The Best Powder Skis

For powder hounds the most fun part of skiing is the floating sensation when on fresh, fluffy powder. For many, the lure of freshies is a major driver. With the right technique and conditions you can achieve this incredible sensation (and have tons of fun!) on just about any ski, but a powder ski will make skiing in deep snow easier.

Powder Skis Reviews
Blizzard Rustler 10

Blizzard’s new Rustler 10 pretty much dominated the Powder Category of our ski test, earning “Favorite” picks from more than 80 percent of the testers who skied it. “Playful yet stable;” “Strong yet nimble;” and “One of the best skis of all time,” were just a few of the superlatives heaped onto the test cards in praise of this big mountain machine, which tore through every condition we threw at it. Mixing a lightweight woodcore of paulownia, balsa, poplar and beech with Blizzard’s new D.R.T. (Dynamic Release Technology) carbon Flipcore, this ski felt more lively and maneuverable than most Blizzards, a brand we consistently praise for its power and dampness. That doesn’t mean the ski lost any stability – not by a long shot! What it did was add the ability to feel more versatile in all conditions, from the powder to the hardpack. Bottom line: This is a powder ski that could easily be your all-season ride if you want.

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Atomic Backland FR 109

Atomic’s Backland FR 109 is damp and accurate enough for skiing big days in-bounds, with a lightweight feel for anyone who wants to put some tech bindings on it as a backcountry specific turn-earning machine. The ski has great Float, thanks to significant rocker, is maneuverable off-piste, and has a confident, damp feel underfoot. There are more energetic skis in the Powder Category, especially if you want a big ski that will offer more edge hold and Stability if you decide to ski the Backland from the lifts. The ski did not stand out in any one of our specific test classifications – good or bad. All of our testers did comment on how fun it is to ski, providing a consistently playful, reliable turn shape.

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Volkl 100Eight

Volkl’s 100Eight is one of the lightweight, stable, easy to initiate skis in this category that could easily be used for lots of lift-served use, or as a backcountry setup. New this year, Volkl’s 3D.Glass construction combines with the existing 3D.Ridge construction to give you more power and control underfoot, while reducing materials toward age for more maneuverability at a lighter weight. Along with a Full Rocker design, with tip and tail rise and a symmetrical flex, the ski is wonderfully easy to initiate, with a smooth, predictable feel from edge-to-edge. Combined with a multilayer woodcore (featuring ash under the binding area and poplar everywhere else) and carbon stringers, the ski has great Stability and grip. Testers said this all creates a sense of consistent power no matter you turn it. The ski is not very lively, and prefers to be off-piste, where some testers would’ve preferred more pronounced rocker for better Float. Overall, a very effective ski for all-terrain use.

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Nordica Enforcer 110

Nordica builds on the legend of its All Mountain-owning Enforcer line, a favorite of GS-style skiers who love to arc accurate medium-radius turns, with the Enforcer 110. A powder ski for technicians who want to take their melodiously perfect technique into the softer snow conditions, the Enforcer 110 features easy turn initiation, solid stability, and the kind of clean carve that leaves razor-perfect tracks in the off-piste. This isn’t a nimble ski for porpoising through the trees. It can feel a little heavy compared to skis like the Dynastar Legend 96 and Fischer Ranger 108. It’s also not the quickest ski from edge-to-edge. Built with Nordica’s All-Mountain camRock design, with about 25 percent rise in the shovel and 5 percent in the tail, it initiates cleanly and quickly in mid to long-radius turns, with a core consisting of a mix of Titanium and balsa for power and a predictably progressive flex. As you would expect with a ski built on the Enforcer footprint, this ski can also hold a good edge on the hardpack. It’s a great addition to an already strong lineup.

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See All Men's Powder Skis Reviews

What is a Powder Ski?

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A powder ski is defined as any ski with a 105mm-130+mm waist width. Waist width is the dimension of the ski that makes the most difference in terms of float, where the wider underfoot, the greater the surface area, the more easily you can stay on top of the snow. These days the trend is not to go completely super-fat, but stay somewhere between 110-120mm underfoot, when you get optimal float but can still turn and control the skis on the hard pack. Modern powder skis also incorporate rocker into the design, which is when the tip and tail curve upwards off the snow, to increase maneuverability in deep snow as well as to provide that surfy feel.

Since a powder ski is designed with a specific condition in mind, it may go without saying that it is a specialty tool meant to be brought out after a big snowfall or when heading into the backcountry. Skis in this category will not become your go-to every day pair, but rather a bonus pair to bring out when the night’s snowfall reaches above 12 inches. Powder skis will not carve particularly well, and won’t have outstanding edge hold in icy, firm conditions, but the fun feel on powder days will more than make up for this weakness. If you purchase a pair of powder skis, you will also want an all-mountain pair, and maybe even a carving pair, adding up to a closet full of fun-sticks.

Women’s Skis

For each of our categories, there are men’s or unisex versions and there are usually also women’s specific versions. If you are a female shopping for skis, first determine which type of ski you want, and then look through both the men’s versions and the women’s versions to find the exact model that will work for you.

Women’s specific 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. They also come with different graphics to distinguish between the models. Similar to how a women’s jacket is more likely to fit a woman’s body shape better than a men’s jacket, a women’s pair of skis will most likely better fit a woman’s dimensions and be easier to turn and maneuver. However, very advanced women sometimes prefer a stiffer men’s or unisex ski.