Best Skis For Beginners in 2021

by Simon Naylor | Updated On: January 23rd, 2021
different skis

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Due to the deluge of products on the market, beginner skiers can have a difficult time picking an appropriate pair of skis for their abilities. Beginner-friendly skis should offer their users adequate balance and control, in addition to the ability to learn fundamental turning skills.

There’s a host of factors that influence the design of a pair of skis, including gender, weight, and posture. That’s why skis that are made for men tend to be fairly different from the ones made for women. There’s also a number of unisex models, but it’s better to opt for gender-specific pairs.

Another reason why selecting the right pair of skis requires expert knowledge is that skis tend to come as combined systems with bindings or as plain pairs that require separate bindings. In this article, we’ll help save you a lot of time and effort by revealing the best skis for beginners today.

Ski

Product

Price

My Top Pick

Rossignol Experience

  • Excellent build quality

  • Offers ideal edge grip

  • Perfect for all terrains

Runner-Up

Rossignol Smash 7

  • Adjustable and versatile

  • Exceptional build quality

  • Great for quick progress

Best for Women

Nordica NRGY 90

  • Offers ideal adjustability

  • Offers excellent stability

  • Lightweight and durable

Most Lightweight

K2 Press Skis

  • Highly affordable skis

  • Very lightweight build

  • Super easy to handle

Best Value

Salomon QST 85

  • Highly affordable skis

  • Exceptional durability

  • Ideal maneuverability

Top 5 Best Skis For Beginners

  1. Rossignol Experience 74 (Best Overall)
  2. Rossignol Smash 7 (Runner-Up)
  3. Nordica NRGY 90 (Best for Women)
  4. K2 Press Skis (Most Lightweight)
  5. Salomon QST 85 (Most Value)

5 Best Skis for Beginners

There’s an extensive array of beginner-friendly ski set-ups on the market, but we’ve managed to narrow it down to just five products that ticked every box in our checklist. Here they are:

1. Rossignol Experience 74

Best Overall

Boasting lightweight construction and Rossignol’s proprietary Air Tip technology, the Experience 74 shines through as one of the most versatile pairs of skis on the market and our personal pick for the best overall skis for beginners. The skis weigh 4.6kg and have a 15m radius at 168cm.

What sets the Rossignol Experience 74 skis from the rest of its competitors? Firstly, this is a pair of all-terrain skis, meaning that it grants you the freedom to shine in all snow conditions. Further, the pair comes with integrated bindings to ensure a smooth ski-to-boot fitting process.

Right on the top of the skis, you’ll find the Air Tip VAS, which serves as a means of absorbing tip chatter with the aid of vibration-reducing materials, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable ride. As far as the core, it’s made from carbon poplar, which is notably lighter than a lot of other cores.

These skis boast reinforcements that are made from woven fibers that you can find beneath the top sheet. The purpose of these reinforcements is to boost the strength and durability of the skis without adding any noteworthy extra weight that can take away from their performance.

Lastly, the Rossignol Experience 74 skis are very reasonably priced considering the ton of value they have to offer. Using these skis, you’ll be able to carve turns without exerting too much effort in a short period of time. You just can’t go wrong with the winter sports benchmark, Rossignol.

Reasons to Buy:

2. Rossignol Smash 7

Runner-Up

A lot of manufacturers claim that their skis are beginner-friendly, but only a few and far between truly show the attention to detail required to engineer set-ups that novice skiers can find of great value. Rossignol’s second entry boasts all of the characteristics of beginner-friendly skis.

What are the qualities that make the Rossignol Smash 7 a formidable pair of skis for beginners? For starters, these skis are fairly lightweight at just 4kg. In addition, they have a width that’s very easy to manage. Into the bargain, the turn initiation is smoother than a fresh jar of skippy.

The Smash 7 skis boast progressive side cuts that allow you to engage them with very minimal effort regardless of your speed. You can literally engage them in any turn shape. These skis are equipped with a sidecut radius underfoot that helps ensure an ideal edge grip for the user.

Another aspect where the Smash 7 skis excel is maneuverability. This is a result of the released extremities. You’ll find it very easy to steer these skis towards any direction you want. You’ll also be able to control the speed, floatation, grip, and energy, thanks to the freeride rocker’s profile.

Just like a lot of skiing set-ups on the market today, the Rossignol Smash 7 skis boast their very own integrated bindings system, so you should find it easy to fit them to any boot. Attaching the bindings yourself is fairly easy and won’t take you any more than a couple of minutes.

Reasons to Buy:

3. Nordica NRGY 90

Best for Women

The Nordica NRGY 90 is arguably the best pair of skis on our list in terms of adjustability, which is why we strongly recommend them for women. And even if you’re a man, you’ll find these skis to be very suitable for you as well. The NRGY 90 ensures expeditious progress on the slopes.

Versatility is another category that the NRGY 90 skis excel in, as they feature a waist that’s wide enough to ensure a superb performance on and off the trail without being too wide for beginners to handle. It’s also worth noting that the NRGY 90 is lighter than the Rossignol Experience 74.

