Whether you are a beginner or an advanced skier, I’m sure you agree that skiing provides a unique feeling of freedom. The snow, the landscapes, the speed, and the adrenaline – it’s such an amazing experience! After a certain amount of time spent practicing, most people decide to buy their first skis or upgrade to a better performing model. That’s when the doubts arise.
Due to their shape, width, and weight, some skis will make beginners feel more comfortable descending their first slopes. On the other hand, some models are designed for the most experienced skiers. There are different characteristics for different needs.
In this article, I talk about the main features that you should take into account to find the best all-mountain skis for beginners. In addition, I’ll show you a comparison so that you can find the ski that best fits your needs.
Take a look at other articles to find the best ski boots, pants, jackets, helmets, goggles, down jackets, poles, and snowboards.
The Best Skis for Beginners and Intermediate Skiers:
ATOMIC VANTAGE 75
LEVEL: Beginner to intermediate
TURN RADIUS: 15 m
PROS: Easy turn and good control
CONS: Narrow for off-piste skiing
FEATURES: It’s 75 mm wide, which is perfect for beginners. If you’re learning to ski, I recommend going for a 70 to 80 width. This ski is reasonably priced, which is a great advantage. This can be a key element when making a purchase, as no one wants to spend a lot of money on their first model.
Good skis, easy to turn, good stability, reliable brand, bindings included, and perfect dimensions for entry-level skiers. They are also great for intermediate-level skiers, so you can keep using them for a fairly long time.
ROSSIGNOL EXPERIENCE 76
LEVEL: Beginner to intermediate
TURN RADIUS: 14.5 m
PROS: Lightweight but sturdy
CONS: Narrow for freeride
FEATURES: They are probably the Rossignol brand’s best skis for beginners. Lightweight, resistant construction and great overall performance.
If we compare this ski with the previous model, we see that both have similar features, which are ideal for those just starting out. This model has a turn radius of 14 m, while the previous model has a turn radius of 15 m. Both models are perfect for beginners. By the way, I recommend not buying a ski that is taller than you. Ideally, it should be about 10 cm shorter than you.
HEAD V-SHAPE V2
LEVEL: Beginner to intermediate
TURN RADIUS: 11.2 m
PROS: Great control
CONS: Stability at high speed could be improved
FEATURES: Good construction and quality bindings. This is an allride rocker model (for greater steering and increased floatation), easy to maneuver on groomed runs.
I feel like, compared to the Rossignol Experience 76, this model is better suited for intermediate skiers. I’d even say that it’s perfect for adventurous skiers. The previous models are designed primarily for groomed slopes. Although this model is also quite popular on the groomers, it allows you to venture off-piste from time to time. For this reason, I think it’s a more versatile option than all the above models.
K2 MINDBENDER 85
LEVEL: Beginner to advanced
TURN RADIUS: 13.3 m
CONS: Difficult to turn for inexperienced skiers
FEATURES: This is a great choice for intermediate skiers because it offers great on-piste and off-piste features! I like the fact that it’s a lightweight model, with great stability, a responsive feel, and great control at high speed. For this reason, it’s ideal for those looking for a reliable and affordable all-mountain ski.
If you compare it with the previous models, you’ll notice that it’s a bit wider. This 85 mm width, along with its rocker design at the tip, are key factors for people who want to get off the piste. Keep in mind that it’s more difficult to control if you’re just starting out. I recommend it for those who already have a little experience and want to try freeriding.
K2 PRESS SKIS
LEVEL: Beginner or intermediate
TURN RADIUS: 19 m
PROS: Easy turning
CONS: Too lightweight for some people
FEATURES: These are “park skis,” but they have the perfect characteristics for the beginner or intermediate skier who is looking for some adventure. They allow you to make smooth turns. Keep in mind that they are ultralight and quite flexible, which can be a problem for not-so-slim skiers. However, it’s pretty lightweight, which makes it perfect for young skiers.
