The Best Women's All Mountain Skis

The Gear Institute Women’s Ski test took place over three days at Snowbird, Utah, in February of 2018. Six female testers skied each of the skis in the test and completed a detailed test card after each test run.

During a test debriefing session, testers commented on the overall high quality of the Women’s All Mountain Skis. Many of these skis would suit a variety of ability levels, terrain choices and snow conditions. The skis that received the highest scores had the best blend of “all mountain skills,” in terms of the mini-categories. Many of the Women’s All Mountain Skis had a lightweight construction or weight-reducing technology combined with a high-performance layup, which included full wood cores, full vertical sidewalls, varying degrees of tip rocker and mid-fat range of waist widths. Skis that scored lower in the test tended toward park and pipe or freeride-feeling personalities in terms of being able to butter or smear well, but lacking in edge grip and on-piste carving talent.

Women’s All Mountain Skis are designed to be the most versatile type of ski. This is the style you buy if you only want to own one pair of skis instead of an entire quiver. The perfect pair of Women’s All Mountain Skis will handle a range of terrain and a variety of speeds, so you can carve turns on fresh groomers, make first tracks on a fluffy powder day, and plow through chopped up, refrozen snow (a.k.a. crud). You can take an all mountain model anywhere at a resort, both on piste and off piste. Women’s All Mountain Skis will perform better in powder than your standard frontside ski but not as well as a dedicated powder ski. However since an all mountain ski is a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type of equipment, there are limitations to how well they perform in different conditions.

Women’s All Mountain Skis are slightly different than the equivalent men’s versions. Typically, women’s versions come in shorter lengths, lighter weight, and with less stiffness to account for women’s shorter heights and lower body weights.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Atomic Vantage X 83 CTI 2017
95
Best in Class
2016
Edge Hold 10
Float 7
Versatility 10
Stability 9
Carving 10
Value 9

Most versatile turn radius in this category

Ginsu-like edge hold

Beautifully balanced

Super energetic

Very quick edge to edge

Might like a little more float

Experts will get the most out of this ski

Couple testers thought it had a speed limit

MSRP
$899.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Blizzard Quattro RX 2017
94
Edge-hold 10
Float 8
Versatility 9
Stability 9
Carving 9
Value 9

Perfectly balanced

Damp, yet agile

Big sweet spot

Very easy to initiate

Super stable at high speeds

Better on groomers

More rewarding for technical skiers

Needs to be skied all the time

Not as responsive at slower speeds

Little on the pricey side

MSRP
$1,320.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Rossignol Experience 88 HD
93
Edge Hold 9
Float 8
Versatility 8
Stability 10
Carving 9
Value 9

Powerful but not demanding

True all-mountain performance

Big sweet spot

Confidence-inspiring ski

Great grip

Prefers GS turns

More damp than lively

Rewards skiers who steer

Carves instead of floats

Advanced to expert only

MSRP
$800.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Rossignol Experience 100 HD 2017
93
Best in Class
2016
Responsiveness 9
Float 9
Versatility 8
Stability 9
Carving 10
Value 8

Balanced in every respect

Purest arcs possible

A pleasure to ski

Powerful ski

Confidence builder

Better for technical skiers

More damp than nimble

Prefers mid to long radius turns

MSRP
$850.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Dynastar Legend W96
93
Best in Class
2018
Responsiveness 7
Stability 9
Float 9
Versatility 10
Carving 8

A true all-mountain performer

Pivots and carves

Great Resort Float

Same construction as unisex ski may be too beefy

Can chatter on edge at speed

Lacks the smooth feel tip to tail of old Legends

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
Fischer Pro MTN 86 2017
92
Responsiveness 9
Float 7
Versatility 8
Stability 9
Carving 10
Value 9

Effortless to get on edge

Tenacious grip

Versatile at different speeds and turn shapes

Powerful and damp

Big sweet spot

Not for the faint of heart

Needs to be driven

Better on-piste

Best for technicians and ex-racers

Likes GS turns the most

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Head Great Joy
92
Responsiveness 9
Stability 8
Float 8
Versatility 9
Carving 8

Easy to maneuver

Superb carver for size

Versatile around the mountain

Good soft snow performance

Feels damp if in the backseat

Small delay edge to edge in short turns

Skied short

Lacks kick out of the turn

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Blizzard Bonafide Ski Review 2017
91
Responsiveness 9
Float 6
Versatility 8
Stability 10
Carving 10
Value 8

