The most popular type of skis on the alpine market is all-mountain skis. All-mountain skis have changed the shredding game forever because of their versatility all over the slope.
With all-mountain sticks, you have the ability to shred the frontside, float over powder, or explore the untouched backcountry. So if you don’t want to limit yourself to skis specific to moguls, freestyle, racing, etc., and want to enjoy the entire mountain, keep reading…
Here are my choices for the best all-mountain skis.
Top Pick | Nordica Enforcer 94 Skis
Nordica revolutionized all-mountain skis with their Enforcer model. Enforcers have been a top choice of rippers all over the world since the company introduced the model a few years ago.
Every year, Nordica continues to revamp their technology to improve an already flawless ski. There aren’t many other alpine brands that would try to progress the technology in a ski that’s as popular as the Enforcers.
The Nordica Enforcer 94 is defined by versatility. This ski can thrive on eastern or western mountain terrain. At 94mm underfoot, the Enforcers allow you to float over powder and make sweeping turns down frontside groomers. The turning radius is 16.1m which give you the best of both worlds for on and off piste terrain.
The rocker/camber/rocker design promotes superior edge hold. The depth of the rocker gives a playful feel all over the mountain. Crud or ice doesn’t stand a chance against the sharp sides of the Enforcer 94.
Two pieces of Energy 2 Titanium sandwiches the wood core of the Enforcer 94. This provides a sense of security to dig into the trail, but also lightness if a powder day arises. True Tip Technology helped the weight in this ski as well.
True Tip Technology is the most significant innovation in this year’s model. This cut out ABS plastic and extended the wood core top cut which reduced the overall ski weight. This was one flaw with the Enforcer line in prior seasons.
I believe the Enforcer 94 is fairly priced. This ski is relatively cheap considering the amount of effort that Nordica puts in during the research phase of production.
My only issue with this ski is that it’s for an advanced shredder. I wish Nordica made this ski more adaptable for an intermediate skier because it’s such an amazing product. This is hands down the best all-mountain ski that you can buy.
Budget Option | Dynastar Menace 90 Skis With Xpress 11 GW Bindings
Dynastar put a lot of technology into the Menace 90 at a great price point. There isn’t a better budget all-mountain model than these skis. The first thing that jumps out when you look at these skis is that they come with Xpress 11 GW bindings.
Xpress bindings are very durable, and they allow you to rip all over the resort. You’ll be able to buy a comfortable pair of boots with the Menaces because you won’t have to worry about bindings.
This ski targets beginner to intermediate level skiers that want to shred all types of terrain for a remarkable value. The width of these skis is medium. They’ll perform better on groomers at a 90mm last, but you can still take these off piste without any issues.
This adaptability is also thanks to the rocker/camber/rocker design which is the perfect profile for a smooth all-mountain ride.
The flex of this ski is medium, so they’ll be easy to control on the slopes. This flex will provide the perfect introduction to the backcountry.
The body of the ski is made of wood which is surrounded by a fiberglass braid. This braid adds stability which allows skiers to get on edge with ease.
My favorite part about these skis is that they progress with your skiing ability. Beginners can thrive in these skis and they won’t need to find a new model when they advance to an intermediate level.
Unfortunately, these skis won’t do the job for an advanced ripper, but this is to be expected with a budget model. If you’re looking for value, look no further than the Dynastar Menace 90 skis.
Beginner All-Mountain | K2 Mindbender 85 Skis
The K2 Mindbender 85 is the perfect ski for beginners who want confidence in the backcountry. If you’re a beginner and you want to start moving off piste, look no further than the Mindbender 85.
The underfoot width on the ski is 85mm. 85mm puts this model in the all-mountain groomer category. This ski will perform best on the frontside, but don’t hesitate if you want to take the Mindbenders through the trees or on ungroomed trails.
For a beginner, a small last or underfoot width is ideal because you’ll have an easier time controlling the sticks in tight terrain at slower speeds.
The Aspen Veneer Core of the ski makes this model lightweight and forgiving on the mountain. You’re able to recover if you make a mistake initiating a turn which is a necessity for new rippers.
The flex of this ski is soft which makes control on the mountain simple. The rocker/camber/rocker design makes it tough to catch an edge when you’re locked into the Mindbenders.
The turn radius is 13.5m which makes carving easy. Carving is important for a beginner to learn even if you have the backcountry on your mind.
Sadly, power isn’t included in the Mindbender 85. K2 built these for beginners who want to optimize control. If you progress to a point where you want to fly down the slope, control will suffer with this model because of their low flex and lightweight nature.
