Incredibly responsive with a solid underfoot. Slips into a turn with little effort while moving smoothly from edge to edge. Stays under control in icy conditions. Lightweight, but doesn't chatter on rough terrain.
We're hard-pressed to find anything we didn't like about this ski.
An affordable ski by a top brand that performs well on both groomed and ungroomed terrain. Lightweight and easy to control, even on firmly packed snow. Has a responsive wood core.
Some fast moves and trick jumps may challenge it a bit.
Extremely responsive in powder. Structured to handle different terrain, making it an excellent touring ski. Durable construction with a bamboo and poplar core. Backed by a 4-year warranty.
Occasionally produces chatter, especially on groomers and at fast speeds.
Boasts a generous underfoot that produces outstanding float. Lightweight and easy to maneuver, but also rugged and capable of shredding freshly packed slopes. Designed by women skiers for women skiers.
Pricey, but worth the cost.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you’re ready to start skiing or level up to a performance ski, now is a great time for women skiers to show their stuff, from weekend schusses to record-setting slaloms. As women take to the slopes in greater numbers than ever before, ski designers are adding new models every season designed specifically for them. In fact, sales of women’s skis increased at least 21% in 2019, according to market research, and show no signs of slowing down.
That means there are far more skis for women to choose from, which can leave those new to the sport wondering which direction to go when it comes to style and design. There are plenty of features and types on the market, but the best ski for you isn’t necessarily the flashiest or the fastest. Read on for our buying guide to women’s snow skis, check out our favorites, and build the knowledge base you need to make an informed shopping decision.
Center of gravity: Most women have a different center of gravity from men and generate strength differently. Women’s skis are designed with this in mind, with a waist (center) that is farther forward on the ski.
Weight: Women’s snow skis are also lighter in weight than men’s snow skis to improve control.
Bindings: The placement of the bindings is also modified on women’s snow skis to properly center you on the ski.
Design: It’s also a great opportuni
The shape, length, and width of skis are all crucial to peak performance. As ski design has progressed, so has the shape of skis. Even minor differences can have major effects on how the skis behave on the slopes.
Width: Most skis are widest near the tip, narrow at the waist (roughly the middle of the ski), and wider again at the tail. Viewed from the top, most skis have a subtle hourglass shape. Ski width measurements normally come in threes, such as 122/95/110, the width of the ski in millimeters at the top, waist, and tail.
Turn radius: The above measurement also helps determine the turn radius of the ski. A smaller turn radius equals a ski that turns more quickly but is perhaps less stable. A larger turn radius means a ski is more stable, especially when skiing fast.
Length: Ski length from tip to tail is an important measurement for both beginners and more advanced skiers looking for good performance in specific conditions.
Bindings: These can be bundled with the skis, or you can purchase them separately. If you buy separate bindings, make sure the brake width matches the width of the skis, and have them measured and installed by a certified ski technician.
Poles: Skis bundles may include poles, but it’s important that the poles fit you and are comfortable to use. Experienced women skiers opt to purchase poles separately.
New skiers typically default to an all-mountain ski, but it’s good to know the most common types of skis and what they’re used for. As their skills improve, beginners who ski regularly will want to consider skis that help them do more of their favorite kind of skiing, whether that’s barreling through powder or just going fast.
All-mountain: This is the most popular type of ski because of its good performance on all types of snow and terrain.
Powder: This is a wide, short ski designed to float over deep powder.
Park: Also known as twin tip, this type of ski has identically shaped tips and tails ideal for freestyle skiing.
Carving: This type of ski has a narrow waist of around 80 millimeters, allowing the skier to turn edge to edge more easily and really do some deep carving as they speed downhill.
Touring: For those who like to ski off-piste (backcountry), touring skis are lighter, shorter, and wider to make climbing easier. These skis have special bindings that allow for easy transition to sliding downhill.
Just as important as knowing the different types of skis is knowing what makes up a ski. A century ago, downhill skiers made do with heavy skis made from a single piece of wood attached to their boots with rudimentary leather bindings. Today, ski materials and designs are almost totally space-age.
Topsheet: This is the top layer of the ski, which includes its graphics.
Core: A ski’s core is traditionally a thin, laminated strip of hardwood, which helps dampen vibration and impart some liveliness to the ski. Other materials may reinforce or even replace the wood core, including carbon fiber, Kevlar, titanium, foam, or even air.
Sidewall: This is the side of the ski above the metal edge that joins the topsheet to the edge, designed to protect the core and resist impacts.
Composite layers: These are placed above and below the core and usually consist of fiberglass impregnated with resin. A ski’s composite layers provide torsional strength and stiffness.
Edges: Made of steel or stainless steel to hold up to tough terrain, a ski’s edges are inserted between the bottom composite layer and the base layer. A full wrap edge runs all the way around the top of the ski to join the other edge, while a partial wrap edge just runs along the sidecut on each side of the ski.
Base layer: The bottom of the ski is a layer of polyethylene called P-tex. It’s smooth and durable, perfect for gliding across the snow. Base layers are created using either extruded polyethylene (a less costly method) or sintered polyethylene. Both methods have their pluses and minuses.
Ski manufacturers add and remove subtle variations in the designs of women’s skis. Unless you’re upgrading from your granddad’s old 1970s-era skis or need something other than all-mountains, you don’t have to fret much about these variations, but it’s good to know them.
