5 Best Intermediate Skis For Conquering the Slopes
Whether you're carving down groomed runs or exploring challenging terrains, the right pair of skis can make a world of difference. The quest for the perfect intermediate skis, however, can often feel like navigating through a snowstorm, given the broad spectrum of options available.
We've handpicked the best skis for advancing intermediate skiers. These skis offer the perfect balance of stability, maneuverability, and responsiveness. Whether you're cruising down hardpacked groomers or venturing into the pow, these skis will elevate your skiing experience. The best intermediate skis are the DPS Foundation 112 RP.
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Our Intermediate Ski Lineup
- Best Intermediate Powder Ski: DPS Foundation 112 RP
- Best Intermediate All-Mountain Ski: Rossignol Experience 86 Ti
- Best Womens Intermediate All-Mountain Ski: Völkl Secret 96
- Best Intermediate Backcountry Touring Ski: Blizzard Zero G 105
- Best Intermediate Carving Ski: Fischer RC One 78 GT
Best Intermediate Powder Ski
Category: Powder Ski
Ability level: Intermediate
Lengths: 158, 168, 178, 184, 18cm
Pros: Easy to turn, excellent float, versatile for various snow conditions
Cons: May not be the best for hardpack or icy conditions
The DPS Foundation 112 RP skis truly shine in powder conditions. The unique RP shape, which combines a 15m radius with a rocker at the tip and tail, makes them nimble and easy to maneuver.
This ski feels intuitive and responsive, allowing intermediate skiers to confidently tackle deep snow and variable conditions. The aspen core with unidirectional carbon stringers offers a stable and smooth ride, while the 112mm waist width provides ample float for those dreamy powder days.
While the DPS Foundation 112 RP is designed for resort powder skiing, it holds its own when the snow is less than perfect. The rocker/camber/rocker profile offers a solid edge hold when carving turns on groomed runs, but as you would expect, it's not the best choice for hardpack or icy conditions. Overall, this ski is our top pick for intermediate skiers looking to explore off-piste terrain and improve their powder skiing skills.
- RP Shape for quick edge-to-edge transitions and excellent float
- Aspen core with Unidirectional Carbon stringers for stability and smoothness
- Triaxial Fiberglass and Urethane Sidewalls for durability and dampening
- World Cup Race Base for excellent glide and speed
- Waelzholz Edges for hardness and durability
- Textured Polyamide Topsheet for added protection and style
Its unique RP shape and rocker/camber/rocker profile makes it easy to turn and maneuver in deep snow, while the aspen core and carbon stringers provide stability and smoothness. The DPS Foundation 112 RP is a versatile ski that performs admirably in a variety of snow conditions and is our top pick for intermediate skiers seeking the best powder ski on the market.
Best All-Mountain Intermediate Ski
Ability level: Intermediate to advanced
Pros: Excellent carving performance, smooth and stable ride, versatile for various snow conditions
Cons: Less comfortable in deep powder
The Rossignol Experience 86 Ti offers exceptional performance on groomers and all-mountain versatility. In our experience, this ski hooks up quickly and feels incredibly stable on edge, making it suitable for intermediate to advanced skiers. Its stiffness provides a perfect balance between power and control, delivering an enjoyable experience at high speeds.
We found the ski to be remarkably smooth and stable, thanks to its two layers of metal and moderate tip rocker. These features allow it to confidently cut through midday chop, providing a satisfying and precise ride when executing medium-width, arching turns.
While it may not excel in deep powder, the Experience 86 Ti is an outstanding choice for those looking for an on-trail specialist or an all-mountain ski in areas with limited snowfall.
- All Trail Profile: Ensures smooth and progressive absorption of uneven terrain in all snow conditions
- All Trail Sidecut: Engages the ski tip from the start of the turn and strengthens the tail's action
- Poplar Wood Core: Balances weight, flex, and stability for a versatile blend of power and playfulness
- Carbon Alloy Matrix: A blend of Carbon fiber and Basalt fiber, providing grip, versatility, precision, and stability
- Drive Tip Solution: Longitudinal glass fibers combined with visco-elastic materials for vibration absorption and directional stability
- Titanal Construction: Enhances power and dampness in performance skis, providing a smooth and stable ride.
The Rossignol Experience 86 Ti is an excellent choice for intermediate skiers looking for a versatile all-mountain ski with exceptional carving capabilities. Its smooth and stable ride makes it a pleasure to ski on groomed runs, while its performance in changeable snow conditions ensures a well-rounded experience.
Although it may not be the best option for deep powder, its overall performance and features make it our top pick for the Best Intermediate All-Mountain Ski.
Best Women All-mountain Intermediate Ski
Ability level: Advanced to expert
Pros: Exceptional stability, silky glide & unwavering performance at speeds.
Cons: Demands an experienced and confident skier
The Völkl Secret 96 is designed to handle a wide range of snow conditions and terrain, making it an ideal ski for intermediate skiers looking to explore the mountain. With a 96mm waist width, it offers a great balance between flotation in powder and quick edge-to-edge transitions on groomers.
