9 Best Skis for Beginners in 2023 (From Powder to Groomed Slopes)

by Simon Naylor | Updated: August 8th, 2023 |  Recommended Gear

Your first set of skis should be a special occasion, and with a myriad of options available, it's essential to find the right balance between performance, comfort, and price. Here's our guide to the best beginner skis this season.

From learning to parallel ski to venturing into the park for the first time, we've got a beginner all-mountain ski for everyone. The best beginner ski is lightweight, easy to turn and offers plenty of flex for maneuverability at lower speeds. The best beginner skis are the Rossignol Experience 78.

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Our Lineup of the Best Skis for Beginners


1. Rossignol Experience 78

At a Glance

  • Ability level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Pros: Lightweight, easy turn initiation, confident control, sustainably sourced materials
  • Cons: Narrow for all-mountain use, may be outgrown quickly by fast-learning beginners

Our Experience

In our experience, the Rossignol Experience 78 Ca is a fantastic starter ski for those new to the slopes. The ski's design, borrowing elements from Rossignol's higher-end models, offers smooth turn initiation and a lightweight feel, making it an excellent choice for beginners.

The carbon insert (signified by the 'Ca' in the name) coupled with the poplar wood core, strikes an ideal balance of power and control, allowing for a forgiving yet responsive ride.

As skiers gain confidence and start to pick up speed, the Experience 78 Ca continues to impress. The ski's Drive Tip design and All Trail Sidecut work in harmony to deliver a smooth, controlled finish to each turn. On top of this, the Experience 78 Ca has a commendable edge hold for a beginner-friendly build, ensuring stability as skiers progress to more challenging runs.

Key Features

  • All Trail Sidecut for quick edge engagement and consistent carving
  • Lightweight, thanks to carbon fiber reinforcements
  • Drive Tip design for vibration-free control and smooth turn initiation
  • PEFC-certified poplar wood core for balanced weight, flex, and stability
  • Cap construction for reduced weight and comfortable ski-ability
  • Xpress binding system for easy setup and adjustment

Final Verdict

Providing a well-rounded skiing experience that supports progression from the first day on the slopes to confidently carving down intermediate trails. Its lightweight construction, easy turn initiation, and vibration-free control make it a reliable choice for those learning the ropes.

2. Blizzard Thunderbird

At a Glance

  • Ability level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Pros: Affordable, Forgiving for beginners, Lightweight
  • Cons: Low-performance ceiling, Not ideal for high speeds

Our Experience

In our experience, the Blizzard Thunderbird SP 7.2 Skis coupled with TLT 10 Bindings, is a perfect ski for skiers venturing off beginner slopes. The rockered front end is soft enough to be supportive for tentative beginner turns, while the narrow 72-millimeter waist is supremely manageable. Another commendable quality of the Thunderbird SP 7.2 skis is their lightweight design, achieved by Blizzard to ensure easy pivoting and maneuvering, even at lower speeds.

We observed that the lightweight construction, underpinned by a foam core, results in flexible skis not overly suited for high-speed performances or properly carved turns. The skis tend to slide and surf rather than carve – which makes them less enjoyable for advanced skiers.

Key Features

  • Full camber rocker type that offers optimum precision and power
  • Composite and Wood Core which combines the power of a wood with the forgiving nature of composite material
  • Composite Sidewall construction that guarantees maximum durability and performance
  • Included TLT 10 Bindings for robust holding power and release capabilities
  • The short turning radius for agile and easy turning

Final Verdict

While its performance ceiling may be low, it offers just the right level of performance and forgiving flexibility to cultivate confidence on the slopes.

3. Völkl Revolt 81

At a Glance

  • Ability level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Pros: Universally suitable for park and mountain riding, Strong twin-tip core, Excellent balance for rotations
  • Cons: Moderate performance on non-groomed trails, Gliding speed could be improved

Our Experience

In our experience, the Völkl Revolt 81 skis prove to be an excellent stepping stone for beginners venturing for the first time into park riding while also requiring all-mountain versatility. The slightly directional shape, takes care of outings on groomed trails and snow park circuits effortlessly.

The to these ski is the full twin tip which makes it much easier to maneuver - easier backward skiing/landing, and better rotational balance. We found this to be especially beneficial for newcomers to park skiing. The multilayer wood core made up of beech and poplar curates an impressive balance of durability and nimbleness - perfect for learning skiers.

Key Features

  • Full Camber Rocker Type for good control
  • Twin Tip Construction for backward skiing/landing
  • Multilayer Woodcore for durability
  • DS F7501 Base for optimal performance
  • Turning Radius: Medium for agile turns
  • Range of sizes from 148cm to 178cm

Final Verdict

Even though it might not be the fastest glider around the Völkl Revolt 81 provides a comfrtable introduction to park skiing while not compromising on it's abilities to perform on groomers.

