What Is a Ski "Quiver" and How Do I Build One?

Published on 08/21/2023 · 9 min readSki Expert Abraham Feigenbaum explains how to build a quiver of skis for all the conditions and terrain you find yourself in.
By Ski Expert Abe F

Photo by Gorloff-KV

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 ski quiver can ensure that you are always skiing on the optimal ski for the snow conditions and terrain you are in, whether you are ripping groomers on the East Coast or hunting for deep powder days out West. So how can you go about building your own ski quiver? Let’s find out!

Where Do You Ski?

Skiing somewhere like Loveland Colorado will warrant different skis than if you were to mainly be skiing on the East Coast! Photo by MayRiverMedia

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 ski 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 style of skiing and skiing habits it will be a lot easier to identify exactly what pair of skis you need to help get the most out of every day on the slopes.

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 ski 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 groomed trails at your local hill and 30 percent looking for powder and deep snow 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 and fresh snow.

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 ski 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 a solid edge hold and reduce chatter at higher speeds on hard snow and crud. They are the most similar to race skis and have dramatic sidecuts that enable powerful carving and have some weight to them to help carve lines into hardpack. In general, these skis are 82 mm 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 and have a different rocker profile. They are usually somewhat stiff and have the stability to deal with icier East Coast conditions, but they usually have a bit of flex and tip and tail rocker to give them more maneuverability and make them more versatile in the woods, bumps, moguls, and soft snow. Waist widths on these skis run from approximately 82mm to 92mm.

West Coast Carving Skis

Since there is often more snow out west, carving enthusiasts in the Rockies may want a bit of a wider ski 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 in firm snow. 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.

West Coast All-Mountain Skis

If, in a single day, you are skiing all over a western resort both on and off-piste, then you will need something that can handle powder, groomers, trees, bumps, and steeps! To accomplish all this, skis in this all-mountain category have a good blend of stiffness and flex, a good mix of camber and rocker, and have an approximate waist width range of 92 mm to 105 mm. This is often the ideal choice for someone looking for a one-ski quiver.

Powder Skis

The fattest skis out there are made for the deepest days and can be anything greater than 105mm at the waist. These skis use a lot of rocker to achieve enough float to stay on top of the snow, and usually try to cut back some on weight since it doesn’t take much to put an edge into deep powder. If you are frequently skiing fresh feet of snow on a powder day at ski resorts in places 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

Alpine Touring Skis

These skis are for backcountry skiers and put lightweight construction at the forefront of their design to ease the uphill travel on the skin track. Over the years, manufacturers have managed to make these skis more and more stable - so that the lightness doesn't compromise the downhill - without adding weight. If you’re touring out west, you’ll want something a bit wider than if you’re touring back east to handle that pow! But to keep weight relatively low, you may not choose a ski quite as wide as a powder ski. And keep in mind, you will need specific bindings and ski boots to complete your touring setup!

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. Oftentimes, park skis have twin tips or at least partial twin tips for skiing backwards when landing or taking off for jumps and tricks. They are also built with extra durable bases and edges to stand up to rails and boxes. Park and freestyle skiers that go big generally want skis that are a bit wider to help diffuse the impact on their feet.

This list of categories is not all-encompassing. Some people would add a "rock ski", meant for early season and late season days when snow coverage is thin, to their quiver. Others would have a pair of big mountain freeride skis in theirs. 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 ski quiver.

Building a Ski Quiver

Photo by Aleksandra Suzi

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 conditions in Colorado, what kinds of skis could they use? In this scenario, a higher quality East Coast all-mountain ski to use as their daily driver 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 provide versatility and 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 for the backcountry days, an out west all-mountain ski as the resort day go-to, and a park ski would make for a complete ski 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 at high speeds when there isn’t much snow and exploring all over when there is, what would work in their ski quiver? A New England die-hard like this could probably use an East Coast carving ski and an East Coast all-mountain ski.

Final Thoughts

Photo by Taras Hipp

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 ski quiver together that suits your ski style and personal preference! Your gear should be a boost, never a hassle, and should make you a better skier!

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!

Abe F, Ski Expert
Abe F
Ski Expert
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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Written by:
Abe F, Ski Expert
Abe F
Ski Expert
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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