The Best Men's Frontside Skis
Men’s Frontside Skis 2018-19
Gear Institute’s ski test is held annually at Snowbird, Utah, in conjunction with Mountain Magazine and Outside Magazine. The 2018 test was held in February, with more than 20 testers, several of who work in the snowsports industry as ski instructors, ski patrollers, professional athletes, and magazine editors, as well as one former member of the U.S. Ski Team. Other testers included former NCAA Division 1 ski racers, some hard-charging beer league skiers from the East Coast, and local rippers from Alta, Snowbird, Jackson Hole, Vail, Taos, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Initial product testing was also conducted in January 2018 at Copper Mountain, Colorado, during the SnowSports Industries America trade show.
Snowbird offers the kind of world-class terrain, including everything from expertly groomed hardpack to tight trees, windswept bowls, big bumps, steep chutes, endless cornices and all-around mixed conditions that allow us to test skis in almost every imaginable condition. With many top name ski manufacturers—Atomic, Dynastar, Rossignol, Salomon, etc…—having their headquarters in Utah (including several, such as Blizzard, with satellite offices in the Beehive State), we can also easily coordinate with the brands to ensure that we test products in exactly the kinds of conditions in which they were designed to excel. We don’t test Powder skis on hardpack, and we don’t test Frontside skis when the Wasatch is experiencing one of its legendary storms. Each day of our test we check the weather conditions, and test the right skis for those conditions.
We do test skis head-to-head, one after the other, rating them on the same criteria that we feel is most relevant to each specific category, with an emphasis on top of the line products for advanced to expert skiers who know how they want a ski to perform. In the Frontside Category, that includes a ski’s Carving Pleasure, for how accurately and consistently it maintains contact with the snow, Edge Hold for how confident the ski feels in an arc at a variety of speeds, Stability, Turn Shape Variability, and Float for how well the ski initiates a turn, particularly in off-piste conditions. We test Frontside Skis on groomers, moguls, in the trees, off Snowbird’s famous Cirque, and in some light powder/crud, cut-up snow to evaluate how well they perform in the kind of lift-served conditions skiers can typically expect to find throughout the season at their local mountain or home hill.
Below is a summary of the overall results of our test, including which ski scored the Best in Class, and the best skis in each specific test classification.