4. Atomic Bent 85

At a Glance

  • Ability level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Pros: Affordable, fun, and vibrant design, versatile, and easy to control.
  • Cons: More freestyle-oriented, Hybrid wood/synthetic core

Our Experience

The Atomic Bent 85 Skis bundled with M10 GW Bindings are a delightful combination for beginners taking their first step into skiing or intermediates getting back into the sport after a hiatus.

Notably, what sets these skis apart is their playful feel, being trimmed down from the high-end Bent Chetler 120 design, thereby making them easy to pivot and control at lower speeds. Ideal for beginners eager to explore the mountain and maybe even the terrain park, the Atomic Bent 85 offers a smooth rocker profile and twin-tip design that gives the freedom to ride switch.

However, its hybrid wood/synthetic core may sacrifice some of the natural flex and longevity of an all-wood design. These skis provide a rewarding experience to any beginner rider.

"I bought these for my wife who is a beginner skier. I really liked the package combo on these with the Grip Walk bindings. So as for the skis, she really likes them. She said they feel more stable than she expected.." - Customer Review on Evo.com

Key Features

  • All Mountain Rocker type promoting easy control
  • Light Woodcore for optimized weight
  • Densolite Core for shock absorption & stability
  • Dura Cap Sidewall for better power transmission
  • Included M10 GW Bindings for secure and adjustable fitting
  • Partial Twin Tip tail for the ability to ride switch

Final Verdict

The Atomic Bent 85 Skis paired with M10 GW Bindings emerge as an excellent package for beginners. This setup stands as an appealing choice for those newly venturing into skiing or for intermediate riders aiming to experiment with more freestyle-oriented runs.

5. Rossignol Sender 90 Pro

At a Glance

  • Ability level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Pros: Affordable, Flexible construction, Extended rocker for easy control
  • Cons: Slow to turn, May be too wide for absolute beginners

Our Experience

Rossignol Sender 90 Pro Skis bundled with Xpress 10 GW Bindings offer a unique and exciting proposition for newcomers and intermediate skiers, especially those looking to explore freeriding.

A standout feature is an extended rocker at the tip, which provides a forgiving introduction to off-piste terrains, making it a fantastic introduction to freeriding. However, with a broad 90-millimeter waist, the Sender Pro is a little wider than typical beginner skis, and – due to minimal camber underfoot – it leans towards soft snow skiing.

Its playful design makes it enjoyable for skiers who want to mix groomed runs with a lap or two in the park. Although it might not be the go-to option for perfecting carving techniques, it's a nice choice for riders who want to explore the whole mountain.

Key Features

  • All Trail Profile for smooth handling across different snow conditions
  • Poplar Wood Core ensures a suitable balance between weight, flex, and stability
  • Extended Core enhances skis' contact with the snow, boosting precision and control
  • Cap Sidewalls for increased durability
  • Included Xpress 10 GW Bindings for secure and adjustable fitting
  • PEFC™ Certified for sustainable forest management

Final Verdict

Balancing enjoyable freeriding characteristics, sustainable construction, and affordability, the Rossignol Sender 90 Pro stand out as an exciting choice for those ready to venture into new terrain. While some novice skiers may find the broader widths more challenging to initiate turns, their versatility, and playful design make them an excellent gateway into the exciting world of off-piste skiing.

6. K2 Mindbender 85

At a Glance

  • Ability level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Pros: Excellent versatility, Light and forgiving, Suits various terrains
  • Cons: Might be limiting for advanced skiers, stability at high speed can be improved

Our Experience

The K2 Mindbender 85 Women skis offer an ideal starting point for new skiers, progressively welcoming them into the world of skiing.

These skis handle both groomed and ungroomed terrains comfortably, making it a great choice for beginners looking to begin exploring off the main trails. The lightweight Aspen Veneer core delivers an easy ride for new skiers.

Offering a women's & also unisex model, it comes in shorter sizes, catering to a larger range of skiers. The experience of using these skis is satisfying, filling the riders with confidence and motivating them to take on more challenging slopes in time.

Key Features

  • Ideal for beginners with a progression-friendly build
  • Lightweight Aspen Veneer core for easy handling
  • Versatile All-Terrain Rocker profile for adaptability in various conditions
  • Shorter sizes available for petite skiers
  • Wide range of size selections from 149 to 170cm
  • Moderate 12.1m radius at 163cm for agile turns

Final Verdict

In our experience, you'll be hard-pressed to find many skis in its category that handle transitions from different terrains as smoothly. Just bear in mind its limitations when it comes to very high-speed skiing or extremely uneven terrain. However, for its target skier, the Mindbender 85 Women is a thoughtful and sound investment towards honing your skiing skills.

