Best Skis For Beginners

So, you’ve made the choice to buy your first pair of skis. This is a huge milestone in your ski career and it’s a big choice because a pair of skis can last a really long time.

In 2020, as skiing technology continues to grow there are lot of skis on the market that could potentially be a great choice for your first pair of shredders.

Despite this, due to the number of skis on the market this can be a very confusing process, but I have you covered for the best types of beginner skis you can buy today.

If you’re ready to progress past beginner skis, check out our guide to the best all-mountain skis.

Top Pick | Rossignol Experience 76 with Xpress 11 Bindings

The Rossignol Experience is the beginner ski we’ve always wanted, but never have truly gotten before from any company.

At a 76mm underfoot, you’ll be shredding groomers and still have solid control when an unexpected powder day arises or at the end of the day when conditions may get a little sloppy.

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Dimensions: 123-76-109mm
Turn radius: 15m

It’s light weight and has the ability to turn with ease on the mountain. The flex on this ski makes it very forgiving while making turns. From the very first time you lock into this binding, you’ll feel that you control this ski.

It has a mixed rocker/camber design which will allow you to cruise down the mountain, make great turns, and carve with control. The low tip rocker combined with a 15m turn radius made these skis perfect for carving. With the Experience’s you’ll make nice turns with ease and that was a huge factor that put these skis as the top pick on the list.

Because of all the great technological advances that come with this ski, you won’t be having to buy a new pair next season. The Rossignol Experience 76 are a true beginner ski that have the capability to progress with your ability and still provide an epic ride down the mountain.

The Xpress 11 bindings were also a reason this ski landed the top spot. A lot of skis are adding integrated bindings which makes it so easy to fit any boot to a particular ski. At the beginner level, I think integrated bindings are a huge benefit, so these Rossi’s didn’t disappoint in that category.

If you have the intention of staying on groomers, this ski can’t be beat. The one downside I see with this ski is that when it comes to all mountain capability, it could be better. Despite this, it still provides you with a solid ride when conditions aren’t perfect.

The price point is faintly higher because of all the features that are included in this ski, but overall the slight expense is minimal when you breakdown the value of the Experience 76.

Best Budget Option | K2 Press Skis

The K2 Press Skis are a true beginner ski with a lot of positives. They’re very easy to handle on the mountain and you will feel in control of this ski most of the time. This ski also has a lot of flex which can be a positive for beginner skiers.

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Dimensions: 111-86-106mm
Turn radius: 19m

Big turns will come with a lot of forgiveness, but it can often be too much forgiveness. These are the type of skis that are so light, it could potentially be a negative for a more powerful skier.

You’ll be able to carve on the frontside and explore the trails off the beaten path because of the skis 86mm underfoot design which is a positive. This is an all mountain ski, but it doesn’t sacrifice too much for frontside groomers which is a benefit.

However, the ability to explore the entire mountain brings some negatives on the frontside. This ski is meant for sweeping turns which is the most common turn for a beginner, but if your skill level improves and you start pushing the pace, don’t be surprised if you catch an edge every once in a while.

I do like these skis, but we need to take them for what they’re worth. It’s a great budget choice. The Press Skis don’t come with integrated bindings, but adding a decent pair will still give you a full set for a great price point.

If you want to progress rapidly, this ski isn’t for you because you’ll be back at the ski shop very soon. This is a great ski for someone looking to stay at the beginner level for a while and really get comfortable with the basics before advancing to tougher terrain.

Runner-Up | Atomic Vantage 86 C

Ever since I took my first ride on an Atomic Ski at 11 years old, I fell in love with this company. Atomic is one of those brands that’s iconic in the ski industry.

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Dimensions: 123-86-107mm
Turn radius: 18.2m

If you’re looking for a high-quality ski that doesn’t break the bank, but still delivers on the mountain the Atomic Vantage 86 C is for you! Let’s get into the details.

This is a true all mountain ski. I can’t express this enough. With an 86mm underfoot, this ski is a great introduction to getting off groomers and exploring the whole mountain. This could be a positive or negative depending on where you live and if you get a lot of powder, but this ski is the real deal at a great price point. 

Its tip rocker is higher than a lot of other beginner skis which will allow you to float on powder, but still throw down some sharp turns on the intermediate groomers. At an 18.2m turning radius, the Atomic Vantage 86 C is sitting right at the middle spot of what you look for in an all mountain ski.

There’s a lot of good, but let’s talk about the negative. First, this ski doesn’t come with integrated bindings and that immediately takes this ski off the top spot. A good pair of bindings is going to make this ski a little pricier than I’d like, but the quality is solid, so I had to put it as a runner up.

If you’re looking for an all mountain ski this is a great choice, but you are going to give up some responsiveness on groomed trails. This ski turns easily for moderate to large turns, but if you’re looking for a pure frontside carver this ski isn’t the best option.

Best Lightweight Beginner Ski | Head V-Shape V4 with PR10 Bindings

The Head V-Shape V4 ski was MADE for the frontside. I personally love this ski because I stick to groomers more than the woods, but there are some beginners that want to venture off the frontside. Let’s see what this ski has to offer!

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Dimensions: 132-73-113mm
Turn radius: 12.5m

First off, it’s my pick for best lightweight ski and for good reason. When you’re looking at a lightweight ski, you need to be careful. Some skis can be too light for the rider, but the Head V-Shape V4 crushes it for every type of beginner rider.

The rocker on this ski is moderate and it has a 12.5 m turn radius. This ski has the ability to carve down the mountain. On the frontside, you’ll feel like you have control, but I wouldn’t recommend venturing off the beaten path with this ski.

