If shredding through fresh powder on your way down a mountain is your ideal weekend, this article is for you! Longtime powder skiers will know that powder skis have evolved over the years from wide and large, so as to blast through fresh snow, to lightweight and streamlined for speed and versatility. Modern powder skis now have features that make skiing fresh deep snow more like surfing due to the utilization of things like camber, widened waists, and tip-to-tail rockers. The skis of today enable the rider to turn precisely and in some cases, also handle groomed and hard packed snow that is almost always encountered at resorts. Since powder skis keep getting better, the review below is designed to inform you of new models as well as update you on some changes and/or improvements to the existing models you know and love. Making the correct choice in powder skis is imperative based on your skill level, desired speed, and how badly you want those first tracks. There is an endless amount of information about skis out there so we decided to condense that down for you so you can spend less time researching and more time shredding fresh pow.
Top Powder Skis (for Men & Women) Comparison Chart
|Name||Ski Profile||Ability Level||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Nordica Enforcer Pro||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||Expert||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|DPS Alchemist Lotus 124||Rocker||Expert||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Atomic Backland Bent Chetler||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||Expert||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Rossignol Super 7 HD||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||Intermediate||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Black Crows Anima||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Head Kore 117||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||Expert||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Salomon QST 118||Twin rocker & camber underfoot||Expert||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Blizzard Rustler||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||Expert||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|DPS Tour1 Wailer 112 RP2||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||Expert||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Elan Ripstick 116||Rocker and Camber||Intermediate||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Scott Scrapper 115||Twin rocker & camber underfoot||Expert||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Volkl Confession||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||Expert||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Armada Tracer 108||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||Beginner||$||Check Price on Amazon|
Powder Skis (for Men & Women) Buyer’s Guide
Powder skis are specialist skis and are not specifically designed to be well rounded. The skis below are reviewed based on size and weight, speed, composition materials, and experience level. Though most are for expert level skiers, if you are a confident intermediate skier you should be just fine with any pair of these skis and there is a beginner pair at the bottom of the list. Waist size is also an important factor that is considered below because powder skis have wide waists which allow for stability while floating so you don’t sink and lose balance. Ski profile is also important to pay attention to though there is not a huge variation with strictly powder skis. The term rocker is a fairly new one and you may want to learn about it and brush up on your knowledge of camber. (Hint: Rocker is reverse camber!) Purchasing skis is an investment and price is also discussed below. However, if fun takes precedent over dollars in your world, you will find all of these skis within your budget.
As mentioned, the waist size of a powder ski is significant because these are wide skis by design. The wider the ski, the less chance of sinking into deep snow. The waist of the skis also contributes to floatation. Powder skiing can feel like surfing in a way, in that the rider feels like they are floating over the snow. Weight also plays a role in floatation. If the ski is too heavy, the rider will not experience that ever-sought-after floating feeling. However, the skis must have a little bit of weight to keep them on the ground (avoid chatter) and produce speed. Most of the time the weight of the skis will vary a little depending on the length of the skis you choose. As a general rule, the longer the skis the faster they are.
Specific composition materials vary quite a bit from brand to brand. The materials contribute to the weight of the skis, how flexible or stiff they are, and the overall ride feel of the skis. Most powder skis, as explained below, have a lightweight wooden core. The types of wood will vary based on the manufacturer and include Beech, Poplar, Aspen, and Balsa to name a few. The goal is to build a core that perfectly balances the weight, strength, and flex. Many of the skis below are topped with a thin carbon or titanium layer which makes for a smooth ride while remaining lightweight. Skis also have a laminate outer layer in most cases which provides a smooth ride and cool graphics.
The three main types of ski profiles are flat, rocker, and camber. The term camber has been around for decades and is sometimes classified as a rocker type. Essentially camber is the opposite of rocker. Rocker type plays into factors such as float and the ability to get through crud.
Camber is the traditional profile for skis which is an upward curve in the middle of the skis where the contact points are, which is usually near the ends of the skis. So, when the rider’s weight is on the skis the camber allows for an even weight distribution throughout the ski. Camber allows the rider precision and greater turn initiation and is best for hard packed snow and groomers.
