their hard reputation. The ski has seen a complete overhaul in design, but most prominently now incorporates a 2-wood blended core. That reflects some struggles in the past for skiers who had to break in the older models; otherwise, they were pretty stiff and had a mind of their own the first few days.

The Blizzard Bonafide can still be ridden as hard as before, but the new design makes engaging an edge on those high-speed turns a little easier. It’s still a ski built for the most demanding riders, and one that promises a good return on the effort it takes to pilot.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Blizzard Bonafide 97:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Blended Wood Core with Two Titanium Sheets
  • Full Sidewall Construction
  • All Mountain Rocker with more Traditional Camber
What we like:
  • Tough ski built solid enough for the most demanding frontside conditions
  • Updated design makes it much more accessible for less-advanced skiers
What we don’t like:
  • Still a demanding ski to use
  • Doesn’t perform as well in deep snow or off-piste

All mountain skis aren’t always about having the power to charge through any obstacle placed in front of you. The Blizzard Rustler 9 suits those who like to make tight, technical turns from the groomers, to the trees. It’s more hard snow oriented than many of the other skis on this list, and by nature of its construction loves to catch and hold a turn. They’re soft and easy under normal conditions, but the most aggressive riders might find themselves overpowering the skis at high speed. 

The core is made of a lightweight wood and synthetic blend reinforced with only a partial titanal plate, making it one of the notably lighter options on this list. It’s a nice counterpoint to Blizzard’s Bonafide series, keeping it stiff underfoot but allowing for plenty of flex on the tips and tails. It’s definitely limited by its design- you can expect chatter at high speeds and issues engaging an edge when conditions are overly icy.

The Rustler 9 is a little bit of a different approach to an all mountain design. It’s arguably frontside oriented just because of how turny it is, but it can still be ridden pretty hard in variable snow. If you want to rip big-mountain style, these probably aren’t the skis for you, but are a great option for beginner to advanced riders looking for a playful ski.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Blizzard Rustler 9:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Wood composite and synthetic blend, partial titanal sheet
  • Full Sidewall Construction
  • Less rocker, more geared for hard snow conditions
What we like:
  • Very fun and playful take on an all mountain ski
  • Holds up better on hard days than other similar skis
  • One of the best options under $700 USD
What we don’t like:
  • Not the most stable at speed
  • You probably want a powder ski too

Volkl is one of the brands favored by highly-certified ski instructors for the degree of precision they afford experienced riders. The M5 Mantra is a return to that style, the underfoot combering and a low-profile rocker help this ski engage with greater precision than you’d normally expect from something not race-specific. Not for beginner skiers, this year’s model is a workhorse that requires a bit of skill and finesse to operate.

The M5 Mantra is a no-nonsense ski. It’s not very flexible, and doesn’t have a lot of pop, but it sure can lay out a turn. These are your skis if you like to go fast, and need something that can showcase all of your hours honing your formal ski technique. 

Skis like this are never going to rip deep powder, but the M5 Mantra models hold up well through sluff and chop because of its rigidity. There are more responsive low-speed skis on the market for sure, but the only criticisms you can give Volkl on the Mantra M5 are by virtue of its design.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Volkl M5 Mantra:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Poplar and Beech Core with a Titanal Raised Frame
  • Full Sidewall Construction
  • Underfoot Camber and Only a Little Rocker
What we like:
  • One of the top contenders on groomed terrain, holds its own off-piste
  • Can carry turns like a race ski
  • Stability holds up under speed
What we don’t like:
  • Feels a little dead and bulky in deep or soft snow

Essentially the ideological opposite of the M5 Mantra, the Volkl Revolt 104 is one of the star contenders for our all mountain skis that shine in powder. The Revolt line was built using direct feedback from the Volkl freestyle team, and the 104 is a pared down model that performs well in most conditions. They belong to that heavily-rockered new generation that seem to turn themselves in deeper snow, you’ll have no trouble slashing and jibbing your way round anything softer than hardpack. 

These skis are extremely versatile, and for the right skier can be the perfect choice for an every day ski. They’re built as heartily as any other top quality ski, so much so that the weight can be tricky to rotate with if you’re not used to it. The consistent only issue that people have with them is that, due to the early rise, it takes some time for the edge to engage on frozen, freshly groomed slopes. 

