What is a "Quiver" and How Do I Build One?

Ski expert Abraham Feigenbaum explains how to build a quiver of skis for all the conditions and terrain you find yourself in.

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The term “quiver” is thrown around a lot in ski communities, but what exactly does it mean?

Well, traditionally a quiver is the portable case an archer would use to hold various arrows, but skiers have adopted this word to refer to their diverse collections because just like different arrows may fly differently or offer different advantages, different skis ski differently and offer different advantages. As a result, having a well-rounded quiver can ensure that you are always skiing on the optimal ski for the conditions and terrain you are in. So how can you go about building your own ski quiver? Let’s find out!

Here’s a solid three ski quiver with an all mountain option, a touring option, and a carving option. Photo by Pixabay

Where do you ski?

The first factor to consider is where you do most of your skiing. Skiers who ski more diverse terrain and who travel to ski will encounter more varied terrain and will have a greater need for a robust ski quiver. Skiers who stick to one region and spend most of their time on one type of terrain won’t need as many different options. Before you start making picks on what you want to put in your quiver, evaluate your own skiing habits.

A few questions to ask yourself that will help you determine what you need are:

  • What part of the country do you ski in?
  • How often do you travel to other regions?
  • How much time do you spend skiing on what types of terrain at your home mountain?
  • How much time do you spend skiing on what types of terrain when you travel?
  • How often do you notice your skis are not optimal for the conditions you are using them in?
  • In what types of terrain does your existing gear already feel perfect?

By taking stock of your own skiing habits it will be a lot easier to identify exactly what you need to help get the most out of every ski day.

What's your budget?

The second main factor to consider when putting together a ski quiver is budget. If you’ve got some money saved up and are committed to having the best season you possibly can, you’ll want a different quiver than someone who is still trying to save and might not be getting quite as many days on the hill or can’t travel much. That said, you can certainly build a great quiver on a budget and the questions above can help you decide how to best allocate your funds.

For instance, if you know you spend 70 percent of your time on groomers at your local hill and 30 percent looking for powder on an annual trip out west, then you should invest more in a carving ski that you will spend most of your time on. Then go bargain hunting for a powder ski that will still get the job done when you get those big storms.

Which skis should you choose?

These Icelantic Sabres are a great East Coast all-mountain ski

Once you know what your tendencies are as a skier and how you want to divvy up your funds as a consumer, it is time to start considering the different types of skis that can make up a quiver. Skis can generally be grouped into a few major classes and while the subtle lines drawn between skis can be a bit subjective and personal, the following categories will be helpful in understanding the major types of skis out there:

East Coast Carving Skis

East Coast carving skis are generally the narrowest skis on the market and usually employ full camber profiles. They are stiff and stable to help maintain edge grip and reduce chatter on icy snow. They have dramatic sidecuts that enable powerful carving and have some weight to them to help carve lines into hardpack. In general, these skis are 82mm wide at the waist or less.

East Coast All-Mountain Skis

East Coast all-mountain skis are usually a bit wider than skis in the previous category. They are usually somewhat stiff and stable to deal with icier East Coast conditions, but they usually have a bit of flex, and tip and tail rocker too, to make them more versatile in the woods and bumps. Waist widths on these skis run from approximately 82mm to 92mm.

Out West Carving Skis

Since there is often more snow out west, carving enthusiasts in the Rockies may want a ski that is a bit wider than an East Coast carving ski, while still being similarly stiff, stable, slightly heavier, and equipped with full camber underfoot so that they can get that racer’s edge. Carving skis for the Rocky Mountains or Sierras are similar to all-mountain skis on the East Coast in terms of width range but are a bit different from East Coast all-mountain skis in terms of ski construction and feel.

Out West All-Mountain Skis

If in a single day you are skiing all over a western resort, then you will need something that can handle powder, groomers, trees, bumps, and steeps! To accomplish all this, skis in this category have a good blend of stiffness and flex, a good mix of camber and rocker, and have an approximate waist width range of 92mm to 105mm.

Powder Skis

The fattest skis out there are made for deep powder and can be anything greater than 105mm at the waist. These skis use a lot of rocker for maximum float and usually try to cut back some on weight since it doesn’t take much to put an edge into powder. If you are frequently skiing fresh feet of snow in a place like Utah or Tahoe, you may want something super wide. A powder hunter back east can get away with something on the narrow end of this range or even something on the soft and floaty side from the previous category.

These Line Pescados are a killer powder ski

Touring Skis

These skis are for backcountry enthusiasts and put lightweight construction at the forefront of their design. Over the years, manufacturers have managed to make these skis more and more stable without adding weight. If you’re touring out west, you’ll want something a bit wider than if you’re touring back east.

Park Skis

Park skis are made for the terrain park and are poppy, playful, and light. These skis feel energetic and can be easily spun around and quickly stopped when doing tricks. They are also built with extra durable bases and edges to stand up to rails and boxes. Park skiers that go big generally want skis that are a bit wider to help diffuse the impact on their feet.

Most people have their own feelings on just how many categories there should be and what exactly fits where, but these are pretty solid guidelines to start from when considering the different types of skis that may belong in your quiver.

Building a Quiver

Now it’s all coming together—you know what you need, you know what you want to spend, and you know the kinds of options that are available. Let’s take a look at a few quick examples so you can feel confident deciding how to fill up your quiver.

  • If a skier spends 15 days a year skiing on the East Coast—mostly groomers but some trees and bumps too—and five days a year searching for powder in Colorado, what kinds of skis could they use? In this scenario, a higher quality East Coast all-mountain ski plus a budget option on an out west all-mountain ski or a powder ski would be a great way to go.
  • If a skier spends 30 days at Big Sky skiing all over the hill no matter the conditions and is on a tight budget, what could work for them? In this situation, a proverbial “one-ski-quiver” could be the way to go. An out west all-mountain ski would be the best way for this skier to get all over that resort without spending a ton of money on multiple skis.
  • If a skier is committed to a killer winter of traveling all over the Rockies from resort to resort, hitting the park on poor snow days and going all over when there is fresh stuff, while hitting backcountry spots on the days in between, what kind of quiver would they need? Well a diverse, enthused skier like this could really use a large quiver. A touring setup, an out west all-mountain ski, and a park ski would make for a complete quiver that doesn’t compromise in any conditions.
  • If a skier spends 50 days skiing their home hill on the East Coast and nowhere else, carving groomers when there isn’t much snow and exploring all over when there is, what would work in their quiver? A New England die-hard like this could probably use an East Coast carving ski and an East Coast all-mountain ski.
No matter what you’re carrying in your quiver, make sure to get out there! Photo by Gustav Lundborg

Every skier is unique and it is likely none of those examples described you perfectly. But hopefully, now you have a better sense of what to consider when putting your own quiver together. Your gear should be a boost, never a hassle. Having the right skis at the right prices makes sure that is always the case. As always, a Curated expert will be happy to guide you through this whole process and identify great options at different price points in all of these categories. So ask for some help if you need it, figure out what is right for you, and use that knowledge to get the most out of every ski day this season!

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Two years of volunteer experience as an adaptive skiing instructor, Level 1 avalanche certification, and a lifetime of experience out on the hill!

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