Rocker is also called reverse-camber which implies that rocker is the opposite of camber. This implication is exactly correct. Instead of putting more pressure on the tip and tail of the skis, rocker allows riders to float in soft snow. Most powder skis are rocker because the wider the ski, the more rocker helps keep maneuverability available to a wider range of skiers.
Flat is often located between the tip and the tail of the skis. If the skis are laid on a table or other flat surface, there will be no space between the skis and the table. Not very many skis are completely flat, this is more common with snowboards. Even with flat skis there may be some rocker in the tip and tail.
A combination of the three ski profiles is used in an endless combination of ways in the ski and snowboard world today. As mentioned above, most powder skis have rocker profiles somewhere in them and most of the skis below will reflect this.
Price is a factor when choosing a pair of powder skis as well. As stated above, powder skis are specialty skis. Just like golfers have different clubs for different shots, skiers have different skis for different terrain. If you have a pair of all mountain skis already and are looking to get serious about the deep stuff, buying a high performing powder ski such as the Nordica Enforcer Pro may be a good move for you. If you are just beginning with powder, or don’t want to spend a ton of money on an additional pair of skis, the Armada Tracer 108 may be the correct choice.
Whatever your motivation is for buying a pair of powder skis, there is a ton of information to consider. Do your homework: go skiing shops, talk to other skiers, READ REVIEWS LIKE THIS ONE, and look for deals or special prices. Hopefully, this guide makes your decision a bit easier.
Best Powder Skis (for Men & Women) Reviews
1. Nordica Enforcer Pro
Do you love going fast through deep snow? If so, the Enforcer Pro is a top-ranked ski for intermediate to expert-level powder skiers. These skis have a balsa wood core in between two sheets of metal and are topped with carbon to make for a smooth ride over the tough stuff. They are somewhat lightweight and have a wide waist (115 mm) which allows the rider to float over loose powder. Weighing in at 6 pounds, the design is scratch resistant and has a tail protector. The most common observation regarding these skis is that they are FAST. They have powerful turn shapes and a stiff flex great for carving long lines in deep powder. The ski profile for the Enforcer Pro is one of rocker, camber, rocker from tip to tail. This profile allows the rider to move through crud easily and offers additional float.
- Less movement at low speeds
- Only available in one length (191 cm)
2. DPS Alchemist Lotus 124
These skis are not recommended for anyone below an advanced/expert level skier. They are pricey but will be worth it for the serious powder skier. The 124 mm waist is one of the widest of all powder skis and allows for really great floatation. These skis can be really fast if you’re willing to put the work in. It is a stiff ski that is made of an Aspen wood core and Alchemist pure carbon and weighs in at 4.3 pounds. They have a partial twin tip and a long turning radius. The ski profile is rocker, camber, rocker from tip to tail which is sometimes referred to as “Freeride Rocker”. These skis are made for Alpine Touring, big mountain, and powder skiing so they are versatile as well.
- Incredible float
- Only for highly experienced skiers
3. Atomic Backland Bent Chetler
If you are looking for good value powder skis, the Atomic Backland Bent Chetler is the way to go. These skis are made of light wood core with a carbon backbone making for a lightweight yet agile ski. If you are an expert skier that loves fresh, deep powder, the Atomic Backland Bent Chetler is a good choice. With a medium turning radius and full twin tip tail, these skis are durable at high speeds and smooth over the rough stuff. Weighing in right around 4 ½ pounds with a 120 mm waist the Backland Bent Chetler provides a surf-like flotation which guarantees riders a fun and playful experience. Like many of the skis on this list, these skis have a profile of rocker, camber, rocker from tip to tail.
- Good Value
- Loose tail
- Can be unpredictable
4. Rossignol Super 7 HD
Rossignol has been a leader in ski making since the beginning of time so, naturally, this was a highly anticipated set of skis. These skis are tons of fun in fresh powder but perform rather poorly on any hard-packed snow. They produce high chatter on the firmer stuff and do not like bumps a whole lot. Basically, the Super 7 HD are made for mountains of powder and this is where these skis are the most fun. A sandwich style lightweight wood core with stiff, light carbon stringers makes the design really strong. The 116 mm waist combined with a weight of 4.6 pounds allows for adequate float. These skis are one of the few powder skis that are welcoming to intermediate skiers. The ski profile on the Rossignol Super 7 HD is a 50% camber/ 50% Progressive tip and tail rocker.