7. Elan Wingman 86 Ti

At a Glance

  • Ability level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Pros: Excellent price for an all-mountain-ready design, durable, versatile, and accessible
  • Cons: Slow to turn; may be too wide for beginners

Our Experience

What strikes us most about these skis is their ability to perform admirably across variable conditions, making them an excellent choice for casual skiers aiming to improve their off-piste technique while still enjoying groomed runs. The Wingman’s wide design offers excellent stability, especially in deeper powder, and the minimal camber underfoot makes them suitable for softer snow.

However, they are a bit slower to initiate turns and may be too wide for absolute beginners. Still, their playful and accessible nature can make them enjoyable for carving and occasional off-piste exploration.

Key Features

  • Amphibio Profile for a balance between precision and easy control
  • Poplar Wood Core for the perfect flex-stability-weight ratio
  • Mono Ti Reinforcement for increased performance
  • SST Construction working in sync with Amphibio shape
  • Fusion X System for smoother flex between ski and binding
  • Includes EMX 11 GW Fusion X Binding for secure attachment

Final Verdict

Beginners might require a bit of adjustment to the wider width, but for those aiming to explore the mountain as they progress, the Elan Wingman 86 Ti serves as a reliable companion.

8. Rossignol Experience W 76

At a Glance

  • Ability level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Pros: Effortless handling, Confident control, Sustainably sourced construction
  • Cons: Could be limiting for advanced skiers, Limited off-piste performance

Our Experience

From the first ride, these skis impress with a visible element of forgiveness and effortless handling, custom-made for those new to the slopes or still polishing their techniques. With the in-built All Trail Sidecut and Drive Tip Solution, Rossignol delivers a ski with rapid edge engagement and powerful carving while effectively absorbing vibrations.

These features empower a comfortable ride, with smooth turn initiation and controlled finish - ideal for those just starting out or those transitioning from beginner to intermediate. Furthermore, the PEFC™-certified poplar wood core produces a laudable balance of weight and flex, contributing to the skis' adaptability across varying snow conditions.

Key Features

  • All Trail Profile for absorbing uneven terrains
  • All Trail Sidecut for rapid edge engagement and powerful carving
  • Drive Tip Solution for vibration absorption and direction control
  • PEFC™ Poplar Woodcore for balanced weight and flex
  • Cap Construction for lighter weight and comfortable skiing
  • Included Xpress 10 GW Bindings for secure and adjustable attachment

Final Verdict

Summing up, the Rossignol Experience W 76 skis lead the pack as an accessible and enjoyable option for progressing skiers looking to step up their skiing.

9. Blizzard Rustler 9

At a Glance

  • Ability level: Intermediate
  • Pros: Versatile, Durable, Excellent on groomers and soft snow
  • Cons: Might be too wide for beginners, Less responsive in icy conditions

Our Experience

The Blizzard Rustler 9 Skis are surprisingly nimble skis that provide an excellent balance between stability and playfulness. With its specific rocker-camber-rocker structure, the skis excel at making smaller turns at moderate speeds, allowing for smooth parallel skiing and impressive handling over a range of snow conditions. The latest Rustler 9 has 4mm extra width designed to improve stability at speed.

The construction materials - a unique combination of Beech, Poplar, and Paulownia woods - provide a springy flex - perfect for learning skiers.

Key Features

  • Rocker-Camber-Rocker provides precise control and stability.
  • TrueBlend Freeride Core for a balance of weight, flex, and stability
  • FluxForm design enhances stability and allows for freer cornering.
  • Sandwich Compound Sidewall ensures durability and performance
  • Sintered Graphite Base for excellent glide properties
  • Customizable turning radius caters to the skier's skill level and preference

Final Verdict

The Blizzard Rustler 9 skis are an impressive all-mountain choice that succeeds in bridging the gap between piste and off-piste capabilities. They cater well to upcoming skiers who prefer to mix groomed runs with occasional freeriding.

What Makes a Beginner Ski?

Beginner skis are typically softer and more flexible, which makes them more forgiving and easier to control. They usually feature a 'rocker' profile – a design where the tip and tail of the ski are lifted off the ground, allowing for smoother turning and reducing the likelihood of catching an edge.

