5 Best Skis For Tree Skiing

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Updated January 2024.

Shredding a nice groomer first thing in the morning just feels good on your skis, but a lot of mountains offer great terrain on more than just the front side. Not everyone dares to venture into the trees, but the backcountry can be filled with playful terrain that’s even more satisfying than a frontside groomer.

Your decision to go off the trail and get in the trees is huge because that means you’re a daring skier that has made the choice to explore.

Frontside carvers are great on the groomers, but definitely aren’t your best option for taking your first trip to the backcountry. So, if you want to take a gnarly trip off the groomed trails, keep reading to find out my picks for the skis that will you give you the best ride for tree skiing.

Top Pick

1. Volkl Blaze 94

A versatile and dynamic all-mountain ski that caters to a wide range of skiers and works well in the trees.

Size (cm)158165172179186
Tip Width (mm)134134134134134
Waist Width (mm)9494949494
Tail Width (mm)116116116116116
Turning Radius (m)1314151719

The Volkl Blaze 94 is a versatile and dynamic all-mountain ski that caters to a wide range of skiers, from intermediate to advanced levels. With its innovative design and construction, the Blaze 94 delivers a high-performance experience across various snow conditions.

Equip these bad boys with a hybrid touring binding and you have a one ski quiver.

One standout feature of the Blaze 94 is its lightweight construction, thanks to the use of Volkl’s Triple Woodcore technology. This not only reduces the overall weight of the ski but also enhances its maneuverability and responsiveness.

The ski feels nimble and agile, allowing skiers to make quick turns and navigate through challenging terrain with ease. Perfect for tree skiing in any conditions!

The 94mm waist width strikes a great balance between groomed runs and off-piste adventures. This width provides stability on hardpack and allows for ample float in softer snow, making the Blaze 94 a reliable choice for skiers who want a ski that can handle diverse conditions.

The tip and tail rocker contribute to its versatility, ensuring smooth turn initiation and exit while maintaining stability at speed.

The Blaze 94’s performance on groomed slopes is commendable, offering precise edge control and carving capabilities. Its versatility truly shines in variable conditions, where the ski excels in crud, bumps, and powder.

The moderate taper and tip shape enhance its ability to plow through choppy snow, providing a smooth and stable ride.

One aspect to note is that the Blaze 94 may not be the ideal choice for skiers looking for a dedicated powder ski or a race-oriented carving ski.

While it performs admirably in these areas, it falls more into the category of a well-rounded, all-mountain ski that can handle a bit of everything.

Overall, the Volkl Blaze 94 is a fantastic option for skiers seeking a versatile, lightweight, and responsive ski that can handle a variety of conditions. Its construction and design make it a reliable companion for those who enjoy exploring the entire mountain and want a ski that adapts effortlessly to changing terrain and snow conditions.

The Volkl Blaze 94 sits at the top of this list because of its performance on every terrain, light weight and incredible maneuverability.

Budget Option

2. Line Sick Day 94

A rare find of skis that can handle all kinds of terrain at a reasonable price point.

Dimensions: 131-94-117mm
Turn Radius: 17.6m

The price point of skis with all-mountain capability that can provide a great ride in the trees is more expensive than a ski with less capability. I don’t know how Line did it with their Sick Day model, but they have changed the game with this ski at the price they’re offering.

Skis that are lower in price typically don’t give you the feel that Line has done with the Sick Day 94. It has the design of a frontside ski but provides a fun and playful option in the trees.

It’s a great ski for someone making their way up the ranks from beginner to intermediate as it provides a lot of control, it’s easy to turn, and it’s very forgiving on soft snow. At a 17.6m turn radius, you’ll be able to control the ski, but by design, it will take a little more power to get on edge on hard snow.

The lightweight design is a plus when maneuvering through the trees, but we need to remember that this is a budget ski. If you’re looking for a model with a super long lifespan, you’re not going to get it with the Sick Day 94.

Despite the life, the ski will be your best friend on the mountain when you’re tearing up the trees.

It’s not a great ski for a powder day and I found it somewhat unresponsive as trail difficulty rose, but overall Line crushed this ski for an amazing price point.

It’s the best budget ski on the market and you’ll be able to add bindings and boots for the price of other skis if you purchase the Line Sick Day 94.

Advanced Pick

3. Nordica Enforcer 94

The Enforcer can get on edge quickly and make sharp turns, but also still sweep long and fast down the trail.

Size (cm)165172179186191
Tip Width (mm)125.5126.5127127.5128
Waist Width (mm)9494949494
Tail Width (mm)112114115.5115.5116
Turning Radius (m)15.516.

