Ski Set: How to Choose a Complete Package

Published on 10/14/2023 · 15 min readLearn how to pick out the ideal complete ski package, from skis and bindings to boots and poles. Hit the slopes with gear thats exactly right for you!
Lauren Dobbins, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Lauren Dobbins

Photo by Anatoliy Gleb

TL;DR: When choosing a ski package, prioritize your skill level, skiing style, and terrain preferences. Key components include skis, boots, bindings, and poles. Consider factors like ski length, width, flex, and profile. Always prioritize comfort and safety while balancing performance, budget, and adaptability for a well-rounded ski set.

Are you looking to upgrade your ski gear or perhaps buy a complete setup for the first time? I’m a life-long skier based in Colorado and a Ski Expert here at Curated. I’ve helped hundreds of skiers find the right gear for them, and I’m here to help you find your new setup! Whether you are looking for a prearranged package or to customize your gear, you’ve come to the right place to start your research. Not sure what a full ski package entails? In this guide, I will cover the main components of a full ski set and what to look out for as you are shopping. Let’s dive in!

What Is a Ski Package?

Lauren is here to cover all the right gear you need! Photo by Lauren Dobbins

A ski package, or ski set/setup, is a collection of equipment that typically includes skis, ski boots, bindings, and poles. These packages are designed to provide a complete set of the most critical gear for skiers. All gear in a package should be catered to an individual’s specific skill level, skiing style, and terrain preference.

Ski packages often offer the advantage of compatibility and cost savings compared to purchasing each piece of equipment separately. A common bundle is skis with bindings, which may not be a full package but still offers savings and ease of mind when it comes to ski and binding compatibility. By selecting a ski package, skiers can ensure they have a well-matched and cohesive set of gear that optimizes their skiing experience.

What to Consider When Buying a Ski Package

1. What Is Your Skill Level?

Understanding your skill level is perhaps the most important factor in choosing the right equipment for you. Different ski setups cater to various abilities, affecting factors like ski length, width, and flex. New skiers will have an easier time learning on shorter and narrower skis, while more advanced skiers will look to increase length as they progress. Your skill level will determine the performance and forgiveness of the skis, ensuring a more enjoyable and safe skiing experience. Beginner skis will be more flexible and forgiving, while skis made for experts will be stiffer and more responsive. Look for skis that are designed to fit your skiing ability.

2. What Is Your Skiing Style?

Do you like to have fun and want a playful ski, or are you aggressive and want a stiff ski? As you develop as a skier, you will find your own unique flair that makes skiing your own. Think about how you like to spend your time on the mountain when choosing gear, as your playfulness or aggressiveness can affect choices like boot flex and ski construction.

3. What Type of Terrain Do You Usually Ski on?

Consider the terrain you predominantly ski on, whether groomed slopes, backcountry, powder, or park. Different ski sets are designed for specific terrains, affecting characteristics like sidecut, waist width, and rocker/camber profiles. Matching your ski package to your preferred terrain enhances your control, stability, and overall performance on the mountain. Also consider where you usually ski. For example, East Coast skiers will need to be prepared to encounter more ice.

4. How Important Is Comfort and Fit?

This factor is predominate in boot selection. Properly fitting boots are crucial for comfort, control, and injury prevention. Pay attention to factors such as boot flex, last width, and liner features. Ill-fitting boots can lead to discomfort, reduced performance, and even injury. A well-fitted boot ensures maximum enjoyment and safety on the slopes.

5. How Much Should a Ski Package Cost?

Full ski packages (skis, bindings, boots, and poles) vary in price based on factors like brand, materials, and technology. Common price points include:

  • Entry-level packages ($350-$600): Suitable for beginners, these sets often feature softer flex, forgiving profiles, and basic boots for comfort and easy maneuverability. However, they may have limited performance capabilities for more advanced skiers.
  • Mid-range packages ($600-$1,200): Ideal for intermediate to advanced skiers, these sets offer better performance, materials, and technologies. They often provide a balance between comfort, control, and responsiveness, catering to various skiing styles and terrains. This range will cover the large majority of skiers.
  • High-end packages ($1,200+): Targeting advanced to expert skiers, these packages incorporate premium materials, cutting-edge technologies, and specialized designs for optimal performance. They cater to specific skiing styles, offering exceptional control, precision, and power but may require a higher skill level to fully utilize their capabilities.

