The Most Recommended Skis for Beginners

Looks for your first pair of skis? Ski Expert Adam St. Ours lists his top picks for beginners in three different categories to fit your skiing new journey.

Up close view of skiis

Image courtesy of Dynasta

So you’ve decided to invest in your first pair of skis…now it’s time for the big question: which one is the right ski for you?

Maybe you’re sick of dealing with the cost and hassle of renting, or maybe you haven’t ever gone skiing before but decided this is the year. Either way, congratulations and welcome to the greatest sport on Earth. Skiing is fun and rewarding, but shopping for your first pair of skis can be intimidating. There are many different types of skis available for different terrain, snow conditions, and ski styles, but not all skis are created equally. This is why today I’m going to share some of the most recommended skis for beginners that’ll make your learning curve much easier and more fun!

Terminology

Throughout this article, I’ll be referencing common ski terminology that may relate to the construction, profile, or attributes of each pair of skis. This handy guide can help you relate what I’m talking about with the gear that I mention.

  • Camber: This is the shape of the skis, when unweighted, where the middle of the ski is raised off the ground.
  • Rocker Profile: This is the shape of the skis, when unweighted, where the tips and/or tails lift off the ground, similar to the rails of a rocking chair. It’s sometimes called reverse camber.
  • Taper: This is when the widest part of the ski’s tip or tail is pushed back closer to the center of the ski.
  • Flex: This is how stiff a ski is; how easily it is to bend. A stiffer ski will provide greater stability at high speeds, while a softer ski will be easier to bend into turns at slower speeds.
  • Titanal: This is an aluminum alloy used by many ski manufacturers in the construction of skis to provide increased stiffness and dampening effect. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as titanium.
  • Damp/Dampening: This refers to how vibrations are muted out or decreased while skiing. Generally, a heavier ski will be more damp (for example, planted to the snow in rough conditions), and a lighter ski will feel twitchy or get bounced around a lot more than a heavier ski. Titanal is commonly used to absorb vibrations, but other common materials include carbon and fiberglass.
  • Groomed/Groomer: This is a trail that has been manicured by a snow groomer. The snow has been flattened and is generally smooth and consistent to ski on. It is sometimes called “on piste.”
  • Ungroomed/Natural Terrain: This refers to anything that has not been treated by a snow groomer. This could include powder, moguls, trees, glades, and open bowls in any combination.

What Makes a Good Beginner Ski?

Generally, a beginner ski will be softer-flexing to be more forgiving of mistakes and easier to initiate turns. They commonly have a narrower waist width, since most beginner skiing is done on groomed runs, however, you will see that some brands have started producing skis that cross into many different categories. These skis are forgiving for beginner skiers to learn on, but can still be taken on more advanced terrain and snow conditions once the basics have been narrowed down.

Frontside Carvers

Mostly for groomed trails, these skis are narrower for quick turns on firm snow.

1. K2 Disruption 76 Skis + M2 10 Quikclik Bindings

Product image of K2 Disruption 76 Skis \+ M2 10 Quikclik Bindings · 2023

K2 Disruption 76 Skis + M2 10 Quikclik Bindings

Available in both men’s and women’s versions (with different sizes and colors), the K2 Disruption 76 is a great ski to help you perfect your parallel carves on mostly smooth, consistent snow surfaces. There is a little rocker in the tip to help engage the beginning of the turn easily, but you mostly get a lot of camber for edge grip on hard snow, and provide nice energy and rebound out of your turns.

2. Rossignol Experience 76 + Xpress 10 GW Bindings

Product image of Rossignol Experience 76 \+ Xpress 10 GW Skis · 2023

Rossignol Experience 76 + Xpress 10 GW Skis

The Rossignol Experience 76 blends trail carving with an energetic playful feel for skiing the entire mountain. A poplar wood core provides a good amount of energy and pop in the turns, and the rockered tips of the ski provide easy turn initiation and keeps them on top of the snow when the resort trails start to get choppy at the end of the day. The Rossignol Experience W 76 is available in smaller sizes for female skiers with the same basic attributes.

3. Salomon Stance 80 + M11 GW Bindings

Product image of Salomon Stance 80 Skis ​+ M11 GW Bindings · 2023

Salomon Stance 80 Skis ​+ M11 GW Bindings

The Salomon Stance 80 doesn’t know whether to be a frontside carver or an all-mountain mixed-terrain ski, and that’s a good thing. The 80mm waist underfoot is where you start to move away from dedicated carving skis and into all-mountain range. While the wood core of the Stance is reinforced with Titanal laminate construction to provide stiffness and grip on hard snow, it also features carbon windows in the tip and tail to make the ski approachable, easy to engage and release turns, and give some flex for mixed snow conditions. This is a great ski to progress on if you want to start exploring the whole mountain, but still want a strong capable ski for groomed runs.

All-Mountain Skis

This is a mid-width ski for stability in mixed snow conditions while still being nimble on hard snow. There is also some extra rocker in the tip and tail to stay above soft snow more easily.