Awesome hold

Super precise

Powerful and confident

Best stability

Loves high speeds

Not much for float

Sinks a little in deeper snow

Not for the faint of heart

Better on best or hard snow

Needs to be driven

MSRP
$840.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Volkl Kendo Ski Test Results 2016
90
Responsiveness 8
Float 8
Versatility 9
Stability 9
Carving 8
Value 8

All around solid performance

Charges the fall-line

Busts the crud

Great edge hold

Fast and precise

One of the top skis in this category

Not as fun in the bumps

Actually preferred mixed conditions

Race style skiers will opt for the Blizzard or Head Monster 88

MSRP
$825.00
BEST DEAL
Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS
90
Edge Hold 9
Float 7
Versatility 9
Stability 8
Carving 8
Value 9

Great carver

Feels light and easy to move

Solid edge-hold

Very versatile

Super easy to initiate

It's possible to over turn

Not the best at higher speeds

Does not dampen out all vibrations

Needs to be on edge

Best for skiers who like to make a lot of turns

MSRP
$850.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Elan Ripstick 94 W
90
Responsiveness 7
Stability 8
Float 8
Versatility 8
Carving 9

Lightweight, but strong underfoot

Supple flex

Nice turn exit with the tail

Skittish on cat tracks

Challenging to set the tip in high-speed arcs

Elusive sweet spot

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
Atomic Vantage 95 C W
90
Responsiveness 7
Stability 8
Float 8
Versatility 9
Carving 8

Stable at speed

Big sweet spot

Versatile in turn shape and ski conditions

A touch damp

Tail doesn’t accelerate out of the turn

Wide for short swing turns

MSRP
$600.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Dynastar Powertrack 84 Ski Test Results 2016
89
Responsiveness 9
Float 6
Versatility 8
Stability 8
Carving 9
Value 9

Very responsive

Excellent carving capability

Fantastic edge hold

Easy to turn

Fun to ski

Very little float

Better on piste

Needs to be steered

MSRP
$600.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Fischer Pro MTN 95 Ti 2017
89
Responsiveness 9
Float 7
Versatility 7
Stability 9
Carving 9
Value 8

Great energy and hold

Powerful yet easy to engage

Very solid all over the hill

Aggressive charger

Vaporizes manky snow

Not as forgiving

Needs to be driven

Stiffer in the forebody

Best going fast

MSRP
$850.00
BEST DEAL
Nordica NRGy 90 Ski Test Results 2016
88
Responsiveness 8
Float 8
Versatility 7
Stability 9
Carving 8
Value 8

Great edge hold

Excels off-piste

Lot of pop underfoot

Blew through mixed conditions

Better at speed

Not as much fun on the groomed

Prefers bigger turns

Rewards stronger skiers

MSRP
$699.00
BEST DEAL
Rossignol Experience 88 Ski Test Results 2016
88
Responsiveness 8
Float 6
Versatility 8
Stability 8
Carving 9
Value 9

Stable

Loves hardpack

Awesome at mid-range turns

Sweet carve

Easy to initiate

Not much float

More damp than lively

Not as powerful as other skis in this category

MSRP
$650.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Salomon QST 99 2017
88
Responsiveness 8
Float 8
Versatility 8
Stability 9
Carving 7
Value 8

Super initiation, even in longer turns

Great edge hold

Very stable

Good float

Can gobble up terrain

Better off-piste than on

Less precise on hardpack

Slightly slower on quick edge changes

Prefers medium to long radius turns

MSRP
$725.00
BEST DEAL
Salomon QST Lumen 99
88
Responsiveness 7
Stability 8
Float 8
Versatility 8
Carving 7

Agile & responsive

Well-balanced even flex

Great edge hold at speed

Versatile

A little too stiff on hardpack

A bit sluggish in transitions

Trades quickness for stability

MSRP
$725.00
BEST DEAL
Head Monster 88 Ski Test Results 2016
87
Responsiveness 8
Float 7
Versatility 7
Stability 9
Carving 8
Value 8

Excellent edge hold

Superior stability

Loves high speeds

Great carving ski

Exciting

Not for the faint of heart

Experts only

Has to be forced into short swing turns

Felt heavy

MSRP
$800.00
BEST DEAL
Dynastar Powertrack 84 2017
87
Responsiveness 8
Float 7
Versatility 8
Stability 7
Carving 9
Value 8