The NRGY 90 skis feature an added float and camber right under the foot area. This helps offer the skier a great deal of firmness and stability. In fact, these skis are so stable that you’ll be able to pick all of the proper techniques with ease and in a rather short period of time.

Nordica did a lustrous job of striking the perfect balance between visual appeal and minimalism with these skis while paying a lot of attention to detail. The NRGY 90 is available in a refreshing selection of colors that will easily help you stand out from the rest of the skiers on the slope.

We’ll even go as far as saying that this is the best-looking pair of skis on our list, which is a hard statement to make considering the formidability of the rest of the products on the list. Lastly, this pair of skis won’t cost you an arm and a leg, so you can completely forget about renting skis.

Reasons to Buy:

4. K2 Press Skis

Most Lightweight

The K2 Press is a dedicated park ski that boasts a lightweight construction and provides ease of handling, which is why it’s one of the best skis for beginners. This is a skiing set-up that will help you hone and show off your skiing skills without costing you an arm and a leg.

These skis are equipped with a responsive Aspect core and feature a Carbon Boost braid. Just throw on a pair of bindings and experience the tremendous level of control and stability that this pair of skis have to offer. The K2 Press is perfect for young skiers looking to sharpen their skills.

Due to their lightweight, the K2 Press skis have a very forgiving nature, which is why they’re an ideal pick for beginners who are still trying to perfect their technique. We feel the need to stress that these skis are strictly for beginners. Veteran skiers will find them to be too flimsy.

The K2 Press sounds like an excellent product so far, right? Well, there’s a couple of caveats to it. The first one is that these skis don’t feature integrated bindings, so unless you already have a pair of decent bindings, you’re going to spend a pretty penny on bindings and mounting costs.

The second caveat is that these skis are more suited for broad sweeping turns, meaning that as soon as you get on an edge, the extent of grip you have will be notably reduced. Nevertheless, a ride on the terrain park with these highly affordable skis will offer you a great deal of fun.

Reasons to Buy:

5. Salomon QST 85

Most Value

There are a few things that are worse than spending a few hundred dollars on a product only for it to be rendered useless within a matter of weeks. With the Salomon QST 85, you don’t have to worry about this scenario taking place, as this is a ski set-up that’s built primarily for durability.

Despite their ruggedness, these skis managed to stay one of the lightest on our list, weighing in at an astonishing 3.7kg. And considering their weight, this pair does a brilliant job of ensuring an ideal level of stability, thanks to the incorporation of reinforcement layers of flax and carbon.

To add to the convenience, the QST 85 skis feature the Power Platform, which helps provide an optimal level of rigidity underfoot. The Power Platform also helps keep you from pulling out your binding screws, which ensures safety on the slopes so that nothing goes wrong.

These skis from Salomon are also equipped with elastomers that help absorb vibrations so that you can enjoy a smooth, bump-free ride. You’ll find the QST 85 easy to maneuver, thanks to the Koroyd tip insert which helps lower the swing weight, allowing for fatigue-free skiing.

Due to their light and flexible build, the Salomon QST 85 can be too flexible for heavy skiers. It’s quite easy to turn, similarly to the K2 Press skis, but they just won’t offer you much grip when on an edge. Despite their fairly limited performances, the QST 85 makes for a great beginner ski.

Reasons to Buy:


How to Select the Right Skis?

vintage skis

Skis come in all shapes and sizes, which can make the process of selecting the right pair of skis quite challenging. With the aid of the following guide, the right skis will reveal themselves to you.

1. Waist Width

There are three main measurements that define the width of skis: tail width, tip width, and waist width. As a beginner, you only need to pay attention to the waist width, which is the width of the middle part of the ski. It’s a good indication of how the skis perform on different snow conditions.

It’s vital for you to understand that beginner skis are designed specifically for groomed runs, but the thing about groomed runs is that not all of them are created equal. Certain zones require an especially narrow ski, while other zones are better to ski on using broader skis.

Follow these guidelines for best results:

2. Ski Length

When shopping for a beginner-friendly pair of skis, you should be looking at shorter skis, rather than longer ones, as shorter skis grant easier control and are a lot more responsive to stopping and turning than longer skis. These are attributes that beginner skiers can benefit from.

How can you select the optimal ski length? A good estimate is to opt for skis that have a length that allows them to come somewhere between your forehead and chin when you position them vertically on the ground right at the tip of your toes. Not the most precise estimate, but it works.

Another rule states that the length of the skis is optimal when they’re as close as possible to the tip of your nose when placed vertically. Keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that affect the optimal length of the skis, so the above-mentioned estimates won’t always be perfect.

If you’re a heavy skier for your height, you may want to consider skis that are slightly longer. We feel the need to stress that you, as a novice skier, should always remain on groomed runs. Don’t attempt any off-trail skiing until your skills are sharpened enough to handle this type of skiing.