When Nordica introduced their Enforcer series a few years back, the alpine community went crazy for these skis. Any Nordica Enforcer is the real deal and the updates that Nordica has made this year with the 94 is top of the line.

The Nordica Enforcer has been my primary ski for the past two years and it doesn’t disappoint. Anyone I’ve talked to on the mountain who uses Enforcers says the same thing…These skis are legit. Let’s find out why!

When you explore trees and ungroomed parts of the mountain, you’re going to want control and a ski that can turn. The Enforcer 94 can do just that and do it better than their previous best-selling models.

The Enforcer can get on edge quickly and make sharp turns, but also still sweep long and fast down the trail. Its turn radius is 17.1m which is low for an all-mountain ski, so this performs well when the trails get tight. This ski is very lightweight, especially in the tips, so it gives you the ability to make quick turns when needed.

Even though this ski is easy to turn and lightweight, you can still power it down the mountain. It has a great high-quality build which is no surprise because Nordica doesn’t disappoint in this department.

In the new 94 there are two sheets of Titanal, a new carbon fiber chassis, and an extended wood core which really allows you to push these skis harder than other responsive models.

Even though you’ll want to take a trip to the trees with the Enforcers, you’re not giving up any quality on frontside groomers. This ski performs well all over the mountain.

There’s really not a lot of negative that comes with this ski. My only complaint would be that even though the tips are responsive, the tail can be slightly stiff which will hurt you in really soft snow. This isn’t the best ski for a lot of powder days, but it still has an above-average ride in those conditions considering it has a 94mm underfoot.

For the price and quality, this ski can’t be beaten and that’s why I could not recommend it more to advanced skiers who are looking forward to new terrain in the trees!

Intermediate Pick

4. Elan Ripstick 96

Lightweight ski with great control for the intermediate skier looking for some of their first off-piste trails.

Size (cm)164172180188
Tip Width (mm)136136136136
Waist Width (mm)96969696
Tail Width (mm)110110110110
Turning Radius (m)15.116.21819.5

The Elan Ripstick 96 is a highly acclaimed all-mountain ski suitable for intermediate to expert skiers seeking a versatile and high-performance experience across diverse snow conditions.

With its innovative design and construction, the Ripstick 96 has gained a reputation for its responsiveness, agility, and all-around capabilities. You can see pro skiers ripping the pillow lines in the trees with these, but they are a great tool for intermediates who want to grow in a ski.

One standout feature of the Ripstick 96 is its Amphibio profile, which combines traditional camber on the inside edge with a rockered outside edge. This asymmetrical design enhances the ski’s performance by providing excellent edge grip on hardpack while allowing for smooth turn initiation and float in softer snow. The result is a ski that excels in both carving and off-piste conditions, making it well-suited for skiers who like to explore the entire mountain.

The ski’s Tubelite Woodcore with carbon tubes adds to its impressive performance. The carbon tubes strategically placed in the ski’s construction contribute to stability and responsiveness without adding unnecessary weight. This makes the Ripstick 96 feel light and agile, allowing skiers to maneuver through tight spots and varied terrain with confidence.

With a 96mm waist width, the Ripstick strikes a versatile balance between groomed runs and powder days. This width offers enough float in softer snow while maintaining stability on harder surfaces. The ski’s tip and tail rocker further enhance its ability to handle variable conditions, providing smooth turn initiation and exit. The Ripstick series has a lot of models with different widths, so it is important to know your area and the snowfall you are getting.

The Ripstick 96 is known for its lively and playful feel, making it a great choice for skiers who enjoy mixing up their style on the mountain. Whether you’re carving down groomers, navigating through trees, or venturing into the backcountry, the Ripstick 96 maintains a high level of performance.

While the Ripstick 96 is generally praised for its versatility, some skiers may find it less suitable for pure carving or racing. It excels more as an adventurous all-mountain ski that can handle a variety of challenges.

Bottom line, the Elan Ripstick 96 is a top-tier, all-mountain ski that offers a thrilling and dynamic experience for advanced and expert skiers. Its innovative design, lightweight construction, and versatility make it a standout choice for those who want a ski that can handle anything the mountain throws at them.


4. Blizzard Rustler 9

This ski should start on the feet of an intermediate skier, but I believe that an advanced skier would be just as pleased with this model.

Size (cm)162168174180186
Tip Width (mm)131.5
Waist Width (mm)96
Tail Width (mm)121
Turning Radius (m)1415161718

For me, when I think of tree skiing Blizzard always comes to mind. I don’t know why, but this company creates some really great gear that I feel goes under the radar.

I couldn’t create this list and not find a spot for the Blizzard Rustler 9. This ski should start on the feet of an intermediate skier, but I believe that an advanced skier would be just as pleased with this model.