Camber: This is upward or concave shaping of the ski. When looking at the bottom of the ski on the snow, the cambered portion does not touch the snow. Camber helps give the ski springiness.
Rocker: Also called reverse camber, this is downward or convex shaping of the ski. A rocker shape helps the ski float over powdery snow and can improve control overall.
Tip: The tip of the ski may have a greater or shallower curve depending on what the ski is designed for. Powder skis may have higher, wider tips than all-mountain skis.
Tail: The tail may be flat, slightly rounded, or even dovetailed. On twin-type skis, tails match the shape of the tips, allowing riders to ski forward or backward.
Graphics: Always found on the top of the ski, and sometimes on the bottom, graphics are either a separate sheet placed under a clear topsheet (encapsulated) or incorporated into the topsheet itself (sublimated).
Ski poles: Salomon Arctic Lady Ski Poles
Poles are essential for maintaining balance and control. Avoid poles designed for additional uses like hiking and choose downhill-specific ski poles that feature the grip angle, correct length, and tensile strength needed for performance sports.
Helmet: Wildhorn Drift Snowboard & Ski Helmet
Protect your head on the slopes with a sturdy helmet rated specifically for skiing. This one is used by Olympian Ashley Caldwell and endorsed by the United States Ski Team.
Goggles: OutdoorMaster Ski Goggles PRO
Eye protection from wind, snow, and sun is essential to enjoying a day on the slopes. Look for goggles that won’t obstruct your view too much and that have built-in UV protection.
Ski boots: Rossignol Kelia 50 Ski Boots
Ski boots for women tend to be lighter in weight than men’s ski boots, but the requirements are the same: strong support, easy to put on and remove, and easy to clip into the bindings. This model has a shorter cuff to reduce discomfort around the shin and calf.
Wax: Don’t Eat Yellow Snowboard/Ski Wax
This all-temperature ski wax is great for most snow conditions and is infused with graphite to reduce buildup of static electricity along the ski.
Ski bag: Athletico Diamond Trail Padded Ski Bag
Transport your skis to and from the slopes in a padded bag to reduce the chance of damage.
Inexpensive: You can find women’s skis at budget price points starting around $300 to $500, with performance increasing in line with the cost.
Mid-range: Skiers who want equipment that will continue to perform as their skills grow will find plenty of options in the $500 to $850 range.
Expensive: Performance and specialized skis for activities like touring and racing sit well into the high range of $900 to $1,300 and more.
Don’t see what you need in our matrix? We found a few more options we like. Those who want to get into park skiing on a budget will have fun with the K2 Empress Skis, featuring an all-terrain rocker twin design reinforced with carbon.
We really like heading into the backcountry with the G3 Sendr 112 Skis. These lightweight, wide touring skis have plenty of rocker for powder and a bit of camber to spring out of turns.
And the Blizzard Black Pearl 82 Skis are a worthy addition to this perennially popular line, priced right for novices looking for skis to grow with.
Q. How often should I hot wax my skis?
A. The most reliable way is to check the bottoms of your skis. If the wax looks slightly cloudy over a colored ski base, or gray or white over a black ski base, it’s time for a hot wax. But there isn’t really a set guideline on exactly how often skis should be waxed. The frequency depends on the type of ski base you’re on — extruded or sintered P-tex — what kind of terrain you’re skiing over, and how often you ski.
Extruded bases must be waxed more often than sintered. If you ski mainly in icy conditions or on cold, hard-packed snow, you may need to wax skis after each day’s skiing. If you’re on powder all day, wax may not be needed for at least a week.
Q. Why is the depth of a ski’s sidecut important?
A. The sidecut — the sloping curve on each side of the ski from the tip to the waist — has the greatest effect on how long it takes you to turn in a new direction. The deeper the sidecut, meaning the wider the front part of the ski compared to the waist, the sharper the turn. The shallower the sidecut, the more time it takes to turn.
When shopping for skis, don’t worry too much about how deep the sidecut looks to you. Instead, take note of the ski’s measurements and its turning radius, marked on the package (and the ski), to help choose a ski that matches the type of skiing you plan to do.
Q. How important are camber and rocker to a ski’s performance?
A. In all-mountain skis, camber and rocker are mixed to provide good all-around responsiveness and may be tweaked by the manufacturers from season to season. Design trends also play a role in camber or rocker shaping. For example, rocker-dominant designs took over the alpine skiing world in the 2010s, supplanting the parabolic ski designs of the 1990s to 2000s.
If you plan to ski a specific kind of terrain, like deep powder, the balance of camber to rocker will matter more. On all-mountain skis, the best thing to do is to test them on the slopes to see if they have the responsiveness you want.
Q. Should I opt for skis with a sintered base or an extruded base?
A. Some information out in the wild gives the impression that sintered bases are better than extruded, but this isn’t accurate. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. An extruded base is made from polyethylene that is melted, forced through a mold, and cut to shape. This not only reduces the price of a ski but also is easier to maintain and easier to repair, and it performs just fine for most skiing.
Sintered bases are made by fusing the polyethylene under pressure before cutting into shape. They are more expensive, need more maintenance, and are costly to repair. But in return, sintered bases deliver a faster ride, better resistance to gouges and scrapes, and top performance.