13 Best Powder Skis of 2019

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Are you looking for the best powder skis on the mountain?

Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered.

Powder skiing takes cunning, bravery and more than a little expertise. But in order to be a great powder skiier, you need the best powder skis.

Sure, a cracking pair of all mountains will take you some of the way, but if you really want to throw down in the pow, you need a pair of specialist powder skis.

In this mahoosive guide, we’ll teach you everything you’ll ever need to know about skiing powder, as well as a list of the absolute best powder skis for 2019.

Let’s take a sneak peek at the top 5 results:

 
Waist (mm)124115117117120
Lengths (cm)180, 185, 191191180, 189179, 186, 193177, 184, 191
LevelAdvancedAdvancedAdvancedAdvancedIntermediate
ProSensational floatVersatile, excellent in crudLightweight and playfulStable at speed, good in crudExcellent float
ConExpensiveNot so playfulNot as versatileNot so playfulNot a hard charger

Let’s get straight into it.

What are Powder Skis?

Powder skis are exactly what their name implies: specialist skis that equip the rider to ski in deep powder.

They’re not generally for use on groomers — although some versatile ones can be used there no problem — and are known in the community by their affection nickname of ‘super fats’.

best powder skis

Let’s take a look at the physical profile of a powder ski:

  • Wide waist — unlike piste skis, which typically taper in at the waist in order to give the rider some sweet edge hold, powder skis are wide at the waist — typically over 109mm for men and over 100mm for women. This additional width allows you extra stability to float in the powder instead of sinking in and losing balance
  • Full rocker/reverse camber profile camber profiles— vary from ski to ski but, generally speaking, you can expect a full rocker or reverse camber profile on your powder skis. Again, this helps assist flotation and maneuverability in deep snow, instead of getting caught up in the crud (as is typical on full camber profile skis)
  • Reverse sidecut — unlike with a classic piste ski, you’re probably not going to be able to make those super tight groomer turns with a piste ski. This is to do with the sidecut — i.e. how straight/curvy the ski is. The fat waist of a powder ski equals a small sidecut — sometimes even a reverse sidecut (where the tip and tail are narrower than the waist) — which again is so designed to help the rider float in powder.

Powder Skis vs All Mountain Skis

A question many passionate skiers are faced with when it comes to buying equipment is whether to go for all mountain skis or a pair of powder skis.

Which pair will be best for you will depend on a number of factors, including your budget and where exactly you spend most of your time on the mountain.

Here’s our analysis…

Buy powder skis if…

  • You spend most of your time in powder conditions
  • You’re an advanced skier who can handle powder skis on groomers
  • You want specialist skis with high performance in powder and off piste
  • You already have a pair of skis that you use on groomers

how to ski powder

Buy all mountain skis if…

  • You like to spend time all over the mountain and need a pair of skis that can match your versatility
  • You need skis that perform just as well in powder as on groomers
  • You’re a beginner or intermediate skier who’s keen to try lots of different terrains
  • You travel a lot to ski
  • You’re not as bothered about high performance in powder

Essentially, the best all mountain skis are aimed at versatility whereas the best powder skis are aimed at high performance.

Only you can decide which is best suited for your needs.

If you’re still not sure, consider opting for a pair of all mountain wide skis. These have the same versatility as a traditional all mountain ski, but tend to operate better in powder snow than on groomers. The perfect compromise!

Here’s a quick summary of powder vs all mountain skis:

 All-Mountain SkisPowder Skis
Best For...Versatility all over the mountainHigh performance in powder terrain
Waist80-105 mm105 mm +
Performance on PowderAverageExcellent
Performance on GroomersExcellentPoor to Average (only if skier experienced enough)
Experience LevelBeginner to AdvancedAdvanced

What Makes the Best Powder Skis?

There are lots of things to consider before you actually buy a pair of powder skis. Remember that what pair might be best for one person might not necessarily be best for another.

Read through each of these features and work out what’s most important to you as a skier. At that point, you’ll be able to tell exactly what sort of powder ski will work best for you and your budget.