Carves like nothing else

Super easy to initiate

Very fast edge to edge

Smooth snow contact

Lively underfoot

Needs to be driven

Better at mid-speeds

And at short to medium turns

More finesse than float

Has to stay on edge

MSRP
$600.00
BEST DEAL
K2 Poacher 2017
87
Responsiveness 8
Float 7
Versatility 8
Stability 6
Carving 8
Value 10

Fun, easy to ski

Super quick edge to edge

Playful

Maneuverable

Flat out ripper

Can be over skied

Loses some stability at higher speeds

Don't load the tail on hard snow

Not for ex-racers

More fun and finesse than power

MSRP
$600.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Völkl Kenja
87
Responsiveness 6
Stability 8
Float 6
Versatility 9
Carving 8

Great in variable terrain transitions

Predictable and solid underfoot

High stability

Feels heavier than previous Kenja models

Lacks girth for big snow days

Tail is less agile in moguls and can throw skiers

MSRP
$775.00
BEST DEAL
Kastle MX 89 2017
86
Edge Hold 8
Float 7
Versatility 7
Stability 9
Carving 8
Value 7

Powerful ski

Stable

The harder you push it the more it gives back

Loves high speed

Predictable feel

Needs to be driven

Some testers thought it was too damp

Does not perform at mid to slower speeds

Smaller sweet spot

Not as forgiving

MSRP
$1,299.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Elan Ripstick 96 Ski Review 2017
86
Responsiveness 8
Float 8
Versatility 7
Stability 6
Carving 9
Value 8

Great carver

Lively

Easy to turn

Forgiving flex

Transitions well from packed to crud

Not the highest ratings for stability

A little too much rocker for super high speeds on the groomed

Skis a bit short

Might be a little too carvy off-piste

MSRP
$700.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Atomic Vantage 95 C Ski Review 2017
86
Responsiveness 7
Float 8
Versatility 7
Stability 8
Carving 8
Value 8

Lively

Nice turn initiation

Good edge hold

Easy swing weight

Loves mid to long-radius turns

Does not excel in any one condition

Has to be forced in short turns

Little too much rocker on the groomed

Definitely prefers to be on edge

MSRP
$600.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Atomic Vantage 97 CW
86
Responsiveness 8
Stability 7
Float 6
Versatility 7
Carving 8

Great at short turns

Light and maneuverable

Smooth, consistent turn initiation

Lacks pep and liveliness

Tip feels light, especially in long turns

Edge grip decreases in long turns

MSRP
$600.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Armada Invictus 89ti Ski Test Results 2016
85
Responsiveness 9
Float 8
Versatility 8
Stability 7
Carving 6
Value 7

Very playful

Nice float

Good turn shape versatility

Lightweight feel

Fun to slarve

Not as fun for carving

More finesse than power

Prefers off-piste

Can ski short--buy the longer length

MSRP
$700.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Kastle FX 95 HP 2017
85
Responsiveness 7
Float 7
Versatility 6
Stability 10
Carving 8
Value 7

The king of stability

Excellent edge grip

Confident at high speeds

Super damp

Powerful ski

Not lively

Can overpower less technical skiers

Needs to be driven

Hard to push into short radius turns

Best at speed

MSRP
$1,199.00
BEST DEAL
Armada Invictus 99 Ti 2017
85
Responsiveness 7
Float 8
Versatility 7
Stability 8
Carving 7
Value 8

Stable and damp

Easy to initiate

Nice touch of playfulness

Does really well in soft snow

Nice hold on the groomers too

Not so versatile

More schmear than carve

Dampness comes at a cost to liveliness

Prefers mid to long turns

Not as quick edge to edge

MSRP
$825.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Armada Victa 97 Ti
85
Responsiveness 6
Stability 8
Float 7
Versatility 7
Carving 7

Damp, quiet and stable

Tank-like edge hold

Versatile in a variety of snow conditions

Tip deflection at speed

Lacks forgiveness

Tails wash out on hardpack & steep/icy terrain

MSRP
$825.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Blizzard Sheeva 9
85
Responsiveness 7
Stability 8
Float 5
Versatility 7
Carving 8

