We have compared 49 skis, and only one came out on top of each category. We blasted through bumps, zipped through tight trees, and nuked everything that got in our way. In doing so, we have come to review and pick the best performing Skis for this list.
This buying guide is the most comprehensive list of the top skis for 2020. Review the list below to find a pair of skis that’s right for you.
The Editor’s Choice: Völkl M5 Mantra
The Völkl M5 Mantra has won the top spot not by being the best but by consistently getting a high rank in almost every category. The 4th-generation may have disappointed some Mantra lovers due to its aggressive and fully rockered profile, but it has made a comeback with the M5. It is beloved by advanced and expert skiers for being the benchmark when it comes to versatility and stability.
In fairness to the K2 Mindbender 99 Ti, this was not an easy choice. Both products offer great versatility, balance, and power, but the camber profile gave the M5 a nice edge. The excellent rockered design, together with its moderate flex, has dramatically improved the maneuverability of the M5. Its supreme precision and exceptional on-trail capability make it the perfect daily driver for me.
Völkl is not new in building great all-mountain skis. Although refreshing, it is not surprising to see Mantra’s 5th generation back on the top. Overall, the M5 Mantra is undoubtedly your best choice if you love zipping through trees, blasting bumps, and nuking powder.
Best All-Mountain Ski: K2 Mindbender 99Ti
The K2 Mindbender 99Ti is big and agile at the same time. With the right amount of power and stiffness to hold on edge, together with its excellent stability even at speed, this product makes it possible for you to use it on all snow conditions without exerting as much effort.
It has a Y-shaped Titanal embedded into its spine, and along with its excellent camber underfoot, the 99Ti gave me just the right amount of fully-rockered profile. Moreover, this product gives way for subtle early rises, making it great for sharp turns. It’s also quick to adapt because it becomes more stable as I push toward bigger arcs to gain more speed. Its exceptional adaptability to various snow conditions made the K2 99Ti on top of my list for one-quiver skis.
In exchange for a bit more weight, many advanced users will always prefer versatility, power, and stability that will let them zip through trees and blast bumps. These smart compromises made this ski a worthy champ for the All-Mountain category.
Best Value All-Mountain Ski: Dynastar Menace 90
They say that quality is an expensive material in skis, but this is not always true. The Dynastar Menace 90 gives excellent value for intermediate skiers who crave cruising, moguls, and steeps. Even though its design has dimensions that are so focused on-piste, it can still provide enough room for a nice rockered profile. It is also accompanied by the right amount of flex to make it playful and fun to drive.
Rookie skiers who learn fast should skip budget skis and opt for the Dynastar Menace 90. The reason is because of its excellent construction, which makes it a great platform even as you gain more experience and techniques.
Of course, cutting costs will always have its compromises. In this case, the trade-offs don’t matter for beginners and intermediates. Dynastar Menace 90, for example, won’t get too far when driving on edge, and it is not very comfortable on solid snow. Also, the tip flap and chap can be troublesome at top speed. Nonetheless, these are minor issues for beginners.
Overall, Dynastar Menace 90 allows its users to have fun instead of going extreme. For its price, the impressive soft snow sensibility and maneuverability that will enable you to hone your skiing is a great steal.
Best East Coast Ski: Dynastar Speedzone 4X4 82 Pro
Dynastar instantly shot back up the top of the premium ski market with the introduction of the 4×4. It showcases a refreshing sleek design and modern look, accompanied by better performance and construction. It packs all the attributes that are vital for Eastern skiers, including the Hybrid Core that can reduce its weight while retaining the lively feel of the board and the 3D Profile that aims to improve energy transmission or better maneuverability.
The 4X4 82 Pro is a nice drive with excellent performance, and it does not require too much energy. You can ski it up and down slopes, and it will move back and forth like a breeze. It is comfortable, dependable, stable, and par for the course. Best of all, it carries an excellent level of float on untracked snow.