What Are the Different Kinds of Ski Packages?

Park package example: Faction Prodigy 1 Skis ​+ Strive 11 GW Bindings.

Ski packages are designed to cater to various skill levels, skiing styles, and terrains. Here are some common types of ski packages:

1. All-Mountain Packages

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These versatile ski sets are suitable for a wide range of conditions and terrains, from groomed slopes to off-piste adventures. They cater to skiers of different skill levels and provide a balance between performance, stability, and maneuverability. All-mountain packages are very popular and easy to find.

  • Benefits
    • Versatility: Suitable for a wide range of conditions and terrains, making them ideal for most recreational skiers.
    • Balanced Performance: Offers a mix of stability, control, and maneuverability to cater to various skiing styles.
  • Keep in Mind
    • Jack of All Trades: While versatile, they may not excel in specific conditions or styles as much as specialized ski sets.

2. Beginner / Recreational Packages

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Designed specifically for casual or beginner skiers, these sets feature softer flex, more forgiving profiles, and easy-to-use bindings. They prioritize comfort and ease of use, helping new skiers gain confidence and improve their skills. They often come at a more attractive price point to help new skiers enter the sport. Many brands offer beginner packages, making the shopping experience easier for someone who isn’t sure what they need.

  • Benefits
    • Forgiving: Softer flex and light materials help beginners gain confidence and improve their skills.
    • Comfort: Prioritizes comfort and ease of use, making skiing more enjoyable for new skiers.
  • Keep in Mind
    • Limited Performance: Will not provide the responsiveness or precision needed for more advanced skiing techniques.

3. Freestyle / Park Packages

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These sets cater to skiers interested in performing tricks, jumps, and other maneuvers in terrain parks and halfpipes. Freestyle ski packages often feature twin-tip skis, allowing for smooth skiing both forwards and backwards, and softer flex for easier landings and better control during tricks.

  • Benefits
    • Trick-Friendly: Designed for solid landings and durability to handle rails and boxes.
    • Twin-Tip Design: Allows for smooth skiing both forwards and backwards, enhancing versatility in freestyle skiing.
  • Keep in Mind
    • Limited Terrain Suitability: May not perform as well in other conditions, such as groomed slopes or backcountry.

4. Powder Packages

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Designed for skiing in deep snow, these packages feature wider skis with significant rocker profiles to improve floatation and maneuverability in soft snow conditions. Powder ski packages are ideal for skiers who frequent backcountry areas or ski resorts with abundant snowfall.

  • Benefits
    • Enhanced Floatation: Wider skis with significant rocker profiles improve floatation and maneuverability in deep snow.
    • Powder Performance: Optimized for skiing in soft snow conditions, ideal for backcountry skiing or resorts with heavy snowfall.
  • Keep in Mind
    • Limited Availability: Since powder skiing is very niche, pre-arranged powder packages may be more difficult to find.

5. Race / Performance Packages

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Engineered for competitive skiers or those seeking high-speed performance on groomed slopes, these sets typically include stiffer, narrower skis with aggressive sidecuts for quick edge-to-edge transitions and precise control. Race ski packages often have more rigid boots and performance-oriented bindings for optimal power transfer and responsiveness.

  • Benefits
    • High-Speed Performance: Engineered for precision control, quick edge-to-edge transitions, and stability at high speeds.
    • Competitive Edge: Ideal for skiers seeking high-speed performance or participating in ski races.
  • Keep in Mind
    • Demanding: Requires a higher skill level to fully utilize their capabilities, and may be less forgiving for beginners.