Has attitude and ferocity

Sturdy and predictable

Excels in quick turns, bumps, and trees

The tail is firm and can be unforgiving

waist is too narrow for true all-mountain

Sluggish in long turns

MSRP
$660.00
BEST DEAL
Kastle FX85 HP Ski Test Results 2016
84
Responsiveness 8
Float 6
Versatility 7
Stability 8
Carving 8
Value 7

Stable

Easy to turn

Don't have to work to get on edge

Good energy

Easy swing weight

Less float

Not as playful

Not for freestylers

MSRP
$999.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Armada Invictus 89 Ti 2017
84
Edge Hold 7
Float 7
Versatility 8
Stability 6
Carving 8
Value 8

Very responsive

Great off-piste

Easy to initiate

Playful and forgiving

Lots of fun for a variety of skiers

Extra tip rocker can make it feel short

Not as good on hardpack

Loses stability at higher speeds

And on ice

Didn't stand out in any one category

MSRP
$700.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Rossignol Sky 7 HD W
84
Responsiveness 5
Stability 7
Float 8
Versatility 7
Carving 7

Smooths out turbulence

Versatile: easy to smear & initiate turns

Cuts through crud

Feels like a man’s ski

Hard to engage tip at top of the turn

Lacks responsiveness

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
Nordica Santa Ana 93
84
Responsiveness 4
Stability 8
Float 8
Versatility 8
Carving 6

Good edge grip & stability underfoot

Solid turner, best in GS turns

Stable & surefooted

Straight-ish sidecut/sluggish to get up on edge

Shapeless tip; chatter at speed

Feels damp & stiff

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
Fischer My Ranger 98
84
Responsiveness 8
Stability 7
Float 6
Versatility 6
Carving 7

Good edge hold tip to tail

Responsive and quick edge-to-edge

Favors GS turns at speed

Light

Not very forgiving

Sluggish in short turns

Light tips can flap at speed

Serious, not playful

MSRP
$649.00
BEST DEAL
Fischer Motive 86 Ti Ski Test Results 2016
83
Responsiveness 6
Float 8
Versatility 7
Stability 8
Carving 7
Value 7

Loves mid-range turns

Great stability

Good edge hold

Handles a variety of terrain

Predictable

Not very versatile turn shape

Very damp underfoot

Not as responsive

Prefers on-piste

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Head Monster 88 2017
83
Responsiveness 8
Float 6
Versatility 7
Stability 8
Carving 7
Value 7

Beefy and confident

Crisp feel on the corduroy

Very stable

No speed limit

Loves to be on edge

Great for skiers who like to drive their turns

Feels heavy

Better on piste

Needs to be steered

No float

Really a hard chargers ski

MSRP
$800.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Dynastar Powertrack 89 Ski Review 2017
83
Responsiveness 8
Float 6
Versatility 6
Stability 7
Carving 9
Value 7

Super damp

Solid edge hold

Good versatility

The faster you go, the better it performs

Quick edge changes

At the top end, the performance is not as robust

Very little float

Better on piste

Needs to be on edge

Slightly narrow for this category

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
K2 Alluvit 88
83
Responsiveness 6
Stability 7
Float 6
Versatility 7
Carving 7

Predictable and easy to use

Moves through slush and crud without hesitation

Skis wider than its 88 mm waist, but carves decent

Best in soft snow

Not for a powerhouse

Loses stability in steep hardpack conditions

Less frontside performance, more freeride

MSRP
$800.00
BEST DEAL
Scott Sage
82
Responsiveness 7
Float 8
Versatility 6
Stability 7
Carving 7
Value 7

Big forgiving flex

Nice and turny

Soft snow seeker

Good stability

Handles a variety of turns and conditions

Not lively

Favors a standup style

Can feel planky

More fun off-piste than on

MSRP
$650.00
BEST DEAL
K2 iKonic 85 Ti Ski Test Results 2016
80
Responsiveness 6
Float 7
Versatility 7
Stability 7
Carving 6
Value 7

Fun in the bumps

Not demanding

Easy to turn

Maneuverable

Prefers hardpack

Out-muscled by other skis in the category

Didn't stand out in any one category

MSRP
$850.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Salomon X-Drive 8.8 Ski Test Results 2016
80
Responsiveness 6
Float 6
Versatility 6
Stability 8
Carving 7
Value 7