Beginner skis are also often shorter in length, enhancing maneuverability and making it easier to master the basic techniques of turning and stopping. In terms of shape, beginner skis tend to be wider at the tip and tail and narrower at the waist to facilitate easy turning

How Advanced Skis Compare?

On the other hand, advanced skis are built for experienced skiers who have mastered the basics and are looking to take on more challenging terrains and conditions. These skis are stiffer, offering greater stability at high speeds and better performance on harder snow or ice.

They often have a camber profile – a slight upward curve in the middle of the ski when unweighted, which provides more power, edge hold, and responsiveness during turns.

Key Info: Advanced skis are usually longer, offering more stability but requiring more skill to maneuver.

Beginner skis prioritize ease of use and control to help newcomers build confidence and skills, while advanced skis focus on performance and precision to meet the demands of skilled skiers.

See our: Best All-Mountain Skis (Advanced & Expert Skiers).

The Significance of Waist Width

The waist width of a ski is more than just a number; it's a crucial factor that influences the overall performance. This measurement, which refers to the middle, or "waist," of the ski, plays a role in determining how well your skis will handle different types of snow and terrain.

70mm to 80mm - Hardpack Precision.

When it comes to skiing on groomed runs or hardpack snow, narrower waist widths, typically in the range of 70 to 90 millimeters, are preferred. The slim profile of these skis allows for quicker, more precise turns, providing the agility and responsiveness needed to carve your way down the mountain.

90mm to 100mm - All-Mountain Prowess

For those who want a bit of everything, mid-range waist widths, typically between 90 and 100 millimeters, offer a balanced blend of performance characteristics. These all-mountain skis are versatile enough to handle a range of conditions, from hardpack to light powder.

100mm to 120mm - Off-piste Powder

On the other end of the spectrum, wider waist widths, often between 100 and 120 millimeters, are the go-to choice for off-piste and powder conditions. The extra surface area helps to keep the skis afloat in deep snow, preventing you from sinking and getting bogged down.

person performing ski

Understanding Ski Profile

The ski profile refers to the shape or curvature of a ski when viewed from the side. It's a key factor in determining how a ski will perform on different types of snow and terrain. The ski profile can significantly influence your skiing experience, from the ease of turning and control to the grip on icy slopes and float in powder. The three most common types of ski profiles are camber, rocker, and mixed rocker.

Camber

The camber is the traditional ski profile, characterized by a slight upward curve in the middle of the ski when laid flat. The front and back ends (tips and tails) of the ski make contact with the snow, while the center or 'waist' is raised. This design creates a spring-like effect when the skier's weight is applied, resulting in excellent energy transfer, precision, and grip on hard snow.

Cambered skis are favored by experienced skiers who seek responsiveness and control, particularly on groomed runs or hard-packed snow. However, they can be more challenging for beginners as they require more technique to initiate turns.

Rocker

Also known as reverse camber, the rocker profile is the opposite of the camber. It features a continuous curve from tip to tail, with the ends of the ski rising off the snow more dramatically. This design mimics the shape of a rocking chair, hence the name 'rocker'.

Rocker skis excel in deep snow conditions. The raised tip and tail allow for easy floatation in powder, reducing the chances of the ski tips diving under the snow. They also make for easier turn initiation, which can be beneficial for beginners or those venturing into off-piste terrains. However, due to the reduced contact with the snow, they may lack stability and grip on hard-packed or icy conditions compared to cambered skis.

cat skiing

Mixed Rocker

A mixed rocker, or hybrid profile, combines elements of both camber and rocker designs. The most common type features camber underfoot for grip and energy on hard snow, and rocker at the tip and/or tail for better floatation and turn initiation in softer snow. The specific design can vary significantly, with some skis leaning more towards a rocker or camber profile.

Pro Tip: We recommend a mixed rocker profile for beginner skiers, as it makes holding an edge and starting a turn easier.

This hybrid approach aims to provide a balance of performance characteristics, making mixed rocker skis versatile across a range of snow conditions and terrains.

Understanding Turn Radius (Sidecut) in Skiing

The turn radius or sidecut refers to the curve along the length of the ski, which is more pronounced at the ski's waist than at its tip and tail. This difference in width creates a natural arc when the ski is tilted onto its edge, enabling it to carve a turn. The turn radius is usually measured in meters and represents the radius of the circle that the ski would naturally carve if it were flexed into the shape of its sidecut and placed on a flat surface.

sidecut radius

Pro Tip: A moderate turn radius, often ranging between 14 and 18 meters, provides a good balance between maneuverability and stability.