6. Touring / Backcountry Packages

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These sets cater to skiers venturing into the backcountry, focusing on lightweight materials and specific features to facilitate uphill travel. Touring ski packages typically include skis with a versatile profile, lightweight bindings (such as tech or frame bindings), and boots with a walk mode for efficient climbing.

  • Benefits
    • Lightweight: Focuses on lightweight materials for efficient uphill travel and ease of use in the backcountry.
    • Touring-Specific Features: Includes versatile ski profiles, lightweight bindings, and boots with walk mode for efficient climbing.
  • Keep in Mind
    • Compromised Downhill Performance: While optimized for uphill travel, they may not perform as well downhill compared to dedicated downhill ski sets.

Features to Look for When Buying a Ski Package

When selecting a ski package, consider the specific features and technologies of each component to ensure the best performance, comfort, and safety. Here's a breakdown of what to look for in skis, boots, bindings, and poles:

Skis

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  • Ski Length: Choose the right length based on your height, weight, skill level, and skiing style. Longer skis offer better stability at high speeds, while shorter skis are easier to maneuver.
  • Ski Width: Wider skis provide better floatation in soft snow, while narrower skis offer quicker edge-to-edge transitions on groomed slopes.
  • Sidecut: This refers to the ski's shape, which affects turning radius. A deeper sidecut allows for tighter turns, while a shallower sidecut is better for long, sweeping turns.
  • Profile: Skis have different combinations of rocker (upward curve) and camber (downward curve). Rocker improves floatation and maneuverability, while camber enhances grip and power.
  • Flex: Stiffer skis provide better stability at high speeds and for aggressive skiers, while softer skis are more forgiving and suitable for beginners.

Boots

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  • Flex Index: This indicates the boot's stiffness, with higher numbers being stiffer. Match the flex to your skill level and skiing style for optimal control and comfort.
  • Last Width: The width of the boot's forefoot area. Choose a last width that accommodates your foot shape for a comfortable and precise fit.
  • Liner: High-quality liners offer better insulation, comfort, and customization. Some liners can be heat molded to perfectly fit your foot.
  • Walk Mode: Important for touring and backcountry skiing, a walk mode allows for greater range of motion in the boot for more efficient uphill travel. Walk mode is also a nice-to-have when walking from the parking lot to the chairlift.

Bindings

Photo by Nadezda Murmakova

  • DIN Range: This refers to the binding's release settings, which should be compatible with your weight, skill level, and skiing style. A higher DIN setting means a stronger retention force. Always consult with a ski gear professional to understand what DIN setting is appropriate for you.
  • Brake Width: Ensure the binding's brake width is compatible with your ski's waist width for proper function and safety. Skis and bindings sold together as a set will already have this compatibility.
  • Type: Choose between alpine, alpine touring, or telemark bindings based on your skiing preferences. Consider compatibility with your boots and intended use. Most resort skiers will want to look for Alpine- or GripWalk-compatible bindings.
  • Lightweight Materials: For touring and backcountry skiing, look for lightweight bindings to reduce overall weight for uphill travel. Lighter skiers will also appreciate a lighter binding.

Poles

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  • Material: Poles are made from aluminum, composite, or carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are affordable and durable, composite poles offer a balance of weight and durability, and carbon fiber poles are lightweight and strong but can be more expensive.
  • Length: Choose the appropriate length based on your height and skiing style. A general rule is to hold the pole upside down with the grip on the ground and grab the pole just below the basket. Your elbow should be at a 90-degree angle.
  • Grip: Look for a comfortable and ergonomic grip with a suitable strap system for your skiing style and preferences. Women may opt for female-specific poles for the smaller grips.
  • Baskets: Consider the size and type of basket based on the conditions you usually ski in. Larger baskets are better for deep snow, while smaller baskets are more suitable for groomed slopes. Many poles allow for baskets to be changed, so you can purchase separate baskets if you desire a different pair for varying conditions.

