Women’s Equipment Buying Guide
By Steve Kopitz
Regardless of how strong or aggressive of a skier you are, women should be skiing on women’s skis. Even the top female pros ski on women-specific skis. The reason is that it is designed specifically to the female body type and will help you ski better, turn easier and use less energy on the slopes. Ski manufacturers do a fantastic job of making women’s skis for every ability, style, terrain and condition. They are designed to help you perform to at the absolute best of your ability and will help you improve rapidly.
The Flex of women’s skis is slightly softer strictly due to the fact that women simply weigh less. Your weight is very significant as to how much pressure and force it takes to bend and flex a ski. Turning and carving is in direct correlation to how a ski bends and flexes and, therefore, ladies’ skis require less force or pressure to make them turn, carve, stop and react. Ski brands use thinner cores, lighter wood and composite materials to soften the ski and keep the weight down.
Women also carry their weight much differently than men do. The female anatomy carries weight in the backside and hips whereas men carry weight in their belly. With the center of mass on the backside it causes women to sit or lean back no matter how strong of a skier they are. Once you are sitting in the back seat on your skis there is a loss of control. Ski manufacturers help compensate for this by slightly moving up the mounting position on most women’s skis by 1-1.5cm to help you initiate turns easier and more efficiently.
For years, ski manufacturers made men’s skis and unisex skis where the only difference was the color. Women who were much lighter and smaller than men struggled on skis that were too stiff with incorrect mounting positions were working harder than they should. Once top manufacturers like Volkl and K2 started experimenting with different mounting positions, beginner and novice female skiers started progressing very rapidly in skill, performance and enjoyment. Now every manufacture has women’s specific technology.
The same process is used when shopping for women’s skis as it is for men; you can determine the best skis for you based on your skill level, what is the ski intended to be used for, flex, waist width, turning radius and rocker profile. For more information on these topics, please consult our buying guide here.
Women’s Ski Boots
There are many benefits to skiing in women’s specific ski boots.
Women’s ski boots are specifically designed and shaped for the female anatomy. The female foot is typically thinner in the forefoot and has more taper from the balls of the feet through the heel. Women’s heels are usually narrower thus requiring a narrower heel pocket to prevent slippage and loss of control over your skis.
The leg shape of women is shorter in length than men’s; the calf is also lower and fuller. Women’s specific ski boots have a cuff that is shorter and fuller to accommodate that leg shape.
Women also have a much different center of mass than men do. Men carry their weight in the belly whereas women carry their weight in the hips and backside. With weight being carried towards the back this causes women to sit back more on their skis. Without your weight being forward on your skis, you will start to wonder and not turn as easily. Most women’s ski boots have some heel lift or ramp angle to keep your weight forward for better energy transfer, more control and more efficient skiing.
To compensate for these differences every manufacturer now makes women’s boots to have narrower last and heel pocket to grab the foot and prevent it from sliding around in the boot. The shorter cuff shape offers more comfort and a broader range of motion that makes skiing easier. Even though your foot may be small enough to fit length-wise into a Kid’s ski boot there are many disadvantages to having a boot that is not stiff enough, wide enough or tall enough in the cuff.
There is no disadvantage to women skiing on women’s specific equipment, only advantages, and ways for you to improve you’re skiing. Now that you are educated it’s time for you to shop for women’s skis now!