The only noteworthy thing left to mention about this ski is the eye-catching topsheet. This year’s Revolt model is also available as a 121 under foot dedicated powder stick that the 104 is based off of. 

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Volkl Revolt 104:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Aspen and Maple Core
  • Full Sidewall Construction
  • Almost Full Rockered
  • Great ski for under $700 USD
What we like:
  • Highlights powder performance without sacrificing all mountain capabilities
  • One of the most “Fun” skis released this year
  • Solid construction despite being more of a jib ski
What we don’t like:
  • Edges take some time to engage on groomers
  • Like the M5 Mantra, not for everyone but in the opposite way

The Declivity series is another example of an all mountain concept based off of a freeski pro model. True to Armada’s race background, these are built to go fast, and to do so in variable conditions.They’re damp, but have enough mobility to solve tricky access problems or for when things suddenly get technical. You wouldn’t necessarily expect this emphasis on stability because the Declivity series is also built to be light. 

The caruba core cuts weight significantly, while titanal banding is dampened by elastic inserts and  give you the stability needed to blast through variable snow. The ski is strong enough to carry powerful turns through most conditions. Most of the renforcement starts underfoot, leaving the tips and tail with enough play to float in deep snow when they have to. In addition, they’re backed up by a full sidewall to aid in high speed stability.

The Declivity series doesn’t compromise on weight or performance, and would make a great touring ski despite their more resort-based intentions. While they’ve yet to be subjected to the stress of a full season, we have high hopes for the Declivity as a single ski quiver that can last for seasons.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Armada Declivity 92 Ti:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Lightweight caruba core
  • Full sidewall construction
  • “All Mountain” Rocker
What we like:
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Competition quality base and edges
  • Stable at speed despite weight
  • Another solid ski at below average price
What we don’t like:
  • Can feel a little damp compared to some of the more jibby options on this list

It’s clear that there’s been an uptick in the number of burly, hard-riding skis lately. Some may see this as a return to older industry sentimentalities, but it also might be an evolution. Ski manufacturers have learned that people want the freedom to ride their skis through variable conditions the same way they ride them on hardpack. They also want to be able to throw massive high-speed turns in a way that an off-piste ski isn’t typically capable of. The Stance ski is Salomon’s solution to the gap in their product line between their big-mountain oriented QST, and their race inspired frontside carver.

The construction is pretty typical of this style- a full poplar core sandwiched between titanal sheets that stretch nearly the entire length of the ski. What sets the Stance apart in terms of construction are the blended carbon and flax fiber inserts popped into holes along the top layer of titanal. Salomon claims they eliminate chatter without the weight compromise of other super damp skis. The tails are also unique in that they have a little more flex than what you see in other similar stoic charger skis, perhaps opening up a nice middle ground for people who want to try something of this style without having to accommodate for powerful stiff tails.

The Stance is notable because of its accessibility. Due to its general stiffness and a higher weight than more playful options, it’s still not a great entry-level ski. But, it’s a great option for people who want an all-mountain carver but don’t have a race background or much formal experience with aggressive skis.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Salomon Stance 96:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Poplar Core with titanal layers
  • Full sidewall construction
  • Less aggressive rocker
  • Average new ski price
What we like:
  • Softer in the tail than comparable models, making the ride a little easier
  • The rattle dampeners make a big difference at high speed
What we don’t like:
  • Doesn’t do well on short turns and at slow speeds
  • Heavier than a lot of comparable models

The Black Ops series replace the massively popular Rossignol 7 series, which are some of the most recognizable skis on the slope and a perfect first set of skis. People loved them for their low-weight, maneuverability, and forgiving rocker. Rossignol announced this year that they were officially doing away with the series this year and introducing their Black Ops line, an updated model that strives to be a middle ground between the soft 7 and a more performance style ski. Though the Black Ops are intended to be an update, some see it as too far a departure from what made the 7 work. In either case, there are undeniably some big differences between the two.

Though stiffer and heavier than the 7 series, the Rossignol Black Ops skis actually run at about the middle of the pack in terms of overall bulk. Still, the wood and titanal base is solid enough to feel trustworthy when you ski hard. In fact, the Black Ops seem to favor a powerful style of skiing over the more casual and forgiving 7. It’s not something that will let you get away with skiing backseat in technical terrain and favors a far more formal style than its predecessor. But a more demanding ski can do things performance-wise that a soft one cannot.

