Best off piste skis
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Best off piste skis

The best off piste skis will help you to float in the deep snow while making turning effortless and easy. There are many ski brands which make top quality and fun off piste skis. The best brands to look out for when choosing off piste skis in my experience are Salomon, Rossignol, Head & Atomic.

Every skier has their own preference for what they look for in any type of ski, and this is no different for off piste skis. Not all off piste skis are made equal. Some off piste skis such as the Salomon QST 106 is designed in such a way that skiing on piste is made very doable even at 106mm underfoot, while the off piste skiing is still as enjoyable as any other off-piste skis on the market.

What are the best freeride skis?

So many to choose from! Skiing off piste is so much fun, generally speaking you can take any pair of half decent freeride or off piste skis to ski in the powder and you will have an amazing time. Having said this, there are notable differences between different pairs of off piste skis, and these are only discoverable when you ride them and test them through the deep powder to feel how they turn and how easy they are to control.

Salomon QST 106

My favourite off piste skis. It only took me an afternoon of skiing through powder and doing a little carving on piste to realise these were the skis I was going to buy for myself. What I loved so much about these skis is the versatility of them. When you are skiing off piste with them they feel as wide as you need for most back country skiing, yet if you fancy taking them for a carve on the groomed runs suddenly, they feel more like all mountain skis of medium width, with amazing carving capabilities. The way these skis are designed really lends themselves to being able to be skied anywhere on the mountain, while giving you excellent float in the deep powder.

Having wider skis of any sort means shorter turns on piste will inevitably become more difficult, however when it comes to long arching carving turns, the Salomon QST 106 can really hold an edge. The only other skis at a similar width which can hold an edge as well as these skis are the Head Kore 105. I have reviewed these below. The most remarkable this about the Salomon QST 106 that I havnt found in any other skis is how playful they are in the deep snow, yet are also stiff enough to carve with on piste.

Read the article Salomon QST 106 full review to find out more information about these skis, and if they are the skis that suit you.

Head Kore 105

The Head Kore 105 is one of the stiffest off piste freeride skis I have tried. It is unusual for such wide skis designed for skiing powder to be quite as stiff as the Head Kore 105, but this brings with it extra versatility, as it can also be used for carving. While you might expect off piste skis to be playful and soft to give you that bounce in the deep snow, Head Kore 105 delivers excellent float in the powder with more stiffness and resistance. This sort of ski lends itself to more advanced skiers who enjoy charging down the slopes whether on piste or in powder, and encourages skiing at speed.

The advantage of the Head Kore 105 is that if you want to mix things up a bit and do some carving in the afternoon after a long and fun morning of powder skiing, you wont have to change skis. The Head Kore 105 can be taken onto the piste and will let you get right over on your edges to get some long carves in and will hold your weight nicely with little shaking in your skis.

Read the article Head Kore 105 full review to find out more information about these skis, and if they are the skis that suit you.

Rossignol Soul 7

Anyone who knows anything about off-piste or freeride skiing will have heard of or will at least recognise the Rossignol Soul 7 skis. These skis are a very distinctive shape with a huge rocker at the front (in my opinion a little too pronounced, but ill get onto that) and made in a distinctive colour that makes them easily recognisable. The giant rocker at the front of the skis, as well as the honeycomb mesh in the tip and tail, make these skis float beautifully in the powder, and they really do feel amazing to glide along with.

The main issue I have with these skis is the way the side cut is designed, and the way the rocker has been designed. The design of these skis does not make turning in the powder as enjoyable as other off piste skis I have tried, and the turning on piste should barely get a mention because it is truly horrific. Part of the issue is just how large Rossignol have made the rocker on these skis, and how early the rocker begins. The skis just weren't sturdy enough and a little too flimsy at the tip for me to enjoy each of my turns. I almost felt as if the tips of the skis were catching in the deep snow too much, preventing me from getting nice connected turns in the powder.

Read the article Rossignol Soul 7 full review to find out more information about these skis, and if they are the skis that suit you.

Nordica Enforcer 110

The widest skis I am reviewing in this article is the Nordica Enforcer 110. There are not many skis at this width underfoot that can boast having 2 sheets (albeit thin) sheets of metal in them. Normally skis at widths of 105mm+ are specifically designed to be a bit softer, more responsive to turning through deep snow & more forgiving. The Nordica Enforcer 110 is not this. These skis are designed much more similarly to the Head Kore 105 in terms of their stiffness and suitability for serious and advanced skiers, however in my opinion this takes some of the fun out of off piste skiing, as I want my off piste skis to be bouncy, fun and easy to turn in huge billows of snow and powder. That’s the whole point of off piste skiing! You want to enjoy every single turn and feel yourself pressing into the powder snow with every turn. The stiff off piste skis just don’t have the same feel for me, and leave behind the best feeling of skiing in powder.