If you spend a lot of time skiing on icier and drier landscapes, Speedzone 4X4 82 Pro will give you excellent, dependable performance. Plus, this ski will empower you to take on whatever the mountain throws at you.
Best West Coast Ski: Nordica Enforcer Free 104
The Nordica Enforcer Free 104 is the narrowest Enforcer Free and the playful Enforcer at the same time. It’s a confusing family tree, and it has an undecided lineage; however, these did not stop it from making a name for itself with its great versatility and playful drive.
Nordica has employed unique elements for this ski by combining a wood core with carbon strips, metal layers, and plastic. This feature gave it a significant reduction in its swing weight, resulting in excellent maneuverability and stability.
I was left scratching my head when I first drove the Enforcer Free 104 because it’s so agile for its size, which made tight landscapes feel like a test drive. It can also blast and surf through crud and slush, which puts it on top of this category. Advanced users who want to drive a ski with great authority will surely have fun in driving the Nordica Enforcer Free 104.
Best Freeride Ski: Atomic Vantage 97 Ti
Hard-charging skiers who are looking for a platform they can use on almost any snow conditions will find the Atomic Vantage 97 Ti on top of their list. The titanium mesh allows you to have great strength and balance to zip through crud, while the rock-solid platform gives you the confidence to torpedo through trees or blast bumps.
Atomic has installed reinforcements in the vital points of the Vantage 97 Ti, which gives a considerable boost in confidence even at high speed. They also managed to keep it lightweight, which allows me to make quick turns with minimal effort.
There are very few that stand out in this category, and Atomic Vantage 97 Ti won my vote for giving me the confidence and stability that I want when zipping through untracked snow.
Best Freestyle Ski: Rossignol Black Ops 98
The super-secretive Rossignol Black Ops 98 is the top of the line when it comes to stability. It’s a top-secret project that Rossi is not keen on making the geeky stats publicly available. There is very little info about it other than the praises that it got from experts, but it didn’t stop me from comparing it with other skis.
When I got my hands on this top-secret ski, I immediately took it to the Aspen Mountain to see what it can do. Lo and behold. It shot up on top of my freestyle ski category, almost instantly. The maneuverability and stability are excellent, so much so that it moves seamlessly even with minimal effort.
If you love freestyle skiing and prefer platforms with a 98mm waist, then Black Ops is one that you need to get your hands on.
Best Ski for Intermediate Users: Völkl Kendo
This ski is the perfect choice for those with a bit of experience in skiing because it’s versatile, lightweight, and user-friendly. The Kendo was engineered with a rockered profile and varying sidecuts. These features gave it the capability to adapt to different speed levels and varying snow conditions, making it a top choice for intermediate users. It is also built with a Titanal side frame and lightweight tips that make it easier for users with enough experience to maneuver.
There are three different arcs on the Völkl Kendo that matches its fully-rockered profile. These arcs allow great maneuverability and stability even at high speed, making it easy to make huge turns without using too much energy. It also offers a smooth and predictable drive that adapts naturally to different landscapes.
Regardless of your experience level, Kendo will adapt to your drive, and it is an excellent platform that will help you take your skiing prowess to the next level.
Best Ski for Rookie Users: Rossignol Experience 76 CI
Someone who is just starting to learn skiing needs a different build. The ski must be narrower and lightweight to make it easy for you to maneuver it on a groomed hardpack and make turns without using a lot of energy. The Rossignol Experience 76 CI is the perfect equipment to help you progress faster when just starting. The reason is due to its construction, which has all these attributes.
Almost every ski brand has its entry-level ski, but nearly all of them are only toned-down versions of their top-on-the-line skis. Rossignol Experience 76 CI, on the other hand, ticks all the boxes in this category. The Experience 76 is a toned-down version of the Experience 88, but it removed the strong underpinnings to make the 76 narrower and more flexible.
Overall, Experience 76 is beginner-friendly, but it’s still a great ski even as you improve your skills. Unlike other entry-level skis that do not fit a fast learner, this will be a good ski even for intermediate users.