3. Turn Radius

The turn radius of the ski has a striking effect on your turns. Based on the turn radius, your turns can either be long, sweeping turns, or tighter ones. Unlike the ski waist width, which is measured in millimeters, the turning radius is measured in meters. The smaller it is, the tighter the turn.

The shape of the ski from the tip to the tail is what determined its turning radius. Nowadays, skis tend to have an hourglass arc that offers a dramatic shape and a smaller side cut. You’ll find it to be better to opt for a ski that has a small sidecut since you won’t be on your edges in a turn.

It’s recommended to go for a pair of skis with a turning radius that’s less than 15 meters if you’re going for carving. If you’re going for sweeping turns in powder, opt for 20 meters or more. Lastly, if you want a pair of all-around skis, it’s advised to go for a radius between 15 and 20 meters.

4. Ski Profile

There are a few factors that influence the navigation of a pair of skis on different types of terrain, which is why many expert skiers tend to have more than one pair of skis. However, you’re going to want to invest in a single pair that will offer you ideal stability and control as a beginner.

One of the main factors that affect the navigation of skis is the ski profile. The skis profile can be broken down into three categories, namely camber, rocker, and mixed. Each one boasts its own positives and suffers from a few negatives. Let’s go over each type briefly.

Camber

The camber ski design has a profile that’s almost like a half-moon. The profile of cambered skis should peak underneath your boots and touch the ground towards the tail and tip. The weight of the skier presses the ski into the snow while skiing. This type offers a pop coming out of turns. 

The pop generated by the camber profile will offer you a ton of propulsion to the next turn. It’s a fact that camber designs offer optimal contact with the snow, which is why they’re as popular as they are today. Not only that, but they also offer remarkable edge control while carving.

Rocker

The rocker profile is also known as the reverse camber. It’s most prominent characteristic is its raised tips on both ends, making it look almost like a banana. The rocker or reverse camber is perfect for skiing in deep powder, but its raised tip also makes it ideal for beginners.

The rocker’s raised tip allows the skier to initiate a turn with ease, which is something that a lot of novice skiers tend to struggle with. We don’t recommend getting a full rocker ski, instead, it’s better to go for a ski that combines both the rocker and camber design in one profile.

Mixed

The mixed ski profile is arguably the most popular of all three types and it’s an ideal entry-level ski. The thing about this ski profile is that it comes in a wide range of variations. Some variants are designed primarily for experts, while others offer optimal skiing for beginners.

As a beginner, you want to go for a mixed ski profile that combines a modest tip and tail rocker with regular camber underfoot. This combination ensures ease of turning and offers the skier a good edge hold. In addition, this combination is ideal for achieving natural flex underfoot.

5. Bindings

If you’re entirely new to skiing, it’s highly recommended that you buy a skiing set-up that boasts integrated bindings. Some skis come with bindings already mounted, but others will require you to mount the bindings yourself. Nevertheless, there won’t be any compatibility issues.

Does that mean that you should steer clear from skis that require separate bindings? Not at all, as these models tend to be quite affordable. However, considering the cost of separate bindings and the cost of mounting, it’ll probably amount to the same cost of an integrated system.

Most bindings on the market tend to be made of heavy-duty plastic, which is typically optimal for casual use. Such bindings will offer you 2-3 seasons of good use before needing to be replaced. You should also consider metal bindings, as they tend to be more durable and more advanced.

Durability aside, metal bindings tend to boast technologies that allow them to rotate before they release your boot in a fall. This helps reduce your chances of developing any knee injuries. But apart from that, plastic bindings are still a steadfast option to opt for as a beginner.

6. DIN Rating

If you’ve decided to opt for an integrated ski system, then it’s cardinal that you learn more about DIN ratings. The DIN rating of an integrated system is basically the amount of force that a single binding will release when it’s locked in a boot. DIN ratings tend to range between 1 and 18.

The greater the DIN rating, the longer the holding time will be before letting go. Bindings that are constructed with beginners in mind tend to release very easily even at slower speeds, as they’re designed to ensure safety. Intermediate and professional bindings offer greater DIN ratings.

It’s also worth pointing out that your weight has a major effect on the release of bindings. Larger skiers should opt for bindings that have a higher DIN rating. Most skiing set-ups offer charts that break down the relationship between weight, ability, and DIN ratings, make use of these charts!

7. Ski Core

red and blue skis

The final factor that you need to take into consideration when in the market for beginner skis is the core material. Different materials influence the performance of the ski differently, specifically the turn, flex, and navigation. Let’s go over the most popular materials available.

Most popular core materials:


Final Words

We’re quite confident that one of the products reviewed in this article is going to meet both your needs and budget. Did you find our list helpful? If so, kindly let us know which product you think is the best and why. And if you have any questions, feel free to let us know.

Simon Naylor, the founder of New To Ski, started skiing in 2005. He has continued to practice his skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other new skiers. He launched New To Ski in 2018 to help first-time skiers have more fun on the slopes and get out and explore the mountains safely.