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Skiing can be a rather daunting sport to get into, especially for those who haven’t spent much time on the mountain.
There’s a ton of terminology (much beyond getting after that “fresh pow”), and these days, there’s a different ski for each type of terrain and show, making it that much more difficult to understand (and eventually buy) the best ski for your particular skill level and interest in the sport.
So within our guide to the best skis of 2021 and 2022, we decided to focus on rookies and intermediates. There’s a big learning curve just to get moving on a pair of skis, and there’s no need to get too caught up in the minutiae just yet. Get your balance, get moving on the hill and then start thinking about how and where you may want to make the investment.
When you get to that point, you’ll want to have an honest conversation with yourself about where you want to ski and how often. Spending most of the time on groomed resort runs requires a different type of ski than initial forays into deep powder, which will also greatly impact the composite material of your skis.
We’ll dial things in a bit more as we go through the list, but just know that there isn’t a “best overall” ski, there are too many different varieties and finding your perfect match will take a bit of time and plenty of discussion at your local ski shop.
1. DPS Pagoda Piste 94 C2
Best All-Mountain Ski
When looking for an “all-mountain” ski, you’re going to want something with balance. These skis are among the best for all-mountain purposes. The chassis design of the Pagoda Piste 94 C2 goes in tandem with great edge control for a confident feel that will help newer riders get their mountain legs underneath them. An ash and aspen core also offers some key flexibility and response to let novice skiers feel more of the snow and get a better understanding of basic movements and flow.
2. Rossignol BlackOps Sender TI
Best Freeride Ski
Freeriding is exactly as it sounds: long, flowing days at the mountain; taking jumps, quick turns and more. That means you need a solid free riding ski ready for flowing powder days. Getting into something like the Blackops Sender TI ensures you’ll have all you need when you’re ready to take your skiing to the next level. These skis have an extended core for added stability and control and additional inserts to help absorb the impact of unexpected and uneven terrain.
3. Dynafit BLACKLIGHT 95
Best Intermediate Alpine Touring Ski
Alpine touring in the backcountry requires a higher level of performance as you begin crushing that sweet, deep powder. Our alpine touring pick is also one of our most lightweight options. Dynafit’s BLACKLIGHT 95 meets that need in a lightweight package with a full carbon top layer. The tip, tail and sidecut are all adapted to each individual ski size, meaning each ride should feel that much more tailored. For those ready to get a bit more finesse and racing style in their backcountry skiing, this is a great choice.
Alpine touring in the backcountry requires a higher level of performance as you begin crushing that sweet, deep powder. Dynafit’s BLACKLIGHT 95 meets that need in a lightweight package with a full carbon top layer. The tip, tail and sidecut are all adapted to each individual ski size, meaning each ride should feel that much more tailored. For those ready to get a bit more finesse and racing style in their backcountry skiing, this is a great choice.
4. Black Diamond Impulse 104
Best Entry-Level All-Mountain Ski
The Impulse is a great choice for novice skiers and those just getting into skiing. The skis are built with enough all-purpose features to fully tackle anything you’ll find on initial mountain runs and those easier-stage lift-bound descents. This is a nice combination option especially when mountain conditions might be a bit variable.
5. Salomon Stance 84 Skis + M12GW Bindings
Best Resort Ski with Bindings
In many cases, it’s easier to buy the bindings and the skis at the same time, and this package is a solid solution for resort-only skiers. This is a great kit for those looking to buy skis and bindings at one time. The Stance 84 is an ideal ski with enough pop and flexibility for whatever you might find on the mountain without feeling like “too much” as you get moving. The included bindings are also built for primarily “on-piste” skiing.
More We Love:
6. Bomber All Mountain Ski
A handcrafted ski built for almost any condition with a price point to match that performance.
7. Romp Zorro 100
This set is a fine-tuned shredding from a growing custom ski purveyor. As an off-the-shelf edition from custom ski builder Romp Skis, it is tried and tested in the heart of Colorado. While the company makes several different types depending on your needs, the Zorro is their original (and perhaps most playful) model.
8. Dynafit Seven Summits Ski Set
The Dynafit Seven Summits Ski Set includes bindings and a top-notch ski in a sub-$900 package — a more performance-oriented version of one of our favorite all-mountain options.