The ski's tip and tail rocker profile allows for fast turns, while the camber underfoot provides stability and edge grip on hardpack snow. The tapered shape reduces tip and tail drag, making it easier to pivot and maneuver. In our experience, the Secret 96 particularly stood out when carving through mixed snow conditions on steep groomers, providing unwavering edge grip and smooth turn transitions that inspired confidence.
Völkl is known for its high-quality construction, and the Secret 96 is no exception. The ski features a multi-layer wood core that combines different types of wood for a lightweight and responsive feel.
The Titanal Frame, a metal layer, adds stability, torsional rigidity, and power transmission without weighing the ski down. This combination of materials results in a ski that is durable and can withstand the wear and tear of an adventurous intermediate skier.
- Tailored Titanal® Frame and Carbon Tips for a smooth ride with added ease
- 3D Radius Sidecut for confident turns in various terrain
- 96mm waist width for optimal performance in diverse snow depths
- Full sidewall construction for durability and edge grip
- Tip and Tail Rocker for easy turn initiation and float in powder
- Wood core for a lightweight and responsive feel
The Völkl Secret 96 inspires confidence at high speeds and can handle a wide range of terrain and snow conditions. With its powerful performance, tailored stiffness, and versatile design, the Secret 96 is a top contender for advanced intermediate skiers looking to push their limits and explore the mountain.
Keep in mind that the Secret 96 demands a hard-driving pilot, and less advanced riders may find it challenging to control in tight spaces. However, if you're comfortable keeping your foot on the gas, the Secret 96 won't disappoint.
Best Touring Ski
Category: Backcountry Touring Skis
Ability level: Intermediate
Weight: 6 lbs. 12 oz / 3.06 kg
Widths: 85, 95, 105mm
Pros: Versatile, lightweight, and efficient on both uphill and downhill
Cons: Not ideal for big-mountain skiing, wide turn radius
We found the Blizzard Zero G 105 to be a really enjoyable ski on both uphill climbs and downhill descents. The updated multi-layer carbon build for 2023 offers improved edge grip, making it a sturdy companion in variable conditions and at moderate speeds.
Despite its lightweight construction, the Zero-G 105 offers a surprising amount of forgiveness, making it a trustworthy partner when exploring new terrain. With a 105-millimeter waist width, it's suitable for all-season use, except for the deepest powder days.
It's clear that Blizzard has been perfecting this model for years, and the result is a ski that excels in both uphill efficiency and downhill performance. With the latest iteration of Blizzard's Carbon Drive Technology, the Zero-G 105 skis manage to maintain their lightweight build while offering impressive downhill capabilities. As a result, these skis have become a favorite among adventurous free-riders.
- Updated multi-layer carbon build for 2023, improving edge grip and stability
- Lightweight construction for efficient uphill climbs
- Forgiving and versatile performance, suitable for a wide range of conditions
- 105-millimeter waist width, ideal for all-season use
- Wide 23-meter turn radius (for the 180cm length), contributing to a planted feel
- Suitable for intermediate skiers and dedicated backcountry enthusiasts
The Blizzard Zero G 105 is our top pick for intermediate backcountry skiers due to its versatile performance, lightweight construction, and efficient uphill and downhill capabilities. While it may not be the best choice for big-mountain skiing or those seeking a tighter turn radius, its combination of low weight and confidence-inspiring performance makes it an excellent option for a wide range of skiers.
Whether you're new to backcountry skiing or a seasoned enthusiast, the Zero-G 105 is a reliable and enjoyable ski that will help you make the most of your time in the mountains.
Best Carving Ski
Category: Best Carving Ski
Ability level: Intermediate to Advanced
Dimensions: Lengths: 157, 164, 171, and 178 cm; Tip: 123 mm; Waist: 78 mm; Tail: 110 mm; Radius: 16 m (@ 171 cm)
Pros: Lightweight, great stability, easy turn initiation, durable
In our experience, the Fischer RC One 78 GT is a truly impressive ski for those looking to take their carving skills to the next level. Its lightweight design, thanks to the inclusion of Bafatex, is immediately noticeable, making it a pleasure to handle and maneuver on well-groomed slopes.
The ski's stability at high speeds is commendable, offering a secure and smooth ride that boosts confidence and encourages progression.
The turn initiation is a standout feature, with the turn zone technology and triple radius working harmoniously to provide effortless steering. This, combined with the ski's responsive nature and excellent edge hold, makes for a thrilling experience on the slopes.
As you'd expect, while it excels on groomed runs, it may not offer the same performance in more varied snow conditions, making it less versatile for those seeking an all-mountain experience.
- Lightweight Bafatex material offers an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, enhancing the ski's durability and smoothness.
- ABS sidewalls support the steel edge for optimal stability, strength, and durability.
- Triple radius design enhances power and control throughout the turn.
- Turn zone technology, a blend of specialized materials in the ski's critical flex area, reduces mass for easier steering and turn initiation while minimizing vibrations.