SALOMON XDR 76 ST
LEVEL: Beginner to intermediate
TURN RADIUS: 14 m
PROS: Great performance
FEATURES: Power, versatility, and control. They are easy to turn and provide a smooth ride over bumps and moguls. One of Salomon’s best models for beginners and skiers who already have some basic skills and want to keep making progress.
I feel that this model, like the Head V-Shape V2, is quite versatile. Although it’s designed primarily for groomed runs, it has some advanced features that allow you to step on virgin snow from time to time. I’d say that both models are hybrids (80% on-piste and 20% off-piste).
NORDICA NAVIGATOR 75 CA
LEVEL: Beginner to intermediate
TURN RADIUS: 13.5 m
PROS: Good value for the money
CONS: A bit narrow
FEATURES: Great performance on groomed slopes. Also, they do a decent job on off-piste, bumpy descents. Sturdy and safe bindings. I think they are a pretty good value for money. A great option to help in your skiing progression.
The Best Skis for Intermediate to Advanced Skiers
ROSSIGNOL EXPERIENCE 88 Ti
LEVEL: Intermediate to advanced
TURN RADIO: 14 m
PROS: Good carved turns
FEATURES: These great all-mountain skis work really well on groomed runs. They allow you to turn quickly and smoothly. Great design for carved turns. Great versatility, overall performance, and construction.
Unlike previous models, this ski is designed mainly for intermediate and advanced skiers who want to improve their skills. In my experience, it’s not the most suitable model for powder snow.
SALOMON QST 99
TURN RADIO: 19 m
PROS: High quality
CONS: Bindings not included
FEATURES: Resistant and flexible construction. The wooden core is reinforced with carbon and other alloys. You can take these skis on practically any terrain, including groomed slopes, virgin snow, off-piste skiing, etc. Recommended for experienced skiers.
Compared to the Rossignol Experience 88, this model is much more versatile. These features make it one of the best skis for those who want to combine different types of terrain.
NORDICA NRGY 90
TURN RADIUS: 19.5
CONS: They require a certain level of control
FEATURES: These are really versatile skis, designed for people with some experience. Great stability so you can ski down the slopes at full steam, cross bumpy terrain, and venture into powder snow slopes.
What is the difference between beginner skis and advanced skis?
Choosing the right ski comes down to the type of slope on which you are skiing, the type of snow, and your skills. Some people with experience continue using skis which are intended for beginners while others use more advanced skis after just a few weeks.
Several factors can help you find the best skis for your level. Pay attention to the skis’ weight, shape, length, width, and flexibility.
Although all these characteristics are important, the width of the ski is often the key consideration when one is choosing a beginner model. Narrow, short skis are easier to maneuver when the skier doesn’t have much experience. They allow you to easily control speed and trajectory.
Do I really need skis for beginners?
This is a very personal decision. It’s always said that it’s better to go slowly but do things well. On the other hand, it’s true that skis aren’t usually cheap. When it comes to investment decisions, many people opt for beginner-intermediate or intermediate skis. Thus, they’ll be using their skis for a longer time.
What I would never recommend is that you buy skis for an advanced level, as they could completely frustrate your learning process.
Keep in mind that most people learn to ski on groomed trails. Therefore, I recommend that you choose an all-mountain model. Later, if you like adventure, you can change to freeride or freestyle skis.
Camber has been the most popular ski design for many years. Cambered skis are those with a convex shape. In other words, the middle of the ski is elevated off the ground. The tip and the tail are the contact points of the ski. They are not a bad option for beginners. However, the shape of the ski can make turns more difficult.
Rockered skis have a concave shape. Skis which are 100% rockered have their contact point in the middle of the ski, while the tip and the tail lift off the ground. I wouldn’t recommend 100% rocker skis for beginners.
Camber and Rocker
Mixed camber/rocker skis have become quite popular lately. They have the camber shape in the middle section of the ski while adding a bit of rocker in the tip and tail. Many models are available depending on the percentage of rocker used in the end sections.
What kind of ski suits you best if you are a beginner or intermediate?
Cambered skis are great if you want to make carving turns and practice other advanced techniques. However, if you are just starting out, this shouldn’t be your priority. You’re not even going fast enough to make this kind of turn.