- Forgiving and intuitive
- Not super-fast
5. Black Crows Anima
If you already know and love the Black Crows Anima you will be pleased to know that there are no design changes from the older model to the 2019 model. While the graphics have been redesigned, the skis themselves are the same structurally. These skis have a 115 mm waist regardless of chosen length and weigh just under 5 pounds. The word “stable” is the most frequently used word to describe these skis which is great for the rider that wants to go fast but stay in control. These are not the best carving skis and are reportedly stiffer than most powder skis. They are made from carbon and wood and have a twin tip tail. It is suggested that advanced to expert level skiers use these skis. These skis boast a double rocker profile with a short classic camber underfoot. Big mountain and powder skiers alike will enjoy these skis.
- Well know ski consistency
- Great for mountain and powder
- Not great for carving
6. Head Kore 117
The Head Kore 117 is another ski that didn’t see any design changes in 2019 which will make its faithful riders happy. It remains lightweight, sturdy, and fast. The core is made of Karuba wood which is a light wood that boasts personality and balance. Head uses graphene and polyester fleece for its laminates because they are the lightest materials around. Graphene is also known to be more responsive in deep snow which is why Head uses it on the tip and tail of these skis. The waist is 115 mm and the ski’s weight is an incredibly low 4.3 pounds. The ski profile is that of rocker, camber, rocker from tip to tail. Big mountain and powder skiers alike will enjoy these skis and it is recommended that only advanced and expert level riders use them. The long turning radius and partial twin tip on the Kore 117s make for a smooth ride and with great flotation.
- Great for mountain and powder
- Not great on hard snow
- Lacks versatility
7. Salomon QST 118
These skis are considered power skis and are recommended for aggressive, strong skiers. They are lightweight, ranging from 3.8 pounds to 4.6 pounds depending on length. The Salomon QST 118s are agile and stable in powder and have the power for hard packed snow. They have a 118 mm waist and a long turn radius. The carbon, flax, metal, and wood composition is both lightweight and sturdy. Versatility is a plus with these skis as they are made for big mountain and powder but can adapt to hard packed at your local resort. The ski profile is twin rocker which has a medium to long rocker at the tip and tail and camber in the middle of the skis which provides stability. There is also built-in shock absorption in the form of rubber which makes for a smooth and durable ride and is a rare find in powder skis.
- Smooth ride
- Only for highly experienced skiers
8. Blizzard Rustler
The Rustler 11 is the only pair of skis on this list that offers different waist sizes. Each length accompanies a different waist width ranging from 116 mms down to 112 mms. This is an expert-level set of skis that are designed for deep powder, wide turns, and high speeds. The core is made of multi-layered Poplar Beech and has a carbon fiber tip and tail. They weigh in at 4.4 pounds, depending on length. The ski profile is rocker, camber, rocker and has a flat tail. This is an extremely popular ski among free riders because they are big mountain, powder skis that fulfill most requests. They are great at precise turning, super-fast, and handle well on steep hills.
- Stability and control
- Reasonably priced
- Expert riders only
9. DPS Tour1 Wailer 112 RP2
The DPS Tour1 is an Alpine Touring pair of skis. However, these skis also perform in powder and on the big mountain. Most touring skis have small waists that are between 80 mm and 60 mm. Not the Tour1 which has a 112 mm waist and is very lightweight (only 3.35 pounds) to allow for floatation. The aspen wood core paired with a carbon/glass laminate make these skis ascent quickly as well as lead the pack downhill. The profile is a traditional rocker, camber, rocker paired with a partial twin tip. The turn radius for these skis is short, but they are agile enough to handle hard-packed snow, crud, and deep powder. It is recommended that only expert level riders use these skis.