Loves speed

And long radius turns

Plows through crud

Very good stability

Not versatile

Very little float

Has to be driven at all times

One dimensional

MSRP
$850.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Elan Amphibio 84 Ti 2017
80
Edge Hold 7
Float 6
Versatility 6
Stability 7
Carving 7
Value 7

Quick and nimble

Easy to initiate

Fast edge to edge

Smooth flex

Fun to carve

Skis short

Not much for long turns

More damp than responsive

Smaller sweet spot

Not exceptionally versatile

MSRP
$850.00
BEST DEAL
Line Supernatural 92 Ski Test Results 2016
79
Responsiveness 7
Float 7
Versatility 7
Stability 6
Carving 5
Value 7

Maneuverability

Easy to initiate

Nice float off-piste

Responsive

Not for hard edgers

Some testers felt it was easy to overski

Better at moderate speeds

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Head Monster 98 2017
79
Responsiveness 6
Float 6
Versatility 5
Stability 9
Carving 7
Value 6

DAMP!

Super stable

Incredible edge hold

Relishes being skied hard

Gets better at higher speeds

One dimensional turn shape

Not versatile

Needs to be driven

Sluggish at slower speeds

Much more damp than lively

MSRP
$800.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
DPS Cassiar 95 2017
79
Responsiveness 7
Float 8
Versatility 6
Stability 7
Carving 5
Value 6

Easy to pivot

Fun to schmear

Nice float

Good edge-to-edge swing weight

Fun to ski

Got on edge late in a turn

Not the best edge hold on piste

Hard to carve

Kind of planky

Less control at high speeds

MSRP
$799.00
BEST DEAL
Scott The Ski Test Results 2016
78
Responsiveness 8
Float 7
Versatility 7
Stability 5
Carving 5
Value 6

Responsive

Easy to turn

Great at short to mid-range turns

Not demanding

Playful

Not for high speeds

Softer tail

Less edge engagement

Loses stability in long arcs

MSRP
$825.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Liberty Genesis 96
78
Responsiveness 7
Stability 5
Float 6
Versatility 5
Carving 5

Initiates early, easy edge-to-edge

Quick and spritely in short turns

Playful

Loses stability in long turns

Not very versatile, lacks turn shape variety

Can feel rigid and planky

MSRP
$650.00
BEST DEAL
Line Supernatural 86 2017
76
Edge Hold 5
Float 7
Versatility 7
Stability 5
Carving 6
Value 6

Damp

Easy to maneuver

Good swing weight

Slarvy

Playful

Not great on edge

Outmuscled by other skis in this category

Better for off-piste

Felt kind of planky

MSRP
$700.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Liberty Variant 87 Ski Review 2017
76
Responsiveness 6
Float 7
Versatility 6
Stability 5
Carving 6
Value 6

Forgiving

Easy to initiate

And maneuver

Playful off-piste

Light and predictable

Not for high speeds

Easily overpowered

Too forgiving for some testers

More all mountain than frontside

Felt out of category for direct comparisons in this test

MSRP
$725.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Black Crows Daemon Birdie
76
Responsiveness 4
Stability 5
Float 7
Versatility 6
Carving 4

Easy to turn

Best in soft snow

Rewards less aggressive stance

Not great edge grip

Feels planky underfoot

Miniscule contact point with snow (awkward camber)

MSRP
$770.00
BEST DEAL
Liberty Origin 96 2017
75
Responsiveness 7
Float 6
Versatility 5
Stability 5
Carving 6
Value 6

Forgiving

Easy to initiate

Performed at medium speeds

Better in softer snow

Traditional feeling ski

Easily overpowered

Prefers to be steered instead of carved

Feels planky at high speeds

Not the best grip

More damp than lively

MSRP
$725.00
BEST DEAL
Line Soulmate 92
70
Responsiveness 3
Stability 4
Float 6
Versatility 4
Carving 3

Best in soft snow

Butters and smears easily

Good progression ski for intermediates to advance

Hard to find the sweet spot

Challenging to engage the tip

Wobbly at speed

Lacks life and luster underfoot

MSRP
$625.00
BEST DEAL
Line Supernatural 92 2017
67
Responsiveness 4
Float 6
Versatility 5
Stability 3
Carving 4
Value 5

Easy to turn

Lightweight

Ok on piste

Playful feel

Forgiving flex

Not powerful

Unstable at high speeds

Did not do any one thing exceptionally well

Kind of planky

Lacked energy

MSRP
$750.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Dynastar Legend W96

A true all-mountain ski that straddles the line between performance and playfulness, the Dynastar Legend W96 adapts well to terrain and snow variations, found on big mountains including bumps, tight trees, and variable snow conditions. “This is a do-all ski for chutes, trees, mild pow, and frontside groomers,” says one tester. The 96-mm-waisted ski received its highest tester scores for Stability and Float, “This ski lacks the complete smoothness that the old Legends had,” says one tester. “It can chatter on edge at speed.”

