Whether you are a seasoned pro or buying your first pair, each season purchasing women’s skis can be a daunting prospect. With so much technology jargon, choice, brands and packages it can be a bit of a minefield to get your heads around which women’s skis are going to be best for you. Hopefully this guide on how to choose women’s skis will help. Below we aim to explain the tech so you can purchase the best women’s ski and women’s skis with bindings for all your winter adventures this season!
When looking at all the women’s skis for sale out there, the first choice you will have to make is which type of ski you want to buy. There are so many choices depending on what type of skiing you like to do, from powder skis, to race skis and everything in between. Some of us are fortunate enough to have a different pair of skis for every condition which is great if you live in the mountains and have a huge garage. Most of us are looking for that one ski quiver… the do everything ski, so the important thing is to ask yourself honestly what type of skiing you enjoy and therefore will be doing most of? This will then tell you the type of ski you should buy:
Piste skis are perfect for the women out there who love to shred that fresh corduroy, for the women who love the feeling of bouncing from edge to edge and arcing a perfect turn! Piste / carving skis often have a narrower waist and shorter turning radius so you can get that edge to edge responsiveness. The beginner to intermediate piste skis are often those you see in the rental shops and have been designed to make learning how to turn easy. As you get more advanced the skis often become stiffer and more aggressive. If you are the kind of girl who loves to charge hard and fast down the piste then piste skis are for you!
These are your go everywhere ski. Often a little wider than a piste ski, all mountain skis have a wider waist to ensure stability and versatility in different conditions, a wider waist is particularly helpful when it comes to floating on powder or crud. All mountain skis are now much more widely popular than piste skis as they are designed to go anywhere!
Park and pipe skis are designed for women who love the snow park and jibbing off everything in sight. Freestyle skis often have twin tips so that you can ski switch (or backwards) without catching your tails. Freestyle skis also traditionally have narrower waists with a full camber profile, however brands and pros are now totally mixing this up with more rocker and different shapes depending on their ski styles. Freestyle skis will often also have a reinforced edge to ensure they don’t get damaged when hitting rails. One thing to note when looking at freestyle skis is also their stiffness or ‘pop’, if you charge hard and are hitting big kickers you will want a slightly longer and stiffer ski, if jibbing and hitting rails if your thing then you might want something a little softer and shorter!
Powder skis have been designed to help you float on top of the powder and glide your way down… there really is no better feeling! Powder skis come with a much wider width and often a form of rocker and an early rise to keep them up on top of the snow. The tip and tail will not always be the widest part of the ski and so many powder skis today have different sidecuts and shapes (check out the Line Sakana!!) Although designed for the powder, most powder skis now are versatile enough to handle mixed conditions and harder snow, although powder skis are often a lot heavier so make sure those thighs are fit and ready!
It’s not often we would be looking for a big mountain ski. Usually saved for the likes of Michelle Parker, Alaskan spines or ripping up the Aiguille du midi in Chamonix, big mountain skis are designed for charging huge lines and big airs. Big mountain skis vary in width from wide for powder to narrower for mixed conditions and also tend to be on the stiffer side with rocker in the tips for skiing hard and fast!
So now you know what type of ski you might like to buy now it’s time to look at the features of the ski.
First up is the width. Skis are measured in 3 dimensions, tip, waist and tail. It’s these measurements which will tell you what the ski is best designed for. Although all three measurements are important the main measurement you need to look at is the waist width. As a general rule, the wider the waist of the ski the more suitable the ski is for riding in deeper conditions be it power, chopped up snow or crud.
The dimensions of the ski are also important as they will determine both the average width and the turning radius of the ski.
When looking at buying women’s skis camber vs rocker is a huge debate. You can find so much information online about whether you should go for rocker or camber. Traditionally all skis had camber, then Shane McConkey went skiing on some water skis and rocker became a thing! (go watch McConkey… you won’t regret it!)