Wide Waist

We’ve already covered that a wide waist is characteristic of the best powder skis as this offers more stability and the ability to float in the snow.

But just how wide that waist is will depend on your preferences.

Essentially, the wider the waist, the more stability you can expect in deep snow and off piste. Some powder skis sport waists as wide as 140mm!

Trimmer waists (those about 110mm for men) are generally a little more versatile and will still perform reasonably well on groomers in the right (read: experienced) hands.

best skis for powder

Flex

Flex is less important when you’re skiing powder as opposed to skiing moguls, for instance, as you’re not generally subject to the same bumps and humps in terrain.

The more flex a ski has, the better its shock absorption.

Shock absorption is neither here nor there when it comes to deep pow, so you can generally expect stiffer boards that will help you reach high speeds no matter how soft it is underfoot.

Having said that, some powder skis still have a degree of flex. Again, this makes them more versatile and able to hold their own on groomed slopes.

Sidecut

As we mentioned before, powder skis generally have a less prominent sidecut than piste and all mountain skis thanks to their wide waist.

The bigger the sidecut — i.e. where a ski has a larger tip and tail in comparison to its waist — the easier the ski will be to carve and turn.

But while easy turns are important while you’re carving down groomers, this pales in comparison for the need to float and manoeuver when you’re in powder. As such, powder skis generally need a small sidecut — or even a reverse sidecut (where waist is wider than tip and tail) to maximize stability in powdery conditions.

Camber/Rocker

Finding the perfect camber profile for floating in powder is more of an art than a science.

Generally speaking, the best powder skis will have a profile that enhances manoeuverability and stability, while not allowing the ski to catch edges while turning. Again, this is designed to improve float in powder.

A camber ski is one in which the middle of the ski arches upwards, which makes for tight, fast turns and excellent edge hold. This is great on a groomed piste, but in pow pow? Er, no thanks.

A rocker (also known as reverse camber) profile is the opposite of camber and sees the middle of the ski hold against the ground while the tips and tails arch upwards.

The best profile for powder skis is either rocker/reverse camber or flat (where the entire middle of the ski is flat against the snow with tip and tail arched upwards). Flat skis are less versatile than rocker skis as they have little value on the piste.

Length

Exactly what length ski you go for will depend on your height and weight but, generally speaking, the longer the ski, the more speed and control you can enjoy.

Because of their (usually) rocker profile, powder skis often feel shorter than they actually are and, as such, you can generally be paired with a longer ski than normal. That means better flotation and manoeuverability.

Terrain Versatility

When you buy a powder ski, you’re already sacrificing all mountain versatility for high performance in powder, but there’s also plenty of different terrain under the wider ‘powder’ umbrella.

Powder encompasses everything from soft snow to huge backcountry drifts to crud.

You either love crud or you hate it.

Essentially, it’s that variable kind of snow condition when you never know what you’re going to get from one meter to the next. It’s challenging, and some skis are better able to cope with it than others.

Likewise, some powder skis are really all-mountain skis that just perform well in softer snow. Get them on those big mountain drifts and they may not serve you as well.

It’s worth having a good think about what conditions you mostly like to experience and then work backwards to determine which ski will best serve you.

powder skis

Other Factors to Consider

Your Experience Level

We’ll start off by saying that powder skiing is better left to advanced skiers, or at the very least confident and experienced intermediates.

Don’t get us wrong, powder skiing is some of the most fun you’ll ever have on a mountain, but we don’t think it’s a good idea for beginners to take a punt.

This especially goes double because buying powder skis can be expensive if you’re not going to use them regularly. And you’re probably only going to use them regularly if you’re an experienced skier.

Just like all different types of skis, some require a little more power and expertise than others, while some powder skis are more forgiving on these fronts.

Be honest with yourself about your skill level and make sure you read lots of different reviews to try and gauge how they’ll fit with your current stature of a skier.