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Christy Sports

Atomic Vantage 97 CW

The carbon-reinforced Atomic Vantage 97 C W is a light and maneuverable ski that can both pivot and carve, favoring short to medium radius turns. Testers appreciated its smooth turn transition and agility in bumps or on hardpack. The lightweight Prolite construction favors moderately aggressive all mountain skiers, according to testers, who also noted that the light tip can feel too light at speed in long turns, where the edge grip diminished. Though light and maneuverable, the ski lacks pep and liveliness, which it trades for smoothness and ease of short turns or pivoting around tight spots or bumps.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

Blizzard Sheeva 9

The Blizzard Sheeva 9 is a sturdy, predictable 92-mm-waisted ski ideal for all-mountain skiers who want more carve and less float. Testers applauded the Sheeva 9’s blend of skills, including excelling at quick turns, soft bumps, and trees. “It’s got a big sweet spot and feels easy to stay centered on,” says one tester. Receiving its highest marks for Stability and Carving, the Sheeva 9 received its lowest scores for Responsiveness, Float, and Versatility. Testers felt that the 92 mm waist was narrower than other skis in the category, thus lowering versatility off-piste and in snow or cut-up conditions. “This ski is on the narrow side for a freeride ski,” says one tester. “It’s more an all-mountain frontside ski.”

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Amazon.com

See All Women's All Mountain Skis Reviews

Women's All Mountain Skis Review Results

by: Last Updated:

Women’s All Mountain Skis are aptly named in terms for what they are designed to do: handle the entire mountain. That means groomers, soft snow, crud, steeps, catwalks—terrain features and snow conditions often encountered on a typical day at a typical mountain. Waist widths range between 88 mm and 99 mm in this category, which could more specifically be considered All Mountain Back, since wider waist widths can handle more snow volume often found on a mountain’s more extreme terrain features or off-piste slopes. There is some overlap with waist width dimensions with the All Mountain Front category—those range between 74 mm and 90 mm. However, AMF skis lean heavier on edge grip and carving, while true Women’s All Mountain Skis focus more on versatility or a blending of skills. When testing All Mountain skis, we use the following mini-rating criteria: Responsiveness, Stability, Float, Carving and Versatility.

Responsiveness

Responsiveness measures the liveliness and reaction time of a ski in a wide variety of terrain. Testers most often note this as “quick edge-to-edge,” or “lively and agile” or “energetic.” Some of the Women’s All Mountain Skis have noticeable edge grip combined with a wider waist, resulting in the feeling that the ski is “like a fat GS ski.”

The Atomic Vantage 97 CW, Billzard Sheeva 9, and Dynastar Legend w96  all received high scores for Responsiveness. The skis all shared similar responses of “quick or easy edge to edge” and “good edge hold tip to tail.” Testers also remarked about lightness or softness in these skis, which increased agility and response time. 

Stability

Stability refers to how confidently the tester felt the ski reacted to a variety of snow conditions and terrain. Stability can come from great snow contact or edge grip, but also a damp construction. Testers often use comments such as “solid at speed,” “huge sweet spot,” and “conquers crud or cut up powder.” Stability also comes in to play when testers think about skiers who are looking to improve or breakthrough from beginner to intermediate and would benefit from a ski that increases confidence by providing a stable platform.

Highest Stability Women’s All Mountain Skis scores were given to the Dynastar Legend W96, receiving descriptors such as “beefy yet agile,” “predictable” and “smeary yet strong edge hold.”  

Float

Float for the Women’s All Mountain Skis category refers to Resort Float, or the ski’s ability to provide some flotation in soft snow (but not necessarily huge powder days). This most often refers to the tip’s performance and waist width. Some of the tips in this category have some sort of weight-reducing technology which not only decreases swing weight but also increased flotation.

