The one ski quiver. Is there really such a thing these days? Not everyone wants, or has the ability, to build a rack of skis for every condition imaginable. I’m sure you know the skier who has the short rippers for the park, fatty powder skis that might as well be two snowboards, and the lightweight AT setup. Depending on how often you’re skiing and the average conditions you are in, having all of these skis is a bit unnecessary. Let’s dive into what it takes to pick skis that will suit your everyday riding needs, with some mixed conditions thrown in there.
The first thing to do is establish what conditions you’re skiing on a regular basis. Do you live somewhere that gets blower powder on a weekly basis? Or, are your days filled with hard pack groomers? Let’s split the middle and assume you’re getting a mix of decent groomers, soft trees, and some powder days sprinkled in for good measure. With all of the niche skis—race, powder, park, AT—finding a ski to match variable conditions can be tricky. Luckily, brands have seen the need for this type of ski and you can usually find some good picks in the All-Mountain category.
Let’s dive into the specifics of what you might be looking for. You need to base all of this on some mitigating factors, like weight, but here are some good starting points for All-Mountain skis.
Waist Width – This is where you want to look at how much hard pack vs. soft snow you are going to be skiing. The wider you go the better float you will get in powder, while decreasing the aggressiveness of turns on hard snow. On the skinnier end, for the hard pack all-mountain ski you will be looking at 85-98mm underfoot. If you’re spending your days chasing powder, start looking at skis up to 105mm underfoot.
Length – This is another subjective topic that really depends on the level of skier. A good way to approach this question is to take your normal ski and bump it up in length just a bit. Not to the length of your buddy’s long, fat powder sticks but just enough to give you more stability in mixed conditions while still keeping you in your comfort zone.
Camber/Rocker Profile – As far as All-Mountain skis go you should expect traditional camber with the tip having moderate rocker. Many of the all-mountain skis also have some rocker in the tail increasing your ability to ski harder in variable conditions.
Two alternate scenarios:
Alpine touring (AT) – Many aspects of the ski will be the same as far as length and profile depending on how much touring you plan on doing. Start paying more attention to weight if this will be part of your winter routine. Moving uphill is exhausting on its own so leaving as much ski weight behind is a must when searching for a one-quiver package.
Terrain Park – Not over your parks days yet? Forget going a little bit longer for the one quiver ski and maybe stick to your “comfortable” length. This will help you keep the maneuverability you want for the occasional jib. You can add versatility by going to a slightly wider twin tip ski with a waist between 92-100mm.
Overall, you need to choose a ski that you are going to have fun with. The best advice for choosing a ski that suits all of your needs is to demo a few pairs. Once you find a pair you like, demo it in multiple conditions. That will ensure there are no surprises when the snow changes on you!