If you’re wanting to grow your skills as a powder skier, check out this video to get the low-down:

Your Budget

Budget is the final big thing worth considering before you buy a pair of powder skis.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll already be well aware that skiing is an expensive hobby. Don’t get us wrong — we love it and can’t think of anything else we’d want to spend our hard-earned dollars on — but costs can pile up, especially if you want to buy more specialist equipment like these.

Thankfully, not all powder skis are expensive and you should be able to find at least a few pairs within your budget, regardless of how much you’re planning to spend. And a higher price doesn’t necessarily equate to a better ski — although some of the best, in our opinion, are at the higher end of the market.

Other Things to Ask about a Prospective Pair of Powder Skis

Just like with any skis, it’s worth asking a few questions before you buy to make sure you’re getting the best out the purchase.

  • How durable are they? Can they take a few knocks on the slopes?
  • How often will you use them? Can you justify the expense?
  • How long will their serve your expertise? Will you need to buy a new, more advanced pair as you become more confident or can you grow your skills with them?
  • Would you consider buying them second hand if your budget is too restricted?
  • Do they fit you according to your weight and height?
  • How do they perform on groomer runs? Or are you satisfied solely using them in powder?
  • Do you like the design and aesthetics of the skis?

Now it’s time to take a look at the best powder skis of 2019…

Best Powder Skis of 2019

DPS Alchemist Lotus 124

dps lotus review

  • Lengths (cm): 180, 185, 191
  • Waist Width (mm): 124
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Price: $$$

Pricey? You betcha.

But the DPS Alchemist Lotus is a serious specialist when it comes to powder. Its waist width of 124mm is definitely at the wider end of powder skis we’ve tested, which results in some truly incredible flotation.

You’ve gotta provide plenty of power to truly get the most out of this beast, hence why we’ve recommended it for advanced skiers only. This is a high performance ski that can reach some fast, hard speed if you’re prepared to put your back into it.

Fancy that feeling of surfing while you’re in powder? The Alchemist Lotus will deliver.

It’s definitely not the most versatile powder ski we’ve ever used but by no means as one-trick-pony-esque as its body might suggest. It’s reasonably stiff but we actually had more fun on the groomers with it than you might expect: an ability to execute tight-ish turns and a lightweight feel made for some nice carving.

>>> Read our full DPS Lotus review

  • Pro: sensational float
  • Con: expensive

best powder skis

powder skis

Nordica Enforcer Pro 2019

nordica enforcer pro review

  • Lengths (cm): 191
  • Waist Width (mm): 115
  • Profile: High Rise Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Price: $$

Another absolute powder animal, the Nordica Enforcer Pro is a serious beast when it comes to blasting through crud.

Like the DPS above, you’ll really want to put some power behind it as it will serve you best at high speeds — it doesn’t have quite the same incredible float as our #1 choice, and feels a little heavy at times, but it does provide excellent stability at speed.

This is a very versatile ski in all types of powder conditions and doesn’t dust up too badly on the groomers either. Considering its reasonable price, we were impressed by how well it performed in lots of different areas.

It’s not the most playful, however, which can probably be attributed to that powerful metal construction. And it’s only available in 191cm length so is unlikely to suit everyone.

>>> Read our full Nordica Enforcer Pro review

  • Pro: Versatile and fantastic in crud
  • Con: Not so playful

best powder skis

Head Kore 117

best powder skis

  • Lengths (cm): 180,189
  • Waist Width (mm): 117
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Price: $$

Lightweight, floaty and damp — we think we’re in love with the Head Kore 117.

Everyone who’s tried out these powder skis will mention just how light they feel beneath your feet, but there’s no sacrificing of power or stability with these bad boys. Head themselves describe it best: “Wide like a sumo wrestler but light like a ballerina”.

They’re easy to turn, poppy and playful, while being stiff enough to provide a real sense of stability.

As for negatives, these definitely aren’t winning awards for versatility. What feels energetic in the pow turns into something nearing lethargy on firm ground — we’d wait for a good dumping before we take them on the groomers.