Learn more about some of the top-rated all-mountain skis at the Best All-Mountain Skis.

1. Line Pandora 84

Product image of Line Pandora 84 Skis · Women's · 2023

Line Pandora 84 Skis · Women's

The Line Pandora 84 is a best seller because of how easy they are to ski while still being versatile and highly capable in a wide range of conditions. The width of these skis imply that they’re meant for carving on groomed runs, and while that’s not wrong, it’s selling short the rest of the ski’s capabilities. They’re incredibly lightweight, making them easy to flick around in tight spots like trees and moguls. Line also came out with a new ski for men this year called the Blade Optic 92.

2. K2 Mindbender 85

Product image of K2 Mindbender 85 Skis

K2 Mindbender 85 Skis

The K2 Mindbender is an easy and approachable all-mountain freeride ski to start venturing off the groomed runs. Featuring the same lightweight Aspen Veneer core and All-Terrain rocker as the rest of the award-winning Mindbender lineup, the Mindbender 85 keeps things accessible by omitting some of the extra technology in the wider skis. Keeping things lightweight, and thanks to the generously tapered shape, it’s easy to engage the edges of the ski in a carve when tipped on its side. If you’ve been frustrated by taking your rental skis into the trees or moguls and want your first pair of skis to be forgiving to progress in ungroomed terrain, the K2 Mindbender 85 is a great option. The K2 Mindbender 85 Alliance is available with similar ease of use and capabilities for women.

3. Atomic Maven 86 + M10 GW Bindings

Product image of Atomic Maven 86 Skis + M 10 GW Bindings · Women's

Atomic Maven 86 Skis + M 10 GW Bindings

The Atomic Maven was designed in an intensive multi-year project by Atomic that created the perfect skis for ski resorts in North America. What you get is incredible versatility and smooth, easy turns in any condition. Freshly groomed corduroy? No problem. A generous taper in the tip makes this ski easy to put on edge and carve. Did it snow 6” overnight? Great! The HRZN tip technology helps this ski float and turn in deep snow much better than you’d expect from a waist width under 90mm. Atomic designed the Maverick 86C as a great option for men.

4. Salomon QST 92

Product image of Salomon QST 92 Skis

Salomon QST 92 Skis

The Salomon QST 92 is a rare ski that both a beginner could learn on and progress with, and an advanced skier could take to the top of a steep powder-filled bowl, and both would be equally happy with it. Deep rocker lines in both the tip and tail provide ample float in soft snow and maneuverability in tight spots. If you’re just starting out, and you mainly ski in an area that sees a lot of snow, the Salomon QST 92 is a great option to learn on and not have to upgrade your setup once you’ve progressed to more advanced terrain, even if it’s powder skiing. The QST LUX 92 is the same ski for women in different lengths and colors.

Freestyle Skis

These are lightweight and nimble for easy jumps and jibs around the mountain and have twin tips for easy skiing and landing backwards.

1. Faction Prodigy 0.0

Product image of Faction Prodigy 0.0 Skis

Faction Prodigy 0.0 Skis

Lightweight and forgiving, the Faction Prodigy 0.0 skis are for aspiring freestyle skiers to hone their skills, both on the beginner slope and in the terrain park. This ski borrows heavily from Faction’s highly respected lineup of park skis, so you get a partial twin tip to land and ski switch, an Elliptical Sidecut to make turns easy, and a durable sidewall and extra thick edges to protect the skis from years of hits.

2. K2 Reckoner 92

Product image of K2 Reckoner 92 Skis

K2 Reckoner 92 Skis

For beginners just learning their turns, all the way to intermediate skiers looking to keep things lively and playful, the K2 Reckoner 92 is a versatile option from the beginner’s slope to the terrain park and even to the backside steeps and moguls. Generous rocker in both the tip and tail makes this ski easy to pivot and smear your turns, which is a blessing in the trees and moguls. Similar to the Salomon QST 92, if you want a ski that you can learn on and then take those learnings to some of the more advanced trails without needing to buy new skis, the Reckoner 92 is a great choice. The K2 Reckoner 92 Alliance is available for women in shorter lengths.

Even in summer, I dream of winter. Man standing by a tree holding a ski

Even in the summer, I dream of winter. Photo by Adam St. Ours

Connect With Us

Buying your first pair of skis can be intimidating, but by working with a Curated Expert, it can be easy to find the best skis that are appropriate for you and the style of skiing you want to do. Beginner skis can run a wide gamut, from frontside carvers to wider all-mountain weapons…some come with pre-installed binding systems and some are sold flat (without bindings). Chat with an Expert like me to find the best beginner skis for you. Think you're ready to upgrade to intermediate skis? Check out the best intermediate skis here!

Ski Expert Adam St. Ours
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I know that your ski gear should be as unique as you are. With the exceptional quality and variety available these days, there's no need to settle on cookie cutter recommendations or the first results that you can find. When I'm on the mountain, I'm always bouncing around the trail map, trying not t...

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