The turn radius of a ski directly impacts it's turning characteristics. Skis with a smaller turn radius (a deeper sidecut) will carve tighter turns, making them ideal for quick, agile movements and short, snappy turns. On the other hand, skis with a larger turn radius (a shallower sidecut) will carve wider, more gradual turns, offering stability at high speeds and smooth, long-radius turns.

Ski Construction: Foam Vs Wood Cores

The ski core is the 'heart' of your ski. It plays a significant role in determining the ski's overall performance, including its weight, flexibility, stability, and responsiveness.

Wood is a traditional core material that has stood the test of time. Wood cores, typically made from poplar or ash, are durable and provide excellent energy return, making them a reliable choice but more expensive choice for beginner skis.

Foam cores, made from either polyurethane or microcellular foam, are lightweight and cheaper to produce. These cores reduce fatigue and make it easier for beginners to learn the basics. However, foam cores tend to lack the durability and longevity of wood cores, so they may not be the best choice for those planning to ski frequently or in rough conditions.

Pro Tip: Foam is cheaper and lighter, but Wood has greater responsiveness and longevity.

Ski Length for New Skiers

The days of simply matching your ski length to your height - often to the midpoint of your forehead - are a thing of the past. Today, the process is far more nuanced, taking into account a variety of factors to ensure optimal performance on the slopes. Modern ski manufacturers now recommend ski sizes based on both height and weight, as these aspects significantly influence the flex and power transfer of the skis.

Heavier skiers may opt for longer skis that provide better stability and control at higher speeds, while lighter skiers could benefit from shorter skis that are easier to turn and maneuver.

Blue Jacket Skier

Integrated Bindings

Most entry-level skis come with integrated bindings. These all-in-one packaged bindings allow for easy adjustments, accommodating various boot sizes without the need for a drill or a trip to the ski shop. This means you're not left second-guessing compatibility and can focus on learning to ski.

However, integrated bindings aren't without their downsides. First off, they limit customizability. Integrated bindings don't offer the same freedom to mix and match as standalone bindings. You're essentially tied to the manufacturer's choice.

While integrated bindings typically aren't as durable as their standalone counterparts. For casual use and a few seasons of fun on the slopes, they should hold up just fine. But for those planning on frequent or heavy-duty use, be prepared for potential wear and tear. Lastly, if you do damage an integrated binding, it often means replacing the whole ski, which can cost more in the long run.

Our Advice: For the average beginner recreational skier, integrated bindings work fine. If you're planning more intensive use or plan to upgrade your bindings at any point, then buy independent bindings.

Just be aware that not all bindings fit all skis. You'll want to confirm compatibility with the ski or binding manufacturer before purchasing. We've paired most skis in our reviews above with suitable bindings.

Din Rating on Ski Bindings

Ski bindings are designed to detach from your skis during a crash or a hard impact. And for good reason - by comping apart, they help protect your bones and ligaments from injury. Your boots can go one way and your skis another. Ski bindings each have their own point at which they come off, depending on the pressure applied. A properly tuned binding should release safely, according to your DIN setting.

The DIN value should be precisely calibrated to your height, weight, age, and skill level. You can use our DIN calculator for a good estimation, but we recommend getting it adjusted by a trained technician at a ski shop before skiing. Knowing your estimated DIN is helpful when deciding what bindings to buy. You want to avoid buying bindings that are on your max or min DIN value right off the bat, it's good to have some space to move up or down.

This is because your DIN setting isn't a static number. As you progress in your skiing ability, and age, grow taller or change weight, your DIN rating will need to be adjusted for a safe release.

binding-with-a-screwdriver

Pro Tip: Use our free DIN calculator to estimate your value, to help you buy the correct bindings. Then use a trained technician to set and confirm your DIN before skiing.

Fitting the Right Boots

The perfect ski boot should offer a balance of comfort, performance, and durability.

When it comes to size, ski boots are measured in Mondo Point, a universal system used by manufacturers. It's crucial to get the right fit as too loose or tight boots can affect your control and comfort on the slopes. When standing upright, your toes should lightly touch the front of the boot, and pull away slightly when you flex forward.

Flex & Width

A lower flex rating (below 80 for men, 70 for women) indicates a softer, more forgiving boot, ideal for beginners. A higher flex rating means a stiffer boot, offering more precision but requiring more power to flex.

The last, or width, of the boot, should match your foot shape. Narrow lasts (97-98mm) are for slim feet, while medium (100mm) and wide lasts (102mm+), cater to broader feet.

Lastly, consider the boot's features. Look for micro-adjustable buckles for better-fit precision, walk mode for easier movement when not skiing, and heat-moldable liners for enhanced comfort. Remember, the right boot should feel like a natural extension of your body, providing you with more control and confidence on the slopes.