>>> Read our full Head Kore 117 review

  • Pro: Lightweight and playful
  • Con: Lacking versatility

best powder skis

Volkl Confession 2019

powder skis

  • Lengths (cm): 179, 186, 193
  • Waist Width (mm): 117
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Price: $

Damp, stable and fantastic in the crud, the Confession is yet another powder ski that does best with plenty of power behind it as well as the confidence to push it to high speeds.

It doesn’t have the same lightweight playfulness of the Head Kore but it will appeal to those who like more of a traditional, straight power runs, skiing experience.

It’s definitely heavy although not to the point that it impairs turning and it actually has excellent edge hold when carving. While it’s not the floatiest ski in this list, it is impeccably stable and damp enough to hold its own against the Nordica Enforcer Pro in crud.

>>> Read our full Volkl Confession 117 review

  • Pro: Stable and excellent in crud
  • ConHeavy-ish and not so playful

best powder skis

K2 Catamaran 2019

k2 catamaran review

  • Lengths (cm): 177, 184, 191
  • Waist Width (mm): 120
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Price: $

If you’re looking for a floater, the K2 Catamaran is for you. Are these skis or water skis? We’re honestly not sure at this point. But all we know is that we feel like we’re surfing when we’re on them.

The brilliant flotation is down to the uniquely asymmetrical tip and tail, which are tapered on the outside only and that wonderfully wide 120 mm waist.

It’s not only a dream in the powder as it can also carve up a storm going down groomers — you can definitely rely on the Catamaran for some serious versatility.

It’s also very lightweight and playful but doesn’t have quite the robust power behind it to perform as well at high speeds as some of the heavier skis on this list.

Considering its excellent price, however, the Catamaran is a real contender for the best powder skis of 2019.

  • Pro: Playful with excellent flotation
  • Con: Not a charger

best powder skis

Black Diamond Boundary Pro 115

best skis for powder

  • Lengths (cm): 175, 185
  • Waist Width (mm): 115
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Confident Intermediate – Advanced
  • Price: $$

If you’re looking for powder skis that offer a little more versatility, you certainly couldn’t do worse than the Boundary Pro 115.

Black Diamond themselves recommend 70% soft snow and 30% hard snow to really enjoy the true scope capability of the ski. You’ll also be happy taking them for a spin on the groomers thanks to their good edge hold and general poppiness.

It’s nicely floaty and super manoeuverable but is built for skiers with plenty of confidence and athletic power. Charge, go fast and enjoy the damp stability on offer.

This is a criminally underrated powder ski in our opinion and will definitely appeal to those who want a little versatility, playfulness, and are happy to take charge and drive.

  • Pro: Versatile and playful
  • Con: Not as high performance as some of the skis on this list

best powder skis

Line Sick Day 114

skis for powder

  • Lengths (cm): 180, 190
  • Waist Width (mm): 114
  • Profile: High Rise Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Price: $

The Sick Day skis by Line have practically a cult following at this point in time — and it’s no wonder. They are, as described, sick.

The 114 model is a little different than the rest of the series thanks to that wide waist that makes it surf so nicely in the pow. It feels stiff, robust and directional but thankfully without that heavy feeling some hard chargers have.

It’s brilliant in powder, stable at speed and has that poppy playfulness we’ve all come to love about Sick Day. Little gripes are that it’s not quite as floaty as we’d ideally like and it really needs to be at speed to show off.

Bring the speed or don’t come at all!

  • Pro: Stable and playful
  • Con: Not nearly as good when you’re going slow

best powder skis

Armada Tracer 108

armada tracer review

  • Lengths (cm): 164, 172, 180, 188
  • Waist Width (mm): 108
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Price: $

With a comparatively tiny 108mm waist, it could be argued that the Armada Tracer 108 is more of a wide all mountain ski versus a true powder hound. And this definitely extends to its versatility as well.

It floats really well considering the smaller waist and doesn’t require the same power and charge like most of the others on this list to really shine. As such, it’s one of the very few powder skis on this list that we would genuinely recommend for beginners.

The Tracer also performs well on groomers, particularly if they’ve got a little soft snow on them. These aren’t the best skis to take on the crud as they’re lacking in the damp stability and power that some of the more expensive skis are boasting.