I will say the Nordica Enforcer 110 is a great quality ski and will suit many skiers out there, but if you are looking for a pair of skis to help you feel the deep snow with every turn, there may be better skis out there for you. If you are looking for a pair of skis to really go at speed down the back country, and if you fancy yourself as an advanced skier you is looking for a ski to hold your weight and take any pressure you put on it, then this is likely the ski for you, and would be well worth yur time trying out!

Read the article Nordica Enforcer 110 full review to find out more information about these skis, and if they are the skis that suit you.

Elan Ripstick 106

I remember when these first arrived on the market, I was working in a ski rental shop in British Colombia. The big hype around these new skis, the Elan Ripstick 106 and Elan Ripstick 96 was that each ski was asymmetrical, meaning there is more ‘ski’ in the inside edge than on the outside ski, the theory being that when you are turning, you will have 90% of your weight on your inside edge, rather than the outside edge of your inside ski... if you get me?? Personally, I didn’t really think it made much of a difference when I tried it out and would not have known any differently had I not known. The other notable aspect of these skis is how light and flexible they are. You will note that I commented on the Nordica Enforcer 110 above saying that they had been designed too stiff for my liking, and that I wanted a bit more softness for my powder turns. Well, this ski is right on the other side of the spectrum, with much more flexibility and softness through the turns. The reason I love this so much is because you can really feel the deep deep snow with every turn, which is what off piste skiing is all about. The disadvantage is that it is more difficult to pick up speed, and it is more difficult to be commanding with the skis through your turns. If you are an intermediate – advanced skier, these skis may be worth trying out to get a feel for off piste and to compare with other skis.

Read the article Nordica Enforcer 110 full review to find out more information about these skis, and if they are the skis that suit you.

What is freeriding skiing?

Freeride skiing or off piste skiing as it known, is skiing anywhere on the mountain regardless of the snow depth or terrain, particularly skiing away from the pistes and the groomed runs. This is achieved with a much wider ski both underfoot and at the tip and tails of the ski. Having this extra couple of centimetres of width gives the ski more stability and more float in the deep powder. Off piste skis are also instantly recognisable due to the amount of rocker in the tip and sometimes even the tail of the skis.

What is rocker in skis?

When you hear somebody refer to the rocker in skis, this is simply how much the ski lifts up at the front and sometimes the back of the ski, to help with skiing off piste or through deeper snow. All skis have some degree of rockers, but carving skis and all mountain skis will have a lot less of it than off piste skis. The opposite of rocker in a ski is camber. Camber is when skis arch up in the middle, this is especially important for carving. The more camber is in your skis the better it will hold an edge in the snow and enable you to carve gracefully down the slopes. Off piste skis or freeride skis will always have a large amount of rocker to ensure the tips of your skis don’t get caught in the deep snow as you ski down the back of the resort and obviously some of the camber must be lost to make room for this rocker, the more the skis are designed for off piste skiing. The more rocker a ski has the more difficult you will find it is to carve on piste with it. This is one of the decisions and pay offs you need to make when choosing off piste skis.

How long should off piste skis be?

There is no argument that off piste skis should be longer than you are tall. Normally for off piste skis you need to have skis which are around 10cm taller than you are stood up straight. It is not always as straight forward as just picking skis that are 10cm taller than you, as it depends a lot on where the rocker in the skis begins, how heavy you are and how advanced a skier you are. For the majority of skiers, you want to pick skis with the rocker (where the skis start to bend away from each other) beginning at or just below your chin. If you are a more advanced or expert skier you may be able to get away with longer skis to increase your stability at speed and to give you a bit more float in the deep snow.

What happens if skis are too short?

The problem with having your off piste skis too short is that in deep snow it is harder to keep your balance and to stay on top of the snow. You may find yourself ‘tripping’ over your skis if you are an expert skier and your skis just arent long enough for you. The entire point of off piste skiing to get the unmatchable feeling of gliding through powder snow, and you may completely miss out on this if your skis are too short and you don’t get a good amount of float in the snow due to your weight ot height.

Is it harder to ski with longer skis?

The problem with having skis that are too long for you is that it becomes more difficult to turn in the deep snow. You will find the tip and tail of your skis get caught in the snow preventing you from making nice sweeping turns. Obviously the more experienced a skier you are, the easier you will find it to control your skis, and the benefits of the longer skis outweigh the issues with the extra float and stability you will get from longer skis.

Is skiing off-piste dangerous?

There is no denying that skiing off piste is more dangerous than skiing on groomed pistes, due to the fewer safely controls in place and the added risk of injuring yourself in the trees, in the much deeper snow or in avalanches if you are deep in the back country. There are many precautions that you must take and lots of extra avalanche equipment you need to take if you plan to ski off piste or in the back country.