How to Choose the Right Ski Package for You

Photo by Gorilla Images

Let’s cover a few examples of skiers looking for a new ski package. Here’s what it would look like if they needed individual products:

Terence: The Budgeter

Needs: Terence lives in Cali and makes the drive to Lake Tahoe for a few weekends each year. He has steadily become more advanced each year, and he wants to try more off-piste terrain. Terrance is in grad school and doesn’t have a ton of money to spend, so he wants to buy a setup that won’t break the bank.

Products to Consider:

  • Skis/Bindings: In order to save money, Terrence should look at skis that come with bindings. These demo-style bindings will already be compatible with the ski and are often cheaper for a ski shop to install. He should consider the Rossignol Sender 90 Pro Skis with Xpress 10 GW Bindings or the Dynastar M-Menace 90 Skis with XP11 Bindings.
  • Boots: Terence should choose a boot designed for resort skiing (instead of a backcountry or hybrid boot). A boot with a GripWalk or Alpine sole will be compatible with the bindings he is considering. He will need to factor in his foot width and his weight before making a final decision. A boot from last season will help keep the price down, so he could consider the popular Salomon Select 90 from last year.
  • Poles: Terence should choose poles based on his height. Beyond that, he will be perfectly happy with an aluminum pole (which will be cost effective). Depending on his color preference, he would like the Atomic AMT Poles.

Tommy: The Newbie

Needs: All of Tommy’s friends ski, and he wants to be a part of the gang. He went skiing one weekend and had a lot of fun, but he was shocked by the price of rentals. Tommy is ready to commit to one ski trip a year with his friends and wants the whole package. He doesn’t know where they will ski each year, but he isn’t too concerned about that since he will stay on the green runs.

Products to Consider:

  • Skis/Bindings: As a new skier, Tommy should look for skis that come with bindings to take some of the guesswork out of his purchase. Luckily for him, most beginner skis come with bindings! He should look for skis that explicitly say they are made for beginners, such as the Rossignol Experience 76 Skis with Xpress 10 GW Bindings.
  • Boots: Like skis, Tommy should look for boots that are designed for beginners. Boots like these will be wider to be more comfortable and have a softer flex to be more forgiving. He should consider the Dalbello DS MX 75.
  • Poles: Like Terence, Tommy should choose an aluminum pole that is sized to his height in whatever color he prefers. If he likes black, then he should go with the Armada Triad Poles.

Tamara: The Teacher

Needs: Tamara is an expert skier who has been skiing her entire life. Her oldest child has been skiing for a season, and her youngest will start next year. She already has a whole setup, but her expert gear has been very difficult to maneuver on as she teaches the kiddos how to ski. She wants to purchase a second setup that is easier to use and will last her many seasons, until her kids are ready to do harder terrain. She wants to continue to use her boots since they are so comfortable. She doesn’t need new poles since she doesn’t use them while teaching.

Products to Consider:

  • Skis: For skis, Tamara has a lot of options to choose from. She should look at skis that are narrower and have a shorter turning radius than her current skis to make it easier to navigate with the kiddos. She should also look for something that is at least intermediate capable so she can continue to use them as her kids’ skills become stronger (and so she doesn’t overpower the ski with her advanced techniques). She would enjoy the popular Blizzard Black Pearl 88 or Atomic Maven 86 C.
  • Bindings: Tamara will need to purchase bindings that will be compatible with her boots and new skis. If she has a standard Alpine boot, she could consider skis that come with bindings. If she wants to purchase bindings separately, she could check out the Armada Stage 11 Bindings.

Find the Right Ski Set Package for You

Photo by Lauren Dobbins

When it comes to choosing your new ski setup, there is one factor that is more important than anything else: you! Choose skis that match who you are as a skier. Make sure your boots fit your foot shape and ability level. Select bindings that are compatible with your skis and boots. Pick poles that are the right length (and choosing a fun color never hurts).

Still a little lost with the details? Check out Curated’s other buying guides for more information, including my guide on the ins and outs of different types of skis. Want to chat about your specific needs? Connect with me or another knowledgeable expert here at Curated, and we will create a ski package just for you!

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