  • Pros: Versatile and well suite to intermediate skiers
  • Cons: Not great on crud

best powder skis

powder skis

Scott Scrapper 115

best skis for powder

  • Lengths (cm): 182, 189
  • Waist Width (mm): 115
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Price: $

This is another pair of skis that don’t fit neatly in the ‘powder ski’ category, and the Scott Scrapper is thought of as a freeride ski by many.

But its performance in the pow has convinced us to include it here — it floats beautifully, is super responsive and mighty playful. Light and nimble? Definitely.

Unlike our last pair, you’re going to need plenty of confidence and power to really drive these stiff skis and not let them drive you, so we’d recommend them for advanced skiers only.

It’s definitely better on the softer snow than harder surfaces and we’re not convinced of its performance on groomers so stick to powder with this one.

  • Pro: Great flotation and playfulness
  • Con: Not great on hard surfaces

best powder skis

Elan Ripstick 116 2019

elan ripstick 116

  • Lengths (cm): 185, 193
  • Waist Width (mm): 116
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Price: $$

We’ve long been fans of the Elan Ripstick series and the 116 is a worthy member of this list thanks to its excellent flotation and carving ability.

It doesn’t have the same robust feeling as many of the skis on this list, which critics attribute to the foam core, and it didn’t perform as well in the crud as some of our favorites, but it definitely floats well and can be playful in the right hands.

Overall, we think intermediate skiers who love powder will like the Ripstick 116 but the more advanced will likely find other models that have better versatility in different powder conditions.

It is a great carver, however, with a long and aggressive edge hold. This baby rips.

  • Pro: Great carver and good flotation
  • Con: Not great in crud

best powder skis

Kästle BMX 115

powder skispowder skiing

  • Lengths (cm): 177, 185, 193
  • Waist Width (mm): 115
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Intermediate – Advanced
  • Price: $$$

Another powder ski that really hits it out the park when it comes to versatility, the Kästle BMX 115 can arguably be used all over the mountain.

It’s got excellent flotational ability, carves effortlessly and has got enough power behind it to take on some gnarly crud. Testers particularly enjoyed its performance off piste.

When it comes to stability and dampness, it’s not the best compared to others on this list, and can’t perform at quite the same level when you’re skiing at speed. This is a little disappointing given its comparatively high price, but we’d generally recommend it as an intuitive and reasonably forgiving powder ski.

  • Pro: Versatile and a good carver
  • Con: Not so damp

best powder skis

K2 Pinnacle 118 2019

  • Lengths (cm): 177, 184, 191
  • Waist Width (mm): 118
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Price: $$

Another entry in the best powder skis category for 2019 from K2 is the Pinnacle 118. This is another beaut when it comes to float and definitely manages to hit that sweet surfing feel.

It’s impressively playful and pretty forgiving considering its burly body, but it’s got enough stability to really perform with some power and speed behind it.

When it comes to crud, the Pinnacle isn’t quite damp enough to perform as well as some of the other skis on this list unfortunately, and you can tell quickly that it’s got a fondness for softer snow over harder surfaces.

  • Pro: Great flotation
  • Con: Not damp enough for crud

best powder skis

Rossignol Super 7 2019

rossignol super 7

  • Lengths (cm): 172, 180, 188
  • Waist Width (mm): 116
  • Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Price: $$

Our final contender for the best powder skis of 2019 is the ever-popular Rossignol Super 7.

These are the definition of versatility with a fantastic degree of float combined with excellent carving skills and a medium turning circle. Powder or groomed, you can rely on the Super 7.

It’s also intuitive and forgiving, a great choice for intermediate skiers, but it doesn’t have quite enough weight to hold its own going fast in heavy snow or gnarly crud. If you’re seeking out the playful aspects of the ski, take it a little bit slower and enjoy.

  • Pro: Versatile
  • Con: Not so great at high speeds in heavy snow

best powder skis

powder skis


Which do you think are the best powder skis of 2019?


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