Mixed skis with a bit of rocker will help you make basic turns. In addition, the shape of the tips makes it easier to turn at a lower speed. Many experts recommend mixing camber/rocker skis for beginners and intermediate skiers.
What is the appropriate length and width?
Length is a really important factor when choosing the best downhill skis. It’s recommended that skis be 10 to 15 cm shorter than the height of the skier. Off-piste skis should be longer, though. If you are a beginner, you can opt for a model about 15 cm shorter than you are. For intermediate skiers, it’s recommended that the skis be 12 to 14 cm shorter than the skier’s height. Check out this ski size chart.
Important: Keep in mind that if you choose skis with a considerable “rocker,” they should be a little longer.
As for the width, I recommend looking for a ski that is not too wide. Most beginners start with narrow skis, from 75 mm to 80 mm. Wider skis would be good for backcountry skiing. However, if you’re starting, you are more likely to learn at ski resorts.
Keep in mind that when I say 80 mm, I mean 80 mm wide at the narrowest part of the ski.
Your ski should reach approximately your chin if:
- You are a beginner or intermediate skier
- You are slightly slim in proportion to your height
- You want to make quick turns
- You are looking for cambered skis, without much rocker
Your skis should be approximately your height if:
- You like to descend very fast
- You are not slim
- You like off-piste skiing
- You like skis with a considerable rocker
The turn radius is determined by the width difference between the end sections and the middle of the ski. This value helps us understand the ski performance to make turns. Skis with a lower radius can make tighter turns. For instance, slalom skis have a radius of 10 to 12 meters.
Skis with a low turning radius are usually better for beginners because they are easier to turn.
With or without bindings
I recommend that you look for models that come with bindings. Before using them for the first time, you might need to take them to your ski shop for adjustments, but this way you’ll be sure that the bindings are compatible with your skis. By the way, regular bindings should work well for many years. You really don’t need to spend a lot of money on the latest bindings on the market. You’d do better to save that money and invest it in boots, jackets, sunglasses, and other snow clothing.
Materials, construction, and weight
If you are just starting out, you should opt for comfortable, relatively lightweight skis. In this way, you’ll improve your movements quickly. Avoid models that are extremely lightweight, though. Advanced skiers usually choose heavier skis because they provide more stability when descending at high speeds.
Most skis still include a wood core in their construction. However, other layers (made of synthetic materials, carbon fiber, and various alloys) are used to build the ski structure. Latest-generation materials have managed to improve some important functions such as shock absorption, weight, and flexibility.
How to take care of your skis
1- Use a rag to completely dry your skis at the end of the day. By doing this, you will avoid ski damage and prevent the bindings from rusting.
2- Remember to wax your skis, not only at the beginning and end of the season, but also from time to time. If you see some white areas on the bottom sides of the skis, it may indicate that you should wax them.
3- Sharpen the edges when necessary. This will depend on the type of ski you practice, the type of snow, and how often you ski. For basic maintenance, many people use their own files. Other skiers, however, prefer to take their gear to the ski shop.
4- Once the season is over, leave your skis waxed.
5- Store your skis in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight.
Did you like “The Best Skis for Beginners”? Please, leave your comments!
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Hi, I’m Miguel; Adventure traveler, scuba diver and hiking lover. I have been traveling the world for the last 12 years and I hope my experiences, photos and hiking routes inspire you to travel the world too.
Dong Cruz says
Thanks for sharing the information about skiing. I am glad to read this blog.
Mark Anderson says
Great article!! Really helped me!
Very helpful article!!! Appreciate all the detail informations!!!
Eric W Koenig says
Well done. I like the detail. You explain a lot of the technical aspects of skis so that newbies can understand them.
Great article for a beginning skier. Very informative.
Excellent article which was immensely helpful in my selection of skis appropriate for my skill level and conditions presented by Mount Baldy in Sun Valley, Idaho. Many thanks.
S Smith says
Really helpful article, thanks. I’ve learned far more from reading this one complete clear and concise article than I have from reading numerous other articles. 👍