With numerous of people asking what skis to buy with little to no information about themselves. I have founded it upon myself to create this thread to explain how to buy skis.
Your skis are most likely your second most important piece of equipment, only second to yours boots. So it is critical to buying the correct skis.
There are a lot of skis on the market, Evo currently has 225 skis of various makes and models.
So where do you start? You first must ask yourself what type of ski do you want? The types of skis are, Carving, Powder, Big Mountain, Park, All Mountain and Touring. Each ski will have their own benefits in terms of performance. It will also cut down on the amount of skis at choice. Each ski category is pretty self explanatory.
However, an often mistake from ski buyers is buying a ski for conditions they wish to ski instead of buying a ski for the conditions they will ski. For example you would not buy the Armada Bubba at 143mm underwaist if you lived in Australia or the ice coast.
With what type of ski you wish to buy, now move onto do you want rocker, camber or flat? Or any variation of those three.
Rocker: Rocker(also known as reversed camber) is just as it sounds Ė camber turned upside down. All skis , rockered or cambered, when put on edge and weighted in a turn achieve reverse-camber. Cambered skis produce more pressure on the snow at the tip and tail since they have to flex further to achieve this curve. The term rocker is borrowed from watersports where rocker is common. Rocker skis offer superior float in the soft snow and increased ease of turn initiation with less chance of "catching" an edge. As skis in general get wider, rocker helps keep the new shapes maneuverable for a wider range of skiers. Wide ski and board shapes designed primarily for powder are often rockered.
Camber: This is the traditional profile for skis . Camber is a slight upward curve in the middle of a ski, with the contact points - where an unweighted ski contacts the snow - close to the ends. Camber requires more precise turn initiation and offers superb precision with plenty of power on groomed terrain and harder snow. The rider's weight puts an even and concentrated pressure on the edge from tip to tail, resulting in increased edgehold and better "pop". Racers and high level park riders often prefer camber.
Rocker/Chamber: Rocker/Camber skis pair a traditional cambered profile underfoot with an elongated, early rise tip borrowed from fully rockered skis. This profile places the front contact point further back from the tip, while the rear contact point remains close to the tail. The rockered tip allows for better flotation in deep snow and a less catchy feel on hard, while the cambered rear stores and transmits energy similarly to a fully cambered ski and retains edgehold when your weight is over the tails. More and more all-mountain and big-mountain skis are being built with this profile. Because of its asymmetric shape, this profile does not ski switch as well as other profiles, but if you are looking for an all mountain charger that floats in the fluff without giving up too much hard snow performance, Rocker/Camber is a great choice.
Rocker/Chamber/Rocker: Rocker/Camber/Rocker skis have the playfulness and float of a rockered ski as well as the added edge hold of a cambered ski. The contact points on skis with this profile are closer towards the middle of the ski than a fully cambered ski, but still not underfoot. The cambered midsection provides a longer effective edge on hardpack, increasing edge hold and stability, while the rockered tip and tail provide floatation in deeper snow and allow the ski to initiate and release from turns easier. This profile provides playfulness for park skiers, flotation for powder lovers, forgiveness for beginners and versatility for those who only have one pair of skis. Many ski manufacturers offer multiple types of Rocker/Camber/Rocker to accomodate different skiers, pairing different amounts of rocker and camber with different ski widths and sidecuts.
Rocker/Flat/Rocker: Rocker/Flat/Rocker is another variation on the rocker theme that seeks to provide a little more hard snow edgehold and pop than full rocker while retaining ease of turning and float. Performance is between a fully rockered ski and a rocker/camber/rocker ski.
Once you have what type of ski you want, then look at how wide you wish your ski to be. Narrower waist widths are quicker edge to edge during turns, while wider waist widths provide better flotation in powder and choppy snow. In skis you will either see a 3 or 5 number specification on the ski. These numbers indicate how wide the ski's are at certain point. A 5 number ski specification usually means the ski has tapered tip and tail, allowing it to be less catchy in deeper snow. How wide your ski is usually determines the turning radius.