Even though it’s lightweight, it still delivers in the stiffness department. Some lightweight skis flex like crazy which can be detrimental depending on the rider. These have a nice moderate flex to someone who wants skis with power and others who want to just go for a nice ride down the trail.

The flaw with this ski is that it doesn’t grow with the skier. As your ability improves and you want to pick up speed with a larger turn radius, this ski can’t deliver. It’s lower than the traditional low-end turn radius of a frontside carver so take this ski for what it’s worth.

It comes with integrated bindings which is a benefit no matter what ski you buy so that’s a plus. This ski, like the K2 Press would be a great choice for someone looking to stay at a beginner level for an advanced period.

This ski is very stable, but its life won’t be long if your skills on the mountain improve quickly. Despite this, for a true beginner ski, Head crushed the technology and for that reason it had to make the list.

Best Transition Beginner Ski | Salomon QST 92

Let me start this review off by saying Salomon never disappoints. I’d recommend anything they produce because the amount of care that goes into their products is amazing.

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Dimensions: 130-92-113mm
Turn radius: 17m

The QST 92 isn’t a pure beginner ski, but if you feel that you’re an athlete that wants to progress quickly, this ski could be the perfect match. Let’s break it down.

92mm underfoot is pretty big for a beginner, but it’s nothing that an athlete can’t handle especially if you go with a shorter ski length. Due to the increased underfoot size, there could be a small learning curve at first on the frontside.

Once you get good on the groomers and venture to uncharted terrain this ski will become your best friend. I wouldn’t recommend this ski unless you were serious about improving because it’s definitely on the stiffer end of the scale. Stiff isn’t forgiving like the previous flexier options that I listed.

The stiffness will be a benefit when you start to push harder down the mountain, but don’t consider this ski as a beginner unless you want to move up quickly.

It also doesn’t come with an integrated binding system so these skis will be an investment, but they can be worth it if you’re willing to struggle early for a better ride down the road!

Even though there may be a learning curve, you have the ability to shred on the frontside and venture to backcountry successfully with the Salomon QST 92.

What a Beginner Should Look For When Choosing Skis

There are obviously great skis on the market that didn’t make my list. If none of these skis end up coming to the mountain with you, here’s a brief guide for what beginners should look for in their first pair of skis!

Turn Radius

Turn radius is the shape of a ski determined by its tip, waist, and tail width, usually expressed in meters. All the small details of turn radius aren’t too important for a beginner, but a beginner should traditionally look for a smaller turning radius.

A smaller turn radius equates to skis that are meant for carving on the frontside. The frontside is the trails that are in good condition on the mountain. As your turn radius increases, the skis are designed to go off the beaten path.

The width of the tips and tails increase for the rough patches encountered out on natural terrain which causes the turn radius to rise.

Most beginners are only staying on the frontside, but there are some who desire to get off the trail and explore. 16m and under is a great radius for a beginner, but it’s okay to go bigger depending on your goals. The maximum radius I would consider as a beginner is 22m, but even that can be tough to control for someone new to the mountain.

Ski Length and Underfoot Width

Ski length combined with underfoot width are two important beginner concerns for ski control. Smaller underfoot width and shorter skis equal more control on the frontside, but these skis won’t perform nearly as well in the backcountry.

For a point of reference, a 5’10” skier has a recommended ski length of 170-179cm. If you’re a beginner, a shorter ski will give you more control, but as people progress in the sport they tend to go with longer skis for increased speed.

Once you gain confidence over your skis, length and underfoot play a smaller role. As a beginner though, the ability to confidently make turns is huge for long term success.

Ski underfoot, or waist width, is measured at the narrowest point of the ski. A narrower waist width makes for easier turns, but a larger underfoot performs better in tough conditions.

A beginner should assess their goals and the terrain they’d like to ski when deciding on a specific model. It’s easy to learn with a narrower waist so I would recommend that a beginner goes as narrow as possible.

If you do choose a narrow underfoot and you have backcountry dreams, don’t think that the ski will prevent you from venturing off of the groomers. It may not perform like a wider model, but a confident skier trumps a ski model any day of the week.

Ski Flex

Flex, like length and waist is better at a lower level for a beginner skier. Flex can be measured at every point in the ski and for more advanced models these numbers are often provided. For a beginner, you should worry about flex on a comprehensive 1-10 scale.

On the scale, 1 is the most flexible option while 10 is the least flexible choice. I would say beginners who want to ski aggressively can venture slightly above a 5, but a skier who wants to be a little more cautious on the slopes should find a pair of skis below a 5.

Body size should also be factored into this equation. A person with a bigger body could afford a stiffer ski and not see any downfalls so take this into consideration as well when making your purchase.

Price

Price always plays a factor in our decisions and it should be considered as a beginner making your first ski purchase.

I think some other questions need to be asked when thinking about price:

  1. How much am I going to use this equipment?
  2. How long do I want this equipment to last?
  3. What are my skiing goals?

The answers to these questions are going to determine how much you want to spend on a pair of skis.

In my experience and from what I have seen, I think you can get a great pair of beginner skis for $500 or less. The ranges vary with this, but as a brand-new skier I would try to get a complete set of skis and bindings for under $500.

Depending on your goals you can deviate to either side of this price point, but I think $500 will get you a great set of skis that you can use for years to come!

That covers your basic beginner guide on ski shopping. I wish you the best with your purchase and I hope to see you on the mountain.

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