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Best Intermediate Skis: Stepping It Up on the Mountain without Stepping Over the Line

Best Intermediate Skis
Russell McCarty
Written by Russell McCarty

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!

Best Intermediate Skis

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

ProductLengthWaist WidthRockerPrice
Armada TST68.5 - 75.6 inches4 inchesCamber/Tip RockerCheck price on Amazon
Volkl RTM 8161.4 - 71.7 inches3.2 inchesCamber/Dual RockerCheck price on Amazon
Rossignol Soul 764.6 inches4.2 inchesCamber/Dual RockerCheck price on Amazon
G3 Gynapse 10168.9 - 72.8 inches4 inchesCamber/Tip RockerCheck price on Amazon
Faction Candide 2.065.3 - 72.4 inches4 inchesCamber/Dual RockerCheck price on Amazon
Salomon Rocker2 10063.8 - 73.2 inches3.9 inchesCamber/Dual RockerCheck 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.

Length

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.

Ski Length

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.

Ski Length

Intermediate riders probably want to stick somewhere in the middle, with shorter skis for lighter folks and longer for the more heavy among us.

Width

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!

Ski Width

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.

Tail Profile

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.

Skis Tail Profile

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.

Flexibility

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.

Ski Flexibility

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

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.

Rocker

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

Weight: 8.8 poundsArmada Men's 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!

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Ranges to a large length
  • Fiberglass laminate
 CONS:

  • 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.

 Check the price on Amazon

Volkl RTM 81 Ski System

Weight: 13.8 poundsVolkl 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.

PROS:

  • Includes bindings
  • Thin waist width for good control
  • Variety of lengths
 CONS:

  • Too thin for powder and backcountry
  • Heavy
  • 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.

Check the price on Amazon

Rossignol Soul 7 Skis

Weight: 8.4 poundsRossignol 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.

PROS:

  • Wide waist for backcountry exploration
  • Free VAS Dampening system for less wobble
  • Lightweight
 CONS:

  • 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!

Check the price on Amazon

G3 Synapse 101 Skis

Weight: 6.3 poundsG3 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.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Versatile for touring
  • Thin edge bevel for good edgehold
 CONS:

  • 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!

Check the price on Amazon

Faction Candide 2.0 Skis

Weight: 8.8 poundsFaction Men's Ski Candide 2.0

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.

PROS:

  • Dual rocker for park level control
  • Fast
  • Affordable
 CONS:

  • 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.

Check the price on Amazon

Salomon Rocker2 100 Skis

Weight: 8.2 poundsSalomon 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.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Hook free taper for better edging
  • Freeskier Editor’s Pick award
 CONS:

  • 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.

Check the price on Amazon

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!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Russell McCarty
Russell McCarty

Russell considers backpacking one of his great passions in life. He actually managed to transform his passion into a living becoming a professional adventurer. Russell loves long-distance backpacking and he enriched his portfolio with famous trails like the Alaska-Yukon Expedition or the Appalachian Trail. With thousands of miles under his feet, Russell is the expert to consult when it comes to how to prepare for a successful outdoor adventure.

  • Charlie Biers

    The Volkl RTM 81 is a great intermediate ski, in my opinion. I’ve used them before and they provide a very stable run in most conditions you’ll run into. But probably the best thing I can say about these skis is that I stopped for skiing for a bit, but after using these, I got the fire to ski again!

  • Russell McCarty

    “Have great gear – will ski!”
    Yup, I subscribe to that. With excellent skis, it’s easy to get your groove back. There’s a variety of length available so you can choose what you need. One question: did you find the skis heavy?

  • April Bevan

    I like the Salomon Rocker2 100 skis. They are your classic, all-mountain type of skis. They’re just really all-around solid skis. They really are good to great in just about every condition. But like all skis though, if you have a chance to demo them first, definitely do so!

  • Russell McCarty

    These are very good skis, top-o f the line and with a lot of stellar features. You ‘ll be surprised that is still affordable – so invest in a great ski, ok?
    I wonder what made you choose these over others April? Your thoughts?

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