The Black Ops shine everywhere the 7 series could not. They can do rail turns on hardpack, power through crud and powder, and absorb a landing–and as a whole, handle more advanced skiing techniques than the 7’s could. At the same time they’re still more forgiving than the most aggressive skis on this list, and can still release an edge pretty easily. There are skis out there that can offer more support, but the Black Ops Sender won’t hold you back.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Rossignol Black Ops Sender Ti:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Poplar wood core, with titanal sheet
  • Full sidewall construction
  • Solid “All Mountain” rocker with a little camber underfoot
What we like:
  • A great update based on all the feedback from the 7 series
  • Very solid feel underfoot
  • Truly handles the entire mountain well
What we don’t like:
  • You can’t slash it like you could the 7
  • Definitely a more challenging ski for the beginner than the 7

In a season fixated on a more traditional, hard charging attitude, K2 has come forward with a lightweight, playful option that can still rip hard on groomers and variable snow alike. The K2 Reckoner 102 is the thinnest underfoot in a line of more powder-oriented skis. They’re still fully capable of blasting through drifts of fresh snow, but can get on edge a little bit faster than their fatter counterparts. The K2 Reckoner is an awesome all mountain alternative to the stiff skis dominating the market, and can provide predictable and fun performance across most any conditions

The bases are made of lightweight aspen and fir. It has a decent amount of rocker, though not as much as a true powder ski, and the tips are soft enough to swallow up bumps and crud without buckling your knees. Underfoot, the Reckoner 102 is stable enough to handle all the terrain on the mountain, and absorbs impact well enough for you to be confident taking them off the ground. K2 claims that they shine in the park, as well.

Expert skiers and those just catching their stride will find much to love in the Reckoner. It’s versatility is hard to match, and it somehow balances that with being an incredibly fun ski to ride. For all that, it’s still incredibly practical and a serious contender for a dedicated single ski quiver, and can keep up with most any level of skier.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the K2 Reckoner 102:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Aspen and fir core
  • Full sidewall
  • All Mountain rocker
What we like:
  • Very playful all mountain option
  • Doesn’t compromise on carving performance
  • Lightweight and stable
What we don’t like:
  • Doesn’t do as well as the wider versions in deep powder
  • Much easier to find as a 177 than in other sizes

A Guide to Skis and Skiing

 

What is an All-Mountain Ski

If you’ve made the decision to look for a solid “All-Mountain” ski, you’re essentially looking for a do-everything solution. You’re an equal-opportunity skier, and want something that can deliver results no matter what the conditions are, but strong enough to handle at your most aggressive. There are options for every skill level, all that’s required is a desire for a maximum-return every day ski. 

In general, all-mountain skis have a lot in common with carving skis. They’ll at least have enough side cut to edge a turn well. They will be somewhere around 88-104mm underfoot and have a traditional camber, usually combined with a little bit of rocker to keep the tips out of variable snow. With the proper all mountain ski, you should be able to ski mild slopes, steep chutes, moguls, trees, and powder with equal confidence. 

While there’s an all-mountain ski out there for everyone, not every ski out there is suitable for every skier. We’ve described each ski in our list with a mind to make choosing the right one easier. When you’re choosing an all-mountain ski, you can decide what characteristics you want to emphasize. Also think about your skill level and how you want to progress as a skier, a super-stiff and heavy ski is going to have a steep learning curve for a beginner. Depending on your style and your skill level, you may want something more playful or front-side based rather than an ultra-aggressive big mountain charger. There are also options that are closer to race style skis that are built purely for speed, with enough rise in the tips to make them viable off-piste as well, take a look at the other types of skis listed below to help you decide what you want the focus of your all-mountain driver to be.

The Other Types of Skis

The sport of skiing has been around for a long time, and to a certain extent you can trace its history through the huge variety of concepts regarding what a ski should look like and how it should perform. When it comes to skis, form is intimately tied up in function, so we’ve pulled together a few points on each of the overarching categories to help you know what to look for in the shop, and what to expect on the slopes.

