Skiing and riding are fantastic outdoor sports, whether it’s cross-country to freeriding the slopes at higher altitudes. Ensuring one has the right gear no matter where the snow takes you is paramount for the best experience. Here, we’ll break down the 10 best ski brands of 2024 so you get a better picture of what each one offers.
The best ski brands cover several important parts of skiing. Some excel in providing beginner or intermediate skis while others will focus on performance and deep snow, backcountry adventures for both on-piste resort skiing, or, free-riding off-piste. Overall, nearly all forms of skiing are represented within these brands.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Ski Equipment
Skiing is influenced by your skill level, skiing style, and terrain preferences. More importantly, the quality, durability, and many other features of ski gear are common factors when narrowing down options. Take a look at these factors to discover which gear will provide the best experience for your next great escape. For more details, read this article on how to choose the right skis.
Skill level and skiing style
For new skiers, confidence is key, and ski weight has a lot to do with that. A heavy pair of alpine skis is harder to control. Beginners should opt for lightweight and shorter skis to help master critical movements like stopping, managing speed, and turning. A shorter ski is described as one that, when positioned vertically, reaches below your shoulder height.
Advanced skiers will enjoy the stability delivered by longer skis. A smooth ride is a big difference-maker in variable conditions. Advanced skiers can still opt for shorter lengths depending on the discipline they’re seeking to hone further. Mogul skis, for example, are shorter and lighter, which is great for turning on a dime. However, shorter skis aren’t as stable at higher speeds.
If you love soft snow and that champagne powder, get wider skis. For conquering every side of the mountain, an all-mountain category is likely best. If the need is a downslope speed, thinner skis are best. Skis are measured in millimeters across the skinniest part (waist width) of the ski. Generally, 60-85 mm is for racing skis, all-mountain skis range from 88-100 mm, and 100-116 mm is for powder.
If you like to ski hard down steep terrain, you’re an aggressive skier. Aggressive skiers need stability underfoot. That stability usually comes from longer, stiffer, and heavier skis, especially in steep terrain. If you like obstacles in the terrain park, you want flexibility. Flexible skis are fun and poppy but won’t work as well at speed or in rough conditions, where the uneven terrain will bounce you around in your boots. If you have skiing experience but aren’t quite sure what your favorite terrain preferences are, we’d opt for all-mountain skis. These jack-of-all-trades can handle multiple terrain types and snow conditions.
Available features and technologies
Ski brands often experiment with ski innovation and new technologies. Some are fantastic, like the invention of powder skis, all-mountain rockers (ski shape), and the addition of metal edges. However, innovation, like all great experiments, needs testing.
If you’re sticking to the tried-and-true of skis, opt for something traditional that has seen years of success on the slopes or on the trails. If you’re an experienced skier looking to test the evolving science of skis, why not demo some new ones and see how they compare. Top ski companies will often release ski lines that enmesh both a classic design with innovation.
TOP SKI BRANDS REVIEWED
Here are the best ski brands of 2024. Each company listed below provides excellent ski equipment catering to a variety of skill levels and ski industry disciplines. Take a look!
Salomon is one of the most well-known ski brands. Founded in the French Alps, they have a diverse range of skis and ski products. They are revered for several items, including the QST line. The QST series is a very popular all-mountain, freeride ski, capable of handling speed and powder.
It isn’t just skis that set Salomon apart. Their S/Lab Shift MNC binding changed the game. It’s a resort & touring binding that blew the door open on possibilities beyond the resort. They also make excellent ski boots like the S/Pro line that combine comfort with a stiff construction for support and control.
Salomon does quality over quantity when it comes to their selections, and what they offer is just that–quality. They bring several things to the table, including comfort, performance, and innovative ski technologies. Their revolutionary Shift MNC bindings helped mark them as a reliable retailer of ski gear as increased interest in backcountry skiing continues to grow.
Based in Austria, Atomic is one of the biggest ski brands in the industry. In the late 1980s, they made the first dedicated powder ski and have since evolved to offer a larger range of options that suit, from groomer skiing, to cross country and freeride.
Their Maverick all-mountain skis are dependable drivers, while the Bent Chetler series takes control, flotation, and with a sense of playfulness to the deep powder. One of the most successful areas for Atomic is their Backland series. Anchored by excellent touring ski boots, skis, and bindings, the backland series makes Atomic a nexus for both downhill and backcountry enthusiasts.
Atomic is a hub for like-minded skiers, no matter their skill level. Their knowledge of the sport is nothing to scoff at. So whether you’re taking to skis for the first time or looking to go off the beaten path, Atomic has a catered selection for all ski disciplines, from touring to cross-country, groomer, and freeride.
Founded near Seattle in the 1960s, K2 has rocketed into the skiing mainstream with a series of stellar offerings. They are the pioneers of the first fiberglass ski. This technology made skis much lighter than their predecessors. The result was a light, durable ski that could effortlessly turn and pop off terrain features. Not surprisingly, K2’s terrain park skis, the Midnight, Poacher, and Sight are always popular.
K2 is perhaps most well-known for the Mindbender line. The Mindbender is an all-mountain ski that’s become the go-to for intermediate skiers. The responsiveness and ease of use set them apart as the gold standard for skiers looking to elevate their game. Another well-liked model is the Disruption, which is an easier sell for beginner skiers and comes bundled with bindings.
While K2 specializes in piste skiing, they do carry capsule collections of backcountry skis for those that like to make their own way in nature. If that’s what you’re looking for, then their Wayback line, paired with tech bindings and backcountry boots, can take you far beyond resort boundaries.
