So you’ve decided to buy a pair of intermediate level downhill skis. You’ve mastered the pizza and french fries and you’re ready to take on the blue squares – or maybe you’ve just outgrown your current pair and want to get your hands on something a little nicer.
Whatever your reason for buying a new set, sorting through the hundreds of products on the market now can be tricky. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list of the best intermediate skis to help you get off the internet and out on the mountain that much faster!
We’ll go over all you need to know about the specs, as well as how to pick the perfect pair just for you. After that, we’ve got six products that we think are top notch. Let’s get into it!
Our top picks
|Armada TST||68.5 - 75.6 inches||4 inches||Camber/Tip Rocker||Check price on Amazon|
|Volkl RTM 81||61.4 - 71.7 inches||3.2 inches||Camber/Dual Rocker||Check price on Amazon|
|Rossignol Soul 7||64.6 inches||4.2 inches||Camber/Dual Rocker||Check price on Amazon|
|G3 Gynapse 101||68.9 - 72.8 inches||4 inches||Camber/Tip Rocker||Check price on Amazon|
|Faction Candide 2.0||65.3 - 72.4 inches||4 inches||Camber/Dual Rocker||Check price on Amazon|
|Salomon Rocker2 100||63.8 - 73.2 inches||3.9 inches||Camber/Dual Rocker||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
Skis can be a complicated item to purchase. Even for skiers who have made it out of the beginner category and safely into intermediate territory, phrases like “tip rocker”, “turn radius”, and “twin tip” can leave a shopper confused and overwhelmed. But don’t despair! We’re here to help. Below, we’ll go into some of the common variations in skis and what to look for while buying your next pair.
Of all the variables you can find in a pair of skis, length is maybe the hardest to figure out. The length of your skis can drastically change your skiing experience – affecting everything from turning capability, speed, and comfort. While it makes a big impact, the “correct” ski length is more of a myth than anything.
The effect of your ski length changes according to the snow type and terrain, and personal preference makes up most of the difference. With that being said, there are some guidelines for optimizing your ski length for the smoothest experience possible.
Generally, if you stand next to your skis they should come up to somewhere between your chin and the tip of your head. Here’s a chart that shows the suggested ski length per height:
|Height (Feet and Inches)||Ski Length (Inches)|
|4’ 10”||53.1 - 59|
|5’||53.1 - 61|
|5’ 2”||57 - 64.9|
|5’ 4”||59 - 66.9|
|5’ 6”||61 - 68.9|
|5’ 8”||62.9 - 70.9|
|5’ 10”||65 - 72.8|
|6’||66.9 - 74.8|
|6’ 2”||68.9 - 76.8|
|6’ 4”||70.9 - 78.7|
Using these guidelines as a starting point, you can choose within your range. Shorter skis turn more easily, but will not gain as much speed. Longer skis, on the other hand, are much harder to turn but will go much faster.
Newbie skiers often stick with shorter skis, sometimes even below chin level, while gaining confidence with speed. More advanced riders, however, may get skis that go even above their head to better bomb those black diamonds.
Intermediate riders probably want to stick somewhere in the middle, with shorter skis for lighter folks and longer for the more heavy among us.
This specification refers to the “waist” width of your ski – that is, the width of the middle, thinnest part of the ski. Like length, this measurement varies quite a bit and is largely affected by personal preference. There are a few recommendations for waist width, though – and they can mean the difference between carving down the hill and constant biffing.
Most skis you find at a downhill resort will fall somewhere around or below 3.3 inches in waist width. These skinny skis are great for groomed trails and allow you to turn quickly and easily. Experts like this width for the easy control, and beginners like it for, well, the easy control!
As trails get a little more rough, most people opt for a wider width ski. Between 3.3 inches and 3.7 inches are great options for those who spend most of their time on groomed slopes, but like to dip into the trees on occasion. 95-4.3 inches skis offer even more versatility and control in deep snow and powder, while anything over 4.3 inches is ideal for backcountry exclusive skiers.
As you probably already know, there are a lot of different types of skis out there. One of the specifications that designates different uses is the tail profile. This refers to the way that the end of the ski is sculpted, and it plays a big role in turning and speed control. The three major types are twin tip, flared, and flat.