The turning radius of the ski is exactly what it sounds like, a turning radius. Turn radius is the shape of a ski determined by its tip, waist, and tail width, usually expressed in meters. The narrower a skiís waist is in relation to its tip and tail, the shorter the turn radius and therefore the deeper the sidecut. A ski with a deep sidecut (short turn radius) will make quicker turns, while a ski with a subtle sidecut (long turn radius) will turn more slowly and is typically more stable at high speeds. Some modern skis combine two or more radii on a single edge.
A turning radius of smaller than 16m is usually known as short caving.
A turning radius of 17m to 22m is usually found in your all mountain and park and pipe skis.
A turning radius of greater than 22m is found in your big mountain and powder skis.
Next is ski height .A ski should be between your chin and top of your head. Within your suggested ski size range there are several reasons to choose a shorter or longer ski. A shorter ski will be easier to turn but not as stable as a longer ski. A carving ski with a skinnier waist and a smaller turn radius can be skied at a shorter length than an all-mountain or freeride ski with a larger turn radius and fatter waist width. Rockered skis are easier to pivot between turns and can be skied slightly longer than comparable camber skis.
Reasons to size your skis shorter, closer to your chin:
-You are a beginner or intermediate skier.
-You weigh less than average for your height.
-You like to make short, quick turns and seldom ski fast.
-You want a carving ski with only camber, no rocker.
Reasons to size your skis longer, closer to the top of your head:
-You are skiing fast and aggressively.
-You weigh more than average for your height.
-You plan to do the majority of your skiing off the trail.
-You plan to ski a twin-tip ski.
-You want a ski that has a lot of rocker.
The Construction of the ski also provides to be a serious factor when buying a ski. The two types of construction within skis are cap construction and sidewall.
ABS SIDEWALL:This is where each layer of the ski is flat and an ABS sidewall is put in at the sides to protect the core. This design is commonly used for racing skis as it transmits pressure to the edges well. ABS sidewalls make skis torsionally stiffer, have better edge grip, and be more resistant to impacts. However they are heavy, and can make skis more easily damaged by the edges when skis cross.
CAP:This is where the composite layer and topsheet are brought down over the core to seal the edge. This design makes the ski a bit lighter and generally makes the topsheet a bit less susceptible to damage, due to the curved shape. However the cap construction is not as torsionally stiff giving less edge grip and handling at high speeds.
The base: Bases are made of P-Tex a polyethylene plastic. Most base materials will be followed by a number (i.e. sintered 2000). This number refers to the molecular weight of the polyethylene. The higher the number is the higher the molecular weight of the P-Tex is, which indicates a better and more durable base. There are two types of bases, extruded and sintered:
Extruded - This is where the base material is melted and then cut into shape. Extruded bases are cheap to make and low maintenance, but are less durable, and slower. They are smoother and less porous so don't absorb so much wax, but if the base is left unwaxed, overall performance is not affected so much.
Sintered - This is where the base material is ground into a powder, heated, pressed and sliced into shape. Sintered bases are more expensive to make, but are more durable and faster. They are very porous and absorb wax well, but will lose performance if they are left unwaxed, and are more difficult to repair.
Once you have all you information and variables on what ski you wish to purchase you still might have two or three choices. When that occurs go to your local shop and look at these skis. Feel the weight and the flex of the skis.
If you still have questions about durability, maintenance or to get a third, fourth etc opinion on the ski, that is when you come to NS on what ski you should buy.
Post your height,weight, sex, where you're skiing, age and the skis you're choosing between and the kind people of NS will help you decide.
After all this, if you still have any queries into the skis you wish to purchase, companies often hold demo days at local mountains where you can demo as many skis as you like. If your local mountain does not have a demo day, you can most likely ask a shop to demo a pair of their skis for a small fee. This way you will have your own opinion on what ski to buy along with the advice of NS and the shop assistants.