Guide to Buying your Perfect Pair of Skis

May 10, 2018 6 min read

Guide to Buying your Perfect Pair of Skis-snowscene ski and board

Are you due to upgrade your sticks? Hanging onto a pair of 210's with orange edges that you have had since a kid? Well before you run out and spend your hard earned money on the wrong pair of skis, you need to read this very brief article on the fundamentals of purchasing skis.

The 4 Steps to Success

  1. The Length of Ski

  2. Your Ski Ability

  3. Techy Ski Stuff you need to know

  4. Your Favorites!


1. Sizing up your Ski

Factoring in your size and weight is a vital part of picking out your perfect ski. Choose too long - and you will struggle to turn smoothly, choose too short and your not going to move. But personal preference may void this rule. 

General Rule: Pick a ski between your chin and the top of your head. Chin for beginners  and then up depending on your skill level. Kids can go shorter than chin.

Consider shorter skis if you:

  • Beginner or intermediate skier.

  • Weigh less than average for your height.

  • You like to make quick easy turns, sacrificing speed

  • You want a carving ski with only camber, no rocker.

Consider longer skis if you:

  • You are skiing fast and aggressively.

  • You weigh more than average for your height.

  • You like to ski off the trail.

  • You want twin-tip skis.

  • You want a ski that has a lot of rocker.

Ski Size Chart - guide to buying skisSki Sizing Chart - guide to buying skis


2. Your Skills 

Now this is important to take into consideration. Are you a beginner, or veteran skier? People often have different opinions on their skill level, so a good way to gauge this is by seeing what terrain you can ski and what you get up-to on the mountain

What of the 3 classes are you? 


You are relatively new to skiing, or have had a bit of time on the powder. You are working on stopping/starting safely, and initiating turns smoothly. You are working on getting the basics and perfecting them. A more shorter, narrow ski with softer materials will be ideal. Also, choosing a ski with slight rocker enhancements will make you turn with more confidence


You are starting to venture to a wide range of runs. You can confidently stop, turn and safely avoid obsticals. You may be starting to carve or perfecting this skill. You may also start venturing off trail, or ski runs with more speed. We recommend a more stiff ski that contains a mixture of rocker and camber. Don't worry to much about this. Alot of skis sold are based on this class. Be aware of words such as 'ALL MOUNTAIN', and 'ON/OFF PISTE' -  as that pretty much sums up this class


Now if your in this class, you will most likely know what your talking about when it comes to picking skis and understanding the specs and techs of a ski build. You most likely ski all mountain confidently, along with freestyle, backcountry and park tastes. We recommend really dialing down on what you enjoy. Like the park, invest in specific park skis. Ski Backcountry, invest in skis with wider and longer tendency's to get you floating through the powder. To be honest, we recommend you take our 'SKI WIZARD' test, and that way our staff can really understand your needs and pick you a great ski


3. Getting Technical

Now this is the part where most people get lost. Skis have numerous factors in which make up their anatomy. If you read this part and still don't have a clue whats going on -  then please contact us of use the SKI WIZARD to let us do the work in picking your ski

Ski waist

Now this is probably the easiest factor to get your head around. The ski waist, refer to the most narrow part of your ski, or the middle. We recommend a narrower waist for initiating quick, easy turns, and a thicker waist for better flotation 

You can identify a skis waist by a 3 numbered code - looking something like this: xx/xx/xxmm OR 120/90/110mm. In this example 120mm refers to the tip width, 90mm refers to the waist width, and 110mm refers to the tail width.

Turning Radius

The turn radius - in simple terms - is the shape of a ski. We describe this is a meter measurement example. 22m turn radius. The narrower a ski’s waist is in relation to its tip and tail, the shorter the turn radius and therefore the deeper the sidecut. A ski with a deep sidecut (short turn radius) will make quicker turns, while a ski with a subtle sidecut (long turn radius) will turn more slowly and is typically more stable at high speeds. 

If this is a bunch of mumble to you, just use this little blurb to help

1-16m ~ Short turns ~ Carving & All Mountain Skis with flat or raised tip and tail (class 1 & 2)

16-22m ~ Medium turns ~ All Mountain & Park (class 2)

22- Beyond ~ Long turns ~ Powder and Backcountry Skis (class 3)

Rocker and Camber

Again, a important factor to incorporate into your setup - and often a term that's thrown around a lot - resulting you getting very confused. These terms are used to describe the profile of a ski

Understand Camber and Rocker... Simply

What is Camber?:

Camber is the slight upward raise or curve in the middle of a ski. 

Why you want Camber?

  • Offers a more precise and smoother turn initiation - especially on hard packed snow

  • Allows the rider to evenly distribute their weight across the ski - resulting an better edge hold

  • Racers and hardcore parky's usually appreciate a ski that's more camber focused

What is Rocker?:

Rocker (also known as reverse camber) is simply the opposite of camber - a slight downward curve. 

Why you want Rocker?

  • Both Rocker and Camber need pressure applied to them to initiate edging. Camber requires more pressure to be applied than rocker. 

  • This results in more stability and flotation in powdery conditions

  • Also, Rocker helps initiate a turn and avoiding edge catching

  • Rocker overall helps with the overall maneuverability, especially when applied to wider skis

The best setup?

Well it all depends on how YOU roll. The most common setup is a ski with a large camber presence in the mid and rocker applied at the tip. This is a very common setup for a range of abilities. Skis with rocker applied at both the tip and tail are becoming more popular, and mostly on wider skis that are primarily rid on powder. 

Overall, we recommend a good mixture of both - as both have great perks. 

Rocker/Camber Explanation Chart - Guide to Buying Skis / Snowscene


4. Now focus on YOU!

Here's where we dial down on what you love to do on the mountain. What do you enjoy the most?


Go everywhere with control and precision. That what all mountain skis are all about. They are designed to handle anything you throw at them including powder, ice, groomers, steeps, heavy snow, and everything in between, but they aren’t necessarily a master of any one terrain or snow type. If you want a ALL IN ONE package - this is the way to go.


For the few that love deep powder, you need to get yourself a pair of Powder skis. Typically much wider than your average all mountain ski, often powder skis are loaded up with rocker for maximum flotation. But often people these days love a powder ski for all mountain - due to its playful soft flex. Its your decision.


Skis in this category tend to be on the stiffer and heavier side, often with more rocker in the tip and less in the tail.They are built for ripping up the mixed conditions that steep mountain sides and tight, tricky lines have to offer. 


For those that love a good groomed trail in the morning, and getting the slickest, smoothest carve available. These tend to have a narrow waist, meaning they are great for initiating turns and are often used by beginners to get them going


For those that love the feeling of flying, you can buy specific skis that are built for tricks and airtime. Usually heavily cambered and twin tipped - these are built with strong edges and dense based to cope with the hardcore park nuts demands


Also known as backcountry skis, alpine touring (AT) skis are designed for going uphill as well as downhill. These skis are typically light for their width and many feature fittings that accept climbing skins. AT skis vary in width and weight, with the wider heavier versions usually used for winter/deep snow touring and the skinnier, lighter skis usually used for spring/summer/long distance touring.


Often brands offer woman focused models that tend to be lighter and made of softer materials in order to make turning easier with less weight and pressure. But either gender can ride on either ski.



We now recommend you browse our range of skis, and see if there is anything that catches your eye. All our skis have been hand picked by us, and we are confident that we will have something for you

But if you are still stuck in spaceland, then not to fear - we have another option. Simply take our quick quiz, and our in-house ski wizard will work his magic and sort you out a great range of ski options to get you going. Click below

Use the Ski Wizard!
Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer

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