Founded in the French Alps in 1907, Rossignol is one of the most recognizable ski brands. They have a wide purview but are commonly found in rental ski shops and at resorts, strapped to the boots of ski racers. Recently, they expanded their lines to include many all-mountain and powder-worthy ski varieties.
Rossignol has several beginner-friendly varieties, like the Experience and Black Ops lines. The Black Ops series is designed for skiers who want a playful and versatile ski for freestyle and freeride adventures. These skis are often favored by terrain park enthusiasts and skiers looking for a more playful and forgiving ride in various conditions.
The experience line is designed for all-mountain skiing and includes a wide range of skis suitable for various skill levels. The Experience series is known for its versatility, offering good performance on both groomed slopes and in off-piste conditions. They are typically designed to provide a balanced mix of stability, control, and maneuverability.
For a backcountry experience, Rossignol has an Escaper line of touring skis, aptly named for the wilderness seekers.
Head was founded in Austria and was one of the first companies to use metal edges in skis. Now ubiquitous within the skiing industry, a metal ski helps increase carving, durability, and control. Head skis have a strong ski racing history as well. Recently, they released a popular all-mountain ski line, the Kore. Head has recently expanded the Kore line to include a touring variety as well.
With recent expansions into wider powder skis and touring varieties, Head looks ready to increase its offerings. But, at its core, Head remains the place for intermediate and experienced skiers looking to experiment with gear that will help hone their disciplines.If you like unique constructions and skis that push the boundaries of innovation, Head is a company worth looking at.
Black Crows have quickly gained popularity in North America. What sets them apart from other ski retailers are their strong focus on dependability in variable terrains. For instance, the Corvus line is a delightful downhill performer. At the same time, the Camox Freebirds are some of the best backcountry skis available today.
The Black Crows Corvus has a progressive flex and sidecut, which means you aren’t locked into a preset turn radius. It’s a great in-between design that makes the Corvus a capable ski in various conditions.
One thing is clear with Black Crows: it’s all about the love of the sport and bringing it to the edge. Whether it’s through their innovative ski designs made for powder skiing to an all-mountain versatility, or in their specialty of freeride and backcountry skiing, Black Crows offers a unique selection of gear, tailored for any adventurous skier.
Founded in the 1920s, Volkl is the largest ski manufacturer in Germany. They are known for excellent carving skis that provide stability at speed. Volkl got its start as a ski race-oriented company, and that mentality shines through to this day. Since then, they’ve become more inclusive by providing beginner-friendly gear for those just starting out with an all-mountain category that each micro-movement gives them.
The excellent Mantra line offers speed, power and dependability. Those qualities are also exemplified in lines like the Deacon. Advanced skiers who like a narrower ski profile will gravitate toward the Kenja & Kendo lines. Hardpack skiers love the Völkl’s ability to lock onto their edges and slice through difficult conditions.
Völkl is continuously expanding into their backcountry, beginner, and powder skis. But if you are a capable skier who values form, performance and carving, Völkl is an excellent choice.
Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Black Diamond has made several high-quality ski and mountaineering products since its start in 1989. Recently, they’ve joined fellow ski brands by expanding into the ski touring department.
Today, they’re continuing their expansion into downhill skiing, and given the recent rise in backcountry, Black Diamond is well-positioned to help you explore beyond the resort ropes, whether you’re a seasoned ski racer, intermediate or beginner.
The Black Diamond Helio Carbon is a popular offering for backcountry skiers. Its carbon fiber layer adds stiffness to the skis while avoiding a major weight increase. Since lighter skis are easier to flick around, having a lighter ski that’s stable underfoot is a great combination. The Impulse is also great as a 50/50 resort/backcountry ski.
Dynastar excels in providing a diverse range of categories. They have a great selection of on-piste-focused skis that can hold an edge and ski fast. Take their Dynastar M-Pro Series for example, which is tailored for aggressive and advanced skiers. The Dynastar skies are designed for high-performance skiing and excel in carving and harder turns. Combined with precision, edge grip and responsiveness, these skis are a popular choice among expert skiers looking to push their own limits.
Born with a specific focus, Armada skis belong in the freeskiing realm. This type of freestyle skiing is associated with terrain parks but is not limited to them. Basically, if you like jumps, tricks, aerials, rails, boxes, and other features, you like freeskiing.
The Armada ARV ski line is well-suited to the park and is one of their best offerings. If you’re focused more on speed, carving, and stability, Armada likely won’t be your top option. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Armada is simply focused more on making playful terrain park skis than anything else.
Built with colorful graphics, flexibility, and playfulness, it’s hard not to have fun on a pair of Armada skis. If you’re hesitant but want to try the park, one of their all-mountain freeride options, like the Declivity or Reliance, is perfect for measured exploration.
While several ski brands make a wide variety of gear, others focus specifically on a niche discipline of skiing. It’s important to understand what a ski brand is known for before buying one of its products. Between Volkl’s ski racing history, Armada’s focus on freeskiing, Black Diamond’s push into touring skis, and Salomon & Atomic’s jack-of-all-trades approach, each brand represents a different angle of the ski industry.
While it may be a lot of information to parse through at first, getting a better idea of ski brand tendencies gives you a leg up when buying ski gear. When you combine brand offerings with your skill level, terrain preferences, and overall needs, you’ll be able to zero in on the best available options. With the information presented in this article, you should be more than ready to shop ski gear available at Altitude Sports.