Twin tip tails are named after the tail’s “twin” status with the front of the ski (also called the shovel). Twin tips have a rounded tail that scoops up just as much as the front, and are designed to allow you to land and control the ski backwards. These are good options for people who want to explore jumps a little more or want the very best control on turns.
Flared tails are rounded, tapered tails that turn up slightly. These are the go-to shape for most downhill skiers and offer good control on turns. Flat tails, in contrast, are a flat, square design that give the user optimal control at speed, but need some extra effort when exiting turns. These are the shape to choose for the speediest of skiers.
Skis vary as much in flexibility as they do in length and width. Unlike the wooden and metal boards that made up the first skis, new materials allow for a little more give with a little less break, and riders can choose which style works best for them.
The more flexible a ski is, the easier it is to control. However, softer skis sink in powder and pick up little speed compared to their ultra-stiff counterparts. For intermediate riders, soft to medium flex skis are ideal – ultra soft will likely be too slow, and the stiff ones might be too hard to control.
Rocker and camber are the terms that refer to how curved a ski is. Cambered skis are bent in an arc towards the ground – and most skis have some camber in the middle. Rocker is the exact opposite, and curves up from the ground like a “U”. Most skis on the market combine both rocker and camber to some extent.
Cambered skis with a tip rocker are the most common design. The shovel of the ski scoops up, while the tail has a less dramatic curve, allowing for quick turns with rear control. Dual rocker skis have both tips rockered and, like twin tip skis, makes for versatile on and off trail fun.
Full rocker skis have no camber and curve up completely. These skis are best for deep powder and off-trail exploration. With these five considerations explained, you’re ready to hit the market!
Best Products on Today’s Market
Now that we’ve gone over some of the specifications to keep in mind while choosing your perfect pair of skis, here are our favorite products!
Armada TST Skis
Length: 68.5 – 75.6 inches
Waist width: 4 inches
Specific features: Heat treated impact edge, directionally layered fiberglass design, tip rocker only, single length available
Best use: Groomed mountain and occasional powder
The Armada TST Skis are a lightweight, durable pair of skis for the intermediate front country skier. These skis are made from a wood core with Laminate Matrix fiberglass laminate, creating optimal wax retention conditions as well as a smooth glide.
The design utilizes the Armada Freeride Rocker system, creating a float in powder. Coupled with the 4.01 inches waist width, these skis have solid control on hardpack and groomed mountain, making them a great versatile option for those who want to explore a little more off the beaten path. While the waist size and rocker design lend themselves to occasional exploration, these skis are still best suited to front country skiing.
The mid range price is perfect for the less experienced intermediate, and this ski will provide plenty of opportunity to advance! And, for an added bonus, these are our only featured skis that range all the way up to 75.6 inches – a perfect choice for taller folks!
- Ranges to a large length
- Fiberglass laminate
- Mid weight
- Not wide enough for extensive backcountry
Related: Every skier needs some ski pants, and Armada has you covered with all your attire on the mountain. If you want to rep Armada on your body and with your skis, check out the Armada Bleeker Pants – stylish, waterproof, and reinforced pants for active skiers of every level.
Volkl RTM 81 Ski System
Length: 61.4 – 71.7 inches
Waist width: 3.2 inches
Specific features: Includes bindings, dual rocker design, medium rigid flexibility, flared tail profile
Best use: Groomed mountain
If you’re the type who likes to make quick cuts and controlled turns, or you just like to stick to the beaten path, the Volkl RTM 81 Ski System might be for you. This set includes a pair of dual rocker skis with an 3.2 inch waist width.
Their rigidity, weight, and waist make for a speedy and maneuverable ski well suited for the front country skier who wants to work on speed and control. The flared tail profile allows for even better turn control, and the stylish design will make you an envy to those around you – if they can see you when you speed by.
These skis are a great deal and come with included WideRide bindings, cutting out the hassle and cost of separate binding purchases. While these skis are a good transition for intermediates with a little more experience, they may be too rigid for less confident skiers and the ultra-thin waist makes them ill suited for powder and backcountry pursuits.
- Includes bindings
- Thin waist width for good control
- Variety of lengths
- Too thin for powder and backcountry
- Fairly rigid for intermediate skiers
Related: For the ladies who want something a little more specific, there’s the Volkl Kenja Skis. These are another pair of skis on the rigid side that offer extreme turn control and speed – but designed specifically for women.
