How to buy skis for women
What to look for when buying skis for women
With an increase in women hitting the slopes, it’s hard not to notice that ski companies are developing and manufacturing some great, female-specific skis. With that in mind, this guide can help you choose what skis are right for you!
*DISCLAIMER* Brands make skis for women for 2 reasons. It means they can sell the same ski as a men’s ski, but with funky, different patterns and because our center of gravity is different from men (our lady hips). The binding location is also different and doesn’t mean that females can’t ski on men’s skis or vice versa.
Shop skis for women – in USA, in Australia, in Europe
Get inspired, watch World Champion skier Lindsey Vonn’s documentary, The Climb
Choosing skis based on your ability isn’t as important now because ski brands have made it easier for beginners to ski on a wider variety of skis. However, it is still good to consider the different features skis have for certain abilities. Often, the price will reflect the ability level.
Beginner skis for women are generally softer, lighter and feature some tip and tail rocker which makes the ski easier to turn but also more forgiving if you do make a mistake. They often feature a light wood or foam core.
Intermediate skis for women are generally wider, slightly stiffer and are slightly heavier than the beginner skis. They often feature a wood core and sometimes a stiffer material to add stability.
Advanced skis for women are often layered with stiffer materials like titanium and carbon to make them light and stiff (or in ski language, damp). They are harder to turn at lower speeds but offer good stability at high speeds.
Ski Shape: Height, width, radius and rocker type
Skis are measured by height and width. Skis should be somewhere between your chin and the top of your head. A shorter ski is better for beginners because it won’t go as fast. A longer ski, that is as tall as you or taller, is better for more advanced, aggressive skiers.
Width and Radius
The waist width of a ski is the narrowest point, usually found right in the middle. A narrow ski is better for fast, edge to edge turns and a wider ski is better for powdery and mixed snow conditions. Ski dimensions are measured by a 3 number measurement that shows the tip/waist/tail and this number also determines the turn radius of the ski (102/95/100). A shorter turn radius means the ski will turn quicker and is generally a narrower waist width. A ski with a long turn radius is generally wider and more stable when skiing fast.
You might also hear the words ‘rocker’ and ‘camber’ mentioned when looking at skis for women. This is basically the contact points of the ski on the snow. You will find skis that have either rocker or camber, OR a combination of rocker AND camber. To keep it simple, camber offers more stability on hard snow and at high speeds and also gives a better edge hold. Whereas rocker is more forgiving on the knees and legs, offering more float in powder snow. Rockered skis generally have a shorter effective edge (the edge of the ski that makes direct contact with the snow), so even if it’s as tall as you, it will ski shorter. Shorter skis are also not as stable as a longer ski but they will make short, quick turns if that’s what you’re into.
Most skis are made to go anywhere on the mountain, whether it be in resort or off-piste. Most skiers will be able to jump on any type of ski and be able to ski them in any terrain. Ski manufacturers focus some of the skis in their range to specific types of skiing.
Get inspired, watch Amie Engerbretson ski edit Oh La La
A good option for anyone that wants to ski the whole mountain. Often with a waist width between 80-110mm, depending on where you ski most. If you’re anywhere in the intermediate range, an all-mountain ski will help you progress!
Powder skis (fat skis)
Powder skis are often fat, rockered and have a twin tip and tail (so you can ski forward and backward!). The waist is normally 105+ so that you can float through the deep, fresh powder snow. Additionally, they can handle most snow with varying conditions (ice, hard-packed, soft snow), and perfect groomed runs too.
Park skis (commonly referred to as twin tips)
Park skis are for people who spend a lot of time in the terrain park. Generally, they are twin tip skis. Park skis come in a variety of rocker/camber shapes and have a width between about 80 and 100mm. A lot of people use park skis/twin tips as an all mountain ski for skiing in Australia.
Carving skis (resort skis)
A good carving ski will have a waist width between 70 and 85mm which makes them easier to turn edge to edge – ideal for feeling the carving sensation! If you’re used to skiing on a twin tip, jumping on a set of carving skis will help you really feel where your technique may or may not need work.
Alpine touring skis (backcountry skis)
Often lighter and designed for going uphill and downhill, alpine touring skis vary in length and width. It all depends on where you’ll be skiing downhill, that will determine your width and height. Note that you will also need a different binding for touring.
Bindings are the last piece of the puzzle when buying skis. The two things to consider when buying bindings is the brake width and the DIN setting. The brake width needs to match the width of skis. If you’re buying a ski that is 85mm wide, get a brake that is the same or slightly wider. The DIN setting is determined by your ability, weight, height and sole length of your ski boot and bindings will need to be mounted, set and checked by a certified ski technician before you can get on the snow.
Alpine touring bindings
If you are thinking of buying a touring ski set-up, then you will need to also think about your bindings. Touring bindings have an uphill and a downhill mode and are often much lighter than regular bindings. While some people do ski the resort on a touring set-up, this is only for the very advanced skier as they are not as stable at high speeds on compacted snow.
That’s a wrap on the ski buying guide! It might look like a lot to consider but its really a lot simpler than it seems. The best way to find out what skis are best for you is to rent some demo model skis and discuss what you like with a ski technician. Many ski stores that rent and sell skis offer some kind of try before you buy, so you don’t have to make up your mind without actually giving them a go!
Shop skis for women – in USA, in Australia, in Europe
Header image of Angel Collinson courtesy of Red Bull
Have you got any advice for other ladies buying skis for women? Do you have a favourite brand or ski that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below :-)