However, the Mindbender is the perfect choice for any beginner skier looking to mix on and off piste terrain during their trip to the mountain.
Intermediate All-Mountain | Nordica Soul Rider 87 Skis
Nordica isn’t just known for their Enforcer line when it comes to all-mountain models. The Soul Rider 87 is the perfect option for intermediate skiers who want all-mountain capability, including the terrain park.
The Soul Rider 87 is a twin tipped, rocker/camber/rocker design. This profile is outstanding when it comes to all-mountain blades.
The ski has a medium flex, but they’re also lightweight. The lightweight wood core technology allowed Nordica to enhance the performance of these skis without creating a heavy product.
There is a carbon layup incorporated within to the body of this ski. This is one of the features that gives the Soul Rider 87 such a playful feel on all terrain. Additionally, the model has a strong sidewall construction.
The sidewall construction in the Soul Rider helps skiers get on edge quick and stay there without any slippage. This strong structure promotes stability in the backcountry.
The skis only have a last of 87mm. This makes them better for the frontside, but the twin tip nature is great when you encounter untouched snow conditions.
These skis were meant to help you cruise down the mountain in style. The biggest issue with these skis is that they can make it difficult to dominate powder.
The 87mm last is solid in east coast powder, but if you ski in the Rockies you may sink through the soft snow in that region.
Advanced All-Mountain | Blizzard Bonafide 97 Skis
The Bonafide 97 is similar to the Nordica Enforcer in the sense that Blizzard continues to improve a superior model every winter. The Bonafide 97 performs all over the mountain.
The Bonafide 97 is stiff, but the sticks feel light when you lock into this model. The 97mm underfoot width is perfect for an advanced skier looking to conquer the entire mountain.
An advanced skier can cruise on groomers, but also glide over powder with this large underfoot width. The rocker/camber/rocker profile allows you to maintain edge on crud and ice.
This profile helps you initiate turns on piste and off piste. You’ll be able to make every turn your heart desires at a rapid pace with these skis. The faster you go, the better these skis perform.
The Bonafide 97 was built for speed which is apparent when you look at the body design. Carbon and titanal laminates maintain a stiff flex at high speeds so power is sustained for the entirety of your run.
Within the body, there is also a rubber layer to minimize body vibration caused from chatter on days where the mountain is loaded with ice.
This is one epic ski. No expert that locks into the Blizzard Bonafide 97 will be disappointed. It’s important to know that this performance will come at a hefty price point.
When you add in a pair of decent bindings and boots, you’ll be hit with a bill that’s well over $1,000. This shouldn’t deter you from buying this ski, but the price must align with your alpine goals.
Runner Up | Salomon Stance 96 Skis
The Salomon Stance 96 is a new model for 2021, but there has been nothing but positive reviews about this ski. It’s very similar to the Nordica Enforcer 94 in all categories including price.
In coming years, I could see this ski dominating the all-mountain category. However, Salomon still has some work to do before the Stance dethrones the Enforcer for the top overall all-mountain ski on the market.
The 96mm underfoot gives these skis an elite level of performance on and off the trail. The Poplar Woodcore makes the Stance 96 lightweight, but stiff at the same time. The profile of the ski is rocker/camber/rocker.
The rocker tips are minimal which makes steering simple. Vibration is negligible thanks to Salomon’s C/FX technology that’s imbedded within the Stance 96. This is included in the body along with a Metal Twin Frame Laminate for fast paced performance all over the mountain.
Even though this ski has a stiff flex, turning is still simple for advanced intermediates and all levels beyond this stage. The 20m turning radius gives you the ability to make sweeping turns down the frontside and soar through powder.
The Salomon Stance 96 and the Nordica Enforcer 94 come in at the same price. I just don’t think the Stance is at the level of the Enforcer just yet and that’s why it takes home the runner up position.
I want to see Salomon emphasize their frontside performance in their 2022 model to possibly take down Nordica for the best all-mountain ski.
How to Choose All-Mountain Skis
Purchasing skis is an extensive process that can be very difficult to maneuver. When it comes to the all-mountain category, this process becomes even more tedious. There are a few things that you must keep in mind when you’re shopping for a pair of all-mountain sticks.
The term all-mountain encompasses a lot of alpine terrain. All-mountain skis allow you to rip all over the resort. Despite this, different types of all-mountain skis are better for individual types of terrain.
For example, an all-mountain frontside ski will tear up groomers, but still allow you to confidently go off the beaten path. This type of ski may not be the best off piste, but it will get the job done.
There are also all-mountain skis that target off piste terrain. These will be great in the trees or on ungroomed trails, but they’ll be tougher to handle when you’re flying down the frontside.