In the past, Blizzard’s all-mountain capability was positioned more towards the front side, but the Rustler 9 ended that reputation.

This ski is defined by playfulness and the ability to make quick poppy turns whenever your heart desires. It has three available underfoot widths, but for control, in the trails, I would stick with the 94mm waist width.

The playfulness isn’t as noticeable with the larger underfoot widths and the ski loses its all-mountain control with the bigger sizes. The powder won’t be your best friend with the 94mm underfoot, but you’ll also be able to maneuver it while still having all the other capabilities that the Rustler 9 offers.

If you are in more powder skiing areas consider moving up a size, but this ski isn’t as fun with a larger underfoot.

The metal underfoot design allows you to push hard when you want, and the tips are also very light which makes life easy in rough snow. If you’re looking for an epic day on the mountain, this is a great choice. 

The reason it fell to a runner-up spot is that it’s solid all around, but doesn’t shine like some of the other skis on the list. Don’t let that statement fool you though because this is an awesome ski and I look forward to seeing what Blizzard does in the future because of the excitement that this model generated in the alpine community.

Skis To Avoid If You Are Looking For The One Pair

Except if you are in Japan, try not to go towards the 120 mm waist width. The snow in the trees is deep but fat skis are heavier to toss around and pivot.

I would also avoid strictly touring skis if you are planning to ski the trees after you are getting off a chairlift. The performance for strictly downhill skiing just is not there.

What to Look for in Tree Skis

You can’t go wrong with any ski on this list depending on your goals. Although, if you don’t feel any of these skis are a great fit here’s what you need to look for in your next pair of shredders that can handle even those touch east coast tree trails.

Underfoot or Ski Width

Underfoot or ski width is measured in millimeters at the narrowest part of your ski. Depending on ability and where you’re skiing you should look for a pair of skis that have an 80-110mm underfoot length.

There are some tradeoffs to take into account. A larger underfoot length allows you to float more in powder and dominate loose snow. The lower the underfoot length, the better the ski will operate on hard-packed snow.

In the trees, you’ll encounter a whole bunch of different conditions. You truly never know what you’re going to get, but think about the weather in the area you typically ski and that should give you some ideas of your local backcountry conditions.

If you know powder isn’t prominent where you live like in the East, I would recommend staying below 100mm for tree skiing. There’s no secret formula for any skier though and this should be based off the type of skis that you feel comfortable with under your feet.

Mixed Camber/Rocker Design

Mixed camber/rocker designs are very popular in skiing now because they provide the best of both worlds. Camber, the half-moon shape that rises under your feet, is awesome for groomers. Rocker is when the tips of the skis are raised on either end which is great in tougher snow conditions.

The combination of these two designs creates skis with an epic ride that can thrive in any tree situation. I would look for a ski with a mixed design because this is the most versatile option on the market for different snow types that may arise on the mountain.

Turn Radius

The turn radius refers to the shape of the ski. The measurement is based off the tip, waist, and tail dimensions and is listed in meters. When the tip/tail is significantly wider than the waist, the turn radius will be shorter, and this is typically seen on skis designated for carving.

A shorter turn radius is great in the trees because you’ll need to make quick maneuvers instead of long sweeping turns. A longer turn radius also gives you more control on tough snow.

I would personally look for a turn radius between 16-20m so you get great turning ability in the trees, but also can bomb down open areas and still shred on the frontside.

All Mountain Versatility

Skiing in the trees is a lot of fun because it allows you to explore. Even though the unmarked trails are great, that doesn’t mean you’ll never hit the front side again.

There will be days when you want to push hard on the frontside so my recommendation with tree skis would be to look for a model with true all mountain capability.

Every ski on my list has all-mountain capability, but some were better than others in different areas. Assess your goals and that will help you make a great decision on what categories you want to excel in and where you want to take a hit.

I will always say that the fancy technology in skis makes a difference, but the skier makes the ski more than the ski makes the skier.

Ski shopping can be overwhelming, but always remember that statement and you’ll be a pro!

Do you need a second pair of skis?

If you’re reading this then I am assuming you’re not a beginner since you’re looking to ski some tougher tree trails. If that’s the case, then you may want to consider investing in a second pair of skis.

Of course, everyone should have some good all-mountain skis. But if you like to vary your terrain and want to get more aggressive skiing through the tree trails, then having skis specifically for those types of trails is a good idea.

Tree skiing can be dangerous. Having the wrong gear can affect your ability to make quick adjustments and turns to avoid hazards. A good ski helmet is important too, of course.

So before you try some new and tricky terrain, make sure you have the right gear. Any of the skis on this list will serve you quite well for skiing off the trail and finding some new and exciting places on the mountain.