Racing Skis

Trying to define a race ski opens up an entirely different can of worms because there are so many different types of ski racing, usually each with their own nuances in design. But usually race skis tend to be long, with a narrower waist than other options you’ll see on this list and will have a directional tail. Volkl and Nordica both have strong reputations in the race world, and you can see this spirit extended to the rest of the industry through skis like the M5 Mantra or the Enforcer 94

Racers are going to feel very unintuitive for someone who’s never skied a traditionally cambered ski. True to form they’re built to go fast, but they’re also built to make precise and aggressive turns. They’re easy to get on edge, and unless your form is pretty well dialed they can take you in unexpected directions very quickly.  You can expect quite a bit of rigidity in their flex, and a general “no-nonsense” feel in the way they ride. All-mountain skis influenced by a race design are going to be great on-piste carvers, and aren’t necessarily just for expert riders. Anyone who is a primarily frontside skier and loves the feeling of railing an aggressive turn will enjoy a more approachable take on their classic design.

Frontside/Carver Skis

Many specialized styles of skis are designed with niche, aggressive styles in mind. If you’re new to skiing and aren’t sure what style will best suit your skills and preferences, a frontside carver is an easy choice. They’re shaped essentially like a much more forgiving race ski, a directional tail and fair amount of sidecut to help learners engage a solid edge and do effective turns. They’ll be among the softest and most accommodating of all the options, and designed to be responsive without demanding too much finesse or power from the rider.

More versatile takes on beginner frontside skis will aim to be just as friendly as a traditional novice carver, with some adaptations made for off-piste performance. They’ll have a little more rocker and play than something that was just built to turn, and softness in the tips to help roll over variable snow. Rossignol’s 7 series is the most popular ski of this ethic in recent history, but their new Black Ops line offers something a little more aggressive that can grow with the skier.

Freestyle Skis

Freestyle skiing, colloquially known as park skiing, has become an incredibly popular sector in the industry. It seems that much of the current work being done to progress the sport is being done within the ropes of the terrain park. Freestyle skis are built to fly, pop, and slide. They emphasize fun and freedom, and tend to be lightweight and responsive. Freestyle skis are typically true twin-tips and are near symmetrical from tip to tail so perform the same when skied in both directions. For this same reason, they tend to be center mounted. The Line Sick Day is a great example of an adaptable park ski for a great price.

A lot of the conceptual basis for freestyle skis is based on landing jumps. They’re lightweight so they will rotate in the air more easily, have quite a bit of flex for absorbing heavy impacts. They’re built specifically for pushing the boundaries in the controlled environment of a frontside terrain park. All-mountain skis influenced by a freestyle design will be among the most playful and “fun” of your options. They’ll be flexible and slashy, and though they might not stack up against the competition when it comes to variable snow, they can still hold their own in all conditions.

Freeride Skis

The Freeride World Tour has only been around for the last decade or so, but you cannot understate the influence that this competitive big-mountain spirit has had upon the recreational ski industry. Freeride skis are designed to provide the same freedom and stability as a freestyle park ski, but in ungroomed, off-piste conditions. Much like racing skis, it’s hard to qualify what exactly a freeride ski is because skiers are going to want to emphasize different aspects based on their preferences and terrain. They could look like a less-specialized powder ski, or a super heavy race-influenced charger depending on what performance aspects you want to highlight.

As a rule, you can expect some kind of “all-mountain” rocker-camber hybrid, with enough rise in the shovel to eat up variable snow, that can still adequately engage the edge along the length of the ski to bite into the hardpack. They tend to be stiffer, and more aggressive. The freeride ski is basically a beefed-up version of the consumer “all-mountain” style, there’s a lot of fluidity between the two concepts. Blizzard has garnered a reputation for making these kinds of chargers, with the Bonafide being a long-time favorite. Recreational skis influenced by a big mountain ideology will be some of the most versatile and powerful. They’re a ski that’s built for any given day on the mountain, and although not necessarily for skiing powder, can hold up well in it. 

Powder Skis

Powder skis need next to no introduction. True powder skis are highly specialized due to this they don’t perform as well in any condition as well as other skis on this list might. But, the trade-off of being able to capitalize on fresh snow more than makes up for it. Frequent resort riders will tell you that you may not remember 90% of the days you spend on the slopes, but you’ll never forget a good powder day. 

Powder skis are going to be wider than any other ski you see on the mountain, and are going to be more aggressively rockered as well. They’ll tend to have little camber and sidecut, and are skied in a completely different style than a traditional racing ski. A good powder ski will keep you afloat in the deepest snow, and should have a bouncy and weightless feel in prime conditions. The only issue is that you’ll have a hard time getting on your edge most days due to how wide they are. There’s a lot of middle ground between a dedicated powder stick and a daily driver, K2’s Reckoner series walks the line pretty well though you may want something with more underfoot. You won’t have to look hard to find an all-mountain ski that competes in deep powder, many freeride style skis keep soft snow in mind without forgoing frontside performance.