There are countless categories of all-mountain skis. The smallest technological tweak on a ski can tailor the sticks for diverse terrains.
You can’t forget that all-mountain means that the ski can be used on all parts of the mountain. It doesn’t mean that a pair of skis will perform flawlessly all over the slope.
Before you begin your search for all-mountain skis, ask yourself, “What terrain do I want to primarily attack?” If you love the frontside, but want a little off piste capability, choose your skis accordingly.
Knowing this information is important prior to the beginning of your search. It will automatically eliminate numerous models to make a tough shopping process much easier.
Underfoot width or last, is an important factor when you’re looking to buy all-mountain skis. Last is measured in millimeters. The width is measured from edge to edge at the shortest part of the ski.
For a ski to be considered an all-mountain model, it must be between 75mm and 110mm. This range is over a 35mm difference which is a big gap. There will be some performance variances between the low end and high end of this spread.
A ski with a smaller last will perform better on groomers and hardpacked terrain. They’ll give you the ability to effortlessly shred the frontside. The backcountry will present a much steeper challenge for skis with small underfoot widths.
A larger last is predicated for ungroomed snow and powder. This helps with flotation and maintaining edge traction when the conditions take a turn for the worst.
Here are my recommendations for widths depending on your all-mountain goals.
All-Mountain Frontside: 75mm-90mm
True All-Mountain Skis: 88mm-100mm
All-Mountain Backcountry/Powder: 100mm-110mm
The true all-mountain range gives you the best of both worlds on the slopes. My favorite last in a ski has been between 90mm and 94mm. I feel that this last has given me the best control throughout on and off piste terrain.
This underfoot width hasn’t let me down on the east coast, west coast, or in the Rockies. My goal was performance on all types of terrain so that’s why I love this range.
If you assess your goals, I have complete confidence that you’ll find the perfect ski.
Some skis are much easier to control than others so it’s critical to choose a model based on your shredding ability.
Flex is important to remember when it comes to your skiing ability. A soft flexing ski is best for all-mountain beginners. A stiff flex is best for an expert shredder who is confident in their ability on the mountain.
Soft flexing skis are easier to control. They make it easy for beginners to initiate turns because of their natural playfulness.
Stiff flexing skis are much tougher to maneuver down the trails. Nevertheless, there is a benefit to skis with a stiff flex. These types of skis give you more power on the mountain. They help you move between edges rapidly.
Stiff flexing skis have greater stability at high speed. If you just want to cruise, stay away from skis with a stiff flex.
A medium flex gives intermediates the best of both worlds. I utilize a stiff flex because of my ability and body size, but I have experience with medium flex skis as well. They still provide an excellent level of steadiness at high speeds.
Skis in the all-mountain category are fairly consistent when it comes to profile. Skis in this group are often built with a mixed rocker/camber design. The rocker tips and tails with a camber underfoot help rippers conquer the entire mountain.
This profile helps you tear up hardpacked snow and float over powder. If you find an all-mountain model that isn’t a mixed rocker/camber design, immediately eliminate that ski from your list.
Power, control, and turning ability are three of the endless benefits that come with a mixed rocker/camber ski profile.
Turn radius is the measure of the natural turning ability of the ski. This is calculated based off the shape of the ski.
It’s important to remember that you can make any type of turn on all types of skis. However, turn radius can indicate if the ski has the ability to conquer the whole mountain.
A smaller turn radius means that a ski is made to carve. A larger turn radius shows that a ski is better for sweeping turns.
A small turning radius will suffer in powder because it has a smaller body. This causes floatation to suffer. A large turning radius isn’t perfect either. This type of ski makes it tougher for you to get on edge. This causes additional strain when you initiate sharp turns.
Here are the turn radius measurements you should look for in your search for all-mountain sticks.
All-Mountain Frontside: Less than 16m
True All-Mountain: 16m-20m
All-Mountain Backcountry/Powder: Over 20m
Height is critical in all-mountain skis. Ability needs to be factored into this category as well. Shorter skis are much easier to control on the mountain. Although, this height won’t be very beneficial for performance on ungroomed trails.
Beginners should trend towards smaller skis, but intermediate to advanced rippers should embrace length. The perfect ski length for an all-mountain ride is between your eyes and the top of your head when your skis are standing upright.
Longer skis perform better in tough snow conditions, so this is a personal preference. True all-mountain skis should be between your eyes and the top of your head.
If your skis go above your head, the sticks are tailored for the backcountry.
When you factor in your goals to all of these categories, it’s tough to go wrong when you’re shopping for a pair of all-mountain skis.