10. Elan Ripstick 116
Finally, a ski that intermediate skiers can use! The Elan Ripstick 116 is a reasonable choice for a skier that wants to begin exploring the deep powder. They have really good floatation and carving ability and can be a ton of fun to learn on. These skis are mid-priced and have a waist of 116 mm and super low weight of just over 4 pounds. They have a wood core with carbon and composite laminate with fiberglass reinforcement. The Elan Ripstick 116 has a smooth ride and excellent control and also provides stability throughout the turns. The profile is one of a rocker tip and tail with a moderate amount of camber at the contact points. These skis are made for big mountain and powder riders.
- Good for intermediate skiers
- Good floatation
- Not great in the rough stuff
11. Scott Scrapper 115
The Scott Scrapper 115 is considered a freeride ski by many. However, with a waist of 115 mm and a weight just under 4 pounds, these skis are great in the powder too. These skis have great floatation and are very playful. They have great responsiveness but are really stiff so advanced riders only. They are not great on hard packed snow or even groomers for that matter which is why they are included here with the rest of the powder skis. They are made of carbon and wood and boast great stability and an ultra-smooth ride. The profile is twin tip rocker and camber underfoot.
- Great flotation
- Low cost
- Not good on hard surfaces
12. Volkl Confession
The Volkl Confession is an all-around performer. These skis handle well in powder and hard packed snow. They have a tip and tail rocker and a slight camber in the middle of the ski. The composition material is Beech and Poplar wood paired with a titanal band and carbon stringers. Weighing in at 4.9 pounds, depending on length. There is a partial twin tip and these skis provide a long turning radius. These skis are agile and powerful yet remain playful and smooth. Riders can enjoy these skis on the mountain and in the deep stuff. Riders report that these skis rip hard and really help you lose yourself out on the mountain.
- Performs on multiple types of terrain
- Reasonably priced
- Confident advanced riders only
13. Armada Tracer 108
The Armada Tracer 108 has the narrowest waist of all the powder skis we have reviewed at 108 mm. Some would argue that these are now powder skis at all and would call them wide all mountain skis. However, these skis float really well and do not require a ton of power behind them to have fun in the deep stuff. These characteristics make these the best skis we have reviewed for beginner powder skiers. They are versatile as they can perform on groomers as well but are not designed for the rough stuff. Weighing in at 4.1 pounds the ultra-light core is made of lightweight woods and hardwood laminates and the laminate is made of fiberglass and Xrystal Mesh Damping. The profile is and exaggerated tip rocker, camber underfoot, and substantial tail rocker. A medium turn radius and partial twin tip tail round out the specs on these skis.
- Good for beginner powder skiers
- Low cost
- Not great in the rough stuff
Conclusion And Final Powder Skis (for Men & Women) Recommendations
After reviewing all of the above powder skis one thing is clear; powder skiing is some of the most fun you can have on skis but is best left for experienced skiers. As mentioned above, powder skis are specialty skis and are not meant to be well rounded and versatile. If you already have a pair of skis that you use on groomers and want to experience big mountain and powder skiing, the investment in a good set of powder skis will be worth it. They are known for their wide waists and light weight and do not provide much flex. Profile types vary but most have rocker at the tip and tail. They do not perform well on hard packed snow and are best if you are a first line seeker.
If you are a beginner, it is suggested to stay away from powder in general. Intermediate skiers that are ready for the next step may want to invest in a pair of powder skis and we recommend the Elan Ripstick 116 or the Armada Tracer 108. For the expert speed freaks that want power behind their skis, the DPS Alchemist Lotus 124 is the way to go. There are a few pairs of skis on the list above that can be used for other types of skiing as well as powder skiing and those may be a wise choice if you are not ready to fully commit to powder only skis. If you are already an alpine touring skier, the DPS Tour1 is an Alpine Touring skis may be for you. They are still great for going uphill but will allow you to explore fresh powder and first lines without sinking. Also, the Volkl Confession is an all-around versatile set of skis. They are great in powder and hardpack and with the ever-changing weather conditions of today, these are a safe bet in any snow conditions.
No matter what your next skiing adventure holds, we hope you get out there and explore some new mountains and trails. If you are experienced, try out one of the skis above based the information you read here and what you want out of your next set of skis. If you are an intermediate skier that is ready to carve into some first lines, we encourage you to ease into it but to also go for it. Either way, deep powder skiing is some of the most fun and most sought-after skiing there is so get out there and shred.