 

Carving

Carving in the Women’s All Mountain Skis category refers to the ski’s ability to set an edge and hold the turn consistently throughout a small, medium or large radius turn. Carving comments often mention ease of turn initiation or exit of the turn. Testers also look at the flex pattern of the ski, whether it’s a soft-flexing ski (“easy going flex pattern for a variety of ability levels”) or stiff (“needs a hefty skier to stomp on this ski”). When looking at this criteria, some skis fit into one of two descriptions: directional or bi-directional. Directional means the ski seeks the fall line and probably has a race-inspired construction. Bi-directional means the ski has a more surfy feel with a freeride-inspired construction.

Versatility

Versatility is the backbone of the Women’s All Mountain Skis Category. It’s here that skiers look for a “one-ski quiver,” a ski that you can grab most days for most mountains because of the blend of skills the ski can offer such as moguls, to hardpack to light powder. Testers often say “awesome all over the mountain,” “can make a variety of turn shapes,” or “great waist width for most days.” Some skis in this category have a speciality such as high turn shape variability or playful and surfy.

Review Conclusion

Women’s All Mountain skis are the meat of the market in terms of where most women in the West and many in the East look for a ski to handle the entire mountain. Many consumers look for a ski that can perform well on hardpack as well as soft snow, while providing stability in crud and confidence-inspiring performance on steeps. This category is where women could potentially find a one-ski quiver that could perform well on terrain features and in snow conditions often encountered on a typical day at a typical mountain.

All in all, our experienced testers were impressed by the high quality of the Women’s All Mountain skis. In years past, only a few skis rose to the top in terms of being awarded high scores in all of our mini-rating criteria and the All Mountain skis that received the highest scores had the best blend of all mountain skills.

For 2018, testers felt that many of these models would suit a variety of ability levels, terrain choices and snow conditions. Rocker has made a huge impact on increasing overall maneuverability, user-friendliness and flotation in skis in this category—which increases versatility. Not all of these Women’s All Mountain Skis have a core construction specific to women, though some do. However, most of these skis have a lightweight construction or weight-reducing technology combined with a high-performance layup, which included full wood cores, full vertical sidewaAll-Mountain degrees of tip rocker and mid-fat range of waist widths. Skis that scored lower in the test tended toward park and pipe or freeride-feeling personalities in terms of being able to butter or smear well, but lacking in stability, edge grip and on-piste carving talent.

Test Methods

The Gear Institute’s Women’s All Mountain Skis test took place over three days at Snowbird, Utah, in March of 2018. Six female testers skied each of the skis in the test and completed a detailed test card after each test run. Testers ranged from Olympians, to former racers and coaches to ski instructors and skiers who prefer backcountry/off-piste conditions. Categories were concluded on the same day so that skis were tested during similar conditions and on the same terrain. An in-depth look into construction and performance of the skis took place in Vail, CO, during a December industry event where testers skied on all test skis under similar conditions.

Testers were instructed to view each ski as a “Tabula Rasa,” or blank slate. Test cards included initial rankings of Favorite, Excellent, Good and Awful. Testers were asked to list three things they both liked and disliked about each ski as well as answering the question, “Who is the ideal customer?” Lastly, testers rated the criteria in terms of best to worst in the following mini-categories; Responsiveness, Stability, Float, Carving and Versatility.

What makes an All Mountain ski?

With so many great skis in the Women’s All Mountain Skis category, how do skiers decide which one is right? The choice should be determined by body type, ability level and bank account. The “A” in All Mountain could also stand for “Adventure,” since All-mountains skiers explore the whole mountain, sometimes having to ski through crud or float in powder or arc up the corduroy.  The first element these skis need to conquer the mountain is a wide enough waist to handle changes—and waist widths range between 88 mm and 99 mm, which has slimmed slightly from the past few years. The second element is a construction that blends performance skills and a balanced flex. Over the past several seasons, companies have developed technology to lighten the ski without losing performance. Some cores have strategically milled out tips or mid-sections, some have a crafted combination of hard and soft wood, carbon, or other materials such as flax or basalt. This season the trend is to build lightweight skis from the ground up—not take an established ski and reduce weight. The result is some nicely balanced lightweight, yet strong skis. Nearly all the models have a sandwich sidewall construction with some amount of rocker and vibration-absorbing properties designed to increase flotation and reduce swing weight.