Seeing Double: Are Twin Tips Right for Me?

Ski profiles all have pros and cons, and twin tips are no different. Ski expert Matt B. dives into when – and if – this is a good option for your next set up.

Photo by Nathanael Desmeules
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Have you ever thought about taking the plunge on a pair of twin tip skis? Not sure whether they're the right thing for you? Well, let's get into some of the specifics to see what makes a twin tip great, who it's for, who it's not for, and more!

What are twin tip skis?

Twin tip skis are a type of ski profile; they're not necessarily a "powder ski," or a "carving ski," or something like that – in fact, just about every category of ski has a twin tip variant on the market today. Twin tip simply means this: the tip of the ski is exactly the same as the tail of the ski. In practice, this means both tip and tail have a rocker profile in the front and back, which is basically the "turning up" of a ski (think the letter "U").

You've almost certainly seen twin tips out in the wild, but they're probably most concentrated in the park. Park and freestyle skis – a style of ski designed to do well on jumps, rails, boxes, etc. – are often twin tips because, unlike most big-mountain skis, park skiers want to ski backwards. Being able to ride switch (backwards) just as well as you can forward is the main benefit a twin tip ski presents. But that's not the only positive!

Twin tip skis are able to seamlessly release at the end of turn because the tail rises, meaning you can immediately engage in your next turn without worrying about your tails catching or sticking. This means twin tip skis are excellent for linking a series of short, snappy turns. Take this to the trees or moguls and you've got yourself a powerhouse.

Believe it or not, twin tip skis are also a great ski for new skiers. Because they turn so easily, it really helps newbies get a feel for things. Twin tips also "ski shorter" than they really are (we'll get into why later on), meaning they're more manageable for novices looking to link turns and make it down the easier slopes.

All in all, twin tips are a great option for most skiers, but they're not the only option, so make sure to talk to your Curated Ski Expert for more.

The side profile of a pair of twin tip skis

What have I been using?

Chances are pretty good that if you're not sure, you've been using either a flat tail or partial twin tip pair of skis. It's pretty easy to check, though – Just dust off your sticks and see if the tip and tail are identical. If yes, then you've been riding twins. If there's a little rise in the tail but not as much as the tip, then you've got yourself some partial twin tips. Finally, if it's flat (unlike the earth), then you have a pair of flat-tail skis.

A quick heads up: If you do decide to pick up some twin tip skis, they're not going to fit nicely into the ski holders on the sides of gondolas or parking lot shuttles – pull 'em apart and put them in their own slots (so the lifties don't yell at you.)

Aren't twin tips only for park/freestyle skiers?

No! The benefits from a twin-tip pair of skis are pretty useful, depending on your skiing style and the type of terrain you frequent. In particular, if you are a creative skier, you'll really enjoy the playfulness that a twin tip pair affords. You'll be able jib, butter, press, and more – all over the mountain.

And, when you get to variable terrain like trees, moguls, and steeps, twin tips will let you bounce around and shred with ease. Twin tip skis come in just about every waist width, length, and flex, so you'll almost always be able to find a pair perfectly suited for you.

A man in a bright orange jacket carrying his skis up a slope in a forest
Photo by Holly Mandarich

What about partial twin tips (aka directional twins) vs. full twin tips?

Partial twin tips are pretty common on lots of all-mountain skis, but they're not on every single pair, so if you're interested in this, ask your Curated Ski Expert for more. A partial twin tip (where the tail rises roughly half as high as the tip) will allow you to ski switch on groomed slopes and stomp switch landings from smaller features and side hits.

The side profile of a pair of partial twin tip skis

A note on where to mount your bindings with twin tips

Mounting points for ski bindings are something to give some serious consideration to. Here's the spark notes version: If you ride switch a lot or are in the park the majority of the time, you'll mount closer to the center of the ski. If you don't do these things or if you ride a ton of powder or need more stability, then stick with the manufacturer-recommended mount point, which is typically at least seven centimeters behind the "true center."

Ski length comes into consideration along with mounting point. If you center-mount your twin tip skis, then the front of the skis effectively become "shorter" than normal (because the binding is moved forward, which makes the back "longer"). This can pose some problems, particularly when carving on hard pack and ice, or when skiing powder; both instances when you want more length up front to handle the terrain. In this situation, many skiers opt to buy longer skis overall (e.g. if my typical non-twin-tip ski was a 170cm length, I might opt for 180cm center-mounted twin tips instead so they ride similarly).

TL;DR: For park use, twin tips are great. For an all mountain ski, twin tips are still great, but you'll need to decide if you want to make a few adjustments and/or trade offs.

So why wouldn't I buy twin tips?

Three skiers heading down the slope under a chairlift
Photo by Mana5280

Speaking of trade offs, there are a lot of upsides to twin tip skis, but they're not perfect for everyone. For starters, twin tip skis are typically designed to be center-mounted, meaning at higher speeds, you have a little less control. Similarly, because the tails of the ski actually lift off of the ground, you have less effective edge (i.e. the edge of the ski in contact with the snow), which translates into a shorter-skiing ski with less stability. Further, if you prefer skis with a longer turn radius and more edge control, twin tips may not be for you, since they are much better for short, quick turns, or laps through the terrain park.

Sometimes, skiers complain that they feel like they're always about to "go over the handlebars" on their center-mounted twin tips. This harkens back to the shorter front length of the ski, and can be counteracted by sizing up to a larger pair. Keep in mind, however, this will give you longer tails, too, which are more likely to catch in technically challenging terrain. On the plus side, however, a larger tail can make it easy to land cliff drops and other jumps because of the extra ski to lean back onto.

Do twin tip skis come with extra-baggy t-shirts?

Great question. No, those are sold separately.

Putting it all together

Twin tip skis are a fantastic, fun option for many skiers who will benefit from their unique advantages. But they're not for everyone! If you have questions about what ski profile is right for you, including whether twin tips may be a fit, talk to your Curated Ski Expert for free personalized recommendations!

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Back in middle school, I dragged my dad to my school ski club's intro meeting to learn more. I'd be lapping a tiny Southeast Michigan hill with a whopping 350' vert, but man it sounded fun. Unfortunately younger me didn't take the chance, because when my parents said I'd have to kick in half of my a...

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