Bindings, boots, and more

Ski gear is extensively specialized, and the amount of options on the market is overwhelming. Dauntingly, the task of finding and fitting the right boots and bindings is every bit as complicated as choosing a ski. If you found our guide on this year’s skis helpful, take a look at our articles on the best alpine boots, and our favorite alpine bindings as well.

Ski Term Glossary

Half of the challenge of starting a new sport is trying to figure out what people are saying. Skiing is not unique to having a serious case of  jargon bloat, but it does have some fairly high barriers of entry in terms of time and money invested, so you’re probably going to want to have some unambiguous definitions before you get too heavily invested. Here are some common terms relating to skis explained in plain language, so you can buy a new set of skis with confidence. Beyond this, check out our full glossary of ski terms to use as a reference.

Twin Tip vs Directional

These two terms are used to describe the shape of the ski, specifically the tail. A “directional” ski is going to have a lot more in common with a classic ski motif, and be favored by riders who like to employ their technical skill to go fast and carve aggressive turns. They’re characterized by their flat tail that rests on (or very near) the snow. This flat tail gives riders more power as they move through the length of their turn, and let’s an experienced skier get the most out of their edge.

A “twin tip” ski is going to be any ski that’s rounded on both edges, and usually will have a significant amount of tail rocker to boot. A true twin tip will also tend to have a more symmetrical shape along the entire length of the ski. Twin tips are one of the great modern developments in the sport of skiing, and have done much to make the sport more accessible to riders without a formal background. The raised and rounded tails make it much easier to disengage an edge, smear your turns, and are going to comprehensively offer a much more forgiving ride than a pure directional ski. They were first popular in the freestyle world due to their stability upon landing, as well as their ability to be easily skied backwards.

Sidecut and Turn Radius

Sidecut is used to talk about the “figure” of your ski, and is going to impact performance through turn radius, or how tight of an edged turn your ski can make. You can approximate the sidecut of a ski by looking at the narrowest point in the middle or the “waist” and comparing it to the widest points on either end. The more more dramatic the hourglass profile of your ski, the more aggressively you should be able to make a tight, carved turn.

To be more clear about turn radius, it’s the imaginary circle that any ski or snowboard would trace in the snow if it were to be placed on its edge and told to “go”. A smaller turning radius implies a more pronounced sidecut.

Flex

The stiffness or “flex” of a ski is a measurement of the amount that it will bend when a rider pressures it towards the tip or tail. Stiffer skis are usually your more aggressive race style, while softer skis tend to either be for beginners, or built around playfulness and powder conceptually.

Camber vs Rocker vs Mixed

camber vs rocker vs mixed

Camber and rocker are two more concepts behind ski construction that are pretty easy to get a visual handle on. Rocker is also called “reverse-camber” describing. Rocker and camber relate to the way that the ski is shaped when you look at it from the side. In other words rocker and camber are used to describe what parts of the ski are touching snow, versus what parts are lifted up off of the snow when it is placed flat on the ground. 

Camber is a measurement of how the ski rises from the ground underfoot. When you step on your ski, you squish this cambered section flat to the snow which distributes your weight more evenly and creates some powerful tension for you to harness while riding. Traditionally cambered skis are likely going to be directional and built for going fast. Think race skis, or anything where you would need to trust your edges on hard snow while cranking out fast turns.

Rocker is that the tips and tails rise off of the snow. A “full rockered” ski will look like one of the legs from a porch rocking chair and good in deep powder. It will be much easier to pivot, slash, and rotate than a cambered ski because only the edges underfoot are making any contact with the snow. They’re much less dependable and have difficulty engaging an edge on hardpack for the same reason. The dramatic upward scoop in the shovel helps riders float in deep snow, so they can get the most out of the powder days.

Aside from outliers at either extreme, most contemporary skis employ some sort of rocker/camber blend. Ask yourself what kind of performance aspects you need to highlight,  and you’ll be able to find your place on the spectrum.

If you already have a mountain ski or you just bought one, leave a comment in the comment section below and share your experience with it.

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