Best Ski for Groomers: Rossignol Experience 88 Ti
Every season, Experience 88 consistently hits my radar for being a top favorite with its groomer performance. This season is a bit different when Rossi gave it an overhaul and engineered it with design elements that put it on top of this category.
The Rossignol Experience 88 Ti hooks up quickly and has an excellent construction on edge. To be specific, it has the right stiffness that makes anyone feel confident with its stability even at top speed. However, with an 88-millimeter waist and very minimal metal used for its design, the Experience 88 Ti may not be optimal for soft snow and power users.
All in all, the Rossignol Experience 88 Ti may not carry a lot of power. Even so, it still manages to hold well through crud with excellent stability, making it the best ski for groomers to use even on a light powder day.
Best Ski for Powder: Prior Northwest 110
Professional athletes are looking for a ski that has the power to nuke powder, dependability on crushing bumps, and the speed to dash through spectators, and the Northwest 110 has all of these capabilities.
110-millimeter skis are great for skiing untracked snow, but if you start hitting soft snow, these skis will always be cumbersome. The Prior Northwest 110 stands out when it comes to this aspect. It has excellent stability at speed and exceptional power when on edge. Plus, it carved so well in hard snow and made it almost unbelievable. It is also built with a waist that is wide enough to keep you afloat even when faced with deep pockets, making it perfect for skiers who only go on-piste with six inches or more.
One of the biggest reasons it got the top spot for this category is that Prior will customize your ski, depending on your preference. Whether you like fiberglass or carbon and add custom graphics, they will do it for you. Customization is something that very few brands will do, and it is a huge plus for me.
Best Ski for Backcountry: K2 Wayback 106
With so much unpredictability and uncertainty in backcountry skiing, a great ski should be able to take on whatever gets in your way.
The K2 Wayback 106 a is a mid-winter ski that is specially engineered for skiing powder. It has a waist of 106-millimeter with a rockered profile, making it easier to stay above the surface and make quick turns with less effort. It dashed through a 22-meter turn radius, blasting wind crust while feeling short and nimble in tight trees. Even in more unpredictable landscapes, it still offers excellent maneuverability, power, and stability.
By using a light wood core, K2 managed to keep its weight at 3.3 lbs, which is perfect for a 179-centimeter platform. Plus, the ski has a unique top sheet that seems like it sheds snow and ice, allowing it to perform well even on the way up. With its capability to adapt to various conditions, the K2 Wayback 106 is undoubtedly an excellent weapon for backcountry skiing.
Best Ski for Carving: Rossignol React R8 Ti
There are only a handful of skis that will help you ski more, and Rossi’s React R8 Ti tops this category for effectively making carving an effortless task. The nice tip and tail rocker, flex, and the added width at the tip make it feel like the ski is doing the turn for me. It releases the carve with power, which makes it seem like it accelerates after each turn.
Rossignol React R8 Ti is not designed to be an all-mountain ski, but it is very predictable and also smooth in lightly tracked up back bowls. On-piste carvers require extra effort, but the React R8 Ti stood out by being the opposite. It was fun, smooth, and effortless to use, so much so that I don’t want to take it off.
Best Ski for Park: Armada ARV 86
A great park ski should do well on the rails and pipe. Also, it should perform nicely in the air. I took it up a notch and found the best product in all of these aspects and still allowed me to trek the mountains with ease. The Armada ARV 86 came out on top of any of this category because it does everything at once. Maybe not the best, but doing all of it and allowing you to blast bumps and beat the groomer on your way back is the reason why it topped my list.
ARV 86 has very thick edges and tough sidewalls that make you feel confident in crushing whatever comes your way. Armada made sure that this ski is very tough, yet it’s light enough for you to maneuver in the air. The camber profile that it uses creates a lot of pop for mid-air maneuvers and just going over everything.
The Armada ARV 86 maybe an average performer in all aspects, but it’s quite a challenge to find another ski that can do everything that it does and be better at every turn. Those reasons made this ski on top of this category.
The post The 14 Best Skis in 2020 appeared first on Improb.