The 11 Best Women's SkisPublished on 07/25/2023 · 12 min readDiscover the top 11 women's skis that cater to various terrains and skill levels. Make the most of your time on the slopes with these picks!
Photo by Wlad Go
As you gear up for next season, you might be considering an upgrade to your skis. For women skiers in particular, finding the right pair of skis can make a world of difference on the slopes. Whether this season will be your first few times on the mountain or your nine-hundredth, you need a pair of skis that match your style, ability, and terrain preferences.
As a woman who has skied pretty much my entire life, I understand how frustrating it is to shop for skis. Not only are there tons of options, but with women’s skis, it can be hit or miss whether they perform well for hard-charging skiers, or just feel really soft and unstable. There’s nothing worse than being excited about a new pair of skis, just to take them out for the first time and realize they’re hard to control and chatter when you carve. But luckily, you’re in the right place to avoid that situation! I’ve tried quite a few women’s skis, and I’ve worked in the ski industry for over seven years, learning the ins-and-outs of new technology in women’s skis along the way.
In this guide, I’ll break down everything you need to know about what sets women's skis apart, the different types of them, and my top picks. By the end, you'll be ready to select a pair of skis that’ll help you make the most of your time on the slopes!
What Makes Skis Women-Specific?
You might be wondering what exactly makes a ski "women specific." The most obvious difference is the aesthetics: women’s skis typically have different topsheet designs geared towards lady shredders. These skis are also typically shorter, as women tend to be shorter and weigh less than men. A common saying when referring to women’s skis designs used to be “shrink it and pink it,” referring to the fact that ski companies would simply make men’s ski shorter and add stereotypically feminine designs to the topsheet. Luckily, many companies have moved away from that mindset in the last decade or so. Today, the differences between women’s and men’s skis goes farther than just changing dimensions and color.
Here are a few of the key differences in women’s and men’s skis:
- Weight: Women's skis are typically lighter than men's. This is achieved with different core materials and construction techniques, like lighter woods or foam. A lighter ski can be easier to maneuver and less tiring during long days on the slopes.
- Flex: Women's skis usually have a softer flex compared to men's. This means they bend more easily under less pressure, accommodating the average lower body weight and muscle mass of women. A softer flex allows for better control and easier turning.
- Mounting Point: The recommended mounting point for bindings on women's skis is often a few centimeters further forward than on men's skis. This accounts for women's average lower center of gravity, and can help with turn initiation and control.
- Waist Width: Depending on its intended use, women's skis might have a narrower waist width to allow for quicker edge-to-edge transitions, suiting the typically shorter, lighter frame of women.
- Sidecut and Shape: Some women's skis feature a more pronounced sidecut or a specific shape design, allowing for easier turn initiation, a short turn radius, and control at various speeds.
Types of Skis
There are several different types of skis, both for women’s skis and men’s skis. Let’s take a quick look at the different types to better understand which is best for you:
- All-Mountain Skis: These skis are designed to handle a wide variety of terrain and snow conditions. They are typically mid-width but may lean towards either softer snow (wider models) or harder snow (narrower models).
- Freestyle Skis (also known as Park or Twin-Tip Skis): Freestyle skis are designed for skiers who spend a lot of time in terrain parks doing jumps, rails, and tricks. They almost always have twin tips—meaning both ends of the ski are turned up—which allows for skiing forwards or backwards.
- Powder Skis: Powder skis are made for deep snow days. They’re generally wider for more floatation and stability, and often have a rocker profile that helps the ski plane on top of the snow.
- Carving Skis: Carving skis, also known as on-piste skis, are designed for skiing on groomed runs. They’re usually narrower with a smaller turn radius to make quick, precise turns on hard snow. Carving skis are great options for beginners who are looking to master their ski skills, or skiers who just like skiing on-piste more than off.
- Big Mountain Skis: These are designed for advanced skiers tackling steep, challenging terrain, often at high speeds. They’re generally wider and stiffer to provide stability in variable snow conditions.
Now that we have a better understanding of the types of skis, let’s jump into my list of the best skis for women!
Top All-Mountain Skis
With an engaging blend of versatility and stability, the Blizzard Sheeva 9 is a great option for women skiers who like to ski a variety of terrain. This all-mountain ski features a multi-layer wood core sandwiched between two sheets of metal, providing a responsive and forgiving flex ideal for mixed snow conditions. The ski's 92 mm waist width, combined with a rocker-camber-rocker profile, ensures agility and control both on new snow and groomers. Perfect for intermediate to expert skiers who drive their skis, the Sheeva 9 is a bit stiff for newer skiers looking for their first pair of all-mountain skis.
A bit wider than the Blizzard Sheeva 9, the Salomon QST Lumen 98 is a great high-performance ski for all levels of all-mountain skiers. The wider width helps with floatation on new snow, and the metal laminate over the wood core provides stability on less-than-ideal snow conditions, such as ice, crud, or hardpack. The Lumen 98 also has Cork Damplifier technology in the tip, which helps absorb vibrations, so you avoid that chattery feeling that sometimes happens when coming out of turns, and get a smooth ride. Though it’s an all-mountain ski, it's on the wider side of the spectrum, so the Lumen would be better suited for skiers who tend to ski a bit more off-piste than on!