Rossignol Soul 7 Skis
Length: 64.6 inches
Waist width: 4.2 inches
Specific features: Flared tail profile, wide waist, includes bindings
Best use: All mountain and backcountry skiing
Unlike the Volkls above, the Rossignol Soul 7 Skis are the way to go for backcountry learning and deep powder. These skis feature a much wider waist and dual rocker profile that allows for easy cruising through deep powder, loose crud, and rough terrain.
They feature the Free VAS Dampening system that keeps wobble down and knees stable. If you’ve been waiting for your chance to get away from the crowds, these skis are a good way to do it!
While great for the backcountry, these skis are not as well suited for front country terrain. The width makes for a large turning radius and less tight control during turns. This is not the ideal design for those who want to get out into the halfpipes, but it does come with included bindings that make the price well worth it for everyone else.
- Wide waist for backcountry exploration
- Free VAS Dampening system for less wobble
- Higher turn radius
- Less turn control
Related: Whether making tight turns or using your Soul 7s in deep snow, you can always use ski poles – like the Rossignol Pursuit Ski Poles. These poles are a great addition to any Rossignol ski set!
G3 Synapse 101 Skis
Length: 68.9 – 72.8 inches
Waist width: 4 inches
Specific features: Dual rocker, partial twin tip profile, lightweight poplar and paulownia core
Best use: All mountain skiing and touring
If you’re looking for a pair of skis to get you into touring, look no further than the G3 Synapse 101 Skis. These skis are a highly rated, high quality product that will get you out of the resorts and into the wilderness, with safety and control that other touring skis often lack.
The core, made from poplar and paulownia, is super lightweight, allowing you to go further than ever before! And if you decide you’re sick of touring, the partial twin tip profile will keep you in control on groomed mountain, too.
The biggest con to this product is its price, but rest assured, the cost is worth it for any intermediate skier who wants to learn or perfect their touring skills. If touring and backcountry skiing hold no interest for you, you might want to check out one of the other, more affordable options listed here.
- Versatile for touring
- Thin edge bevel for good edgehold
- No included bindings
- More expensive
- Less speed in front country settings
Related: For the full backcountry experience, check out the G3 Alpinist Climbing Skins. These skins are perfect to turn your G3 touring skis into cross country climbers!
Faction Candide 2.0 Skis
Length: 65.3 – 72.4 inches
Waist width: 4 inches
Specific features: Poplar/beech core, carbon reinforcement, twin tip profile
Best use: Park and groomed mountain
If your home base is in the parks and half pipes, the Faction Candide 2.0 Skis are just for you. These intermediate skis are great for bridging the gap between beginner and park rat, featuring a dual rocker profile and short turn radius.
While the waist width is wide enough to handle some snow, the carbon reinforcement and sintered base allow for high speeds on groomed terrain – all for a decent price!
While this skis are great for front country use, they are a little firm for intermediate use in the backcountry. This is a great product for those who want to learn a little more on the trickster side of skiing.
- Dual rocker for park level control
- Do not include bindings
- Not well suited to deep snow and backcountry
Related: For a slightly thicker waist width and a little more backcountry capability, check out the Faction Candide 3.0 Downhill Skis. These have all of the great features of the 2.0 skis, with a width of 4.3 inches instead of 4 inches.
Salomon Rocker2 100 Skis
Length: 63.8 – 73.2 inches
Waist width: 3.9 inches
Specific features: Full wood core, hook free taper, lightweight
Best use: Groomed mountain and occasional powder
For an affordable, all around solid set of front country skis, look no further than the Salomon Rocker2 100 Skis. These are one of the best pairs of skis you can buy for their price, and they even won the Freeskier Editor’s Pick award.
The dual rocker and relatively thin waist width make for a great front country ski with exceptional turn control and a finely tuned flexibility to firmness ratio.
While the Salomon’s aren’t your best option for backcountry escapades, they are a well-rounded and high quality product with a lot of bang for their buck.
- Hook free taper for better edging
- Freeskier Editor’s Pick award
- Does not include bindings
- Larger turn radius
Related: If you need a pair of boots to accompany your skis, check out the Salomon MTN Explorer Ski Boots. These are another high quality Salomon product that gives a lot of quality for not a lot of cost.
Summing Things Up
And there you have it! We’ve gone over all you need to know to pick out your next favorite pair, so now get out to the snow! Do you have any tips for picking a pair of skis? Let us know in the comments!