Nowadays it’s not as basic as piste skis have camber and powder skis have rocker. So we will try explain it simply…
The Camber of a ski is the concave arch underfoot on a ski. It gives the ski energy and pop when making a turn especially on pisted or hard snow and helps the ski grip the snow with more force. It’s best to picture a ski on a flat, hard surface with the base side down. Traditional skis make contact with the ground surface in the tip and tail sections while the centre of the ski is arched upwards. The section between these two points is essentially the ski’s effective edge. A ski’s effective edge is the section of ski that is used to make a turn, it is the length of the edge in contact with the snow when the ski is carving through a turn. Traditional race skis have significant camber, which helps ski racers track well on hard snow and initiate fast turns. If you are looking for a more traditional feel in your ski then Camber is for you!
Rocker is essentially the opposite of camber forming a U shape when unweighted on the snow, also known as reverse camber or negative camber. When on a flat surface a rockered ski will bend upward in a u shape, the midsection of a rockered ski will rest on the ground while its tips and tails rise off the ground much earlier than they do on a cambered ski. Rockered skis offer lots of advantages such as improved float in powder with early rising tips to help you stay on top of soft snow. Rocker can also offer better manoeuvrability because they have a much shorter effective edge/ less edge contact with the snow making it easier to turn a longer ski. Some park skis are also rockered as it tends to make sliding rails and doing tricks easier as there is less chance of catching an edge.
Rocker comes in a lot of variabilities as over the last few years brands have realised you can combine both rocker and camber to address different performance needs. Rocker can be located in different places such as tip alone, tip and tail, modified side cuts or the whole ski. Most brands provide their own icons or info graphics to show the rocker of each ski so be sure to check the brands websites if looking for specific rocker.
As a general rule of thumb manufacturers and brands will have developed a ski with a certain type of rocker for a specific reason. If the ski is marketed as all mountain, piste, park or powder the type of rocker it has will suit the skis design, so it’s important not to get too bogged down with the tech on this one!
Most skis are either twin tipped or have flat tails. Twin tips were designed for the park, so that you could ski switch (backwards) without catching your tails on the snow. Full twin tips reduce the effective edge of the ski, meaning you can often go a length or two longer than you would normally if you are looking for a full twin tipped ski. Twin tips are great if you want to try tricks in the park or jib around on the piste as a reduced effective edge means less of the ski will come in contact with the snow, which results in less grip and more of a buttery or surfy feel!
Flat tails are the traditional ski shape, designed for skiing fast and hard on the piste as they make transitions between turns more aggressive and are known for having better edge grip on the snow. Due to its control and stability flat tails are found in carving, piste skis and sometimes in big mountain skis.
When buying women’s skis you have to be sure you are buying the right length of ski to suit your height, ability, skiing style and just general preference. Advanced skiers or race skiers often choose a longer ski whilst beginners and park skiers will choose something slightly shorter. As a general rule of thumb you want to pick a ski length that measures between your chin and the top of your head. Once you have established this then you can look at your preferred riding style, snow, terrain and the particular skis effective edge!
When buying women’s skis, you have to think about bindings too! There are so many different types of binding out there but more often than not the brand will have selected a suitable binding that they feel matched their ski and the performance desired when designing the ski. Therefore, when buying skis they are often sold as ski and binding packages. Most of the skis we sell on Latitude are regular alpine skis and sold as women’s ski and bindings packages so we will focus on explaining alpine bindings below.
In a regular alpine bindings, there is both a toe and heel piece. These two pieces work together to ensure that the binding works as it is supposed to, importantly to keep you fixed when skiing and pop you out when you fall.
When choosing a binding, it is also important to take into account your height, weight and ability as this will determine your DIN setting. The DIN setting is what tells the binding how tight or loose it’s attached to your boot and how easily it will release when tension is put on the binding. Getting the DIN correct is imperative in preventing injury… particularly to your knees! Bindings have different DIN ranges so it’s important to understand your regular DIN setting before buying ski bindings.
All the Women’s skis sold on Latitude are sold as Women’s ski and binding packages. We believe that it’s good to trust the professionals on this, most brands know what binding will work best for your ski and will often also suggest a recommended mounting position for your ski tech to mount them up.
So we hope this was a helpful guide to the basics of buying women’s skis. Make sure to also check out our blog on Latitude’s favourite skis of this year!