For advanced to expert ladies who like to ski a little bit of everything, the Nordica Santa Ana is a well loved all-mountain option. The waist width can cruise over fresh powder no problem, and still transitions quickly from edge-to-edge when carving. The core is a lightweight balsa wood with a layer of Titanal, which gives the ski a stable yet agile feel. The tip and tail have a significant amount of rocker, making it easy to turn and maneuver whatever terrain you’re in. The Titanal layering does make this ski one of the stiffest options in the world of ladies skis, so beginner to intermediate skiers won’t find this a super-easy-to-control option.
Top Freestyle Skis
For lady shredders who prefer hanging out in the park, the Armada ARW 96 is for you. This ski has an ash and poplar wood core that provides playfulness in every turn and keeps things light and predictable (which is great for tricks!) The 96 mm waist width can handle some powder, but it’s still nimble enough to hit all the features in the park. It also has full twin tips, so riding, jumping, or landing backwards is no problem at all. While the ARW can handle any sort of snow or terrain, it’s not the best option if you’re cruising high speeds all day or hitting a ton of moguls, since the lower weight makes it feel a bit less stable at higher speeds and over bumps. Aside from that, this is a really approachable option for all levels of women skiers who want to up their freestyle game.
Top Powder Skis
One of the most popular women’s powder skis over the last couple years is the K2 Mindbender 106C. This ski has a 106 mm waist width, carbon braiding in the core, and a rockered tip and tail—which all work together seamlessly to keep you on top of the deep stuff. The carbon braid technology is woven with an Aspen Veneer in the core, which keeps things light, but provides torsional rigidity where you need it. K2’s special Powder Rocker profile extends the tip and has a reduced camber, which helps it handle new snow better than other skis of the same waist width. The reduced camber does make carving and holding an edge a bit more difficult, so it’s not a great one quiver option, but it’ll be a great ski to take out on the deeper snow days!
The Salomon QST 106 Stella is another 106 mm waist width powder ski that's a bit more versatile than the Mindbender. It also has a tip and tail rocker and a carbon weave, though it’s a bit more cambered in the middle, making for easier carving while still maintaining great powder performance. It’s slightly less stiff, more maneuverable, and more playful than the Mindbender, making it a better option for skiers who are newer to powder skiing or want an easier ride. The QST Stella 106 is much more geared towards powder skiing than on-piste, but it can handle a wide range of terrains and snow types with ease, making it a great ski for those days you want to take some laps in the fresh stuff but also do a few laps on the groomers as well. This is the most versatile option for powder skis, and it’s approachable for all types of skiers.
If you’re looking for a powder ski that’s even wider than the 106 mm options mentioned before, check out the Nordica Santa Ana 110 Free. It has a similar early rise in the tip and tail as the Mindbender 106C, which decreases the camber and helps you stay afloat in powder. The core is also made of a light wood sandwiched between layers of carbon (to keep things light, floaty, and responsive) and Titianal (to provide stability and agility). This combo makes the Santa Ana pretty stiff, so it’s not a great option for beginner to intermediate skiers, but if you’re a hard-charging advanced to expert skier, this one was made for you. The extended rocker again leads to this ski having less camber, making it harder to carve on (especially if you’re on ice or hardpack), but it’ll be an all-time ride on deep snow days! The low weight makes it a popular option for those looking to have a ski for both backcountry touring and off piste resort skiing.
Top Carving Skis
The Kenja 88 is a powerhouse carving ski tailored for women who love ripping groomers. With a relatively narrow waist width of 88 mm, these skis are quick edge-to-edge and carve beautifully on hardpack. The Titanal frame and carbon tips offer stability and control at high speeds, while the moderate taper ensures predictable turn initiation. This is a stiffer, less forgiving ski, so newer skiers will find it to be a bit tricky to control.
The Rossignol Experience 76 is a top pick for newer or progressing skiers who want to focus on front-side carving and getting their form down. This ski features a forgiving flex, a 76 mm waist width for quick and easy turn transitions, and Rossignol's Air Tip VAS that absorbs shocks for a smoother ride. It’s not a good option for skiing off-piste at all since it’s so narrow, but it’s a fun ride for groomers, icy days, and crud.
For skiers who want to mainly ride groomers and dabble in the occasional off-piste run, the Mindbender 88 TI Alliance delivers top-notch edge hold and stability, no matter where you’re skiing. It incorporates Titanal Y-Beam technology for precision and power, and its 88 mm waist width is perfect for snappy turns on groomers. A slight rocker in the tip and tail enhances versatility and keeps it responsive in small amounts of fresh snow. It’s a bit stiff and heavy, which is great for adding stability on ice or hardpack, making it an excellent choice for east coast skiers, but not so much for lighter skiers.
Best Big Mountain Skis
I already mentioned the Sheeva 9 as a great all-mountain option, but if you’re looking to do more big mountain skiing and less groomers, check out the Sheeva 9’s sister, the Sheeva 11. With a 112 mm waist width and a rockered tail and tip, this is a fun and maneuverable option on even the deepest of days. The Sheeva 11 also features a multilayer wood core for stability, as well as Carbon Flipcore D.R.T. Technology, which enhances the efficiency of power transfer. It’s a lot of ski for both beginners and those looking to do a solid, even mix of on and off-piste, but if you’re mostly chasing powder and big lines, the Sheeva 11 is a great choice.
Next Steps for Choosing the Right Women’s Ski
Now that you have a good understanding of the different types of skis, their unique characteristics, and some of the top women’s skis on the market, you're all set to make an informed choice on which ski is the best choice for you! If you want some guidance in deciding on an exact pair, reach out to any of the Skiing Experts here on Curated, and we would be happy to guide you. The right pair of skis can be a game-changer, boosting your confidence and overall making your every turn all that more enjoyable!