- Solid poplar wood core ensures a robust and long-lasting construction.
- Slightly wider waist widths (78 to 86 cm) and a longer rocker than the narrower segments Ti, S, and X, catering to intermediate and advanced skiers.
The Fischer RC One 78 GT is an excellent choice for intermediate skiers looking to advance their carving skills. In our experience, it offers a lightweight, stable, and responsive ride that truly shines on groomed runs.
With its easy turn initiation and superior edge hold, this ski encourages progression and confidence on the slopes. While it may not be as versatile in varied snow conditions, its performance, durability, and reasonable price point make it a standout in the intermediate carving ski category.
6 Things to Consider When Choosing Intermediate Skis
If you're an intermediate skier, chances are you're looking for a ski that's both stable and responsive. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your skis:
Ski Construction & Weight
When choosing intermediate skis, it's essential to understand how the materials and construction techniques used affect the durability, weight, and performance of the ski.
Intermediate skis typically have wood or foam core, sandwich construction, and layers of fiberglass or carbon fiber. A wood core provides stability and responsiveness to the ski, making it ideal for skiers looking for a more traditional ski feel.
On the other hand, a foam core is lighter and more forgiving, making it an excellent option for beginners or skiers looking for a more relaxed ride. The sandwich construction method involves layering different materials to create a stable and responsive ski.
This technique helps to distribute stress evenly across the ski, increasing durability and reducing the chance of the ski delaminating over time. The layers of fiberglass or carbon fiber used in the construction impact the ski's flex and stiffness.
Fiberglass is less expensive and provides a softer flex, making it a better choice for beginners or those looking for a more forgiving ride. Carbon fiber is more expensive but provides a stiffer flex, making it ideal for advanced skiers or those looking for faster speeds and better control.
The length of your skis is important to consider as it can affect your balance, control, and speed. A good rule of thumb is to choose a ski that comes up to your chin, but this can vary depending on factors such as weight and skill level. For instance, lightweight skiers may prefer shorter skis for more maneuverability, while heavier skiers may prefer longer skis for stability.
The width of your skis will determine how well they perform in certain snow conditions. If you predominantly ski on groomed runs, a narrower ski will be more suitable, while wider skis perform better in deeper snow and off-piste terrain. If you're looking for a ski that can handle both groomed runs and powder, consider a ski with a waist width between 80mm to 100mm.
|Type of Skis
|Best Suited For
|For off-piste and deep snow conditions.
|For versatile skiing on different terrains and conditions.
|For skinning uphill and descending back down.
|For groomed runs and hard-packed snow.
Sidecut refers to the shape of the ski and how it affects the ski's turning radius. Skis with a smaller tip and tail and a narrower waist have a tighter turning radius, making them more suitable for carving turns on groomed runs. Skis with a larger waist and a more gradual sidecut are better for powder skiing and off-piste terrain, allowing for better flotation and more maneuverability in deep snow.
Know Your Ability Level and Skiing Style
When choosing the right skis, it’s essential to take both your skiing ability level and style into consideration. Intermediate skiers who love to carve turns will have different skiing styles and needs than those who prefer off-piste freeriding.
If you are an intermediate skier who likes to ski fast and make quick turns, you’ll want to look for skis that are more responsive and have a tighter turn radius. Alternatively, if you prefer a smoother, more relaxed ride, you should consider a ski with less stiffness and a wider turn radius.
- For those drawn to deep, untouched snow, we recommend a powder ski, specifically built to float effortlessly.
- For those who enjoy the ascent as much as the descent a touring ski offers the perfect balance between uphill efficiency and downhill performance.
- For exploring all the mountains from crud to pow, all-mountain skis have you covered.
- Sticking to hard-packed groomers throughout the day, then opt for a carving ski.
Choosing the Correct Bindings
It's crucial to choose bindings that will work well with your intermediate skis. When selecting bindings, consider the brake width, weight, and compatibility with your boot sole. The brake width of the bindings should match the width of your ski.
If the brakes are too narrow, they won't fit over the ski's waist, and if they're too wide, they'll create drag and slow you down. The weight of the bindings is also essential, as lighter bindings can reduce the overall weight of your setup, making it easier to maneuver on the slopes.
However, it's important not to sacrifice safety for weight and to select bindings with a good track record of safety. Lastly, ensure that the bindings are compatible with your ski's boot sole. Different bindings have different mounting patterns and compatibility with specific boot soles. Always check the manufacturer's specifications before making a purchase to ensure a safe and secure fit.
Benefits of Renting Skis Before Buying
Before purchasing a new pair of intermediate skis, it can be beneficial to rent skis first. This gives you the opportunity to try different types of skis and sizes to help you discover what works best for you. Additionally, renting allows you to save money and avoid storing expensive equipment offseason.
Finally, don’t forget to take good care of your intermediate skis. Proper maintenance will keep them performing at their best, ensuring you get the most out of your investment.
If you need new boots, check out our reviews of the Best Intermediate Ski Boots.